“ABUNDANT LIFE (3) SPIRITUAL GIFTS” By Pastor YAU
Text: Romans 12:6-8 April 10, 2011.
1) Violins without a violinist: A story accounts a rich retired man in Saskatchewan, Canada, who admired violin music so much that he spent a fortune to own a huge collection of rare and expensive violins. In his life time, highly unlikely that anyone will play those marvelous instruments as long as they are simply stored, protected and admired. But if they were placed in the hands of accomplished violinists, those violins could be making beautiful music to inspire and bless countless thousands of hearers. But the usefulness of the violins was buried, wasted.
2) Gifts without being used: It is infinitely more tragic that many Christians who have been given many beautiful and valuable spiritual gifts but they just keep those gifts stored, admired or even feeling proud. They keep the gifts God endowed them without using them to serve the Lord, to multiply His kingdom and to serve others in His church and in the world. It is never God’s intent to give us spiritual gifts for us to keep and feel good. Every gift we receive from God is for us to use them to further His kingdom, build His church and save souls.
THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS: The spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament, primarily in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, fall into three categories: sign, preaching and serving.
1) The categories of gifts: Before the New Testament was written and canonized, men had no standard for judging the truthfulness of someone who preached, taught or witnessed in the name of Christ. The gift of signs authenticated the teaching of the apostles which was the measure of all other teaching—and therefore ceased after the apostles died. “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance,” Paul explained to the Corinthian church, “by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Corinth. 12:12) After the writing of Romans, there was no mention of the gift of signs such as healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues or miracles. Paul did not mention the sign gift in Romans because their place in the church was already coming to an end. They belonged to a unique era in the history of the church and would have no permanent place in her on going ministry. It is significant that the seven gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 is all within the categories of speaking and serving. Peter specifically mentioned the categories of the gifts of speaking and serving. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
2) The foundation of gifts: When Paul listed the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:1, he uses the term “pneumatikos” literally it means “spiritual.” But in Romans 12:6, Paul uses the term “charisma”, from charis (grace). In 1 Corinthians, Paul put the emphasis on nature of gifts, spiritual, while in Romans he put the emphasis on the source of gifts---the grace of God. This is a very important foundation on gifts: whatever gift or gifts anyone may have, it is from the power of God’s spirit, not from the power of man. It is also given by God’s grace, not because of any merit of man who may claim to deserve or earn it.
3) The diversity of gifts: Paul introduces the list of gifts referring back to the unity in diversity he has just pointed out in 12:4-5. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” (12:6) “Differ” relates to the diversity and “grace” to the unity. In the grace of God, we receive different gifts according to different ways and needs we are to serve. Grace here is not about our salvation but about the favor of God to us. They are not earned or deserved but free gift of God. God has a plan for our life and He enables us with gifts to perform our duties to accomplish his plans in us.
SEVEN SPIRITUAL GIFTS: (Romans 12:6-8)
1) The gift of prophecy: “If prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith.” (12:6) Most Bible scholars believe that prophecy was a gift not only limited to the Old Testament on revelatory matters but also to the proclamation of God’s truth in New Testament time. In our day, it is active enablement to proclaim God’s word already revealed and written in the Scripture. Paul gives no distinction to this gift among other six, which are clearly ongoing gifts in the early churches thus, not limited to revelation. “Propheteia” means to “speak forth,” with no connotation of prediction or other supernatural or mystical significance. The gift of prophecy is simply the gift of preaching the word of God. In Greek text, “his faith” is “the faith” which means his level of understanding of “the faith” which is the “gospel message.” All preaching is about proclaiming the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
2) The gift of service: “If service, in his serving.” (12:7) This is a general term for service or ministry. From “diakonos” we have “deacons”—those who serve. The first group of deacons in the early church were “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” who were chosen to be in charge of providing food for widows in order to free the apostles to devote themselves “to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:3-4) There is no sign of classification of clergy and laity in God’s church like some denominations claim to have but designation of different ministries to different people who were given the gifts to serve.
3) The gift of teaching: “He who teaches, in his teaching.” (12:7) The third spiritual gift is that of teaching. Didaskon (teaches) is the act of teaching and didaskalia is “what is being taught. Both are related to this gift. Those who are given the gift, the special ability to interpret and present the truth of God clearly so others may understand it correctly. The gift of teaching may apply to teachers in Bible college, Sunday School and other Bible classes where the word of God is taught on a regular basis. The ministry of teaching was found in the early church. (Acts 2:42)The Great Commission includes the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
4) The gift of exhortation: “He who exhorts, in his exhortation.” (12:8) As with the gift of teaching, the connotation of the gift of exhortation is broad. Both the verb, parakaleo (exhorts) and the noun, paraklesis (exhortation) are compounds of the same two Greek words (para, and kaleo), to call someone to your side to help out or to support. They are closely related to parakletos, to advocate, comfort, to help. Therefore, exhortation includes the ideas of advising, pleading, encouraging warning, strengthening and comforting. This may be turning someone from sin, helping someone on his needs of going through a problem or giving him your advice in his making choices. Over all, exhortation is to help someone to live his life in the truth of God’s word.
5) The gift of giving: “He who gives, give with liberality.” (12:8) The usual Greek word for giving is didomi, but the word used here is the intensified metadidomi, which carries the additional meaning of sharing and imparting what is one’s self---the one who is given this gift gives sacrificially of his own life. To give liberally, haplotes, comes from the root meaning single-minded, open-hearted. He does not just give generously of his resources, he gives not to promote himself but to promote the well being of others. It is not just how generously he gives, it is also about why he is giving, unselfishly.
6) The gift of leadership: “He who leads, with diligence.” (12:8) Leads is from proistemi which means “standing in front” the idea of leadership. This word is never used of governmental rulers but of headship in the family (1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12) and in the church (1 Tim. 5:17) In 1 Corinth 12:28, Paul refers to the same gift by a different word “administration” (kubernesis) which mean “to guide.” Paul listed the qualities of church leadership in 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Diligence means zeal, commitment, hard work and being responsible. Leaders are to give direction to the church or whatever the responsibility may be, not just to follow orders from someone else.
7) The gift of showing mercy: “He who shows mercy, with cheer-fulness.” (12:8) Showing mercy, (eleeo) carries the joint idea of actively showing sympathy for someone else and of having the necessary resources to successfully comfort and strengthen that person. A Christian mercy giver is divinely endowed with very special sensitivity to notice suffering and sorrow with the ability and the resource to help elevate such pain and afflictions. It is more than just to feel the pain, but to elevate or erase the pain in others. Being cheerful in showing mercy means being happy and willing to see the needs and put it in action to meet the needs with joyful heart.
1) Rediscover spiritual gifts: Many of the spiritual gifts God has given us have been either buried or misplaced and rendered useless. That is not what God has intended. We need to find out what they are and where they are and use them to fulfill the purpose God has. Do not be the last servant in the parable of talents who took the gift and buried it and didn’t produce anything for his master.
2) Be functioning Christians: When Jesus urged us to remain in him and he in us so we can bear much fruit, John 15:1-5, he showed us a way to live a functioning and fruitful life. No one needs to be a loser or live a barren life if he will just gets back to use the gifts God has endowed him. The seeds are always in us, all we need to do is to cultivate them with determination and a commitment to keep working. No one wants to be left behind or rendered useless when he sees God.
3) There is still room for you: It is never too late to get on board if you haven’t had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You can ask Him to enter your life now, and ask him to forgive your sins with his blood from the cross. He has so much potential in you and wants you to be fruitful and useful in the world and the world to come. Take him to heart, be humble and you will see his power in your life.