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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 19, 2003
Spiritual Gifts, Part 3 – Exhortation &
This morning we are going to pick up again in our study of the
book of Romans. We had been examining chapter 12 and the topic of
Spiritual Gifts. It is important that we remember the context in
which Paul presents Spiritual Gifts within this book. Turn again
to Romans 12. Starting in verse 1 we read the following:
"I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by
the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of
God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
"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."
The context of Paul speaking about spiritual gifts is part of
being a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. The
Christian is to think as to have sound judgement and never
think more highly of himself than he ought to think
because the Christians’ very existence is centered on
God’s glory and never on his own. In addition, as we have
already seen in our previous studies, the gift or gifts you have,
the ministries you have, and the scope of those ministries are
all according to God’s will for the purpose of the common
good of the whole body of Christ. If you are a true Christian,
then you are to serve God as a living sacrifice. You have been
crucified with Christ, and the person you were no longer lives,
but Jesus Christ lives in you. The life you now live is to be
lived by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself
up for you (cf. Gal. 2:20). If you are a true Christian, then God
has baptized you into the Body of Christ at the time of your
salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ. God has also
given you a spiritual gift or gifts by which you can effectively
serve Him with joy. Your particular gift or gifts as well as your
ministry and its scope will differ from those of other
Christians, but there is never a reason for either jealousy or
pride, because every gift and ministry is needed for the Body of
Christ to be healthy. There are no insignificant people in the
church. Everyone and every gift and ministry is important.
The Bible lists quite a few different spiritual gifts in
several different passages. Each of these passages include gifts
that are not listed in the other passages. In view of this, it is
my belief that these lists only give examples of the kinds of
spiritual gifts that God gives. They simply give us some idea of
how God desires to use His people in serving Him. We are studying
them so that you might get some ideas of how God might use you
for His glory. Keep in mind that people do not know what their
spiritual gift is until they start serving in an area and are
then affirmed in it by other mature Christians.
We have already examined the gifts of prophecy, preaching,
speaking, service or ministry, helps and teaching. In each of
these we have seen that God requires every Christian to serve Him
in each of these areas to some extent, but there are those who
are specially gifted to serve the Lord beyond what is generally
commanded. In the gifted area they demonstrate great
effectiveness in glorifying God and helping other believers in
their Christian walk. All of us must at times serve the Lord
outside our particular giftedness, but we become quickly aware of
it because it can often be frustrating even if you can get the
task done. It can be like a right-handed person using their left
hand for a task, or even worse, like trying to type using your
elbows. When you are serving in the Lord within your giftedness,
there can still be a lot of work involved, but there is also a
joy, a satisfaction is having the Lord use you.
The gifts of prophecy, preaching and speaking are all related
to declaring God’s message to others. Recall that the root
idea of Prophecy is to "bring forth into the light" and
refers to someone who is "an interpreter or forth-teller of
the divine will." We often think of the prophet as the one
that God used to reveal what would happen in the future, but
actually the more fundamental aspect of this gift of prophecy is
that of forthtelling, or proclaiming what God had said. That is
the meaning in the context of Romans 12:6. Those who were
prophets that predicted the future had to meet God’s
standard of 100% accuracy 100% of the time, or they were to be
declared to be false prophets and put to death (Deut. 13:1-5).
In 1 Timothy 2:7 Paul states that he was appointed to be a
"preacher." Having the gift of prophecy and being a
preacher are linked, because both are to herald or proclaim what
God has said. The gift of speaking also involves proclaiming what
God has said, but is more general in nature. A person may have
this gift, but not be appointed to be a "preacher."
Every 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), but those with these gifts have
special abilities in proclaiming God to others.
The gift of "service" or "ministry," and
that of "helps" are related to each other.
"Service" is from diakonian /
diakonian which is a general term for service and literally
refers to a table waiter. Its general meaning refers service "manifested
in every sort of practical help that Christians can give one
another in Jesus’ name" (MacArthur).
"Helps" has a root meaning of "a laying hold
of" and came to mean "to aid, help" or "rendering
assistance." The main difference between the gift of
"helps" and "service" would seem to be in the
more personal nature of "helps," and
"service" being more general in nature, though there is
much overlap between the two.
Teaching is the gift of being able to transfer knowledge of
spiritual things along with understanding so that the truths
learned are applied to life. All believers have a certain amount
of responsibility in teaching others, but those with this
particular gift have a special ability to do so. This gift can be
manifested in all sorts of ways with different kinds and ages of
people and in different ministries ranging from not only speaking
and writing, but also in music, art and drama.
This morning we are going to continue our study by looking at
the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:8, starting with exhortation.
Paul says that those who exhort should exercise their gift
accordingly in their exhortation. Exhortation, paraklhsiV / paraklasis, comes from a root
which means "to call alongside." This root idea has
historically given the word several different meanings, but in
the New Testament, it is usually used to mean either
"beseech," "exhort" or "comfort."
Context determines the meaning in a passage.
An example of this occurs here in Romans 12. Paul begins this
chapter with the verb form, paraklew /
parakleo, which is translated as "I urge" (NASB) or
"I beseech" (KJV). In the next two verses Paul calls
his readers to be living sacrifices acceptable to God in light of
what Jesus Christ has done for them. In verse 8 Paul again uses paraklew / parakleo as a description of the
spiritual gift of exhortation. The English word
"exhortation" means to "urge or advise
strongly," it is to "seek earnestly to persuade"
(Webster). You could actually translate Romans 12:1 as "I
exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God."
The urging here is strong and could be considered pastoral
exhortation to live according to the truth.
The idea of comfort comes from the words usage in such
passages as John 14:26 and 15:26 in which the Holy Spirit is
called the "comforter"(paraklhtoV
/ paraklatos), and 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 in which God is called the
Father of mercies and the God of all comfort who comforts us in
all our affliction. The same idea of comfort is expressed in 1
Thess. 4:8 in which the Thessalonians were told to "comfort
one another with these words" referring to Paul’s
revelation about the future hope we have that those who have died
in Christ and those who are alive and remain will both meet Him
in the air at the rapture of the Church.
A common thread that runs through these various meanings as
the word is used in the New Testament is their tie to the truth
of God. We urge people to know it. We exhort believers to live
according to it. We are comforted by its promises. The gift of
exhortation would then include the ideas of advising, pleading,
encouraging, warning, strengthening and comforting people with
the truths of the Word of God to the end that they might live
according to it. It is easy to see then that this gift can
manifest itself in many different ways in different ministries
and in conjunction with other gifts.
There are general commands for all Christians concerning their
need to advise, plead, encourage, warn, strengthen and comfort
people, but there are also people whom God has gifted to be able
to do these things in a very effective manner in helping others
become more like Christ. Lets see what Scripture says about the
different ways in which Christians are to practice exhortation.
That will give us some idea of how this gift might be used as
well as remind all of us what God desires from us, whether we
have this particular gift or not.
As noted in 1 Cor. 1:3-5, we are to comfort other
believers who are going through some affliction with the same comfort
we received from God when we had gone through some affliction.
Some things will bring comfort to us, such as Paul being comforted
when Titus returned from Corinth and heard how well they had
treated his co-worker (2 Cor. 7:6,7), but that is a passive
comfort. More important is the active comfort we are to bring,
such as the love of Philemon which also brought comfort to
Paul’s heart (Philemon 1:7). A person with this gift and the
gift of mercy would not only perform acts of compassion on those
who suffer, but would also be able to bring the truths of God to
bear on the situation to bring comfort to their souls. That is
the idea of bringing to others the comfort by which God has
comforted us in the midst of affliction.
The situation may be bad, the person might be in turmoil,
confusion or pain, but the truths of God’s promises can
bring peace, and that is comforting. You may feel lonely, but
Jesus will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). You might
feel overwhelmed by problems you are facing, but Jesus’ yoke
is easy and his burden is light (Mt. 11:30), in addition, He ever
lives to make intercession with the Father on your behalf (Heb.
7:25). You may be in physical pain, but though your flesh and
heart may fail, God remains the strength of your heart and your
portion forever (Ps. 73:26). You may despair of the circumstances
of our life in the here and now, but Jesus is preparing a place
for you and He will come again to take you to live with Him in
heaven forever (John 14:1-3). Fear may grip you, but perfect love
casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and Jesus has demonstrated that
perfect love for you when He took your sins upon Himself and died
in your place while you were still His enemy. In addition, He
proved His power to forgive you and fulfill His promises to you
when He rose from the dead. The truths of God’s Word can
bring comfort, and the person with this gift can do that
Another manifestation of this gift is in encouragement. Paul
and Silas did that in Acts 15:32 when they "encouraged
and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message." It
is easy for us to get discouraged in this life, for things often
do not go the way that we would like and we personally fail, but
the Word of God can encourage us to continue on. It can refresh
our vision for the future and for the present so that we are
uplifted to continue on in faithfully living for Him and serving
Him. All of us would like to succeed at what we do, but sometimes
we define that according to the world’s standards of
success. The Scriptures remind us that what God views as success
is simply faithfulness to Him (Luke 12:42-44; 1 Cor. 4:2). He
wants us to keep our eyes on Him and have our values reflect Him,
not those of this world (Mt. 6:33). All of us are to encourage
one another (1 Thess. 5:11), but those with this gift are
especially good at taking the Scriptures and invigorating the
downhearted to live for God again.
This gift can also exhibit itself in the common interaction
that is to occur as believers meet with one another. Hebrews
10:24,25 tells that we are to "consider how to stimulate
one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own
assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging
[one another]; and all the more, as you see the day drawing
near." This is work for most people because we have to
give thought to this before-hand so that we are prepared when we
get together with others, but those gifted in this area easily
figure out ways of how to help others be involved in the love and
good deeds that should be a normal part of the Christian’s
This gift can also reveal itself when confrontation needs to
take place when a fellow believer stumbles into sin. This
confrontation is not done from an attitude of condemnation, but
from one of pleading and warning as the sinning brother or sister
is admonished and encouraged to forsake their sin and walk with
Christ. Paul had to confront and exhort the Corinthians
because of the divisions and other sins they had allowed within
their congregation (1 Cor. 1:10), but his correction was born out
of an attitude of love for them (1 Cor. 4:2). The Thessalonians
had some people among them that were living undisciplined lives
and acting as busybodies. Paul had to exhort them in
the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own
bread (2 Thess 3:11). Now it is important to note here that
while exhortation may accompany admonishment, they are not the
same and there is not a spiritual gift of admonishment.
I am sure that many, if not most of you, have run into people
that thought they had the gift of admonishment, God has not
called out anyone to be "spiritual police" who are
watching to see when you make a mistake so they can arrest you.
The leaders in the church, specifically the Elders, "watch
over your souls" (Heb. 13:17), but even they are not
spiritual law enforcement officers. The whole idea of law
enforcement within the church is wrong. Even church discipline is
not done for purpose of catching law breakers and punishing them,
but out of love for the sinner. The desire is to correct and
restore the person back into a proper relationship with God and
fellow believers. Being caught in sin does bring Church
discipline unless the person refuses to give up their sin by
which they demonstrate that they do not love Jesus and therefore
have no basis of fellowship with His followers.
The task of admonishing those who sin is confrontive and
belongs to all Christians. Jesus told us in Matthew 18:15-17 "if
your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens
to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to
you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two
or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses
to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to
listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a
tax-gatherer." Paul tells Christians in 1 Thess. 5:14
that we are to "admonish the unruly, encourage the
fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men."
There is a greater responsibility in this for those who are
mature, for Galatians 6:1 tells us, "Brethren, even if a
man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore
such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to
yourself, lest you too be tempted."
Exhortation can be confrontive, but it is so from the
standpoint of warning and pleading for change. It takes the Word
of God and uses it for reproof and correction with the goal of
then encouraging and strengthening the person to walk with
Christ. Paul told Titus to speak, exhort and reprove with all
authority those under his care. We are still to do the same,
and that authority is the Bible. Those with a gift of exhortation
in this manner are not only able to state clearly where a person
may have stumbled into sin, but they can also communicate the
need for change and their own heart to help them effect that
change. Again, this is something all Christians need to learn to
do, but those with this gift are especially effective at it.
Finally, I should point out that this gift is needed for some
church leadership positions. Paul placed the requirement on the
Elders that Titus was to appoint for the churches in Crete,
including that they be able to "exhort
in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict." This
closely parallels the requirement in 1 Timothy 3:2 that Elders be
"able to teach," but it emphasizes that such
teaching cannot be academic in nature, but must also be
motivational to applying what is taught in daily life. The truths
of God are not for mental exercise, but to be believed and
applied to daily life.
All Christians need learn to exhort one another in different
manners, but God has gifted some to be especially effective in
The next spiritual gift in Paul’s list in Romans 12:8 is
giving. This is the gift that few people want to have for it goes
against our own selfish nature. Yet, what Jesus said is true. It
is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
To give is to share or impart from your resources for the
benefit of another. Paul says that those with this gift should
practice it with liberality or generosity. The root idea of is
one of singleness or simplicity. It is giving without
self-serving motives. MacArthur describes this well saying this
is someone who "gives of himself, not for himself. He
does not give for thanks or recognition, but for the sake of the
one who receives his help and for the glory of God."
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their hypocritical
practice of having a trumpet blown to call attention to
themselves before giving alms because they wanted the honor of
men. Jesus said they had their full reward and would get nothing
from God (Mt. 6:2-3). Giving with liberality is not just
generously, but with the desire to be honored by God without care
of any honor from men. Such giving is done in secret instead of
Again we find that all Christians are commanded to give, so
this particular spiritual gift is simply the extension of the
Biblical principles beyond what is normal. For example, in 1
Timothy 5:17,18, Paul makes it clear that those Elders who rule
well and work hard preaching and teaching should be considered
worthy of double honor and be able to earn their living from
their spiritual work. Paul had also pointed this out in 1
Corinthians 9 that, even though he did not take personal
advantage of this, it was right for him to expect to be able to
"reap material things" from them because of they had
"sowed spiritual things in them." That cannot happen if
God’s people do not give.
In 2 Cor. 9, Paul gives advance notice to the Corinthians that
he is collecting money for the relief of the poor Christians in
Jerusalem. He wanted them to be prepared for he expected to
receive something from them to help with this need. They might
not be as generous as the Macedonians who gave "beyond their
ability" and even begged to be allowed to participate in the
support of the poor saints, but Paul still expected them to give.
It often surprises people that Scripture states that a purpose
of working is so that we will have something to give to those who
have need. Ephesians 4:28 states, "Let him who steals
steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his
own hands what is good, in order that he may have [something] to
share with him who has need." All Christians are to give
as they purpose in their heart, not grudgingly or of necessity,
for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). There are also those
who have the gift of giving and therefore they reflect the
attitude of the Macedonians.
Perhaps this is a good place to note that the strength of this
spiritual gift is not in the amount given, but in the sacrifice
required and loving heart demonstrated by the act of giving. This
kind of giving reflects the heart that trusts God to meet their
own needs even as God uses them to meet the needs of others.
Jesus pointed this out when He called the attention of His
disciples to the widow who gave the two mites and said that it
was more than the great amounts of money the wealthy had put in,
because they gave out their surplus, but she gave all she had out
of her poverty (Luke 21:2,3). Paul reveals the spiritual
encouragement that comes from such giving when he thanked the
Philippians for their sacrificial giving on his behalf and called
it a "fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing
to God" (Phil. 4:17-18).
While we most often we might think of this spiritual gift in
terms of financial resources, it can be broader than that. Paul
said in Romans 1:11 that his desire was to come to the Romans
that he might "impart" (give, share) to them
some spiritual gift. This giving may be expressed out of your
finances, your material resources, or your spiritual resources.
The important aspect of this is that it is a giving out of your
resources to meet the needs of others for the purpose of
spiritual edification and God’s glory.
Giving can take place in a multitude of ways. It could be
money to help someone else pay a bill. It could bags of food or
clothes to meet the physical needs of someone else, or even a
tank of gas. It could be providing a place for someone to stay,
perhaps in your own home. It could be giving your time or talent
so that a project could be completed. It could even be giving
your blood or having your name on the organ donor list to provide
extended life to someone injured or sick. What ties all these
together is that it is done for the glory of God.
Keep it firmly in mind that it is to be for God’s glory.
A cup of water given in Jesus’ name is both a physical and
spiritual blessing, but the same cup of water without the
reference to Christ brings no spiritual blessing. Doing nice
things is good, but unless it is for God’s glory, you are
not serving God and you are not using a spiritual gift.
What is your spiritual gift? You really can’t know unless
you are using it. Are you praying about how God might use you?
Use the list in the bulletin to stimulate your mind and heart on
how God might use you in the current ministries of this church
and in the ministries that could be started to reach this
community for Christ if everyone was using their spiritual gift.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * *
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 different words for "exhortation" and
"giving" are used. 2) Discuss with your parents these
two gifts and how they affect you.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What is the context of the listing of spiritual gifts in
Romans 12? In 1 Corinthians 12? What is the importance of them?
What attitude should Christians have toward their spiritual gift
and that of others? Why? Briefly explain the gifts of prophecy,
preaching, speaking, service, helps, and teaching. What is the
root meaning of "exhort" and "exhortation" (paraklew , paraklhsiV
/ parakaleo, paraklasis)? How is it used in Romans 12:1 as
compared to 12:8? What is the common thread that runs through the
various meanings of this word? How can it be expressed in the
sense of "comfort?" How can it be expressed in the
sense of "encouragement?" How can it be expressed in
exhorting someone who is in sin? How does this differ from
admonishment? How can it be expressed in the common interaction
that should take place among Christians? What responsibilities do
all Christians have to exhort? What is the gift of
"giving?" Explain the different ways this gift could be
expressed? What responsibilities do all Christians have to give?
Part 3 – Exhortation & Giving – Romans 12:8
Prophecy, Preaching, Speaking
Service / ministry, Helps
Exhortation – paraklhsiV, paraklew
/ paraklasis, parakleo
Matt. 18:15-18; 1 Thess. 5:14
Luke 21:2,3; Phil. 4:17-18
Ways to give –