Some Essential Tenets of the Reformed faith, as Expressed in the Confessions

The Movement of the Holy Spirit

An additional tenet of Christian faith in the Reformed tradition is the conviction that the Holy Spirit lives and moves in the lives of individuals, communities, and the world. The Holy Spirit works in spheres both private and public; the Spirit is at once both reassuringly reliable and breathtakingly surprising.

The Heidelberg Catechism argues that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers and believing communities by creating “...  wholehearted trust ... by the gospel” (BOC, Heidelberg, 4.021). Calvin insists, along the same lines, that it is “through the Holy Spirit” that Christian believers have “firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward them.”[1] In the eucharistic feast, the Spirit joins believers to the body and blood of Christ which is now in heaven (BOC, The Scots Confession, 3.21).

The Brief Statement of Faith also emphasizes that the Holy Spirit is not confined to working within the visible church but is “everywhere the giver and renewer of life” (BOC, 11.4, line 53). This means Christian believers need constantly to be on the lookout for what the Spirit is up to and how they can participate in the work of God. One professor was known to exclaim, recognizing the challenge of this, that trying to ascertain the movement of the Spirit “is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall!” Thankfully, the Spirit assists us with our perception, inspiring “the prophets and apostles” (BOC, 11.4, line 59) and giving believers “courage ... to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace” (BOC, 11.4, lines 66, 71).

For Reflection and Discussion:

How have you been on the lookout for what the Holy Spirit is up to? How has this led you to participate in the work of God?

[1] Calvin, Institutes III.2.7.