The Holy Spirit and the Church (R.C. Sproul)
This article is taken from the book La Course de la Foi by R.C. Sproul
The symbol of the Apostles is a resolutely Trinitarian declaration; in other words, it clearly presents a God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Some believe that the concept of the Trinity was not fully developed until the fourth century; however, the belief in God as the Trinity is formally attested from the beginning of Christendom. After affirming the belief in God the Father and in Jesus Christ, the symbol of the Apostles completes his Trinitarian confession with a brief declaration: "I believe in the Holy Spirit".
One of the most important things to understand is that the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit, is a person, not an impersonal force or power. He has a personality, which means you can develop a relationship with him, just like you can develop a relationship with any person.
As a member of the divinity, the Spirit participated in Creation. Perhaps its best-known function, however, is that of inspiration . The Spirit is known in the Bible as the Spirit of truth. It is the Spirit who clothed the ancient prophets, enabling them to speak the truth of God. It is also by the Holy Spirit that the Scriptures were inspired; they were written by men under his supervision.
The Christian life begins with the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit changes hearts, causing dead souls to awaken to the things of God. This is called "regeneration". The Christian life begins with the power of the Spirit; growth in the Christian life is also effected through it. This process of growing in grace to achieve spiritual maturity is called "sanctification." Through sanctification, Christians come to manifest what the New Testament calls "the fruit of the Spirit," which encompasses love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, benevolence, faith, gentleness and self-control (Ga 5.22).
There is, however, one dimension of the Spirit's work that merits closer examination. In the New Testament, when Jesus speaks of the coming of the Spirit to his disciples (Jn 14-17), he calls the Spirit "the Comforter." However, when the Comforter is introduced in the New Testament, he is not only called the Comforter, but also another Comforter. Sometimes the equivalent Greek word is translated as "Defender". So when Jesus says, “I will send you another Comforter,” who can be the first? The answer is none other than Jesus himself, since he announces that, during his absence, he will send another comforter, the Holy Spirit, through whom he will always be present in the life of every believer. P >
The word "Comforter" evokes a person who sits with us and shows a tender empathy for our pain and sadness. Indeed, one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to comfort us in times of grief, crisis, and tragedy. But, that's not exactly what Jesus means when he uses this title. The Greek word he uses is the title given at that time to a defense lawyer who was available in times of unrest. Jesus sent the Spirit to be the one who stands with Christians in the midst of battle, strife, and crisis. This kind of defender is someone who comes to strengthen, to strengthen.Jesus promised to give the Holy Spirit to Christians as an ally to stand by and encourage them
If the Spirit is present in their lives, he always guides them to community. The New Testament calls believers “saints”. This word suggests that believers are set apart for a specific mission. They are not called "saints" because of their purity and virtue; they are not called "saints" in an absolute sense, as God is, but because the Holy Spirit dwells in them, because he set them apart by consecrating them and bringing them together in one body . “Saints” in this sense does not mean individuals who are superior to others in holiness or who perform miracles. According to the New Testament, all Christians are saints because they all have the Holy Spirit in them who sanctifies them.
On the other hand, redemption is individual. Although you can be in all kinds of groups, when you stand before God you are alone; individual faith prevails, and it is up to everyone to believe and trust Jesus Christ. Yet even though redemption is experienced on a very individual basis, Christianity does not teach individualism. On the contrary, believers are called to participate in the life of a community of faith called "the Church". The symbol of the Apostles calls it the "holy Catholic Church". Here, the word "Church" does not refer to a particular denomination or a local assembly, but to all Christians, wherever they are.
If there is one institution today that does not always seem holy, it is the Church! Although it is a corrupt institution, it is the most important in the world and the only one guaranteed by Christ. The forces of hell know this well, and that is why the Church of Jesus Christ is the ultimate target of spiritual attacks. While members of the Church may not always appear to be saints, the Church is organized for sinners and for their good.
Despite the lack of holiness of its members, the Church is holy because of its head, Jesus Christ. It was he who said: "I will build my church" (Mt 16:18). So the Church exists because she is called, instituted and ordained by Christ, because she is equipped and inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and because believers can benefit from the holiness of the Church. All the holiness that believers receive, they receive by virtue of the same powers that were at the origin of the constitution of the Church, namely Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ enjoined all Christians to take part in his Church, and he called them not to abandon the gathering of saints. No man is an isolated island when we speak of the Christian faith; all have the duty, but also the privilege, to take part in the Church.
The symbol of the Apostles declares to believe in the “holy Catholic Church”. This is not about the Roman Catholic Church. "Catholic" simply means "universal," which means that the Church exists wherever the people of God are. Protestants retain this confession in the symbol of the Apostles because, although they do not recognize the Roman Catholic Church as their own, they believe, in contrast, that the Church of Christ is greater, wider, more deeper and more extensive than the denominations and local assemblies of which they are members.
"The Communion of Saints" is another way of describing the Universal Catholic Church.The word "communion" does not refer here to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper or to that of the Eucharist. In the symbol of the Apostles, "the communion of saints" means that there is a communion, a fraternity which brings together all the Christians of the world by the bond of the Holy Spirit. This communion transcends confessional, geographic and ethnic boundaries as well as temporal boundaries.
This means that believers today are, in a way, in communion with those who believed years, if not centuries, before them. Indeed, believers are in communion with every Christian who has lived, for every Christian is united to Christ by faith, and this unity cannot be destroyed either by time or by death. By virtue of this union, each believer is, in a mysterious way, linked to everyone who is united with Christ..