We believe that the Holy Spirit has been active since before the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1) and indeed manifests the presence of God in the world, especially in and through the Body of Christ.
Throughout the Old Testament, God gives the Holy Spirit to individuals for a specific time and for a specific purpose. This "anointing" of the Holy Spirit could be rescinded or removed, but also passed on to the next servant. We believe that through the prophet, Joel, God promised that there would come a time when this anointing would become general and available to all human beings (Joel 2:28, 9). We believe the fulfillment of this prophecy occurred on the Day of Pentecost and has continued to the present. This means that the same Spirit who anointed and empowered prophets, priests, judges and kings now resides in and empowers all Christians.
By the Word and the sacraments the Holy Spirit "calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps her in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith" (Luther-Meaning of the 3rd Article). In his work he creates (Gen. 1:1) and recreates life (John 3:6), convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8), brings transformation in human character (Gal. 5:22) and releases his redemptive power in and through the lives of the redeemed (Acts 1:8).
We believe that every believer receives the Holy Spirit at baptism or conversion (1 Cor. 12:13; 2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13). There is one baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33, John 20:22). This work "within" rejuvenates the spirit of the individual and empowers each one with the character of Jesus. We believe there can be an initial subsequent work of the Spirit "upon" believers equipping them with the power to minister with Jesus' effectiveness in the world. Every believer should seek this and additional "fillings" or "refreshings" (Acts 1:5, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 4:8, Eph. 5:18, John 7:37-38), consistently yielding to his guidance that all the benefits of salvation can be appropriated.
We believe the Holy Spirit performs many roles in the believer's personal life. He is Counselor (John 14:16), Teacher (John 14:26), Revealer of Jesus Christ as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), the One who empowers (Acts 1:8), Guide (Rom. 8:14), Intercessor (Rom. 8:26-27), Giver of Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12:11; 1 Cor. 14), the One who brings conviction (John 16:8; Acts 7:51), the One who produces spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-25), and the One who generates spiritual passion (Luke 3:16).
We believe the Holy Spirit has been sent to enable, empower, and instruct the Church to carry forward the manifestations of Kingdom activity initiated by Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:23-25, John 14:12-14) and attested in the early Church (Acts 2:42-47). These Kingdom activities include: teaching, provision, forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and celebration (Luke 4:18-19).
We believe we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:1-2). God initiates and sustains this relationship through the Word and the sacraments. Spiritual gifts ("gracelets") are signs and products of God's favor (I Peter 4:10) granted by the Spirit. They accompany and amplify these "means of grace" (1 Cor. 12:7), enabling believers to do the works and speak the words of Jesus (John 14:12-13). Assurance of our salvation does not rest upon any spiritual gift we receive from the Holy Spirit but only upon the atoning work of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11-13).
We believe there are varieties of spiritual gifts. Scripture highlights manifestational gifts given to empower believers for particular works of ministry (I Cor. 12); motivational gifts given to all persons at birth but redeemed at conversion and vitalized through sanctification (Romans 12:3f); and ministry gifts given to the Church through particular leaders who equip Christians to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11f). Scripture encourages all believers to seek, discover, and use their spiritual gifts. Gifts are given, not granted for the gratification or glorification of the recipient, but as a tool of righteousness through which the Kingdom of God is served (I Cor.12:7).
We believe that God's people should eagerly desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1). Yet we also contend that the gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit as he alone determines (1 Cor. 12:11, 18).
We believe that the fruit of the Spirit, rather than manifestations of gifts, is the mark of Christian maturity (Gal. 5:22-25). Signs and wonders, while a desirable and necessary outcome of the Kingdom's presence (Mark 16:17), are not a precise indication of the spiritual health of the one administering them (Matt. 7:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Cor. 12:2).
We believe that the ministries of healing and deliverance are a vital extension of the ministry of the Church and a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God (Luke 11:20, Mark 16:17.) God created, called creation good (Genesis 1), and placed humans as regents over the earth (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8). When sin entered the world all creation fell into decay and frustration (Genesis 3:7, Rom. 8:21). Jesus exerted authority over wayward nature (Luke 8:22f), over rebellious supernatural forces (Luke 8:26f), and over sinful human souls (Matt. 9:5) beginning to set these systems aright (Matt. 11:4, 12:28) and initiating his reign on earth (Luke 10:1-23). Jesus also re-delegated stewardship to his followers (Luke 9:1, Matt. 28:18f) who are to continue administering grace until the Master returns to consummate his rule. The Church occupies this interim-a time between the times-where the Kingdom of God is here and not yet here. We believe that God grieves over all human brokenness. When sickness occurs it is not part of God's original plan. God desires to heal and has provided in the death and resurrection of Jesus the full measure of grace to endow restoration to all things (Col. 1:20). We believe that healing is incorporated in the same way other elements of salvation come to us-by grace through faith (Rom. 4:16). We administer healing following the models outlined in scripture: we rebuke sickness (Luke 4:39), we exhort ailing persons, (Matt. 9:6) and we entreat God for direct intervention (James 5:15). While healing prayer is effectual when followers of Jesus exercise in faith their authority in Jesus' name, we acknowledge that we as individuals and the Church as a whole do not yet have perfect faith. Complications sometimes hinder the effectual application of healing prayer. The apostle Paul did not heal Timothy's stomach problem (1 Timothy 5:23), nor did he heal Trophimus at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20) or Epaphroditus (Philippians 3:25-27). Paul spoke of his own " bodily illness." Our present bodies are perishable (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 2 Corinthians 4:16). Death will remain the final earthly human condition until the complete coming of the Kingdom and the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). Therefore, when healing prayer does not result in physical healing, we continue to trust in God and in his lovingkindness as we seek understanding in how to further apply the redemptive grace of God. While all believers are encouraged to pray for the sick (Mark 16:17) and to seek such prayer when needed (James 5:14), certain individuals in the Church exhibit a particular endowment for effectual healing prayer (I Cor. 12:9)
We also continue to pray, ever resisting the adversary (I Peter 5:9) to route any residual influence he holds against the people of God and to recover any benefit he may be diverting (John 10:10).
We believe that the gift of prophecy (Acts 11:27, 21:10) is a precious treasure granted by God to the Church to supply practical guidance in temporal matters. Prophecy is to encourage, exhort and build up the members of Christ (I Cor. 14:4, I Thes 5:20). All believers are encouraged to prophesy (I Cor. 14:5, 39) and the objects of prophetic injunctions are instructed to "follow" what is spoken (I Tim. 1:18). We believe there is a difference between Old Testament prophecy and New Testament prophecy. Old Testament prophecy delivered the very words of God (Deut. 13:1-4) and so mandated strict accuracy. New Covenant prophecy enlightens the very words of God and so must be examined and aligned with canonical authority (I Cor. 14:29-33). While the New Testament encourages us to welcome prophetic communication (I Thes. 5:20) it also warns the Church against false prophets and false prophecies (Matt. 7:15; Matt. 24:11, 24: 2 Peter 2:1) and exhorts us to test critically anything that purports to come from the Lord (1 Thes. 5:16-21; 1 John 4:1-6). The New Testament encourages all followers of Jesus to prophesy - verb (I Corinthians 14:5). It encourages all followers of Jesus to desire (pursue) the gift of prophecy - noun (I Corinthians 14:1), though not all will attain this gift. The New Testament further distinguishes the office of prophet - proper noun (Ephesians 4:11) reserved for those who serve in one of the five-fold positions of church leadership.
We believe that the gift of tongues is a desirable spiritual endowment given for private prayer and personal edification (1 Cor. 12:3,4,14-19, 28) and for edification of the Church when an interpreter is present (1 Cor. 12:5, 2:19). The New Testament encourages all followers of Jesus to speak in tongues (I Corinthians 14:5), though the gift of tongues is not the necessary sign of spiritual maturity or Spirit empowerment.
We believe that the gift of wisdom is a powerful and beneficial expression of the Spirit given to the Church as a supernatural insight of how to apply universal truths to specific situations. Through the gift of wisdom the Church can navigate through a variety of good options to learn the right and proper path to pursue (Genesis 41:1-39, Acts 15:13f, Acts 13:2).
We believe that through the gift of knowledge the Holy Spirit gives insight to the Church that would not otherwise be immediately available through normal rational reasoning. Through the exercise of this gift the Holy Spirit accelerates the focus of grace and allows those ministering God's mercy and justice to penetrate efficiently with God's love (John 4, Acts 5:1-16).
The gift of discernment of spirits is the supernatural ability to distinguish between natural and supernatural events and to identify the essential spiritual force (whether God or the enemies of God) behind an action. The expression of this gift gives the Church keen and efficient insight into the warfare we face. This is the gift that gives spiritual "intelligence" for our battles of engagement (Mark 1:25, Acts 8:23, Acts.)
We believe Scripture alone is the primary source and final arbiter of all spiritual knowledge. Scripture is the precedent by which we judge all contemporary communications of the Spirit. While the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation" (Eph. 1:17) enlightens individual believers, God is no longer imparting new doctrinal truth to the Church. The Bible remains the standard for all doctrine. Grasping the basic principles of scripture remains as much a part of spiritual maturity as walking in the gifts of the Spirit.