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Stoeckhardt on The Holy Spirit

by pastorjuhl ~ May 12th, 2010

When sin awakens, when an old guilt preys upon the conscience and simply will not be dislodged from the mind, when constant sinning, which is ever a part of us, when our wicked, corrupt heart causes us to be fearful and to potter about, at that very moment one needs the consolation: Christ has also redeemed me by His precious blood; His blood and merit cover up my sins. Jesus, my Savior! But we cannot seize this comfort out of our own breast. Our own heart and conscience bear witness only to our sin and guilt, to nothing else. Nor are we able of ourselves to put this comfort into our heart and conscience. Heart and conscience resist, saying: I have sinned too grievously, too long. I am incorrigible; I am not worthy of any mercy. But then comes the Holy Spirit from heaven, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, and bears witness to Christ and testifies loudly and clearly: Your sins are forgiven! Christ has purchased and won you too! You are God’s dear child! And this voice of the Holy Spirit, this voice of God, drowns out and silences the voice of one’s own conscience.

The Holy Spirit inscribes and engraves this testimony of God’s grace in Christ into our heart so that we give assent to this testimony and rely totally on this Lord. The Holy Spirit illuminates Christ in our soul and paints the comforting picture of the crucified Christ so distinctly, so brightly and clearly before our eyes that the gloomy thoughts of one’s heart disappear and vanish, as night and mist before the rising sun.

This light is life and works joy, peaceful rest. It is a living, wholesome, blessed knowledge that is kindled by the Holy Spirit. The believer comes to know and recognize Christ, his Savior, not as one sees and recognizes things that are outside of us, that are visible to us but assimilates Christ by means of such knowledge and glories now in the fact that Christ through faith lives in his heart.

To be sure, we often do not perceive, feel, experience this light of knowledge. It is a work of the Holy Spirit that lies hidden. Amid the pressure of carnal thoughts and lusts, in the hustle and bustle of temporal affairs, amid the burden of the cross and anxiety comes this treasure which the Holy Spirit lays into the heart. We search within ourselves for this new light and life, for this new creation, look into, search our own heart and mind and do not find what we are looking for, find nothing good. We think that faith has died. But, dear Christian, you ought to know this: God has set up eternal, visible, tangible means through which He gives His Spirit and strengthens your faith. It is true, the Holy Spirit has His workshop within the depths of our heart. But you should never seek the Spirit within you and draw Him out of yourself and your heart, but you have been pointed to the Word, to the outward Word that you can see with your eyes and hear with your ears. The Holy Spirit testifies through the Word, through the Gospel. Simply listen to the preaching of the Gospel, with or without feeling and emotion. Listen to what is being said about Christ the Savior, and do not look and search and rummage within yourself but within Scriptures, within the Bible, which on every page testifies of Christ.

Through the hearing, reading, learning the Holy Spirit comes to you and seizes and moves your heart even though you don’t feel it. Just at the time you are bemoaning your poverty, sterility, impotence, and weakness, He is making you rich and strong. When you are unable to find any counsel and know not where to turn, He enlightens your soul. While you are lying prostrate, despondent and dejected, quietly and unnoticed the Spirit strengthens your faith through the Word. Only one thing is asked and required of you and that is that you diligently hear and learn God’s Word, the Gospel of Christ. All else the Holy Spirit has reserved for Himself. Through the Word He leads you to Christ, through the Word He fastens your soul to Christ’s easy yoke.

– Unending Grace (Gnade um Gnade), p. 221-222

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