If you’re like me, you love receiving gifts. Good books are my favorite. When I get one, I feel loved and appreciated. Why? Because I love certain types of books. The fact that someone gives one that I like is proof that they know me, and that they know what’s important to me. As Christians, we have a Heavenly Father who gives good gifts. What’s more, He gives the types of gifts that are really important to us. He gives us, as Peter has said, “everything required for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). During the New Testament age, most of His gifts to us are distributed through the presence of His Spirit within our souls. Consider 4 gifts of the Spirit.
It may not sound pleasant, but conviction of sin is a great gift. Jesus said that such activity is one of the chief functions of the Holy Spirit: “When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 15:8). In ways beyond our perception or understanding, the Third Person of the Trinity is at work in society, convincing people that they are sinners, showing them their need for righteousness, and making them cognizant of a coming judgment. What a great gift from God! Just as a parent might warn a child of pending danger associated with crossing a street, God’s Spirit warns us of our need for salvation.
Christianity isn’t a religion of new rules, requirements, and rituals. It is a religion of new life. A sinner doesn’t need a mere makeover. He or she needs a birth from above. Though we all have a physical nature, we stand in need of a spiritual one as well. Our mere humanity can never connect to God on its own. We need His Spirit within us. Jesus spoke of our need to be “born again” (John 3:3). When one places his or her faith in Christ for salvation from sin, God’s Spirit comes to reside in the soul (Galatians 3:2). Though all of us have a physical birthday recorded on a birth certificate, we need a spiritual birthday as well. God gives us one through His Holy Spirit!
Assurance of Salvation
Once the Spirit lives within us, we have a lifelong assurance that we belong to God. The Bible says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15). The true Christian knows he or she is saved because of the comforting, convicting, enlightening, and enduring work of the Third Person. She can sing with the hymn-writer, “I know Whom I have believed.” He can profess, “He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own!”
God’s Spirit isn’t a mere magical force. Though it deals with the spiritual, it can accomplish powerful things on earth. It can give believers power to endure trials, temptations, tragedies, and testings in a valiant way. Paul said, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Such strengthening was accomplished by God’s indwelling presence. It can provide contentment in the most destitute and depressing of circumstances (Hebrews 13:5-6), and it can give sufficiency to serve and minister on behalf of Christ (Romans 12:6-8). What a gift we have in the Holy Spirit!
Dr. Patrick Latham