This morning we are going to be dealing with the subject of gifts or Charismata in the Greek, and the proper biblical exercise of them. You will agree with me that this is a much maligned subject due to the excesses of certain churches which claim to ‘move in the gifts of the Spirit.’ And we know that the scriptures are very plain…everything that is done in the name of Jesus Christ is to do one thing; bring glory to His Name. 1Cor. 14:40 “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” Nothing is ever to be done in excess. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not some platform for crazy people to exhibit their wares. Nowhere in the scriptures do we read God telling us that His gifts which are good and perfect will cause us to become unstable, bizarre or unseemly. When the Apostles were exercising the gifts God had bestowed upon them, though there was a sense of wonder, it was a not as if a showman was performing an act, rather there was a sense of awe, a sense that God was visiting them.
In 1Cor. 14:33, Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets and that if someone wishes to speak in an unknown tongue and there is no interpreter that person is to keep silent and speak to God alone. True gifts do not cause Churches to become out of control 33for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. So there is a right way, a biblical way to exercise the gifts God gives. And there is a right attitude as well, a biblical attitude that characterizes someone who is being used by God; the attitude of humility.
Again I want to review what we have seen to get a clear perspective of what God is telling us this morning as it is vital that we see what God has done in our lives. We exist to serve Him, to honor Him, to glorify Him. And I believe that when we understand all that God has done on our behalf we will be very different people; we will be very willing, eager servants whose sole desire is to please and glorify our Heavenly Father.
So let’s return to Romans 12:1 where we with the idea that the true child of God has been called to make the ultimate sacrifice. We read: 1Therefore urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Again just to refresh our memories I want to define our terms this morning. When Paul says urge he speaks of exhortation or encouraging.
Think of a general encouraging his troops with a rousing speech to prepare them to go to battle. In 2Chron 13:4-18 we have just such an instance. 1 In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah began the battle with an army of valiant warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam drew up in battle formation against him with 800,000 chosen men who were valiant warriors. 4 Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel: 5 “Do you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 “Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master, 7 and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them.
8 “So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and having with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you. 9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, even he may become a priest of what are no gods. 10 “But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work. 11 “Every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is set on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is ready to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him. 12 “Now behold, God is with us at our head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.” 13 But Jeroboam had set an ambush to come from the rear, so that Israel was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them. 14 When Judah turned around, behold, they were attacked both front and rear; so they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15 Then the men of Judah raised a war cry, and when the men of Judah raised the war cry, then it was that God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 When the sons of Israel fled before Judah, God gave them into their hand. 17 Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, so that 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain. 18 Thus the sons of Israel were subdued at that time, and the sons of Judah conquered because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their fathers. 19 Abijah pursued Jeroboam and captured from him several cities, Bethel with its villages, Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages. 20 Jeroboam did not again recover strength in the days of Abijah; and the LORD struck him and he died.”
What a rousing scene. And in the same way, Paul has declared from Chapter 1 what God has done on our behalf in order to stir us up to greater devotion to Him who is our King. He is urging us to service for our God because of the grace which He has lavished upon us. We were poor helpless sinners, men and women who were held captive by the devil to do his will. We were in a miserable condition without one shred of hope. But God had compassion on us and in mercy sent His one and only Son to take the penalty due us and to die in our place, to take the punishment we deserved and suffer and die so that we could live. Paul points to this and says “Because of His tender mercy which He has had upon you: because His Son died for you, you die to yourself and live for Him.
You see, the true Child of God is the object of incredible mercies. Let me give you a quick jet tour of Romans to see some of these mercies of God. Understand that this is just a partial list. In chapter 1 verse 6 we are the called of Christ Jesus, verse 7 beloved of God, called as saints. In chapter 2 verse 4 we see the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience which led us to repentance. Chapter 3 verse 24 we were justified as a gift by His grace through redemptions in Christ Jesus. Verse 25, He was our substitute, verse 26 He is the one who justifies us on the basis of the faith He gives us. Chapter 4 verse 25 He was delivered for our transgressions and raised for our justification. Chapter 5 verse 1 we have been justified by faith and we now have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Verse 10 we have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. Chapter 6 verse 4, we have been granted life in Christ, verses 17-18 delivered from slavery to sin, verse 23, eternal life in Christ.
Chapter 7 verse 6, released from the law, verse 25, deliverance from the body of this death. Chapter 8 verse 1, we are under no condemnation because of Christ. Verse 15 we have received the spirit of adoption and now God is our Father! Verse 16, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God. Verse 26, the Holy Spirit prays for us. Verse 28, all things work together for good: we are the called according to God’s purpose. Verse 29 we are foreknown, predestined, being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Verse 30 we were called, justified and glorified by God Himself, verse 33 we are defended by God Himself, verse 35-39 nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Chapter 9 verse 23, we are vessels of mercy, verse 25 God’s people, beloved, verse 26, sons of the Living God, verse 27 the remnant. Chapter 10 verse 12, partakers of the riches of the Lord, verse 20, found of God.
This is only a few examples of the grace that God has poured out upon us. And Paul lays all of this out before us and then calls us to offer up ourselves as a living, holy sacrifice. And we understand that this is the only kind that is acceptable to God. We are to be entirely consecrated to His service. Our prayer should be ‘may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight oh Lord my Rock and My Redeemer.’ We must pray that God will set a guard over the door of our mouths that we might not speak evil and the name of Jesus be maligned because of us. In the Old Testament we read of people consecrating themselves, washing their clothes, purifying their surroundings, preparing their hearts for a visitation from god. Remember that Samuel was dedicated to the Lord’s service before He was ever conceived. God told Jeremiah that before He formed him in the womb he was called to be a prophet.
Now consider their service to God. They had no driving ambitions other than the glory of God and the declaration of His message to His people. Can you see the parallel with us? Paul has called upon us to die to ourselves, to offer up ourselves as a living, holy, consecrated sacrifice unto God, to lay down before His altar and pledge our bodies to His service. And I believe from the scriptures that this is an ongoing thing; we are to be like Paul who said in 1Co 15:31 “I die daily.” In the same way we are to die to ourselves and our selfish ambitions and live only to the glory and service of God. We are to use our bodies as instruments of righteousness unto God. This sacrifice involves our whole being as we are to be wholly consecrated and devoted to the Lord God.
When Hannah took Samuel to the tabernacle and offered him up there to serve the Living God she never tried to take him back. In the same way we are to be wholly sold out to the service of our Father in Heaven, never even thinking of reneging on our promise; for as we read in Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” You are either all in or your not in at all!
Are you beginning to see that the Christian life is so much more involved than we have been told? I mean we are called to entire consecration to the God who saved us, for His use. Turn to 2Ti 2:19-21 In this chapter Paul has been encouraging Timothy to faithful service to Jesus Christ, dispite the troubles that he would face. He reminded him of the chains he is in for preaching the Truth. He tells of false teachers whe have spread lies in Jesus name…19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Now consider this thought if you will; when we were saved from the wrath to come, when we were called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of the family of God we were called to into active duty; we entered into the service of the Lord. Some people either forget this or never knew it to begin with. And this is the reason for Paul’s exhortation. Indeed he says that this is our reasonable service. Some translations use the term spiritual service but the word used is logiken, reasonable. The root word is logikos and means intelligent, thought out action, like a wise man who counted the cost.
This is quite different than a lifeless religion where one merely goes through outward motions with no heart. Now where have we seen that before? Mr 7:6-8 “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” The Pharisees had decided that religion was a means to an end; a lucrative business and a seat of power. Rather than humble themselves before God and serve Him, they decided to create their own religion…to their doom.
The disciples on the other hand had heard the voice of God and could go nowhere else; John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” They truly left all to follow Jesus. And we must follow their example; we too must turn our back on the world. Consider the implications of 2Cor 6:14-16 “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. Like the disciples we too must leave all and follow Jesus.
The true Child of God has turned his back on the world and the things of the world. We must not only be dead to the world and its lusts, but we must be alive and set apart unto God. In verse 2 we have a negative command and a positive command. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Negatively we are commanded to not be conformed to this world. This command is in the present imperative tense and carries with it the idea of stopping an action which has been taking place. We are to stop being molded, shaped into the fashion and trends of the world. What is the implication of this command? It is that we have been doing this; we have been being conforming to the world. The command of scripture is that we must stop. Cease and desist.
Then positively we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. There is to be a transformation in our inmost nature; a deep metamorphosis, a radical revolution in our being so that we become something other than we were. Think about repentance. You were going one direction-living after the manner of the world. But when you were saved, washed, sanctified, you were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God.
You are now God’s purchased possession and He is your Lord; your Ruler, your Master. This command is also in the same present imperative tense. It could be translated this way; “Be ye continually being transformed by the continual, ongoing renewal of your mind for a definite purpose: so that you may prove what the will of God is. More specifically, prove by testing and then accept the proof as that which has passed the test. As we are called to examine ourselves to see if we are saved, so we are also called to examine our lives to see, to find out what abilities God has given to us. Even more specifically we are to find out what God has called us to…what he has equipped us for. We must find out what His will is for our lives…that which is
Good: beneficial, that which is morally honorable and therefore pleasing to God and beneficial to His children.
Acceptable: that which is well pleasing to God. attitude
Now this kind of narrows the field in terms of what a true gift of God is and that which is merely an outward show for the purpose of making money, keeping people in the pews or whatever. In contrast, whatever God does is honorable, good, and perfect for His only gives good gifts.
Moving into verse 3 we see that the true child of God is humble like his Master. Paul says “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Note this. We have each been given a measure of faith. And the implication is that each of us has a different measure. And that measure meets the level that is necessary to carry out what God has called us to. We have been given the kind and quantity of faith that it will take to use our God given gifts. He has given each of us the spiritual insights, sensitivities, capacities and comprehensions to use that gift.
And remember that while each of God’s children may be able to serve, teach, exhort, give, lead or show mercy, not all of us were called to that specific task; not all of us have been gifted by God to specifically carry out those tasks.
I want you to think about this for a moment; there are those who seem just specially equipped to witness. These people have never met a stranger and can just walk up to someone and begin talking about Jesus. I am not like that. I can speak when led in that direction but I can’t just walk up to someone and do that. I am not gifted like that. My gifts lie in teaching and preaching the word. So I can speak to someone about Jesus but I haven’t been called to that and equipped for that. We are not all gifted in the same areas. Those who try to put all Christians in a box and say that we should all be about one task have missed the truth of scripture. All are not called to the same office. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
Now as we move into our new material I want you to see something because many people say; “I don’t have a gift.” Well Paul says something that should drive that idea away. He begins in verse 6 by saying “Since we have gifts.
Paul is making a blanket statement. He didn’t say, ‘if you have a gift but since! Bottom line; you have a gift from God, something He has equipped you for, something that you can do well, something that you can honor Him with, something you have been called to do. And the word for gift is a word that would make a Baptist die in his seat; Charismata. But it doesn’t mean what the charismatic church has twisted it to mean. It speaks of gifts that God has given to His children through whom the Holy Spirit operates in His Church.
Each of us have been given abilities, gifts that will bring glory to His name as we employ them for that purpose. Now this isn’t the only place in the bible where we are told that we have gifts. Turn in your bibles to 1Pet 4:10. This is a parallel passage: one that says the same thing as our text.
Here we read thus; “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And so as we come to our text this morning we see that the true child of God is a servant to whom God has given each gifts for that service: gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. And also as we see from 1Pet 4:10 we are to be good stewards of the gifts God has bestowed upon us. We are called to minister these gifts as stewards. That means we are to use them, employ them, or as our text says each of us is to exercise them accordingly. A minister is a servant. And a steward is a person who has been given the charge of using his master’s goods in a way that will do him good. He is in the stewardship to benefit those he is serving. In fact if you’re not using them, perhaps you have just forgotten the first 11 chapters of Romans: all that God has done for you. Can you hear this excuse: “Well, Lord it’s just that…if you knew my schedule, it is so tough.”
Keith Green once declared that everyone had been called to the mission field. That means that we have each been gifted in the same way and as we have seen, this is just not a biblical view. But we have been given gifts and we have been called to employ those gifts and there is no excuse if we aren’t. If our schedule is too tough, then perhaps we are too busy doing things that are not necessary instead of what God has called us to. This indicates that the one making excuses has not presented themselves as a living sacrifice. They are still living for their own pleasure rather than the glory of God.
We have been given gifts of service for the purpose of serving and our obedience to the call of God brings glory to the One who saved us and called us and equipped us for good works that He had prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. And we are called to serve Him as good and faithful stewards. And finally we are called to wholehearted service. In Eph 6:5-8 Paul gives us this instruction. He says; “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”
So then let us take each of these gifts, these charismata that we have been entrusted with and examine them.
Number one on the list is Prophesy. Prophesy is speaking forth the mind and the council of God, proclaiming His divine message. It is standing up and proclaiming the Word of God. The one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. The prophet edifies the church. Those who prophesy are to do so according to the proportion of their faith. This means that those who prophesy are to say exactly what God has told them to say. They are not to go beyond what God has said. They are not to embellish the message or add to or take away from it. Re 22:19 gives a warning to anyone who would consider doing so. We read “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” The preacher therefore is called to an exacting task: to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2Tim 2:15
The next gift is Service; diakonos. This is the word we get deacon from. And note its meaning. Service! Not leading. Not overseeing the rule of the church but service. We know from Acts 6 exactly what the deacons were called for. The Apostles were called to minster the word of God not wait tables. And so they gave these instructions which should give you an inkling of what kind of heart a servant must have. 3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. So you see here those who have offered themselves as living sacrifices, turned away from the world and its pleasures, been transformed by the renewing of their minds; men who are humble, seeking only to serve the One whom their souls love! And this service is seen in the emulation of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life.
Then we have Ministry or ministration. This gift is the gift of caring for others.
Following that we have Teaching meaning being an instructor. It is the function of systematically training people. I shared with you the indictment of the book of Hebrews and it is well that we revisit that verse. Hebrews 5:12-14 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. You see, we should all be able to speak the truth, to give a reason for the hope that is within us, and to at least point sinners in the direction of the wicket gate. Every Christian should be able to open the scriptures and teach the truths they find there. That is a part of hiding the word in your heart, not so no one can see it but so you will be saturated with it and be able instruct others. Today that has been relegated to the duties of the Pastor and the indictment by John MacArthur really rings true; most Christians are content to be pathetic piles of placid pewsters. Now I’m not saying that this is a universal gift that all are called to stand forth and teach. What I am saying is exactly what the writer of Hebrews said; we should know the scriptures and we should be able to explain at least the simplest doctrines when given the opportunity.
After teaching comes the ministry of exhortation which is what Paul has been doing in his letter. Remember that exhorting means more than just a hearty ‘Go get em!”
The word Parakaleo means to come alongside for the purpose of helping someone. It is a word that means to encourage and to urge. I think we can all be encouragers at one time or another when we see someone without hope, or who has questions as to why something has gone wrong. With the word of God in our hearts we should be the greatest encouragers in the world. We can come alongside someone and give them something to think about, some word of encouragement, some word of hope.
Then we have the gift that nobody wants; giving. This is a dirty word in the visible church because it has been so abused by pastors who browbeat their sheep into feeling guilty for not digging deep into their pockets. This is totally against scripture and comes about when churches have turned aside from the simple biblical model to embrace the ‘corporation’ model. They begin to have programs and budgets and committees and this is a clear sign that they have embraced the world: this is a church on the downgrade.
It is so sad to see this type of thing, especially when the bible is so clear. If Churches were following Gods design for the Church, then they would see things from a biblical perspective. The Pastor would be shepherding his flock according the scriptures, there would be no unnecessary activities going on in the church and in the matter of giving the flock would understand that giving is an act of worship to God. And seeing the truth there would not be any reluctance to do so. They would be living examples of 2Co 9:7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. To browbeat people into giving is to go against scripture and against conscience, which Martin Luther declared; “is neither right nor safe.” Whatever we do, let us do it heartily unto the Lord. And who knew that this was a gift of God. To give means to share with someone, with openhanded and openhearted compassion. And finally giving is to be done with singleness of purpose; for the glory of God, rather than from ambition: like Ananias and Sapphira.
Next we have the gift of leadership. It means he that is placed in front. The reference is to any position involving superintendence. He is to do so with diligence, watchfulness and carefulness. Da 12:3 “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
And finally there are those who have been given the gift of showing mercy. These are to go about their duties with cheerfulness rather than under compulsion. Consider that in Paul’s day there were no hospitals and no almshouses or charitable institutions like we have today. In the book, How Christianity Changed the World there is much reference to the work of Christians in showing mercy which brought about the very institutions we have today. And this was all because Christians felt it their duty to show personal attention to those in need.
These are just a partial list as there are other places in scripture where gifts are articulated. Have you seen yourself in any of these gifts? Remember that each of us has been given some ability that we can exercise to the glory of God. But it all starts with dying to self, living for Jesus, turning away from the world and being continually transformed by the renewing of our minds, being humble, realizing that we have been placed into Christ’s body to do it good.
I want to sum up this morning’s message by giving you 9 things to ponder. MacArthur called them 9 steps and I think they bear thinking about. Do you really want to know what God wants you to do? Then seriously attempt to implement these 9 steps immediately.
1. Present yourself a living sacrifice to God.
2. Know that you have been given a gift by God.
3. Pray for wisdom and direction from God.
4. Don’t seek a specific gift!
5. Examine your hearts desires…what do you desire to do?
6. Seek confirmation that you have been gifted in a certain area but don’t try to force the issue. If everyone keeps telling you that that is not your gift then believe them.
7. Look for the blessing of God!
8. Serve God with all your heart. You must be totally abandoned to the service of God.
9. When you begin to see what God has gifted you with, begin working in that direction.