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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. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

(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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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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. 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. 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. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 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)

Although God the Holy Spirit is not specifically mentioned in this text, we will see in our later posts that He is the Giver of those gifts.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 4 (Conclusion)

The normal Christian life involves knowing and using my spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ.  And — watching a lot of episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”!  Just kidding about that last one.  Although I will be staying with my 92-year-old mother-in-law as I preach for two Sundays at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey (their website is here).

On September 30th I will be speaking on our responsibility to the poor (the message is entitled “The Poor You Have with You Always”).  On October 7th, the message will be “Servants of the Servant” and will focus on the four primary passages about the Christian’s spiritual gifts (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4).

We’ve looked at the first three texts — Let’s look at I Peter 4 this morning and draw some final conclusions to this brief series of posts.  Here’s our text:

 

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2018 in service

 

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“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 3

I’m looking forward to catching up on the episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”!  What?  Yes, I get to stay with my mother-in-law Mary (who’s 92) — and that’s what she watches.  During that time I will be preaching at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey Sunday, October 7th,on the issue of our using our spiritual gifts to serve in the local church. And I’m entitling this message “Servants of the Servant.”

Becoming servants of the Servant, the Lord Jesus, involves knowing and using our spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ.Our four passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4) all emphasize the point that every believer has a gift or gifts and must use them to serve the Lord!

We’ve looked briefly at Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12.  Let’s examine Ephesians 4 this morning and draw some tentative conclusions:

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in service

 

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“Servants of the Servant” — A Sermon in Preparation — Part 1

As some of you know, I will be preaching at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey Sunday, September 30th, on the topic “The Poor You Have With You Always.” On the following Sunday, October 7th, I will address the issue of our using our spiritual gifts to serve in the local church.  I’m entitling this message “Servants of the Servant.”

One preacher said, “God has no sons who are not servants!”  I beg to disagree.  I believe it is quite possible to be a child of God but not be fully engaged in serving Him or His Body, the church.  There may be a variety of reasons for such non-service (one we will examine in this post), but the normal Christian life is to live a life like the Lord Jesus — one who “came not to be served, but to serve” (Mk. 10:45).

One reason some Christians do not serve the Body of Christ is that they may not know what their spiritual gifts are.  Ministry out of one’s giftedness is the biblical pattern, so knowing what abilities one possesses to serve the Lord and His people is critical.

There are four major passages on “spiritual gifts” and they are Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.  Let’s spend a few minutes this morning looking at Romans 12.

I see four truths from Romans 12 —
1. We serve out of humility, not out of pride or poor self-image (Rom. 12:3). It is difficult to be grateful and prideful (or thankful and downtrodden) at the same time!
2. We must strive to preserve and advance the unity of the Body! (Rom. 12:4-5). The unity of the church is critical. It is not maintained by believers standing around just shooting the breeze (although shooting the breeze is a vital element of friendship). Our gifts contribute to our unity!
3. We will serve out of thankfulness for God’s grace in gifting us! (Rom. 12:6-8).
4. We must be aware that the Holy Spirit gave us our gifts and empowers our using them (Rom. 12:3; we will see this more extensively in our next post which will be on I Cor. 12:1-6). There is another Person involved in this issue of service — and that is God the Holy Spirit. He is continuing the work of the Lord Jesus — through us (Jn. 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15)!

Assignment: Please list your gift below as a comment.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2018 in service

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- SERVICE) (con’t)

One of the primary areas where Christians get BOGGED DOWN in the Christian life, it seems to me, is in SERVICE!  And God’s Word has much to say about the spiritual gifts God has given by His grace to Jesus-followers who want to dig their way out of this area of STUCKNESS.

This is my last series of sermons for Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta. They have found their next senior pastor and he will begin his SERVICE in several weeks.  We have looked at three of the four passages on spiritual gifts.  In this last post on SERVICE, let’s look at I Corinthians 12:

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 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,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 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[c] 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.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Yes, this is an entire chapter devoted to SPIRITUAL GIFTS.  We can only make a couple of comments on this central passage:

(1)  First, note the prominence of God the Holy Spirit! The gifts are “of the Spirit.” Though the gifts are different, the Spirit is the same who distributes the gifts. These “manifestations” of the Spirit are given “for the common good” (vv. 1-7)
(2)  Second, a variety of gifts (I count nine) are mentioned here: 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 (vv. 8-10).
(3)  Third, we are one Body with many “parts” and each should respect God’s sovereign placing of each part in the Body (vv. 11-26).
(4)  Fourth, a second list is given by the Apostle Paul (apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues) to show that we have different gifts and must work with one another in love (vv. 27-31).

May I ask you, faithful reader, what is your primary SPIRITUAL GIFT, and are you using it for the Lord?

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in christian growth

 

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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #5- Service) (con’t)

One area in which believers get BOGGED DOWN concerns SERVICE!  We are often self-centered consumers who want to know, “How is the church going to serve ME?”

This series (which we are preaching at Crossroads Fellowship Church; website: crossroadschurchinaugusta.com) deals with topics which often cause the Jesus-follower to get STUCK!

But we have been saved to serve!  Ephesians 2:8-10 make it clear that, although our works can’t save us, once we are saved we are to do good works for Him!

There are four major texts on spiritual gifts — Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4.  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 4 this morning:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

(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.

There is so much here.  Just a few points:   (1) The Christian life involves living a life worthy of your calling, an attitude of humbleness, gentleness, patience and love.  The goal is to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  (2)  That unity or oneness is balanced by different gifts given by Christ to all believers.  (3)  Some of those gifts are: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.  (4)  Why are those gifts given?  To equip God’s people for works of service, to build up the body of Christ, to move toward maturity and the “fullness of Christ.”  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in christian growth

 

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