Natural Gifts From the Spirit
“and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills”
Introduction from Mark Roberts: Dr. Vincent Bacote has been on the faculty at Wheaton College since 2000 where he is currently Associate Director of Theology and Director of Center for Applied Christian Ethics. His work on Abraham Kuyper, race, ethics, and other topics has appeared in publications such as Comment, Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, Christianity Today, and his book The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper. Marcus Goodyear, Senior Editor of The High Calling, first met Dr. Bacote at the Jubilee Conference and we have been looking for opportunities to work together ever since. We are excited to have him leading us this week as our "guest reflector," and we commend his work with enthusiasm!
I sometimes wonder if our theology of the Holy Spirit is confined to the texts that begin with Acts 1 and beyond. The gift of our salvation is tremendous because the Holy Spirit makes us alive to God and works within us to transform us into greater Christlikeness, but we are actually missing out if we limit ourselves to the “New Testament” view of the Spirit.
In Exodus 31, God sends the Spirit to Bezalel and Oholiab (and also “skilled workers” – v. 6) for the purpose of building the Ark of the Covenant and other furnishings and garments for priestly service. In this story, it is implied that the Holy Spirit gives human beings their “God-given talents” in areas as diverse as art, athletics, leadership, and all manner of manual work.
We encounter these “natural” gifts each day in the work that others have done to produce goods, design neighborhoods, and build homes, to use only a few examples. God, through the Holy Spirit, gives each of us these kinds of gifts. Whether it is the gifted hands of a surgeon, the sharp eye of a surveyor, or the designer of the latest software application, we bring this less-acknowledged type of spiritual gift to our everyday life and work.
In God’s generosity, these “natural gifts,” which we can call gifts of common grace, are given to all human beings. We serve a triune God whose work is all around us in ways that we either take for granted or fail to notice. A Biblical view of the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to new ways to see the greatness of our Lord.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What has been your view of the Holy Spirit? Do you think about the Holy Spirit beyond regeneration and gifts that serve the purposes of the church? How prominent is the Holy Spirit in your faith, particularly the Spirit’s work in distributing natural gifts?
What is the relationship between your view of the Holy Spirit and your life beyond Sunday? When you look around at all of the products you purchase and the built environment you typically encounter, what evidence do you see that people have used their “natural” gifts from the Spirit?
PRAYER: Oh Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us to know you more deeply and worship you more fully as we grow in amazement at your generosity to the world you have created. Thank you for giving us gifts of common grace that we can use to bring you glory through our daily participation in your world. By the Spirit’s power, lead us in this path we pray. Amen.