The third part of the Creed gives us truths concerning the person and work of God the Holy Spirit and some other essential truths concerning the Christian faith:
i] God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the trinity.
ii] Holy catholic church. The word "catholic" means universal. All believers, past, present and future, of every Christian denomination, are members of the holy catholic church. Don't confuse the term catholic church with the Roman Catholic church. The role of the Holy Spirit is to care for the church through the teaching of the Word of God (the Bible). His role is to "lead us into all truth".
iii] Communion of saints. The word "communion" means friendship or fellowship. "Saints" is another word for Christians, or believers. The phrase implies a unity, or oneness of life, grace, interests, joys and hopes, among Christian people, and teaches union and mutual dependence. Christians are not solitary, not mere individual units. The role of the Holy Spirit is to unite God's people - that we might "love one another".
iv] Forgiveness of sins. The free offer of forgiveness in Christ is the only way into the presence of God.
v] Resurrection of the body. The Bible teaches that on the day when Jesus returns to this earth, the "dead in Christ" (Christians) will rise from their graves and put on a new resurrection body.
vi] Life everlasting. After the resurrection of the dead in the last day, we will go to live in God's "new heaven".
Third, I learn to believe in God the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies me and all the elect people of God.
God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, is the person who is responsible for our spiritual lives here and now. The Holy Spirit is God and he is a person, although a spiritual person, which is why we can't see or touch him. Jesus describes him as the "one who stands beside us and supports us" ("The Paraclete" - this Greek word is used of someone who assists a defendant in a legal trial). The Spirit cares for Jesus' friends just as if Jesus was there himself. In fact, the Bible calls him the "Spirit of Christ".
God the Holy Spirit, as the third person of the trinity, intimately involves himself in the life of believers and in the life of the church. "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you," says Paul the apostle, 1 Corinthians 6:19. The idea that he is "in" us is difficult to grasp, but it just means that he is intimately involved in our life; he is always with us throughout the journey of life. It is during this journey that he "sanctifies" us.
To "sanctify" means to "make holy". Holy comes from a word which means whole or perfect. A holy person is one who is complete in all moral and spiritual excellence. Of course, the only person who was ever perfect was Jesus, but when someone hands over their life to Jesus (repents and believes, puts their trust in Jesus, asks for forgiveness....) God regards them as a perfect person. The role of the Holy Spirit is to move us toward that perfection we possess in Jesus. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is the unseen presence of God with us, who prompts all holy thoughts and actions. Slowly but surely, little by little, the Spirit sanctifies us; he shapes us into the image of Jesus. So it is that we begin to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control", Galatians 5:22,23.
Of course, in this life we will always be less than perfect. Sometimes we will think and act in a loving way and at other times we will act selfishly. Yet, if we continue to trust Jesus, then the Holy Spirit will continue his work of preparing us for eternity.
The New Testament gives several illustrations to help us understand something of this mystery. For instance, in the gospel of John 3:8, the working of the Holy Spirit is spoken of as being like the wind. As the presence of the wind is known by the movement of whatever it stirs, so the presence of the Holy Spirit is known by the signs in conduct and behaviour which can only come from him. See again Galatians 5:22.
When we see people acting from the highest motives in a way for which there seems to be no accounting; an unkind person being kind; a quarrelsome person being a peacemaker; an unbeliever changing into a believer; we then see the stirring of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does not force himself upon us - he comes by invitation. When he prompts holy thoughts, words and actions, we must try to follow his leading. He gives us the strength to fight and overcome. He works in our lives when we trust him to renew us day by day. Faith in his renewing work is the key. It is then a matter of doing what we can, following his lead as best we can.
The Holy Spirit can be "grieved", Ephesians 4:30, and we can "put out" his fire, 1 Thessalonians 5:19. To fail to hear him as we read the Bible, hear sermons, or feel the prick of our conscience, is to "grieve" him. To refuse to use his gifts is to "put out" his fire. We must, therefore, guard against doing these things, for he will draw away from those who do not open themselves to him.
Confirmation is a service of prayer for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit, as is seen by the Bishop's Prayer for the Confirmees - "Strengthen them, we pray, with the Holy Spirit". It is therefore quite clear that if you are open to the Spirit's work, he will give you strength for the battle of life, with power to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
You should not expect Confirmation to provide some magical power for the rest of your life. "As your days so shall your strength be," says the Bible, so we must pray daily for the strengthening of our faith and its outworking in love. These must be renewed in us, just as the strength of our bodies must be renewed day by day.
The Catechism tells us that the Holy Spirit sanctifies the elect people of God. The "elect people" are God's special friends, a group specially set apart for God.
How does God choose, call out, select.... this group? In the Old Testament God's special people were the descendants of Abraham, the Jews, Israelites. From the New Testament times till now, God's special people are those who believe in Jesus. During the first century, this included many Jews, for in the first years of the Christian church most of the believers were Jews. As the years went by, the majority of members were Gentiles, that is, non-Jews. So, the elect people of God are made up of those who believe in Jesus. The "elect" is the "holy catholic church". When we put our trust in Jesus we become one of God's special friends, one of the "elect", a member of the "catholic church."
Not only does the Holy Spirit sanctify individual Christians, he also sanctifies the church, the gathering of the elect. Not only does he work in the life of a believer, he also works in the life of the church. Not only does he renew individuals, he renews the church.
Jesus promised that where two or three are gathered together in his name he will be present with them. He was speaking of the presence of the Holy Spirit when the church meets. When God's people meet they pray and praise God and hear his Word (the Bible). As they do this, the Holy Spirit touches the group with the truths that come from reading the Bible and hearing its message explained. He unites the group, he shapes love in the group. As Jesus said, "by this shall all people know that you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another." "God is love" and it is the Holy Spirit who shapes this love in the Christian fellowship.
Having seen the threefold revelation of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, we realise it does matter what we believe. Without belief in the truth there is no salvation. Let us learn to ever hold fast to the articles of our belief.
You should now know off by heart the Apostles' Creed and the Ten Commandments.
Study the two questions beginning "What is your duty......?"
O Almighty God our Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Grant that I may believe and do the things you would have me do, and so bring out in my day-to-day life the fruits of the Spirit, to the glory of your great Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.