Reflections: July 23, 2021
Friday of the Seventh Week after Trinity
By Harrison Goodman
And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19:2)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Church needs constant teaching. Woe to those who think they've learned it all in confirmation! Imagine if the disciples who Paul met by Ephesus responded as we do today. "What do you mean Holy Spirit? I've been in this synagogue all my life and never heard of that." Also, woe to those who think theology is about winning arguments rather than teaching. Imagine if Paul replied the way stubborn clergy do: "I went to seminary. You didn't. I know better than you. We're doing it this way now."
Instead, Paul taught. He catechized. For months. Then years. Miracles happened. Not just the healings from afflictions. Even greater. People believed. They were baptized in the name of the Triune God. They taught others. Even unbelievers were given hope.
The doctrine of the apostolic faith is unchanging, but the visible Church on earth is always in the process of learning it. If you look around and see nothing but ignorance, rejoice, because that is daily being overcome by the patient teaching of God's Word. Also, relax, because this teaching is done by the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to create and strengthen faith. It's His to accomplish in His time. If you look around and find something you haven't learned yet, compare it to God's Word. Go back to your catechism. You might be a part of something wonderful, the spreading of the true Word of God and the strengthening of His kingdom. It happens slowly, sometimes over generations, but the Holy Spirit is at work wherever the Word is taught in its truth and purity. If you can't find these new teachings in God's Word and your catechism, reject them.
The visible Church will have ignorance and schism until the Last Day. It will also have the Holy Spirit daily destroying those things with the light of the true Gospel of Christ. When things look bleak, don't look for miracles or an overnight growth in understanding. Just return to the Word, where the Body of Christ is always being built up. Rejoice that God has promised to accomplish this work, and that none given to Him will be lost. This is why God blessed you with a catechism, that you would return to the same teachings over and over. Don't put the book down after confirmation. Reread it, and year after year, God's Word will correct, reprove, and give hope. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Help us Your holy Law to learn, To mourn our sin and from it turn In faith to You and to Your Son And Holy Spirit, Three in One. ("Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain" LSB 865, st.2)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
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