Greetings in Christ,
I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian church, the community of the saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the flesh, and eternal life. Amen.
What is this?
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. Small Catechism - Third Article of the Creed
I remember the first time I read this part of the Small Catechism and began to memorize these words: 'I believe that I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit calls me through the Gospel...'. As a teenager struggling to find a way to be sure that God loved me and that I would go to heaven when I died, this confession from the Catechism was like a drink of cold water.
'I believe that I can not...' summed up how I felt about my faith. I could not believe in Jesus enough to have any lasting peace. The faith that I could generate did not last nor could it rise to the level of trust I knew in my heart was needed. It just wasn't in me. Reading that someone like Martin Luther had the same struggle that I had with faith brought the peace to my heart and soul that all my efforts could not accomplish. The Good News that the Holy Spirit was the One who worked faith in me, apart from my efforts, open the gates of heaven for me.
This coming Sunday is Pentecost. Pentecost recalls the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples and began the new life of the Church empowered by the Spirit. The same Spirit that fell upon the disciples is at work in us still today, creating faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the Gospel. In this is our true freedom in Christ for we are liberated from the need to save ourselves or create the faith needed to believe in Jesus. All that is a gift and blessing we are given when we are baptized and the Holy Spirit is poured out on us.