Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

 

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) ~ And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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, 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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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.

 

Why does God want to stir the spiritual gifts in us?

 

First, every believer’s gift is and should be Christ-centered. (I say should be, because there are plenty of self-centered man given gifts.) It is Christ and Him alone who gives spiritual gifts to men. Men can’t work up the gifts, nor give the gifts to other men. Christ alone possesses the spiritual gifts to give to men.

 

In these verses we see five gifts mentioned:

  • Apostle ~ an apostle is a representative sent to represent another. He belongs to the One who sent, he is commissioned to be sent and he possesses all authority and power of the One who sent him. In general terms, an apostle is one who preaches the gospel.
  • Prophet ~ this is the gift of speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. It includes both prediction and proclamation, and neither one should be minimized despite abuse. The Spirit of God sometimes gives believers a glimpse into coming events in order to prepare and strengthen them to face the events. Major function of prophecy is given in 1 Corinthians 14:3 (…the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.)
  • Evangelist ~ the gift of carrying the gospel all over the world. It is the gift that specializes in proclaiming the gospel to the lost of the world.
  • Pastor ~ the pastor is the under-shepherd to the Chief Shepherd, Christ Jesus our Lord. The pastor/shepherd: knows the sheep, feeds the sheep, guides the sheep, seeks to save the sheep, protects the sheep, restores the sheep, rewards the sheep, and keeps the sheep from goats (spiritually speaking of course!)
  • Teacher ~ the function of the teach is to instruct believers in the truth of God and His Word. Most bible scholars and commentators consider teaching to be a part of the gift of pastor as well, but not always the other way around. Not every teacher is a pastor, but every pastor must teach. It is the gift to root and ground people in doctrine, reproof, correction and righteousness.

 

But why is God wanting to STIR our gifts? The gifts, listed above, of God are given to men and are very specialized gifts, gifts that are usually looked upon as being the official or professional gifts of the church. The gifts in one way or another are given to every believer, maybe not in full measure. God does give these gifts in full measure to some believers, however, every believer should …

  • should be as an apostle in that he is serving Christ in a very special ministry and faithfully using the gift God has given him.
  • should be as a prophet in that he is daily proclaiming God’s Word.
  • should be as an evangelist in that he is bearing witness to the lost.
  • should be as a pastor in that he is shepherding and caring for people all the time.
  • should be as a teacher in that he is teaching the truths of God’s Word to all whom he knows.

Every believer’s gift has a threefold purpose:

  • There is an immediate purpose for the professional or office-bearing gifts in the church and among God’s people. It is to equip believers to do the work of the ministry. The word “perfecting” (katartismon PWS: 2898) means to equip for service and ministry. This is critical to see, for the office bearer in the church is not to be the only one who goes about doing the work of the ministry. In fact, his primary task is to be an equipper, a person who makes disciples and prepares others to serve Christ (see note, Discipleship—• Matthew 28:19-20). Note another critical point: the very purpose for equipping laymen is so that the body of Christ, the church, may be built up. This is a significant point, for it means that the church cannot be built up without the members themselves doing the work of the ministry. All believers within a church must be involved in the work of the ministry. As Wuest says: “This is an order that the Body of Christ, the Church might be built up, by additions to its membership in lost souls being saved, and by the building up of individual saints.” (Wuest, Kenneth S. Ephesians and Colossians. “Wuest Word Studies,” Vol.1. Grank Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1953, p.101.) If the work of the ministry was left up to the professional ministers, the task would never get done, for there are too few official ministers. Lay persons must be equipped to reach the lost and to minister to the needs of a world reeling under the weight of evil and suffering and death.
  • There is an eternal purpose for the office-bearing or professional gifts. It can be stated no clearer than what the verse itself says. It says three things:
    • The minister of God works to bring about a perfect unity among God’s people. The minister of God is called…
      • to bring peace and reconciliation to the church.
      • to lead people into perfect harmony and oneness of spirit.
      • to shepherd people out of cliques, divisiveness, murmuring, grumbling, griping, and all the other sins that militate against a perfect unity.

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

  • The minister of God works to bring about the knowledge of the Son of God.
  • The minister of God works to bring about a perfect man, a man who measures up to the stature of Christ Himself – to the fulness of who He is.
  • There is the personal purpose for the professional or office-bearing gifts. This purpose also involves three parts.
  • That we no longer be children and immature, being led astray by false teaching. Again, the verse is the best commentary on itself. Ministers are given to us to keep us from being “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of [false] doctrine” or false teaching. We must always remember, there is such a thing as…
    • “the sleight of men”: deceivers, cheaters in the faith, men who will cheat us out of the truth.
    • “cunning craftiness”: deceivers who act clever and have novel ideas that sound correct, but they are only deceptions of the truth.
  • That we grow up in all things—in Christ. Note there is only one way to do this: by speaking and proclaiming the truth. This is the task of the minister.
  • That we do our part in building up the church. Note that every joint or every believer “supplies” something to the body of Christ (the church). And what every joint or believer supplies is very significant. Note how the significance is stressed: Christ takes every joint or believer and the believer…
  • is fitly joined together with all the other believers.
  • has his work compacted with that supplied by other believers.
  • has an effective and productive work along with that measured by other believers.
  • helps to increase the body.
  • helps to edify the body in love.

 

What more could be said about the contribution made by every believer? What greater challenge could be given to a believer? We must give all we are and have to get the job done. Much is at stake for each of us. An eternal weight of responsibility rests upon every single believer, for each one is responsible for reaching people and building them up. Some people will never be reached and ministered to if a single one of us comes up short. For this reason, everyone of us is gifted by Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) ~ And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert

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