The Study of Spiritual Gifts (Sermon 3 of 14)
August 26, 2001 | Andy Davis
Andy Davis preaches an expository sermon on Ephesians 4. This sermon is an ongoing study of what the Bible has to say about spiritual gifts.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Take your Bibles and open to Ephesians 4. We're going to continue looking there as a starting place in our study. To understand what the gifts are and how they are addressed, there are three major sections of scripture and then some more minor references, Ephesians 4:1-16 is one of the major sections, Romans 12 is one of those sections, and also 1 Corinthians 12-14. And we're going to be getting God willing, next into the Corinthians passage, but I want to see if we can wring all the meaning we can out of Ephesians and find out how God has put the body together.
Now, in Ephesians, he follows the same procedure that he does in most of his letters. In other words, he tells us what is true of us and then tells us how we should live, accordingly. That's the same procedure that he follows in Romans, as we've been seeing, where he tells us what's true. This morning we considered how it said in Romans 6:18 that we have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness. That's just a statement of fact in which God is standing over spiritually and saying, "This is what I've done to you. This is what has happened to you spiritually." And in effect, he's going to do the same thing with spiritual gifts. He's going to tell you, "I've done this in you. I've put this spiritual gift in you, and now live accordingly." And I think that's the beauty of it.
And therefore, it all starts with good teaching. You've got to start with teaching on spiritual gifts, and then that just primes the pump and then the body just starts to move in a marvelous way. It's not that the gift of teaching is any more significant than the others. It just primes the pump. It starts with the understanding. If you know what God has put in you, if you know that he's put a spiritual gift package in you, you're going to live a different way than if you didn't know that was in you. I remember early in my Christian life, I was witnessing to a guy, I come myself from a Catholic background, and this man did too, and we were working in an engineering company, and I was witnessing to him, sharing the gospel at work. And I continue to believe that the workplace is the best place for evangelism. If you do it right, it's a phenomenal place. It's where we interact the most with non-Christians. Isn't it true? And so we have a great opportunity to witness, and there's obviously some difficulties and obstacles. Your employers, for the most part, are not going to be paying you to witness or to lead Bible studies, but there are opportunities, aren't there? There are conversations that we can have. And so I was having a conversation with this man, the Catholic man. And he came from the Catholic background as I did. Now in the Catholic Church, the priests wear different clothes, don't they? They have the different outfit. They have a collar on, and then on Sunday morning, they wear these robes. And he said, "That's the way I think of it." He was a big sports fan. He said, "The players are out in the field, and they wear uniforms on their back. And you can tell who's in the game, and we're the spectators cheering them on." Well, that's not the body of Christ, is it? Not at all. Actually, we are the ones that are ministering. We are the ones that are given a spiritual gift package. We are the ones that are on the field, and we're actually also in the audience cheering each other on. We're encouraging each other to do our ministry, but we're both players in the game and we're also encouragers along the way.
"If you know what God has put in you, if you know that he's put a spiritual gift package in you, you're going to live a different way than if you didn't know that was in you."
He said, "If you've got that number on your back, you should be out in the field playing. But if not, you should be in the crowd, and I'm not one of those called to do that." And I thought, “That is not the way that God has put the body together.” All of us are to be on the field playing. We all have a role to play. And that's the beauty of what Paul gets at here in Ephesians.
I'd like to begin reading in Ephesians 4 and just make a few comments on the first section, even though it doesn't have to do with spiritual gifts. They're just such wonderful verses that I think it's worth us pausing and looking at it again. Let's start at verse 1, it says, "As a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Do you wrestle with that as I do, living up to the calling you have as a Christian? What kind of calling is it? We have a very high calling, don't we? We have a calling to be perfect, just as God is perfect. We talked about that this morning. We have a calling also, and we're going to get to it later in Ephesians, to make the most of every opportunity. What does it mean to make the most of every opportunity? It means God is handing you every day unique set of circumstances, unique opportunities to serve him and where to make the most of that. So we are to be holy internally, and we are to make the most of every opportunity to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we want to make the most of every opportunity, and that's the calling we have. We are urged to live a life worthy of the calling that we have received. And then it says, "Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love." That is so beautiful, and I appreciate what you were sharing about Philippians 2, that is a great passage, and it's so important that we carry ourselves in humility toward one another. Is there any person in this room that's not a sinner saved by grace? Is there any person in this room that could see something in somebody else and not find an echo in their own soul? Isn't that true? No matter what it is, no matter what the sin is, there's something in all of us. We're all saved by grace if we're saved at all. There's nobody but one person that's ever made it through this world sinless and perfect, and it's on the basis of his sinlessness and his perfection that we hope to go to heaven. Isn't that true? And so we should be completely humble with each other and gentle too, bearing with one another in love. What did that mean? When you look at that, just think about it. What does it mean to bear with somebody? Go ahead. This is one of those open-ended things. What does it mean to bear with somebody?
Put up with them. That's right. Has anybody ever had to bear with you? People have to bear with me, and we bear with each other. We put up with each other, and that's just because of sin. We don't have to bear with God. We don't have to bear with Jesus Christ. He has to bear with us, and he does put up with us, and so we bear up with one another. And it says, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." This is a very interesting verse to me because later in this same section, he's going to tell us that we are to build up the unity until we all reach unity. So apparently, unity is both present and future, isn't it? We've got a unity now, and we've got a unity in the future. We've got a unity now because we've come to faith in Christ. We believe in him. We are trusting in him. We're heading to the same heaven. There's one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We know all these things, and that's the unity we experience now. We're reading the same scriptures. We're hoping for the same heaven. We want to see people come to Christ. We rejoice with the same joy when we hear someone come into faith in Christ. But the unity's not complete, is it, because the actual pattern for unity is what? What is the ultimate pattern for our unity? The Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, perfectly united in mind and thought, never a shade or shadow of difference between them. That's our future unity. And that's what we are striving toward, perfect unity. And the way that that happens is that lost people, there's no way you could say that they're one with us. They disagree with us on every significant issue. But then suddenly the gospel comes, and they come to faith in Christ. They're given that heart of flesh, not the heart of stone. They come to faith, and all of a sudden, there's some amazing agreement. We agree that Jesus is God. We agree that he died on the cross in our place and he rose from the dead. So they have been brought from disunity, as much disunity as you can ever have, into unity with us. But then there's a continual sanctification process, isn't there? We're growing up. We're understanding more and more until we all reach unity. So we maintain a present unity, and then we grow up into unity by the use of spiritual gifts. And that's what we're going to talk about tonight, how the gifts build the body of Christ. But I think it's interesting how at the beginning of this passage, we've got this unity that we maintain, and then toward the end of this section, we've got a unity that we strive toward and that we build toward. So we should make every effort or be zealous to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. "There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is overall and through all and in all." There is only one body of Christ. There is a worldwide, spiritual body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is working worldwide to build that body. That is the project of the universe, is the building of the body of Christ. Everything else is temporary. Everything else will disappear. I praise God for the paying off the note, and we can rejoice in that this morning. And I think this is a beautiful building, and it's nice to sit here and to have the comforts here. And I praise God for it. And I think that that's one of the uses of our tithes and offerings. But realize that everything you can see with your eyes, you can touch, you can handle in any way, it's all temporary. But the building of the body of Christ, the spiritual body, now that is eternal, and that is the work that God has called us too.
So that's the unity section at the beginning. I thought it was worth going through it one more time. But then he gives us a contrast in verse 7, "But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." Ephesians 4:7 is the great spiritual gift verse, I think. Jesus Christ has measured out to each one of us a portion of grace. Now, this is all part of God's saving grace. Keith just played “Amazing Grace.” Grace is a huge thing. It's not just the grace that brings us into saving faith in Jesus Christ, but it's multifaceted, isn't it? If you look for example, take a minute and look at Titus 2:11. Grace brings us to faith in Christ. But then grace continues to work, doesn't it? Grace is active and energetic. It's not some static thing or something that you just get zapped with once and then that's it. But rather, there's an abiding presence and abiding work of grace. Listen to Titus 2:11, it says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation appear to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ." We'll just stop there. Now, those verses are talking about sanctification. They're talking about being holy in this present world while we wait for the appearing of Jesus Christ. But there's something in us that teaches us how to do that. According to this, what is it that teaches us how to do that? It is grace. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared… It [namely grace] teaches us to say no to ungodliness.” Isn't that beautiful? Grace is not just to start you. Grace is to finish you. And that's exactly what Newton wrote when he wrote “Amazing Grace.” "His grace has brought me safe thus far." And what? "Grace will lead me home." Isn't that beautiful? Grace isn't finished with you yet.
And so grace is going to be working on you internally to bring you to holiness. It's teaching you to say no to ungodliness, but grace is also going to give you work to do. Grace is giving you work to do. You've got work to do here. And it's a good work, isn't it? It's a work of lasting, eternal value. It's a work you can throw yourself into and know that it's not going to go to waste. There's nothing more tragic than working on a project that goes to waste. Have you ever had that experience? Throw yourself into some labor. Maybe you made a cake, and then one of the kids runs in and slams the door. And there it goes. And how do you feel? And that's just a cake. But you look in and it's flat, and you must throw it away. Or you can eat it if you want, but have you ever eaten a cake like that? It just isn't worth eating. And you've wasted your effort. God has saved us from the tragedy of a wasted life. Isn't that beautiful? He gives us time. He gives us a Monday and a Tuesday and a Wednesday. He gives us month after month, year after year, and for what? For a purpose. And what is that purpose? To build the church of Jesus Christ. And how? With wisdom with your spiritual gifts. And so the grace of God comes, and it does teach us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions. But it also teaches us to get busy and to work hard and to work for his kingdom and to do it in a certain patterned way by these spiritual gifts. And so it says in Ephesians 4:7 that “to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” As we continue to read in verse 8 it says, "This is why it says: 'When He ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.'" The image there is of a triumphant general having won a victory. And he's going through the city, and he's just throwing the spoils of the victory off. And that's what we get. We get the spoils of the victory. We get the Holy Spirit. We get the indwelling Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. And it says he's ascending on high. He's ascending the heaven and giving these gifts. And it says, "(What does He ascended mean except that he also descended the lower earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.)" Who is that talking about? Who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe? It is Jesus Christ. I'm amazed by that. You just stop and think about that.
"Grace is going to be working on you internally to bring you to holiness. It's teaching you to say no to ungodliness, but grace is also going to give you work to do."
Have you ever heard of Carl Sagan? I've been thinking about him recently. He was an unbeliever. He wrote the book Cosmos. You remember he had a television program on PBS about that? The kids and I just went to an exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science on Friday out in Raleigh, and it's in reference to the Hubble Space Telescope. Have you seen the exhibit advertised? Do you know what the Hubble is? It's a telescope out in space, so it's outside the atmosphere. And it can get incredibly clear views of the universe, and it can just peer deeper into space than anything we've ever been able to do before. And it just sends back these incredible pictures. And there's this one thing, this nebula, which is this huge, gaseous cloud from which stars are being formed. And it pointed to one of them that was just on the tip of one of these clouds, and it said, "This is a newborn star." And it just looked dwarfed by the rest of the cloud. And I thought, If that star is anything like the size of our sun, how big is that cloud? The immensity of God and the power of God, and yet, there's this materialist philosophy being taught over there that we are children of stardust; they called us, children of stardust. We're just an accumulation of stardust through the unbelievable processes of evolution. That's what we are. And I stood with my kids, and I said, "Isn't that interesting? We've been demoted from children of God to children of stardust." No, we're children of God, and God has put us together in an amazing way. In an amazing way. And then this quote from Carl Sagan, and he's talking about this. And I had read this before, and I'm amazed by it. He's talking about the ascension of Jesus Christ. He was reading it, and he was scoffing at it. You know how Jesus ascended from the hill and they're looking as he goes and then the cloud hides Him from their sight? You know what Carl Sagan said about that? He said, "If Jesus traveled at the speed of light, he still hasn't left our galaxy yet." What blasphemy. Look at what this verse says again, “It was he who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.” Could there be something out there in the spiritual realm that Carl Sagan knew nothing about? And Jesus, as soon as that cloud hid him from their sight, filled the spiritual universe with his presence. It's a mystery to me. I don't understand it. I just know it speaks of his immensity and his power. That is the one who has given you your spiritual gift. Isn't that amazing? This is the one who thought about you and apportioned out to you grace that you should use. And guess what? At the end of time, he's going to want that gift back, and he's going to ask you what you did with it. He's going to demand an accounting. There's a stewardship here. It's his. It doesn't belong to you. "What do you have that you didn't receive?" That's what it says in 1 Corinthians 4. And so we have these gifts from Jesus Christ apportioned out to us, this one who fills the whole universe and, “It was he [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ might be built up.” That's what we're doing tonight. I'm trying to get all of you ready and myself, too, for the works of service that God has in mind this week, this month, this year, this decade.
We're getting ready for works of service. What are those works of service? The very thing he talked about earlier in Ephesians 2:10. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast." we're not saved by our works, but we're saved to do good works, aren't we? For we are Christ's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has laid out ahead of time that we should walk in them. So he's laid out ahead of time for you some good works this week, and he wants you to walk in them. And I believe that for the most part, he organizes your good works along the lines of your spiritual gifts. It doesn't mean that you're not going to do other good works that are not specifically your gifts. We're all called to give financially. We're all called to pray. We're all called to be witnesses. We're all called to give a word of encouragement to a brother or sister when needed. These are things they're all called. But then there's special gift, and you're going to find yourself doing that again and again. And so he's organized for you this week even some good works, and he wants you to walk in them. He doesn't want you to miss one. And so he gives these apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers to get the word of God into you. If you look at that listing, that's all word-based gifting, isn't it? Apostles, evangelist, prophesy, those are all people who get the word to you. Now, there's other gifts like administration and helps and faith and all that, those are just as valuable, but this primes the pump. It “prepares God's people for works of service so that the whole body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to whole measure the fullness of Christ.” Now, that's that future unity that I was referring to earlier. We've got the present unity through our faith in Christ, the one Lord, one faith, one baptism. And then we've got a future unity measured by the Trinity, and it has to do with perfectly united in mind and thought, not disagreeing about anything. There's not a single point of doctrine that they disagree with in heaven. They all get along perfectly. Isn't that beautiful? Aren't you looking forward to it? I am.
But this is the process that we're working for, and the spiritual gifts are given to bring us to that maturity, that unity, that maturity, even doctrinal maturity. Look what it says next. It says, "Then we will no longer be infants," okay, "infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of," what? "Doctrine," teaching. It's talking about spiritual infancy through bad doctrine. When bad doctrine comes in, it tosses you left. And then you get some other doctrine, and it tosses you right. And you're moving here, and you're moving there. And you don't know where to stand and what's true and what's not. That's not maturity. You can be a Christian and be that way, but you can't be mature and be that way. And so he's given these gifts to people to build the church up into maturity so that we're not tossed back and forth. We can discern true from false doctrine. We're solid and mature. “We'll no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.” We're growing up into Christ. We're thinking more like Jesus. We have the mind of Christ already. We just don't use it the way we should. We don't think his thoughts after him the way... We don't have his attitude the way we should. Philippians 2, "Have this mind which was also in Christ Jesus." We don't, though, do we? We could. We could defer to others and consider others better than ourselves. There's nothing hindering. We just don't. But we're growing up into the head. We're growing up into Christ. That's the goal, speaking the truth in love, that's how it happens, that participle the -ing words. By speaking the truth and love, that's how we grow up. You see how it works? Right doctrine spoken with the purpose of building. Later in Ephesians, he's going to say, "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Is that not an incredible filter on the things you say? “Nothing comes out of my mouth except what may build the body of Christ.” Let that be a filter on all of our mouths now. We need that, don't we? We're only going to speak what's going to build up the church. And what builds up the church the most? Now, a word of encouragement will build up. I love you. I'm praying for you. I care about you. It does build us up. But what builds us up more than anything? Right doctrine. Right doctrine builds up the church, the word of God. You can't do any better. And so speaking right doctrine in love, that's how we grow up into unity, into him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Verse 16, "From him, the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work." And so verse 16 is pointing to an intensive work of the body of Christ so that we are building ourselves up in love as each part does its work. Each spiritual gift person, each spiritual gift, is needed to grow up into full maturity. You don't just need one or the other. We're going to get to that in Corinthians, but just thinking ahead to that, where would the body be if the whole body were a foot? We would be able to walk well, but we couldn't see or hear or smell. What if the whole body were an eye? We'd be able to see, but there would sense of hearing be, for example? And Paul uses this kind of argumentation. No, we need the whole body in all of its diversity, in all of its gifting to do its work. And in that way, the whole body grows up. And I think it's very interesting how he stresses here in this verse that it is the body that builds itself up. Do you think he's thinking that Christ doesn't build His own body? Oh, he knows very well. He knows that. Jesus said to Peter, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." So who is really building the church? Is it Christ, or is it the church? The answer is yes. They are both. Jesus Christ is building his own church through us as we use spiritual gifts by the power of the Spirit. We are building up the church. He is building up his church, and he's doing it through us. So that's the force of verse 16.
"Jesus Christ is building his own church through us as we use spiritual gifts by the power of the Spirit. We are building up the church. He is building up his church, and he's doing it through us."
So if I can summarize all of this passage says about spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts are, number one, universal but not uniform, but to each one of us, grace has been given. So every one of you who's sitting and listening to me tonight who is a Christian, you've come to faith in Christ, you have a spiritual gift package. I keep saying that because it's not just one. “Well, I found mine. It's this.” I think there's usually a cluster of them that go together so that you can minister effectively. But every one of you has been thought of personally by God and given a gift. So the gifts are universal, but they're not uniform. We have different gifts, different gifts according to the moving of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians teaches us that. So we're not all the same. Now, the gifts are called grace from God. It's gracious from God to include us in this work, isn't it? Now we might quibble with him. We shouldn't. But we might quibble and say, "How inefficient has this been? You've been at this now for 2,000 years. Wouldn't it be more efficient if you did it through angels? Get the evangelism and the discipleship done through angels? They say, “Yes, sir,” and they go do it. And there's no hesitation. There's no inefficiency. There's no disobedience. There's no rebellion. There's no strife and conflict." It is not God's way. It is God's way to use us, sheep that we are, to build the church. And so he challenges us to live up the calling we have received and do a better job of building the church. He's not going to fire us. He's not going to say, "Forget it. You've done such a bad job. I'm going to take over and do it myself. Angels, let's go. Let's get building here." He's not going to do it. He's calling on us to live up to what he has given us. He's given us grace. He's given us the gospel. He's given us spiritual gifts. He's given us everything we need. And then he's commanding us, "Get up and get busy. Stop sinning. Stop being this way. Stop being carnal and fleshly. Get on your feet and start walking and start living like Christians." That's the way he is doing it and not just with our local body, but all over the world.
So the gifts are gracious. It's grace from God. It's grace from God to know that your life is not a waste. There is a purpose to decade after decade of your time here on earth. The question is, are you living according to your purpose? Are you using your gifts? Now, that's the question, but it's grace from God. They are given by Christ. They're Christ-given. And now the last one I want to focus and zero in on is that they are bodybuilding. They build up the body of Christ. Take a minute and look at 1 Peter 4:10. 1 Peter 4:10 speaks about this. Beginning at verse 7, I'm going to start. It says, "The end of all things is near." Isn't that interesting? "The end of all things is near." When did Peter write those words? 2,000 years ago, approximately. It's nearer now than when we first believed, isn't it? It's getting near all the time. If it was near then, it's near now, capital N-E-A-R near. Okay, “The end of all things is near.” The end of the world is coming, folks. I'm not saying that because I'm reading something in the newspaper or there's something we're seeing happening in Jerusalem or whatever. That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying as I read Scripture, the end of all things is near. It will not be long before we stand before God and give an account. It's not going to be long. The end of all things is near. Okay. If that's true, then how should I live? All right. “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." By the way, if you're not clear minded and you're not self-controlled, you'll have a hard time praying. That's just what that's teaching. So if you're having struggles in your prayer life, look to these issues, and then verse 8, "Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins." Somebody say amen.
“Love covers over a multitude of sins.” Hasn't God's love covered over a multitude of your sins? We're going to have to give account for every careless word we've ever spoken, and it's all covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have to cover each other's sins too. Love covers over a multitude of sins. And then it says in verse 9, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." This is one of the greatest verses to prove that human nature hasn't changed. Have you ever had folks over your house to stay for three or four weeks? All right. Have you ever been tempted to grumble? Now, maybe you don't, but you know after a little while, you're feeling crowded. "Offer hospitality one another without grumbling." And then it says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." We should use our gifts to serve others. Our gift is given for the benefit of somebody else. Isn't that interesting? My gift is for you. Your gifts are for me. As each part does its work, the body of Christ gets built up. And so we are administering these gifts for one another.
Look at Romans 12. Turn over there. Romans 12:3 and following. It says, "For by the grace given me," stop right there. What does he mean by that? "For the grace given me, I say to all of you…” What is he saying? “By my spiritual gift package and ministry, I'm going to say some things to you.” That's what he's saying. "For by the grace given 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." We're going to go through this more carefully in the future, but I want to zero in on the next few verses. "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." Now look at the next phrase. "And each member belongs to all the others." Boy, that's strong, isn't it? Every single member belongs to all the others. Every single gift package belongs to the body, not to you personally, privately. You see how it works? So basically, you have this gift package for the benefit of the whole body. It's not just yours. And then he says in Ephesians 3:2... Go back there. "Each gift belongs to all the others," that is powerful. In Ephesians 3:2, he says... 3:1 says, "For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles." And then verse 2, "Surely you've heard about the administration" or the stewardship, "of God's grace that was given to me." What are the next two words? "For you." “My gifts, my spiritual gift package is for you. It's for you. He gave it to me for you.” So what does that mean? How does that affect our body life? Well, let me speak plainly. Suppose God gives all of us gifts and 20% of the church use their gifts and 80% don't use them at all. I mean not at all. Can the body under those circumstances grow to full maturity? According to Ephesians 4:16, it happens as each part does its work. Can the church grow up to maturity in that condition? Have you ever heard of the 20/80 rule in church work? 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Is it any wonder that the body does not grow to full maturity? That's inefficient. It means that he has put spiritual gift packages out there in amazing way, in a wise way, but it's misfiring because not everybody's doing their work. It's nothing you can pay for. It's not a matter of putting more money in the plate. If your gift is giving, then it would be that. But it's a matter of what? It's a matter of the most precious stewardship matter you have in this world. Time. It's a matter of putting time in to the church. You have to convert the minutes and the hours into spiritual gold like spinning straw into gold. You have to turn these days into something eternal by using your spiritual gift. And if you don't, the body won't grow up to full maturity. You'll be hindering the body. So that means your gifts belong to all of us.
Let me use an analogy. I thought of this a while ago, and I thought it was interesting. In 1 Corinthians 7, you don't have to turn there, but I'm just going to read. This is just an analogy. I'm not getting into teaching about marital relations, but I think it's an interesting analogy. 1 Corinthians 7, it says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife and likewise the wife to her husband." It's talking about marital relations together. And then it says, "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. And the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." That's a picture of unity, isn't it, marital unity? And so you don't have full say over your body in this matter, but your spouse does. Male or female. Whether you're a husband, you don't have full say over your body, but your wife has say over it too and vice versa. Well, let's rephrase that in terms of spiritual gifts, the individual Christians should fulfill his or her spiritual gift duty to the church. And likewise, the church should administer to the individual Christian. The individual Christian's spiritual gift does not belong to him or her alone but also to the church. In the same way, the church's spiritual gifts are meant to minister to each individual Christian. Isn't that the same analogy? Your gifts don't belong to you but to the whole body, and the whole body's gifts don't belong to them alone but to you as an individual member. That's why I want us to read the church covenant together and remind us what it means to be a member here. There's a covenant relationship. It's not just a matter of showing up and voting at key times. It's a matter of full body life, 365 days a year, where we are receiving the benefits of each individual person's spiritual gifts and they are receiving the benefit of the whole body's ministry. That's a true relationship between individual and body. And apart from that, it's a false relationship, a skewed one. So whether that analogy works for you or not, think of it this way. Each of you should say, "My gifts don't belong to me, but they belong to the whole body of Christ. And I want to use them." And you can see how it works. If your gift is encouraging and you hold it back, you missed a chance, didn't you, when there was a brother or sister who needed it? But when you give it, all of a sudden, you can see, “Wait a second, my gift was for them.” Do you get any benefit out of using your gift? You get the joy. Isn't that a joy to use your gift? Somebody walks away that you prayed with them, and they feel strengthened. You shared some scripture with them, and they feel empowered to go do some things. Maybe somebody had a financial need, and you gave. You contributed. And you just walk away feeling great. You feel, “God, you used me today. I feel useful,” and you've built somebody up through me. But also, how do they feel? They feel loved too. They feel like they're part of a body that's caring for them.
And so I guess the final fourth point I make out of Ephesians is that the gifts are given to build the body. They're body gifts. They're for everybody together. Speaking negatively, if we don't use them, we can't grow up into full maturity. So what am I doing? I'm saying please find out what your gifts are and use them. Let's banish the 20/80 rule here at First Baptist Church. Let's banish it. There's a lot of people who are doing ministries, and they're struggling. They're right at the edge. They're saying, "We need help, and we're not sure that this ministry's going to survive," valid ministry. And if people who are gifted in that way and called but are being resistant are not growing in their own personal walk with God enough to hear his voice because they're not... We'll get to Romans 12, but they have not presented their bodies. They're not being renewed in their mind, and therefore, they're delinquent. They're not using their gifts. Well, guess what? That ministry might dry up at this church. We might not do it anymore because that person didn't grow up into maturity.
So that's how the whole thing works together. We need to use our gifts to build the full body of Jesus Christ. So I challenge you this week, just continue to be asking God. Say, "God, show me what my gifts are. I want to use them fully." Realize that the one who ascended higher than all the heavens who created that Crab Nebula out there, I mean the immense, mighty powerful God, soon, very soon, you're going to stand in front of Him. Very soon, he's going to ask for an account of these stewardship matters. And on that day, you'll stand alone and give an account for your spiritual gifts and what you did. My job is to tell you about that and to use my own gifts too. All right? Your job is to say, "God, what are my gifts," and get out there and use them. Let's close in prayer.