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Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts Expository Essay


The Holy Spirit is the part of the Holy Trinity responsible for one’s conversion to Christ. The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts, protects the Christian faithful from sin and inspires the fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit also enhances Christian understanding of the Scripture and confers the gifts on certain faithful. This paper looks at the gift of speaking in tongues and its relevance today.

Distinction between Gifts of the Spirit and Fruits of the Spirit

Spiritual Gifts are conferred on Christians by God to empower them to finish the tasks which He has identified them to execute. Spiritual gifts are different from the fruits of the Spirit.

While the Fruits of the Spirit can be found in anyone, Spiritual gifts are conferred by God on special faithful in correspondence with their service to the body of Christ (Towns 307). Spiritual gifts can increase or shift as a Christian matures in faith. On the other hand, the Fruits of the Sprit concern Christian spiritual nature as conveyed and demonstrated by Jesus Christ (Exodus 20).

Fruits of the Spirit include mercy, love, faithfulness, self-control, compassion and justice, and are part of Christians’ spiritual principles (Gal. 5: 22-23). Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, include apostleship, healing, discernment and teaching.

The fruits of the Spirit such as kindness and love indicate some level of maturity in the faithful and cannot be attained by rudimentary devotion. Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are bestowed on Christians irrespective of their level of maturity in the Christian faith. Spiritual maturity is achieved through the prosperity of the Fruits of the Spirit and by making use of the spiritual gifts to serve the Lord.

The Gift of Speaking in Tongues

In its biblical definition, the gift of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) is compared to the gift of prophecy. Several theologians postulate that the gift of speaking in tongues and other gifts including healing, apostleship and interpretation of tongues are no longer relevant into modern Christian ministry (Elwell 1209).

During its inception, the early Church relied considerably on the gifts of the Spirit to convert new followers and spread the Word (1 Cor. 22). Though there were manuscripts in distribution during the era of the early Church, there was no recognized Canon before the Vulgate of the Fourth Century (Towns 256). The gifts were, therefore, useful in communicating the word of God and spreading the message of Christ.

A lot of confusion and excitement have surrounded the gift of glossolalia in the recent past. The biblical passages that talk about the gift of tongues ought to be examined in order to establish its application and importance to Christian ministry. The gift of tongues has two main uses in the Church.

The first use is that of initiation aimed at confirming a new bond in the Church (1 Cor. 12:4-11). It is also a special gift bestowed upon certain individuals selected from the Church. Upon contrasting the gifts of tongues and prophecy, Paul concludes that it is better for a believer to have the gift of prophecy for speaking in tongues only serves the person who has the gift unless there is someone to interpret the tongues to the Church. Prophecy, on the contrary, serves to edify the whole church.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

The first time we come across the idea of baptism by the Holy Spirit in the Bible is when John the Baptist is talking about the coming of Jesus Christ, whom he says will baptize using the Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11). This kind of baptism can only occur once a person is willing to submit himself completely to Christ (Elwell 137).

However, it is not a substitute to baptism by water, which signifies the death of the old sinful person and the birth of a new Christian. Even Christ himself, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, was Himself baptized in water. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns that no person can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, one needs to give his life to Christ completely before he can receive the Holy Spirit.

Though all gifts of the Spirit are indications of Christians who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures caution believers to look out for gifts of false prophets who can mislead them. It is, however, fallacious to imply that there is a necessary relationship between speaking in tongues and baptism by the Holy Spirit. Although a section of Christians possesses the gift of glossolalia, this gift is not an ultimate indication of baptism by the Spirit and should not be used be used to overlook those who do not possess the gift.

Relevance Today

Despite the fact that there are other gifts that seem desirable and relevant, the gift of speaking in tongues is still relevant in the Church today. Some groups of people use Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 to suggest that some gifts such as speaking in tongues and prophecy have become irrelevant today. Paul asserts that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy will cease when we no longer have use for them (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

If we take Paul’s teaching in the context of the entire book of 1 Corinthians, we realize that the meaning of Paul’s statement refers to the passing away of spiritual gifts when Christians get to know God as He knows them. The gifts will cease when the Christians get to meet God face-to-face. This means that spiritual gifts, including the gift of tongues, should persist until the second coming of Christ, and should continue being part of daily Christian worship.

Works Cited

Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001. Print.

Towns, Elmer. Theology of Today, Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Solutions Center, 2001. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, January 28). Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/pneumatology-spiritual-gifts/

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1. IvyPanda. "Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts." January 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pneumatology-spiritual-gifts/.


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IvyPanda. "Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts." January 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pneumatology-spiritual-gifts/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts." January 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pneumatology-spiritual-gifts/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Pneumatology: Spiritual Gifts'. 28 January.

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