Growing In The Spirit
It’s been about two years since Thomas first walked into my Bible class at the prison. In the months that followed, I soon discovered that he was a sincere seeker of truth, one in whom the Holy Spirit was already at work. Having been baptized, and at least for a time, brought up in a Lutheran church, he already had a basic understanding of God’s Word. Like so many others, however, Thomas had wandered away from God as he grew older, and by the time I met him, he no longer had a church home.
Shortly after arriving at the prison where I serve, he began showing up at my Bible class every week.
As the months passed, we studied several books of the Bible together, and the Spirit’s work was evident as he grew in his knowledge of Scripture. For quite some time, however, he struggled with some of the deeper and more difficult teachings of Scripture — predestination, election and free will — teachings which conflict with human reason and logic, teachings that are “foolishness” to a world that’s trying in vain to “understand them,” but sadly never will “because they are spiritually discerned” (1Co. 2:14). It was at this point that I decided to switch from simply studying books of the Bible to studying the basic teachings of our Christian faith — the very heart of Scripture.
For the next twenty-plus weeks, I took my class through the fundamentals: Creation, the Fall into sin and the Promise of a Savior. We followed the Messianic prophecies down through the Patriarchs. We studied the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the birth of the New Testament Church. We covered it all, from the inspiration of Scripture, to the Means of Grace and Ministry of the Keys. And as the months passed, I witnessed again the Spirit working in Thomas’ heart, as he grew in knowledge of Jesus and His saving work — maturing in his Christian faith, and more importantly, his child-like trust in what Scripture teaches.
Eventually, Thomas completed the Adult Instruction class, and a few weeks later, I had the privilege of confirming him. With two of his brothers in the faith there to witness — one of whom I confirmed six months earlier — Thomas made his profession of faith and promise of faithfulness and was confirmed. Together, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and rejoiced in the many and gracious blessings that God pours out on His people.
Thank you for your interest, support and partnership in this unique Gospel ministry to the institutionalized. What a privilege it is to serve God with you in this way! In the words of St. Paul: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th. 1:2–3). May the Lord continue to bless our work together.
Chaplain Joseph Radsek