Lord’s Day 20: Concerning the Holy Spirit

Catechism and Psalter

In Question and Answer 24, the Heidelberg Catechism explained that the Apostles’ Creed is divided “into three parts: God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.”  Having completed the first two parts of the exposition of the creed in Lord’s Days 9-19, we turn now to Lord’s Day 20, a single question and answer on the work of the Holy Spirit.

53 Q.  What do you believe concerning ‘the Holy Spirit’?

A.  First, he, as well as the Father and the Son,
is eternal God.

Second, he has been given to me personally,
so that, by true faith,
he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,
comforts me,
and remains with me forever.

Suggested Songs

173, “Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Dwelling-place” (Psalm 90)

(Arranged and played by the musicians at West Sayville Reformed Bible Church)

“He, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.”  Since a more thorough treatment of the Trinity can be found in our previous article on Lord’s Day 8, I’ve instead chosen to focus on God’s eternity, utilizing the mighty words of “Moses, the man of God” in Psalm 90.  The first two stanzas of this Psalter Hymnal versification are particularly applicable:

Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place
Through all the ages of our race;
Before the mountains had their birth,
Or ever Thou hadst formed the earth,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To everlasting our abode.

At Thy command man fades and dies
And newborn generations rise;
A thousand years are passed away,
And all to Thee are but a day;
Yea, like the watches of the night,
With Thee the ages wing their flight.

235, “How Blessed Are the Perfect in the Way” (Psalm 119)

(Sung by Grace Reformed Church in Dunnville, ON)

 “He has been given to me personally, so that, by true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings.”  To be fair, Psalter Hymnal number 235 inserts a reference to the Holy Spirit that isn’t present in the original text of Psalm 119 (though references to the Spirit are plentiful in other places throughout the Old Testament).  However, this paraphrase of vv. 5-8 is a useful reminder for us to look to God’s Word and Spirit for our constant guidance.

O let Thy Spirit be my constant aid,
That all my ways may ever be directed
To keep Thy statues, so to be obeyed
That from all error I may be protected.
I shall not be ashamed then, or afraid,
When Thy commandments I have e’er respected.

74, “As the Hart, About to Falter” (Psalm 42)

(Performed in concert, here and here)

He “comforts me, and remains with me forever.”  Psalm 42 is a dramatic song of both despair and assurance—the expression of a soul that is faced with troubles on every side, but knows its constant Comforter.  May this be our confession too as we acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives:

As the hart, about to falter,
In its trembling agony,
Panteth for the brooks of water,
So my soul doth pant for Thee.
Yea, athirst for Thee I cry;
God of life, O when shall I
Come again to stand before Thee
In Thy temple, and adore Thee?

But the Lord will send salvation,
And by day His love provide;
He shall be mine exultation,
And my song at eventide.
On His praise e’en in the night
I will ponder with delight,
And in prayer, transcending distance,
Seek the God of my existence.

O my soul, why art thou grieving;
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, thy faith retrieving;
He will still thy refuge be.
I shall yet through all my days
Give to Him my thankful praise;
God, who will from shame deliver,
Is my God, my rock, forever.

–MRK

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