Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Holy Spirit, Author of the Holy Ministry (Johann Gerhard)

From Johann Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces: On the Ministry, Part One (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), § 50, p. 70.
In time past the Holy Spirit spoke through prophets, who were divinely stirred up and sent as teachers to the church. 2 Sam. 23:2: “The Spirit of the Lord has spoken through me.” Acts 28:25: “The Holy Spirit spoke well to our fathers through the prophet Isaiah.” 1 Pet. 1:11: “The Spirit of Christ in the prophets predicted the sufferings.” 2 Pet. 1:21: “No prophecy ever was given by human will, but holy men of God spoke, φερόμενοι” (“moved and driven”) “by the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who anointed Christ according to the flesh “above His fellows” and “sent Him to preach” (Ps. 45:7; Isa. 42:1; 61:1; Luke 4:18). It is the Holy Spirit who was visibly poured out upon the apostles so that, “clothed with power from on high,” they would preach the Gospel to all nations (Acts 2:1[–4]; Luke 24:49). It is the Holy Spirit who, as the apostles were serving the Lord and fasting, orders them to “set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He called them” (Acts 13:2). For this reason they are said to have been “sent by the Holy Spirit” (v. 4); and this is also affirmed regarding the bishops of the church at Ephesus. Acts 20:28: “The Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to rule the church of God, which He obtained by His own blood.” It is also He who equips ministers of the Word with the gifts necessary to carry out their ministry correctly and salutarily. 1 Cor. 12:4–9: “Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit; there are diversities of servings but the same Lord; and there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God who works all in all. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for usefulness. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healings in the one Spirit,” etc. Verse 11: “All these are worked by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one as He wills.” From this, the ministry of the Gospel is also called “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:6), not only because the Holy Spirit is given through the word of the Gospel (Gal. 3:2) but also because the Holy Spirit is the Author and Preserver of the ministry and equips ministers with the necessary gifts. Thus when Christ wished to commit the ministry to His apostles, He first gave them the Holy Spirit by means of breathing on them (John 20:22). The result is that all that ministers of the church do correctly and salutarily in their office is correctly attributed to the Holy Spirit, who acts effectually in them and through them. Matt. 10:20: “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”