Pneumatology means the study of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the Son, and the Father work together in different roles. Although it is a hard concept to grasp, no analogy or fancy phrasing will come close to describing it. The Holy Spirit is a distinct person with a distinct purpose in the Trinity.
The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly, and the Son more obscurely. The New manifested the Son and suggested the Deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit dwells among us and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of Himself” (Gregory of Nazianzus excerpt from The Theology of the Church by Daniel Akin).
A common misunderstanding about the Holy Spirit is that He is far from those who believe in Him, which stems from misconceptions about who He is.
God’s Grace Through Spiritual Gifts
God’s gracious character is seen in the distribution of gifts to His people. God saved those who believe in Him from death and unfulfilled living through Christ’s work on the cross. Anything more than death is grace towards humanity. He gives grace to all people, such as the sunrise and sunset. As well as this, He gives grace to believers through spiritual gifts and purpose in this life.
The following passages are used to understand and list the spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, and 1 Peter 4:9-11. Look at 1 Corinthians 12-14. Paul highlights the work of the Spirit and spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. In verses 2-3, Paul makes a distinction that those who confess that Jesus is Lord are those the following passage is talking about. For a gift to be spiritual, it must be given by the Spirit to the believer, who has the Spirit dwelling inside. We learn that God gives the gifts of the Spirit to different believers or for the benefit of other believers. Further along in verses 12-31, Paul illuminates that each member of the body is given gifts for the mutual benefit of those within the body. Lastly, believers are reminded by Paul that the greatest of these is love. If the believer has what they believe to be the best gift but have no love, they have missed the point of God’s purpose in giving the gift.
In summary, the spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit and are accessed as believers walk in step with the Spirit. Since these are gifts of the Spirit, the Spirit is needed to access them. These gifts are different for each and benefit the whole body of believers. The Holy Spirit gives believers the power and ability to use them for God’s design. Therefore, one must be a believer and have the Spirit to have received spiritual gifts.
How does this apply to my daily walk with Christ?
The Giver of the gift is the reason for it in the first place. Our response to all good things in this life is to worship the One who gave it all to us. Remember the God who created this grand narrative so that humanity might know Him. Beginning in Genesis, the Trinity works in love to reconcile people to Himself. God’s presence was with His people in the garden, and it was perfect until sin entered. God’s presence was with His people through the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. God’s presence was with His people through Christ walking alongside them in the New Testament. God’s presence was and is dwelling in the hearts of those who believe in Christ and His resurrection since Acts. God’s presence and His people will be reconciled just like in the garden. From dwelling in the Tabernacle to dwelling in the believer’s heart, the Spirit of God is behind it all.
To the believer: The Holy Spirit is inside of you, empowering you for the work of God. Today you can be a part of God’s work in Greenville, South Carolina, America, and to the ends of the Earth. Whether you feel right at the center of God’s work or off to the side, this is His intention for you. Have you identified the ways you serve others that bring joy? Are you using gifts God has given you for your gain or His glory? My challenge is to identify these gifts and use them for the church. When we aren’t using the gifts that God has given us for His purpose, it is no wonder that we feel burnout, irritable, and disconnected from Him. He gave you gifts for His purposes; how can you get involved in this work?
…even though certain individuals hold the office of pastor, elder or deacon, the ministry of the church is not restricted to a handful or professionals. The Holy Spirit has equipped the whole body to participate in the mission of the church” (R.C. Sproul from Everyone’s a Theologian).
To the nonbeliever: God designed this whole narrative so that all would come to know Him. If you believe in Jesus, confess to Him your wrongs, trust Him for the forgiveness of your wrongs, and tell someone about your belief in Christ! The invitation is open to becoming a part of God’s work in the world.
*All material, quotes, and references are taken from the books Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul and A Theology for the Church by Daniel Akin.