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Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 20B Q53 

31/05/2022

The WORK of the Holy Spirit

Let’s remind ourselves of our question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism: Q.53, What do you believe concerning the Holy Spirit? A. First, he is, together with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God.  Second, he is also given to me, to make me by true faith share in Christ and all his benefits, to comfort me, and to remain with me forever. 

So, we have three easy statements about the WORK of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is GIVEN, as a GIFT to us,, secondly, the Holy Spirit REGENERATES US, and thirdly, the Holy Spirit, ETERNALLY ABIDES with us.  In this lesson, we’ll look at the first two of those, awakening, and regeneration.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

So, let’s begin…

1 The Holy Spirit is GIVEN – but HOW and WHY?

Now, we are going to see here, how every single word of the catechism is pregnant with meaning.  When you read the Heidelberg, I recommend that you read it slowly, and think about every single word, for you will find that when the authors wrote it, they must have have given deep consideration to every word they put on the page.  This section is a great example of that.  Eg. he is also given to me, So see:-

  • The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us.  He is GIVEN.  Jesus warned his disciples that he had to leave them, to go away, and He promised that when he would go away He would send the another comforter, the Holy Spirit.  John 14:16-17   So, theologians will sometimes speak of the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  The Father gives us the Holy Spirit through the Son, and the Son sends us the Holy Spirit, from the Father.  John 15:26  The Nicene Creed says: And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. Matthew 3:11  He is God’s gift, given to us, through Christ. But more than that…
  • He is given to ME.  This is intensely personal! Of course the Holy Spirit is given to the church, – that’s what the Day of Pentecost is about, in Acts 2:1-4.  On that day, the promised Holy Spirit was given to the church.  The Day of Pentecost was a one-off, historical never to be repeated event.  We don’t want another Pentecost any more than we want another Virgin Birth, or another Calvary. But, even though we shouldn’t be expecting the events of the Upper Room to be repeated, the catechist makes this personal.  He is given to ME!  In this, God is active, we simply receive the gift.  Our role in this is entirely passive. We RECEIVE the Holy Spirit! To the defective believers at Ephesus in Acts 19, Paul simply asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (NKJV) Now, let’s be absolutely clear about this.  The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to every single believer.  In fact a person cannot be a Christian at all without the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now, if we don’t have any biblical warrant for some attempt to replicate the events of the Day of Pentecost, this begs the question, “What means then does God use to impart his gift of the Holy Spirit to his elect?  

  1. Through the ordinary, external means of the Word and Sacrament. In these common dispensations, as Christ is proclaimed, and placarded to His elect people, the Holy Spirit is given to those whom the Lord will call to be his.  We do understand that not everyone who hears the gospel will be saved.  Like Felix in Acts 24, who trembled under the preaching of the word, yet was not saved.  Felix was enlightened, he was awakened to his sin, he was blessed in that he heard the greatest gospel preacher this world has ever know, after Christ himself – but without the effectual call of God in salvation Felix could not be saved.  He was – quite simply, not one of God’s people.  READ:Matthew 22:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14  But also…
  2. Through the internal work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart, will and mind.  The Spirit creates a desire within us so that we will, of our own free will, seek the Saviour.  We call the the ‘effectual call.’  The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, in Question 31: What is effectual calling? The answer is, “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.”  

There’s a good biblical example of this in Acts 16:14-15 So, there are these two common applications of God the Holy Spirit, given to us, to bring us to Christ. But having awakened us to our need of salvation, and directed us to the Cross, through the ministry of word and sacrament…


2 The Holy Spirit APPLIES Christ’s Saving Work to ME.  So, the catechist teaches us that the Holy Spirit will, “make me by true faith share in Christ and all his benefits.”

Now, the office of the Holy Spirit is to prepare a holy people for Christ, a bride, suitable for the Lamb.  We call that work of the Spirit sanctification.  It begins at regeneration, when we are separated from our wicked sinful rebellion against God, and it continues right throughout our lives, and it is perfected when we are at home with the Lord forever.    Let’s look at the initiation of that sanctifying work, when the Spirit works a miracle of grace in our lives, by imparting new life to us, by regenerating us.  We call this the New Birth.  Let’s read some scripture texts: Ezekiel 36:25-27, John 3:5-7, Ephesians 2:4-5  1 Corinthians 12:13  Titus 3:5  Now the catechist breaks this work of the Spirit into two headings:-

  • He creates in me SAVING FAITH.PREAD Ephesians 2:8-9  The very faith that we need to accept Christ, to take his free gift of salvation, is in itself the gift of God, given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. AND…
  • He brings me INTO Christ!  He unites us with Christ, so that we are brought into his kingdom, given new life in him, clothed in his righteousness, and made a member of his body. We are IN CHRIST!  1 Corinthians 6:11-13 

Next time, we’ll consider how the Holy Spirit remains with us eternally, and what we mean by ‘grieving the spirit’ and ‘the blasphemy against the Spirit.’

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