Gifts of the Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit, both those of service and of signs, have been given to individuals on Earth to assist God in furthering his Kingdom by benefiting other people in order to draw them to God. The Bible proceeds to explain these spiritual talents in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12. There are basically two very different categories that work together to draw others to Jesus. The first spiritual category of talents are sometimes called service gifts. It is by these special talents that other individuals can learn and grow in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These service gifts include wisdom, knowledge, and faith. The other category of offices is much harder to understand at times. These are the sign gifts, which include healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. The use of these talents is very important in helping people come to know God as a savior and redeemer.
The spiritual talents that are in the service category are very important because they are the backbone of Christianity today. Without these, and all the talents given by God, people would not have the ability to seek and know a savior. Wisdom is the first, and perhaps, most important one that can be achieved. While it may be hard for an individual to discern between that gift and knowledge, the Bible seems to paint a clear picture. Wisdom appears throughout the Bible and is something that is stressed to be one of, if not, the most important attribute that an person can achieve - knowing and understanding the will of God. This can mean Gods will for the individuals life, or the lives of many around them. Knowledge, the ability to learn and understand many things, is very important. This is what many people must have in order to teach others about God, the understanding of the Bible, or Gods Word. As a person delves into the Bible and uses his or her talent of knowledge, the person is able to teach others about the Word of God and what it means today. The final service gift, faith, is important because it is the only way that anyone can be saved. While everyone that is a Christian has faith, the actual talent of faith, listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit, is the ability for a Christian to rely heavily on God. With faith, the person has great confidence in God, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit, allowing the person to be strong and unwavering. Test your Biblical knowledge with these other Bible resources.
The category of the offices of the spirit that are considered to be the sign gifts are also very important for the Christian to understand. These are often used to show individuals the miraculous works of God that are still present in the world today, centuries after Jesus walked the Earth. Healing is self explanatory. A Christian with the talent of healing can provide restoration to both physical and emotional health of other people. Miracles, much like healing, are used to physically exhibit the Spirit of God. While not as evident in today's society, there are occasions in which miracles are simply the only answer to an occurrence. Prophecy is one of the offices that many individuals use to foretell future events. It is the knowledge of future events that have been shown to the individual through the Spirit. Discernment is the gift of the Spirit that allows an person to know the difference between something being of God or of Satan and use their wisdom to explain this revealed fact to others. This is one of the gifts of the Spirit that is more difficult to understand because it is not quite as evident or as widely used as many of the other gifts, especially in churches today. Tongues is the ability of the person to pray to God or praise God in a language that was previously unknown to the individual. This talent is used as a sign to unbelievers that God is the true God and the only God. Interpretation of tongues is to be used simultaneously as that of tongues. In churches or meetings where the Spirit of God is present, a person may speak in tongues for the entire group. That same person or another is to have the ability to provide the meaning of what was said. This is a way for God to show Himself to those who may not believe in Him.
While difficult to understand, all the talents serve a purpose in furthering the Kingdom of God. These offices of the spirit are often a way to teach and show individuals who God is and what He can do. The first important set of the gifts of the Spirit are often considered to be the service gifts. They are to be used to teach others how to understand, follow, and live for God, including wisdom, knowledge, and faith. The second group of offices of the Spirit are considered to be the sign gifts. These are gifts that are available to show God to people who may not believe in the existence of God. They include healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. All talents, both service and sign, play a very important role in Christianity and the exploration of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Holy TrinityThe concept of the holy Trinity found in the Bible is complex yet interesting. It is admittedly difficult to fathom. How can a single being exist as three persons? Yet Scriptural accounts seem to indicate that each member of the Trinity -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit -- is addressed as deity and is ascribed qualities which only apply to deity. Although the idea may be beyond a person's full understanding, and an individual should not dare to presume that he or she had comprehended the mind of God, it may still be helpful to take a closer look at this doctrine.
This concept is difficult for anyone to grasp. It may be especially difficult for Jewish followers of God to accept such a definition of the Trinity, for a central theme of Judaism is Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD... (Deuteronomy 6:4) Many accounts in the Old Testament are concerned with the idea of the people of God upholding the doctrine of monotheism, despite intense pressure to conform to the worship of the 'gods' of the people around them. Indeed, many of the troubles that the people of Israel experienced as a nation stemmed from their failure to honor the covenant the nation had made with the only true God. Instead, individuals interacted and intermarried with persons who worshipped other 'gods' and were steadily drawn into worshipping these 'gods' themselves. Even Solomon, the wisest man on earth, was deceived in this way. Since this is true, why would God choose to manifest Himself in the form of the Trinity? The idea of the holy Trinity seems to run counter to the goal of worshipping only God. Yet, God's thoughts are much higher than any individual's understanding. There must be more to this matter than is at first understood.
To make matters even more complicated, or interesting, depending upon how a person looks at it, Christians maintain that they, too, worship the one true God, and not three separate 'gods'. Some dismiss this as ridiculous, and on the face of it, this definition of the Trinity certainly appears that way. After all, a person can not have one god and three at the same time. However, the concept is just unique enough to have the ring of truth about it. After all, this God is He who appeared to Moses in a fiery bush that did not burn up. God was able to part the sea and allow the Israelites to pass through on dry ground, while soon after, their enemies were swallowed up by the same sea. He is the God who could make the sun stand still for a time, as Joshua and the Israelites pursued their enemies. God obviously is not captive to the physical laws which regulate the world He created.
God also took Elijah to heaven in a fiery chariot, and allowed the prophet Elisha to raise an iron axehead from the depths of a river. He chose younger sons (David, Joseph) over firstborn ones to carry out His purposes, and hesitant ones (Gideon, Moses) to become leaders of His people. He chose Israel as His people, even though they were the least of the nations. In other words, God is not subject to the laws of His creation and seems to regularly do things that are unexpected or impossible. In that sense, the concept of the Trinity fits right in.
Some people have tried to use physical objects to try to explain the definition of the Trinity. Patrick, missionary to Ireland, was said to have employed a shamrock plant's arrangement of leaves to show how something can be three, yet one. The shamrock remains a symbol of Irish Christianity. Some use the idea of an egg, with shell, yolk and albumen to illustrate the three-yet-one concept. One such illustration that seems to come closest (if indeed anything can) to explaining the holy Trinity is the idea of how water can exist in three different forms: solid, liquid, and gas. Each form is very different in appearance and properties, yet each is still in essence, H2O. Nothing else is like water. Similarly, the three persons of the holy Trinity are at times occupied with different functions or offices, yet all are somehow one in essence. Nothing else is like God.
Admittedly, even these illustrations fall far short of offering a true explanation of the Trinity. Although a person can attempt to make such a concept more understandable, this is a doctrine that is mostly dependent upon biblical revelation. Some see the concept of the holy Trinity as a progressive revelation, with each part of the Trinity taking up His place in redemptive history. To some extent this is true, for one is given the fullest understanding of Jesus after His incarnation, and of the Holy Spirit after He indwells believers. Yet there are hints of each member of the Godhead throughout the Scriptures. With our limited understanding, the definition of the Trinity remains somewhat elusive. As usual, God is not easily put into a box by His creation.
It is not possible to examine in this article all of the Scriptures which support the doctrine of the Trinity. However, an interesting and profitable study would be to examine the Bible to see how each person of the Godhead functions and has deity ascribed to Him, either by direct statements or by noticing that the qualities of deity, such as omniscience (all-knowing) and omnipotence (all-powerful), are ascribed to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In this way, a person can at least begin to learn about this puzzling concept of three-yet-one.