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Confession of Faith - Article 3: Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal Spirit of God, who dwelled in Jesus Christ, who empowers the church, who is the source of our life in Christ, and who is poured out on those who believe as the guarantee of our redemption and of the redemption of creation.
Through the Spirit of God, the world was created, prophets and writers of Scripture were inspired, the people were enabled to follow God's law, Mary conceived, and Jesus was anointed at his baptism.1 By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the reign of God, healed the sick, accepted death on the cross, and was raised from the dead.
At Pentecost, God began to pour out the Spirit on all flesh and to gather the church from among many nations.2 As a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the church praises and worships God and brings forth the fruit of the Spirit. By the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all Christians are called to carry out their particular ministries. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church comes to unity in doctrine and action. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the church preaches, teaches, testifies, heals, loves, and suffers, following the example of Jesus its Lord.
The Holy Spirit calls people to repentance, convicts them of sin, and leads into the way of righteousness all those who open themselves to the working of the Spirit.3 Scripture urges us to yield to the Spirit, and not to resist or quench the Spirit.4 By water and the Spirit, we are born anew into the family of God. The Spirit dwells in each child of God, bringing us into relationship with God. Through the indwelling of the Spirit, we are made heirs together with Christ, if we suffer with him, so that we may also be glorified with him.5 The Spirit teaches us, reminds us of Jesus' word, guides us into all truth, and empowers us to speak the word of God with boldness.6
The Holy Spirit enables our life in Christian community, comforts us in suffering, is present with us in time of persecution, intercedes for us in our weakness, guarantees the redemption of our bodies, and assures the future redemption of creation.7
According to Scripture, the Spirit of God is God's presence and power active in the world. The Spirit, or breath, of God acted in creation (Genesis 1:2) and continues to act in the creative process throughout the world, in expected and unexpected places. God's Spirit was a source of power and revealed God's wisdom to prophets and other holy people. By the power of the Spirit, Jesus healed the sick, cast out unclean spirits, and proclaimed the reign of God (Matthew 12:28; Luke 3:22; 5:17). By the same Spirit, he offered his life to God (Hebrews 9:14) and was raised from the dead (Romans 8:11). This Spirit of God and Spirit of Jesus is the Holy Spirit, who is one with the Father and the Son.
The Gospel of John (14-16) and the letters of Paul use similar language to describe the work of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ--or the Spirit and Christ. Even though each has a particular role, the work of the Holy Spirit since Christ's exaltation always conforms to Jesus Christ. So, Christ is the standard for discerning which spirit is of God (1 Corinthians 12:3; John 14:26; 1 John 4:2-3). Only that Spirit which conforms to Jesus Christ, as we know him through the Scriptures, can reliably guide our faith and life.
The New Testament affirms that, since the resurrection, we are living in a new period of God's action in the world, the age of the Spirit. No longer is the Spirit present only with a few; now the Spirit is poured out on "all flesh," that is, on male and female, young and old, slave and free (Acts 2:16-21), people of all ethnic backgrounds who are being gathered into the people of God (Acts 10-11). By the Holy Spirit, the love of God is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). We are adopted as children of God (Galatians 4:6-7) and experience new birth into the family of God. This presence of the Holy Spirit is connected with being "in Christ," being part of the body of Christ.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is offered to all people. But those who do evil do not come to the light for fear that their deeds may be exposed (John 3:17-21). Those who have repented of sin (Acts 2:38) and are coming to the light are the ones who receive the Spirit. We are most open to the Spirit's work in us when we are becoming poor in spirit--emptying ourselves of all that is foreign to the way of the cross and committing ourselves to a life of love and the service of God. At the same time, the Holy Spirit gives us power to proclaim the word with boldness, to love enemies, to suffer in hope, to remain faithful in trials, and to rejoice in everything. As we walk by the Spirit, the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Both the church and the individual Christian are the temple of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Spirit of Christ is in the midst of the church in its gathering for prayer and praise. By the gifts of the Spirit, given to each member, the church builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 12-13) and is given the unity of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13). By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church makes decisions, disciplines, and encourages its members.
Prophecy is one of the gifts given to the church by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:11). Yet, some Christians have asserted that prophecy and revelation stopped after the time of the apostles. They say that the main way in which the Holy Spirit continues to reveal truth is through helping us to interpret Scripture. Others have claimed that present revelations are on an equal basis with Scripture or even have priority over it.
We know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal God's will to us (1 Corinthians 14:26-33). The Spirit of God is not silent in the present. However, this new revelation will not contradict what we know of Christ's way in Scripture (John 14:26). So we can open ourselves to revelation and prophecy, provided we test them in the community of faith by the norm provided in Christ through the Scriptures.
- Psalms 104:30; Micah 3:8; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Luke 1:35; 3:22.
- Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16-18.
- John 16:8-10.
- Isaiah 63:10; Acts 5:3; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
- John 3:5; Romans 8:14-17.
- John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Acts 4:24-31.
- Matthew 10:20; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:18-23.