(All Scriptures are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)
Pneumatology is the study of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I am not a theologian in real life, nor do I pretend to be one while writing my blog. This should be obvious for at least two reasons: 1. I am learning along with my readers as I study God’s Word, do research, and then write about what I learned, and 2. I often have to correct a few things I missed in my last blog post, in my next blog post. For example, I neglected to mention the last Holy Day on the Christian Church Calendar – Trinity Sunday, is celebrated a week after Pentecost Sunday. The problem was, this Holy Day was not mentioned on any of the Liturgical Calendars I looked up on the web. It was somewhere in the “memory banks”, but it did not surface until Trinity Sunday was celebrated at my church. My memory is not what it used to be. Anyway, we are now in what the Christian Church Calendar calls, “Ordinary Time” until the Season of Advent comes again, four Sundays before Christmas. (The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a subject for another time – perhaps on May 31, 2015)
Even though I am not a theologian, I am a life-long student (since the age of eighteen) of the Bible. The desire of my heart is to know God better through the study of His Word and prayer and enjoying Christian fellowship and hearing the teaching of God’s Word with a group of believers in Christ, at a local church or in a home Bible study. When I open up my Bible, the Holy Spirit always teaches my something new. Knowing God better causes me to love Him more. During the past few months, I have shared with you my studies on the Holy Spirit. I realize there are books and books and more books written about the Holy Spirit and my blog posts cannot compare with any of the scholarly writings. However, I have shared what I believe to be true about the Third Person of the Trinity. I believe my study of the Holy Spirit would not be complete without the study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, also known as Spiritual Gifts, and the Fruit of the Spirit. I believe the Gifts and the Fruit are closely connected and work together for our good and for the good of the Christian Church, as a whole, and for the glory of God.
In Apostle Paul’s Letter to Galatians, he talks about living life by the Spirit which produces the Fruit of the Spirit:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [selfish] sinful nature…But the Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25-26).
The Fruit of the Spirit describes the character qualities of Christ and should describe the character qualities of all who follow Christ’s example. They are what motivate us in everything we do. They are what animates our lives and energizes us to serve God and to serve others. All believers in Jesus Christ should want to live out all the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is singular. There is one Fruit of the Spirit which exhibits eight Christ-like character qualities. All Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit to respond to whatever life throws at them in a Christ-like manner but, that does not mean we always do. I find it terribly difficult to be “nice” all the time. Those are the times, when I am reacting in a “mean” way, I need to stop and pray and ask for forgiveness and “step away from the meanness“ and turn and be “in step with the Spirit”. I cannot be Christ-like all the time without the help of the Holy Spirit of God. And He does help me. The Apostle Peter writes:
“For His divine power has bestowed on us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the (full, personal) knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His Own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape (by flight) from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of His divine nature” (II Peter 1:3-4; Amplified Bible).
Unlike the Fruit of the Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit are many (more than one). The Gifts of the Spirit are special abilities given to members of the body of Christ [followers of Christ which make up His Church] “for the common good” [See I Corinthians 12:7b) of His Church. Each member of the body of Christ is given “different [Spiritual] gifts, according to the grace given us” (See Romans 12:6). The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to Christians [followers of Christ] to be received and used in agreement with the Fruit of the Spirit, being: “completely humble and gentle; be[ing] patient, bearing with one another in love [and] mak[ing] every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (See Ephesians 4:2-4). Spiritual Gifts are not natural talents per se, although natural talents can also be transformed by the Holy Spirit to be used in God’s kingdom work. Spiritual gifts are given and developed when a person receives the saving faith in Jesus Christ “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit“ (See Titus 34-7). For example, someone who may have never taught before may receive the SPIRITUAL GIFT OF TEACHING God’s Word when s/he “is born again” (See John 3:16). Unlike the Fruit of the Spirit, not all Christians are called to possess all of the Gifts of the Spirit.
What are the Gifts of the HolySpirit? Find out in my next blog post.