Who has the Holy Spirit?

Easter 6 Friday

John 14:16-17

“And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, to remain with you forever: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive. For it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him. For he remains with you and will be in you.”


From where do they know the Holy Spirit? From where do they have him so that he remains with them? Only from remaining attached to Christ by faith, from loving and appreciating his Word. This is why whatever they do, suffer, and live is all the doing and work of the Holy Spirit. And it is called living, doing, and suffering rightly and well. And it is an utterly precious thing before God. … And by these words the Christian church or Christendom is assured and has the certain promise and strong comfort from Christ that it shall not be without the Holy Spirit until the end of the world; that one can be certain and is to know that, in spite of everything, the Holy Spirit remains forever and without end that he always has and preserves his Christendom on earth. … And while Christendom remains and the Last Day has not yet come, this text must also remain: There must always be people who wholeheartedly believe in Christ and who confess him by virtue of the Holy Spirit. As the creed’s words say: I believe a holy Christian church, etc. It, too, will not perish while the world exists … And this texts is very noteworthy. For it is exceedingly offensive and difficult to believe and keep what is said and preached about it because there are so very few who are Christians, who have the Holy Spirit remain with them and dwell in them. It appears to be made up before the whole world. And not only are there so few Christians, but those few, with whom the Spirit is, have the Spirit in such a weak manner. Things go in such a miserable manner that even the few Christians may well doubt whether they have the Holy Spirit, just on account of their weakness. This is why it very necessary that they are strengthened and reassured that the Holy Spirit is and remains with them today, from the days of the apostles and forever. For just as there are few of us who believe, so the Holy Spirit makes himself exceedingly weak and small. The world is offended by this weakness, and, for its part, the world is strong and so sure of its cause as if it stood on iron mountains. For the pope adduces this text mightily and strongly, and his followers are the people who scream and boast against us that the Holy Spirit is with them forever. … We, on the other hand, are nothing but the small flock or individual, forsaken, poor, miserable people; we are condemned by them; we must leave them the glory and pride that they do right and act based on the Holy Spirit. What, then, are we to do? Who will decide between us and them, since both parties confess and says: Christendom is here on earth. That is certain, and the Holy Spirit certainly remains with Christendom; and, thus, each party boasts that they are it. There one must prove who is right. Now, they have a big advantage over us that they until now have held the name and appearance, and the world agrees with them and believes what they say; but we do not have anything like this to boast of against this argument, and the world does not believe us. Still, we must be certain, against them, that the Holy Spirit is with us, or we must condemn ourselves and join them. The solution is that Christ has already established the distinction when he said above in verse 15: “If you love me and keep my commandments,” etc. There we must look and judge only based on these words. For when the Holy Spirit comes, this alone is to be his office, as Christ says in John 16:14: “He is to preach of me and is to glorify me.” There one can certainly find him and distinguish and separate the true Christians or church from the false one. … For they preach and teach differently about Christ and point out other ways to heaven, and make up other estates, orders, and works that render ineffective baptism, gospel, and Christ.


St. Louis ed., 8:404-409.

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