The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — The GIFTS of God the Holy Spirit! (Part 3)
As we continue discussing the believer’s relationship with God the Holy Spirit, we recognize that some Christians overemphasize Him, while many of us overlook Him. And we are poorer because we don’t biblically relate to Him. We can speak to Him because He is personal and, because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to minimize the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.
In these recent posts we are seeing that the various ministries in the church are not all to be performed by professional clergy. Every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit to be used to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. We’ve looked at the first two of the four major passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12) in our last post. Let’s continue our study by looking at the third of our four passages, Ephesians 4 —
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will 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 people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 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.
In this third passage on spiritual gifts, we see that the emphasis is on the “unity of the Spirit” (v. 3). Paul stresses the oneness of the body and of the Spirit and of “the hope when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (vv. 5-6).
We learn that Christ (through the Spirit) “gave gifts to his people” (v. 8). The gifts listed in this text are: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers (v. 11).
Why are these gifts given? We are clearly told “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v. 12). But building up the body also involves strengthening the body to no longer be infants in its beliefs (vv. 14-16).
The Challenge: God the Holy Spirit’s gifts include people — people who help us mature and stay strong in the truth. For what person in your church can you give thanks today for their ministry to you? Why not thank them personally?
The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — The GIFTS of God the Holy Spirit! (Part 2)
In discussing the believer’s relationship with God the Holy Spirit, we are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize Him, while many of us overlook Him. This is to our detriment. We can speak to Him because He is personal and, because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to minimize the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.
The various ministries in the church are not all to be performed by professional clergy. The Bible is quite clear that every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit which he or she is to use to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. We’ve looked at the first of the four major passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12) in our last post. Let’s continue our study by looking at the second of our four passages (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4), I Corinthians 12 —
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
We realize that this is a lengthy passage, but let’s see what we can learn, not so much about the gifts, but about the Giver, God the Holy Spirit:
1. First of all, it is He who distributes the gifts (v. 4).
2. Although there are different gifts, the same Lord is at work (v. 6).
3. Every believer is given a gift (also known as a “manifestation of the Spirit”) for the common good (v. 7).
4. Several gifts (nine specifically) are listed (vv. 8-10- a message of wisdom, a message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues). But the point is made that “all these are the work of one and the same Spirit” (vv. 11). The oneness of the Spirit’s distribution is important here.
5. We also learn of His will — He distributes these gifts “just as He determines” (v. 11).
6. The baptizing work of the Spirit is brought up, presumably to emphasize the oneness of the Body of Christ (v. 12). “We were all given the one Spirit to drink” (v. 13).
7. There is no room for jealousy regarding the gifts or for one to feel unnecessary. Why not? Because we need all the body parts to function properly and “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v. 18). “God” here certainly seems to refer to the Third Member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
8. The sovereign assembling of the body by the Holy Spirit should not lead to division in the body but “equal concern for each other” (v. 25).
9. Again we are reminded that “God has placed in the church” certain people and gifts. “God” in verse 28 seems to refer to the Spirit of God. The people and gifts mentioned in verses 28-30 are: apostles, prophets; teachers; miracles; gifts of healing, helping, guidance; and of different kinds of tongues. [I find it interesting that three gifts — healing, helping, guidance — seem to be a small category of gifts].
10. Lastly, this same Spirit who disburses different gifts, longs for unity among believers. Several questions are asked in verses 29-30 to show that there are different gifts among the people of God.
The Challenge: What gift or gifts has the Spirit of God given you? How does your gift help you to have “equal concern” for other members of the Body?
On September 23-24 I get to speak to the supporters of Camp Elim in Woodland Park, Colorado!
I’ve been working my way through 2 Corinthians 12 and want to begin a series of posts on this incredible chapter. Here’s the passage I’ll be speaking on:
A few words about our future: The overall context of this section of 2 Corinthians has to do with Paul’s defending his apostleship. He pulls his trump card — a visit to heaven itself! No one can top that credential!
What do we learn about heaven from Paul’s experience? We learn at least two truths: (1) The sounds in heaven will be amazing! They are described as “inexpressible things” (v. 4). In fact, they are so incredible that “no one is permitted to tell” about them. What will we hear in heaven? We don’t know. But we will be blown away by the sounds of the celestial kingdom! (2) Secondly, the sights in heaven will be overwhelming! We learn that Paul received “surpassingly great revelations” (v. 7) as he was “caught up to the third heaven” (v. 2) which he later describes as “caught up to paradise” (v. 4)
The “So what?” for today: Knowing the Lord Jesus should get us excited about eternity! The greatest sounds and sights in this broken world don’t hold a candle to what God has prepared for those who love Him. Thank Him for that today.
The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — The GIFTS of God the Holy Spirit! (Part 1)
In these posts we are discussing the believer’s relationship with God the Holy Spirit. While it seems some Christians overemphasize Him, many of us overlook Him — to our detriment. Because He is personal, we can speak to Him and ask Him for things. Because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to somehow negate the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.
How are various ministries supposed to get accomplished in the church? The Bible is quite clear that every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit and is to use those to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. Let’s look at the first of several passages on the so-called spiritual gifts and notice the intimate involvement of the Third Person of the Trinity. The primary “gift” passages are Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 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 faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Rom. 12)
Notice here in Romans 12 the following —
1. We should view our bodies as living sacrifices to God, the very definition of “true and proper worship” (v. 1).
2. We must be aware that the world around us wants to squeeze us into its mold, but we need the transforming work of God to renew our minds (v. 2).
3. Choosing to transform rather than conform means that we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is for us (v. 2).
4. Our attitude in using our gifts is critical! We are to look at ourselves with “sober judgment,” being mindful of “the faith” which God has distributed to each of us (v. 3).
5. In Christ we are one body with many members. And those members (who belong to each other) have different functions (vv. 4-5).
6. Different gifts according to the grace given to us include: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy (vv. 6-8).
7. We are to use those gifts “in accordance with our faith.” We are give generously, lead diligently, and show mercy cheerfully (vv. 6-8).
The Challenge: Has God the Holy Spirit given you one of these gifts listed in Romans 12 — prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, or showing mercy? If so, how are you using that gift in the church?
What a negative commercial! Aren’t you glad that working for the Lord can be quite different?