SPIRITUAL GIFTS FOR THE BELIEVER

THE PERSPECTIVE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved



 

We have dealt with what the Bible says are the correct purposes of spiritual gifts as well as the correct attitude to have toward spiritual gifts. Many people are led astray from the Word because they don’t maintain a positive attitude toward the teaching of the Word from their pastor-teacher. They fall into the trap of listening to what they want to hear and end up believing false doctrine as in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. In order to avoid this, we must concentrate on what the Bible says is the correct purpose and attitude toward spiritual gifts. When you combine God’s purpose and attitude toward spiritual gifts, you will have the proper perspective.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The Spiritual Gifts’ Order of Merit or Importance

A proper perspective toward spiritual gifts involves understanding the order of merit or importance of spiritual gifts. Remember that the power for all spiritual gifts is from the power of the Holy Spirit as presented in 1 Corinthians 12:1-7. When you, you blaspheme. When you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you recognize and experience the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we are controlled by the Old Sin Nature, we can even blaspheme and say "Jesus be cursed." That's the antithetical situation. In 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, we also see the diversity, the unity in the spiritual gifts, and the variety of effects resulting from their correct use. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given for the common good of the Body of Christ and the expression of that body within your own local church. The word "good" means divine good production from the filling of the Spirit in the use of your spiritual gift.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:1-7)

The Permanent Spiritual Gifts

The order of merit or importance of the permanent spiritual gifts is based on the authority and responsibility given with the gift. It is also based on their effect on the building up and edification of believers in the local church or the body of Christ. Below is a list of the permanent spiritual gifts. The gifts of pastor-teacher and evangelism are listed first. They are the primary communication gifts for the Church Age with great responsibility associated with them as indicated in Ephesians 4:11-13. The gifts of administrations or governments and ministry or service are listed next as they deal with the administration and function of the local church. The gifts of exhortation or encouragement, helps, giving or ministering, showing mercy, and word of wisdom, are listed next and in approximate order of their spiritual impact on believers near those with the gifts.

Order of Merit of the Permanent Spiritual Gifts
Pastor-Teacher
Evangelism
Administrations or Governments
Ministry or Service
Exhortation or Encouragement
Helps
Giving or Ministering
Showing Mercy
Word of Wisdom

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

The Temporary Spiritual Gifts

The order of merit or importance of the temporary spiritual gifts was also based on the authority and responsibility given with the gift and their effect on the building up and edification of believers in the local church or the body of Christ. Below is a list of the temporary spiritual gifts. The gifts of apostleship and prophesy are listed first as they are the primary communication gifts for the Pre-canon period of the Church Age. They come with great responsibility and significant effect on the building up of the Body of Christ associated with them. The gifts of knowledge and discerning spirits are listed next as they were associated with the gifts of apostleship and prophesy in that they were most often possessed by the apostles. The gifts of healing, miracles, faith, tongues, and interpretation of tongues are listed next and in approximate order of their spiritual impact on the unbelievers who saw them in action. The result was spiritual credibility and authority associated with those believers using these spectacular gifts.

Order of Merit of the Temporary Spiritual Gifts

Apostleship

Prophesy
Knowledge
Discerning Spirits
Healing
Miracles
Faith
Tongues
Interpretation of Tongues

In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we see a listing according to merit or importance of a partial list of spiritual gifts. The gift of the word of wisdom is the only one in these verses that is permanent spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12:28 also presents a partial listing of the temporary spiritual gifts. You should note that in either listing, tongues is always last in importance.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)

In 1 Corinthians 12:11-13, we see that all of the spiritual gifts are the work of the Holy Spirit and that He gives them just as He sovereignly determines. We also see spiritual gifts portrayed as analogous to the human body. Although the body is one unit, it is made up of many parts that each have a unique, but important function. This is how it is with the body of Christ which has many believers with different spiritual gifts and different spiritual lives all functioning to improve and expand the body of Christ.

In the beginning of this book, we reviewed the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation where each of us was entered into union with the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not matter whether we are Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or in the laboring classes, whether we may be entrepreneurs able to start businesses to benefit others or simply working for others. No matter what we find ourselves, we are all in union with Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:11-13)

In looking at the rest of 1 Corinthians 12:11-13, it states that we were all given the same indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation. This indwelling of our bodies by the Holy Spirit is parlayed into the filling of our souls with the Holy Spirit only on the basis of confession of sin to God the Father. The important thing is to allow control of your soul by God the Holy Spirit rather than by your Old Sin Nature. Only under the control of the Spirit can our spiritual gifts function effectively.

The Importance of the Different Members of the Body

One part of the human body is not more important than any other part of the human body. Whether it is something obvious, and used all the time, such as your hands for example, they are really no more important that the little pituitary gland. If you had a malfunction of this gland, you could have either very small hands or very large hands. This malfunction would effect every other part of the body adversely as it grows. Every part of the human body is important for the purpose that God designed it. That's the way it is with the body of Christ.

The analogy is continued in 1 Corinthians 12:21-22. For example, the eye cannot say it doesn’t need the hand. Also, the head can’t say it doesn’t need the feet. The head is just as important as the foot and the eyes are just as important as the hands. It goes on to say that those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are actually indispensable and the parts that are unpresentable in public are treated with special modesty. Remember the importance of the little pituitary gland?

And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; (1 Corinthians 12:21-22)

Spiritually speaking, you might think you are just a foot. As a result, you might have self-pity and think everyone walks on you. Most of the misery in the Christian life comes from self-pity. Others might do us wrong and circumstances may go amiss. Adversity and pressure on the outside can often be internalized where it becomes terrible stress. As a result, we don’t feel we can handle it and we feel guilty about it. We can have recrimination, remorse, self-pity, and all the mental attitude sins which generally neutralize us in the Christian way of life. You may think your spiritual gift is not important because you serve in little ways behind the scenes, so you think you are like the foot. You think a foot is not nearly as important or visible as a hand. Everyone sees the hand and forgets the importance of the foot, until it doesn’t function as it should. People tend to look at what others are doing with their spiritual gifts and wish they were like others. You are just as much a part of the body of Christ as any other believer. God uses all spiritual gifts and they are effective under the power of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The love that is taught here is the main fruit of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Whatever spiritual gift you use, you must use it in the sphere of unconditional virtue love. Those who are pastor-teachers, those with the gift of wisdom, and teachers who communicate the Truth are to do so in unconditional love. They have to have an unconditional virtue love of all the brethren. That same thought is continued as far as the importance of all spiritual gifts is concerned.

What have the charismatics done with this Biblical principle? They have made the entire body a tongue. What have doctrinal legalists done? They have made the entire body an ear and are just listening to doctrine. They have been doing so for many years. Many have never taken that information under their ambassadorship and used it to serve and help other believers. They have not encouraged others by using their spiritual gifts, thus manifesting divine good production and witnessing to unbelievers and leading them to the Lord Jesus Christ. What a shame!

In 1 Corinthians 12:28, it says that in the Church Age, God has appointed apostles first and foremost in order of importance. The gift of apostle was a temporary gift necessary to carry the early church through those difficult days before the Word was completed. This was a period when hundreds of local churches were under intense persecution and suffering. They did not know whether they would survive from one day to the next. Their lives were at risk. They came to believe it was good to have someone with divine delegated authority who could tell them the correct way to understand spiritual things and apply Bible doctrine to their lives. They would say which way everyone must do a certain thing to line up with God’s plan. The apostles had absolute authority over all the local churches. The early local churches needed that because the Canon of Scripture was not yet completed. The infancy of the Church is like the infancy of human life. A baby cannot make decisions, so a small infant needs parents to make decisions for it. That was the doctrinal authority the apostles had over all the churches.

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)

The pastor-teacher today does not have that type of authority. He has delegated authority from the Scripture. The Scripture says he is accountable to the congregation. He has delegated authority for his own local church, but no others. Pastors are not to try to go into another local church and advise them on doctrinal policy. Some younger pastors look to me as one of the older and wiser pastors teaching Bible truth. They seek advice from me. While that's kind of nice, I don't earn or deserve it, just as in every grace provision from God. However, I'm the authority in my own congregation and only my own congregation.

When we have pastors' conferences, we share ideas. We have great networking and discussions that way, but we do not go with the idea that each of us may have a corner on God’s truth. Some pastors may think they have the directive from God to show other pastors how their local churches should be run, but they were never given such authority by God. This is the Church Age where only independent local churches with one pastor-teacher each are bonafide. No references exist in the Bible to any category of super pastors or denominations made up of many local churches. Only local independent churches lead by one pastor-teacher are identified for the time in which we live.

The importance of the temporary gift of prophecy was foretelling future events, as believers needed to know about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming. The information relating to these future events was reduced to writing in the New Testament. The importance of the permanent spiritual gift of teacher is to communicate Bible doctrine to others under the authority of the local church’s pastor.

For the temporary gift of miracles, the recipient's faith was not required. Many times their faith did not enter the picture because God gave them the gift of faith where they could believe the Lord was going to use this supernatural gift. For the temporary gift of healings, the recipient’s faith once again was not required.

Then we come to that marvelous and permanent gift of helps which enables those with this gift to help others in a special way. I hope those of you with the gift of helps are using it to help others to see the true issue of salvation and the Christian life. It’s not about being in a big church loaded with all types of programs, social life and attractive things enjoyable to all of us, but emphasizing the issue of a church that has a teaching pastor. The local church should always place it’s primary thrust upon the communication of God’s truth.

1 Corinthians 12:29-31 tells us that each believer is given different spiritual gifts. Paul also tells us that we are to desire the greater gifts eagerly. In other words, as you grow spiritually, you will have the power of the Spirit and the power of believed and applied doctrine, to utilize that spiritual gift. In the local church, we want to see the greater gifts. We want to see the gifts that benefit others, leading them to the Lord, and helping them to grow spiritually. Paul continues to tell them that he will show them a more excellent way. That more excellent way is the emphasis on spiritual growth in virtue love where dealing with others is based on the very thinking of Christ in our souls.

All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:29-31)

There is a great diversity of spiritual gifts. Maybe you don't have the gift of exhortation, teaching, or administration. Maybe you have a talent or ability that God gave you at the moment of salvation. God knows your personality and what our are far better than you know yourself. He knows exactly what would be best to give you in eternity past. Don’t go overboard on spiritual gifts. Emphasize the spiritual life!

As you grow spiritually and identify your gift(s), use it because you love God. As a result, you will love your fellow believer. You are to have the heart of a servant. Whatever your gift, let that gift function under unconditional love which is the divine love that God has for all of us. It is reproduced in your soul through spiritual growth so that you have a love that's dependent on your own strength of character, not the attractiveness of other believers. Based on this spiritual maturity, you are able to function in nursery and prep school when you cannot seem to hold the students’ attention. You are to stay cool and be thoughtful, kind and considerate and use correction and rebuke when necessary. That's how you use your spiritual gift.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says to those who were abusing their spiritual gifts that regardless of the spiritual gifts, no matter what God graced you out with, the all-important thing is not that spiritual gift. The all-important thing is unconditional love. The filling of the Holy Spirit producing unconditional love (agape in the Greek) which is divine love. God has a love toward each one of us which is unconditional and totally dependent on His divine essence. He gives us that kind of love toward each other through the Holy Spirit which is an unconditional love toward all the brethren. We have to be Spirit-filled to have our gift function correctly and to have maximum divine good produced under our spiritual gift. We must have maximum Bible doctrine in the soul to have our gift function to the maximum intended by God. When you function this way, others will notice your behavior and will know you are a disciple of Jesus Christ as in John 13:35.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

Leadership and Non-Leadership Spiritual Gifts

Two types of spiritual gifts exist within the temporary and permanent spiritual gifts. They are leadership gifts and non-leadership gifts. We all cannot have leadership gifts. Only a few are given this ability at salvation. The followers are to follow the example of their leaders’ policies that they set forth. There are leadership gifts in the local church just as there are in the military and in business. The Pre-canon temporary spiritual gifts of apostleship and prophecy functioned only from 30 to 96 A.D. The gifts of evangelist and pastor-teacher are permanent spiritual gifts. These are leadership gifts and require preparation in the spiritual realm as well as the academic realm.

In Ephesians 4:11-13, we see the reference to these leadership and communication spiritual gifts. I would remind you of the Greek conjunction TIS which means "some" in English. In all of the gifts He is said to give "some" except for teachers. In terms of pastors, you will notice that the word "some" is used only before pastor. The pastor is supposed to be the teacher, the minister in the sense of the professional ministry. This is not the same as the ministry for all believers in their full-time spiritual production. The minister of the local church is the pastor, the shepherd, and the leader with authority delegated by God. He is also the teacher.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

It’s absolutely necessary that you are filled with the Holy Spirit based on confession of sin as in 1 John 1:9 for divine production to be produced from your spiritual gift. Your entire lifestyle is to be predicated on the "fruit" of the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22-23. To have divine production, you must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here is the key. To have maximum divine good production, you have to have the full influence of Bible doctrine. That requires spiritual growth. As you grow spiritually, your priority is doctrine first which is God's priority. He says that your positive volition should be so strong that you choose for the daily intake of the Word of God as your top priority. This is something that you must think in your own soul. As you grow spiritually, doctrine is first and Christ is first. Your entire motivation and lifestyle is based upon the fruit of the Spirit. You will have the fruit of the Spirit a maximum amount of the time on a daily basis, if you have that maximum intake of the Word of God.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The filling of the Spirit will come and go unless you have the spiritual dynamic and the power of the Word of God to perpetuate the filling of the Spirit. The mature believer is filled with the Spirit most of the time. The baby believer is filled with the Spirit just a small amount of the time. As you grow spiritually, you go from a little filling of the Spirit, to more filling of the Spirit, to a filling of the Spirit a maximum amount of the time. That's the basis for maximum divine good production from your spiritual gift.

Our Attitude Toward Spiritual Gifts

The next important part of our perspective is our attitude. Our proper attitude is given in Romans 12:1-8. We are not to feel inferior or superior about our spiritual gift(s). I have put the doctrine of spiritual gifts into print because the proliferation of the Charismatic Movement is so widespread today, especially in Southern California. We are the center of this movement in Southern California. We need to know what the Bible says about spiritual gifts. This is especially true for tongues, healings and miracles, because the two variants of the Charismatic Movement - the Third Wave Movement and the Vineyard Movement contend we are living in the last days. To them, in the last days, you are not really evangelized without signs and wonders. The Latter Rain Movement says the First Rain Movement was the Apostolic Age. They say that the Charismatic Movement 50 or 60 years ago, under Amie MacPherson was the Second Rain. They call our times the Third Wave, or "Latter Rain" or "In These Last Days." They claim that you're not really spiritual or growing unless you evangelize with signs and wonders. You're not really doing the job if you give the Gospel, but don't speak in tongues, or perform healings or miracles. That is exactly what the Corinthian church erroneously taught almost 2000 years ago! The Corinthians were wrong then just as charismatics are wrong now! This series on spiritual gifts will tell you how they are wrong, why they are wrong, and give you the proper perspective related to spiritual gifts.

I urge you therefore, 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to every man 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. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8)

What is your altitude toward spiritual gifts? Romans 12:1-2 deals with that wonderful subject of each believer being a living sacrifice. This is you as a believer being willing to do the will of God in your life, regardless where He takes you. This is thinking and doing whatever the will of God entails and thinking God's thoughts after Him - the mind of Christ enabling you to fulfill the will of God. This is a description of a mature believer. It doesn't mean you don't smoke or chew, or you've surrendered to the Lord and therefore think you're a spiritual giant. It has nothing to do with tabooism, emotionalism, ecstatics, or any system of pseudo-spirituality. Being a mature believer is simply the result of being filled with the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and walking by the Spirit and the power of the Word of God.

I urge you therefore, 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

God's plan is a grace plan. All of the assets the Father has provided for the Christian way of life are gifts from Him. We can never earn or deserve them. All aspects of the Fellowship Sphere for Time are part of God’s mercy toward us all. The components of the Fellowship Sphere for Time include the filling of the Spirit, the faith rest life, teachability or humility, the perception, intake, and application of Bible truth, our personal love for the Lord, our Biblical self respect, our unconditional love for one another, our resultant spiritually self-sustained status, the ability to meet and pass all spiritual growth tests, and ultimately our sharing God’s own happiness. These are all a part of God's grace in action. Grace is the active exercise of the love of God toward the sinful and ill deserving. With His divine unconditional love, He has provided all of the components of the Christian life.

Paul challenges us in Romans 12:1-2 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship. In other words, we worship the Lord through our intake and application of Bible truth as Spirit-filled believers. The spiritual maturity taught in this passage is the presentation of our lives as living sacrifices, where we are holy and pleasing to God. Holy means set apart, experiential holiness and progressive holiness. This is life inside the Fellowship Sphere for Time, our spiritual growth and maturity. You worship the Lord through your spiritual growth under your priesthood. This is a sacrifice, a priesthood, and you are offering your life as a living sacrifice, that your life is totally tied into the daily intake of the Word of God.

In obeying this command and being filled with the Spirit to obey it, there can be a negative side. The good news is in Romans 12:1 whereas, the bad news is in Romans 12:2. You are not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world. We are not to live under Satan's counterfeit system of evil. We are not to live under arrogance or with the Old Sin Nature controlling our soul. We are not to live under the authority of impulsive arrogance or client nation arrogance. We are not to live under Satan's control center for the counterfeit system, which is religion. We are never to become self-righteous or religious. Your life is totally neutralized it you do and you'll never achieve your spiritual status that God meant for you to have.

Do not conform to what you see in this world, but conform to God’s plan for your life. Don't think satanic or human viewpoint. Keep on thinking divine viewpoint and be transformed by the renewing of your mind through the intake and application of Bible doctrine. Your doctrinal thought pattern in your mind is to be your motivation. You are what you have in your right lobe or heart as stated in Proverbs 23:6-7. We are not to conform to human viewpoint or satanic viewpoint. We are to think the divine viewpoint of life. When you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, you will be able to test and approve what God's will is. In other words, if something is good, pleasing or perfect, you'll know it is or is not from Bible truth in your soul. The will of God is pleasing to the Lord, so it should also be to you. It will be pleasing to the Lord as you grow spiritually and you will do what God wants you to do. It will be what He wants you to think, say, and do because of what you're thinking. That's all a part of His perfect will. You will be able to test and approve that His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. (Proverbs 23:6-7)

God has already established the basis for having your spiritual gift function correctly. You have to have a willingness to do His will whatever it might entail. You will learn this through worship. This is so we can love God and have confidence in Him when our mind is transformed. It is divine viewpoint, not human or satanic viewpoint. That's when you know what the will of God is all about. You can test it for approval and when you do, it always comes up on the right side which is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Now that we fully understand that, we can continue with our study of spiritual gifts. What is their purpose? What is our attitude toward them? Don't be arrogant. Don't live under preoccupation with self, but have proper discernment and stability as in Romans 12:3. We all have faith, as God has given it to us in accordance with our spiritual growth.

For through the grace given to me I say to every man 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. (Romans 12:3)

Each of us had a tiny grain of positive faith belief at the moment of salvation which was a little more than no faith at all. It was, however, enough to get the job done! Through faith alone in Christ alone, you were saved. The object of merit in salvation is the person of Jesus Christ. You believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you're saved. You take that little bit of faith and it becomes a powerful stream of faith within your life as you grow and learn how to live and execute the faith-rest life.

There are different levels of spiritual growth and faith-rest function. God gives different measures of faith in accordance with your spiritual growth. If you have just a little bit of faith, claim a few of God’s promises and apply them to your situation, then you will advance spiritually a little bit. God is absolutely fair. He will give you faith in accordance with your capacity to receive it. This means some people automatically have a strong trust and reliance on the Lord. There might be points of fear and anxiety, but they don't perpetuate that fear. The stronger their faith, the greater the measure of faith given them by the grace of God in accordance with their response to the intake of the Word of God. Remember, it is your spiritual advance which enables you to have maximum use of the faith-rest life. We must recognize and pay tremendous homage to the justice and fairness of God. If you are falling apart right now under the heartaches and vicissitudes of life, you just have a little measure of faith. If you have a strong measure of faith rest, then you would be handling things with peace and contentment. You would make doctrinal conclusions and be in control of that heartache situation.

The Unity of the Body

The body has many members as stated in Romans 12:3-5. The charismatics would have us believe that the body is just a bunch of tongues. There is one body of Christ and many members. Each and every member has a different type of spiritual gift. We all don't have the same spiritual gift. Just as each of us has one body with many members, each of us has a different spiritual gift. In union with Jesus Christ, we all form one body. He is the head and the authority. We are to follow directions from the head. We get our marching orders from the King of King and Lord of Lords. We are to have the proper viewpoint. We are to think His thoughts after Him. Our motivation and thought pattern are to be based on His thinking which is Bible doctrine. The members do not tell the head what to do, the head tells the body what to do.

For through the grace given to me I say to every man 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. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:3-5)

You cannot say that because you have a spiritual gift and think it's special and unique that you are superior to everyone else. That is the sinful attitude of the charismatic. They believe you are not really spiritual and possibly not even saved unless you have spoken in tongues. Your correct attitude to your spiritual gift should be that you have this grace gift from God. You didn't earn it or merit it. You didn't seek it or agonize over it, or fall off your chair to get it. You didn't roll in the aisle or do anything ecstatic or emotional to get it. Your spiritual gift was given to you at the moment of salvation like everyone else. It was not given to glorify you or set you up as a spiritual giant. It was given to function toward the benefit of the unity of the body of Christ. As members of the team, your gift is your position on that team.

You have a spiritual gift. You are not to use it to glorify yourself. If you have a leadership gift, it will not function unless there are a lot of believers with non-leadership gifts doing their job for the unity of the body so that the local church can have a unified thrust in the community. Each one of us using our spiritual gift, our talents, and abilities can contribute to the edification of the body by adding new members to the body and helping them to grow spiritually. This principle is shown in Romans 12:6-8. That is how a local church will have impact in a community as well as in our nation.

And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

If you have a serving, non-leadership gift, you are to use it and be satisfied with setting out chairs, distributing hymnals, getting coffee started, or whatever. You are not to feel inferior at any time! That is the Old Sin Nature talking. God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave you that gift at the moment of salvation. As you grow spiritually, He wants you to identify it and then use it. Too many believers are sitting around taking in doctrine as they have been doing for years and are not using their spiritual gift(s).

Take the believers in Colossae. Paul praised them in Colossians 1:4-6 for fulfilling the entire will of God. They had a fantastic spiritual function under their priesthood and ambassadorship. These believers had been saved for only six months when Paul wrote them with this praise. That shows how gung ho they were for the intake and the application of the Word of God. They were growing spiritually at a rapid rate and recognized and used their spiritual gifts.

since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the Gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; (Colossians 1:4-6)

What about you? Are you taking in the Word and applying it to your life? Are you making the most of witnessing opportunities that come your way? Are you making use of your spiritual gift in the local church? Some have been taking in doctrine for many years, but have failed to do anything productive or serve in the local church. Remember, as you grow spiritually and identify your gift, you will use it, thus fulfilling your ambassadorship along with your priesthood. One follows the other.

Paul’s Grace Perspective

In the perspective of spiritual gifts, the possession of a spiritual gift does not indicate either merit or spirituality. The gift denotes the grace of God. Paul was the worst sinner whoever lived by his own admission. He tells us this in 1 Timothy 1:12-15, the wonderful passage of God's amazing and infinite grace manifested to His servant Paul. Paul thanks the Lord Jesus Christ who had given him strength and considered him faithful in appointing him to God’s ministry. Paul didn't earn or deserve it. Nevertheless, Paul was faithful in the grace intake and application of Truth so that he grew spiritually. When he was prepared spiritually, God put him into the ministry. Paul was once a blasphemer and maligned God. Paul was a persecutor and a violent man. Remember, Saul of Tarsus, before salvation, was the chief persecutor of the Church. In Acts 7:58-60 and Acts 8:1-3 Saul held the outer garments of those who stoned Steven to death and it was Saul who rounded up all the Christians and had them thrown into jail. Saul even had some martyred for their faith.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (1 Timothy 1:12-15)

And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:58-60)

And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. (Acts 8:1-3)

In Acts 9:3-6, we find Saul converted on the Damascus road. Paul said he was the worst sinner because he was the most self-righteous and the most religious. In the name of religion, he persecuted and killed Christians. Religion talks out of one side of its mouth about God's love for us, then instigates an inquisition resulting in hundreds of thousands of wonderful believers being martyred for their faith. It is religion that talks love, peace, and brotherhood and yet gives money through the World Council of Churches to Communist causes in Africa. It’s religion that's behind that. It’s religion that says we should live a righteous and holy life. It’s religion that says we should be holy, but welcomes with open arms all types of sexual perversion into ranks of their local churches.

And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." (Acts 9:3-6)

To those of you who have just received Christ and are just getting with the intake of the Word of God, God bless you and stick with it! If you grow spiritually, God is going to wipe out any religion you have in your soul. Any ideas that God is doing things for you because of who or what you are will be put aside. Giving, philanthropy, and the other good works you do will result from your spiritual growth, not because of any attitude of religion. As you stick with the Word of God and grow spiritually, the religion will be wiped out and you will become a wonderful grace-oriented person like Paul. You'll realize that everything we have comes from the grace of God. Everything in your life depends on God. Nothing ever depends on what we are or what we do.

We must realize that this is Paul's admission, and we know that it is the thinking of the Holy spirit because it's in the Bible. The Bible says that Paul was the worst sinner who ever lived. He was the worst because he was most religious. In the name of religion, he was a persecutor and a killer as in Acts 9:15-21 where Paul had become a believer and was exhibiting a complete reversal in his previous religious behavior.

But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, "Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" (Acts 9:15-21)

1 Timothy 1:12-16 illustrates Paul’s complete turnaround regarding the grace of God. Paul said he was shown mercy which was God's grace in action. This was demonstrated to Paul because he acted in ignorance and unbelief. He understood finally as he wrote 1 Timothy that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ had been poured out on him in such a marvelous way in Christ Jesus. Paul was trying to convince others about his complete change of attitude toward Jesus Christ. He stated that his was a trustworthy statement that deserved full acceptance. He reiterates that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners like him who was the worst. Paul as Saul was the worst in the context of religion and self-righteousness. The more religious you are, the more self-righteous you are. Be aware that you can become the quintessence of self-righteousness on the basis of taking in the Truth. You can believe that you do what you do because you are up on the latest theological vocabulary. You can be taking in doctrine with the idea of using it as some kind of status symbol to show that you are superior to other Christians. You can be just as legalistic on doctrine as you can not being on doctrine. The whole issue of doctrine is that you are to hear it, believe it, and put it into practice within your life. That is teachability under genuine humility. That's the key. That's the grace orientation of the believer. That was Paul's orientation to God's grace.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

Although Paul was the worst sinner whoever lived because he was the most religious and self-righteous, he was given many spiritual gifts. He didn't earn, merit, or deserve them because before salvation, he was the worst sinner who ever lived. There's no merit or works or good deeds in that, is there? Being the worst sinner whoever lived could not enable him to earn or deserve spiritual gifts. Yet, Paul was gifted probably more than any other Christian who ever lived. He had this abundance of spiritual gifts, yet, God, in His foreknowledge, knew that Paul would utilize and exploit the grace of God more than any Christian who ever lived. He would have that maximum capacity to utilize all of those magnificent spiritual gifts.

You could be one that God gave an abundance of spiritual gifts at the moment of salvation. There are people who have just received Christ. We are grateful that they have made that decision. Perhaps they and others have received this abundance of spiritual gifts, because God’s foreknowledge knew they would get with the Word and have the spiritual capacity as mature believers to utilize their spiritual gifts to His glory and maximum divine good production. So hang in there! Whether you have one gift or many gifts, God is the source of all of these spiritual gifts. Therefore, we must realize that we can never earn or deserve them. Grace is to be our perspective toward spiritual gifts.


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