KEY SCRIPTURE: Romans 12:4-5 (NIV) 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
KEY IDEA: I know my spiritual gifts and use them to fulfill God’s purposes.
KEY QUESTION: What gifts and abilities has God given me to serve others?
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
A man from Illinois decided to travel to Wisconsin to go duck hunting. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of the fence.
As the flatlander climbed over the fence, a farmer drove up on his tractor and asked what was going on. The hunter said, “I shot a duck and I’m retrieving it.” The old farmer replied, “This is my property and you’re not coming over here!”
Well, this made the hunter mad so he said, “If you don’t let me come over the fence I’ll call my Chicago lawyer and I’ll sue you.”
The farmer smiled and said, “Apparently you don’t know how we do things up here. We settle disagreements with the Wisconsin three-kick rule. I’ll kick you three times, and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”
The man from the city liked this challenge because he thought he could easily take the old farmer. The old farmer climbed down from the tractor and planted the steel toe of his heavy work boot into the man’s shin. The man fell to his knees. His second kick went directly to his stomach, knocking the wind out of him.
The farmer than landed his third kick to the side of the hunter’s head. The disoriented man slowly got up and said, “Okay, you old codger, now it’s my turn!” To which the farmer responded, “Nah, I give up. You can have the duck.”
Today we continue our series called “BELIEVE” and we are on the topic of Spiritual Gifts.
There has been a lot of struggle in the Christian Church about this subject. The fact is: We are all wired so differently. It’s not worth fighting over.
Be Informed About Spiritual Gifts
In 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul wanted to make sure that they had a proper understanding about spiritual gifts. The church at Corinth desperately needed instruction on this topic, and so do we.
1 Corinthians 12:1 (ESV) 1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.
It is so important that God tells us to NOT be uninfomred.
John MacArthur writes, “No local congregation will be what it should be…until it understands spiritual gifts”
Bruce Bugbee, founder and president of Network Ministries defines it: “Spiritual gifts are divine abilities distributed by the Holy Spirit to every believer according to God’s design and grace for the common good of the body of Christ.”
There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural abilities. It’s important to recognize that a spiritual gift is given by the Holy Spirit at conversion, whereas a natural talent is something we’re born with.
While we must yield our talents and abilities to the Lord’s work, we must pay particular attention to unleashing our spiritual gifts for the good of the body of Christ.
There is also a difference between spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.
Both the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc. from Galatians 5:22-23) and spiritual gifts are necessary for a life of servant hood, but they make very different contributions.
Every fruit should be produced in every believer, but not every gift will be in a believer!
Why were spiritual gifts given? (See Ephesians 4:11-16)
Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
5 Reasons The Gifts Were Given
All gifts lead to Growth
- They are given to EQUIP.
Greek – “Katartismos” – Perfecting/ maturing/ equipping.
Gifts exist in the church to equip believers in Jesus. They prepare you and me to do all that He’s called us to do.
We’re enlisted, trained, prepared, and then sent out.
Before… we were trained by the world’s system. Now we are trained and equipped to serve one another.
2. They are given to EDIFY.
Edify literally means to ‘build up’, ‘to help’, ‘to support.”
When you understand this – it revolutionizes your mind toward serving.
We come in to church to be equipped, but at the same time we come into the fellowship to edify one another.
You walk in with your spiritual antenna up spying out someone who needs your gifting…
You are asking yourself all of the time – “How can I use my gift to help others and build them up?
IMAGINE how you would feel if on a Sunday morning, I told you to put your Bibles away and we just talked about the Lakers or the Dodgers?
You’d walk out, shaking your head, thinking, “That guy’s a lousy pastor!”
My gifting is in pastoring, teaching, exhorting… and that’s what you expect from me, as does Jesus.
BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU? What is it that God has called you to do?
I hear people say… “I just need to get my priorities straight and start serving God like I’m supposed to.”
Basically… we need to stop making excuses and finally do what God has told us to do.
3. They are given to MATURE.
Paul says… that we might be “perfected,” Or more accurately, become a ‘mature’ man.
The gifting of God leads to the maturing of His saints. For every stage of ministry there is a step of maturity.
As you and I venture out by using our God-given gifts, we grow up!
NOTE: I don’t expect things out of my daughters at 4 that I will expect out of them at the age they are now.
In the same way, God is expecting more and more from you as you grow and mature in Him.
In light of your salvation, it’s now time to serve, to grow.
It’s time to grow up.
- They are given to PROTECT.
V.14 –“That we would not be tossed by every wind and doctrine.”
There are 1000’s of winds of doctrine floating thru churches.
If I may be so bold – Let me use my gift here in the church and make it safe place for all who enter in.
5- They are given to Promote LOVE.
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV) 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
V.15 – says that we should speak to one another in love.
That’s what it’s all about - promoting love among the believers.
As we serve together, as we grow together, as we are built up in Him… a fertile ground is prepared for love to grow!
Let’s look at a few verses to help us understand this.
That fact is: You and I were made for the body of Christ!
1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (ESV) 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Lone-ranger Christians simply do not make it. We need each other!
We grow up together! We were made for the body of Christ. If we choose not to use our gift - the whole body suffers.
A working definition of “spiritual gift”: A supernatural gift or ability given to a person by Christ, to be evidenced in his/her ministry, for the upbuilding (the building up and out) and maturing of the body of Christ.
Supernatural - beyond the natural, above normal, God-empowered. These are not talents to be developed - they are supernatural!
Evidenced - without evidence - they are worthless
The goal is for the presence of Jesus to grow and mature throughout the world.
3 Major Areas of Spiritual Giftings
Note: These distinctions will help us to see the different functions that spiritual gifts have.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31 (ESV) 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1. Spiritual Gifts Of SERVICE (support, behind the scenes often)
These are not out front types of people. That makes them uncomfortable.
c. Administration (usually are not leaders - it is easier for them to put things together for others.
These will all have a special place in heaven - right in the front!
- Gifts Growing Out Of PRAYER And WORSHIP:
A full third of the gifts are manifested directly out of prayer!
a. Prophecy (could usually fit the third category as well)
c. Interpretation Of Tongues
f. Discerning Of Spirits
3. Gifts Of EQUIPPING (Ephesians 4:12) (Discipling and Training)
f. Word Of Wisdom *
g. Word Of Knowledge *
John MacArthur - “A Christian who does not have a ministry is a contradiction in terms.” -
Imagine driving down the freeway. In front of your vehicle is a pickup truck with a family of five inside. In the back of the truck are a number of cages filled with chickens. The truck suddenly begins to swerve, out of control, runs off the road into the ditch, and flips over. The cages fly out the back and break open, and all the chickens are released. You, along with a number of others, immediately pull off on the shoulder to help.
Now, I want you to think about your first response and the activity you would most likely engage in as you stop to assist at this scene.
Are you the person who would immediately take charge? You would announce to everyone, “I’ve got this figured out, people. Just leave it to me, and listen up.” You begin delegating responsibilities and giving orders as bystanders spring into action.
Are you the person who would begin to organize and oversee the details? After hearing the orders from the leader, you start to implement the plan. You divide people into groups and distribute equipment — someone to direct traffic, those who would assist the victims, and those who would be the chicken wranglers. You then make sure those groups have the necessary tools to get the job done.
Are you the person who would focus completely on the needs of the people? Forget the truck. The chickens can wait. You go straight to the five people in the vehicle to offer them assistance, put them at ease, and care for them until the paramedics arrive. A sense of mercy for the victims is your primary focus.
Are you the person who quickly realizes this effort is going to take a while? The rescue team is going to need food and water, so you take off to grab some supplies. Your need to be hospitable to those who are sacrificing time and energy calls you to service.
Are you the person who would begin to ask the people around the accident what everyone might learn from this unfortunate situation? What could have been done to avoid the loss of control? How can this be prevented in the future? What steps should the highway department take to avoid another accident at this location? You desire to gather the intel to teach others to avoid such an accident in the future.
Are you the person who simply walks up and asks, “Hey, how can I help? Put me to work. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do.” Then you stay and do the dirty work until the victims have been taken to the hospital and every chicken has been re-caged. Before you leave, you even pick up the debris from the accident after the tow truck driver hauls the vehicle away.
Do you see the different gifts engaged and actions taken by people who all encounter the same problem? The role you see yourself as taking on in this setting can indicate a great deal about the spiritual gift God has given you.
As in the case of those on the scene of the hypothetical accident, your gift has not been given for your own personal benefit, but rather is to be used to serve in concert with other members of the body of Christ.
Consider this accident scenario again. I listed six gifting possibilities. What if a person to match each gift had stopped to help?
What if six people had shown up, each representing one of these gifts? Everything involved in this accident — the victims, the chickens, the truck, and the traffic — would be well covered, wouldn’t it? Therein lies God’s intention for us to meet needs on the earth. We work together for his glory.
When you became a member of the body of Christ, you joined a community of people who are under the authority and guidance of God himself. The contribution of your gift will accomplish his purposes for the advancement of the kingdom. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes:
Romans 12:3-9 (ESV) 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Our spiritual gifts are to be practiced out of a heart of grace, humility, and faith. We are commissioned to discover what God has gifted us with and to use it for his glory and the benefit of the world.
Essentially, Paul tells us in straightforward language to find our gift and then give it away!
Our potential is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to Him.
Zig Ziglar has said, “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.” Are you investing what you’ve been given, regardless of how much it is? Or, have you buried your blessing and kept it hidden from others?
• We seek to serve, using our gifts to glorify God and help others.
• We value and respect the gifts of others as together we serve God’s purposes.
• We come to see that using our gifts for God gives us a purpose bigger than ourselves.
In regards to BIBLICAL COMMUNITY, spiritual gifts strongly affect your relationship with God and with others.
Before we leave today I want to address our gifts’ impact on others. But first a question: Why would God only give us one or two of these gifts rather than give every gift to us all? He certainly could do such a thing.
The answer connects us back to biblical community. He wants us to rely on each other and cooperate with each other.
Our limitations in the gifts create a need for interdependence, for our brothers and sisters to share with the community their gifts, as well as to keep us humble, because we cannot reach the world alone.
As a seeking, hurting world watches us cooperate and move in unison to meet needs, they will be drawn to want to experience the life-changing power of shunning the “every man for himself” attitude and embracing the “every soul matters” mission of Jesus.
Since the Holy Spirit has given these gifts, he will guide as to their use. He knows exactly what is needed, when it is needed, and where it is needed. Therefore, listening to and obeying the Lord become vital responses for using spiritual gifts. This ongoing process continually strengthens and hones our connection to the Father.
We clearly see this interaction at work in Paul’s words to the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 3:5-6 (ESV) 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
Illust. Over 20 years ago, when Saddleback Church in Southern California had grown to approximately 500 people, Rick Warren, the Senior Pastor, said, “Folks, I’m out of energy and the church is getting so big that I can’t do much more. As I read the Bible it doesn’t say I’m supposed to do it anyway…I’ll make you a deal. If you’ll do the ministry God’s gifted you to do then I’ll do my part which is to make sure you’re well fed.” Warren said they then “shook hands” and made a pact together. It was after that the church began exploding with growth (From Rick Warren’s sermon, “Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts”).
Can we make the same deal? I will serve faithfully in my area of giftedness and responsibility if you will serve in yours. Can we shake on it?
If you want to gain a better understanding of your own spiritual gifts – I would encourage you to join our Spiritual Gifts Class on Saturday, March 14th at 9:0 A.M. We will teach you how to discover and deploy your spiritual gift through the power of the Holy Spirit.
OR... go to www.newlifechapel.com and find the gift assessment page.
The Creator has given us a divine gift. When it is used in and through your unique personality, abilities, and intellect, energized by his Holy Spirit, God will certainly produce incredible results far above what you could ask for or imagine him to ever do.