So that the world might receive the benefits of Jesus’ completed work of salvation, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:7). The third person of the Trinity, true God from eternity
- was active with the Father and the Son in the work of creation (Genesis 1:2);
- spoke by the prophets, revealing God’s promises of the Messiah (2 Peter 1:21);
- was manifested at Jesus’ baptism as he began his public ministry (Acts 10:38; John 1:32-33);
- empowered the church on the day of Pentecost to proclaim the message, “Repent, and be baptized . . . for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:33, 38; Luke 24:45-49);
- continues to enliven every believer in Christ to be active in the church’s mission (1 John 3:24; 4:13; Romans 8:5).
Jesus promised his disciples:
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:63).
The fulfillment of these promises is vividly portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles. Again and again people are filled with the Spirit through Baptism and the preaching of the Gospel. God pours out this same promised Holy Spirit today through Word and sacrament, the means by which he creates and nourishes faith. “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel” (Augsburg Confession V, 1-2; Ephesians 4:11-13). Through the Gospel as revealed in Scripture, the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Small Catechism, Apostles’ Creed).
The work of the Spirit, “the Lord and Giver of life” (Nicene Creed), is vital to God’s mission, for:
. . . no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3);
. . . unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
The Holy Spirit first convicts people of their sin and unbelief, convincing them—through God’s law—of their need for forgiveness (John 16:8-11). He then draws them to Christ through the Gospel and enables them to trust his Word of forgiveness. The Spirit continues his work through Word and sacrament to activate, equip and empower all believers for participation in God’s mission.
Therefore we need not be overwhelmed or discouraged by the size of the task, the fierceness of the enemy, or the weakness of those who serve. The Spirit is with us— indeed, he dwells in us!—to empower us for our work in God’s mission (Acts 1:8; John 14:16).
From: A Theological Statement of Mission for the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod by the Commission on Church Theology & Church Relations, November 1991, pages 10-11.