Jesus talks with Nicodemus about Baptism. He calls it being born again in water and the Spirit. We know and understand water. But Baptism isn’t just the rebirth in water. Christ says it’s of the water and the Spirit. So what of the Spirit? How does Christ explain the Spirit? He says … ”The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Consider this: The wind exists. We can’t capture it or study it under a microscope, yet we can feel its effects. We can see the leaves blow, the sailboat sail, and the kite fly. The proof is in the works. Though the human eye can’t see and the human hand can’t touch the wind, its works and effects justify our belief in it.
Christ makes the comparison. Just as the wind exists somewhat intangibly, so the Spirit exists. We can’t put the Spirit under a microscope or catch Him in a box. So doesn’t He exist? The human mind would want to say no, but we all know, just as we know of the wind, that the Spirit does work. Where’s the proof? As the wind’s proof is in the works it does in blowing and the effects we see in leaves and sailboats, so the Spirit’s proof is in His workings and effects in life.
The Spirit works in God’s Word and in Baptism. Every forgiven, redeemed, faith-instilled Christian is proof of the Spirit. You yourself are proof of the work of the Spirit. You may not be able to say at the exact second in your life the Spirit performed His work, just as we don’t know the exact place and moment the wind began to blow, but we can see the effect. You are now a faith-instilled Christian, sinner turned saint. The Spirit works. Unlike the wind, we know where the Spirit works. He works where He has said He would work: Word and Sacrament. Through that work, faith is produced within you. If you want proof of the Spirit look no further than the saving faith and forgiven nature within you and God’s Word and Sacraments.
For in sin, we could not produce faith, repentance, or forgiveness. Within the work of the Spirit, these things are ours. He has gifted us with the faith that believes and receives these blessings. Martin Luther summarizes God’s Word on the Spirit like this,
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it in Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true. Amen.
The Rev. Logan Landes is assistant pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.