Cranmer's Corner: The Work of the Holy Spirit
by The Rev. Dr. Ashley Null
There are two kinds of people in the world – those who are called and those who are driven. The called know they belong to God. The driven want to prove their independence. The called find their soul’s rest in God’s love for them. The driven seek a love for their soul in all the wrong places. The called seek to discover what good gifts and works God’s purpose for their life has set aside for them before the foundation of the world. The driven seek to find some kind of purpose for themselves through their constant striving for achievement. The called enjoy what God has given them, even when others seem to have so much more. The driven are never satisfied, even when they have so much more than others.
What is the root difference between those who are called and those who are driven? According to Thomas Cranmer, the answer is quite simple – the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can break through human self-confidence and open our eyes to our need for Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can teach our hearts that we are restless until we rest in his love for us. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to trust the sure and gracious promises of God’s Word. Only the Holy Spirit can give us the assurance that in Jesus we are at last home – home with our Heavenly Father, home securely as his children, home safely despite our failings, home forever despite the reality of death, home! In short, only the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word and the Sacrament can bring us to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Yet, even then, the Holy Spirit’s work is not yet finished. Only the Holy Spirit can give us the confidence that God has endowed each one of us with the specific gifts and experiences we need to fulfill the good works he has prepared in advance for us to do. And only with such an inner conviction do we find the freedom to have as much joy in making a difference in this world as God does. Finally, of course, only the Holy Spirit can inspire in us sufficient love for God and each other that we can increasingly act like our Heavenly Father in those opportunities he has set aside for us. In short, only the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word and the Sacrament can sustain us in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thus, according to Cranmer, our coming to Christ and our staying with Christ, are both the work of the Holy Spirit. For, as he expresses it, only through the Holy Spirit can we "dwell in Him and He in us."