Spirtual Gifts, Part 1

 

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

December 22, 2002

Spiritual Gifts, Part 1

Romans 12:3-8 & 1 Corinthians 12

CONTEXT

Turn to Romans 12. This morning I want to continue in our
study of the nature of the church and begin a study of spiritual
gifts. Starting in verse 3 we read the following:

"For through the grace given to me I say to every man
among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to
think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has
allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many
members in one body and all the members do not have the same
function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and
individually members one of another. 6 And since we have gifts
that differ according to the grace given to us, [let each
exercise them accordingly]: if prophecy, according to the
proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who
teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his
exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with
diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

Recall from our study a couple of weeks ago, that the reason
that we need to think as to have sound judgement of
ourselves and that no one should think more highly of himself
than he ought to think
is directly related to the fact that
every Christian is part of the body of Christ, and every part of
that body is needed for it to function properly. Just as with the
physical body, there are no worthless parts, so with the body of
Christ, there are no worthless members. Just as with the physical
body, there are no insignificant organs, so with the body of
Christ, there are no insignificant ministries. This does not mean
that the physical body cannot live without certain body parts,
for when any body part is injured or no longer functioning, the
body is crippled. So it is with the Body of Christ, every gift
and ministry are needed for the body to be healthy.

People now are no different now than they were at the time
Paul was writing his letters. People still tend to think of
certain gifts as more important than others resulting in either
pride if they have them, or discouragement or jealousy if they do
not. That is why it is so important to clearly understand and
live according to what Paul has explained both here in Romans 12
and in 1 Corinthians 12 about the functioning of the Body of
Christ.

Humility is demanded of every Christian because none of us
became part of the Body of Christ based on our own merit or
abilities. It was God Himself in His great mercy that redeemed
you and made you part of this body. Every person is born
spiritually dead and by nature are "children of wrath"
as well as "slaves to sin" (Eph. 2:3; Rom. 6).
Salvation comes when God in His great love makes us alive
together with Christ and adopts us as His children (Eph. 2; 1
John 3:1). We become aliens to this world (1 Peter 2:11), and a
process of complete transformation begins. We are made into new
creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) and transferred from Satan’s realm
into Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). We develop new desires,
attitudes and actions as our minds are renewed (Rom. 12:2). It is
God in His grace that brings us into the fellowship of the saints
and makes us part of the body of Christ. God is also the one that
equips us to serve Him, so there is no basis on which the
Christian can be proud or boastful in Himself.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us directly that "We are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
As we
saw a couple of weeks ago in our brief overview of 1 Cor. 12, the
gifts, ministry and effectiveness of that ministry are according
to God’s own will for His own purposes. Turn again to 1 Cor.
12 and look at verses 4-6.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Their Origin

Verse 4, "There are varieties of gifts, but the same
Spirit."
The Holy Spirit is the same for all Christians,
but He gives different gifts to different people. Every Christian
is given a spiritual gift or gifts by which they are to serve the
Lord. There are all sorts of spiritual gifts, which we will look
at in a few minutes, but whatever gift it may be, it came by the
Spirit.

Verse 5, "there are varieties of ministries, but the
same Lord."
The Lord is the same for all Christians, but
He will use those different gifts in different Christians in a
variety of ministries as He chooses. To use the gift of
exhortation as example, it could be used in different age groups,
in different settings such as private, public, church, school,
hospital, etc., through different means such as preaching,
teaching, personal counseling, etc., and through different
formats such as speaking, singing, writing, drama, art, etc.

Verse 6, "there are varieties of effects, but the same
God who works all things in all."
God is the same for
all Christians, but the effectiveness of those different gifts
used in different ministries will also be different – ACCORDING
TO GOD. A person who has the gift of exhortation that operates
though a ministry of music may use it with just a few people at a
Bible Study or with more people at a church services, or it could
be used regionally, nationally or even internationally.

Paul makes the same basic point in a very succinct manner at
the beginning of Romans 12:6 when he says, "and since we
have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us."

By God’s grace, each Christian receives gifts by which they
are to serve Him. The gifts that each believer has are different
from the gifts that other believers have according to God’s
grace in giving the particular gifts to the particular Christian.
We can summarize these two passages by saying that God has gifted
you to serve Him, but the gift or gifts given, the ministry that
the gift(s) are used in, and the effectiveness of the gift(s) are
according to the Lord’s will, not yours.

Their Purpose

The purpose of God giving these spiritual gifts and ministries
to you is stated clearly in verse 7. But to each one is given
the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
So
whatever these "manifestations of the Spirit" might be,
their purpose is "for the common good." That is
an extremely important point that must never be lost. The error
in the Corinthian church is commonly repeated today because
people do not keep that truth in focus. There are no manifestations
of the Spirit
that are for your personal benefit whether that
be spiritually, physically or even financially. Whatever personal
benefit you receive for your gift will be directly related to it
being "for the common good" of the whole body.
That even includes my gifts in pastoring and teaching. They are
not for my personal benefit, but for that of the common good of
the whole body. My personal benefit in being able to earn my
living through these gifts is directly related to using them for
the common good of the whole body. If I did not do so, then even
that personal benefit would be and should be immediately lost.

Their Manifestation

What are these "manifestations of the Spirit," these
outward evidences of the Spirit’s presence? In Galatians 5
Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the
Spirit’s presence in a person’s life. The fruits of the Spirit
are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness & self-control. In the 1 Cor. 12 text, the
evidence is said to be the gift(s) given by the Spirit so that
God’s children can serve Him and thereby benefit the whole
body.

Which gift manifests the Holy Spirit in a person’s life?
Pentacostal and Charismatic doctrine erroneously teach it is the
particular gift of speaking in an unknown tongue. However, the
text here in 1 Cor. 12 is clear that it is any gift. I will add
that any so called "gift" that is not displayed along
with the fruit of the Spirit cannot be considered evidence of the
Holy Spirit’s presence.

Back in verse 1 Paul introduced this topic in response to some
questions the Corinthians had. Paul states, "Now
concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I do not want you to be
unaware.
Paul is explaining to them about the pneumatikwn (pneumatikon) – the spiritual
things. The context lets us know that spiritual gifts are part of
these spiritual things (which is why your Bible has
"gifts" in italics, for it is not in the text, but
implied). Paul will talk about this subject of spiritual things
in chapters 12, 13 & 14 describe what they are, how they
come, how they fit in the body, the spiritual realities that are
more important than the particular gifts, and how they are to
operate in the body. Today we are simply examining what they are
and how they fit together.

In 1 Cor. 12:2, 3 Paul reminds them of their past in paganism
and how they came to Christ. In verses 4,5 & 6 He tells them
that the gifts, ministries and ability to serve the Lord all come
from God according to His will. Then in verse 7, as we have
already pointed out, Paul reminds them that all of this is done
for the common good of the whole body. I cannot stress this
enough, and so I will stress it again. Any gift used in any
ministry with any effect is a manifestation of the Spirit, and
its purpose is for the common good of the whole body. There are
no insignificant gifts. There are no insignificant ministries.
There are no insignificant people in the church. Every person,
every gift, and every ministry is needed in order for the body to
be healthy and carry out its God given purposes of worshiping
God, caring for one another, building each other up and declaring
the message of salvation from sin by God’s grace through faith in
the Lord Jesus.

The Different Gifts

What are these spiritual gifts? Romans 12:6-8 mentions some as
we read earlier. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 mention some more. Then
there is a scattering of others mentioned or implied here and
there throughout the scriptures. Even in 1 Cor. 12 there are two
gifts (helps & administration) and two offices (Apostles
& teachers) mentioned at the end of the chapter in verse 28
that Paul did not mention in his first listing of gifts in verses
8-10. Because there is no extensive listing of all the various
gifts in any one place, but instead they are scattered around the
Bible, I do not believe the Holy Spirit ever intended to give us
an exhaustive list of all His gifts. The gifts mentioned are
simply examples so that the point can be made that God has
equipped us, and we are to serve Him. I have included in the
Bulletin a Spiritual Gifts Comparison Chart to demonstrate this
fact.

The first thing to remember about any of these gifts is that
they are supernaturally derived. Each is given by the Holy
Spirit. They may or may not be related to natural talents. A
spiritual gift may use a natural talent or it may function where
there is not natural talent or skill, and a person with a natural
skill may not have the corresponding spiritual gift. Spiritual
gifts are for the common good of the body, they are given so that
God can be glorified.

Let me use teaching as an example of this. A person may be
both skilled as a teacher in the natural sense and have the
spiritual gift of teaching in which case the natural skill is
accentuated into being used for God’s purposes. A person could be
a great teacher in the natural sense but not have the spiritual
gift of teaching in which case they may be great at math or
English or history or whatever else, but they are not able to
impart spiritual truths. At the same time someone may be
considered inept according to normal teaching standards and yet
be used of God mightily in imparting spiritual truths to others.

Spiritual gifts may or may not have any connection with
natural abilities or acquired skills. The key question in
determining a spiritual gifts is: Is God using you in that area?

What are these gifts (carismata
charismata – literally grace gift)? Again, I do not believe the
Scriptures give an exhaustive list, but as examples lets examine
some of the ones that are mentioned. Keep in mind that a person
may have several in all sorts of mixtures. Let’s start in
Romans 12:6-8.

THE GIFT OF PROPHECY

Prophecy ( profhteiva /
prophateia) is the first gift listed in Romans 12:6. The root
idea of the word is to "bring forth into the light" and
refers to someone who is "an interpreter or forth-teller of
the divine will." Paul states that the one with this gift is
to use it "according to the proportion of his faith."
Prophecy is also listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10 in the subcategory
of gifts of faith. There is also the office of
"prophet" listed in Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians
12:28. Paul states in the later passage that prophets are the
second gift following behind Apostles in importance.

Foretelling

There are two aspects to the gift of prophecy. First, there is
the aspect of foretelling in which God reveals something that is
going to happen in the future. The word prophecy is used to
describe this because revealing the future is brining what is
hidden in the darkness of the future into to the light of the
present even before it happens. This is what usually comes to
mind when we read of an Old Testament Prophets such as Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Zechariah, Joel, Amos, Micah, etc. God had very clear
and definite requirements of these prophets and their prophecies.
They had to be one hundred percent (100%) accurate. If anything
in their prophecy failed to come true, then they were to be
judged a false prophet and stoned. This standard was set up so
that the people would not be fooled by false prophets into
believing lies. In Deuteronomy:20-22 we read, "But the
prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I
have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the
name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in
your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not
spoken?’ "When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if
the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing
which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it
presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

Be aware that there are those around today that claim to be
prophets or to have received some prophecy in the sense of
predicting the future, but they do not meet God’s standard
of one hundred percent (100%) accuracy 100% of the time. You do
not need to be afraid or intimidated by them. You can boldly
stand up to them and call them what they are – false prophets.
They are part of the group of false teachers that both Peter (2
Pet. 2:1) and Paul warn us about.

As we move into the New Testament, we find that the gift of
prophecy was largely apostolic in nature, for it was something
often associated with the Apostles, but there were others beside
them that are referenced as having it. Included in this list are
Agabus who predicted a famine in Judea during the reign of
Emperor Claudius (Acts 11:28) and later foretold of Paul’s
arrest and imprisonment 21:10). Others prophets are referred to
in Acts 11:27 & 13:1, but they are not specifically named.
Those with this gift were important in the early church, but they
were not as important as the Old Testament Prophets or the New
Testament Apostles who laid the foundation of God’s
revelation that was written down in the Scriptures (Eph.
2:20).Their prophecies were to be judged (1 Cor 14:29), and they
could not always give the prophecies interpretation or
application (Acts 21:4,11-14).

Forth-telling

The more fundamental aspect of this gift of prophecy is that
of forthtelling, or proclaiming what God had said. The prophet
was one who was an interpreter in explaining God’s will.
This was true of the Old Testament prophets as well as the gift
of prophecy in the New Testament. Consider that so much of what
the Old Testament prophets said was proclaiming what God had
already said or declaring God’s displeasure and warning
about something someone had done. In the New Testament, Paul
specifically connects prophecy to edification, exhortation and
consolation of the church in 1 Corinthians 14. Even in
Paul’s own writings, though there are predictive elements in
some of them (1 Thess. 4:13 – 5:11 and 2 Thess. 2 for example),
most of what he writes is just repeating and applying the truths
that God had already revealed. The New Testament prophets Judas
& Silas mentioned in Acts 15:32 are not recorded as making
any predictions of the future, but instead they "encouraged
and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message."

It is in this second sense that the gift of prophecy is at
work in the present age. This would be the gift that enables some
preachers to be able to speak with the unction of "thus
saith the Lord, " (and perhaps in view of what Acts 15:32
says about Judas and Silas, it might also enable them to be long
winded in their preaching, though in this case it would also mean
they were saying something worth hearing). There are plenty of
people that can speak, some for even a long time, but it is the
gift of prophecy that separates those who are declaring
God’s will from those who are just long winded religious
speakers.

The gift of prophecy would be a gift that those who preach
would need because a large portion of what they are supposed to
do is to exposit the Scriptures. They are to study the Bible and
then declare the truths of God’s revelation to people. They
are to bring to light what seems hidden to most people.

Preacher

Related to the gift of prophecy is God appointing some to be a
"preacher" as Paul states he was in 1 Timothy 2:7. The
word preacher here, kh’rux /
karuxs, refers to "a herald or messenger vested with
public authority, who conveyed the official messages of kings,
magistrates, princes, military commanders, or who gave a public
summons or demand, and performed various other duties. In the NT
God’s ambassador, and the herald or proclaimer of the divine
word"
(Thayers). Those with the gift of prophecy are not
to keep to themselves, they are to proclaim it to others, which
we call preaching.

Now in saying this, we must also keep in mind that preaching
takes place in all sorts of different contexts and to different
degrees. There are those, like myself, that preach week by week
in one location to the same congregation. Others have itinerant
ministries in which they speak to different groups as they have
opportunity. Some preachers speak to small groups, some to large
groups and some to vast multitudes. Some preachers rarely venture
out of a church context while others normally speak outside a
local church context. Some preacher can earn their living by
preaching and many, many others do not. All that to say this. Do
not stereotype the gift of prophecy and the ministry of preaching
into thinking it is just referring to people such as myself. I
have no doubts that some of you also have these gifts though they
are used in different settings.

Speaking

In keeping with that idea, let me point out that the apostle
Peter uses the more general term, "speaks" (lalevw / lale) to describe this in 1
Peter 4:10,11. He also makes it clear in that passage that the
authority and power are in the message, not the messenger, and
that the purpose of all gifts are the glory of God. Starting in
verse 10, Peter says, "As each one has received a special
gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it
were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by
the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be
glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and
dominion forever and ever. Amen."

To whatever degree a person may or may not have the gift of
prophecy or be appointed by God to the specific calling of being
a "preacher," all who speak on the basis of God’s
word, for whatever reason and on whatever occasion, need to do so
with the understanding that the Bible is the Word of God. They
should, therefore, speak with all due respect and show reverence
for what God has said. We are never to use the Bible in a
flippant manner and we should strive to make sure we never use
its sayings as cliches that have little meaning left. In
addition, the word of God is, as Heb. 4:12 says, "living
and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as
far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and
marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the
heart.
" It is a powerful weapon by which we need not
fear our adversaries.

God has given some people the specific gift of prophecy and
called some to be "preachers," but neither of those
have to be specifically true of you in order to use the word of
God and speak His truths to others. In fact, to one degree or
another, he requires that of all of us as His witnesses. Each of
us who is a Christian has been called by God to be "a
people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the
excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His
marvelous light"
(1 Peter 2:9). Parents, you have the
responsibility of speaking the word of God and applying its
truths to your children.

The Proportion of Faith

Going back to Romans 12:6 we find that the person with the
gift of prophecy is to use it "according to the
proportion of his faith
." There are two possibilities of
what Paul is referring to by this phrase. The first is that is
referring to the gospel message as "the faith which was
once for all delivered to the saints"
(Jude 3). This
sense cannot be objected to because to present something other
than the clear and unadulterated gospel is crucial otherwise it
is a false gospel that brings God’s curse (Gal. 1:6f).
However, as A.T. Robertson well points out, the context here
calls for the subjective meaning of faith. The person with this
gift must speak to the fulness of their understanding of the
gospel according to the individual proportion of faith that God
has given to them.

In other words, there is variation as to the depth of
understanding of the will of God that a person will have as they
study the scriptures. Each one must give their best to both
understanding what God has revealed and then faithfully declaring
those truths. That sense is keeping with the rest of the passage.
Every person is to use their gift to the best of their ability
whatever that gift may be. There is not to be any slacking off in
using your gift just because God has equipped you to do something
better than others with the same or similar gifts.

Conclusion

That is a good thought on which to end this morning’s
message. God has equipped every believer to serve Him. Each of us
has different gifts, different ministries and different scopes in
those ministries. As we shall see in our continuing study of
spiritual gifts in the weeks to come, not having a particular
gift does not exclude you from serving God in a particular area,
for there are general commands related to the different gifts
that apply to all Christians. Our giftedness is rather related to
the special way in which God will use us beyond His general
commands to us.

Are you seeking to serve God to the best of your ability as
you strive to live a holy life? If not, then you are not using
your gifts and you are not glorifying Him the way that you
should, but that can easily change as you turn from being self
centered and selfish into being God centered and a servant.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * *

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your
children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children
draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon.
Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older
Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many
times the words "prophet / prophecy,"
"preacher," and "speaking" are used. 2)
Discuss with your parents what this gift is and how it affects
you.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

What is the context of Romans 12:6-8? What does it mean to
think as to have sound judgement and not to think more highly of
yourself than you ought to think? Why is this important? What is
its relationship to the verse that follow it? What is the basis
for Christian humility? What is the origin of all spiritual
gifts? Ministries? Effects? What is their purpose? How can you
know that someone has the Holy Spirit? How do spiritual gifts
relate to the manifestation of the Spirit? List out the gifts
mentioned in the New Testament? What is the meaning of prophecy ( profhteia / prophateia)? Describe the
foretelling aspect of this gift. What standard did God set to
prove the truth of someone’s claim to have this gift? How
should a person be treated that does not meet God’s standard
for predicting the future? Describe the forth-telling aspect of
this gift. Give an Old Testament example of each aspect. Give a
New Testament example of each aspect. Which aspect is at work in
the present age? Why? How does God’s appoint of a
"preacher" (khrux / karuxs)
relate to the gift of prophecy? How can being a
"preacher" manifest itself? What is the relationship of
"speaking" (lalew / laleo)
to prophecy and preaching? What is the responsibity of those
without these particular gifts in proclaiming God’s word?
What does it mean "according to the proportion of
faith"? Are you seeking to serve God to the best of your
ability?

Sermon
Study Sheets

 

Sermon Notes – 12/22/2002 am

Spiritual Gifts, Part 1Romans 12:6

CONTEXT – Romans 12:3-8

 

Humility is demanded of every
Christian because we only become part of it by God’s own
acts of grace.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Their Origin1 Corinthians 12:4-6;
Romans 12:6

Their Purpose1 Corinthians 12:7

Their ManifestationGalatians 5:21,22;
1 Corinthians 12, esp. vs 28-30

The Different GiftsRomans 12:6-8; 1
Cor. 12:8-10; 28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 2:7; 1 Peter 4:11

 

THE GIFT OF PROPHECY (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10)

Prophecy ( profhteia / prophateia) =

Foretelling

Deuteronomy:20-22

Agabus – Acts 11:28; 21:10. Others –
Acts 11:27 & 13:1,

Forth-telling

Judas & Silas – Acts 15:32

Preacher1 Timothy 2:7

Preacher ( khrux / karuxs) =

Speaking – 1 Peter 4:10,11

"speaks" (lalew /
laleo) =

1 Peter 2:9

The Proportion of FaithRomans 12:6

Conclusion