The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 11 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #235)
TEXT: Ephesians 4:11-12:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
David Livingstone said, “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The biggest job in the world is not running the White House; it’s running God’s House!”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “While Charles Fox Parham was always looking for students and welcomed the zeal of William J. Seymour, Parham was also a Ku Klux Klan sympathizer. He wasn’t sure he was ready to welcome a black student into his school. On the other hand, how could he turn him away? That just didn’t seem to be the Christian thing to do, either. Finally, Parham arrived at a compromise. He would allow Seymour to listen to his lectures from a chair outside by an open window. In the event of rain, Seymour would be allowed to move his chair into the hall, and the door would be left ajar so he could hear. Seymour agreed to the terms established and began attending Parham’s lectures. Earnestly he sought the “baptism of the Holy Ghost,” but without success. He continued preaching at black missions while waiting on God for his own “second blessing,” as the experience was also called. Seymour attended Parham’s short term Bible school in Houston, Texas (after Topeka folded) in 1906.”
The first aspect of the overarching reason why God gave spiritual gifts to the church is “for the perfecting of the saints.” The second aspect is “for the work of the ministry.” Spiritual gifts are not for personal gain or advancement in life. Spiritual gifts are given for use in God’s work.
The word “work” is derived from the same Greek word from which we get our English word “energy.” It is defined as “business, employment, that with which any one is occupied.” It implies the idea of labor or toil. This lets us know that we ought to take God’s work seriously. It is far more important than secular employment.
The word “ministry” is defined as the “service of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote faith among men.” The extended definition reads: ‘The service of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection, especially those who help meet needs by either collecting or distributing of charities.’ God has given His people spiritual gifts in order to serve others.
Of course, this spiritual service is not just expected of church leaders, but of all believers. One of the tragedies of the local church today is that, in most cases, you have ten percent of the people in the church doing 99 percent of the work. So many spiritual gifts are not being put to use. Ninety percent of the people who come to church on Sunday are there to be served. They are only interested in what they can get out of it. They are not interested in serving God or others. This is often shown in how we talk about a church service. We say, ‘I enjoyed that singing.’ Or, ‘That service really blessed my heart.’ We rarely give thought to the fact that we are there to worship and serve God while we serve others.
Every spiritual gift is given with the intention of being used to serve God and minister to others. Society would not tolerate a medic who does not use his training and ability to save lives or a firefighter who does not use his training and ability to put out fires. Even so, the church should not tolerate Christians who do not put their spiritual gift to use in the work of ministry.
Our prayer ought to be as the one expressed in this hymn by Ken Bible:
I’ve felt Your great compassion, Lord.
Touch a life through me.
May just one heart in hopeless night
Be helped and healed and brought to life
By love so warm and free.
I’ve known Your sweet forgiveness, Lord.
Pour it out through me.
When wrong is done and anger burns,
I’ll share the mercy none can earn
That flows forever free.
You’ve given me hope that will not die.
Lord, shine it out through me,
For all who come to Christ the Son
Will find their heaven here begun
And glimpse what life can be.