An Introduction to Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians Sermon 39)

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An Introduction to Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians Sermon 39)

November 10, 2019 | Andrew Davis
1 Corinthians 12:1-7
Spiritual Gifts

I. The Beauty of a Skilled Craftsman

Amen. So turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12, we resume our study. As we move through this incredible epistle, we come to the beginning of an extensive study that we will do, if the Lord wills, on spiritual gifts. And I've got to tell you how excited I am just to be back here. I just love this church, I love being here and I missed you. I know it's hard to believe, I would rather be here than on vacation. And so at the end of vacation, I'm always excited to get back. But I'm especially excited to be able to begin teaching you on spiritual gifts. It's an incredibly important topic. My desire is to use the faithful unfolding of the Word of God to strengthen each of you to do your spiritual gift ministry.

I fear that some of you are not doing any spiritual gift ministry at all. Others are being very faithful and energetic and diligent in it and everything in between, and I know therefore the Word of God can minister to make those that are already being fruitful and are serving faithfully even more energetic, even more skillful in their service. But also to call those that, up to this point, have not been using their spiritual gifts and not ministering into a pattern of faithful service. And you'll be delighted you did on Judgment Day.

Now, as I'm thinking about the idea of spiritual gifts, so many analogies come into my mind. And this morning, I was thinking about how much my family has enjoyed traveling to Williamsburg in Virginia and to see skillful craftsmen who do different tasks. And I love all of the things that they do. I love the leather workers, the gunsmith, the potters, all that. But I especially love the joiners or the cabinet makers, those that work with wood, because I fancy myself a woodworker from time to time. They would laugh if they saw the things that I've made and especially my power tools, because they use just those hand-made tools, those hand tools. There were no power tools back in the Colonial Era.

And so I remember standing, looking at the cabinet maker as he was working with a piece of walnut and he was shaping and carving a leg for, I think, a table, and it had some kind of a claw with a ball, and he was just using just different tools to shape the foot and the ball. And so he had saws, and he had chisels, and he had planes, and the chisels in particular, he had like 10 or 15 different sizes and shapes. The thing that I was really impressed with was how orderly they were. They were all laid out. I don't work like that. I have a very disorderly approach. As soon as I'm done with a tool, I kinda drop it and move to the next one and then, where's my screwdriver? I don't know where it is.

But this individual, as soon as he used something, he would put it back in its place. And he had an array of files of different sizes and different coarseness or fineness, and just that skill to be able to pick up that tool and use it. So I want you to have that image in your mind, that the Lord has made each of us a tool for a specific purpose. That we are tools in the hands of a master craftsman, Almighty God. And that He picks up individuals and uses them in a very specific way to achieve a specific end, and He does that through them again and again. That you are tools in the hands of Almighty God, crafted and fitted for a specific purpose. Get that picture in your mind.

And I also want you to step back and see how incredibly gracious this is of God, to use you this way. This is just part of the lavish grace of God in the Gospel, isn't it? How it says in Ephesians 2:8 and 9, "For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast." And so we have been justified. We've been forgiven of all of our sins by the sovereign grace of God contrary to what we deserve, as the psalmist says that truly he does not treat us as our sins deserve, Amen? And He has covered all of our sins by the blood of Christ, by simple faith, not by works.

But then, Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say something very important for how we should live the rest of our lives once we've received the forgiveness of sins. Once we've been justified by faith, apart from works, we have a lifetime of good works to do. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He has prepared in advance, that we should walk in them." So God. In an amazing, sovereign, complex, providential way, has a pathway of good works laying out in front of each of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, in front of each of you, that He has prepared in advance and He wants you to walk in them. But the other side is true as well. He prepares you in advance to do them.

And what you're going to find in that pathway of good works is that some of them are just general Christian good works, things that we're all called to do as Christians. They're not unique to any one class of Christian, all of us are to have quiet times, all of us are to read the Bible and pray. We're to speak biblical truth to one another, encourage one another. We are to offer hospitality, open our homes and have people in our homes. We are to give financially. We are to give our tithes and our offerings to the service of the Lord, all of us have those kinds of gifts, we are to share the Gospel, all of us have the responsibility of evangelism.

And so, the just general good works that God prepares, but then what you're going to find with spiritual gifts is that God's going to organize a large percentage of your good works along a certain pattern. It's not going to be all of your good works, but a large percentage of them are going to be done in line... Lined up with your spiritual gift package, your spiritual gift, your special abilities, and He wants it that way. He wants you to specialize and focus and develop your abilities in that area. Long, long time ago in my Christian life, I learned that mine was to be teaching and preaching the Word, and so it took a lot of time to prepare for that, to go to seminary, to sit at the feet of great teachers in the past, living and dead, to learn from them their theology and their pattern of ministry and get myself ready for this calling, and I'm continuing to learn how to preach and teach. I'll never stop, there's no end.

But so it is with other people, that they have the ability to discover their spiritual gifts, and then to develop them. To get better and better at them over time and then to deploy them, use them. And so that's the pattern that I want you to keep in mind over the next number of weeks as we study spiritual gifts. Now as we do, we need to see how gracious God is to us in this. He has delivered you from wasting your life. Isn't that marvelous? He has delivered you from spending the rest of your days here on Earth in futility. Doing things that will be dust in the wind, chaff on a threshing floor, steam or the early morning mist that blows away. He's delivered you from wasting your time. Think about how gracious that is. He did not have to do that.

But unbelievers that we're surrounded with all the time, they are wasting their lives on things that will not matter, they have no eternal consequence. They are building careers and accumulating wealth, and they're advancing in secular patterns and paths that we know are going to be chaff on Judgment Day. The Scripture says in Isaiah 40, "All flesh is grass, and all their glory is like the flower of the field, the grass withers, and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever." We are delivered from being chaff, and being grass that will be burned up on Judgment Day.

Also the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of the vanity, the futility of people who live apart from God, who live a life as if there is no resurrection from the dead, as if this life is all there is, they're wasting their lives. As it says in Ecclesiastes 1:14, it says, "I have seen all things that are done under the sun, all of them are meaningless, a chasing after wind." But we have been delivered from that, we have been delivered from vanity, we have been delivered from a meaningless existence, a chasing after the wind. Instead, the Lord has prepared in advance a bunch of good works, a pattern of good works, and He wants you to walk in them, and you will be delighted on Judgment Day that you did them.

And that's exciting, isn't it? It's exciting for me to look at your faces, to see you with the eyes of faith, and to see you not only what you will be, radiant and glorious, shining like the sun in the kingdom of your Father, that is what you will be, brothers and sisters, but also see you as what you are right now. Already redeemed, already adopted, and already tools or instruments in the hands of a sovereign God to be used, and that's exciting. So my task, my calling, is to get you ready for good works. And as you do those good works, the body of Christ will build up. We're going to talk more about that from Ephesians 4 next week. There's so much to say.

II. What Are Spiritual Gifts?

So let's begin and just say, "Alright, what are we talking about? What are spiritual gifts?" Look at verse 1, "Now, about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." So Paul is zeroing in on the next issue, the next topic, the Greek word here is "spirituals," literally "spirituals" which in the Greek understanding of that word "that which has its origin in the spirit, those things that come from the spirit," that's what he's discussed. But he uses other words, in verse 4, he uses the word "charisma," which is related to the word for gift, like a gift. Grace, the word grace is related to that, we see that same word in Romans, Romans 12:6. Also verse 5, he uses the word "diakonon" or ministries. So, you have ministries, services, patterns of service.

And then verse six has the word "energama," Greek word "energama," like for energetic. That would be translated "activities, workings, effects." So there's just a lot of different words to describe this issue, this idea of spiritual gifts. So let me give you a definition that I wrote, just something to try to pull together these various concepts.

Spiritual gifts are special abilities given by the triune God to Christians to enable them to do specific spiritual ministries to build up the body of Christ, or the church of Christ.

Let me read that again. Spiritual gifts are special abilities given by the triune God to Christians to enable them to do specific spiritual ministries to build up the church of Jesus Christ. So special abilities given for spiritual ministry, does that make sense? That's just keep it simple.

So for me, in the 10 years I served as a mechanical engineer, my mechanical engineering was not a spiritual gift. It's the way I earned a living, etcetera, but it didn't build up the body of Christ. Instead, we see other words that are given that give us a sense of what they are. They are essentially spiritual and they're used for building other human beings up, winning them out of darkness into the light of Christ through evangelism, and then building them up in sanctification. That's what gifts are for, the spiritual gifts are all about.

Essential to God’s Saving Purpose for His People

Now, Paul's desire here in verse 1 is that they would not be ignorant about spiritual gifts. And so here again, we see the primacy of the teaching ministry in everything. Everything starts with the ministry of the Word of God. You need to know what spiritual gifts are in order to do them, in order to follow them, and so he doesn't want them to be ignorant. He wants to teach the Corinthian church about spiritual gifts. And this is essential to God's saving purpose for His people, spiritual gifts are essential to His plan of salvation. They're not tangential. He wants to include us, the redeemed, in His work of redemption. He has actual roles for us to play. Before the foundation of the world, God ordained that His elect would be saved from sin and brought into the perfect unity of the Body of Christ, eternally one with Him and with each other in heaven, that's His eternal saving plan. But He also ordained that that salvation should be a process, justification, sanctification, glorification. We talked about that many times, and that each Christian should play a vital role in other people being saved. God planned all of this out before the foundation of the world, it's very exciting. And so spiritual gifts are given to each and every Christian, and the working of these gifts is essential to His eternal plan to save, and ultimately glorify, the elect.

So that's what spiritual gifts are all about, we have a role to play. Now, Paul's desire in writing these words centuries ago is that the Corinthian church should not be ignorant about spiritual gifts. It's essential that they understand these gifts properly and use them properly, and he's going to be teaching about spiritual gifts for three full chapters. So Paul doesn't do anything half-hearted or halfway. So we're going to get three chapters, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, 13 and 14 all have, as a centerpiece, the idea of the proper ministry of spiritual gifts, and it was the Holy Spirit's intention that Paul's letter to this one badly dysfunctional church, so long ago, should help us in so many ways. And so he wanted this instruction preserved through the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and so every generation of churches, since that original first century, has been able to learn from what Paul said to the Corinthian church about spiritual gifts.

So my desire, as I've said, is that each one of you members of First Baptist Church should have a spiritual gift ministry that you do consistently and regularly. That you're able to identify it, to articulate it, you know what it is, and you do it. That we would not have any come, listen and leave members at First Baptist Church, that's my desire. My desire is that we would blow apart the standard 80-20 split that you have in most local churches, where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. And so instead, you have a bunch of people who really don't do anything to contribute to the spiritual vitality and growth of the church, and that is the tendency. So instead, we want to see the Lord use the ministry of the word, power of the Holy Spirit, to mobilize Christians to patterns of service. That's what we want to see.

Now, when we talk about a spiritual gift, it's a bit of a misnomer. I think each of us have a spiritual gift package, a spiritual gift package. So, I don't know, it's... Different times, I've gone to speak at different gracious churches and they've left a package of gifts for me with fruit, and a jar of jelly, and crackers and all kinds of things, but I thought, "That's not a good image." So you're saying, "Well then, why did you mention it, pastor?" I don't know, but it's just this image that I have of a basket of good things. Another pastor used an analogy of a painter's palette, and I like that. You think about one of those Dutch masters, like Rembrandt, and you can picture him with a flat surface with this little thumb hole, I always picture his thumb up through the center. Maybe that's how... I don't know, I'm not a painter. But he's there in his painter's smock, with his cute painter's cap. I don't know if Rembrandt had all that going on.

But as he was painting the painting, he would have an array of, not primary colors, but just initial colors, let's say eight or 10 of them. And then a central area where he would mix three or four of those together to get the skin color he was looking for, maybe the ruddy cheeks of a young girl, or maybe the more pallid, grayish expression of a man dying in bed, or the shiny silver of a sword, something like that, and he knew which colors to blend to get that... Get what he was looking for, that was part of the gift of being a painter. So in the same way, the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, arranges your personality and your experiences and what He put in you originally, and your experiences, all that together in a unique way to do a specific pattern of ministry that is recognizable, and there's a certain number of words that are given to those, such as administration, hospitality, evangelism, teaching, leadership, giving. There's a certain number of those and we know what those are. That makes sense, but how you do that is going to be unique to you.

And so, I think of that in terms of a spiritual gift package. So for me, my calling is to be senior pastor of First Baptist Church here, and so my primary function is preaching the Word on Sunday mornings, but I also teach in other settings. In each of those settings, there's a different kind of dynamic, so it'll be a different way of preparing, but I also do counseling. I also do certain special functions like funerals, weddings. I also give visionary leadership to the elders along with others that have that kind of a gift, to see where, what direction we should be going in the next five or 10 years, and a variety of lesser functions that fit being a pastor. And so, for me, that's the array, and some of those gifts or abilities I have more pronounced than others, but there's this package or array for me. So it is for each one of you, you have an array of abilities that are going to fit into a pattern of ministry that God's going to use to build His church.

Every Christian Has Spiritual Gifts

Now, the key thing that we need to understand here, I think this is one of the things that prompted Paul to write, number of things that prompted him. We'll talk about the Corinthian context in a moment. But he wanted every one of the Christians in that church to know that he or she had a spiritual gift package, a spiritual gift ministry. Every single person. So look at verse 7, "Now to each one of you, to each one, the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good." So there is no one example, no one can say, "I don't have a spiritual gift ministry." Yes you do, if you're a Christian, you have a spiritual gift package and a ministry connected to that package that the Lord wants you to do. We see the same thing in Ephesians 4:7, "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

III. The Corinthian Context: Gifted and Dysfunctional

Alright, let's talk now about the Corinthian context. And it wasn't good, friends, it was not good. What a mess. What a bunch of dysfunctional people coming together in complete mayhem. And that's about what was going on. And we see this in so many areas. They were very gifted. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 it says, "You do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed." Nothing was missing from that local church, everything they needed to do the mission and the ministry God wanted them to do there in Corinth was there. You do not lack any spiritual gift. But they were severely dysfunctional. And we've seen this at so many levels, remember in chapters 1 through 3, we have the discussion of their factions and divisions. And they're following the great leaders, "I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas..." And they had all that.

There was carnality and immaturity, spiritual immaturity in them. There was worldliness that we see in Chapter 4 where they wanted to fit in with their pagan neighbors and to be esteemed by them, and treated like kings and to become wealthy in Corinthian society. They had those yearnings and those desires, there was a need for church discipline because there was sexual immorality, and they needed to do discipline but they weren't doing it, chapter 5. And then they were suing one another, there were lawsuits going on in the Corinthian church. And there was sexual immorality, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, different sexual sins that were going on, and there was all kind of sexual corruption in the Corinthian church, there were problems with marriage, misunderstandings about the gift of singleness, various issues he has to address in chapter 7. And then for three chapters, we walk through the problems with meat sacrificed to idols, paganism, idolatry, all of those things. And then Chapter 11, we talked about the issue of gender and authority, and there were women it seems, that were taking inappropriate leadership in their assembly together and not submitting to the male leadership in the church.

And then there were massive problems with the Lord's Supper. They were getting drunk on communion wine, and gorging themselves, and others were getting nothing. And so there was all of this dysfunction, and man, you're going to see the same thing with spiritual gifts. There is disorder, there is pride, there is lack of love. So let's talk about pride first. They esteemed the showy gifts the most, the upfront gifts, the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, the upfront showy gifts. And they esteemed those that had those, and they did not esteem the more behind the scenes gifts like the gifts of service and helps. And so what that meant was there was this bifurcation, the haves and have-nots on spiritual gifts, where you have those that are the dramatic leaders, and they were going in for ecstasies, we'll get into all that in a moment, but they were very dramatic in their gifts, and everyone else was saying, "Well, I guess I don't have a role, I guess I don't belong to the body, I guess I don't fit in." And so there was for the have-nots, a feeling, "I didn't have a role to play." So there was that issue of pride, there was also a lack of love, they didn't seem to understand that gifts were to serve love horizontally, love from one to another.

And so he talks about spiritual gift, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love…if I have the gift of prophecy… if I give all that I have to the poor… [all these are spiritual gifts] but if I have not love, I gain nothing." Spiritual gifts are temporary, all of them are temporary. In heaven, none of the gifts will be going on, you won't need them, you will see God face to face, and you won't need the working of the spiritual gifts. But we need them now. We need to understand in heaven there'll be love but in heaven there will not be spiritual gifts. And then there was just the problem with prophecy and tongues, and he devotes a whole chapter to that, because of the disorder. People were prophesying at the same time as each other. Cacophony, noise. And they were arrogant about it, belligerent. They were just... One prophet is speaking and the other one just starts speaking, and they would say, "I can't help it, the Spirit came upon me." Paul says, "You can help it." And so he's going to address all of that kind of mayhem, but look up at Chapter 14 for a minute and see the kind of disorder that's going on.

Disorder in Public Worship

One verse that... As I was saying about the disorder, because you had speaking in tongues languages, some of them they were claiming, I think, even heavenly tongues. But in any case, there wasn't translation going on and Paul addressed that from the perspective of the outsider coming in. Look at Verse 23, 14:23. He says, "If the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you're out of your minds?" That's a bad look for the church. You don't want unbelievers coming in from the outside saying, "You are all out of your minds." Or then, look a few verses later, verses 29 through 33, he gives rules about prophecy. "Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said, and if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop." Just basic manners here. "The first speaker should stop, for you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged." And then he says, "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets." In other words, I don't want to hear that you couldn't help yourself, the Spirit came upon you. The Spirit does not produce bad manners. And so if the prophecy comes to you, you're able to wait, wait your turn.

But again, I'm just bringing this out to talk about the level of disorder. Again, Verse 33, "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." And then again in Verse 40, "Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." So you get the idea here, it's just mayhem, it's chaos, and that's a problem.

Pagan Spirituality

So let's go back now as we look at Chapter 12. And in verse 2 and 3, we have some verses that might be a little difficult for us to understand, what does it even mean? Why does he talk about that? I don't know why we go there. After talking about spiritual gifts we go to verse 2 and 3. But in order to understand verse 2 and 3, I think we need to understand the background of pagan spirituality that was going on there in Corinth. The Greek religions were based on supernatural experiences led by men and women, priests and prophetesses who were taken over or priestesses that were taken over by the deities, they believed in incarnations a lot, they believed that Zeus and Hera and other gods and goddesses could take over human bodies, they believed in this kind of thing. And they would manifest themselves by the bizarre behavior of the human vessel.

These people would become temporarily insane. They would act in other worldly ways, they would act in ecstasies characterized by ecstatic utterances. This meant that they were spiritual, they were in spiritual union with the god or goddess that they were I guess channeling in some way. Take for example, the Oracle at Delphi, a woman that predicted the future, is well-known in Greek ancient history. She was a supernaturally gifted prophetess who would be inhabited by the deity and enabled to utter ecstatic phrases which people had to then unravel and figure out to understand the prediction about your life. Now, the wilder a person behaved, the more they seemed to have been touched by the deity, by the god or goddess. As a matter of fact, the absence of rational thought was a big part of this ecstasy, that their babbling and uttering and out of their minds actually was proof of their spirituality. Socrates in his work, Phaedrus, extols the blessing of divinely inspired mania. Listen to this, "The greatest of blessings comes to us through madness when it is sent as a gift of the gods."

Madness, divine madness. So a man or woman could seek this mania by appealing to the gods and goddesses, by ritual prayers, by song, by dance, by frenzied music. And they would go into trances and other worldly mania by wild bizarre behavior. And these trances were essentially irrational, irrational utterances. Now, these views it seems have been brought into the church by some members of the church. Some of the Corinthian church were acting like this, it seems to explain the level of disorder and chaos that was happening in their corporate worship time. The wilder and more ecstatic the person was, the more spiritual they were. Paul has to reign all this in, pull it in. Because he believes that this kind of disorder is ultimately demonic. There's a demonic background to their pagan religion, their pagan idolatry, and these behaviors as well. If you were to go back to 1 Corinthians 10:20, remember he says, "The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God. And I do not want you to be participants with demons."

Demonic Heresy

So look at verse 2 and 3, it seems very plainly that some persons in the Corinthian assembly were being led astray in this pagan manner by demons to make demonic utterances. Verse 2 and 3. "You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other, you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, Jesus be cursed." So the term that Paul uses, "influenced or led astray" shows that old pattern of worship in which the mind is taken over, dominated by the demonic, and you're let astray almost like a captive, like you're a kidnapped captive. Say, look, that's not what the Holy Spirit does, Holy Spirit empowers and lifts up your personality in your mind and works within the good mind that God gave you or created, He's not overwhelming that but using it. But these individuals were led astray. And so they were enslaved, they were wrapped up in invisible spiritual chains by demons and let astray. So that's what you used to do in your old pagan worship, led astray to mute idols. But the demonic force behind this ecstatic pagan worship would actually make individuals say blasphemies, "Jesus be cursed," or "Jesus is accursed." It seems best to think that that actually happened in a Corinthian worship service. This is clearly a demonic utterance, this is not what spirituals is all about. It's not what should be going on.

And so in this Corinthian horribly disordered worship service in which all of these spiritual things are going on, tongues that are not being translated, prophecies that are going one on top of the other, and it's all this chaos, someone up and says, "Jesus be cursed." And so Paul has to address it. He said, "Let's get this straight. All we want is spirit-led worship, and no one speaking by the Spirit can ever say, "Jesus be cursed." Let's just draw the line right there. Satan and his demons are infiltrating trying to get people to say things that are going to be confusing and destructive to the health of the church.

The Confession "Jesus Is Lord" is From the Holy Spirit

Conversely, when the Holy Spirit moves, He produces worship for Jesus as Lord of all. Look again at Verse 3. "Therefore I tell you, that no one who's speaking by the Spirit of God says, Jesus be cursed, and no one can say, Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." Isn't that a marvelous verse? You realize that's required for you to be saved? You have to confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord." And believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. If you're a Christian, you've made that confession, you can make it right now, "Jesus is Lord." What Paul says, you cannot do that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.

So you owe your salvation as much to the third person of the Trinity as you do the second. You owe your salvation as much to the Holy Spirit as you do to Jesus who died for you, because you would not think anything of His blood, or Jesus or his resurrection, if the Spirit hadn't moved you to say, "Jesus is Lord." Hallelujah for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in each of us. But then in worship, as we come together, we're saying it again and again in a lot of different ways, "Jesus is Lord, He's Lord of all." We praise Him as the Lord, that means as God, we worship Him as God. And the Spirit's active and moving causing us to worship. Well, that's what's going on. But He does this not by ecstasies and bizarre chaotic behavior, He does it by working through our rational processes so we think right doctrine. But that's not enough, is it? It's not enough to think right thoughts. He then sends a heavenly fire, so that those thoughts become kindled in passionate worship.

You remember the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they were so depressed as they're walking with the resurrected Lord, and they didn't know it was Him. But they're so depressed and so discouraged. And so Jesus... They didn't know it was Him, but He began to open up the Scriptures and to show them and prove from the prophets and from the Psalms that the Christ had to suffer and after that go into His glory. And then He sat down and broke bread with them, and then their eyes were opened and He disappeared. And remember what they said, "Were not our hearts burning within us when He opened the word to us." That's good worship, isn't it? It's rational process and right doctrine, that then has a heavenly fire through the Holy Spirit. We are ignited. We come alive and our hearts are burning within us based on the truth. That's what Jesus told the Samaritan woman, was worship in spirit and truth, not Holy Spirit there, but your own spirit together moved by the Holy Spirit. Our spirits are kindled based on truth, that's good worship.

 So let me stop and ask each one of you, has this happened to you? Has your spirit been moved by the Holy Spirit to say Jesus is Lord? Do you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead? Do you know that you're a sinner, that without Jesus, you would have no hope of surviving Judgment Day, do you know that? And have you called on the name of the Lord for your own salvation? Have you asked Him to save you? Are you a Christian? That's what I'll ask. It's more important than anything I could ever teach you about spiritual gifts. And if so, I'm glad you're here today to come and hear the Gospel, and to know you don't have to know any advanced doctrine, you just have to know that God sent His Son for sinners like you and me, and He died in your place to take away your guilt, and all you have to do is call on Him. God raised Him from the dead and He will raise you up too.

IV. The Biblical Context

Alright, having said all that by way of introduction, let's talk about more teaching on spiritual gifts. And there are three key passages on spiritual gifts, and we don't have time to go through all of them, but I wanna give you another cross-reference today. Turn in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 12. We're going to look at verses 1 through 8 briefly. Try to understand there the teaching on spiritual gifts that Paul gives to the Roman Church. So I think 1 Corinthians 12 plus Romans 12, these are the two passages, you understand that, and Ephesians 4, which we'll look at next week. You get those three key passages I think you'll understand spiritual gifts.

Alright, Romans 12:1-8, listen to the text, it says, "Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given to me, I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If one's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to the faith, if it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if it is leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

It's a key text on spiritual gifts. We don't have time to go into all the details, but he says, "Therefore in view of God's mercies." Friends, that's 11 chapters of the Gospel. Romans 1 through 11. And in view of all of the sovereign grace of God in Christ in the Gospel, in view of all that, how then shall we live our lives? He gives them five chapters of application. And what's amazing about that? He basically begins with spiritual gifts. In view of God's mercies, what should you do? You should live a pattern of service to God with these spiritual gifts, that's Romans 12:1-8. But step by step, he tells you how to do it, it's just very beautiful just as he goes through it. So let's go step by step, first begin by presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God. What that means is, offer your physical self, your time, your energy here on earth to God every moment to serve Him. Begin that, consecration. "I am yours to command, I'm yours, I want to serve you." So present your body as a living sacrifice. Then it says, "Holy and pleasing to God." Make certain that there's no secret sin in your life that's going to twist your mind and skew your lifestyle.

Holy and pleasing to God, present your body, make your body pleasing, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship, understand that. And do not be conformed to this world, don't think about your life in this world the way worldlings do, the way non-Christians do, don't think that your time and your energy and your money are yours to spend as you see fit. Think about your life in this world as a Christian person should, as a member of the body of Christ. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that is by the ministry of the Word, daily quiet times, Sunday morning worship, listening to good exposition of the Scripture, whatever other resources you want to use for Bible intake, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Let God's Word come and flow through you, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And then in this translation I'm using, it says you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is for you, His good, pleasing and perfect will. You'll be able to find out what your spiritual gift package is, and then what your lifestyle ministry should be based on that.

You'll be able to test and approve what God's will is for you, His good, pleasing and perfect will. "For," verse 3, "By the grace given to me," Paul is talking about his own spiritual gift, he's an apostle of the Gentiles, and a writer of Scripture. You aren't, just so you know. But he was a writer of Scripture, He's saying, "By the grace given to me by my gift, I want to talk to you about your gifts. And I want to begin by saying, Do not think too highly of yourself." That is so important, don't be arrogant. Don't think, "God is so lucky to have me." I said to a men's retreat I was just speaking at, I said, "You just need to understand God doesn't need you at all." I'm not trying to be insulting, but He does not need your service, He didn't need you to create the universe. Look what He did. Alright, did very well without you. He doesn't need you but He can use you. So don't think too highly of yourself. But on the other side, and I'm going to reach... Don't turn there, but in 1 Corinthians 12, he says to parts of the body, if the ear should say because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body, don't do that either. Don't think too lowly of yourself say, If I'm not one of those up front leader types, if I don't have the gift of prophecy or tongues, I'm nothing." Don't think that either, don't think too lowly of yourself, not too highly not too lowly, but think about yourself with sober judgment.

So evaluate yourself. Now this is the next step, think about yourself. You're like, "What? Pastor I thought we weren't supposed to think about... " You are supposed to think about yourself when it comes to spiritual gifts. Who are you? What do you like to do in service to Christ? What do you enjoy? Like Eric Liddell, he said, "When I run I feel this pleasure." When you do that spiritual ministry, what causes you to feel the pleasure of God like the wind blowing in your sails? What do you flourish at not merely function at? I like those words. Spiritual gift's about flourishing, not merely functioning. So what do you flourish at? Like a sail boat, and there's a prevailing wind, when you set the sails, and you go run before the wind, what is that for you? Is it hospitality? Is it giving? Is it administration or leadership? Is it prayer? Is it evangelism, what is it? Is it teaching the Word? So think about yourself with sober judgment. I want to bring in also in Hebrews 10, it said, "Get your brothers and sister to think about you too. Let them consider how they may spur you on toward love and good deeds."

Many a person has been diverted early in their life, well diverted, from thinking they had the gift of preaching let's say when they didn't, thank God they were diverted early on. You don't want to waste the people's time if you think you have the gift of singing and you don't. I remember John MacArthur's worship leader said, "One of my task is to protect the congregation from bad singing." So throughout, they have a huge church out there and they do a lot of auditions. "I have the gift of... "Yeah, no you don't." Alright, but that's necessary, why? So you don't waste your time in that direction and you go instead in the direction God is gifted you, has gifted you to do. So think of yourself with sober judgment. And then for the rest of the section, he basically says, "Whatever your gift is, do it and do it a lot." Now, how you do it matters, that's what 1 Corinthians 13 is all about, it has to be done in love. But if your gift is serving, then do it cheerfully, if it's giving, then give generously, if it's leadership, do it diligently. There's different adverbs used, but it matters how you do it, but just do it, do it a lot.

That's Romans 12:1-8. Now, next week we'll look at Ephesians 4:7-16, and we'll talk more about that. I want to say briefly about the Trinity, and we'll talk more about that next week, but look at verses 4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts but the same spirit, there are different kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in all people." Isn't that exciting? That's the Trinity, the Spirit, the Lord Jesus and God the Father together, give you your gift, that's exciting. The Triune God has considered you and has gifted you and prepared you. And why?

V. The Purpose of the Gifts: The Common Good

Well, it says in verse 7 plainly, for the common good. "To each one, the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good." So we'll continue our study in this next week. I would just urge, begin with Romans 12 and just walk through it, it's almost step-by-step guidance on how to do this. Pray, offer your body to God to serve Him and say, "Lord, I don't know what my spiritual gift ministry should be. I want to know what it is, lead me and guide me." Close with me in prayer.

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