Today is Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, historically the day before a Christian celebration that has become virtually unknown: All Saints’ Day. Isn’t it just like the devil to draw our attention away from remembering and celebrating the lives of past believers? It was prophetic that Luther chose this day to post his protests 500 years ago. Instead of focusing on the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit on this day we have become a culture of the supernatural work of the dark side.
Luther wrote in his Small Catechism:
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean? 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.
In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
Luther understood our inability to believe, being dead in sin, or come to Christ on our own; the first supernatural work of the Spirit is to call or invite us to Himself. Once we respond to that invitation He begins the work of sanctification: transforming us into His image. The Spirit empowers us to think and therefore act differently from the world and our desire becomes pleasing God and loving others as He did.
The Reformation, this Bible Movement, gave us great theologians and preachers: Calvin, various Puritans, Edwards, Whitefield, and Spurgeon, to name a few, who believed in the power of the Spirit and the Word working together. When we neglect the Spirit as it works through the Scriptures we become legalistic.
… who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor. 3:6
The Reformation of 1517 reminds us that God’s Spirit is sent to ‘enlighten us with His gifts’. We cannot pick and choose them but we learn to trust Him:
… to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, …
I challenge you today to remember the original meaning of this day and the saints of yesterday who depended on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to sustain them every day no matter their circumstances. How much more do we need His power and gifts to live for Him? As Paul taught in 1 Cor. 12:11, 31a
All these (gifts) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
As a Spirit-filled believer our goal is to be transformed into His likeness, loving and worshipping Him, and loving others.