Explore BrainMass

Gifts of the Spirit

What are the gifts of the Spirit and how do they differ from the graces of the Spirit? Provide Biblical evidence to support your answer.

Solution Preview

1. Your question is this: What are the gifts of the Spirit and how do they differ from the graces of the Spirit? Provide Biblical evidence to support your answer.

The Nine Gifts of the Spirit

There are 9 gifts of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10. Some Christian denominations (Seven-Day Adventists, for example) also refer to the 9 graces of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22,23. From this perspective, then, let's look a little closer at the differences between the gifts and graces of the Spirit. However, not all Christian churches refer to the graces of the Spirit, like they do to the Gifts of the Spirit. I guess, in this sense, this would be the first difference between the two terms.

What are other differences, then, between the gifts of the Spirit and the graces of the Spirit?

1. The nine-fold gifts are for power, service, and ministry.
2. The nine-fold graces are for Christian character, for what the child of God is in himself.
3.The nine gifts are distributed among the members of the congregation.
4. The nine graces are to be represented in every Christian.
5. The nine gifts are sovereignly bestowed.
6. We may ask for a gift, but the Holy Spirit chooses as to whether our request is accepted or denied.
7. The nine graces crown all who walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not choose among them. They all are ours.
8. A gift may enjoy perfect expression even though it is a solitary one bestowed upon the individual.
9. But no grace can enjoy perfect expression if it if nor accompanied by every other member in the list (Thekkel, 1997, 1998)

Thekkel (1997, 1998) says that if life were always kind to us, if people were always pleasant and courteous, if we never had headaches, never knew what it was to be tired or under terrific pressure, the fruit of the Spirit might go unnoticed. But life is not always like that. It is in the midst of difficulties and hardships that we especially need the fruit of the Spirit, and it is in such times that God may especially work through us to touch other people of Christ. As we bear the fruit of the Spirit in out lives, others will see in us the "family likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29) and be attracted to the Savior. One of the main functions of the Holy Spirit is to impart the holiness of God to us. He does this as he develops within us a Christ-like character - a character marked by the fruit of the Spirit. God's purpose is that we would become mature attaining the full measure of perfection found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The fruit of the Spirit is God's expectation in our lives. The Spirit brings fruit into our lives because we cannot produce godliness apart from the Spirit. In our own selves, we are filled with all kinds of self-centered and self-seeking desires that are opposed to God's will for our lives. "Put to death your members which are upon earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, hearts of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Colossians 3:5,12). We can only bear spiritual fruit if we abide in Christ (John 15:4-7). It may be possible for us to make use of the gifts of the Spirit even when we are out of fellowship with the Lord (Thekkel, 1997, 1998)

A. Joy

Joy is mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit. Biblically, the joy is not the joy we encounter for a moment when our favorite basketball team wins the championship. It is not that happiness of a warm puppy. Like transcendent agape love, the Christian's joy is a transcendent joy, a joy born of blessedness. Any believer experiences positive emotions that evoke smiles, but no unbeliever has ever experienced the joy of salvation. The joy of the Spirit is permanent. This year's world champion may not make the playoffs next season. The joy of salvation is forever. The victory Christ has won for us is not seasonal. The Savior never has a bad year.

The joy of the Spirit is as stable as it is exhilarating. It is the joy that abides in the midst of suffering. It has depth. It penetrates the soul. It sends despair into exile and banishes pessimism. It produces confidence without arrogance, courage without bravado. Jesus was able to weep, yet His tears could not dissolve in joy He knew in His Father's House. We rejoice in hope. This type of Biblical hope is not the fantasy of the dreamer, but the assurance of the redeemed.

Romans 14:17

This Scripture suggests that the fact is, only Christians have a reason to be joyful, but it is also a fact that every Christian should be joyful. For true Christians, joy is both a privilege and a duty. Jesus said, "I have come that they (His sheep) may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). He has come that our lives might be full of joy. Twice, in His talk to the disciples on the evening of His betrayal, Jesus referred to the joy that He desired for them to have. He has done all to make it possible for us to live joyful lives.

Believers are not to sit around waiting for the circumstances to make them joyful. God, through Scripture, commanded to be joyful always (I Thessalonians 5:16). We are to rejoice always: "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice" Philippians 4:4). God intends that every one of His children exhibit the fruit of joy. Look at Paul's letter to the Thessalonians: I Thessalonians 1:6. Do the two words affliction and joy go together? The world would not think so. Late on a Thursday night, before He was to be crucified at 9:00 the next morning, Jesus spoke to His disciples about His joy (John 15:11; 16:22). What joy could there be in the agony of crucifixion? Hebrews 12:2 describe that amazing and heavenly phenomenon, "joy" in the presence of shame and suffering and death. When Paul and Silas were beaten until their backs were crimsoned in blood, when they were placed in stocks and in chains and thrown into the innermost part of a dungeon, at midnight, they prayed and sang to God (Acts 16:25). "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2). Only a Christian knows this kind of joy. The world has merriment, laughter, entertainment, revelry, but only the Christian knows joy. Bars and stonewalls and persecution cannot take it from him. It is the joy of the presence of God in the soul.

From the Biblical Christian (and God's) perspective, just being joyful is not enough, however, we should continually be growing in joy. Gloomy countenance ignores God and His attributes. Honestly, we know that life is filled with anxiety, conflict and tension.

Stumbling blocks to joy

One of the most common hindrances to joy is sin, or sinful attitudes in our hearts. Christian joy is essentially the enjoyment of God, the fruit of communion with Him. Sin obviously breaks that communion and the enjoyment of His presence (Psalm 51:12). Psalm 32:3,4 vividly describe David's lack of joy as he agonized over his sin. When we are not experiencing joy, we should examine our hearts and our lives. Are we holding onto some sinful attitudes such as envy or resentment, or a critical and unforgiving spirit? All sin, be it in attitude or in action, must be dealt with if we are to display the virtue of joy in out lives.

From a Christian perspective, another stumbling block to joy is misplaced confidence. Biblical evidence is in Philippians 3:1, Paul told them to rejoice in the Lord. He then made it clear that the opposite of rejoicing in the Lord is to put confidence in the flesh in our good works or religious attainment. In Paul's day, it was Jewish legalism, and spiritual pride.

Luke 10:17-20

The Holy Bible claims that Jesus sent 70 to preach. They returned with joy and said, "Lord even the demons submit to us in Your name." Jesus responded, "Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Jesus was not discouraging joy in the ministry, but cautioning against the ground of one's joy being in the success of a ministry. Success in ministry comes and ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the nine gifts of the Spirit and how they differ from the graces of the Spirit. Provides Biblical evidence to support the answer.