Saturday, January 08, 2005

Spiritual Gifts

The topic of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. There are several spiritual gifts mentioned in verses 8 to 10. They are (according to the Amplied Bible):
  1. [the power to speak] a message of wisdom
  2. [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit
  3. [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit
  4. extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit
  5. the working of miracles
  6. prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose)
  7. the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]
  8. various kinds of [unknown] tongues
  9. the ability to interpret [such] tongues
The reason for the spiritual gifts is given in verse 7 where it is stated "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." The phrase "common good" in Greek means sumpherō, which is to bear or bring together or to collect or contribute in order to help. Therefore, the gifts given by the Holy Spirit is meant to help the body of Christ.

Does the baptism of the Holy Spirit mean that the gift of tongues is automatically given? I don't think so, for it is clearly written in verse 30: "Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" Verse 11 also says, "All these (spiritual gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines." This means that the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts according to His will. And lastly, verse 31 tells the believers to "eagerly desire the greater gifts."

Do also take note in verse 13, it explicitly states all believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit: "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." While the verse means that salvation requires the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it also means that at the point of faith and repentance, all believers are already baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. In Colossians 3:15, it is written: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." It is also written in Titus 3:5-6, "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior."

Anyway, instead of trying to detect the "movement" of the Holy Spirit by looking for spiritual gifts, if anything, the fruit of the Spirit should be the clearest indicator of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer. As it is written: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)

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