Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
It takes all kinds of people to make a church strong. Thankfully, God has gifted His people with the skills to accomplish His will. Our task is to identify our gift and to develop it for the growth of the body of Christ. Today, more teaching from Ephesians chapter 4 about you and your gift.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, are the gifts we see in Ephesians 4 different from the gifts we read about in 1 Corinthians 12? You know, Dave, I've seen various lists of the gifts.
Some people say that there are 21, some people say that there are 23. What's important for us to know is this, that once you have found your gift and you operate within that gift, what you will discover is that somehow there is a flow, there is a natural ability, which is combined with a supernatural ability that gives you the joy of knowing you are doing what you are called to do. And I would say to everyone who is listening today that gifting isn't something that is used simply within a church.
You may be a builder, you may be a carpenter, you may be a plumber, you may work in a factory or a bank. No matter where you are, there is a spiritual gift that God has given you that you can exercise even right where you are. Ask God to show you your gift and you'll discover that there is new blessing and new joy in exercising it.
We here at Running to Win want to do all that we possibly can to help people run all the way to the finish line, as you have frequently heard us say. And in doing that, we believe that you will be blessed. Now that we know what a gift is, what is its purpose? What did God have in mind? It was he who gave gifts, verse 12, to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.
That's what it was all about. Now, the equipping of believers, that's our responsibility as members of the pastoral staff. Because you see, the exercising of your gift very seldom will you learn how to do that simply by listening to messages. You learn how to do it by seeing it done and by training. Now, let's suppose that I were a pilot and I could give you a lecture on how to fly.
This is purely supposition. Let's suppose that I had charts and diagrams and slides and videos of the cockpit and you had all of that information and you crammed it into your mind because you've been listening, listening, listening, listening, year after year. And now I say, well, I think you're ready to fly. Here's the plane. Go in and start it up and take your first flight. Do you guys think that it would be possible for you to convince your wives to come with you on that experience?
I doubt it. Because what you need is to sit beside the pilot and watch him. He needs to have confidence to let you do some things increasingly more things until at last you're ready on your own. I can't stress too highly the fact that we do not learn to exercise our spiritual gift simply by coming to church, however important that is. It is learned usually by training. And that's why we have ministries here at the church such as evangelism explosion, which is going to begin soon. It's an opportunity for you to learn exactly how to witness and to share your faith. And once you've learned it, you can use it in so many different contexts, but you have to learn how to share your faith. Many of you are intimidated when someone asks you a question about your relationship with Christ.
Well, the way you overcome that is by training. Pastor Milko has what is known as networking. Networking are seminars and opportunities that are given from time to time where you learn what your spiritual gift is so you can say, I know now how God wired me and where I fit. We have all of the branch ministries.
We have the opportunity of being involved in small groups. And in all of these contexts, the intention is that your gift be built up, strengthened, that you be trained, and that you be used. You know, it used to be thought that the church is like a pyramid with a pastor on top. Someone said with the pastor perched precariously on the pinnacle.
I had to read that because I wasn't sure whether I could get through it. And then, of course, you have all these precious, polite parishioners listening to his sermons. This is not what the church is all about.
It's not a matter of those of us who are up on the platform doing the work. It is those of us who are on the platform teaching others to do the work, recognizing that the whole body is involved in the whole ministry. What is it that we're after?
Remember this. Remember the words of Luke, the former treatise I have high written unto you, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach. It is to continue Christ's work. That's what it's about. Those of us who were in Berlin recently remember clearly in the Kaiser Wilhelm Church the statue without an arm.
And it was damaged during the war, and it was left damaged. And it stands today in the window of the church as a reminder of the fact that Jesus Christ's hands are now our hands. We're to do what Jesus did in the world.
Now, Jesus would not be in favor simply of coming together, listening to sermons, singing hymns, as if to say that that's all that the Christian life is involved about. You know, on Friday evening, I went to prison. My wife told one of our daughters very casually, Dad is going to prison today. And that slowed her down a little bit until she realized that it was indeed for a visit. But what a great thing to see what God is doing there.
We were in maximum security. Paul Spinelli picked me up and took me there. And to see his enthusiasm, here's a ministry that kind of was just dumped on him. And he began to get involved and has gotten so excited about it, actually driven to other penitentiaries so that he might be able to meet people who are Christians, to encourage them in their faith, and to let them know that they matter to the kingdom of God. And the believers that we met there Friday night, they matter to the kingdom of God.
They are a part of us, separated from us, but nonetheless, those who have come to saving faith, a part of who we are. I thought to myself, now that's the kind of thing that Jesus would really approve of, as something that represents Christ as we go into the world and recognize that we've been led by God to various ministries to bless the world, even as he blessed the world. So what is a spiritual gift? It's a God-given opportunity for service. Why is it given? Well, the text says it is given to build up the body of Jesus Christ, to strengthen it so that we might represent Christ well in the world.
Let me answer a third question. What does a healthy church look like? What does a church look like that exercises its gifts where there's spiritual growth and so forth? What I'd like to do is to go into a doctor's office for just a few moments, and I want to point out five characteristics of a healthy congregation. And rather than speaking of the congregation, I want you to apply it to yourself, even as I apply it to me.
Are you ready? Paul describes it here. Pastor Milko, whenever we are in a staff meeting or in an elders meeting, he's always saying, now what does that look like when we're talking about what Moody Church should look like in five years? He's always asking us to describe it.
Well, here's the description. Notice, first of all, verse 13, unity. We come to the unity of the faith. Now, there may be some who are listening here, and you're physically present, and I assume that that's the case because I see you out there. Some people say, well, I belong to the invisible church. Well, I know a pastor who said to someone who said I belong to the invisible church.
Well, good, here's some invisible money to support your ministry. No, we're talking about visible people here. But you might be physically present but not really unified. There may be grudges in your heart. There may be problems in your life.
You may be involved in something that alienates you from the body. Being unified doesn't simply mean that we come together and we sing the same hymns and we listen to the same scripture. What it means is that we pray together, we cry together, we rejoice together, we carry one another's burdens. That's what the unity of the faith is all about. And Paul says that the purpose of gifting is despite our diversity that we be unified for the body of Jesus Christ. So the question is are you unified?
Are you a part of what we are trying to do here in the city of Chicago? Secondly is maturity, unity, maturity. Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and becoming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Remember it was Michelangelo who looked at a block of marble and said I see an angel in there. And the angel, he says, is waiting to get out of the block of marble. God looks at us and he sees this block and what he does is he says I see Christ in there. But in order to make us look like Christ, remember somebody asked a sculptor how do you make an angel? And he said it's very easy, you just chisel away everything that isn't angel. And the way God does it is he chisels away everything that isn't Jesus.
And during this past week maybe you have felt the full force of his sharp chisel and you've not liked it. Remember it is God's intention that we be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That's maturity, maturity. And then notice third stability. Verse 14, then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Wow, stability. We live in a day of doctrinal heresy being taught as Christian. And you know most people think yes I can recognize heresy. I know when those folks come to my door and tell me that Jesus Christ isn't God, I know that that's heresy. My dear friend, it is much more subtle than that.
Much more subtle. The question is what do we do with all these people who claim spirituality but still do not really have the marks of spirituality and biblical regeneration? What do we do with a revival that is known as the laughing revival where people are laughing themselves silly supposedly under the ministry and the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit? What do we do with all of these movements that rise up and say we have the truth, Christ preached here.
Yet you look at them and you say you know I don't think this fits. This doesn't fit biblically, it doesn't fit historically. What we have is a lot of people being sucked up into various movements and into various doctrines and he says the time has come when we are not beaded back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching.
Never before has that been more necessary. So you have stability, you have balance it says. Teaching, verse 15, instead speaking the truth in love. That's what balance is all about. In the history of the Christian church you've always had the tension between love and truth. You've had some people who are the loving people who say well you know a couple of doctrinal errors don't matter. I mean you know we should love one another, isn't the most important thing love? And then on the other side of the fence you have those who say all that we're interested in is truth.
Truth, truth, truth, truth, truth. That happened in the early centuries of the church. The question arose as to what should happen with those who lapse during times of persecution. If somebody denies Christ during a time of persecution and then wants to be reinstated in the church when times get better, should we reinstate him?
The truth people said absolutely not. Think of the bad witness it is to our young people. Our young people are going to say you can deny Christ and then get back into the church.
It's no big deal. And as a matter of fact it is an insult to those who were martyred for Christ if we accept into the church those who denied him under pressure and now want full status of membership. The love people said wait a moment, wait a moment.
What's forgiveness all about? In fact at a later time there were those who said that some among us they said to believe that Peter was the first pope and he denied Jesus under pressure when the young maid asked whether or not he was a follower of Jesus. So, so who are we to judge these people? Let them in. So the truth people went their way and the love people went their way. Blessed are those who have the balance who hold the truth but do it in love.
That's a mark of a healthy church. Then notice it says growth. Speaking the truth in love we will in all things grow up into him who is the head that is Christ from whom the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament. Are you a ligament? Well, I think you are. I am.
I think some of these guys are. It grows and builds itself up in love. Now notice this as each part does its work. You ever been to a doctor's office you know that you can have one part of your body that's not functioning right and that one part affects the whole in a way that is just absolutely unbelievable. You think to yourself that you know as long as 90 percent of it is working okay who cares about the other 10 percent. My dear friend it is the 10 percent that can bring disease and weakness to the 90 percent. That's why I urge those of you who find Moody Church to be your church home to join us in membership and join us in support and join us in prayer and join us in commitment because we need to be a healthy church and we can't be a healthy church as long as there are some members and some friends who have not said yes this is God's calling and we join together for the cause of the gospel here in the city of Chicago.
We just can't do it. What does that involve? What does it involve to remain a healthy body? Well, Dr. Brandt who wrote a book on this with Philip Yancey some time ago, I read an article that they wrote together and I took some notes from the article to illustrate the relationship between the physical body that we have and the body of Jesus Christ. And in that the doctor talks about the fact that white cells are armed forces of the body which guard against invaders. He says they roam through the body creeping along the walls of veins or they float in the bloodstream.
You watch them and they seem sluggish and ineffective at patrolling territory much less repelling an attack. But then he says take a needle and prick a hole in the thumb in the skin and he says immediately muscle cells contract around the damaged capillary wall damming up the loss of blood. Clotting agents halt the flow of blood at the skin surface. Scavenger cells appear to clean up the debris and the most dramatic thing that you will notice he says are the white cells. The white cells halt their aimless wandering like beagles on the scent of a rabbit they now hone in from all directions to the point of attack. They ooze between overlapping cells and hurry through tissue taking the most direct route. When they arrive the battle begins. Because these white cells contain granules of chemical explosives as soon as the bacteria are absorbed I should say the granules detonate destroying the invaders.
In 30 seconds to a minute the white cells may be dead having given up their lives to fight the enemy. Now what if you and I were like that in relation to one another? When we see one another fall into sin, when we see one another fall into gossip, when we see one another fall away because of a lack of commitment to Jesus Christ, just kind of an aimlessness that we might come alongside and to say I have something to say to you. I have a friendship that has been built to help you through the difficult parts of life and I am willing even if necessary to lay down my life for your own spiritual welfare. You see how strong we'd be?
What a mighty church. And then the doctor says that there is another problem that develops and that is that there are cells in the body not white cells but other kinds of cells who sometimes become insubordinate to the good of the body. They become disloyal. They share the benefits of the body but they remain independent and so they become parasites and we call them cancer cells. Cancer cells feed off the body but they make no remarkable contribution to it. They detract from it. They sap its energy.
They are cells but they are harmful cells. You know at the end of the day I do know that God wants us as a church to be healthy and well to represent Christ on the north side of Chicago. I also know that we cannot be healthy and well unless every single person who believes that this is his or her church home comes together and says we want to be healthy and we want to be strong and we want to be supportive. We want to find out what our gift is and we delight to serve. Because all throughout Chicago, all throughout Chicago there are people who need to see Jesus Christ who when he was here on earth granted to people the gift of forgiveness, who shared love, who helped them in their diseases and who encouraged them along the way. In a few moments we will be dismissed and it is at that time that the true church, the true Moody Church finally enters its ministry tomorrow, Tuesday and all through the week representing Christ in Chicago.
Everyone has a gift. The purpose is to build up the body so that it can serve and the ultimate goal, a healthy church, each cell doing its part. I speak to some of you who may be here today who've never trusted Christ as Savior. You've never believed in him. You're not really a part of the body of Christ that I've been talking about. If you sense the Holy Spirit of God working in your heart, I ask you to respond to Christ who died for sinners, who shed his blood that we might belong to God forever.
Would you join me as we pray? Our Father we ask in the name of Christ that you will help us as a congregation to be what we should be. We think of Jesus today seated in heaven above all principalities and powers.
We think of his body on earth. Oh Father we ask since we share his life, since we recognize him to be our head, help us we ask to be what we should be for your glory and for your honor. Transform us Father. We pray that each person may find out how he or she can serve, that together as cells in the body we might be healthy and well. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen. I'm going to share with you something that is very important. Recently I was reading a report by Jonathan Edwards about the revival that took place in the 1700s. And I was struck by the fact that he emphasized that there are many people who think that they know Christ as Savior, they profess it, but they are not really saved. Would you ask God today to examine your heart to see whether or not you are in the faith?
Don't take it for granted. We here at Running to Win are committed to helping people not only to believe on Christ but to come to full assurance based on the word of God. And thanks to people like you, last year we sent out over 32,000 life-changing resources including books and sermons. We had 3 million downloads of our various resources.
And all of this was accomplished because together the body of Jesus Christ is able to expand and is able to get the gospel to many. Would you consider helping us? This is a very special month because anything that you contribute will be doubled up to $90,000.
Furthermore, the end of this month is the end of our fiscal year. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com.
I'm going to be giving you that info again because this is very critical especially as we come near to the end of this month. RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me give it to you one more time, RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And we thank you in advance for helping us getting the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Pastor Erwin Lutzer has now concluded You and Your Gift, the 12th message in a series on Between Heaven and Earth, taken from Ephesians. Next time we'll learn about our ongoing transformation as Erwin Lutzer speaks on The Renewing of the Mind. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-24 04:08:46 / 2023-08-24 04:17:33 / 9