CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE THIRD ARTICLE OF THE APOSTLES' CREED -- "The Holy Spirit’s Work Is to Testify of Jesus" -- The Third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son to give life and salvation to us in Christ. How does He give testimony to Jesus? By the preaching of the Gospel, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the Holy Communion. By the Words of the New Testament in the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirits that Jesus is Christ our Savior that we might believe in Him. By these same gifts He, the Holy Spirit, enlightens our hearts, minds, and lives to live from and in the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. By these same gifts, the Holy Spirit brings Christ into our hearts and brings forth Christ in our lives in love toward others which is the fruit of faith. The Holy Spirit never shines upon Himself; He is always shining upon Christ. We should think of it this way: it is the Holy Spirit who preaches the Gospel, baptizes, forgives sins, and gives us to eat of Christ’s body and blood. It is the Holy Spirit who does all of these things, that our faith and life might be fixed firmly in Christ. That is the Holy Spirit’s work, as Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).
Catechesis Notes for the Third Article of the Creed -- “Neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe in him and take him as our Lord, unless these were first offered to us and bestowed on our hearts through the preaching of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. The work is finished and completed; Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work had remained hidden and no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not be buried but put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure of salvation. Therefore to sanctify is nothing else than to bring us to the Lord Christ to receive this blessing, which we could not obtain by ourselves…Further we believe that in this Christian church we have the forgiveness of sins, which is granted through the holy sacraments and absolution as well as through all the comforting words of the entire Gospel. Toward forgiveness is directed everything that is to be preached concerning the sacraments and, in short, the entire Gospel and all the duties of Christianity. Forgiveness is needed constantly, for although God’s grace has been won by Christ, and holiness has been wrought by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word in the unity of the Christian church, yet because we are encumbered with our flesh we are never without sin.” The Large Catechism, Third Article
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE SECOND ARTICLE OF THE APOSTLES' CREED -- He suffered, died, and was buried -- "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). On our behalf and for our salvation He suffered and died. The word for “bruised” or “crushed” for our iniquities is the same verb found in Genesis 3:15, in which the Seed of the Woman would “bruise” the serpent’s head and the serpent would “bruise” or “crush” the Savior’s heel. Everything that “chastises” our conscience and interrupts our peace with God, as well as the “chastening” or punishment that we deserved for our sin to make peace with God, fell upon Jesus. Every wound that is inflicted upon us because of our sin is “healed” by “His stripes” or His “wounds” in the shedding of His blood. (Excerpt from Lutheran Catechesis, Catechist Edition, p. 106a)
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE CONCLUSION TO THE TEN COMMANDMENTS -- The first Commandment is behind all the commandments, and all the commandments are interconnected in the demand to love God above all things. The threat of the Law to punish anyone who turns away from God is visited upon Jesus in His death upon the cross. He was punished for the sin of the fathers in fulfillment of the law. Therefore, there is grace and mercy for us sinners, because Jesus “loved and trusted in God and gladly did what God demanded.” He did this even to the point of suffering the punishment that we sinners deserved. Death and condemnation is the result of turning away from God, the source of all life. The tablets of the Law that were hurled at the Jews from Mount Sinai show how all our righteousness is crushed under the scrutiny of God’s commandments. This is necessary. If we do not feel the crushing blow of the Law, we cannot receive the righteousness of Christ. Christ bore the crushing blow of the Law’s condemnation in His death. He willingly took our place, like a scapegoat, and suffered all that we by our sins deserved. Why did He do this? His love and desire to save us and give us life is at the heart of all that He does for us, even when the Law is proclaimed that crushes our self-righteousness and pride. This week’s Bible verse accents these themes, teaching us that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in [God’s] sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE SECOND ARTICLE OF THE APOSTLES' CREED -- The Virgin-born Son -- The prophet Isaiah foretold the virgin birth of Christ approximately 700 years before He was born. The virgin birth is, by definition, a miraculous event and indicates that the Son born to the virgin is of divine origin and without sin. The prophet confesses this by foretelling that the Christ shall be called by the name “Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” Isaiah expands upon the promise of the “Seed of the Woman” (Genesis 3:15), the first prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. Isaiah’s prophecy is quoted and interpreted by the angel in Joseph’s dream (Matthew 1:23). It is also the prophetic backdrop of the account of the Annunciation of our Lord (Luke 1:26-38). The Gospel of Luke makes clear that Isaiah’s prophecy came true. The evangelist specifically refers to Mary as a virgin. Mary confesses that she is a virgin who has not known a man. The Angel Gabriel specifically states that her conception and birth will be of divine origin by the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God…. For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:35, 37). This passage teaches the two natures of Christ, as the Catechism states: “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.” (Excerpt from Lutheran Catechesis, Catechist Edition, p. 94a)
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE FIRST ARTICLE OF THE APOSTLES' CREED -- “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:13-14). Every human life is sacred because God made each one of us, body and soul, in our mother’s womb. David confesses the Lord’s intimate involvement with the design, intrinsic beauty, and creation of each one of us. The Lord formed our inward parts, every organ and system of our bodies. The Lord is the source of all human life and is worthy of our adoration and praise for who He is and for His “marvelous works” that are manifest in the creation of every human being. From the depths of his soul David knows that his life, and the life of every human being, is completely dependent upon the God of love who designed and made each one of us in His image. (Excerpt from Lutheran Catechesis, Catechist Edition, p. 52b)
Luther's Small Catechism
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