“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let you speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6, ESV)
DON’T WALK WITHOUT WISDOM
The Holy Spirit: We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God at work in the world, especially in human lives. The Spirit is at work in convicting sinners of their need for God’s grace, and in empowering people for effective Christian living. The Spirit produces “fruit” in the lives of believers as expressed in the fifth chapter of Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
It is not helpful to talk about the person and work of the Holy Spirit as the presence and power of God. To begin with, this ambiguity leads to the idea that the Holy Spirit is not God; rather, He is merely the power or presence of God like a spiritual force acting out the will of God. We cannot separate the three persons of the Blessed Trinity from each other.
Likewise, this weak wording leads toward modalism in which the Spirit is just a different mode or form in which God is at work in His creation at a given time, as if, He is sometimes in the mode of the Father and at another time in the mode of the Son.
When the concept of the Holy Spirit working in human lives is asserted, there is no explanation of how that takes place. This vague statement lends itself to an understanding of a direct revelation from God, as if, the Holy Spirit separates Himself from the written word of the prophets and the apostles.
Furthermore, the emphasis is placed upon convicting of sin as one goal of the Holy Spirit and the empowering for effective Christian living as the other goal. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and empowers. Again, there is no indication of how the Spirit of God convicts and empowers. The gospel, the message about the person and work of Jesus, is completely left out of the picture.
Therefore, the above wording wanders aimlessly declaring that the Holy Spirit shows a need for God’s grace without delivering it. While at the same time, it promotes the idea of effective Christian living without any indication of faith in Christ. Yet, it is impossible to please God without faith. In the above statement, the Holy Spirit is not confessed as the one who gives the gift of faith which clings to the promises of God fulfilled in Christ. Take note that no mention is given of the Holy Spirit being the Comforter.
We should walk in wisdom and make the best use of our time. Rather than confessing that the Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God, we should clarify that the Holy Spirit is God who is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son. Our Triune God is omnipresent. Thus, wherever the Holy Spirit is present, the Father and the Son are present too.
We need to be clear that the person of the Holy Spirit is eternally distinct from the person of the Father and the person of the Son. The Father is eternally unbegotten, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Spirit of God is not a mode or a power of God.
The Holy Spirit works in human lives through instrumental means. He uses the law of God to reveal sin and to bring conviction and judgment. He uses the gospel to reveal to us our Savior and to bring mercy and forgiveness. The unique role of the Holy Spirit is to bring comfort through the power of the gospel by opening eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe the promises of God. He grants us faith and strengthens our faith in Christ alone for salvation. We cannot come to Jesus or believe in Him. The Holy Spirit calls us through the gospel and gives us faith to trust in Christ’s completed work of atonement on the cross.
The Spirit of the Lord works conversion in us and renewal in us through the means of grace which are holy baptism (the gospel with water), holy absolution (the gospel in spoken or written form), and holy communion (the gospel with the bread and wine and with the body and blood of Christ). We want to be clear on how the Holy Spirit works in human lives.