Almighty God, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Discovering the Apostle’s Creed
Scripture and the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
The Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed focuses on the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This article addresses the Holy Spirit’s action in the world and the promise of forgiveness and new life.
In John 14:16-17, Jesus speaks of sending an Advocate who will come to be present with us in his absence and in Acts 2:1-4, we witness the Holy Spirit coming into the world on the Day of Pentecost. Traditionally, the Day of Pentecost is remembered as the beginning of the church for it is on that day that the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to go out and share the good news about Jesus. In Acts 2:41-47, we hear about the 3000 people who began to follow Jesus that day and about how this new movement gathered together for worship, learning and mutual support.
In the creed, the word “catholic” with a lowercase “c” means universal. If the word “catholic” contained a capital “C” then it would refer to the Roman Catholic Church.
During Jesus’ life, we see that Jesus has the power to forgive sins (Luke 7:48). As followers of Jesus, we believe that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are given the gift of forgiveness and the promise of new and eternal life with God (Romans 3:23-26).
So What Does this Mean?
From Luther’s Small Catechism:
The Third Article: On Being Made Holy
I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.
Questions and Discussion
Answer these questions in the comments below.
- In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as an Advocate who is present in our lives. What is one way that you have seen the Holy Spirit active in your life, in the life of a neighbor or friend or in the world, in the last few weeks?
- How does it make you feel to know that God can and will forgive you when you make a mistake?
Direct us, Lord God, in all that we do and give us your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.