In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit
Acts chapter two describes the great act of God in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. John chapter 14 shows a more pleasant picture of the workshop of the Holy Spirit. As we learned in the Small Catechism, the Holy Spirit has “called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith…. He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers [in this Christian Church]. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.”
Jesus, Who has gone to the Father for us, still wants to have His Church on earth. He wants a dwelling place for His Father among us. He wants His Spirit to be the preacher of Good News. He wants to bless believers with His peace and prepare them for glory.
The Christian Church is a habitation of God in the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The Church consists of those who love God. Those who love God know how wretched they are because of sin. They also recognize Christ from the Gospel and the high, holy benefits of His grace and have received these benefits by faith. In Christ alone we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Jesus became for us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. The Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep.
The Church consists of those who keep His Word. In this Word is everything that makes for peace and salvation. Outside of the Word of Christ, there is no Christ; there is no hope for eternal life. The Church cannot let go of the Word, chiefly the external Word of baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. She clings to these gifts rather than to foolish thoughts of the world.
The Church is loved by the Father. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us…. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
The Church is a temple and dwelling place of the Triune God. The prophet Isaiah says For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” But today, here, now, the One Who dwells in the high and holy place dwells among men by the Holy Spirit working in the Word of Christ that dwells in us richly! Granted the great signs of the book of Acts are no longer a part of the Church. But the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
The Christian Church is the tabernacle of peace in the midst of this vale of tears. We are, by nature, empty of true peace. So is the world. We have restless hearts. The Holy Spirit has built in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death a spiritual tabernacle of peace, the holy Christian Church of which we confess each week in the Creed. The one word that summarizes all the good things that the Church is given to enjoy is PEACE. This peace comes from the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Whose instruction in the words of Christ is so powerful and salutary that we also truly learn in our hearts the fulfillment of the precious and great promise of God. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Children of God justified by faith in Christ enjoy the peace of Christ: peace with God, peace in conscience, dearly purchased by Jesus Himself by His departure to the Father. This peace is a real, noble, and blessed peace that devours terror and fear in the heart. It is also a lasting peace that protects and shields against all wickedness that would disturb us.
The Christian Church is the gate of heaven. It is, so to speak, the porch that stands before the fair city of the New Jerusalem on high. Our greatest joy as pilgrims and sojourners on earth is that we may lift up our hearts, heads, eyes, and hands to the tabernacle of peace that is in this vale of tears. Here our salvation draws near. Here we stand before the gate of heaven. Here we stand on the right course that brings us into eternal life.
When we lie on our deathbed, or when we have a sleepless night or restless day because of Satan’s accusations against us, we recall Jesus saying that the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me. We remember these words because Jesus says the Helper brings to our remembrance everything that our Lord promises.
Perhaps this is the most unsung duty of the Holy Spirit. He brings to our remembrance all the great and precious promises of God. He brings to our remembrance the many times God could have turned His back on the Israelites. No matter how many times God’s children failed to remember their Lord, God never forget them because He never forgot His promise to them. When we remain with Christ’s Church, true consolation of death also remains with us. Death is merely slumber, for life everlasting is ours because of Christ’s resurrection.
Our hope of the promised blessed perfection rests not on our piety and faithfulness. It does not rest on what we have done, suffered, and fought. Our hope rests on the great work of redemption that Jesus Christ has directed and completed from His boundless love in voluntary obedience to His Father. Jesus says, I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.
We have a share of this in faith, because the entire world should indeed know it according to His good pleasure. Christ’s most holy merit on our behalf remains our refuge until we have blissfully overcome this life. It remains a constant encouragement to the fact that we remain faithful to Him Who has purchased us with His blood as the price. This is the joy of Pentecost. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is most certainly true.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit