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September 10, 2011
Make Yourself Useful
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

More From This Series

Transcript

I invite you to take your Bible and come to 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. We’re coming to the end of our series on the Holy Spirit, a series entitled, You Have The Advantage. We have tried to remind ourselves that Jesus’ ascension was no loss to us, no loss to the church because He told his disciples that it was expedient that He should go. It was to their advantage that He should go. In His ascension, we have the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who dwells us, fills us, baptizes us, instructs us in the Word of God, comforts us, prays for us, and we’re going to see here this morning, gifts us. I want to speak this morning on the subject of the giving of spiritual gifts to the church. I’ve entitled the Message, Make Yourself Useful.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. “Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore, I make known to you that no one’s speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed. And no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. There are diversities of activities, but the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”

“For the one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another working of miracles and to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another interpretation of tongues. But the one and same Spirit works, all these things distributing to each one individually as He wills.” And then he goes on to ram this home with that famous analogy of the body as a metaphor for the unity and diversity of ministry within the church.

I want to begin by telling you a story about four people, one named Everybody, another named Somebody, and then, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that blames Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the story of most churches. When you examine the average Protestant Evangelical church, you’ll find that the majority of the work is done by a minority of the people.

What Churchill said of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and following the Battle of Britain could be said of the average church, “Never was so much owed by so many, by so few.” You see, the reason that the typical church is not fully inflated is that many of its members are underemployed. Many Christians haven’t showed up for work in the church. What we’re really talking about here is that there is a failure in a part of many Christians to understand, discover and employ their spiritual gifting through the Holy Spirit. God has got to work for you and me to do, but the problem is many of us are underemployed. Many of us have filled the grasp that one of the legacies of the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit is that each of you have been specially and particularly endowed and enabled for a certain ministry.

In fact, as I step back from that and think about underemployment of many Christians, I think there are a number of factors in that. It could be a leadership issue, because if you go to Ephesians 4:11, you’ll find that one of the jobs of the pastor teacher is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. And sometimes, the problem of underemployment in the church is a leadership issue. There’s a failure on the part of pastors and leaders to equip the body for service. Sometimes, there’s a clergy model, a professional staff that suffocates the ministry, but that’s unbiblical and it’s unhelpful.

The underemployment problem, but isn’t just a leadership issue, sometimes it’s a learning issue. We’ve read the passage here, and there in chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians in verse one, we read, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” This is another problem. There are many people in the Church of Jesus Christ that are ignorant of the gift of spiritual gifts. They have a lack of understanding. They have a stunted comprehension as to the meaning, universality, design and place of spiritual gifts within the church.

Sometimes the underemployment that we see in the church is a leadership issue. Sometimes it’s a learning issue. Sometimes it’s a laziness issue, okay? Some people have been trained and put into places of ministry by leadership. Sometimes have come to fully understand the meaning, design and purpose of spiritual gifts. But over time, they get lazy, they throttle back and they neglect to fulfill their calling. Is that not what was going on at least for a season in the life of Timothy, when Paul has to write to him in 1 Timothy 4:14 and tell him, “Not to neglect the gift that had been given to him by the laying one of the hands of the eldership.” Timothy, either out of fear or fatigue had put his gift on the shelf, and that’s a bad thing to do. And so there is so much owed by so many to so few within our churches, because sometimes, there’s a leadership deficit or a learning deficit, or a simply an issue of laziness.

So I want to come for a few minutes this morning and look at this passage we’ve read, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. I want us to eavesdrop on Paul as he corrects this church, concerning the use of spiritual gifts. But the thing we want to come away with is that you and I have a vital and indispensable role to play in the church. Every Christian does. Paul acknowledges that in chapter 12 in verse seven, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” Each of us has been endowed and enabled by the Holy Spirit to play a critical, indispensable, vital role in the church. Only when you and I are involved will the church be all that it can be, whole and healthy.

Listen guys, this is a sentence I want you to think about and take away from the message today. The best gift you can give to this church is your spiritual gift. Think about that. The best gift you can give to this church is your spiritual gifts. So let’s look at this passage. Number one, if you’re taking notes, I want us to look at the definition of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift may be defined as a spiritual enablement, endowment and empowerment, which the Lord Jesus gives through the agency and activity of the Holy Spirit to every believer to equip them to serve God in some specific way.

Well, that was too long. Let’s narrow it down a little bit. Let’s put it more succinctly. A spiritual gift is a God given grace endowed ability for service toward the church and toward the world, because one of the gifts is evangelism. And guys, you and I want to be aware of that. In fact, there’s three words that Paul employs here just looking at verses four through six of chapter 12. Look what he says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but the same God who works all in all.”

So these endowments, these enablements are described as gifts, they’re described as activities and they’re described as ministries. The word gift carries the idea of grace, that which is given in an undeserved manner. The word ministry is the idea of service, and the word activity here carries the idea of that which is empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit. And I think when you look at those three words and fuse them together, that’s what we have got. Spiritual gifts are God induced in Spirit-energized abilities for service. They are the greatest gifts of God towards us. And so you and I want to just get that kneel to the floor, that a spiritual gift is a grace gift, given by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit so that you can minister in some special capacity within the church and beyond the church.

Now, let me say something by way of clarification. Spiritual gifts are not the same as natural talents. Natural talents are a matter of natural birth. Spiritual gifts are a matter of new birth. They are salvation gifts. There’s a close relationship between the word [foreign language 00:10:42], meaning grace and charismata meaning gifts. I believe that that’s what spiritual gifts are. They are endowments of grace that were given to us when we received God’s Grace in salvation. We have certain natural talents and bents that we got from God through our parents, but we have some unnatural supernatural bents that have come from God independent of our parents. We received our talents at birth. We received our spiritual gifts at new birth.

Now that said, I want to say this. That within God’s providence, the one can compliment and augment the other. I thought about that this week when I was studying, and I reminded myself that God doesn’t waste His common grace toward us before we came the Christ. It’s almost interested me Paul’s words in his letter to the Church at Galatia, that he was separated onto the gospel from his mother’s womb. God knows who He’s going to save and God knows what He’s up to, from the moment baby begins to breathe, from the moment a baby is conceived in its mother’s womb. Do you think God wasted Paul’s background? Do you think his time at the feet of Gamaliel was coincidental? His Jewish upbringing? No, no. God crafted this guy both naturally and then in salvation, supernaturally. And I think you have a fusion of those two things in Paul’s life, making him a unique apostle, making him the effective servant of God that he was.

In fact, a number of years back I was preaching at the Believers Chapel in Dallas, which was once pastored by Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, who was famous for his teaching ministry at Dallas Seminary. He groomed the crop of expositors that continued to make an impact on our generation. And learning something of his life, I was interested to learn when he was at university, he was an ardent golfer. That’s where he spent his time. He had to find some courses that fitted into his schedule in terms of his golf game, and so he ended up taking Classical Greek. He had no passion for it, but you know why? He wanted to play golf and that was the class that fitted his calendar. Amazing thing is, some years later, he gets saved. God begins to groom him into one of the leading evangelical scholars in America, and one of his fortes is Greek.

You’ve got this fusion of what happens before Christ and after Christ. God doesn’t waste anything. And so while our natural talents are distinct, sometimes God fuses those two things. A spiritual gift goes beyond the natural talent, but it may be linked to a natural talent. That’s the definition of spiritual gifts. Secondly, I want to look with you at what I call the distribution of spiritual gifts. After and upon the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ to heaven, the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to establish the church, by means of the universal, unique, unrepeatable and unifying baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Remember we read in 1 John 7:37-39 that the Holy Spirit hadn’t come because Jesus had not yet ascended. But Jesus ascends and the Holy Spirit descends. And according to 1 Corinthians 12:12, He does that unifying, unique, universal work called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which brings the church together, which baptizes us all into this entity called the Body of Christ. And as He baptizes us into that body, He equips us and bestows upon us certain gifts, that He expects us to use within that body for the profit of all.

Now let me look at this distribution for a few moments, three things here. Well, let’s look at the source involved, the source involved. In the passage before us, the Spirit of God is predominantly and clearly identified as the source of our spiritual abilities and capacities. You’ll read this phrase from verse four, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” And if you go to verse following, you read again, “The word of knowledge through the same Spirit.” Another is given faith by the same Spirit. There may be a diversity of gifts, but there is a common source.

Therefore, we acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is the source of gifts, and that comes through this passage repeatedly like a drum roll. But if you take a step back that’s a wide in the angle on this. It’s interesting that the whole Godhead is referred to in the distribution of gifts. Look at verses four, five and six, “There are diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” I believe that’s a reference to the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s a profound thing guys, isn’t it? That the entire Godhead is involved in the distribution of spiritual gifts, and that puts them in terms of significance into the same category as creation and redemption. In each case, all persons within the Trinity are actively involved in creation, redemption and the distribution of spiritual gifts.

So spiritual gifts is no minor league thing or doctrine. This is a major event in God’s work in the church and in the world. Implication, since God is the source of our gifting, He is also the authority in our gifting. The authority to teach, the authority to the pastor, evangelize, administer or help in the assembly does not come from having a certain kind of education, from any human ordination or licensing ceremony. It comes from God, the Holy Spirit who has gifted us and called us to exercise that gift for the benefit of all.

Now, the church has a role in recognizing that gift, and often setting a man apart for that ministry, but the church is not the source of that man’s authority. And when a church feels to recognize a man’s calling and even tries to stifle that calling in his life, he has a God-given duty to disobey. Example, John Bunyan, he was told not to preach. 1662, the Act of Uniformity in the United Kingdom, which was to protect the ascendancy of the Episcopal Church. Ministers throughout the British Isles were told that they had to work from the Common Book of Prayer. During that time, 2000 Puritan pastors were ejected from their churches. Either conform or leave the ministry. But they’re embed for the little Baptist Church John Bunyan continues to preach, until he’s arrested.

He spends some 12 years in prison, with his wife and his kids looking through the bars, delivering him food every day. And almost every week, they come in and say, “John, do you promise not to preach?” And he says, “No.” Why? Because his authority to preach didn’t come from the Episcopal Church, doesn’t come from the King or Queen of England. God is the source of a man’s ministry. Of course, the church should recognize that and set men apart to that ministry, but when the church fails, it doesn’t mean ministry ought to fail or man ought to stop ministering.

Do you see the source involved? Secondly, do you see the saints involved? The uniform testimony of the New Testament is that spiritual gifts are distributed diversely to every believer without exception and without exemption. Look at chapter 12 and verse seven, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one, each one for the profit of all.” Go over to Ephesians 4:7. Again, this is a passage dealing with spiritual gifts. What do we read? “To each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” If you go over to 1 Peter 4, which again is another passage on this issue of spiritual endowments and enablements. In chapter four in verse 10, what do we read? “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Every one of you who professes Jesus Christ, who has encountered the Grace of God in salvation, has also encountered the Grace of God in service. The Spirit of God that regenerated you, baptized you, and placed you into this entity called the church has equipped you, so that you might further the work of God through the church. Every one of you is gifted. You’re a spiritual child protege of God. And I want you to be aware of that, each and every Christian has at least one gift and that includes 10-year olds, 11-year olds, 12-year olds. That includes men, that includes women.

In fact, the metaphor of the Body of Christ, which will take place in verse 12 and following of the chapter we’re looking at, does that not reinforce this thought? What’s Paul’s whole point? Well, in some sense, the body is one. This is it, one body, but if you look at, it’s got hands, it’s got feet, it’s got legs, it’s got a torso. It’s got parts of it are prominent, parts of it are hidden, but none of them are surplus to requirement. Okay? We don’t have extra body parts that we don’t need. Some are more important than others, no doubt. But the bottom line is that every part of the body has a part to play. Implication is that every Christian in the church can be a pew warmer, mustn’t be a pew warmer. They’re being gifted, endowed at salvation. God has given them something to do. There are no Christian surplus to requirement. Listen, there are no overruns in the Kingdom of God. We’ve all got a role to play.

A couple of implications of that very quickly. One, we must minister without envy. When you discover what God has called you to do, do it and don’t look at what others are doing. God has called you to a special, particular, unique work. You need to accept your place within the body and don’t envy someone else’s gift. Each gift is unique. Each gift is important and indispensable. Listen to this. I like this little statement. I’ve often thought about it. “Nobody can be better at being you than you. Nobody can be better at being you than you.” And God has called you to do something special, something unique, something that He has asked you to do.

God has saved you on purpose. Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us of that, and verse 10 reminds us that God has got works for us to do, that He has indeed predestined, ordained, decreed. Before we were even saved, God knew why He was saving us and for what. That’s why Paul could say, “He separated me from my mother’s womb and I realize that I was ordained to be an apostle.” That’s the work that God has planned for me. Be yourself in union with Christ. Don’t try and be anybody else. Be like Christ, that’ll do it. Don’t try and live someone else’s life, okay? Little David realizes, “You know what? I’m going to go up against Goliath. I’m not going to wear Saul’s armor. I’m going to be myself. I’m going to do what God has called me to do.” It’s the same with Peter when he learns he’s going to be martyred, and he looks across and sees John kind of resting up against the Lord Jesus and says, “Well, what about him? And what does Jesus say? “What about him and what’s it got to do with you?”

When I was called to the ministry, God gave me an older man in my life. I dearly love the man called Joe Law. He worked at Harland and Wolff where the great Titanic was built and other super tankers in his day. He always kept an eye on me and encouraged me in the things of God. When I told him I felt called to the ministry, this guy was no cry baby, but he wept because he felt it was an answer to prayer. He’d been keeping an eye on me from my conversion. And a year or so after that, when I was cutting my groove in the ministry and cutting my teeth as a preacher, I went back to my home church at [inaudible 00:25:04] Baptist Church in Belfast. And after the sermon, Joe come up and give me a big bear hug and encouraged me, and he said, “Philip, always be yourself.” He says, “That’s what I like about you. Be yourself.”

What he meant by that is, just don’t try and be someone else. Be like Christ, but that’s it. Because in Northern Ireland at the time, there were a couple of kingpin preachers. And a lot of preachers were mimicking them, trying to be a copycat of that kind of preacher. And I think Joe was just warning me as a young pastor, “Be yourself. Never be ashamed of who you are in Christ. Your giftedness, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve or there aren’t things to finesse.”

Secondly and under this thought that we’ve all got a gift, not only should we not envy what someone else’s have, we need to celebrate the diversity that is the Body of Christ and value everyone that’s part of it. Guys, there’s to be no self-pity and there’s to be no deprecation of others in light of the fact of what we’re learning, that Christ has given to his church a whole panoply of gifts. The Holy Spirit has singled you out and given you at least one gift, so that you have got a unique part to play, and therefore, we need to celebrate our diversity.Just as each part of the body has an important role to play and is valuable and is in and off its own right, whether big or small, hidden or seen a valuable part of that body, read chapter 12 verse 12 following, so each of us has a gift that makes us valuable. No Christian can say of themselves, “I don’t belong.” And no Christian can say of another Christian, “I don’t need him or her.”

I just finished a book recently by Skip Heitzig, and in it, he has a great illustration that rams this home about the fact that back in 1981, John Hinckley tried to shoot Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States. He failed thankfully in that attempt. Reagan was laid up in hospital for a couple of weeks, recovering from his gunshot wound. Question, when Ronald Reagan was set aside, did the United States grind of a halt? Did our military stop protecting us? Did our civil servants stop serving us? Did commerce come to a screeching halt? No. But Skip Heitzig goes on to say, “You know what? Several years back in Philadelphia, the garbage collectors went on strike, and the experts tell us that they shut the city down pretty quickly. And a study was done after that, that said that if the nation’s garbage collectors went on strike, the United States would shut down in three weeks.”

Here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. Who’s more important? The president or a garbage collector? They’re all important, but it’s interesting. Sometimes, we think that the garbage collector’s not that important, but we can see that their impact is tremendous. And when it’s not happening, we’ll know about it pretty soon. And it’s just a good illustration to remind ourselves that, let’s be careful not to measure certain gifts is important and unimportant, weirdie and kind of light. Everybody has a gift, all sourced in the Holy Spirit, a work of the triune God himself. All the saints have been endowed with special gifts, so we’re not to envy one another, because we’ve all got a gift uniquely from God and we’re all to appreciate one another. Thank one another for the ministry that we’re doing.

It brings me to a third thought here, the sovereignty involved. The sovereignty involved. As plain is the nose on our face, the passage before us tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who sovereignly and specifically gifts you and me. I’ve said it, but now I’m going to show you where I get that thought. Look at chapter 12 in verse 11 in 1 Corinthians, look at how Paul finishes this section, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one.” There you have the source involved. There you have the saints involved. Now look at the sovereignty involved, “Distributing to each one individually as he wills.” Guys, that’s a very important phrase. If you scroll down to chapter 12 in verse 18, this is reinforced, “But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body just as he pleased.”

The choice of gifts is not ours, nor is the choice up to others. It’s the choice of the Holy Spirit. And I think there’s an implication here, certain gifts are not to be sought or tared for on the part of you and me, because they are divinely willed. They are sovereignly selected at new birth. Now, some people go to 1 Corinthians 14:1, and they point to a verse like this and say, “Look, it says, ‘Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” And you may get from that, there you go, we can desire certain gifts. “I want this one or I want that one.” That’s not what Paul is teaching there. That’s a plural in the Greek grammar. He’s addressing that to the church.

He’s saying, as a church, make sure that if you’re going to exercise gifts that prophecy is prominent. That the word of God, the speaking gifts are prominent, because it was all sorts of abuse and competition and envy and pride and lovelessness going on in Corinth. Don’t ever forget that 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 are not a definitive guide on the doctrine of spiritual gifts. They are written as a corrective for abuse. So be careful on how you read this passage. But there, you and I have been given a gift, sovereignly selected by God, given at new birth, and you and I need to accept that. And it would remind us, wouldn’t it? That that leaves no room for pride when we exercise those gifts? Whatever those gifts are, they are grace gifts.

We read about that in Romans 12:3, “For I say to you, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but think soberly as God dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Look at verse six, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” Paul’s point is, “Hey, don’t be thinking you’re special, other than you’re special because the Grace of God has made you special. And you are valuable to the church, but your value comes in your identity with Christ and your calling in the Spirit.” Every bent and every bestowment is underserved, unprompted and sovereignly dispensed. And that’s why spiritual gifting can never be a matter of pride.

Only a spiritual Mr. Magoo would be so shortsighted as to imagine that they have some kind of special status. Corrie ten Boom was once asked if she had difficulty remaining humble. I mean God had used this woman significantly. She was buried here in our own City of Orange. God took her from the concentration camps as she became a spokeswoman for God in a marvelous way. Her reply was simple. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments on the road and singing praises, do you think for one moment that it ever entered the head of the donkey that any of that was for him? She then outed, “If I can be the donkey in which Jesus Christ rides, I will give Him all the prayers and all the honor.”

It’s a good reminder the design of spiritual gifts. It seems that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to us with others in mind. Gifts are given not for self edification, but for the building up of others within the Body of Christ. There are a number of examples of this, but because of time, I’ll take you to the one that’s in the passage before us. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” That’s repeated in Ephesians 4:11-12 and 1 Peter 4:10. Self edification may be a product of you and I serving the Lord, exercising our giftedness, but it’s not the main purpose. In fact, service centered on self is forbidden.

In the Love Poem of chapter 13, Paul will say, “Love doesn’t serve itself,” in verse four. Although gifts are given to the individual, they are given for the church. Although gifts are given to the individual, they are given for the church. If you were to look at the foundational gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor teacher, what do we read in Ephesians 4:11-12? They were given for the training of other believers that they may do the work of the ministry, so that the church may grow up into full stature in the Lord Jesus. That’s the design of spiritual gifts. And guys, that packs a wallop in the sense, listen to this, the rightness or wrongness of a man’s actions are greatly determined by whether or not it’s good for the church.

Working for or with another is the motif of ministry in the New Testament. We are not to act as individual. We’re not to be lone rangers. We’re not to be self-appointed prophets. No part of the body can function, unless it is attached to the rest of its parts. Dismembered limbs die, unless they’re reattached to the body quickly. And similarly, Christians can but should not act independently of the church, if the gifts were given for the good of the church.

I like the story that Jerry Vines in his book, Spiritlife tells of a church service in an old cathedral. It was one of those organs in those days that had to be pumped by the bellows. And so this master organist was down doing his thing on the great organ in the cathedral. As people worshiped and raised their anthem to God, up in some room, this kid was working his heart out, pumping the bellows. At the end of the service, there was a sense that something good and something great had happened that night.

The kid pokes his head through a set of curtains, and as the organist is about to leave says, “You know what? We did well tonight, didn’t we?” To which the arrogant organist said, “We? We?” A week later in another service, the people are about to sing. And the organist puts his fingers on the keys of the organ and seeks to play, but no sound comes out. And in a panic, he looks and from behind the curtain, the kid pokes his face side and says, “Shall it be we? Shall it be we?” It always ought to be we, because our gifts are given for the profit of all.

The divisions of spiritual gifts. I can only say something briefly in this. I want to finish on a high note. The divisions of spiritual gifts. Gifts are likened to God’s toolbox for building the church. And as with any toolbox, there are a number of tools and a variety of tools. And you can go to Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-30, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 1 Peter 4:10-11, and you’ll find an inventory of the tools. Remember that’s what gifts are. They’re not toys to be played with. They’re tools to build with, for the profit of all, for the encouragement of the church. And we are given an inventory of those tools, the number and the variety. That includes apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healings, tongues, evangelism, pastoring, ministering, helps, teaching faith, exertion, discernment of spirits, knowledge, showing mercy, giving and administration. We don’t have time to unpack the list.

Couple of quick things, but about that, none of the lists seem to be exhaustive. So while we have full lists, I don’t believe we’ve got complete or comprehensive lists which might in further actually, other gifts than are detailed in the New Testament. And if there are, we’d have to conclude by the way, that they would be similar in nature and certainly all was directed towards the purpose of that to fine the Church.

It’s interesting too that the lists divide into two categories. In 1 Peter 4:11, Peter talks about those that speak, they ought to speak in a certain way and those that serve, they ought to serve in a certain way. Some would argue there may be as many as 20 gifts mentioned in the New Testament. And if you look at that list, you can divide them into two categories, the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. In fact, if you go back to Acts 6:4, don’t we have that right there in the issue that’s dealt with? And the apostles say, “Look, we’ll give ourselves to the word and prayer, and these men will give themselves to the service of the tables.” Speaking, serving, and it’ll be interesting if you follow that pattern through, you’ll see that division. Hold your breath here a little, because we’re going to touch on some a little controversial.

Some of the gifts seem to be temporary in nature. Now, this is a sermon in of itself, but I’ll throw this out. Some of the gifts seem to have a shelf life. They seem to have expired around the end of the apostolic era. They seem to have been intended and designed for the startup of the church, the early period of church history, but they are no longer given or necessary today. This is what would be called cessationism. That’s the position of our church here at Kindred, that we don’t believe all the gifts can be employed today. Some of them were temporary. Some of them were given for the startup of the church, foundational sign gifts.

Since that’s a sermon in itself, let me at least get you thinking, and this would probably be enough at this point. Let me prove to you that at least one of the gifts has gone. One of them has gone for definite, because the Charismatic Movement and our Pentecostal friends would say that all the gifts continue right up to today. And in fact, in our day, we’re rediscovering a new release of spiritual power and enablement.

Well, we’ve already seen that one of the gifts is apostle, Ephesians 4, he gives some to be apostles. Paul mentions that again in his letters also to the Corinthians and so on. Do you know that according to 1 Corinthians 9:1, one of the marks of the apostle was to have seen the Risen Christ? Another mark was that they were to have been with Christ from the time of the baptism of John the Baptist until the Resurrection, Acts 1:21-22. No one today can meet those requirements, no one. Ephesians 2:20 tells us very clearly that the Apostles, along with the Prophets were in the foundation of the church. They were in the startup. They had a unique but a temporary ministry. Although, I know what somebody’s thinking right now, “Well, what about the Apostle Paul?” Well, he is an exemption.

According to 1 Corinthians 15:8, he acknowledges that. He said, “I’m an apostle born late in time.” But don’t ever forget this, that he was directly called by Christ. We read his story in Acts 9, and according to Galatians 1:1, he acknowledges that. Plus he was recognized by the other Apostles as an Apostle in Galatians 2:8. What’s the big takeaway? The big takeaway is this, one gift has definitely ceased. There are no apostles with a big A today. There are apostles in the sense that we’re all sent ones and we’re given assignments by God. So not all the gifts are for today’s church. That would trigger a greater study, but I want to use that simply as a cornerstone in an argument that our church would make, that the gifts can be divided into two categories, but some of them were temporary in nature.

Okay, the last thought, the discovery of spiritual gifts. I want to finish here, ’cause I hope by now I’ve piqued your interest. You’re already thinking, “I want to make myself useful. In fact, I want to make myself more useful than I’ve been at Kindred up until this point. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines. I’ve been sitting on the bench. I’m not really in the game. I’m allowing others to serve me, but I’m not really serving others.” And yet this has been an in-your-face challenge. Okay, I get it. I’m a spiritual child protege, gifted by God. I’ve been uniquely placed into the church for a set special purpose, and I need to discover what my skillset is, what my gifting is.

Let me run you down a few things quickly. Number one, the first step involves acceptance. Just accept what I said. Believe in your heart that you have a gift. That you’re not surplus to requirement. There’s been no overrun in the Kingdom of God, okay? You are here at this church for a purpose. You’ve got to believe that. And remember that God wants you to be what He has called you to be, and you need to want what God wants for you. Don’t try and be somebody else. If you’re Peter, be Peter. If you’re John, be John.

The second step involves awareness. Understand spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:1 tells us, you know what? Don’t be ignorant of these things. So inform yourself as to the nature, the purpose and the number of spiritual gifts, and then evaluate your abilities in the light of those gifts. “The grace that has been given to you,” Romans 12:3.

Third step involves asking. It involves asking. We’ve already established that God doesn’t want us to be ignorant, right? 1 Corinthians 12:1. So asking for wisdom in this manner and with this regard is certainly according to His will, and that’s a prayer He’ll answer, because we read in 1 John 5:14, “If we ask according to his will, he answers us.” He doesn’t want you ignorant. So if you start praying and studying on this subject, God won’t leave you in the dark. Ask to who you are in Jesus Christ.

Fourth step involves advice. Others can give you a window into your ministry makeup. That was certainly the case for Timothy. Paul was constantly speaking into his life, and we’ve already referenced the fact in 2 Timothy 2:6. He acknowledges, “Hey, Timothy. Do you not remember the gift that we acknowledged in the laying on of hands?” People who know God and know us can help us know what God has for us, so allow other men or others to speak into your life. They will help you discover your spiritual calling and your ministry makeup.

The fifth step involves action. You’re not to be negligent in the exercise of your gifts. You’ve got to put yourself out there in ministry, and see what God does and does not do through you. Don’t get caught up in the paralysis of analysis, okay? Wonder what my spiritual gift is? Put yourself out there. Do some car lot ministry. Do some children’s ministry. Do some small group ministry. Do all kinds of ministry, because listen, and I needed to say this earlier, but I’m going to make sure I say it before we’re done.

Always remember this. When you look at the spiritual gifts, teaching, faith, mercy, helps, those are things we’re all called to do. All right? So don’t be giving me this, “You know what? I’ve got the gift of helps, so I’m not going to teach or I’m not going to serve, or I’m not going to give.” It’s interesting when you look at the commands that are given in the New Testament, all these gifts to some degree are the calling of all Christians. What a spiritual gift is, is something you excel in. You have a heightened capacity for. All right?

Mothers and fathers are to teach their children. We’re all teachers, but I believe God has given me a heightened capacity to teach. So you can get involved in all sorts of ministry, and in the pursuing of that, you’ll find that there are some things you’ll excel in. That doesn’t mean you stop doing the other things, by the way. You can have all sorts of ministries, but there’ll be one area that you’ll find that you really cut your groove, and which brings me to the last one, step six involves appeal.

Step six involves appeal. You’ll find that you’ve got a sweet spot. “Gift will make room for itself,” Proverbs 18:16. There’s something you will become a fact of that. That’s your spiritual gift. Dr. Harry Ironside often spoke of the pathetic situation of those who felt that they had the gift of preaching, but complained that no one had the gift of listening. Well, they weren’t in their sweet spot, that’s why. Those steps will lead you to the discovery of your spiritual gift. And as you discover it and employ it, that will lead to this church and any church becoming healthy and whole.

Let’s pray. Lord, we thank You for this series of studies in the Holy Spirit. We thank you for the comforter who has come, who’s come alongside us, who baptizes us, who fills us, who prays for us, who equips us onto every good work. Lord, thank You for this study today, this radical study that we all have a spiritual endowment, a unique calling. Lord, help us not to be bone lazy. Help us not to be disobedient. Help us not to be envious. Help us Lord to accept our place within the body, whether a hand or a foot, and help us to get on with our ministry. Help us to be abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. We thank You for the gift of the Spirit of God. We thank you for the gifts of the Spirit of God. And these things we pray in His name. Amen.