The Spirit also works in the life of a believer by distributing spiritual gifts as he wills (1 Cor 12:11). As we saw earlier, the first gift that he gives us is himself (Acts 2:38) in regeneration. When someone confesses “Jesus is Lord”, it is a gift from the Spirit (1 Cor12:3). But what we consider to be “spiritual gifts” are kinds of service (12:5) to God for the purpose of building up the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-26). “The gifts of the Spirit are given essentially to the individual for the edification of others…” ( Ferguson, 209) These gifts include: the utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, various kinds of tongues (1 Co 12:8–10, interpretation of tongues(1 Co 12:8–10); the callings of apostles, prophets, teachers, helpers, administrators (1 Co 12:28), evangelists, and shepherds (Eph 4:10–12); and service, exhortation, generosity, leadership, and acts of mercy ( Ro 12:6–8).
The Spirit distributes the different gifts to each believer for the purpose of building up other believers. A gift is not primarily for the individual believer’s edification or help, but is to be used to help him love his neighbor. The Spirit works in Christians to encourage, uplift, challenge, and edify each other. This could come through a word, a teaching, an act of service, and many other forms. These gifts are for the edification of the church, allowing it to function effectively and healthily in ministry. When all the members of the church are working together in their gifts, the church grows and is edified. The Spirit is alive and working when the church is united and thriving as each member functions in his or her spiritual gifts. Without the Spirit giving gifts to his people, the church would be as useless as a body made up entirely of hands or eyes ( 1 Co 12:17)
The Spirit of God has been neglected and abused in some segments of the church; therefore it is all the more necessary to seek a biblical understanding of who the Spirit is and what he does. As we have seen, the Spirit is essential to the believer’s life, because without Him the believer would not even be able to believe! The Spirit continues to work in the believer’s life by sanctifying him to make him more like Christ. Sanctification is a slow process and sometimes discouraging, and so the Spirit also reminds us of Christ, encouraging us when we are struggling and helping us in our weaknesses when we fall short of the commandments of God. Furthermore, the Spirit of God also assures our spirits of God’s adopting and sealing love toward us. Our Father God has given us the Spirit as a seal and guarantee that our position before God will not ever change, for our identity in Christ is being kept for us in heaven. The Spirit also works by distributing gifts to individual believers for the sake of edifying of the whole body, which brings unity in the church.
In sum, without the Spirit of God, the Christian life could not exist. Every Christian should be trusting, believing in, and joining into intimacy with the third person of the Trinity. When we come to Scripture we see that he is not the “black sheep” of the Trinity but a valued, loved, and essential member of the Godhead. We should therefore love him, trust him, rely on him, talk with him, and have communion with him, all the while being thankful for his regenerating, sanctifying, edifying, unifying work that plays out in our lives every day.