Paul’s discussion of the gift of the Holy Spirit illuminates many important aspects of God’s activity among people.
In today’s article, I will explore three key elements of God’s work with his followers.
— 1 Corinthians 12.4-7 – Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
And there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;
And there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(1) The Trinity
Trinity as a word does not appear in the Bible. The Bible speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in such a way that the early church needed a word to describe the reality.
This passage is an example of what prompted the church to speak of the Trinity.
— There is the same Spirit.
— There is the same Lord (referring to Jesus).
— There is the same God.
Another example of the Trinity is Paul’s ending words in 2 Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13.13).
In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul again grouped Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together.
— 2 Thessalonians 2.13-14 – But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught his followers to immerse people in the life of the Trinity.
— Matthew 28.19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Professor R.C. Sproul describes the Trinity as God being one essence with three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have the same essential nature.
A careful reading of the verses I have provided reveals that there are three distinct “faces” (or persons) to the work of the Trinity.
(2) Spiritual gifts are an activity of the Holy Spirit.
There is not a sacred store where Christians can go to obtain a package of spiritual gifts.
By that, I mean that spiritual gifts are not our possession that we have separate from a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual gifts operate in conjunction with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
They are distinct from abilities. There are excellent public speakers, who have no relationship to the Holy Spirit. Their speech comes from training and abilities, but it is not a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paul refused to proclaim the Gospel with “lofty words of wisdom.”
He cooperated with the work of the Spirit and his words were “a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2.4-5).
If we are “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5.18), then the Spirit will be free to give us any gift that is needed for the moment.
A person who is filled with the Spirit is activated, captivated, and motivated by the Holy Spirit.
Rather than trying to identify your spiritual gift, I think it is best to surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow him to use you in any way he desires.
(3) Spiritual gifts are for the common good.
As we are activated, captivated, and motivated by the Holy Spirit, he will work through us for the common good.
Jesus taught that the Spirit in a person’s life is like a river. He said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7.38).
While taking a walk several years ago, I noticed a dry farm pond to the left of the path I was on. The farmer had reserved the water for himself and his pond had become a puddle.
If we try to reserve the Spirit’s work for ourselves, the “pond” of our spiritual life will shrink into a puddle.
On the right side of my path was a small stream that flowed into the Little Blue River.
The stream was open to a continual source of water, but also freely flowed to the larger river.
The Holy Spirit is the source. When we are open to him he will flow into our lives.
The Spirit is not our private possession, but is intended to flow through us to serve the “common good.”
While others are being blessed because the Spirit flows through us, we will experience the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives.
Everyone benefits, just as God has planned it to be so.
Rudy Ross has a lot to say about the verses of our study. You can hear him on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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