May 25, 2006

I Cor. 16:9  “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”

The following comes from Pastor Todd Ohlmann, a CLC Mission Board member.

Behold what manner of the love the Father has bestowed on us
that we should be called children of God!   1 John 3:1

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who promised His disciples that He would send a Helper.

Pastor Koenig asked if I would write the B.A.S.I.C. this month. I have the privilege of writing just a week before we celebrate Pentecost. On the weekend of Pentecost the congregations I serve will be hosting a special four day event where several families from other CLC congregations will come to join in Bible study and worship along with fun and fellowship. We call this annual event our Bible Camp. Much like those who were in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost, those who attend this Bible Camp will be coming from many different parts of the USA. They will hear the Gospel message as we study our Bibles and then they will go back to their homes where they will have the joy of telling others what they have learned. Please pray for the Lord’s blessings on this event.

On the first Pentecost, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit so that the apostles were “all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:4. The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to proclaim God’s Word boldly to others, and to do mission work in foreign languages. From that day forward they had more faith and more courage. Only the Holy Spirit could work such changes. They were “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

As God’s children by faith, we want the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts as well. We want Him to increase our faith. He does, and He will. But remember what the Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  Romans 10:17. That Word of God is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Once the Law has shown us our sins, the Gospel follows with that glorious message of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit strengthens our faith as we are reminded that Jesus lived for us and died for us, and rose from death for us. As we hear the message of forgiveness through Christ, the Holy Spirit does His sanctifying work in our hearts.

No matter where we live, and no matter what we do, it is so important that we stay close to our Savior by hearing God’s Word and receiving the Lord’s Supper regularly. Through the word and sacraments the Holy Spirit will continue His saving work in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit also has the power to give us the courage to speak freely about our Lord and Savior. Remember who was preaching on that first Pentecost. Peter! The very same Peter who denied Jesus was now preaching the Word with great boldness. He pointed out the people’s sins. He called them to “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Acts 2:38 The Holy Spirit had given Peter a stronger faith, and greater courage, so that he was not afraid to stand up in public and proclaim God’s law and gospel.

Remember the apostle Peter. He denied Jesus in the courtyard, but here he was preaching a very powerful sermon on Pentecost. Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. He can work miracles. But the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God. As we grow in faith and knowledge of God’s Word, our confidence and courage will grow too. The Holy Spirit will work through His Word to increase our faith, and our ability to talk about and tell others what we believe. Be sure to pray for God’s help, because nothing good happens without God’s blessing.

The Holy Spirit is the one who works conversions, and we do not. I have never converted anybody, and neither has any pastor or missionary on the face of the earth. The sum total of all the conversions that pastors and teachers have worked is zero! But God the Holy Spirit has worked many conversions through the Word of God that we have shared. On that first Pentecost, three thousand people were baptized! Pastor Koenig mentioned in a recent e-mail that 93 individuals were baptized in one congregation not long ago. Praise the Lord! Let us give credit where credit is due. The Holy Spirit worked those conversions. The same Holy Spirit that worked the conversion of those 3,000 on the first Pentecost is still working through God’s Word today. And so, we pray that He would bring many to faith in our day too.

God promises that His Word will never return to Him empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it. We have this great and powerful message of our crucified and risen Savior. Let’s share it with as many people as we can, and the Holy Spirit will work through the message!

Can we reach more people with the good news? I believe that we can! We have the most powerful message of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God help us to keep the message straight, and get the message out to more and more people. If the Holy Spirit could work 3000 conversions in one day, just think what He can do!

Your brother and fellow servant in Christ,
Todd Ohlmann, pastor