Dear Members and Friends of our ELS:
Can you imagine three thousand people at your birthday celebration? Pentecost—“the birthday of the New Testament church”—saw about three thousand added to the number of Jesus’ followers on that great day when Peter preached his powerful Law/Gospel sermon and holy Baptism was administered. The Holy Spirit was vigorously at work!
The Holy Spirit is still vigorously at work. The age of the apostolic miracles is past, but the age of the Spirit’s working quietly through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments is still with us. It will be so right up to the final Day of Judgment.
Besides bringing lost souls to faith in Christ for forgiveness and the assurance of heaven, the Spirit energizes those whom He has converted with a longing for sanctified living. Our ELS catechism puts it this way: “He through the Gospel makes me a new and holy creature of God with the new spiritual life of faith and the desire and strength for that which is good” (ELS Catechism, 2001 edition, p. 146).
The Holy Spirit alone is the guide who leads us and moves us to produce the impeccable fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22–24). To be involved in the good areas of living means hating and avoiding what is evil. That is why Dr. Martin Luther once described the entire spectrum of a believer’s lifespan as nothing but a “beginning of a blessed dying, from baptism to the grave.”
If you have ever toured a large manufacturing plant where many different employees are conducting guided tours at the same time, you know how confusing the situation can become at various points along the way. If you are not listening carefully to the guide you began the tour with, you may easily slip—almost unknowingly—into another group listening to another guide.
Temptations abound for us to follow a demonic guide. We need to stay close and listen to the true Guide—the Holy Spirit! Take in His words. Eat at His Table. Associate regularly with others who are eager to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. The more we absorb the love of our Savior Jesus, the more we will want to walk in the right direction on our tour through life.
Birthday gifts often get shelved over time. The gifts of God the Holy Ghost—the fruit(s) of Spirit—are birthday gifts to enjoy every moment of every living day.
Happy birthday, Christian Church! Let’s celebrate our new life in Christ!
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President