Discover, Delight In, Develop and Deploy Your Spiritual Gifts (Ephesians Sermon 25 of 54)
January 31, 2016 | Andrew Davis
The Purity and Unity of the Church, Means of Grace Within the Church, Spiritual Gifts
This morning I was pondering a question that came, you know, just because of current events, thinking about different things. And the question is what brings significance to your life? When you're on your deathbed, and you look back on a successful life, what will you say was the most significant thing you were ever involved in, most significant thing you ever did, that you invested yourself in? What will be the crown jewel of your life's work?
The Emptiness of a Godless Life
Two weeks ago, Glenn Frey founding member of the rock group the Eagles died, and various programs that I listen to were just ruminating with that thinking about the passing of an era. I watched an interview with him and he said these words, he said, “The greatest thing I ever did was to be part of the Eagles, to tour with them to record songs write songs with them. That was the greatest thing I ever did.” So I was thinking about that, and I thought about other such statements that I've heard from various ones. For example, I saw an interview with a NASA engineer that had been involved in the Space Race and been involved also in that amazing rescue of Apollo 13 that later there was a movie and he said, “The greatest moment of my life, is when we got those astronauts back safely from outer space back to Earth.” I knew a man some time ago, his name was Jim and he was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, and seemed like if you gave him three minutes, he would talk about the Battle of the Bulge decades later, and it seemed to be without a doubt, the most significant thing that ever happened to him, he was part of a group, he never missed the VBoB meetings, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and it was just seemed to define his whole life. Saw another interview with Ron Howard, and he was talking about what it was like to be part of two really significant TV shows, The Andy Griffith Show, and then Happy Days, and he made a similar statement, the greatest time in my life was to be part of those shows. And you see interviews from time to time with athletes, to talk about what it was like to be on that team that won the Super Bowl etcetera. And they use that same type of language.
And honestly for me as a Christian, all of that just seems empty. It all seems temporary, and the more I meditate on spiritual gifts, and the good works that God has for us to do, the more I see the incredible grace God has shown us in Christ to not just deliver us from condemnation, and wrath and judgment that we will be completely forgiven, and that we would be adopted into his family, but more than that, that we have been graced with gifts, spiritual gifts and ministries connected with that, that will have eternal consequences. That we're delivered from wasting our lives, and that we'll be able to say at the end of our lives. The most significant thing I ever put my hand to was the building of the Church of Jesus Christ. And I think that's going to be abundantly clear to us on Judgment Day, when Jesus torches our “pile of works, and the gold, the silver, the costly stones, the wood, the hay and the straw, are all going to get tested by fire.” And then we'll see the unifying theme of those things at last, those things they were done for the glory of God, by the power of the Spirit that brought Him glory, and built the Church of Jesus Christ. That's what's going to last, and God has given us through these spiritual gifts and Avenue, a pattern of ministry that he wants us to do.
What Are Spiritual Gifts?
So this is our third sermon now, third time looking at the topic of spiritual gifts. What are spiritual gifts? Spiritual gifts are special abilities given to us by the grace of God, that enable us by the Spirit of God to build the Church of Jesus Christ. Special abilities. Now, big picture, we know that we have been saved, delivered from our sins, so beautifully unfolded for us in Ephesians 1-2, chosen before the foundation of the world, predestined to be adopted as His sons and daughters, predestined to be holy and blameless in His sight, Jesus shed His blood for our redemption, we, having heard the word of truth, were included in the Church of Jesus Christ by repentance and faith, that we have been saved, rescued from serving Satan, from being enslaved to Satan's dark kingdom. And we've been delivered from that by the sovereign power of God, not by our own works. “For by grace we 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.”
But having said that, then we have that beautiful Ephesians 2:10, which says that, “we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God planned in advance that we should walk in them.” And what I am saying to you these spiritual gifts a third time we've had a chance to look at this, will organize many of the good works God has ordained for you to do. Many of them will come along the pattern of your spiritual gift ministry. And that's a beautiful thing now in that same chapter, in Ephesians 2, we have this grand and glorious vision of a church, a holy temple, a spiritual dwelling place that's rising, in the Lord, more and more glorious, all the time more and more ornate, bigger and bigger all the time. With every sinner that comes to faith in Christ. We are part of that. To bring it in language from 1 Peter 2, we are “living stones” set in that spiritual temple. And so that's a glorious picture.
I get the picture of a medieval Cathedral, and there's this master craftsman, this architect, that has the blueprints and the plans, and just runs the whole worksite. But then you have these skilled craftsmen, these stone workers, masons, you know these carpenters and glaziers, experts in glass and those majestic stain glass windows, and then common laborers, and all kinds of workers on this work site in this cathedral that just rises from the surface of the earth 120 feet off the ground. But this is even better, this is eternal, this is glorious and we all have a role to play. Every Christian has a role.
Grow in the Spiritual Gifts
So what we're going to do one final time, here is we're going to look at spiritual gifts and organize it along the pattern of these four Ds that I commended to you. Discover spiritual gifts, delight in spiritual gifts, develop spiritual gifts, and deploy your spiritual gifts. So we're going to look one more time at these. We're going to start again with “discover,” and what we're going to do is take the “discover” section, break it into two parts, discover generally about spiritual gifts, that work is mostly done. But I'm just going to go through Ephesians 4:7-16 one more time. So we understand what they are, generally. Then, we're going to go over to Romans 12 and I'm going to use Roman 12, Romans 12:1-8, and I'm going to take you through that so you can already begin flipping there, or turning there, or pressing there. I don't know what the verbs are anymore, but clicking there. But we're going to get there Romans 12:1-8. I'm just going to walk through that text because I just don't think there's a better text in the New Testament for answering the question what yet, but “What are my spiritual gifts? What role do I personally play? How can I discover my personal gift?” So that's the Discover section.
Secondly, I'm just going to exhort you. It shouldn't be hard to just delight in this whole glorious thing. I want to give you a vision, again, of the heavenly in Jerusalem. I want you to delight in it, I want you to enjoy it, and I want you to delight, in your heart, in building it, I want you to do your gifts with the light. And then, thirdly, I'm going to advocate that all of us have to develop our spiritual gifts that you should be better if the Lord allows you to live, and doesn't return. You should be much better at your spiritual gift package, in the ministry that corresponds to it, 10 years from now than you are now. You should learn how to do it better than ever before. I should be a better preacher and teacher and Pastor 10 years from now, than I am now if the Lord gives me time. And all of us should develop our gifts. And then finally, I'm just going to advocate that you do them, that you deploy yourself, get busy, and you've got an insert, and in your bulletin we're going to look at that various avenues of service. I'm going to just look at that as an incredible menu, and you say, "Well I just don't know what to do." Well, there are ample ways and on-ramps into ministry here in this local church, and I want to talk about that. Okay, that's a road map.
Gifts Given by Grace
Let's look first at “discover” generally one more time, look at the text in Ephesians 4:7-16. I just want to start at 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it,” so the word “but” means we're going to go in a slightly different direction. He was just talking about unity, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is overall, and through it all and in all.” Unity, unity, unity. But to each one of us grace. So unity, but not uniformity. We are all part of one body, but we don't all have the same function, same role, we've already talked about that, “but to each one of us.” So every Christian has a spiritual gift package. I prefer that language than just to the singular spiritual gift because there's just an array of abilities that God's going to give you that line up with a pattern of ministry He wants you to do and He's going to gift you for that, and that's everybody, “but to each one of us,” grace. I already said why this is grace. God didn't have to do this. How gracious of God to give you a role to play Amen.
You should be so thankful and see that you got far more than you deserve, but by the grace of God, you have this ministry and you can work hard and do things of eternal consequence, but to each one of us grace has been given, according to the measure of Christ. So Christ has measured out, the Greek word “metron.” I love the sense of careful thinking he has pondered you and has chosen a spiritual gift package, for you and a spiritual gift ministry, for you. According to the measure of Christ, we know also from other texts, that the Father has done this in the Spirit as well. So the Father, Son and Spirit together have gifted you, everyone. Now, in the next few verses, it talks about how these spiritual gifts are part of what Christ won for us by His victory at the cross and the empty tomb it pictures Christ as an ascendant victorious Conqueror who came down from Heaven to Earth to rescue sinners like us and then goes back up from Earth to Heaven, leading captives in his train. And just pouring out gifts to everybody.
And so it's like booty, or plunder, something like that, a sense of the spoils of the victory and through the Spirit, He just gives us these good things. That's the image in verses 8-10. And then he gives us some examples, but they're not just any examples as we've talked about. “He gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers.” Those are five gift type ministries, each of them has their own gifting. And we talked about this, but they unify around this one theme, the delivery system of the word of God from the mind of God through these gifted ones “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers” to the people of God, the word of God is delivered. So the ministry of the word primes the pump for the use of spiritual gifts.
Christians Prepared for Works of Service
So, we go right from that to prepare God's people for works of service. So God's people are made ready by the ministry of the word of God, to do works of service. The works of service, do the building up of the body. Does that make sense? So all of the works of service, that's what builds up the Body of Christ, so the Body of Christ may be built up, and that's the goal of spiritual gift ministry, the maturation, the full maturity of the Body of Jesus Christ that were moved from “being infants blown back and forth by the waves,” immature doctrinally immature in our understanding of Christ and of the church, and of the world to full maturity in Christ-likeness. And so, when every individual elect person has been brought from death to life through evangelism and missions, and then discipled and trained by a healthy church ministry, up to full maturity and then even more in glorification. When we graduate the ultimate graduation moving from earthly life to heavenly life, when all of the elect have been glorified then the work is finished. And that's what spiritual gifts are given to do. And that's a glorious thing. And so as each part does its work, the Body of Christ is built to full maturity. So spiritual gifts are vital to this whole redemptive plan of God. And as we individually use our gifts and as we're out and about using the gifts, and then as we're receiving other people's gifts, all of us grow up, we grow up by serving and we grow up by being served with the spiritual gifts and that's what a local church is all about. It's so sweet and powerful. So that's the picture, generally. So water spiritual gifts, Ephesians 4:7-16 really gives us a glorious overall picture.
Discover Your Gifts (Romans 12:1-8)
Live in Light of God’s Gospel
Now, let's get to specifically,. “discover” my gifts, “how would I do that?” Well look at Romans 12:1-8, let's zero in on that in particular. Romans 12:1-8 is almost like a step-by-step field manual in how to discover your spiritual gifts. Often, people quote Romans 12:1-2, and sever it from the flow of thought that follows. So I think a real impact comes in connecting the famous Romans 12:1-2 with the not-so-famous Romans 12:3-8. Keep them together and you will see a powerful image and we're going to walk through Romans 12:1-8, and just bring it back again and again, to the touchstone of spiritual gifts. How can I know what my spiritual gifts are? Romans 12:1-8 is the biblical answer to that. Okay, we start with this. “Therefore brothers, in view of God's mercies, I urge you to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed 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” and he goes off to talk about spiritual gifts. So just start at the beginning, Romans 12:1-2 and see it in the light of spiritual gifts. So how do I know what my spiritual gifts are? Well, begin by having a view through the scripture, through faith of the overarching glorious mercies of God, Romans 1-11, or Ephesians 1-3. The overarching picture of the redemptive plan of God start there in view of or seeing God's mercies in Christ.
Present Your Body to God
Next, “present your bodies to Him as living sacrifice.” So I would say in view of God's mercy, just starts with faith in Christ. This is for believers, not for non-believers. If you ask, "Okay, you know I'm a visitor here and I'm not a Christian, but I'm interested in spiritual gifts.” Can I just say set that aside, that's not what you need. When they came to Jesus and said, "What must we do to work the works of God?” He said to them, unregenerate people. This is the work of God, believe in the one he is sent, so you need to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins that's the mercies of God.
God sent His Son to die in your place, to take your wrath on Himself, and to give you His perfect righteousness that's the mercy of God. You don't have any spiritual gifts, you don't have any spiritual life, if you're not a Christian, if you're not born again so don't leave this place “dead in your transgressions and sins,” but repent and trust in Him right now, and then immediately you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and He will work a spiritual gift ministry in you that's the order. So, in view of God's mercy, then Christian present your body to Him as a living sacrifice.
So what is this presentation? Well, Romans 6 makes it very plain what it is but basically used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to sin, now offer the parts you of your body to God. And so here's the thing, the image I have here is you're just presenting, you're saying, "I am yours to command, I want to use my life for your glory, I offer myself to you, to serve you.” Now you say, "When do I do that?" Well, in one sense you do it once for all, at conversion. When you come to faith in Christ, you said “I am yours, you are my king, I am your servant. I’m yours.” And that's true, but the image here is one of continual presentation and we get that from the idea of a living sacrifice. Old Testament was all about a dead sacrifice. It was an animal blood poured out and its body burned, and send it up, and it was an offering, but now we've got a different idea, same idea of sacrifice, but now your body offered to God continually, as a living sacrifice. So in your morning quiet time. Yes, but throughout the day. Abiding in Christ continually thinking about Him and just saying, I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours, I'm yours to command all the time, continual offering of yourself, your hands, your feet, your eyes, your mouth, every part of you.
Don’t Be Conformed to this World
And then he says “holy and pleasing to God.” You will be able to discover your spiritual gifts, better and better the more you put sin to death, if there's no sin clouding your judgment, there's no wickedness going on in your life. If those things are going, you will not be able to discern what your spiritual gifts are. That's not the top priority for you. And we're never going to be perfectly holy, but our discernment and our ability to understand the spiritual gifts of God are in proportion to being holy and pleasing to Him. And he says, “this is your spiritual act of worship.” This is what worship is for you, this ongoing presentation of your body holy and pleasing to him. So how do I know what my spiritual gifts are? Start there in Romans 12:1, do that, and then he says, “do not be conformed” or masquerade or act like, “the world any longer.” Don't do that, don't. Another translation, “don't let the world squeeze you into its mold.” Don't be conformed.
All right, so it was after the spiritual gift and the lifestyle that flows from it. Don't think like the world about your life, don't have worldly goals for your life. Learn now, what is going to be “gold, silver, and costly stones” on Judgment Day, and live for that and not for the stuff that's “wood, hay, and straw,” which is going to get burned up. Live for Christ, live for His kingdom. “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” And these things that get added or not while you're alive. And so, don't think like the world about your life anymore. Don't think like the world about your time and energy and money and how you're investing yourself. Don't think like the world about your career and what you want to achieve, but instead “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Now though the word of God is not specifically mentioned here, we all know that's the only power there is to do that. How do you think differently? It's the power of the Holy Spirit who uses the word of God in changing the way you think, and if you change the way you think you will change the way you live. I'll talk about this more later in Ephesians 4. New thinking leads to new living.
Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
And so “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” be in the Word, be listening to good preaching. Be getting good teaching, be reading good Christian books, be in the Word every day your quiet time all the time, then, he says, As you are transformed more and more by the renewing of your mind, you will be able, and I like the NIV's translation here. They unfold the Greek word, I think pretty well for us. You'll be able, equipped, to test and approve what God's will is, for you. “His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” So the big question we're asking is “discover.” “What are my gifts?” This is just leading you by the hand to answer the question. You'll be able to test and approve. Well, what do we mean by test and approve?
Well, one of the images I have here is of the Great Gold Rush, the minor 49ers and all that in 1850 and all that, and they go to the California and they're getting rocks out of rivers and out of mines, and they're bringing them to a place called an assayer's office, and the assayer is an expert at looking and saying, “That's fool's gold, that's real goal. The quality of it silver too,” whatever, that's what they do, they're able to assess what's on the table in front of them and say, what it really is. Well, that's you, you'll be able to test and approve God's will for you, this is God's will for me. And not only is it God's will, I know what it is, but I like it, I approve it, I want it, that's something good for me. So already we've come a long way. Romans 12:1-2 just gives you step-by-step how to answer the question, “What is my spiritual gift?”
Do Not Think More Highly Of Yourself than You Ought
But Paul is not done 4:3, “by the grace given to me,” and that's code language for spiritual gifts, later in the same text in Romans 12:6, I think it is. We have different gifts according to the grace given to us, that's exactly what he's thinking about. “Okay, by my spiritual gift of Apostle I say to you X.” That's the language he's using. “By my spiritual gift package of being an apostle, I'm going to give you some advice about your spiritual gifts.” So, “by the grace given to me I say to every one of you,” and the first thing he says is, “do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” He starts right away with humility, humble yourself, don't think of yourself as a first round draft pick on God's team, okay? Don't think of yourself as indispensable. “God is lucky to have me.” Every one of us is dispensable, every one of us is replaceable, be humble about that. Think how blessed you are already to even be on this team doing this work. Humble yourself.
And that's going to be even more true as you progress and develop your spiritual gift and God uses you more and more and gives you a wider and wider platform of ministry, and you see fruit and you start to get tempted to be elevated and forget where it all came from, and how you can't do anything apart from Jesus, and He's just being gracious to you to even let you be involved and any change that ever happened in another person's life, it's been happening by the word of God in the Spirit. If you are the avenue the conduit of it, praise God, be happy. But it was God that did it. And so don't think of yourself more highly than you ought, but now comes a hidden step, which is so vital, but the more I talk about it, it just makes perfect sense. But think about yourself, do think about yourself.
Value Feedback from the Church Members
So you're like, “All right, how do I discover what my spiritual gifts are?” Ponder yourself, like the thinker. Who am I? I'm pondering not my spiritual naval, but I'm pondering my tendencies, my habits, my patterns, my proclivities, my likes and dislikes, pondering what I do, and specifically in the light of spiritual gifts. “What kinds of ministries do I enjoy? What kinds of ministries have come to me, and I've done them and I've enjoyed doing that. And this is the beauty of being a really healthy church. I've gotten a feedback loop of encouragement from the Body of Christ.” And so, I think you discover your spiritual gifts, the more you get involved in a local church, a healthy local church, will help you discover what your gifts are. That's just a plug for being a covenant member of a healthy local church, know and be known on spiritual gifts, know other people's gifts, and let them know your gifts.
So I'm just going to do a brief segue here. Stay in Romans 12. But just in your mind, a corresponding thing you are thinking about yourself, you also want others thinking about you. And those things come together for discovering your gift, right? So who should think about you? The church, the local church, how? Hebrews 10:24, it says, "Let us consider one another, to spur toward love and good deeds. Not neglecting meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.” That's a partner to think about yourself with sober judgment. They’re partner verses. So you think about yourself as sober judgment and get some good friends to think about you as sober judgment, let them consider you, “Who are you? What are you good at?” And they should, lovingly, encourage you about what you're good at, and what you're blessed at. See? I'm blessed by that.
Blessed by the Spiritual Gifts
Marveling at the Spiritual Gifts in Action.
And so I was thinking about that and I pondered it, and I have all of these examples of encouragement that I wrote. I think about different people who have blessed me. Now, if you're listening to this and you're like, "I know I'm that person,” All right? Well, you probably are, but I didn't put any names in here, but I'm just blessed all the time, by members of this Body of Christ. So I think about people who have the gift of hospitality and I want to say to that brother or sister, “You have such a gift when you open your home you make me feel like you're doing me a favor for us being there, like you're so incredibly blessed to have 43 people come to your home for home fellowship.” That's just a gift of hospitality. There's not a sense of burden at all, it's a gift, Thank you, praise God for that.
Or the gift of service. Brother, thank you for coming every Sunday morning and making coffee for so many people. 12 pots one after the other, all different types of flavors. Very few people may see you do it, but thank you for that gift of service. I'm encouraged by the way you serve. Or evangelism. “Brother, when you go out witnessing and you just get in these conversations and it just seems to flow, and even though you don't know them, they don't know you, pretty soon you're talking to a lost person, so easily about the Gospel. I just want to ride your coattails, I want to be with you. Can I just come and watch it and get credit for doing evangelism? I just want to do that, because you have such a gift.” I love that.
And then, the gift of mercy. “You have such a heart for the poor and needy, sister. I'll tell you what, when I drive through this community, I don't see it the way you do. But you see needs, you see avenues of service, you see people whose lives are broken, and you have such a heart of compassion for them. I am so blessed by that.” The gift of prayer. “I love praying with you, I just love the way you pray, I just feel like we're in the presence of God, the way you pause and the way you have your tone of voice and the things you say in prayer. I'm blessed by that, you have a gift. And I'm blessed by that.” The gift of leadership, “I love the way you organize mission trips, the way you organize ministries, the way you think about details, the way you cast a vision for it, the way you're able to call people to make sacrifices for that vision, and to move out and go in that direction. I'm blessed by your gift of leadership or the gift of giving, you just give so regularly, and so faith filled, I know that God's blessed you and abundantly.”
But you don't see those things as yours ultimately you see them as God's, and you give generously. You give generously to missions, you fund mission trips, you fund laborers for the harvest field, you give tithes and offerings to the local church as well. I'm just blessed by the way you give. The gift of teaching. “When you open up the Scripture, I hear things in the word that I hadn't, I see things that, they're there, but I never saw them and I'm blessed by that. Thank you for showing me things in the word of God that strengthen my faith.” Or the gift of music or worship. “The way you play your instruments, and the way you sing. I feel like I'm just laid on the heavenlies, and that my emotions flow, and there's just such a beauty to the gift of music.”
And then the gift of administration, of organization, the caring center ministry, so many details. Clothing comes in, clothing goes out. There's money, there's all these things, the whole thing's set up so well. “Thank you sister for the way you have organized the caring center. Your gift of administration with a gift of counseling. “Our marriage was not doing well, but we sat down with you as a couple, and you showed us sin, patterns in our lives, and you counseled with us, from the word of God, and you really saved our marriage. Thank you.”
Now, when all of those practical ministries are being done and there's that beautiful feedback loop. I couched all of that in light of encouragement. The Body of Christ encourages people to “loving good deeds.” And so, it's our job to think about ourselves, definitely think about ourselves, but we need to think about one another too. We need to think about each other. And so, as that happens, we can discover our spiritual gifts, what they are. So think about yourself with sober judgment. Get involved in ministries. You're going to get a chance at the end of this message to look at it. Don't worry if you don't know what your spiritual gifts are, you really don't know. Just get busy. Do some things along the pattern of the ministries we suggest and just see how you are, see how you fly like that balsa wood airplane, the way that the wings are set. Are you going to do a barrel roll, are you going to fly for distance? What are you? Are you going to curve left or right as you get the air under the wings you're going to show your tendencies? Get busy. So think about yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the “measure of faith that God has given you.” And then he goes on to teach about spiritual gifts. So I would just step by step by step go through Romans 12, and you'll discover what your gifts are. Okay?
Now, at the end of that section, he says this, and we'll come back to Romans 12:6-8 on the final D. But it says, “if it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy, let him do it,” what? “Cheerfully.” “Cheerfully.” I think about 2 Corinthians 9:7, talking about financial giving, says, “not reluctantly or under compulsion,” why? “Because God loves a cheerful giver.” You have to have a delight in your heart when using your spiritual gifts, you have to delight in it, and I think the best way to delight to be a cheerful giver is to see the glorious vision of what you are doing. I've already given it to you, I'll give it to you again. It is the heavenly Zion of Isaiah 62 “Arise and shine O Zion for your light has come and the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”
It's the New Jerusalem that at some point in the future is going to “come down out of Heaven like a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband.” It is this city, this golden, glorious, transparent amazing city that's radiant with the glory of God. And you know what occurred to me? All local church ministry is temporary. All of it. But the eternal church is eternal, and get this. I love this. I gave you guys that image of the small cover or cloud cover. Sometimes you have to fly up above the clouds, and see, from a heavenly perspective, the New Jerusalem, and you know what the Lord is saying to my heart about that? Yes, local church ministry is temporary lots of changes, lots of things happen, but things are looking really good from up here. The New Jerusalem every day gets a little bigger and a little more glorious, a living stone gets put in the wall. Every day, there's not a single backward step, for the New Jerusalem. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and He's doing it, and oh it's glorious! It is glorious. So you should be very cheerful using your spiritual gift, you should delight in it, because you're doing an eternally glorious work.
Develop Your Gifts
Spiritual Gifts Need to Be Developed
All right, thirdly, “develop.” How do we develop our guests? Well, you developing by using them, etcetera, but that you should develop the gift. I'm just wanting to command this one text. 1 Timothy 4:15, all right? I'm just going to read 1 Timothy 4:13-16, and we'll talk briefly about “develop.” There, Paul, the mentor says to his protegé, Timothy, about pastoral ministry about preaching and teaching, and shepherding, and doing the work of an evangelist all the things that go into being a pastor, he says, “until I come,” 1 Timothy 4:13-16, “until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of the word of scripture to preaching into teaching.” Devote yourself to it. Then he says, "do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic word when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” Don't neglect your gift. Another place he says, “fan it into flame.” That's going to be the same image but I'm zeroing in here.
1 Timothy 4:15, “Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress.” So, Timothy, let it be said there in Ephesus that when they come five years later they’ll say, “Timothy, you're a much better preacher now than you were five years ago.” Don't be hurt by that, be happy, be encouraged. Be a better preacher in five years, be a better shepherd in five years. Well, I'm just taking that idea and extend it to all the spiritual gifts, all of them. Devote yourself fully to your spiritual gift ministry, so that everyone may see your progress. Be a better giver. 10 years from now than you are now. Be better at administration or leadership 10 years from now than you are now. Study it, as a science, as an art, however you want to say it devote yourself to your spiritual gift ministry and get better at it. That's all. He says “watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them because if you do, you'll save both yourself and your hearers.”
I think that's true of all spiritual gifts. That as we use our spiritual gifts, we will be instrumental in the salvation of the saved. Like huh, well you said save both yourself Timothy and your hearers. He's saved doesn't he? But yes, Already, not yet. He is saved, but he's not done being saved. And so as we use our gifts and progress in them, we will see the church growing more and more toward maturity in Christ. That's salvation. So we've seen discover, delight in the gifts, develop, now, finally deploy.
We Develop Them by Using Them
Deploy is kind of a military term, I guess, to some degree. First time I went through this years ago, I used the word “use,” but I've been inspired by my alliteration friends. So you got to have all the same letter, do you know it's the same letters all the time, is Ds and Ps and all that? Poor letter Z or X, I mean whoever does alliteration with those? I guess kids on Mother's Day if they can get 26 ways that they love their mom. Don't use the word Xerox. She's not going to be encouraged by that. That's not good. But deploy. It's a military image, it's like God is going to deploy us on the battlefield. This gifted Church, He's going to deploy. So I'm urging you to deploy your gifts, use them. So there we go back to Romans 12:6-8, “we have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his 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.” Do it. What good is the gift if you're not using it, and this is where I just want to convict you, look at your lifestyle, look at your pattern. Are you using your gifts? Are you involved in a regular pattern of spiritual gift ministry?
And as I've said a few weeks ago, if not the first thing you really did need to do is to repent, say, “Lord, I have wasted some time up to this point, I've not really been using my gifts, I've not been investing in the Church the way I need to, and I want to do that. I've been worldly. I've been living for worldly goals, and I don't want to do that anymore, I really want to get involved in ministry.”
Deploy Your Gifts
So “deploy.” You know remember the parable or the talents, the five talents two talents, the one talent? You don't want to be the one that got a talent and hid it in the ground. Matthew 25-25, he said, “so I was afraid and went out and dug a hole and hid your talent in the ground.” Here's what belongs to you. All of our gifts, we're going to give them back 'cause they're not ours. He's going, “I want to know the interest. What did you do with it? Did you invest it? Show me the increase, show me the growth.” That's what Judgment Day is going to be like for all of us. So let's deploy our gifts. Let's get involved.
Now, you might say, "How do I do that? How do I do that?" Well, this is a really encouraging brochure that some on the staff put together, did a great job, and it breaks opportunities for service into three main categories. Ministry teams, those are run by the deacons in a beautiful way, but so many ministries flow through these ministry teams, many of them have to do the infrastructure and the strength and health of the Church, and you can see them Children's Ministry, there are various needs there, Encouragement Ministry, Meals and Preparations, it's like Meal Baby. Or if there's a bereavement issue such a blessing for people to step up and do that. Facilities ministry just taking care of the building, etcetera. Host Ministry is just how we present ourselves to visitors. How do we make ourselves open and welcoming to visitors and they just do a phenomenal job with that. The Host Ministry does. And then there's Membership Assimilation.
New members come in. We're going to have a New Member Sunday real soon, and we're going to see a bunch of new people and they're going to be like, "Okay, here I am. Teach me about FBC how can I get assimilated?” And the new member assimilation team does a great job of getting those folks assimilated. Then there's Men's Ministry and later because it's alphabetical, but Women's Ministry, both of those focused on issues relevant to men's discipleship and women's discipleship, and there are teams of people that are doing both of that and you may have a heart for that and want to get involved.
Opportunities to Deploy Spiritual Gifts
Security Ministry, there are needs there. Homebound Ministry, Senior Adult Ministry, etcetera. Worship Ministry, including Lord’s Supper preparation. Then I see what we call International Connections. Tremendous out-reaching opportunities. I don't think there's an easier way to do evangelism in our church right now, than through international ministry. Every Wednesday, they come here wanting to learn English, and let me put it gently, willing to put up with Bible or Gospel to get the English. And you know how we're fishers of men, and we can draw people in, and they have felt needs and somewhere in there that might be a turn and say, “I came here for English, I found Christ.” And how sweet is that just how beautiful is that? To just sit down, in our building, with a lost person and talk to them about their background. They're very intelligent gifted, talented people, but they need Christ. That's the IC ministry that's there.
Isn't this awesome? So many opportunities. Then there's Home Fellowship, and Home Fellowship is a great platform for spiritual gift ministry. You think all of the gifts there are they're all at work during home fellowships, hosting, teaching, welcoming, administration aspects. It's a wonderful way to use your gifts. And then there's just outreaches that we can be doing, they're all listed here. Recently, my wife and I went to Cheesecake Factory. I'm blown away by their menu. I don't know, what they have, 50 different chefs back there? They’ve got page after page after page after page after page in 12 major categories. It's like, “how can it be? How can they be good at all of these things equally?” I don't think they are. But this is like that. I was going to use Golden Corral, but I decided Cheesecake Factory better, all right?
All of the opportunities you're like, "I don't know what to do, there's no on-ramps, there are on-ramps to serve, so just find a place to serve. Find a place. Friends, our life is going to be over soon. “It's a mist, it's a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Only one life ‘twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. Build the church, build the church. Close with me in prayer.
Father, thank you for the time we've had three weeks now, looking at spiritual gifts. God please, unleash this church, unleash the members of this church into patterns of spiritual gift ministry, that you have thought out, and prepared them for, that this church may become rich with good works and rich with maturity and rich with converts that are new disciples and are growing, God, make us rich we pray in Jesus' name, amen.