Sidelines: Serving the King

Sidelines: Serving the King

Love God…Love people…Serve the King…Tell the world

Love is the governing factor.  I Corinthians 13:1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing,”  and I Corinthians 14:1, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts….”

The Corinthian church was apparently a gifted group of people who prized the spiritual gifts and were prone to pride, competition and flaunting their spiritual gifts.  That is why Paul pointed out to them how worthless such gifts are in comparison to loving others.

“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers,” I John 3:16.  Then Romans 12:1-2 pleads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  You must first lay down your life on the altar as a living sacrifice.  That is your “reasonable service.”  The sense in the Greek is that “it’s the very least you can do.”  

SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE diverse abilities. 

One body…many members…different gifts…different functions.  Not everyone is the same.  Every part needs the other parts of the body!  The eye

cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.”  The pastor cannot say to the deacons, “I don’t have any need for you…”  The BIG D Deacons (servants) can’t say to their little “d” deacons, “I have no need of you.”  Pastor Jeff cannot say to the sound booth team, “I have no need of you.”  The evangelist cannot say to the person exercising mercy, “I have no need of you…”  We all need everybody else in order to function as a body and continue to grow together.

In the same way that the human body is amazing with all its different parts, all of which are necessary, so the body of Christ is amazing in its diversity!   

I Corinthians 12:4-6 discusses the unity within the diversity to be found in the family of God:  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God Who empowers them all in everyone.”

I Peter 4:10-11, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace; whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies…” Only two spiritual gifts groups are mentioned here, those used in teaching and serving.  

Romans 12:6-8 emphasizes the USE of spiritual gifts, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”  I Corinthians 7:7 says not only that each child of God has a gift, but that each gift is from God.  I Corinthians 12:8-10 and 28 gives a list of some spiritual gifts, even prioritizing some, “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.””   Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us why God has given these spiritual gifts to the church: “And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him Who is the head, into Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Diverse abilities…Given by God to believers

Ephesians 4:11-16 says with certainty that Jesus gave gifts to men (human beings).  

As this giving of gifts applies to Calvary Baptist Church, the shepherds (pastors/elders) (not chiefly decision makers, but rather shepherds) and teachers are “equippers” (to equip the saints for the work of the ministry).  Like instructors at the Career Tech Center.  Like coaches on a basketball or baseball team.  Like conductors of an orchestra.  Like professors in a college.  It’s not that shepherds are on the sidelines themselves.  We are fully in the fray.  We are immersed in it!  We are doing the work of the ministry, too.      

I Corinthians 12:6 says, “…the same God who empowers them (gifts) all in everyone…”  Romans 12:3 speaks of the “measure of faith that God has assigned…”  Romans 12:6, “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…”  I Peter 4:10, “as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”  I        Corinthians 7:7, “Each has his own gift from God…”  Humility!  God has given me spiritual gifts, and hence they do not come from me; they are not for me and so why would I boast?  What do you have that you did not receive from God in the realm of spiritual gifts?  II Corinthians 4:7, “…the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?  Remember, at the end of it, when we stand before God, the very best we can hope for is to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Spiritual gifts are diverse abilities, given by God to believers…

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Read I Corinthians 12:4-11: “Now there are  varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God Who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit,…All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”

So as we exercise our spiritual gifts in the life of the local church, we do so seeking to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  We look in faith to Him as we use them. 

Spiritual gifts are diverse abilities, given by God to believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit… 

to be USED for the glory of God

To have spiritual gifts (every Christian) and not to use them is to live in disobedience to God.  To be an individual Christian who is not dedicated to a local body of believers is to live in disobedience to THE KING.  Lone Ranger Christians who are not tied to and living under and living in a body of believers are not in obedience to the King!    

Over and over in the Scriptures, the command to use them in these sections laying out the spiritual gifts is both basic and yet vital.  Romans 12:6, “Let us use them…I Peter 4:10, “use it to serve one another…”

A tool is no good to anyone unless it gets used! Stairmaster…Weight set…Bowflex treadmill…Nordic Track…  

It takes faith to use our spiritual gifts!  Why?  When we use our spiritual gifts, the natural result is that the body is equipped and begins to grow healthy and strong, and the demon world takes notice.  A strong and healthy church becomes poised and ready to storm the gates of hell with the Gospel,  to reach out to a lost and spiritually dead and dying world with the Gospel (good news), the life-transforming message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!    Satan hates to see people brought to saving faith and to lose another worshipper to the true God.  He hates to see glory brought to God’s name.  As such, tremendous resistance is thrown in the face of those who would be faithful serving in the local church by using their spiritual gifts!  We must be risk takers who don’t mind the BIG X target on our backs.  Paul told the Ephesians that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness.

Pastors face a myriad of surprising challenges and experience heartbreak on a regular basis: people who refuse to submit to the Lord.  And ministry leaders face volunteer shortages and difficult quandaries.  Teens serving in children’s ministries face children who deride them.   Whenever we step into ministry and use our spiritual gifts, there is an X on our backs.  We will be criticized, often by armchair quarterbacks who remain personally safe on the sidelines while feeling all too free to critique those who are in the game.  

Don’t criticize Trout and Ohtani.  “You stink…you failed…”  I’d love to see you young guys face a 95 MPH fastball and then a 83 MPH slider from 55 feet away as this merciless pitcher throws off a mound of dirt that is raised a full 10 inches!

Spiritual gifts are diverse abilities given by God to believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be used for the glory of God…

and for the good of the church…

You and I and every believer here have been given spiritual gifts for the glory of God and for the good of the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the church of Christ.  Ephesians 4:12, “…for building up the body of Christ…to grow us up to be more like Christ, the Head of the church…to make the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  In I Peter 4:10 we are commanded to use our spiritual gifts to serve one another.  

Please do not deprive me of the use of your spiritual gifts!  If you stop attending the worship services of Calvary Baptist Church, you are depriving your brothers and sisters in Christ of a great blessing and stunting our growth in Jesus Christ.  If you choose not to exercise your spiritual gifts and sit on the sidelines, you are stunting my growth in Jesus Christ!  I WANT TO BE MORE LIKE KING JESUS.  I WANT TO BE MORE LIKE MY LORD AND SAVIOR!  PLEASE DON’T STUNT MY GROWTH BY NOT USING YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS!    

Spiritual gifts are diverse abilities given by God to believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be used for the glory of God and for the good of the church… 

to accomplish the work of the ministry.”

You haven’t hired Pastor Dan and Pastor Jeff to “do the work of the ministry.”  You haven’t appointed the other elders to do the work of the ministry so that you can sit on the sidelines.  You haven’t appointed the BIG “D” Deacons to serve by themselves so that you can simply attend the worship services and put your money in the four new Giving Boxes, critique the Pastor’s sermon every Sunday, walk out and go back to your life!  God has called each one of you to accomplish the work of the ministry.  God has called us to “together” accomplish the work of the ministry.  What a blessing it is when the pastor hears of many people being blessed by the members of the church!  Hospital visits, encouraging phone calls, prayers for healings, bearing one another’s burdens, dropping off a meal, babysitting for a couple with young children in need of a date, giving dollars to a family in need, confessing  faults one to another and praying for one another so that you may be healed…

Look at the list of 22 spiritual gifts!  I Peter 4:10-11: “Whoever speaks…whoever renders service…”

Further Reflection:

  • What is the connection between faith and reliance on the Holy Spirit in using your spiritual gifts at CBC?
  • Looking at the lists of spiritual gifts, which 3 catch your eye in relation to how God has crafted you?
  • To what degree are you using your spiritual gifts at CBC?