The purpose of the Holy Spirit

     I heard a sermon a couple weeks ago about the Holy Spirit. The pastor said, “The Holy Spirit is for you”. In other words, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is for your benefit.

     I struggled with that at first. In fact, I wanted to disagree but I needed to think about it more first before I disagreed. After much thought, there wasn’t enough evidence to disagree except that “you” are not the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit but the secondary purpose.

     The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ. This is contrary to some charismatic ideas. Some charismatic people would say that the purpose of Christ is to give us the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Jesus is, in that case, to give us the infilling of the Holy Spirit as if it were the only reason Jesus died. The justification that Jesus provided on the cross does not matter much so long as you have the Holy Spirit. We are sanctified by the good works that we do from having the Holy Spirit and then at the end reaching total sanctification, as though that should be attained over and above or absent of justification.

     We know from the creeds that the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ. In the Nicene Creed, [we believe] in the Holy Spirit. Granted, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. The Holy Spirit is not the Cinderella or the silent partner because he is together worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son. But at the same time, he is not the end goal. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit whose primary goal is to point to Christ. This is as the Son’s goal is to point to the Father, by reconciling us to the Father through the blood that He shed on the cross.

     In what ways does the Holy Spirit point to Jesus? First, he spoke by the Prophets. He points to Christ through the church, his participation in the sacraments[1] which also includes the forgiveness of sins, giving of life[2], resurrection and life everlasting in the world to come.[3]

     The secondary purpose of the Holy Spirit is not independent of the primary purpose. The primary purpose is also not independent of the secondary purpose.

     The secondary purpose is for the church. The church’s function in the primary purpose would not be a function at all if not for the secondary function.

     The secondary purpose of the Holy Spirit is wrapped up in active righteousness, or righteousness before the world.[4] It is the duty of the church to bring the beliefs of the third article to the lost and dying world. For it is the churches function to be tools of the Holy Spirit, point to Christ who reconciles us to the Father.

     The Lord and Giver of Life empowers the church in taking care of the sick, providing for the poor, fighting for the weak, caring for all of the needs of our neighbors[5]. If you need to know who the church’s neighbor is, read Luke 10 before continuing[6]. This is as much an in reaching function as much as it is out reaching. Both in reach and outreach function on behalf of the Holy Spirit to point to Christ. He has spoken by the prophet Micah. Yahweh has told us what is good and what Yahweh requires of the church. Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. That is life giving. That is the sum of active righteousness.

     The Holy Spirit has spoken by the prophets. The prophets pointed forward to Christ and the cross for their contemporaries and up until the point of the act of the cross itself. The Holy Spirit still speaks by the prophets to us today and points back the Christ and his work on the cross. The Holy Spirit has spoken by the prophets as much real and for their present time of Israel as he speaks by the prophets now to our present time. It is the function of the church to bring words of the Holy Spirit by means of the prophets for us today. This is to minister and uplift current believers, pointing to the cross as an Ebenezer. This is to minister to the lost and dying world to point to the hope of the cross.

     There is one holy and apostolic church that not only use the words of the Holy Spirit by means of the prophets but also brings to life: baptism, the forgiveness of sins and the communion of the saints. The statement of one holy, catholic, and apostolic church is the melding point between the Old Testament and New Testament.

     This is what will open up what we believe in the Holy Spirit to be equal to or greater than what anyone else believes about the Holy Spirit. To go more at this point would be a spoiler alert for that which is to come.

     The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life gives us physical life. He gives us spiritual life through baptism, the forgiveness of sins and communion of saints. But those things give us eternal life through resurrection and the life of the world to come. Therefore, the proclamation is that the Holy Spirit is for you!


We care for others by going to work, providing shelter and food for our families, caring for the needy, providing emotional support for our loved ones, and looking after the environment. We care for the spiritual welfare of our neighbor through prayer, catechesis, and bringing the gospel to bear upon their lives.—Charles Arand

[1] The communion of saints.

[2] Not only did he participate in life giving to us but Jesus was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the Nicene Creed or conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Apostle’s Creed.

[3] Kolb, Robert. The Book of Concord. Fortress Press, Minneapolis. Pps. 19-24, 2000

[4] Coram Mundo.

[5] Arand, Charles: Called to Be Human: The Two Kinds of Righteousness Part 1. St. Louis, 2007

[6]  Luke 10: 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” ESV



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