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Short Essay on Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts

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Short Essay on Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts

Perhaps the simplest explanation of a spiritual gift would be that they are Gifts of God empowering Christians to accomplish their service. More so it is the God-given capacity of every Christian to carry out his function in the body of Christ. Not all spiritual gifts affect the life of the one who practices it; nonetheless its purpose is and always was to edify believers. The godly characteristics that develop in us as a consequence of receiving God’s Spirit are known as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. They do not appear immediately in mature form. There is a process that changes the human mind (Romans 12:2) through practical application of God’s laws. Those laws are an expression of the very divine nature that is received through the Holy Spirit. Applying the law motivates the Spirit to produce its fruit. Over time the maturing of the fruit changes human nature to divine nature. This process is completed by Christ, as told in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” From my understanding the biblical definition and purpose of the gift of tongues was that the tongue in which the person spoke was unintelligible, and therefore unedifying to the Christian assembly, the tongue was not a foreign language, the tongue speaker addressed himself to God to whom he probably offered prayer and praise, the tongue edified the speaker, the tongue speaker lost the control of intellectual faculties, the tongue being probably a disjointed, highly pitched, ecstatic series of ejaculations, similar to the tongues spoken in times of spiritual awakening experienced intermittently by the church (1 Corinthians 14:1-15). (Elwell 1137) This was a one of the grace-gifts of the spirit. It has two functions. It is an initiation or confirmation gift meant as godly assertion of a new group entering the church. It also is a “spiritual gift” given upon independently chosen persons within the church.

Another spiritual gift, per say, is the promise of the Spirit. This first became associated with the language of baptism - a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Water baptism was the model experience of Jesus. Insisted upon in all four Gospels, within the instant of His baptism the Spirit descended like a dove and dwelled upon him. (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; cf. Acts 10:38) From that time on water baptism and the welcome of the Spirit must be connected in Christian awareness. Speaking in tongues is not a necessary sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit; but, this is only one example and may not be typical. In Acts we see that that many people who became Christians immediately spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6). Again it is not a necessary sign of salvation. In 1 Cor. 12:7-11 it says, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Holy Spirit gives gifts as He desires. He distributes them upon His people in the church as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11). The validity of speaking in tongues in today’s church seems to be a very debatable subject. Most have referred to 1 Corinthians 13:8 – 10 which reads (NKJV) “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” "That which is perfect" is the crucial phrase in the whole passage. How one interprets verse 8 and verses 11 &12 is all dependent on how one interprets "that which is perfect." There are several interpretations attempting to explain the meaning of "that which is perfect." Some have interpreted it to mean the completion of the Bible or the rapture of the church or even the second coming. The validity seems to stand in the interpreters view, I have never given thought prior to this day, so I shall now seek the answer or simply move forward and focus on serving Him.

Bibliography
Elwell, Walter A, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic,
2001
Towns, Elmer L, Theology for Today. Manson, OH: 2008
Curtis, David, B. The "Perfect" has Come. http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/eschatology/perfect_has_come.htm 1997

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