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Inspiration: I believe in the Holy Spirit

When writing an article for Focus on Faith, it's important for me, the writer, to consider my audience.

Is the reader a believer in Jesus? Probably. After all, if one is an atheist or agnostic, he or she may not be particularly interested in reading something about religion or spiritual matters.

But wait a minute. What if the reader is not a believer in Jesus, and while flipping through the pages of this Echo Journal newspaper his or her eye is drawn to the words, "I believe in the Holy Spirit"? Perhaps the reader recently received news that someone he or she loved and cared about has died. Could this death be a catalyst that sparks interest in matters of faith?

Regardless of where you are in your faith, there's one thing that is constant. The Holy Spirit is the power behind whatever size faith you have; big or small, longtime believer or new convert.

Listen to how Martin Luther explains what it means when we say with other Christians, "I believe in the Holy Spirit." In his Small Catechism he writes: "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."

Why do you need the Holy Spirit to begin and sustain your faith in Jesus as your Redeemer?

A Christian was witnessing to his friend about Jesus. At some point in the conversation, the Christian said, "Listen, John. For God so loved the world (that includes you) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life."

At this, John responded, "I can't see how a man dying on two pieces of wood 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem can do me any good today right here in Minnesota."

The Gospel makes no sense. It's not supposed to. The good news of forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus' perfect life and innocent suffering and death is not something that can be logically figured out. The Bible says, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

If you have faith in Jesus as your Savior, you did not come to believe because you chose to believe by your innate powers of the will. The Bible says, "Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)

The Holy Spirit called you by the Gospel, namely the good news that "by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

You came to faith and are kept in the faith by the power of the Holy Spirit who works through the Word of God that points to Jesus.

Why am I emphasizing this work of the Spirit? On June 8, the church celebrated the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost was the day when Christ's promise to send the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. I encourage you to thank the Holy Spirit for giving you saving faith in Jesus Christ.

And for those of you who do not believe, I encourage you, by the Spirit of Christ, to keep listening to the good news of salvation.