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January 11, 2021 7:00 am
When it comes to the topic of spiritual gifts Scripture has often been misinterpreted and incorrectly applied by Christians throughout the history of the church. So how can we gain a proper understanding of this important issue will get that answer on this broadcast of the Bible study hour is Dr. James Boyce explains how a simple, can alter the entire meaning of a passage welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. As believers were called to not only be part of the body of Christ, but to be active participants in ministry for many the message in Scripture concerning spiritual gifts can be a tough one to accept.
It requires us to get up out of the comfort of our favorite pew roll up our sleeves and get to work.
In 1972 book was published in America that was destined to have profound effect on American churches and in fact even to introduce a new term, and to contemporary Christian speech. The book was called body life was written by Dr. Racey Steadman, who at that time and still is plaster of the Peninsula Bible Church of Palo Alto, California. Essentially they book was a study of the fourth chapter of Ephesians. Indeed, just a part 16 verses of that chapter about the power of the book.
It's a fact came in, and incidental way, as in the exposition of these verses.
Dr. Steadman reflected how, in a practical manner. They had been worked out in the life of the church of which he was pastor essential idea of body life is that every Christian is been given a spiritual gift and it's his responsibility or her responsibility to discover what that gift is and then to use it in the ministry of the church.
And it goes along with this letter where that does not happen there. The church is impoverished and divisions occur. Steadman wrote in that book that this was the pattern of the early church. He said whenever anyone by faith in Jesus Christ, passed from the kingdom and power of Satan into the kingdom of God's love. He was immediately taught that the Holy Spirit had not only imparted doing the life of Jesus Christ but had also equipped him with the spiritual gift or gifts which he was then responsible to discover and exercise. This was taken very seriously in the Peninsula Bible church the paid ministers or teachers of the church thought is their duty to instruct or equip the members of the church so that they being properly equipped might go out in all sorts of ways and actually do the work of Christian ministry. Of course, that's exactly what this great text in Ephesians 4 says because when Paul writes that God gave to the church. These teaching gifts which he enumerates as apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, he indicates that it is to equip God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ might be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the son of God. I think it is correct to say that there has been a new discovery allowed in the church in our lifetime and that many churches have discovered a new totality and effectiveness by obeying this very simple principle now there's a interesting technical point here that is worth drawing the mind because the problem that has existed in the church and does still exist in at a large places is perhaps in some measure where this text is concerned, drawn from an error of very small error but an error that has had devastating results. Or to put it the other way around. It might be the year in the church that is produced. The error in the translation. It's a small thing. It really is.
It involves about the smallest thing you can imagine in Bible translation. That is, it involves, let me indicate what's happened the old King James authorized version of Ephesians 411 and 12 reads this way and he gave some, apostles, and some prophets and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, as the, that's in view for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Now in this version of the text it says that God gave these teaching gifts to the church in order that three things might be done by those who have the teaching gifts number one that they might perfect the saints number two that they might do the work of ministry in number three that they might edify the body of Christ. Let's just say the professionals in the church are to do it all.
I have the gifts and these are the things that need to be done or spelled out one to three members of the church in a situation like that have no other duty than that which I referred to last time, quoting the 1906 papal encyclical mentor knows where they say that the people have no duty other than letting themselves be led in the following are pastors is a docile flock. The point I'm making, however, is that that's a wrong translation and it has been corrected in one way or another. In virtually all our modern versions of the New Testament as far as I know the first commentator to notice it and insist strongly that that was a mistake was Armitage Robinson. He said that, just doesn't belong there, you know, of course, that in the early Greek manuscripts all uncial's where everything is written in capital letters are so punctuation at all. So punctuation represents a judgment on the part of the translator and he pointed out rightly as most commentators since of agreed that, doesn't belong, when you take out that, something is insignificant. It would seem, is that you change the entire sense of what is being said.
Instead of saying, as the old King James version did that the teaching gifts were given an order that three things might be done by those who had the teaching gifts downgrades somewhat the way the new international version has it when it says God gave these gifts to prepare God's people for works of service, in order that is the final result Church of Jesus Christ might be built up.
See the sequences. This one. Those who have been given the gifts of teaching are to use those gifts to equip or prepare the saints so that is a first objective number two.
Believers may do the work of ministry or service and so that as an ultimate objective number three the church may be built up may reach unity in the faith, and may become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. See I translation gives an immediate purpose to the teaching gifts, which is the equipping of the saints, and an ultimate purpose of the giving of the teaching gifts, which is the building up of the body and preserves the intermediate step, which is a function of all the people of God, since been called the principle of an every member ministry and of course that is exactly what this great passage in Ephesians is all about how my purpose in this study is to say that every Christian should seek out his or her gift should use it. It's helpful before plunging into that to trace some of the ways that a wrong theology of ministry has come into being John Stott in a book called one people is analyze these various forms or patterns of ministry regarding the relationship of clergy and laity and has isolated what he sees to be three errors three wrong patterns ministry. The first that he talks about his clerical is this is a you which wraps produced the erroneous translation I referred to earlier, or at any rate came from it, namely that the clergy are the ones that are doing the work God is called them do it.
They are to serve the church and that's all there is doing everything that is to be done is to be done by the preachers sought asked Hal that particular distortion of things came about.
He sees a number of reasons for I suppose that's right, he says, historically came about early in the church when church tried to develop a theology of ministry around the Old Testament sacrificial system. The Old Testament there were priests duty of the priest was to perform the sacrifices on behalf of the people and the early church carried out idea over into its own organization so in rather early days, the ministers of the church became priests and their function was seen chiefly in a sacerdotal way, namely that they work to present the offering or the sacrifice of the mass problem with that of course is that it's not substantiated by the New Testament. Any careful New Testament scholar knows that the word ministry is never restricted in the New Testament to a special class of people, but rather that word ministry is used for all God's people.
All Christians are ministers. It's also the case and any careful study of the New Testament will point this out that the word priest is never used for the clergy. What we would call the clergy or what we would call the professional preachers or evangelists. It's just not there is not a New Testament concept is true that there is a distinction between clergy and laity but not in terms that we generally think of it today.
There is a calling of all do ministry in the distinction such as there is a distinction of gifts. This is what Paul is talking about here. There are some had the gift of apostleship and profits in evangelism and pastors and teachings.
Just as others have other guests which are mentioned in other places in the New Testament the distinction you see being one of gifts is not one of ministry and therefore this you the grew up so early in the church really was a sad defection from the proper path.
I suppose we could go a little bit further than that because when you talk about something happening historically really haven't even then solve the problem. You can say well that's an error that grew up early in the church because of this particular view of ministers being priests, but that question that lies behind that is why even that happened and why it happened so early in the church, probably when you begin to ask that kind of question you get deeper into the heart of the matter because there is a difficulty they are both on behalf of the paid professionals and on behalf of the laity to on the part of the clergy. There's a tendency to want to dominate thing, especially of the laity are doing their job rather than do things in the Lord's way, which is, by construction of an admonition of encouragement.
An example clergy throughout all the ages of 10 to take control they want to run things. I want to do it their way and so you have a great big system of clerical is that grows up substantiated by all sorts of rules in the churches must be said, however, that on the other side the laity on their part often contributed to this because there has been a tendency, and perhaps are still listed by many members of the church to sit back and as they would say let the pastor do it. John Stott in his book quotes a remark to this effect by Sir John Lawrence, who said on occasion.
What does the layman really wants an answer to this what he wants a building which looks like a church clergy dressed in the way he approves services of the kind he's been used, to and to the left alone, and perhaps that's true but you see whether the error is historical in nature or constitutional in nature and whether it's on the part of the clergy or the layman where view of clerical is him prevails, the church is harmed as a result and work of the ministry really in its fullest measure does not get done to let's the first air second is anticlericalism is quite understandable if the clergy on their part decided whatever period of history that they really don't like the laity and think the laity are dispensable. It's not surprising that the laity in some quarters decide that they'll do away with clergy at least without benefits of their particular form of ministry.
I we can think of some situations in the church where that would not be entirely bad and there have been movements in the church so the been anticlerical in nature that it not been entirely bad because it's been the only way in which spiritual people of been able to function spiritually in a deadening church situation. Sometimes that's expressed itself in outright rebellion, but more often it's expressed itself in a kind of withdrawal in which people who really want to grow spiritually and exercise their gifts simply moving to an area where they're allowed to function much of Pietism the time of the Reformation and since would be an example of this is men and women who do not have opportunities to serve God with in the scope of the organized church form home Bible studies on their own and the time of the Reformation translations of the Scripture on their own and reach out to neighbors and serving helpful way on their own and God blesses that only think of that particular movement in the church we can think of it in very sympathetic terms yet of course that's not the pattern either the difficulty of course you see is that in the attempt by the laity to discover their gifts in that manner. They neglect the other gifts that have been given to those we call clergyman what is really needed is situation in which all exercise their gift to the church's benefit error. Stott talks about in one people is dualism and that seems a natural way to go. At simply means the ministers have their job and their to function here in the regular members of the church of their job there to function here and the one is not to intrude upon the others turf. Sometimes you get by that way.
Of course he could make things run smoothly. At least you can avoid conflict but of course you don't really help one another either and there's not the kind of exchange. The church needs real pattern pattern. It's talked about in Ephesians 4 is not clerical is our anticlericalism or dualism. To put it in very simple terms service.
The service of those with the teaching gifts to the laity in the service of the laity. The body of Christ. On the one hand, and of the world.
On the other hand, an evangelistic service ministries.
See, according to these verses. It's when the church of Jesus Christ does latch that the body is built up unity in the faith is achieved and the church becomes a chore attaining the goal major of the fullness of Jesus Christ. So we come to the central thrust of the central thrust is simply this, do you know what gift God has given you, or gifts, and are you using that in his service where God has placed you.
First of all, if you're serious about this. You can study what the Bible says about spiritual gifts. Most of our direction comes through Scripture.
Most cases site would say virtually all of our direction comes through Scripture, and certainly this is a topic of the Bible talks about, among others. It takes this matter. Spiritual gifts very seriously. We have this passage in Ephesians. We also have four other passages in the New Testament in which the various gifts are listed and beyond that there are passages which encourage Christian people just to be engaged in works of ministry. So the place to begin is where if you have been in the church for some time, but you not been functioning not been serving your just sitting there in a passive way. The thing to do is begin with the study of the Scripture see what the Bible really has say about gifts. Secondly, you need to pray and pray about this.
This is not some white matter. This is an important matter. We tend as Americans to get a large measure of identity by what we do.
If you meet somebody on the street. For example, and you say to them who are you, they will tell you what they do today. They'll say well you know I work for the phone company I work for this airliner I engaged in this particular business. That's not really an answer to the question. That's what they do not who they are, say who are you the answer. That way, but it does show the measure to which we attach importance to our occupation but you know that is true of our secular work. It ought to be much more true spiritually question spiritually should be.
What are you doing for the Lord what is the particular area in which are functioning what has Jesus himself entrusted into your hands as I say that's a matter of great importance. It involves your identity. Certainly, your function in the church and it's a matter about which you should pray. The third thing you can do is make a sober assessment of your strengths and abilities that is not necessarily the same thing as uncovering your spiritual gifts, but it certainly help as you move along the way. One question you can ask is that you can say what do I like to do what I feel at ease doing and where is there seem to be some blessing upon my effort. There's an idea in some Christian circles that if you're serving the Lord, you got to be miserable because before you become a Christian, you have a good time but after you become one.
Well, you have to suffer and so if uppermost in your mind. On a scale of 1 to 10 of things that you definitely do not want to do as being a missionary will, of course, that is what God is going to call you to so you can be eminently miserable on the foreign field. We have a way of thinking like that, but that's generally not true. That is not to say that God can't call us to difficult areas of service. He often does do that, but it is to say that what God gives us to do is generally not for which he has equipped us and so when you asked the question. Well, what are my strengths what are my abilities.
It is most likely will not, perhaps 100% certain that is an indication of the way in which you should move while you're thinking along those lines.
You can ask the question what am I good at, or perhaps to put it in the other language. What does God bless see here I am trying to exercise what I think is a particular ministry, but it seems to me I keep hitting my head against the stone wall.
You can ask yourself at that point in my perhaps moving in the wrong direction is God trying to tell me that there's something else I should be doing the other hand, here is an area in which I served when I serve in that area.
God really does seem to bless things happen that is the kind of thing that can give you good direction and then fourthly, after we study what the Bible has to say about spiritual gifts and prayed about it made a sober assessment of our strengths and abilities. We are to seek the wisdom of other Christians in the matter. This is something we often talk about explicitly when people are seeking church location. We talk about a call we say how do you know you're called to a full-time church vocation. Generally, we speak about it in three ways. We say there has to be a personal sense of call, nobody can hear the voice of God for you, has to be personal.
Secondly, it has to correspond in some measure with your gifts of your totally unsuited for it either in your training or your personality.
It's pretty evident that you're not call. There has to be a correspondence there. And thirdly, this is the thing that many people leave out what I'm talking about here. There has to be some concurrence of the church in your sense of call is as a person talks about their call to church locations meets with committees for sessions or committees of Presbytery or whatever it may be to seek out that call has to be some concurrence on the part of others within the family of God that this really does seem to be the way which God is leading. If you're worried about this send our concerns in a serious way about exercising your gifts within the body of the church.
I encourage you to do that, seek the wisdom of other Christians in this regard, only one additional thing I want to say and it's this God gives a variety of gifts what he gives you is not what is going to give somebody else what he gives them is not what is going to give you what they have to recognize is that when God gives gifts to his people is necessary for the health of the church. We are not to look down on the gifts gives another who are you to say, as Paul writes in that great passage in Ephesians because you're the arm that you don't need the foot because you're the foot that you don't need the hand Jesus Christ gives what is necessary for the health of the church of the work of ministry is our responsibility not only to see exercise our own gift, but to recognize and encourage the gifts God has given to other people also let us pray our father we ask for your blessing on this very practical study, not because it's profound because it's practical needed we would pray that if there are people is undoubtedly there are who have been content brand for years to sit and learn in here but lots to do but to serve, that you will quicken an interest in them. In this area work in their lives in order that as they exercise their gifts in our midst and elsewhere, your church become increasingly healthy in the body of Jesus Christ white become mature we pray in the name of Christ our Lord and our Savior.
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