The Danger of Taking the Holy Spirit for Granted and Neglecting the Means of Grace — A Pastoral Letter of Pastor Rolf Preus

May, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

During my first year as a pastor I was shocked to learn from my catechumens that they had never heard of Pentecost. How could anyone grow up in the church and be unfamiliar with this holiday? Why, it’s the birthday of the church! Without Pentecost, we would all be dead in our sins, without any knowledge of God, not trusting in Jesus, not having the forgiveness of sins, without any hope in this world or for the next. Unless the Holy Spirit came upon the church – as Jesus promised he would – the church would not exist. And yet, the children I had been appointed to teach were not familiar with Pentecost.

It has occurred to me over the years that Pentecost often falls on Memorial Day weekend during which people who ordinarily attend church might miss. So it is possible that children can grow up without attending church on Pentecost Sunday. (This year it falls on May l5 – two weeks before the Memorial Day weekend.)

It has also occurred to me that we tend to take the Holy Spirit for granted. Perhaps that’s why this particular holy day is not considered as important as Christmas or Easter. But taking the Holy Spirit for granted would be a big mistake.

Just because you are a Christian does not mean you will remain one. There’s nothing we can do to keep the Father from creating and sustaining this world and providing us with everything we need. He is going to govern this world so that we can derive our daily bread from it. We can misuse what he gives us, true. But we cannot shut out the work and influence of God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

There’s nothing we can do to keep Jesus from dying for us and rising from the dead. It’s done. He did it. You can’t take him off of the cross. He stayed there until he had fully paid for your sins. His suffering was not cut short by the merciful breaking of his legs. As the Bible said, not one bone was broken. And you can’t keep him in the grave, either. He rose from the dead, having destroyed death and opening heaven.

But there is something we can do to keep the Holy Spirit out of our lives. We can stop listening. We can set our Bibles aside. We can stop hearing the gospel. We can stop receiving the Lord’s Supper. We can stop going to church. The means of grace – the gospel and the sacraments – are the means that the Holy Spirit uses to call us to faith. They are where we find the Holy Spirit throughout our lives. Pentecost is an ongoing event.

Every Sunday is Easter. We come to receive him who rose from the dead, bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel. Every Sunday is Pentecost. We come to be filled with the Spirit of truth who persuades our hearts of the truth of the gospel. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and giver of life, and not just on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit keeps us in the faith to which God called us when we were baptized. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. He always comforts you. He takes the treasures Jesus won for you and gives them to you. Pentecost isn’t about speaking in tongues and miraculous signs. It’s about faith, the faith that the Holy Spirit works in us by the gospel.

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Preus

About Pastor Rolf Preus

Pastor Rolf David Preus grew up on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the fourth of ten children, where his father, Dr. Robert David Preus, taught for many years. Pastor Preus graduated from high school in 1971, from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1979. He was ordained on July 1, 1979, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Clear Lake, Minnesota. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Clear Lake (1979-1982), First Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1982-1989), St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin (1989-1997), River Heights Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1997-2006), and First American Lutheran Church in Mayville, North Dakota and Grace Lutheran Church in Crookston, Minnesota from (2006-2015). On February 15, 2015 he was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church, Fairview, Montana. Pastor Preus received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1987. His thesis topic was, “An Evaluation of Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conversations on Justification." Pastor Preus has taught courses in theology for Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Concordia University Wisconsin, and St. Sophia Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil, Ukraine. Pastor Preus married Dorothy Jean Felts on May 27, 1975, in Coldwater, Michigan. God has blessed Pastor and Dort with twelve children: Daniel, David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, James, Mary, Samuel, and Peter. David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, and James are pastors in the LCMS. God has blessed Pastor and Mrs. Preus with forty-three grandchildren so far. Pastor Preus' mother is living in Minneapolis. Three of his brothers and two of his brothers-in-law have served as pastors in the LCMS.

Comments

The Danger of Taking the Holy Spirit for Granted and Neglecting the Means of Grace — A Pastoral Letter of Pastor Rolf Preus — 38 Comments

  1. You’re wrong. Pentecost is about everything that God said it is about, whether we are comfortable with it or not. Pentecost is about the First-fruits of the harvest. It is about the outpouring of the Spirit. It is about God keeping His promise to Abraham, and then, through Cornelius, showing that the promise was open to all. We might not need or want tongues today, but please, don’t denigrate the wonderful works of God because it doesn’t fit your comfort zone.

  2. I am afraid we to often slight the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the enabler, the author, and finisher of our faith. We should take heed to the third article. We stress what Jesus has fone for us and rightly so, however we would never know that without tge Holy Spirit. Thank you for your reasoned remberance.

  3. Thank you again for another needed article. I sent it to my lapsed Lutheran daughter. I hope and pray that she reads it and takes to heart the truth of the Lord of the church.

  4. During the 1960’s, Prof. Lorenz Wunderlich of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis,
    wrote a book entitled “The Holy Spirit, The Half-Known God” It is probably
    out of print today, but he attempted to explain the importance of the Holy
    Spirit in the life of the healthy Christian.

  5. @Delwyn X. Campbell #1

    “We might not need or want tongues today, but please, don’t denigrate the wonderful works of God because it doesn’t fit your comfort zone.”

    If you are referring to the false sign referred to as “tongues” today, it is you who are wrong.

    That tongues are not practiced in a Biblical method (I Cor 14:27-28) means that what is called tongues today is not of God. You cannot call something a work of God when it goes clearly against the teaching of God’s own Word.

  6. Dear Rev. Preus: you write, “We come to be filled with the Spirit of truth who persuades our hearts of the truth of the gospel.” Scripture teaches that we come to church filled with the Spirit of Truth, because He dwells in each member of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, Scripture teaches that once He comes to dwell in us, He dwells with us forever, unless we commit the Sin against the Holy Spirit. He does not “leak” out so that we have to be constantly “refilled.” According to Scripture, to have the Holy Spirit dwell in a person means to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
    John 7: 37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
    John 14: 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
    Romans 8: 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
    1 Cor. 3: 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
    1 Cor. 12: 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
    Gal. 4: 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
    1 John 4: 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
    Although I could never understand how people can believe that the Holy Spirit could be doled out in bits and pieces, it should be noted that almost every reference to “being filled with the Spirit” in the Epistles is in the Aorist form. As I understand it, that means that a state is referred to, not an action. In other words, the translation, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” means “they were all full of the Holy Spirit.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  7. Much theological confusion is caused by setting up false antitheses. That we are filled with the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism does not mean that we are not continually being filled with the Holy Spirit every time we hear the gospel. We are forgiven of all our sins and yet we continue to seek and receive God’s forgiveness. We are saints who are continually being sanctified. There is no conflict between living in a state of grace and at the same time dying to sin and rising to righteousness every day. Don’t find conflicts where there are none, Mr. Marquart. Often, matters are not either/or, but rather both/and.

  8. @Rolf Preus #8
    Dear Rev. Preus: If you can quote a single passage from Scripture that says a person can receive the Holy Spirit more than one time, I will apologize and recant.
    On the other hand, I think you are putting the cart before the horse when you write, “…does not mean that we are not continually being filled with the Holy Spirit every time we hear the gospel.” The Gospel, being part of the Word of God, is clearly the tool of the Holy Spirit, not the other way around, Ephesians 6:17, “…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  9. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19

  10. @Rolf Preus #11
    Thank you for your response, Rev. Preus, but this one does not do it. πληροῦσθε is in the present passive imperative. Unless you are a specialist in Greek yourself, since I am not, you may want to check with someone you trust on this matter, but as I understand it, the passive imperative makes “the Spirit”, in this case, the agent of the action, meaning “let the Spirit fill you” with “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” not with Himself.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  11. @George A. Marquart #6

    He dwells with us forever, unless we commit the Sin against the Holy Spirit.

    How does that happen, that a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit commits the sin against the Holy Spirit?

    And by what means does one indwelt by the Holy Spirit not commit that sin?

    “… 9] Enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. 10] Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. 11] It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments.” SA 3.8.9-11.

  12. @George A. Marquart #10

    “The Gospel, being part of the Word of God, is clearly the tool of the Holy Spirit, not the other way around …”

    Hmmm … “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2) And again, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith . . .?” (Galatians 3:5). And “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

    George, are you saying that the Holy Spirit does not come to us through the preaching of the Gospel (Word/Baptism), that is, supplied to us “by hearing with faith”? Is it not clear that the Gospel is both an instrument of and means by which we receive the Holy Spirit? Is not God constantly pouring out His grace and Spirit upon His people through the hearing of the Gospel?

    Luther believed so based on Matthew 7:11 (and Luke 11:13): [Christ] “also wants to indicate that because of all the temptations and hindrances we face, nothing is more necessary in Christendom than continual and unceasing prayer that God would give His grace and His Spirit to make the doctrine powerful and efficacious among us and among others” (AE 21, pp. 228-29).

    Of course, then we would also have to deny that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, unless the tongues of fire were not truly an outpouring and receiving of the Holy Spirit, since Jesus had already breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit . . . ” in (John 20:22).

    In Grace and Truth . . .

  13. @T. R. Halvorson #13

    We have two saying of our Lord:
    1. John 14: 16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”
    2. Matthew 12:32, “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Parallel text, Luke 12:10.
    Are you saying that the Holy Spirit never dwelled in those who commit the Sin against the Holy Spirit? That puts you clearly among the Calvinists, “once saved, always saved.” That is, of course, not as bad as being a follower of the Papacy and Mahomet.
    As all faithful Lutherans are eager to remind me, a member of God’s Kingdom, someone who, by definition is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, can forfeit their salvation. How this happens, I do not know and hope never to find out on my own person. Apparently people have the power to resist the Holy Spirit, even when He dwells in them. But my consolation is that, 1 Cor. 12: 3, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  14. @Delwyn X. Campbell #1

    Pentecost isn’t about speaking in tongues and miraculous signs. It’s about faith, the faith that the Holy Spirit works in us by the gospel.

    You’re right, Pastor Preus. Christians speaking in tongues has all but ceased (Apostolic Cessation) and the “tongues” that pass for a heavenly language today typically don’t meet the rigid standard of Holy Scripture (as J. Dean mentions in #5). Delwyn X., do tongue practitioners speak the language of the Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and of visitors from Rome both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians or of any of the hundreds of other global languages? When this occurred in Acts 2, this was nothing short of a miraculous divine intervention on the part of the Third Person of the Trinity. The burden of proof is on those who advocate legitimizing speaking in tongues in the Christian church today. I’m not skeptical when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament as described in The Third Article of Luther’s Small Catechism. I am skeptical when my contemporaries speak in tongues. Don’t lay a load of gibberish on me and expect me to accept it as a so-called heavenly language. Christians put the best construction on what they see and hear but they are called to be wise and discerning. Please re-read 1 Corinthians 14 before you ask me to step out of my comfort zone.

  15. @Rev. James Gier #14

    Dear Rev. Gier: As you know, St. Paul addressed these words to grown-ups. I received the Holy Spirit when I was baptized, as did many grown-ups on Pentecost: Acts 2: 38, … “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
    In Galatians, St. Paul argues faith vs. works, not whether the Gospel is a tool of the Holy Spirit or vice versa. Luther put it most succinctly, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel…” Should he have written, “but the Gospel has provided me with the Holy Spirit”?
    I deny that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and I do so based on clear Scripture:
    1. On the day of His resurrection, our Lord appeared to the Apostles, and, John 20: 22, “… When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
    2. On the day of His ascension, our Lord said, Acts 1: 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That is what happened on Pentecost. The Apostles did not receive the Holy Spirit but He “came upon them” to give them the special powers promised by our Lord.
    3. Lest you think that I am quibbling about words, our Lord Himself “quibbled” about them when He said, John 14: 16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  16. Be Filled with the Spirit

    by Don Matzat

    What does the Bible mean when it directs us to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” or describes a person as “full of the Spirit.” In the Book of Acts, the company of the Apostles was filled with the Holy Spirit (2: 4; 4: 31). Peter was filled (4: 8). On the first missionary journey, Paul is described as being filled with the Holy Spirit (13: 9). One of the requirements for the deacons chosen in chapter six was to be full of the Holy Spirit (6: 3). Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit (7: 55), as also was Barnabas (11: 24). In Ephesians 5: 18, we are directed to be “filled with the Spirit.”

    It is God’s desire for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The life and vitality of the church is the result of God’s people being filled with the Holy Spirit. Pastors and church leaders need to be filled with the Spirit so that they might be led and empowered by the Spirit. Christian men, filled with the Spirit, would be more effective, loving, and patient husbands and fathers. Many of the conflicts that we deal with in our churches and homes are caused by the fact that we are not filled with the Holy Spirit!

    What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit and how does one become that way?

    Qualitative, not Quantitative

    The phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” is often thought of as a quantitative phrase, describing how much of the Holy Spirit a person happens to possess, I heard one Bible teacher declare, III need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, because I leak.” In other words, he believed that he used up the Holy Spirit in the same manner in which his car used up gasoline. As he went to the gas station to “fill it up,” so he needed to continually pray that God would “fill him up” with the Holy Spirit, This is a false teaching that produces confusion.

    The Holy Spirit is a person not an ephemeral, nebulous force that is somehow able to leak out of us. When you receive Holy Spirit, you receive the entire person, Therefore, when the Bible speaks of being “filled with” or “full of” the Holy Spirit it is a qualitative statement defining the quality of a Christian’s life, not a quantitative statement defining the amount of the Spirit they possess,

    There are people today who oddly define themselves as “Spirit-filled Christians.” What they are really saying is that they are kind, loving, patient, gentle people. The problem is, some who describe themselves as “Spirit-filled” are often anything but that. The Bible never speaks of anyone defining himself as “Spirit-filled.” It is a designation that is applied to others who manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit….

    ref.: http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/issues_site/resource/journals/v1n4.htm

  17. @George A. Marquart #15

    1. Never said once saved always saved. That would have made no sense in the general context of a warning about the dangers of taking the Holy Spirit for granted and neglecting the means of grace. Once again your position depends on misunderstanding the basic, general point of another, which in this case is the danger of falling away, which you somehow converted into its opposite, once saved always saved.

    2. One of the ways a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can fall into the sin against the Holy Spirit is neglecting the means of grace. How, on the basis of Lutheran thought, did this become a controversial proposition?

    The confessions, as I quoted, say God does not wish to deal with us except through the means of grace. According to that, the statement by Pastor Rolf Preus that you originally disputed is correct and your refutation is profoundly not Lutheran.

  18. @T. R. Halvorson #19

    Dear Mr. Halvorson: In your original posting you wrote, “How does that happen, that a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit commits the sin against the Holy Spirit?” I misunderstood this to mean that a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit cannot commit the sin against the Holy Spirit. Sorry about that.
    With regard to point 2 above, I agree and I do not know how this became a controversial position.
    My original objection to Rev. Rolf Preus’ posting was that we do not come to church to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It had nothing to do with the means of grace. There are too many statements in the New Testament that we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and that He stays with us forever, unless we commit the sin against the Holy Spirit. So far, no refutation of that.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  19. @Scott Diekmann #18
    Thank you, Scott, for posting this. Don Matzat was a year behind me at Concordia Bronxville. But I disagree with his last sentence. There are certain objective truths Scripture teaches about members of the Kingdom of God. Although it is desirable that His people manifest the fruits of the Spirit, in most cases Scripture simply, objectively states that people are filled with the Holy Spirit, without making reference to manifestation of gifts. It is dangerous to tie the presence of the Holy Spirit to the manifestation of gifts, because this manifestation, or lack of it, invariably becomes a subjective judgement. God is the sole judge of whether His gifts are manifest in our lives.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  20. @George A. Marquart #22

    …Which is why Lutherans point to their Baptism and the promises there given by the Spirit as certainty of their salvation. Our “fruit” doesn’t generally stand out; it’s the ordinary things we do in our lives as we serve our neighbor in love where most fruit is borne. “Fruits of the Spirit, however, are the works wrought by God’s Spirit, who dwells in believers. These works are done by believers because they are regenerate [Latin text: “spontaneously and freely”]. They act as though they knew of no command, threat, or reward. In this way God’s children live in the Law and walk according to God’s Law.” FC, Ep., VI, 6

  21. @George A. Marquart #23
    I guess I’m a little puzzled at your remark, because Matzat doesn’t seem to be saying anything that any confessional Lutheran wouldn’t agree to. Or is it a matter of degree rather than substance?

  22. @J. Dean #25

    J. Dean, a quick perusal of Matzat’s paper yields the following, with which I disagree, based on the clear teaching of Scripture. In several instances Matzat confuses cause and effect with correlation. In another he quotes the Confessions to prove his point when the quote does not deal with his point.

    Since I lack the time of energy to give an explanation for each statement I disagree with, if you like, please pick any three and I will see what I can do. I suspect the rest will then become clear to you.

    Start of excerpts:

    Today, the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Holy Spirit-inspired words of those same first-century Apostles, not through actions or antics of modern big-name evangelists or self-proclaimed apostles and prophets.

    In their desire to avoid making distinctions between Christians, some teach that every Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian. This is not true. In Acts 6:3, the deacons chosen to minister to the widows were to be men who “were known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” There must have been Christian men who did not fulfill that requirement or else it would not have been a requirement. Since those who did not fill the bill were still Christians, they must have had the Holy Spirit, but they were not known to be full of the Holy Spirit.

    Since the sinful nature still clings to the Christian, being filled with the Spirit is not a constant condition. The Lutheran confessional document the Formula of Concord states:
    Again, there is not only a great difference between Christians, one being weak and the other strong in the Spirit, but even the individual Christian in his own life discovers that at one moment he is joyful in the Spirit and at another moment fearful and terrified, at one time ardent in love, strong in faith and in hope, and at another time cold and weak. (1)

    What is the variable?
    Since no believer in Jesus Christ is lacking anything from God, the variable has to be the result of Christian growth and maturity and learning how to put off the sinful nature and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The deacons were men who were “known” to be filled with the Spirit. Their lives, conversations, actions and attitudes manifested more of the fruit of the Spirit that the works of the flesh.

    Being filled with the Spirit has nothing to do with the forgiveness of our sins, our righteousness before God, and our eternal life in heaven. These are settled issues. Being filled with the Spirit has to do with sanctification or how we live the Christian life. God commands us to be filled with the Spirit, not so that we might be saved and go to heaven, but that we might manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and demonstrate God’s love to others.

    In these verses, not only is the Apostle Paul commanding us to be filled with the Spirit, but he is teaching us how to do it: “Be filled . . . speaking psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, music in your heart, and giving thanks to the Father for everything. ”

    True, the true means of edification, the specific means of grace through which the Spirit is given, lives, and operates in us, is the Word of God. However, spiritual singing is but a specific form of the use and application of the divine Word. According to Colossians 3:16 mutual teaching and admonition by means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are species of “let the Word of Christ dwell among you richly. . . It is in this manner also, through hymns and songs, that our spiritual life is refreshed and we are filled with the Spirit. (bold mine) (2)

    What is the solutions Set your mind upon the Word and promises of God. Reflect upon the goodness of God and give him thanks. Fill your heart with songs of praise and thanksgiving. As a result, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

    End of excerpts.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  23. Don Matzat was a fast-pitch softball pitcher while at the St. Louis Seminary.
    One time at a Concordia Tournament at Forest Park, Matzat came to the game
    with his right arm smelling like Ben-Gay. He had rubbed this substance into
    his arm attempting to make his arm stronger.

    The truth is that your arm does not get stronger from Ben-Gay. Don had a bad
    outing that night on the mound. I had to come into the game and relieve him
    and we won the game. He was a graduate student and I was a first year sem
    student.

  24. Dear Rev. Preus: I have another thought about the matter of repeated fillings of the Holy Spirit.

    What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us? May I suggest that Dr. Martin Luther summarized the work of the Holy Spirit most excellently in his explanation of the Third Article: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.”

    Now, according to “Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church,” by Heinrich Schmid, a textbook used by St. Louis Seminary (and possibly Ft. Wayne, I am not sure), some, but not all of the attributes of the Holy Spirit are, p. 159, “omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.” I think we can add perfection (Matthew 5:48). Now, as you receive “more” of the Holy Spirit, does he become more omnipotent, more omniscient, more omnipresent and more perfect in order to accomplish his work in you? Is not the smallest presence of the Holy Spirit able to accomplish everything?

    You do not see the absurdity of this teaching?

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  25. Mr. Marquart, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What teaching do you think is absurd and how do you think you have demonstrated its absurdity? I can see that you are engaging in an argument, but as far as I can discern, it is not with me. Could it be that you are reading into my words what they do not say and then you are arguing against them?

  26. @Rolf Preus #31
    Dear Rev. Preus: you seemed quite aware of the nature of the argument when you responded with #8 on 5 May, and when #11 on 5 May. The question was and continues to be whether we can receive the Holy Spirit more than once, and specifically whether as Christians we receive the Holy Spirit when we hear the Gospel. That is what I characterized as absurd, unbiblical, and wrong.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  27. Mr. Marquart, I still don’t know what you are talking about. I cannot understand how Luther’s Explanation to the Third Article of Creed or the attributes of the Holy Spirit you mention are arguments against what I wrote. Your talk about receiving “more” of the Holy Spirit suggests that you don’t understand what I wrote. This is why I suspect you are reading into my words what they don’t say and then you carry on an argument with the straw man you have created. I really don’t want to engage in such an argument. I don’t mean to be rude, but it appears to me that you are somewhat of a contrarian, looking to fight over words. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good argument! I just can’t make any sense out of yours.

  28. @Rolf Preus #33

    Dear Rev. Preus: It may be that do not understand what you wrote. Here is a sentence from you, “That we are filled with the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism does not mean that we are not continually being filled with the Holy Spirit every time we hear the gospel.” Maybe you could explain to me how, if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and Baptism and then continually filled with the Holy Spirit every time we hear the gospel, how is it that this does not mean we are receiving more of the Holy Spirit? It may be that there is something very simple here that I am just unable to see, so please help me to see.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  29. The Holy Spirit is not a material substance. He is a person. What does it mean to be filled with God? God is incomprehensible. He does not consist of parts. God cannot be portioned, divided, or quantified. So then, to be filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t comparable to a pitcher being filled with water, a circumstance in which the pitcher would be full and unable to receive more water. There is no conflict at all between being filled with the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism and then being filled with the Holy Spirit again and again as he comes to us in his gospel.

  30. What exactly are people who practice glossolalia doing? Is it pure fantasy? Is it sinful? I’ve tried doing it, but I couldn’t spit anything out.

  31. @Jamie #37

    The simple explanation is that it is pure fantasy and sinful in that it attributes something to God which is not from God (a violation of 2nd Commandment). It is incoherent babbling which is claimed to be the language of the Holy Spirit or of angels. It is not the speaking of any tongue/language of the world which is what would have taken place on Pentecost. Some like to point to 1 Corinthians 13:1 as a proof text for glossolalia. That isn’t what the verse is about, nor does it even imply that there are those who pray or speak in “heavenly” languages. It’s a hyperbolic expression that Paul makes to drive home a deeper point.

    The more complicated answer: The purpose of worship in the charismatic sphere is to build up emotional fervor, to overload the senses, and drum up enthusiasm in the individual(s). An environment is created to “move” an individual. That’s why you have hands waving and tears flowing. That’s why you have people shouting out and grasping at themselves, moving and swaying, etc. That’s why the music focuses on certain major and minor keys at certain times during the service or to coincide with the teaching taking place, and heavily emphasizes repetition – to create an emotional response via rumination on a simple phrase which can have any meaning attributed to it via the thoughts and meditation of the one singing along. It is all done with the intention of manipulating and directing the emotions of the worshiper. It then goes deeper: you add the element of peer pressure. Not only are the worship leaders emotionally manipulating you, you need to fit in with the Jones’ in the congregation around you. Other people are doing ‘these’ things, and if you aren’t then you must not be doing it right (or you might not be a real Christian gasp!). So, you work yourself up even more with the hope of getting to the point enthusiasm of the other people around you.

    The people feed off of each other. One person starts rolling and twitching on the floor, suddenly everyone else around them starts doing the same thing. One person breaks into fits of laughter from the Holy Spirit, and you have a new group doing the same. And so forth. They move and sway and cry, so you drive yourself emotionally to do the same. They speak in tongues – which is a true sign of being a real believer in that circle. So, you need to do the same or you might be sneered at for not really being slain in the Spirit/not really being a believer. Even if you can’t babble in tongues – you pretend to, because you don’t want to be seen as someone who isn’t really filled with the spirit. The reality is that there are two types of people in such places: Those who are so delusional that they actually think they can speak in tongues (due to emotional ecstasy) and those who are faking it to fit in (while secretly hoping that maybe someday they will actually be able to babble in tongues for real – which won’t ever happen because it isn’t real).

    That is my wordy and still too simplistic answer to your question. Hope that is helpful.

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