The Gift

Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit for a moment. If my mention of that subject makes you nervous, I understand. When some brethren talk about this subject, they like to either mock Church of Christ sensibilities, thus giving brethren who like to mock the church the chance to laugh, or they deride the church for not understanding the doctrine of the Spirit’s indwelling.
I am old enough to remember the sorrow of divided churches over excessive claims for the Holy Spirit in the 1970’s. I remember churches lost to our brotherhood, Christian schools, preachers. I could name some, and so could you.
I understand the fear. I give you permission to be just a little afraid. The Holy Spirit does not manifest himself today in the way he once did. The need for those kinds of gifts has passed away (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). And make no mistake, the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21).
But the Spirit is also given to us as a gift; this gift a blessing given at baptism.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
“Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).
Clearly, everyone who was forgiven of sins at baptism was also given the Holy Spirit, as a gift. The Spirit does not empower us to speak in tongues, perform miracles, nor does he inspire us in the way he did the Apostles in the first century (John 14:26). If you want to know God’s will on a subject, you will have to discern it the old fashioned way; you will have to study the scriptures!
The Holy Spirit does do something that is wonderful beyond imagining, and practical as an adjustable wrench; he helps us to develop Christian character (Galatians 5:22,23). And while I probably don’t actually need to speak in tongues, this is a form of assistance that I definitely need!
Now that is good news!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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