Sunday, March 28, 2010

Using Your Gift (Part 2)

And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV

In part one we talked about the two divisions among the spiritual gifts; the first being what we called the equipping or support gifts, and the others which are what I have chosen to call the working gifts. We examined the first group two weeks ago, and now I would like to spend a little time on the second group.

There are several lists of gifts to be found in the New Testament, each not quite complete, so we will put them all together and see what we find. The gifts we find are as follows; wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, helps, administration, exhortation, and tongues. To help understand these each better, I thought I would list each seperately below with their Greek definitions and usages from the Strongs concordance.

wisdom-"sophia"... wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters

knowledge-"gnōsis"...knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding

faith-"pistis"...the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ

healing-"iama"...a means of healing, remedy, medicine

miracles-"dynamis"...strength power, ability

prophecy-"prophēteia"...a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events

discernment-"diakrisis"...a distinguishing, discerning, judging

helps-"antilēmpsis" NT, to aid, help

administration-"kybernēsis"...a governing, government

exhortation-"paraklēsis"...a calling near, summons, (esp. for help) importation, supplication, entreaty exhortation, admonition, encouragement

tongues-"glōssa"...the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations

Now I would not be surprised if some of these definitions surprise some of you, for when it comes to teaching about the gifts, there is plenty of disagreement within the body as to their meaning, uses, and even necessity! However, if we examine the context in which Paul writes about the gifts, we can see that controversy and misunderstanding is nothing new. In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul goes out of his way to say a lot about the gifts and their use and misuse within the body. He even takes the opportunity to list them in order of their importance! All this obviously in response to some in the church believing and teaching that certain gifts were more desireable than others, and could also be regarded as an indicator of personal status within the body.

Paul addresses these problems in the course of three whole chapters, which we find in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14. In these three chapters I believe Paul makes at least three main points which I want to mention today.

The first is that it is God who chooses what our spiritual gift is to be, not us.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV

All too often we find those in the body telling us what our gift should be, rather than looking for, and accepting what, gift that God has chosen for us. The point Paul makes here is that it is not we who choose our gift, but God who chooses to give us the gift He feels we need to perform the work He has chosen for us within the body.

The second is that the parts of the body, each with it's own gift, must work in harmony with the others.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NKJV

Paul now has to spend the rest of chapter 12 explaining that the body is made up of many individuals, and all do not have the same gift yet each is just as important as the next. Paul makes the point that in order for the body to work effectively, each part must perform the function it was designed for if we are to accomplish the responsibility of reaching an unbelieving world for Christ.

Third Paul tells us we can desire the greater gifts.

But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV

Now there are two words in this verse that explain exactly what Paul is trying to tell us, and those are "desire" and "best". Desire in the Greek is "zēloō" which means "to desire earnestly, pursue", and best in the Greek is "kreittōn" which means "more useful, more serviceable, more advantageous". Now if we look at all the lists Paul gives us, it is the "equipping" gifts we talked about two weeks ago which are always listed first. What Paul is saying is that although we should not seek to have a gift which God has not given us, it is perfectly alright to "pursue" the equipping gifts. How is that you ask? It should be clear that the equipping gifts are given as a result of spiritual maturity, and come after a believer has proven himself worthy by study and application of his faith. New believers do not, and should not, try to teach other believers in the body the day after they make a decision for Christ. I believe what Paul is saying here is that if you apply yourself to attain growth and maturity, God may choose to give anyone with the serving gifts one of the greater gifts in order to equip other believers for their service for God.

The bottom line is this; are you using your gift? If so, are you striving to grow in order to receive one of the equipping gifts? As members of the body, Paul makes it clear that the life of a believer is a life of doing.

Keep watching.