Spirit Gifts

Spirit Gifts

Ephesians 3: 2: "If ye have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given
to me for you

Paul had been entrusted with an understanding of the grace of God which he was to share
with other believers.
God has given each one of us spiritual gifts.
And we have a stewardship to use them in accordance with God's will.

1 Corinthians 12: 7 explains that the Spirit is given to our lives so we might function
"for some useful purpose."
Verse 1 - "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed..."
Verse 7 - "To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."

Each of us has specific spiritual capacities produced in us by the entrance of the Holy Spirit
into our lives.
This means that I have received spiritual abilities, so that I might perform adequately
as a member of Christ's body.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12: 6:
"The gifts we possess differ as they are allotted to us by God's grace, and must be exercised accordingly."

Here, he uses a different Greek word for gifts.
This time the word is not "spirituals" (as in verse 1),
but a word meaning "grace gifts."

This second word is frequently used in the New Testament to describe our new spiritual capacities.
The significance of it is that it ties the idea of our gifts to the grace of God.

My place in the Lord's body is an act of grace.
My function as a member of that body is an act of grace.
My service for Him, using the "spirituals," is a function of grace.

Then, there are the powerful words of 1 Corinthians 12: 27-28:
"Now you are Christ's body, and each of you a limb or organ of it.
Within our community God has appointed... apostles... prophets... teachers...

As we grasp Paul's teaching, we realize that each gift is given in order that it will be profitable to the body.
Each spiritual gift presented to the body is within the life of a Christian.
Each new Christian added to a body will provide a needed gift for it to function.

When God wants the church to be taught,
He will provide, by His sovereign act, a person with the gift of teaching.
His gift belongs to the congregation.

A member of the body who does not possess the gift of teaching should never be asked to do so.
The number of teachers God has added to a local congregation will always be the exact number
necessary for the body to function.

The church is asking for trouble when it decides through committees
that it needs "X" number of classes, and then tries to find enough warm bodies
to fill the classes with teachers.

Do you not think it would be better to have one or two or three large groups taught by a gifted teacher,
than 10 or 20 or 30 groups being bored by "feet" trying to function as "hands?"

God's order is the reverse of man's order.
First, man decides how many classes will be taught.
God, first, decides how many teachers the body needs.

The difference between a gifted teacher and a non-gifted teacher is not determined by the ability
to prepare a lesson adequately and deliver it smoothly.
(Nor is a preacher!)
Rather, it is revealed by the presence of God communicated through the teacher.

How much simpler it would be to realize that the body's ministry at any given moment need be
no greater than the functioning members.
It is my conviction that anything in the church program that cannot be maintained
without constant pastoral pressure on people to be involved should be allowed to die
a sure and natural death.

This fits a Biblical pattern!

When God wants a body to walk, He gives it a pair of legs.
To force a body to walk is agony for both the forcer and the torso.
I must confess -- I have been a forcer of torsos.
I have spent endless hours encouraging members to "get to work."

Somewhere along the line, the Lord will reveal to us another lesson.
He is not interested in what we start and in our pet programs.
He is interested only in His program and what He has started.

Can we not trust the Giver of gifts to call His ministers into service?
Can we not trust God to provide us with the needed ministries?
We must!
So, pray for gifted members to be called to teach, etc.

May our growth take place on this simple premise:

This body has a Head!
He is Jesus Christ!

The body is made up exclusively of members put into it by the Holy Spirit.
Each member brings to the church spiritual gifts.
These spiritual gifts are to be exercised for the glory of the Head and for the witness
and ministry of the body.
Undershepherds are called to help the members discover and develop the use of their gifts.
God, according to His timetable, must be trusted to call forth the ministries
needed by this church through the gifted members.

These ministries will comprise the total of the activity of the body.

All members of the body are ministers.
They are called to their ministry in the exact same way that a preacher is called to preach:
First, the gift.
Then, the Spirit's call.
Finally, obedience.

May this truth be impressed on us -- that some ministries exist only because a gift has been
placed within the body.
What usually happens to that ministry when the gifted member moves to another city, etc.
We usually harp at the "toes" to do the job of a "thumb".
Of course, they cannot!
If the ministry is to be continued, God will raise up a new "thumb".

We must pray that God would lead us, instead of trying to keep alive ministries of which God
has not planted within us.
We must not use those that He has not provided.
We must use those that He has provided.
Our task is not to talk someone into taking over a job.
Our task is to await the appointment of the Holy Spirit.

Each of us is called to minister.
Since our ministers were not started at the church office, we must not go there to dump all
the frustrations of trying to talk people into jobs.

Please listen!
We do not have to have a certain ministry!
The church can exist and grow solely on the basis of what God has called the members
of the body to do!

"Whatever gift each of you may have received, use it in service to one another,
like good servants dispensing the grace of God in its varied forms
." (1 Peter 4: 10)

"Everyone has the gift God has granted him, one this gift and another that."
(1 Corinthians 7: 7)
Each of us has been equipped to share something unique about his or her indwelling life.

Romans 12: 6 teaches:
"The gifts we possess differ as they are allotted to us by God's grace, and must be exercised accordingly."

God does the deciding, and we do the receiving.

Hebrews 2: 4 states:
"God added his testimony... by distributing the gifts of the Holy Spirit at His own will."
Here we are staring squarely at the sovereignty of God in connection with the receiving of spiritual gifts!

1 Corinthians 12: 24 affirms the same truth with this explanation:
"God has combined the various parts of the body... so that there might be no sense
of division in the body

Do we get the message?

There is to be no holier-than-thou attitude among Christians who say,
"If you were as spiritual as I, you'd possess the gift God has given me!"

Just suppose that ten toes got together and decided to pray
that they would all be given the gift of seeing.

Or just suppose an eye said to them,
"Toes, you really do not have it. You need to ask God to let you be eyes."

Suppose, the toes pray and pray and pray and God finally agrees to let them be eyes.
What would they see?
They would see the inside of a sock!

Are you not thankful for the wisdom and sovereignty of God?

Gifts are not a reward for being filled with the Spirit.
The result of the Spirit-filled life is not the receiving of a gift.
It is the bearing of fruit... the fruit of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5: 22)

It is obvious that some Christians exercise their spiritual gifts without revealing the precious
fruit of the Spirit.
I'm thinking of a man who is a gifted preacher.
He is gifted beyond question.
But on occasion, he has made those with him want to hide under the table
because of his rudeness to a waitress.
No fruit of the Spirit!

That is what 1 Corinthians 13 is all about:
"I may have the gift... but if I have no love (fruit) I am nothing." (Verse 2)

When God places His holy life in us, we are born again.
When we are born again, we are placed in the body.
When we are placed in the body, we are gifted with the spiritual skills needed for us
to function adequately as a part of the body.

Mine is not the task of getting gifts.
It is the task of discovering them.

And the Holy Spirit uses the ingredient of time to mature, to shape, and to "sandpaper"
my spiritual life, so certain latent gifts can be brought forth to be used for God.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White