Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10 - Gospel

O Christ, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we would receive Your testimony to all eternity.


  1. It was the picture of the baby being baptized almost next to this posting, that made me write.

    Is it no longer taught in our churches that at baptism we are filled with the Holy Spirit? Or is there some doubt on that point? John 7: 39, “He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” And finally, Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

    Or do you hold to the notion, which is not supported by a single syllable in Scripture, that the Holy Spirit somehow “leaks out” of us, and we need a refill from time to time?

    Sasse was right (Letter to Lutheran Pastors, No. 51, 1960), “If indeed the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its place in church and congregation, then it cannot be long before the reality of the Holy Spirit is also lost to us, just as Christ ceases to be present when He is not truly taught, when His Gospel and sacraments are falsified.”

    Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit!
    George A. Marquart

  2. George,
    Did the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit on Easter evening? On Pentecost? Yes and yes.

    Is not the pastor using the Collect for the Word (TLH p14, et al) taught to pray that God grant His Holy Spirit to His Church? But does God's Spirit already dwell in His Church (1 Corinthians 3:16)? Again, yes and yes. And it is in the spirit of that prayer that I wrote the prayer asking the Spirit to be sent into us.

    No, I do not see the Holy Spirit leaking out of us, though we can send Him away (consider what our Confessions say about David being an unbeliever during the incident with Bathsheba. However, this is a tangent, as I wasn't writing that prayer with unbelief in mind.)

    God gives us all of a "thing", the totality with nothing left out or held back - of Christ, Holy Spirit, forgiveness, redemption, Heaven, justification, sanctification. And yet there is always more He has to give. Even to the little baby in the picture, into whom the Father poured the entire Spirit in Christ the day of the picture - and who just turned two the day before you wrote. (Though I'm not sure if that's my daughter Erin or her half hour younger twin Sophia!)

    Every blessing to you in Christ.

  3. Did the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit on Easter evening? On Pentecost? Yes, No. The verb in Acts 2:4, επλησθησαν is in the aorist passive indicative - third person. It indicates past action. In other words, it does not say that they were filled with the Holy Spirit at this time, but at some undetermined time in the past. The expression, “filled with the Holy Spirit” in Acts simply means that these people were Christians, who had followed St. Peter’s advice to, “repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In contrast, the people with the High Pries in were also filled (same verb, same tense) but (Acts 5:17) “they were filled with jealousy”.

    The thing to remember is that our Lord told His Apostles in Acts 1:7 that they “will receive power.” This was something unique that does not happen every time a person is baptized and receives the Holy Spirit.

    As to the Collect of the Word, that is what it says. I really don’t know what it means to grant His Spirit to His Church, inasmuch as His Spirit rules the Church, together with the Father and the Son. Church, Kingdom of God, Body of Christ, Bride of Christ are all synonyms.

    I do know that 1 Cor. 3:16 very clearly refers to individuals, not the Church.

    Indeed He has always more to give, but why do we think it is the Holy Spirit that is given? There are many places in Scripture that speak of the gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit. These we are to aspire to, and of these St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 12: 11 “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”

    Whether Erin or Sophia, I pray that the same Spirit Who came to live with them when they were baptized will preserve them in His Kingdom for all eternity, even as He preserves you and me. I know of three little girls in my extended family who are not baptized, and I pray the Father for His mercy for them every day.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  4. George,
    I used to think that 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 was speaking about individuals until I came to see how influeced I'd been by our individualistic culture. However, the verb εστε is plural, thus not individuals, but the corporate entity of Church. Even as 1 Corinthians 3:9 is plural and clearly refers to the Church as God's field and building. See also Ephesians 2:19-22, were Paul does not say "You are a fellow citizen... a holy temple..." nor, "You are fellow citizens... holy templeS..." - but rather, as here in 1 Corinthians (where he was specifically combatting individualistic disunity), Paul writes that "You are fellow citizens.. a holy temple"

    God grant His Holy Spirit to you (in the same way as prayed for in TLH p. 14), and that He would answer your prayers for His pouring out His Spirit into the hearts of those three girls through His water and Word.


  5. Dear Pastor: In 1 Cor. 3:17 St. Paul writes, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.” We know that the Church, according to the promise of our Lord, cannot be destroyed. Therefore, the temple refers to individuals, all of whom have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, and together they make up the Church.

    If we ask for the Holy Spirit for the Church, we are asking God to help us run what we consider to be a human institution. But God Himself has created the Church and asks us to help run it. It is His. The Holy Spirit dwells in it and rules it in accordance with His will. To ask God for the Holy Spirit in His Church is the same as to ask for the Holy Spirit to be in heaven with God – it makes no sense.

    Thanks for the kind words about the Holy Spirit and the three little girls. Ironically this brings up a verse in Scripture which many of the proponents of the “refilling” or “repeated filling” theory like to quote: Luke 11:13, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" As you know, the parallel passage in Mat. 7:11 refers only to “good things.” Also, different manuscripts have “Holy Spirit”, “Good Spirit”, and “Good things” in the Luke passage. But even if Luke 11:13 is accurate, it can refer to what I do every day, I ask God to grant the Holy Spirit to these three girls – not for myself, because I believe the Scriptures that He has given me His Holy Spirit in Baptism, but for them. And since our Lord did not say “may give” or “might give”, I am certain that our heavenly Father will answer my prayer. He promised that He would. He is the Faithful One. It is in that same way we sing the Agnus Dei during the liturgy – with the full confidence that God will keep His promise.

    Peace and Joy!
    (George A. Marquart)

  6. George,
    It seems we are at an impasse on the 1 Corinthians 3 understanding. You're not going to convince me, nor I you. So, on to the next part of your comment:
    Do you pray for daily bread? Seasonable weather? But God gives bread without our prayers. Sends sun and rain on the just and the unjust. In the same way as you point out about praying for the Holy Spirit, praying for God to do things He's already promised He does for everyone makes no sense. Yet Jesus says to pray for daily bread.

    As for the giving of the Spirit prayer by the Father in Matthew 7/Luke 11, that does flow from Luke's context nicely, since that is where Jesus speaks of the neighbor asking for provisions not so much for himself, but for his visitor.

    However, we do pray for ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit in "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord" (LSB 497), "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest" (LSB 498/9), as well as LSB 500-502. 500 even has the lines "Give us Yourself that we may see the glory of the Trinity" (st. 3), and "From sin and sorrow set us free" - but aren't we set free already? Yes, now. And not yet. And in the same way we pray for God to send His Holy Spirit with whom believers are already filled.

    I agree, being asking for the Spirit to come/be sent when He's already dwelling in us makes no sense. About as little sense as receiving the entire Christ in some bread and wine. Or the entire Godhead dwelling in human flesh. But what do I know? The foolishness of God is wiser than my wisdom.


  7. (oops... last paragraph should read, "I agree, asking for the Spirit...."

  8. Dear Pastor: my apologies for taking up your time.

    In all fairness, neither your, nor my understanding of 1 Cor. 3:16, affects the question about praying for the Holy Spirit. So on to praying for what we already have.

    First, we pray for our daily bread because our Lord said we should. If we pray for something we already have, we do so out of ignorance. The daily bread is for the coming day, the forgiveness of sins is for the coming day, the keeping us safe from temptation is for the coming day.

    Where, with the possible exception of Luke 11:13 does Scripture tell us to pray for the Holy Spirit? The Church has never been comfortable basing a major doctrine on a single passage, and especially one with an uncertain text. The problem with praying for Him is that it contradicts the many passages in Scripture that clearly state that He lives in the people of God. Luther would say this is “calling God a liar.” If He were just “occupying space” it would be one thing, but Scripture claims that He is active in us, giving us His gifts and causing us to bring the fruits that result from these gifts. That whole part of God’s gracious giving goes unheard in our churches, because we do not assert without doubt that the Holy Spirit lives in us. Instead I have often heard it said that we do good works “out of gratitude” for what God has done for us. This makes our relationship to God a strictly psychological one, or maybe a logical one, making us no different from unbelievers, but it does not take into account that in Baptism we become new and different creatures from the ones who are drowned in the waters of Baptism. And that is indeed the function of the Holy Spirit. We should pray for His action in us, because that is how the work of the Kingdom is done. But if we just keep asking for Him to come to where He already is, what is the point? Do we expect Him to do all the work?

    Here is how our Confessions read on this matter:
    The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord
    VI. The Third Use of the Law
    17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit, or as St. Paul names it, the law of the mind and the Law of Christ. For such men are no more under the Law, but under grace, as St. Paul says, Rom. 8:2 [Rom. 7:23; 1 Cor. 9:21 ].

    As to the hymns, I always ask God to forgive us when the congregation sings, “Come Holy Spirit enter in, and in our hearts Your work begin.” This is sentimentality, pietism, traditionalism, call it what you want, but just because it is in our hymnal does not make it the Word of God. Too many of our preachers think it arrogant to claim for ourselves the firm, clear promises of God and instead proclaim as a virtue a pietistic humility that denies the facts of God’s salvation. I have not looked at every hymn you mentioned; I have simply outlined the principle according to which we should view them.

    Your last paragraph really puzzles me. You do not mean that knowing something to be foolish justifies it? Who thought up “receiving the entire Christ in some bread and wine”? God did, and revealed it to us in the Scriptures. Or “the entire Godhead dwelling in human flesh.”? God did and revealed it to us in the Scriptures. But “asking for the Spirit to come/be sent when He's already dwelling in us”? If God did, He did not reveal it in the Scriptures. No number of hymns or old prayers can justify it. If men did, then is it foolishness or wisdom? It is something people have invented because they want God to know how well they understand Him. But God has not asked for that, as He did not ask for the fire of the sons of Aaron.

    Peace and Joy!
    (George A. Marquart)

  9. Dear Holy Spirit,

    I'll take whatever George doesn't.



  10. Any teaching that makes heretics or pietists or enthusiasts or Schwarmerei of most of the Church throughout its history probably needs to be re-examined.

  11. And any teaching that makes a liar of Jesus (see John 15 and 16 regarding the sending of the Spirit) probably needs to be re-examined. Jesus promises to send the Spirit when He is gone; yet He gives it to them on Easter, too. Did Jesus lie? Or did He also send the Spirit on them at Pentecost? I won't call Jesus a liar.

  12. George,

    Article V: Of the Ministry.

    1] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and ***Sacraments***, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.

    4] They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.


    "Sacraments" - not only the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, but by the Sacraments of Baptism AND Supper, the Holy Spirit is given. But should not the Supper be given only to believers? And are not believers possessors of the Holy Spirit already? And yet the Confessors claim both (or all three?) sacraments are instruments by which the Spirit is given.

    George, I do not know you, nor do I know your qualifications. But I do know Luther nowhere in the Large Catechism sounds like he is teaching us to pray for forgiveness for the coming day. And I also know Dr. John Kleinig - a student of Sasse's, and you seem to respect Sasse - and I know Kleinig teaches people to pray for the Holy Spirit.

    I also know Kantor Richard Resch personally, who served on the LSB hymnal committee, and know only by name many of the others who served with him. I ask you to repent of your attack that they included these hymns out of a sense of "pietism, sentimentality, traditionalism" etc. And I also ask you to repent of concluding that your congregation is sinning when they sing said hymns.

    And I know that in a few moments, I will sit at table with my children and pray, "Come, Lord Jesus..." Even though Jesus has promised to be with us always.

    Christ continue to sanctify you by His Father's Word of truth, as I know you keep and treasure it by the power of the Spirit whom He is sending. Pax,


  13. Dear Pastor: My guess is that the writers of the Augsburg Confession were not concerned in this paragraph about whether the Holy Spirit is received in the Lord’s Supper. Certainly the translators were not; otherwise they would have taken the German text more seriously:
    “Solchen Glauben zu erlangen, hat Gott das Predigtamt eingesetzt, Evangelium und Sakramente gegeben, dadurch er, als durch Mittel, den Heiligen Geist gibt, welcher den Glauben, wo und wann er will, in denen, so das Evangelium hören, wirkt, welches da lehret, daß wir durch Christus' Verdienst, nicht durch unser Verdienst, einen gnädigen Gott haben, so wir solches glauben.“
    „In order to obtain this faith, God has instituted the Office of Preaching, has given the Gospel and the Sacraments, through which He, as through means, gives the Holy Spirit, Who works faith where and when He will, in those who hear the Gospel, which teaches etc.” The intent here is to speak of the means God uses to create faith, not to specify that a particular sacrament conveys the Holy Spirit. To deal with the complexity of German sentence structure, the translators added another “sacraments” which somewhat distorts the meaning.

    You will not find either in Scripture, or in any of the Articles in any of our confessional writings dedicated to the Lord’s Supper, any mention of the Holy Spirit being given in the Lord’s Supper. In The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, VII. The Holy Supper, 11, the point is made that if there were no real presence, then there would only be a spiritual presence of the Spirit of Christ, and we know this is not so.

    As to the Fifth Petition, I don’t know that Luther teaches it either. But if you are simul justus et peccator, how can you be “justus” if your sins are not forgiven the moment you commit them? Does one who has sinned and is killed on his way to church go to hell because he has not had a chance to ask for forgiveness? After all, nothing imperfect can enter heaven.

    As to qualifications, I respect many people, including Sasse. But I know Sasse is not infallible, and neither is Luther. Remember the ad hominem fallacy? If I speak with the tongues of angels, but do not speak the truth, then what good are my qualifications? But if I speak the truth, what difference do my qualifications make?

    Concerning the hymns, I only mentioned “Come Holy Spirit enter in,” and specifically denied having looked any others up. My comments were addressed to that hymn only, and I still do not think it is proper for mature Christians to sing it. It is a very ancient hymn, no doubt intended for the catechumens, but not appropriate for the baptized. Really - old people, days away from seeing the Lord face to face, singing “in my heart your work begin”?

    I strongly suspect that this ends our correspondence. I wish you and your family God’s richest blessings, and have no doubt that the Holy Spirit dwells in you in all His fullness, (John 3:34) “for he gives the Spirit without measure.”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

    PS.: I first learned it as “Komm Herr Jesu, sei unser Gast …” We do not ask Him to come as if He is not there, but we ask Him to be our guest when we sit down, just as we ask anyone in the room to come to the table.