We are still in Romans 1:11 in our discussion through the book of Romans. If you have missed any of our conversations you can find them on THE ROAD THROUGH ROMANS PAGE.
Romans 1: 11 reads,
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—
The things about spiritual gifts is that they are spiritual. That may seem obvious, but for those of us in the western world when we think “gift” one of our first go-to thoughts is not “Oh I hope it’s a spiritual gift. I really like spiritual gifts.”
Some of my first thoughts when someone says they want to give me a gift are:
“How big is it?”
“How much did it cost?”
“Will it fit in my house?”
“Will I use it?”
I go to the functional. The useful. The practical aspects of the gift. Don’t you? Maybe you are more spiritual than I.
I seldom think.
“Will this gift make me a better person?”
“Will this gift make me a more effective Christian?”
“Will this gift help me to win people to Christ?”
“Will this gift help me to crucify the flesh?”
But the spiritual gifts are more important than any earthly gift could ever be.
The first spiritual gift we are given is salvation. The gift of eternal life. It comes when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and call Him Lord.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.- John 3:16
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
It is this first spiritual gift that Paul spends a good deal of the next 15 chapters expounding on. I wonder though, is this the spiritual gift he wanted to impart? I am thinking it is not. I am thinking his letter imparts the spiritual gift of salvation quite well. I am thinking perhaps the letter is a foundation, a 101 class, for another spiritual gift he desired to impart to the Roman church. It is a gift he imparted to many other churches as he worked his way through Asia and into Europe.
In Acts 19 we read,
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Could this “baptism in the Spirit” as it is called, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, have been the spiritual gift Paul wanted to impart to the Roman Church? If so what is it? What is it for?
I would love to hear your thoughts and we will explore more tomorrow.