St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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The Article: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

This final article of the Creed is the article of Sanctification, confessing that the Holy Spirit, by His work, makes us holy. The Holy Spirit is the only spirit called “holy” in the Bible, though the Bible contains descriptions of many other spirits both good and evil. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, and the Helper.

How does the Holy Spirit sanctify the children of God? First through the Holy Christian Church. It is in the Church where the Holy Gospel is preached, and the Holy Sacraments administered according to Christ’s mandate. And wherever the Word is faithfully preached, and the Sacraments rightly administered, there you have the Holy Christian Church and the Holy Spirit sanctifying Christian people.

Simply put, the Holy Spirit makes us holy! He does this through the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

First, the Christian Church bears every child of God through the Word of God which the Holy Spirit preaches into the hearts of all God’s children and causes their hearts to awaken to it, to understand, to accept, to cling, and to persevere in this same Word of God.

The most fundamental of all doctrines preached by the Holy Spirit through His servants is the forgiveness of sins which was offered to the whole world in Christ and received by faith to every believer.

The phrase “communion of saints” is better translated as “congregation of saints,” that is to say, God’s Church is a congregation of holy people gathered around the Word and the Sacraments with eyes gazing upward to heaven and voices crying out “Maranatha!” or “Lord, come quickly.” There are those among every congregation who are not holy and who do not believe and yet hide themselves behind good works and facades of false Christianity. They are not of the congregation of saints but put there by the evil one to cause chaos and God uses them to keep His children humble. But the congregation of saints are only those who have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and continue in His work of sanctification.

And the great doctrine of the Christian church, which no other worldly power may preach is the Forgiveness of Sins. This doctrine is God’s doctrine given to the church in Christ. And as Christ commands in John 20:23, the church is to speak forgiveness as if Christ Himself because it is real, present, and personal forgiveness. In the public service, the called pastors are to Absolve as if Christ Himself were standing there saying “I forgive you,” and all Christians are to say, “I forgive you,” among their homes and communities. For the world and the devil cannot say these words, but only God’s people because the Holy Spirit enables them and gives the words the authority of God Himself. Of the Good News we have in Christ, this is perhaps the greatest — forgiveness of sins!

And because we stand forgiven and have been set apart as a holy people, then, on the Last Day, our bodies will also resurrect in the same way our Lord was raised. The graves will be burst open, and the earthly remains will be vivified and reunited with our spirits who were in heaven before the throne, and we will put on eternal and glorious bodies to dwell forever in the new heaven and new earth. This promise is as sure as Christ’s resurrection and ascension. And thus, we must look onward to that glorious Day where this fallen and corrupt world will pass away, and daily make ourselves ready for the Day to come.

Prayer: Father, keep us steadfast in Your Holy Church that we may live as obedient children, worshiping You and serving our neighbor, confessing the one true Christian faith, forgiving sins, and longing for that Day when You fulfill your last and eternal promise to come. In Your Son’s name, Amen.