E1. Work of the Holy Spirit
- alternate list (Question 49)
active in creation (Gen 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps 104:30)
inspired the Bible writers (2Pe 1:21)
empowered the conception of Christ (Lk 1:35)
convicts of sin (Jn 16:8)
regenerates (Jn 3:5-6)
counsels (Jn 14:16-17; 16:7,12-14)
brings assurance of salvation (Ro 8:15)
teaches or enlightens (illuminates) (Jn 16:12-14;
aids in prayer by intercession (Ro 8:26-27)
resurrected Christ (Ro 8:11; 1Pe 3:18)
calls to service (Ac 13:4)
seals the electís salvation (Ro 8:23; 2Co 1:21-22;
Eph 1:13-14; 4:30)
indwells the believer (Ro 8:9; 1Co 3:16-17; 6:19)
works in the church (1Co 12:7-11)
a. Definition: A spiritual gift is any ability
that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church.
b. Purpose of spiritual gifts: to equip the church
to carry out its ministry until Christ returns (1Co 1:7; Eph 4:12)
c. Number of spiritual gifts: In the lists on gifts,
Paul was not attempting to construct exhaustive lists of gifts. They appear
as ad hoc random lists. Also, since different churches received different
lists, they still would not be able to construct an exhaustive list even
if Paul listed all gifts in his letters. In addition, at least two letters
to the Corinthians are non-extent (1Co 5:9; 2Co 7:8; 2:4).
d. Groups of spiritual gifts:
E2. Basic principles
about spiritual gifts (Question 51)
e. Gifts may vary in strength: use "in proportion
to our faith" (Ro 12:6). Many gifts increase in strength and effectiveness
as they are used (1Ti 4:14).
f. Distribution: the Holy Spirit "apportions to each
one individually as He wills" (1Co 12:11); even abilities we think to be
"natural" are from God (1Co 4:7)
g. Permanency: it seems that spiritual gifts are
permanent although some gifts are nonpermanent by their nature. Also gifts
may be withdrawn if they are neglected (1Ti 4:14; Mt 25:29).
h. Discovering spiritual gifts: church leaders need
to provide sufficient opportunities for varieties of gifts to be used (1Pe
4:10). A person can simply begins to try ministering in various areas and
see where God brings blessing.
whoever speaks and whoever renders service (1Pe 4:11)
prophetic gifts, priestly gifts, kingly gifts
gifts of knowledge, power, speech
i. Seeking spiritual gifts: A person can desire
higher gifts (1Co 12:31) and ask God for them.
j. Every believer is given one more more spiritual
gifts (1Co 12:7,11; 1Pe 4:10).
k. The presence of spiritual gifts does not necessarily
signify spiritual maturity (1Co 3:1).
E3. Unpardonable sin: detailed
version (Question 52)
There is one unpardonable sin:
blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31-32; Mk 3:29; Lk 12:10).
Here, Jesus was accused of casting
out demons through the power of the prince of demons, Satan. It was called
a sin against the Holy Spirit because the Pharisees may have misunderstood
the ministry of Jesus (which is forgivable) but the power of the Holy Spirit
was well known from OT times and should for no reason be misunderstood.
The opposition to divine influence was so persistent and deliberate that
repentance becomes impossible. Some believe that this could only happen
in Jesusí time and will not happen today since no such similar circumstances
However, there are other passages on
unpardonable sin (Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-27; 1Jn 5:16). Since Jesus says in Mt
12:31 that "every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy
against the Spirit will not be forgiven," we can reasonably conclude that
there is only one unpardonable sin and that all related passages refer
to the same sin.
This sin probably refers to the conscientious,
malicious, and wilful rejection and slandering, against evidence and conviction,
of the testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Christ.
In committing that sin, man wilfully, maliciously, and intentionally attributes
what is clearly recognized as the work of God to the influence and operation
It is unpardonable, not because its
guilt transcends the merits of Christ, but because this sin excludes all
repentance, sears the conscience, hardens the sinner, and thus renders
the sin unpardonable. We may expect to find such a person pronouncing hatred
to God, with a defiant attitude to Him and all that is divine, delight
in ridiculing and slandering that which is holy, and absolute unconcern
respecting the welfare of their soul and the future life.
It is a permanent rejection due to
a hardened heart and therefore makes conversion and pardon impossible.
It is man withdraws himself from God, not God from man.
Some believe a true believer will never
commit such a sin. However, the description in Heb 6:4-6 appears to point
to a believer. The solution to this problem depends on the position on
predestination. Someone who holds predestination will explain the case
of Heb 6 as if the person is not a believer while someone who does not
hold predestination will explain the same case as an example of falling