How Does the Holy Spirit Work?
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:6,7).
You can see the Holy Spirit working here. He was clearly working to guide his first pastors to speak where they were to speak. The Holy Spirit is here called the Spirit of Jesus. That is exactly the work of the Holy Spirit … getting the message of Jesus out to people everywhere.
So you see how this works when you observe your pastor in your church. When he got the call to be your pastor, the Holy Spirit nudged him in the same way he did the Apostle Paul in the Bible passage above. The Holy Spirit wanted your pastor to come to your place and church and be your pastor … and tell you about Jesus. That is the great work of this “Spirit of Jesus.”
But there’s more, much more. The Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps the whole Christian Church on earth.” That’s the way Luther’s Catechism says it. What a great work this Holy Spirit does! Look at it all!
The Holy Spirit confines himself to working through tools, or means. We call these tools “The Means of Grace.”
The Holy Spirit works through God’s Word, the Bible. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” The story of Pentecost Day in Acts 2 provides a good example to show us how “faith comes from hearing” God’s Word. Pentecost was the day the Holy Spirit worked and caused everyone there to hear the wonderful works of God in their own language.
The Holy Spirit works secondly through Baptism. Almost every church window you have seen depicting the work of the Holy Spirit depicts the Spirit as the Dove, with the shell and the water droplets. The Holy Spirit is at work in baptism! Remember Jesus’ own baptism (and yours!). Know that when baptism happened to you, the Holy Spirit was working there through the water and the Word to promise you life and salvation and forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit works thirdly through The Lord’s Supper. When you were confirmed in the faith and said that you believed Jesus was your Savior and you promised to be faithful to him as your Lord, God’s Spirit was there that day too … working! “ No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4). You take the Lord’s Supper with other saints who believe Jesus as you do. This confession and fellowship is the work of God’s Holy Spirit.
God’s Holy Spirit is working hard … for you!