This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “Together” where we’re learning more about the often neglected gift of the Holy Spirit of uniting people together. We’re learning how we, the church, are part of the fulfillment of the prophesy given by Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry bones.
We’ve begun by learning about the common things which we all must possess, the things that connect us together as a ligament and tendon connects together our bones and muscles. These connecting elements are revealed here:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
This morning, we’re moving along into the individual elements; learning how we all connect together to form the body of Christ and that we are each a unique and necessary part of His body. Yes, Jesus is still physically here on the earth still to this day, thousands of years after His resurrection. However, Jesus is in disguise. He is revealed through our lives as we fulfill our role in the body of Christ.
In the body of Christ, it is our spiritual gifts which define who we are in His body. Now I’m a firm believer that all of us have the ability to receive and use all of the spiritual gifts. Why else would the scriptures encourage us to eagerly seek after the greater gifts? However, there is a particular gift that we move in most frequently, which is primarily our role in the body of Christ. These various gifts are vast and there will never be a completely defined list of them, but we’ll focus on the primary ones that are revealed in the word of God.
1 Corinthians 12
1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 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.
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? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Those ancient words that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth still rings true today, “you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” You are not here by accident or chance. You are a necessary part of the body of Christ and we need you! When you suffer, we all suffer. When you are honored, we all our honored. When you rejoice, we all rejoice. That is, if we choose to be closely connected with one another as God desires us to be.
Do you know what part of the body of Christ you are, though? Some people were born with natural gifts and talents, some have trained and developed certain gifts and talents, and some have been supernaturally given to us by the Holy Spirit. Any talent or gift that you may possess is ultimately given or enabled by the grace of God and He has a divine plan and purpose for it. The purpose of these gifts are not so that we can be the body of Christ only when we join together, but so that we can be the body of Christ wherever we go and whatever we do.
Here, Paul listed the gifts of: word of knowledge, word of wisdom, faith, power, discernment of spirits, apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helping, guidance or administration, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. He also lists others here:
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.
Here, Paul listed the gifts of: prophesy, service, teaching, encouragement or exhortation, generosity, leadership, and mercy. Peter expands this list as well:
1 Peter 4:9-11
9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Here, Peter lists hospitality, speaking, and service or helps. More importantly, Peter explains the purpose for all gifts given of the Holy Spirit.
Whoever we are in the body of Christ, whatever part we may be, we are for a purpose. This purpose is not for ourselves, but for the purpose of serving others. After all, our hearts don’t pump blood day and night for the sake of itself, but for the sake of the whole rest of the body that it might receive the oxygen and nourishment that they need to fulfill their roles. Our elbows don’t bend for their own sake, but for the sake of the arms and hands so that they might fulfill their roles. Nearly every part of our body’s function is not for its own good nor its own sake, but rather for the good and sake of the other parts. So should it be with us!
We should use whatever gifts we are to serve others and in the strength that God provides so that wherever we are and whatever we do, it all brings praise and glory to Jesus. After all, it is He who we strive together to represent. It’s God’s plan that we all cooperatively work together as one in unity.
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.
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.
Here, Paul lists the gifts that we refer to as the five-fold ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers who equip the other members of the body for the works of ministry. All these gifts work together to form the body of Christ; His physical presence on the earth today.
A few other gifts mentioned in the scriptures is the gift of celibacy (1 Cor. 7), martyrdom (1 Cor. 13), poverty (1 Cor. 13), missionary (Eph. 3) and others.
The way to find true and lasting happiness and fulfillment in life is to determine who we are in Christ and to actively fulfill that role serving others. The only way to do this is to stay connected with God, who is the source of our gift and strength, to stay connected with our church family, who are the parts of the body of Christ that we also need, and to stay connected with the world who needs the manifestation of our gifts and talents in order to be lead to Jesus.
We have a tendency in the church to focus on this long, yet boxed in and limited list that we have called the gifts of the Spirit. Unfortunately, we often neglect equally important and equally Spirit-given gifts also found in the scriptures. For example, the very first infilling of the Holy Spirit followed by the very first list of the gifts of the Spirit found in the word of God don’t initially seem very spiritual at all and isn’t found in any common listing of the gifts of the Spirit.
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”
The very first gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the word of God are actually the gifts of tradesmen and craftsmen such as carpentry, masonry, jewelers, tailors, and other various skills of trade.
The whole point this morning isn’t to compile a comprehensive list of the gifts of the Spirit, however. Whatever gifts or talents you possess ultimately came from the Lord. Whether the gift that you possess was listed or not, it still is a valuable and important part of the body of Christ. The focus this morning is for us to identify our gifts and talents, but most importantly to put them to use for their intended purpose. The reason for these gifts are for us to serve others and to fulfill our role within the body of Christ.
We have free resources available for everyone to help identify their spiritual gifts. Everyone is encouraged to take this test with the catch that you provide our leadership team with a copy of the results so that we might be able to better place everyone within their role here in the church.
The challenge for all of us to take away this morning is that wherever we are and whatever we do, to do it with the emphasis and focus that in doing so, you are fulfilling your role as part of the body of Christ. Whether here in the church building, out in the workplace, in the home, or out in the marketplace, you are ultimately serving Jesus in all that you do.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.