One of the great promises of God is that he will never leave or forsake his blood-bought people. This promise was fulfilled in part by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and through the indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s presence is in us and with us…always.
The New Testament presents many times over the importance of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of the church. Beginning with regeneration, believers are baptized by the Spirit. We are command to walk by the Spirit in our pursuit of an obedient life before God. Believers are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit which is commanded in a tense that communicates a continual being carried along by the Spirit. In Galatians 5, the fruit of the spirit is presented by the apostle Paul as the fragrance that should come from the believer’s life as opposed to the deeds of the flesh.
In addition to these different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, the apostle Paul spent considerable effort to instruct the church on spiritual gifts. The New Testament records five instances in which spiritual gifts are listed. The lists are varied with nineteen gifts mentioned in all, and sometimes different words are used to describe the same gift as with serving and helping. We come to one of the lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8, the text reads:
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul wrote to challenge believers to use their spiritual gifts with urgency and purpose. Sadly, many are like the disciples in Acts 19 who responded to Paul’s question about the Holy Spirit by saying, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Their ignorance was honest as they were experiencing the transition from the old covenant to the new covenant without the aid of the New Testament. They needed to be taught what God had done through Christ and Pentecost. Twenty-one centuries removed we are living at a time, to quote Martin Luther, where “the Spirit and the gifts are ours.” Life on the altar is lived in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we use the gifts and talents God has given to us. This is an informed spirituality. God wants us to know how he has gifted us for his kingdom work. The bestowal of spiritual gifts are divine enablements for the task at hand. They are gifts for the journey.(more…)