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Bayern, USA, Deutschland

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pentecost and Holy Baptism

Yesterday my nephew was baptized. I was honored and priveleged to be his God-father.

Luther's Small Catechism is so relevant and powerful. He writes on the Third Article of the Creed:

,,I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."

And he writes on Holy Baptism, Part 2:

,,Baptism works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare."

The Holy Spirit works the same way today that He worked 2000 years ago on Pentecost Sunday. The law and gospel were preached, the Spirit created faith, and people were baptized. Preaching and holy Baptism go together. Faith and Baptism go together. The Spirit moves when and where He pleases, creating faith as He wills, when the Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered.

We cannot improve on the Spirit's will. We can survey demographic studies, raise funds, canvas the neighborhood, and any other host of techniques. The Spirit will create faith when the Word is preached and the Sacraments administered. We can't force the creation of faith, but we must be patient with the Spirit to create faith when and where He pleases. This is why we cannot apply business techniques to the Church: if we do so, then we have turned the Church into something other than what the Holy Spirit has created. We can't stifle the Spirit by putting limitations and time-restraints upon Him; He will do things as He desires to do them, all the while demolishing our control and input on when and where faith should be created.

The Holy Spirit isn't a tameable dove, a nice pet we have hanging around our Church, but the Spirit is a powerful wind that terrifies with the law and soothes with the gospel, thereby creating and sustaining faith in Jesus Christ who suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation and justification.

Yesterday, the Holy Spirit came in great power. He didn't appear as a dove, and He didn't arrive in a gust of wind. He showed up with the words and water that were spoken and poured upon my nephew. He was baptized and the Spirit created saving faith in him. What a great day of Pentecost and Baptism.