Full Text for Dogmatics 3- Volume 42 - Does the Spirit Work Apart from the Word? (Video)

No. 42 It seems to be characteristic for Lutherans to say that �God gives no one his Spirit or grace apart from the external Word.� Is this affirmation a Lutheran invention? Don�t some Christian churches teach that the Spirit works also apart from the Word? Why are we Missouri Synod Lutherans so insistent on our formula? >>DR. LEOPALDO SANCHEZ M.: Well, Nick, you'll be happy to know that the affirmation that God gives no one his Spirit or grace apart from the external Word is not a Lutheran invention. In God's plan of creation, the Spirit always works together with the Word. As the psalmist puts it by the Lord's Word, the ***bar logos, the heavens were made. By the breath, the **ura, the ***numa, the Spirit -- the breath of his mouth oh their host. So the Word and the Spirit, always together, always in a joint mission in God's work of creation. And the same is true of God's -- of God's plan of salvation in Christ what is the incarnate Word of God. As we have seen the Spirit always works together with Christ to bring redemption to the human race. The same is true of the Spirit's relationship to the spoken Word. That the Spirit works through the spoken Word among us today follows from the church's belief that the same Spirit spoke by the prophets before the coming of Christ and that the same Spirit spoke through the apostles after the coming of Christ. We also see that the Spirit works through the Word in Christ's own ministry of proclamation. Remember, the one who is sent from above to him God gives the Spirit without measure to communicate his words. Christ's words are Spirit and life because they bring people by the power of the Spirit to faith in him who is life. So the Spirit's connection to the Word is very strong in the biblical narratives. To say that God gives no one his Spirit apart from the external Word is to make an biblical statement. Now, this is not to deny that the Holy Spirit could choose to work outside the spoken Word. But rather to say that such work of the Spirit is ultimately hidden from us. This is one of those ***spitus absontus or hidden Spirit sorts of statements. Rather than looking to the hidden Spirit of whom we know nothing or very little, we are rather directed to the proclamation of the Gospel where the Holy Spirit has promised to reveal himself in order to sanctify us and bring us to Christ. As Luther would put it: Where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit to create, call and gather the Christian church. Apart from which no one can come to the Lord, our Christ. So the affirmation that the Holy Spirit works through the spoken Word is ultimately a matter of the Gospel. It is meant to be a comforting message for us. It is meant to assure us beyond doubt that Christ's words of absolution and promise, the preached Gospel, indeed, give us his grace. Now, the teaching that God gives no one his Spirit apart from the Word is also a salutary one for another reason. How will you norm the faithfulness of the proclamation of the Word against false teachers and preachers? Here is where the written Word of God comes in. The written Word of God is inspired, Spirit breathed. Because through them the Spirit brings us to Christ, who is the center, central theme, of these Scriptures. As Luther would say: The Scriptures direct us to Christ. So we often speak of the written Word, Scripture, as the source and the norm of Christian faith and life. As David ***Lutz, a Lutheran theologian puts it: Scripture functions as a norm and judge. For the sake of the original Gospel. In order to assure that present proclamation is truly Gospel. And this was an important question. The logos of the Spirit, especially during the time of the Reformation, if you recall in the Roman Catholic Church, the logos of the Holy Spirit was particularly the church, more specifically the teaching office of the church or the Pope or perhaps the bishop. So whatever they said sort of went. On the other hand, you had a group of -- on the left wing side of the Reformation, often called the enthusiasts -- and we'll get a little bit more into them later -- who tended to place the Holy Spirit in each individual believer. So whatever this or that believer said, told him, that would be the final word. And so Luther thought of this question. And for him the logos of the Spirit was the Word of God. The logos of the Spirit by which we can discern what either the church or the individual believer says, the logos would be the holy Word of God. And particularly the apostolic and prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament. So Luther is not denying for example that the Spirit does accompany the church. But the church can err. The Spirit also accompanies the believer, dwells in the believer. But the believer is also flesh. He can also err. So what is our norm? What is our source of Christian faith and life? What's our norm for testing the faithfulness of the Gospel? For that we look at the Spirit's work through the Word.