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Short Essay on Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts

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Submitted By lytlejoshua
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Joshua Lytle
THEO201_B24_201120

Short Essay #3
Short Essay on Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts are capacities given to believers in Christ or “useful functions for God” in spiritual service. The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is produced in believers by the Spirit to sanctify them through the production of His character. Spiritual gifts are abilities used in service to God while spiritual fruit involves the character of Christians. The Fruit of the Spirit, produced only by the indwelling of the Spirit, exhibits the spiritual maturity of believers.
My personal definition of spiritual gifts is the following: Spiritual gifts are abilities given by God to every Christian for different types of service, each person receiving one or more gifts, with purposes including: to give God glory through service, to accomplish His will, and to edify believers.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit and His indwelling is directly related to salvation. When a person accepts Jesus as his or her Savior, the Spirit indwells the new believer immediately, not in a subsequent experience. This indwelling places the believer in the Body of Christ. Salvation is not a two-step process, but is instead a change in a person’s relationship with God.
Biblical definitions of speaking in tongues are: a gift of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 that may have two functions: In the book of Acts, it is an “initiation” gift given to affirm entrance to the Church Body. It may also be a spiritual gift given by God to individuals to display the gift in church service (1 Corinthians 12-14 or Romans 12).
Speaking in tongues is not a necessary sign for baptism of the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, Jesus and the disciples did not speak in tongues in the Gospels. I consider someone who accepts Jesus while on his deathbed. This person does not need to speak in tongues before passing away to be baptized by the Spirit. Furthermore, Paul denies that all believers should speak in tongues with “Are all apostles?... Do all speak in tongues?” Acknowledging Jesus as personal Savior is the only way a person may live for eternity.
Speaking in tongues is valid today in that we should not forbid the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe it is a requirement or step for salvation. If it is experienced in the church though, it should be done in a “fitting and orderly way” (1 Cor. 13:39-40), not based on purely high emotional responses nor in pride. The word “perfect” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) has been interpreted in various ways: as the completion of the Bible (spiritual gifts not needed anymore, since we now have the New Testament) or the Church will exist eternally in “a state of perfection,” being “complete both in knowledge and holiness.” The ability to speak in tongues will cease once the end has come and we are in heaven. Believers will see Jesus “face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12) and live in a “perfect age” (to which I agree).
Since I am in the middle position for speaking in tongues, the negative school of thought may argue: since the New Testament is now complete, speaking in tongues is not necessary for the Bible’s completion. In response, using “perfect” as the completion of the canon underestimates the continuing power of the Holy Spirit today. Also, the positive school of thought may argue that tongues is the necessary sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Since tongues is the least of the spiritual gifts in hierarchical order, and not everyone receives the gift, it must not be a prerequisite for salvation.
Differences in belief should not allow for the obstruction of Truth. Every believer is in need of the Holy Spirit for salvation, to receive gifts to serve God, and for His producing the Fruit of the Spirit to become like Him.
Word Count: 795

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, 1983-1999. http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/view.cgi? book=1co&chapter=013. Accessed 20 September, 2010.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.
Henry, Matthew. "1 Corinthians 13." Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. Available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/13.html. Accessed 20 September, 2010.
Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001.

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[ 1 ]. Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Ohio: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001), 307.
[ 2 ]. Ibid, 306.
[ 3 ]. Ibid, 317.
[ 4 ]. Ibid, 306.
[ 5 ]. Ibid, 301.
[ 6 ]. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. (2001)., s.v. “Charismatic Movement,” 220.
[ 7 ]. Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Ohio: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001), 296.
[ 8 ]. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. (2001)., s.v. “Holy Spirit,” 572.
[ 9 ]. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. (2001)., s.v. “Speaking in Tongues,” 1206.
[ 10 ]. Ibid.
[ 11 ]. Ibid, 1207.
[ 12 ]. Ibid.
[ 13 ]. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. (2001)., s.v. “Speaking in Tongues,” 1207.
[ 14 ]. James Coffman. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13". Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, 1983-1999. http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=1co&chapter=013. Accessed 20 September, 2010.
[ 15 ]. Matthew Henry. "1 Corinthians 13." Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. Available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/13.html. Accessed 20 September, 2010.
[ 16 ]. Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. (2001)., s.v. “Speaking in Tongues,” 1209.
[ 17 ]. Ibid, 1208-1209.
[ 18 ]. Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Ohio: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001), 138.

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