A Study of the Gifts of the Spirit

Charisma – a gift of grace, an endowment upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches.

Charis – grace, that which bestows on occasion pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard; divine favor freely dispensed.

Gifts of the Spirit – a spiritual gift of God bestowed upon the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit in and by the grace bestowed or given by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (see Romans 12:6).

Pneumatikos – plural, pneumatika; from pneuma which means spirit, breath, wind.  Literally means a “spiritual,” that which pertains to, or proceeds from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any of the following might be applied here:  The gifts, manifestations, impartations, emanations, endowments, matters, things, effects, powers, workings, aids, graces or favors of the Holy Spirit.

Major Lists of the Gifts of the Spirit

Romans 12:6-8, 13

  1. Prophecy
  2. Ministry
  3. Teachings
  4. Exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Ruling (leadership)
  7. Mercy
  8. Hospitality

Ephesians 4:11

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Evangelists
  4. Pastors
  5. Teachers

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

  1. Wisdom
  2. Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healing
  5. Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discernment of spirits
  8. Divers kinds of tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

1 Corinthians 12:28

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Teachers
  4. Miracles
  5. Healings
  6. Helps (hospitality)
  7. Governments (administration)
  8. Diversities of tongues

NOTE; Only one gift is mentioned in all four of the major lists of the gifts. Attributes or manifestations that might be classified as a gift although not necessarily called a gift in scriptures

Some Examples of the Gifts of the Spirit

  1. Ephesians 2:18-20 – Apostles and prophets
  2. Acts 13:1 – Prophets and teachers
  3. Acts 15:32 – Prophets and teachers
  4. Galatians 2:8-9 – Leadership and apostles
  5. 1 Peter 5:1-2 – Elders (leadership)
  6. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 – Giving
  7. James 5:14-15 – Faith and healing
  8. Acts 21:8-10 – Evangelists and prophets
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 – Apostles
  10. 2 Timothy 4:5 – Evangelists
  11. Acts 11:27-28 – Prophets
  12. Acts 20:28 – Overseer (leadership
  13. 1 Timothy 5:17 – Rulers (leadership) and teachers
  14. Acts 19:11-12 – Miracles
  •  Are all the gifts of the Spirit still active in the church today?

Most Pentecostal and charismatic churches say that they are still active.  Other churches (Methodist, Baptists and mainline denominations) say that the sign gifts are no longer used in the churches today.

Whatever you believe…take and use as God blesses.  Pray that the gifts of the Spirit you believe are still active are available to you and your church.

  •  Spiritual gifts are not natural talents or human abilities. These talents/abilities are God-given but not a gift of the Holy Spirit.
  •  What is the role of the Christian in his/her use of the Gifts of the Spirit?
  1. 1 Corinthians 13 – to be used with love (not gits without love, but gifts controlled by love)
  2. 1 Corinthians gives specific guidelines for the use of the gifts in the church
  3. Ephesians 4:12 – these gifts are given to to equip the saints, to edify the church
  4. 1 Peter 4:7-11 – purpose of gifts it to ultimately bring glory to God
  5. Colossians 3:23 – all we do, how we use our gifts it to be done for the Lord, not for people
  • Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, *faith (faithfulness), meekness, temperance.  These are all found in Galatians 5.  The gifts of the Spirit are exercised in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit.

Five Steps Toward Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

  1. Explore – Study the Scripture concerning the gifts
  2. Experiment – Question, pray, ask yourself, “Do I have this gift?”
  3. Examine – Examine your feelings, makeup, personality, temperament.
  4. Evaluate – Evaluate the effectiveness of your gift.
  5. Expect – Expect confirmation from the Holy Spirit/the body of Christ.

Faith is listed as a gift of the Spirit and also as a fruit of the Spirit.  More appropriately, it should read faithfulness in the list of the fruit of the Sprit. 

The First Great Gentile Church

Acts 11:19-30

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:18 is a momentous passage.  Peter’s ministry to Cornelius and his household, and the positive response by the church at Jerusalem (see Acts 10:1-11:18) set the stage for Paul’s outreach to the Gentiles in the remaining chapters.  The next few verses cover one of the most important events in history – the founding of the Gentile church. 

  • The Gentile Church is Born
  • Born through the witness of lay believers (Acts 8:1-4).  Note that everyone was scattered except the apostles
  • Born by believers sharing with everyone they met – Jews and Gentiles alike.  God desires everyone to hear the good news and for everyone to be saved.

Isaiah 45:22 – “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!”

Matthew 22:9 – “Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.”

Romans 10:12 – “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (between the rich and the poor, between the educated and the uneducated, between the white and the black, between the Church of God and the Baptist, between the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic), for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”

  • Borne by the hand of the Lord.  “the hand of the Lord was with them.”
  • God allowed the persecution.
  • God gave the believers the boldness to proclaim the good news.
  • God opened the eyes of the people in Antioch to receive the good news.
  • The Gentile Church is Nourished
  • Mother Church sent ministerial help – the church needed leadership.
  • Barnabas encouraged the new church – to continue with the Lord with purpose of heart (a deliberate plan, an intention, a design).  It is not enough to start walking with God, but the church must have a deliberate plan, an intention to keep walking with God.
  • Barnabas taught the new church – teaching is an important part of the church.
  • The Gentile Church had an Effective Witness
  • Believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch.  The Greek word used was christianos.  This was likely an insulting name given to the followers of Christ (Christos) like the term “Jesus-freak” was used a few years ago.  Later, believers took the name and began applying it to themselves.  Eventually the name was adopted by the whole world for the followers of Christ.   If we call ourselves “Christian,” we need to recognize what it means to be a true follower of Christ.

Colossians 2:6 – As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

  • The Gentile Church Had a Ministry to Others
  • When they heard of the prophesied famine coming, they took up a relief offering to Jerusalem.  This was an offering each person shared in according to their ability.  Again, we see that a growing, thriving church is one that reaches out to others – it is not consumed with just meeting its own needs.

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us (ergazomai – work, be busy, accomplish something, produce things, be engaged in, toil.  Ergazomai is the opposite of idleness, laziness, or inactivity.) do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

1 Timothy 6:18 – Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.

NOTE:  Preaching–Teaching–Exhortation – There are three different Greek words used for preaching and teaching in this passage.

  • Lalountes is translated “preaching” in the King James Version and “spoke” in the New King James Version.  It is the simple sharing of conversation among people.  In other words, as the believers were scattered abroad, wherever they went, whoever they talked to, Jesus was the topic of their conversation.  Jesus was so real in their lives, so much on their mind that they simply “spoke” about Him to every one they came in contact with. 
  • Euaggelizomenoi is translated “preaching” and it means to declare and proclaim the gospel – the good news.  The believers – the lay people – actually went into Antioch and preached and proclaimed that Jesus Christ had died and risen again for their sins. 
  • Parekalei is translated “exhorted” or “encouraged” and means to warn, comfort, encourage, challenge, admonish or advise.  The believers – both in their day-to-day conversation and in their preaching – urged the people at Antioch to continue with the Lord with one purpose, one plan, one commitment of service.

Living in His Fullness

Ephesians 3:19

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (The Amplified Bible)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (New Living Translation)

Ephesians 4:11-13

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  (New Living Translation)

  • He was man – yet:

Colossians 1:19 – For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. (The Amplified Bible)

  • All His loving kindness

When I say “all” I am not saying his “all” is limited, that there is no more for anyone else.  I am saying He has given us all that was needed, all that was necessary, and all that was available.  The enormity of His fullness, of His grace is beyond our comprehension (like the stars in the heaven or the sand at the seashore) and we are the recipients of all that there is.

Look at this illustration:  We are spiritually filthy dirty in our sins and we can somehow harness all the water that is in the ocean and bathe in that huge bathtub.  His grace is immeasurable and never ceases.  Once it is poured out on us it keeps on being poured out.  You may have been saved 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago, but His grace has never stopped flowing upon you, over you, through you, in you, around you.  The ample vast supply is available to all who have been redeemed.

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. (The Amplified Bible)

  • This grace in its fullness is “real love.”  At salvation I received that same fullness living in me.

Colossians 2:9 – For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].  (The Amplified Bible)

  • What shall we do about His fullness in our lives?

Hebrews 10:26-29 – For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

We have received the fullness of Jesus Christ which is, was and forever shall be His grace.  All His grace was manifested at Calvary.  We can never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER receive more of His grace than that which was given freely at the cross because we have received His fullness.  That is, we have received all that is available, complete salvation.  All that was necessary for the work to be done in us, for us, through us, all His riches, all His love, all His forgiveness, all His mercies. 

The fullness of His grace.  There is no past tense.  It does not say “completed” – but “complete.”  It is done!

Luke 6:27-42 – But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.  But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.  And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.\

James 2:1-7 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.  For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

1 John 3:14-17 – If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.  We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  (New Living Translation)

2 Thessalonians 1:12 – Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist said, “I must decrease – He must increase.”  We might simply say, “It’s not about me but it’s about Him.”

One writer described His fullness this way – “Basketfuls.”  He must have had the multiplication of loaves and fishes in mind when he said, “basketsful!”

Jonathan Edwards – “Nothing was done after His resurrection to purchase redemption of men, nor is there anything more to be done through all eternity.”

John 1:16 – For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.

                        He is all my righteousness – I stand complete in Him and worship Him.

Appreciating the Mystery

Ephesians 3

BACKGROUND/FOUNDATION:   This entire third chapter of Ephesians is about the mystery of God, the eternal purpose of God for the Christian believer.  It is divided into three parts and all together, it tells us of our access in Christ Jesus: 

Ephesians 3:1-7 – Revealing the Mystery

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

  • All are fellow heirs, or joint heirs
  • All are of the same body
  • All are partakers of the promise in Christ through the Gospel.

Ephesians 3:8-13 – The Purpose of the Mystery

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

  • The power of God in the church
  • The grace of God in the church
  • God’s eternal purpose in Christ
  • The believer’s access into God’s presence by faith.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – Appreciating the Mystery

Appreciating the Mystery – For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

  • For strength and power within – by God’s Spirit
    • For Christ to rule and reign within – by faith
    • The encouragement to pray and trust God for the answer.

THE MYSTERY

In most books we read we find the same questions.  In school when you have a book report to write you had to cover all the very same questions.  No less is true when we read the Bible.  We must ask the very same questions.  Those questions are: 

  • Who
  • How
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

In this chapter we find the answer to some of our questions.

  • Who – We are all fellow heirs, or joint heirs of the same body.  That is, both Jew and Gentile are partakers of God’s promise in Christ through the Gospel.
  • How – through the Gospel – the good news
  • What – the death and resurrection of Jesus giving us eternal life
  • When – Now
  • Where – wherever anyone receives the message and believes on Jesus
  • Why – the love of Christ which passes knowledge

Part of that promise is that He gave us the power and grace and strength to be like Him in obedience, faithfulness, and holiness in all manner of situations. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “But He said to me, ‘My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you (sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully); for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in your weakness.’  Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak (in human strength), then am I (truly) strong (able, powerful in divine strength).  The Amplified Version. 

Colossians – “(We pray) that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, (to exercise) every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy.” The Amplified Version

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun); they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” The Amplified Version 

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth) let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight ) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection).  He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” The Amplified Version

THE PURPOSE

1 Peter 2:5 – “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

OUR APPRECIATION

1 Timothy 1:13-14 – “although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Our Cornerstone (Seven Pictures of the Church)

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

1.  A NEW NATION

  • We were strangers and foreigners. 
  • We are now fellow citizens with the saints of God.

Philippians 3:30 – “For our conversation (life, citizenship) is in heaven; from where we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 11:9-10 – “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

2 Peter 3:13 – “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

 Revelation 21:27 – “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

2.  GOD’S FAMILY

  • Footnotes:
  1. Revelation 21:27 NU-Text and M-Text read anything profane, nor one who causes.
  2. Adopted as his sons

Romans 8:15-17 – “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…..”

Hebrews 2:11 – “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

1 John 3:1 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

  • Privilege of responsibility and service.

Matthew 12:50 – “For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 10:43-45 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Romans 12:10-11 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

 Gal. 6:2, 10 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

3.  GOD’S BUILDING

  • Jesus is the Chief cornerstone. 
  • The cornerstone is the first stone laid.

Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….”

Hebrews 5:9 – “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

 Hebrews 2:10 – “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

  • The cornerstone is the supportive stone.

1 Corinthians 3:11 – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

  • The cornerstone is the directional stone.

1 Peter 2:6-8 – “…Behold I say in Zion, a chief cornerstone elect, precious; and he that believes on him shall not be confounded…”

4.  A LIVING AND GROWING ORGANISM

  • Christ is a living stone.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

  • The church must grow.

Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations….”

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth

 Acts 4:20 – For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

 Acts 5:20 – Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

  • Each believer within the church must fulfill their function of bringing new stones to fit into the temple of God.

2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.”

5.  A WORLD-WIDE TEMPLE – THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

“The whole building”

Matthew 16:18 – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

6.  A LOCAL TEMPLE – THE LOCAL CHURCH

“You (the local church) are being built together”

Romans 12:4-5 – “For as we many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

1 Cor. 12:12-28 – “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being 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 have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.   And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.  And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”

7.  INDWELT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 14:17 – “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because neither sees him nor knows Him; but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Romans 8:9 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”

 2 Timothy l:14 – “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Spiritual Gifts

Ephesians 4:7-16

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

GOD LOVES TO GIVE

  • Gave his Son

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son what whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

  • Gives us faith to be saved

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

  • Gives us the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:38 – “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

  • Gives us “all things”

Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

  • The Greek word used in the above scriptures for “gift” is dorea which means a “present or a free gift stressing its voluntary character.”  It is always used in the New Testament of a spiritual or supernatural gift.  With no strings attached, God gives us these gifts.

DIFFERENT KINDS OF GIFTS OF GOD

  • Ministry Gifts
  • Leaders – “Equippers” – Ephesians 4:11 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”
  • Apostle – “A person with the special ability to provide leadership for a cluster of churches.  This often involves the founding of the churches, but may also include giving new direction to the church.”
  • Prophet – “A person with the supernatural ability to interpret the Scriptures in the light of the present situation in the Church giving encouragement, correction, warning and edification.” 
  • Evangelist – “A person who is gifted to present the gospel in such a way that people will respond to the claims of Christ through repentance, conversion and discipleship.  He also has the ability to equip the church to evangelize.”
  • Pastor – Teacher – “A person with the special ability to take responsibility for the nourishment, health protection, and development of a congregation on a

                                          relatively long-term basis.”

  • These “gifts of God” are actually people God has given the church to perfect, prepare and equip the members of the church for their individual ministries. 
  • The Greek word used here for “gift” is domatawhich stresses the concrete character of the gift.  This is the only place in the New Testament where this word is found and it refers to those leadership ministry gifts found in Ephesians 4:11. 
  • Body Ministry Gifts – Romans 12:6-8 – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
  • Prophecy – “A person who can spontaneously utter words from the Lord given to the Body for encouragement, edification or exhortation. 
  • Serving – “A person who serves the body of Christ in a supporting role, thus releasing those in leadership roles to carry on their ministries.”  Biblical example:  deacons in Acts 6:1-6.
  • Teaching – “A person who can communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body in such a way others will learn.”  Biblical example:  Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18:26.
  • Encouraging – “A person who can minister encouragement and hope to other members of the Body.  Biblical example:  Barnabas in Acts 4:36.
  • Giving – “A person who can provide material resources to the Body with liberality and cheerfulness.  Biblical example:  Barnabas in Acts 4:36.
  • Leadership – “A person who is able to organize and direct toward a specific goal in projects that promote the work of God and the growth of those involved.”  Biblical example:  James in Acts 15:3-21.
  • Mercy – “A person who can feel genuine empathy and compassion for those who are suffering and can translate that compassion into deeds that reflect Christ’s

                                    love and alleviate suffering.”  Biblical example:  Epaphroditus in Phil. 2:25-30.

  • Romans 12:5-6 tells us that each member of Christ receives a gift of this nature. 
  • 1 Peter 4:10 tells us each one has a gift and we are to use these gifts to serve others.
  • The Greek word used here for “gift” is charismata and means a gift of grace, a special endowment.
  • Manifestation Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
  • Wisdom – “God-given supernatural utterance of a specific word, given at a specific time, giving God’s wisdom for a specific situation.”  Biblical example:  Acts 15:28
  • Knowledge – “God-given information which only God may know given to help the Church or members of the Body in a time of need.”  Biblical example:  Acts 5:3-5
  • Faith – “God-given ability to believe in God for a specific need when it seems impossible.”  Biblical example:  Throughout the Gospels and Acts
  • Healing – “God-given healing of physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual needs of persons at a specific time.” Biblical example:  Throughout the Gospels and Acts
  • Miracles – “God-given ability to perform the impossible.” Biblical example:  Acts 28:3-5
  • Prophecy – “God-given spontaneously-uttered word from the Lord giving directions, instruction, encouragement to the Body.  Bible example:  Acts 11:28
  • Discernment – “God-given ability to know what spirit is motivating a person or a situation.”  Biblical example:  Acts 16:16-18
  • Tongues – “God-given ability to speak to the Church in a language which a person does not understand.”  Biblical example:  Acts 2
  • Interpretation of tongues – “God-given ability to give the meaning of what has been uttered in tongues.”  Instructions for this given in 1 Corinthians.
  • The Greek word used here for “manifestations” is phanerosis and means “to lay bare, to unveil.”  It means “to shine forth, to reveal.” 
  • Spiritual manifestations are the supernatural “surprises of the Spirit,” a bursting forth of the energy and power of God whenever there is a need. 

DIFFERENCE IN MINISTRY AND MANIFESTATION GIFTS

  • Ministry Gifts
  • They are permanent – Romans 11:29 – “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
  • They are related to natural gifts and will be in harmony with natural ability and gifts.
  • They determine the position of an individual in the body of Christ.
  • Ministry gifts are “gifted persons” given to the church.  To receive the gift, we must receive the person – Romans 15:7 – “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
  • Each believer is to identify and develop their ministry gift.
  • Manifestation Gifts
  • They are temporary.
  • They have no relation to natural ability.
  • There is little relationship to the position in the body of Christ and the manifestation.
  • The body of Christ is to receive and rejoice in these “surprises” of the Spirit.

PURPOSE OF LEADERSHIP MINISTRY GIFTS

  • Unity in the Body
  • Body to grow in their knowledge of Christ
  • Body to become complete – “grow up”
  • Each person in the body “each joint” to find their proper place in the body and to work to build up the Church.

Christianity and Prejudice – Can They Belong Together?

Acts 10:1-35

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?

So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them.

On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Prejudice and partiality exist.  Prejudice is everywhere — in every nation, in every city, in every neighborhood, even in every family.  Unfortunately, prejudice is many times in the church.  Prejudices arise because people are different.  Different nationality, different language, different religion, different color, different social standing, different wealth.  When we meet someone different from ourselves, it often makes us uncomfortable.  The unknown can be intimidating.  We are more at ease when we are in a group where “someone is just like us.” 

Prejudice often leads to mistreatment – from ignoring, gossiping, and joking about to persecuting, abusing, opposing and enslaving.  Mistreatment leads to more prejudice.  Both the one mistreating and the one being mistreated form judgments against the other group of people.  If one person does wrong in a certain group – judgments are formed against the entire group. 

Prejudice is passed on from one generation to another.  Think about it.  You may be prejudiced against people you have had little contact with.  Where did you get your knowledge of them?  From your parents, from your peers, from TV, from what you have “heard.”  What little contact you have had with them was probably hindered from any real understanding or meaning because of preconceived ideas – both on your part and on theirs. 

Think of the divisions:  In Ireland – Catholic vs. Protestant; In the Middle East – Jew vs. Muslim; in India – Hindu vs. Muslim and Hindu vs. Christian – In USA – white vs. black,  rich vs. poor, English-speaking against Spanish-speaking.

This passage in Acts strikes a fatal blow against prejudice.  It shows forever that Jesus Christ has come to erase all prejudices and barriers between people.  By studying the book of Acts, it becomes clear that while prejudice may be natural, it is not to be a part of the Christian’s life.  John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoeverbelieves in Him shall be saved.”

The Jews, like everyone else, had developed their own laws and customs.  They were steeped in their own nationality and viewed other cultures as “dogs.”  They had been mistreated through the years – conquered by various nations – scattered throughout the earth.  During the time of the Early Church, they were ruled by the Roman government.  The one thing that united them wherever they went was their religion (belief in one true God, the sacrifices at the temple only, their special diet, their observance of the Sabbath, etc.)  These rules and beliefs kept them from alien beliefs and maintained their distinctiveness as a people and a nation.  Therefore, anything that threatened their religion they believed threaten their very existence as a people. 

The Jews had misread and misunderstood God’s purpose for them.  When God called Abraham, he called him to be the head of a nation that would be a witness to the entire world.  God wanted to use the Jews to be his “missionary” nation to show the world God’s love and power.

Genesis 12:1-3 – Now the Lord had said to Abram:  “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation;  I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  This promised that Abram and his family would be a blessing to all the earth is repeated in Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4 and Genesis 28:14.

The prophet Isaiah also spoke of this.

Isaiah 2:1-4 – The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

The Psalms are full of exhortations to “make known His deeds among the peoples.”  Yet, they had completely separated themselves from the world in ways God had not intended. 

  • They referred to other cultures as “dogs.”
  • They would have no contact with a Gentile unless absolutely necessary.
  • They would not help a Gentile woman giving birth because it would be bringing another Gentile into the world.

This was the prejudice of the Early Church.  This was the barrier God had to break down.  That is the point of this chapter.  God was showing Peter, the leader of the Church up to this point, that the doors of salvation were to be opened to every person, regardless of race, language, religion, color, social standing, etc.

  • God Chooses a Gentile to Receive the “Good News”
  • A Roman noncommissioned officer – not only a foreigner, but one of the despised Romans who had conquered Israel and subjected them to Roman government.
  • Devout man who feared God – he believed in the one true God and held him in extreme respect or awe.
  • A generous and praying man – note that his prayer was to God always.  In other words, prayer was a daily part of his life.
  • In spite of his respect of God, his generosity, his prayers, he still lacked something – knowledge of and a relationship with Jesus Christ and        the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

NOTE:  Cornelius is a good example that, while respect of God, good deeds and prayer are important, without a true knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ, they are insufficient for salvation.

  • Because he was seeking God, God sent an angel to him to lead him into the full knowledge of God. 

NOTE:  Cornelius is a good example that, if someone honestly seeks God even without true knowledge of His Word, God will provide an answer.

Romans 1:20 – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call (cry out, call out loudly to get someone’s attention) to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty (inaccessible) things which you do not know.

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

  • God Chooses a Jew to Give the “Good News” to the Gentile
  • Peter was a praying man.  He was praying about the sixth hour (12 noon).  This was one of the three prayer hours practiced by the Jews.  This indicates that Peter was praying at least three times a day. 

Psalm 55:17 – Evening and morning and noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.

  • Peter was just a man.  He had got hungry, he did not immediately recognize God’s leading.  He was subject to the prejudices of his time and culture. 
  • Peter obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit. 
  • He went with the men.
  • He “entered” the house of Cornelius.
  • He rejected worship from Cornelius.
  • He preached the “good news” to the Gentiles.
  • God Clearly Shows that Prejudice Does Not Belong in the Church

Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

Galatians 3:27-28 – For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek (German or Spanish, American or Russian, black or white, Anglo-Saxon or Hispanic), there is neither bond nor free (educated or uneducated, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple), there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 6:9 – And you master, do the same things unto them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven and there is no partiality with Him.

Partiality means favoritism, distinction, bias, conditional preference.  The word denotes a biased judgment, which gives respect to rank, position, or circumstances.  God shows no partiality injustice, judgment or favorable treatment when dealing with people, and He expects us to follow His example.

Christ in Us

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

A STRONG CHURCH

  • The Philippians’ Church was a strong church.  When a church is strong, it always has a vision.   It is always working out some strategy to carry forth the Gospel.  A strong church launches ministry after ministry.  A strong church is not complacent.  A strong church is vibrant with things going on that will give glory to God and touch the lives of believers and nonbelievers alike.  A strong church has people in its midst that are always busy doing and going and helping, and inviting, and listening and caring.  A strong church is an active church. 
  • In a strong church there is great need for unity.  With many different ideas and things going on there will always be people with divergent ideas and pet projects.  Unity must be the goal of all involved.  That unity only comes by Christ dwelling in us richly.  There are seven traits in these first four verses of Philippians 2 that will hold the church together and keep it unified.
  • Consolation
  • Love
  • Fellowship in the Spirit
  • Compassion
  • Concern for one another’s joy
  • Humility or lowliness of mind
  • Controlling self-interest or concentration upon oneself

TRAITS TO UNITY

  • Consolation – In this passage the word means encouragement, comfort, solace, exhortation, and strengthening believers to be one in spirit and busy about the ministry of His church.  Christ wants no murmuring, no grumbling, disturbance, or weakening of the unity within the church.  The Spirit of Christ in us is to take the disturbed or upset person and console, comfort, encourage and strengthen them.  Not only are we to help the individual that needs consoling or comforting, but we are to allow that same comfort, strength, and encouragement of Christ to flow through us when we are in need of comfort, encouragement or strength.  Just imagine the spirit of unity that would prevail in a church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ course through them.  There would be no murmuring, grumbling, disturbance – no disunity whatsoever.

John 14:18 – “I will not leave you comfortless:  I will come to you.” 

1 Thessalonians – “Therefore comfort each other, and edify one another, just as you are also doing.”

“Isaiah 40:1 – Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God.” 

  • Love – There is a comfort of love that is in Christ.  The love of Christ stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers.  The word used here for love (agape) is the kind of love that is selfless and sacrificial.   It is the kind of love that loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved, when he is utterly unworthy of being loved.  It is the love of Christ, the love which He showed when He gave and sacrificed Himself for us.  We did not deserve it and were utterly unworthy of such love, yet Christ loved us despite all.  Imagine the spirit of unity that would exist within a church if every member would let the love of Christ flow though them.  There would be no bitterness, anger, or strife – no action that would hurt another.  Even if the person was as wrong as could be and deserved the most drastic punishment that could be given, the church’s members would sacrifice and give themselves for that person.  This is the answer to unity, the Lord’s spirit of love!  How desperately the church needs its members to let the love of Christ flow through them to each other.

John 13: 34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” 

Romans 12:9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” 

  • Fellowship in the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit works mightily in the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord.  He enters the heart and life of the believer to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Christ.  The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers.  He melts and molds the heart of the new believer to other believers.  He attaches all their lives together, and they become one in life and purpose.  They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together – all focused upon their Lord and His purpose.   The church and the believers are to have the same mind.  There are to be no discordant elements whatsoever.  There are to be no differences, no gossip, rumors, or cliques, nothing that would tamper with or disturb the fellowship of the Spirit in the church. 
  • Compassion – Compassion is a must.  Compassion is the same trait that caused Jesus to reach out to us.  The compassion of Christ flowing through us will cause us to reach out to those who have been hurt, to those who are different, to those who withdrew, to those who have been disturbed, to those who have been critical.  Compassion will stir us to reach out to others. 

Romans 15:1 – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 

Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one anther’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” 

  • Joy – The believers in a church are to be consumed with joy and to be concerned for each other’s joy.  Joy brings unity to a church quicker than any other trait.  Joy is always disturbed if there is criticism, dissatisfaction, grumbling, murmuring, cliques, opposition, and a host of other divisive negatives.  We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, finance, minister, and serve in the joy of Christ. The only way we can do that is to be like-minded, to have the same love, to be of one accord, to be of one mind. 

John 15:11 – “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” 

  • Humility (Lowliness of Mind) – A strong and active church will always have two problems to deal with – rivalry and empty glory.  Some people just seem to want to struggle with others. They simply are not mature in the Lord; therefore they give in to gossip about differences, jealousy, envy, desire for position, desire for recognition, opposition, loving flattery, forming cliques.  If they do not get their way or what they want, they fight against the church or other members.  The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible crimes within the church.

James 3:14 – “But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” 

Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” 

2 Timothy 2:14 – “Of these things put them (the church) in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” 

2 Timothy 2:24 – “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” 

  • Some are going to seek glory within the church. The Scriptures call it vainglory, which means empty glory.  Some just want attention, recognition, position, flattery, praise, and honor.  They want people seeking their advice, counsel, and opinion. 

Matthew 23:12 -”And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” 

John 5:44 – “How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” 

  • The church must control self interest.  The members must quit looking out for their own ambition, desire for acknowledgment, for honor.  They must quit worrying about rather or not they are ignored, overlooked, or neglected.  Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and his ministry to people and reaching the world with the glorious gospel of salvation.  They are not to be focused on self.  Every believer is needed to reach the lost and lonely, the shut-ins and helpless, the hungry, the cold, the sinful, the doomed of his community, city, country, and world.

Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said unto him, If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. “

Matthew 25:43 – “I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not.”

Characteristics of a Dynamic, Alive Church

Philippians 1:1-11

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Dynamic – (Energetic, Powerful, Active, Influential)

A DYNAMIC CHURCH DISCIPLES YOUNG PEOPLE

  • Paul and Timothy – Father and son in the faith
  • Servants together

2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them….”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH SERVICES CHRIST

Word “servant” was doulos in Greek and literally meant “bond-slave.”

  • Slave is owned by his master.
  • Slave exists for his master.
  • Slave was at his master’s disposal 24 hours a day.
  • Slave must obey totally without question.
  • Slave for Christ is the highest title of honor.
  • Moses was the slave of God (Dt. 34:5; Ps. 105:26)
  • Joshua was the slave of God (Josh. 24:9)
  • David was the slave of God (2 Sam. 3:18; Ps. 78:70)
  • Paul was the slave of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:1)
  • James was the slave of God (James 1:1)
  • Jude was the slave of God (Jude 1)
  • The prophets were the slaves of God (Amos 3:7; Jer. 7:25)

John 12:26- “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Colossians 3:23-24 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

Hebrews 12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

Psalm 2:11 – “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

Psalm 100:2 – “Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS FULL OF TRUE SAINTS

The word saint means to be set apart.  It refers toevery believer who has trusted in Jesus Christ for his salvation. 

  • Initial or positional sanctification – When a person believes in Christ, he is immediately set apart for God. 

Hebrews 10:9-10 – “then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’  He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

  • Progressive sanctification – As a person walks with the Lord he allows the Spirit of God to make him more and more like the image of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

  • Eternal sanctification – On the day when we stand in heaven we will achieve perfection and our sanctification will be complete.

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 

A DYNAMIC CHURCH HAS LEADERS WHO LEAD BY EXAMPLE

  • Bishops – Ministers – Pastors – Elders – These are men/women who are to oversee, look after and be responsible for the spiritual well-being of the church.
  • Deacons – These are men/women who are to take care of the administrative matters of the church so that the bishop/pastor/elder can concentrate on the spiritual care of the church.

Mark 10:43-44 – “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.”

Luke 12:48 – “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

 John 13:14 – “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

John 21:16 – “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me’  He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’  He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”

Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A PRAYING CHURCH

  • Prayers of thankfulness
  • Prayers for other believers
  • Prayers of joy
  • Prayers for more love and knowledge
  • Prayers for pure lives
  • Prayers for the fullness of God’s righteousness

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH OF FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship means sharing in common, partnership.

Acts 2:24 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship….”

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH OF LOVE

  • Love in knowledge – We need to grow in our knowledge of Christ; we need to grow in our knowledge of one another.
  • Love in judgment – We need to grow in our discernment of what is right and wrong so that we may not offend or cause others to stumble. 

A DYNAMIC CHURCH IS A CHURCH FILLED WITH THE RIGHEOUSNESS OF GOD

  • By the power of Jesus Christ
  • To the glory and praise of God.

Christ’s Church – Part 3

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Helen Keller was asked one time, “What would be worse than being born blind?”  She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.”  John Maxwell says, “Successful people are motivated by a dream beyond them.”  It is something that constantly keeps them going for they are always reaching higher and higher to ultimately reach that goal. 

One of the diseases that can affect the church today is to have no vision.  To not have something that is bigger than they are.  The church can then become complacent and happy in a comfort zone.  This is a dangerous place to be for a church for they will begin to feed on one another rather than being occupied with fulfilling the vision.  A complacent church falls in love with itself and the rest of the world does not matter.

Isaiah 6:1-9 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.   So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”   Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”   Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”   Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”  And He said, “Go, and tell this people:  ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

  1. Isaiah saw God.  When he saw God, he saw a holy God.
  2. He saw himself.  He saw that just as God was holy and perfect, he was needy and imperfect.
  3. He saw others; he looked at the multitudes around him.
  4. He allowed God to change him.
  5. He began to stretch himself.  He began to say, “OK God, allow me to be part of this vision.  Allow me to reach out and be what you want me to become.”

Like, Isaiah, once you have had a glimpse of what God can make of you, you will never be satisfied with what you now are.  God has given to every church a mission, a vision and when we grasp that vision and begin to share it, the church will never be satisfied with status quo.  It will change our attitude and our outlook. 

Church growth/evangelism is not gaining people from other churches.  That is not any different than Farmer Brown moving cows from one feed lot to another. 

One of the biggest problems that has stunted the growth in most churches today is the lack of understanding of the divine purposes of the church.  The church is more than a Sunday worship service, or a social club, it is the house of God.  Jesus Himself said, “I will build my church.”  Let us take a look at two scriptures that give us the understanding of the purpose of the church.

Matthew 22:37 and 40 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

  1.  Love the Lord with all your heart – #1 is very easy to grasp!  It is simply the worship of God.  As a church we are called to worship Him.  Jesus said of worship, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”  The Father is literally seeking worshipers.  We are the church and one of our great purposes is to worship Him.  Worship is not a duty, but a joy!
  • Love your neighbor as yourself – #2 is a beautiful description of ministry!  The church simply exists to minister to people.  People have needs, all kinds of needs.  We are to be in the need meeting business.  We demonstrate God’s love by meeting the needs of those around us, and this means more than just their spiritual needs.  It means emotional, relational and physical.  In the book of Ephesians, we find again this purpose defined in this manner, “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  Ministry is the work of the church!  Unfortunately, very little ministry takes place in many churches.  Faithfulness is often defined in terms of attendance rather than service, and members just sit, soak and sour.  Wrong.  We are to edify, encourage, exalt, equip, and evangelize.
  • Go and make disciples – #3 is simply called evangelism.  It is our responsibility to let the world know of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then to point them to Christ.  A true disciple maker is one who makes disciples and then teaches them to trust in Christ and Christ alone.  As long as there is one person in the world who does not know Christ, the church has a mandate to keep growing.  Growth is not optional; it is commanded by Jesus.  We should not seek church growth for our own benefit, but because Christ wants people saved.
  • Baptizing them – Why is baptism so important to warrant inclusion in Christ’s Great Commission?  It is because it symbolizes one of the purposes of the church:  fellowship-identification with the body of Christ.  As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe.  As we relate to those who are being baptized in our churches, this is a symbol of the death of the old man and coming alive as a new reborn person.  Your life has changed and now you are identified with the people of God.  Our people must belong to this body.  They must identify with the body of Christ.  If in our churches they are simply a number or a face in the crowd they lose out on their importance in the body of Christ.  They must be brought into the fellowship of the brothers and sisters in Christ and find their place in ministry.  In other words, the church is here to help them have a sense of belonging.
  • Teaching them to obey – Dr. Paul Laverne Walker says, “In the scripture we find the word ‘disciple’ listed 320 times.”  This reveals to us the tremendous responsibility God gives the church today.  We are to make disciples.  The church exists to edify, or educate, God’s people.  Discipleship is the process of helping people become more like Christ in their thoughts, feelings and actions.  The apostle Paul said, “So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how.  We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect, because of what Christ has done for each of them.”  Colossian 1:28

We are called to reach them and teach them!  To bring them to spiritual maturity where they may be able to listen and obey the voice of God.  We disciple them to be ministers of the gospel.  One of the saddest things we find in the church today is the difference we make between the ministry and the laity.  We are all ministers of the gospel, and we all have our place in the work of the kingdom.  We are to make disciples and help everyone to find their place in the work of the kingdom.

These are the purposes of the church today.  They will be met in different ways by different churches but the purposes remain unchanged.  We exist to “Edify, encourage, exalt, equip and evangelize.” 

IF WE DO NOT DO THAT WE HAVE FAILED!