Now you need to understand that the word teacher or derascolas is a wide word. It refers to the challenge of fathers teaching children. It refers to one teaching a group of children perhaps in the neighborhood. It could be teaching standing outside a cubicle with co-workers or in the shop and they ask you a question about some current event and they say, you know, what do you think about that?
And you give them your answer. And as you're answering your slipping and biblical truth, you are teaching. God calls each believer to serve him. And just to be clear, serving God involves far more than a couple of hours on Sunday morning or Wednesday night when you volunteer in church.
As Stephen just said, servant is what God wants you to be, not just something he calls you to do. Stephen's going to explore this idea and much more on today's broadcast of Wisdom for the Heart. Our teacher, Stephen Davey, is in a series called Divine Design. It's a series about the church and your place in it.
Stephen called this lesson both muscle and mouthpiece. A few months ago, a magazine I subscribed to printed an article entitled The Church, Why Bother? It cataloged recent data from a research group that revealed through a nationwide series of surveys that there are in this country some 10 million self-proclaimed born-again Christians who have not been to church in the last six months apart from Christmas or Easter. And get this, these are people who say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important to them today. These people, when surveyed, said they will, quote, go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
Now, I'm not going to stop and preach on their flawed theology, though it's tempting. There's no such thing as making a commitment to Jesus Christ and not making a commitment to his body, his church, his cause, his people. That's like me saying I am committed to my marriage. I am committed to Marsha, my wife, but I never talk to her. Or maybe an hour or two, maybe once or twice a year, I'll go over and see her, maybe talk to her a little bit, but I don't tell anybody about her. She writes me letters. I never open the envelopes. I don't read them. I don't really care what she has to say.
I don't want to take the time, but don't misunderstand, I am committed to her in marriage. It'd be ludicrous, right? The writer of Hebrews said, we were born again and our sins were forgiven. The blood of Christ has cleansed our conscience so that we can now go and serve the living God. Well, I said, I'm not going to preach about it, but the larger point from this data that struck me was the fact that there are either 10 million people who are self-deceived and truly never born again. Or they are born again, but they are bringing great grief to God who called them to faith in Jesus Christ, who indwells them by his spirit, who endowed them with special gifts to serve the body and cause of Jesus Christ. How many millions in addition to those 10 million who do come to church, who sit Sunday after Sunday, but are bringing great sorrow to their Lord because the gifts he gave them are unopened. They're unwrapped. They're set on a shelf.
They're put out in the garage, under the seat, wherever. But according to the apostle Paul in Romans 12, the believer who is radically renewing his mind by the scriptures, the believer who pursues purity with passion, the believer who seeks to please God above all others, who comes with an attitude of humility into the assembly, who then asks the divine designer how he wants us to serve him and by serving one another will eventually unwrap and use the gifts. All that comes out of Romans 12, where we discover direction in the process of opening our gifts and finding our fit in the body of Christ.
Go back there, would you? Romans 12, let's look at verse seven. We're given two more gifts. We have the gifts given in verse seven of serving and teaching. Let's start back with verse six. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each unwrap them, use them, wear them.
If prophecy, this temporary gift we talked about last Lord's day, this revelatory gift according to the proportion of his faith. Verse seven, if service in his serving or he who teaches in his teaching, the gifts of service and teaching. Service is the private demonstration of Christianity. Teaching is the public declaration of Christianity. A service is the illustration of truth. Teaching is the explanation of truth. A service is when you portray Christ.
Teaching is when you proclaim Christ. Frankly, these two gifts are different. One is center stage. The other more than likely is backstage.
One tends to get a little applause now and then. The other is often unnoticed. One is the mouthpiece.
The other is all muscle. But in the analogy of a body, the truth is since a body has more muscle than mouths, the predominant gift of God to the church is not the gift of teaching, it is the gift of serving. Let's take a closer look at these two gifts.
By the way, don't overlook the order. The gift of serving is listed before the gift of teaching. The gift of service is from the Greek word diaconia. It means servant, serving as it's rendered in your text. You could more literally render it more woodenly, simply waiter.
If you go to a restaurant, a waiter comes along and they don't own the restaurant, they don't own the food. They're there to serve you to make sure you get what you need. That's the rendering, the idea of this word that appears more than a hundred times in one form or another in the New Testament. In Paul's day, it was a word that immediately communicated lack of status, a lack of position, lack of power, a waiter, a servant is what it meant. But what's interesting is that this will become the word chosen by our Lord to define his own ministry.
I came not to be served, but to serve. He uses that word. It's interesting to me that this will become the special word that identifies categorically everything we do. We talk about Christian what?
Service, no matter what you do. In fact, it's interesting beyond that, that this special word will be the word chosen by the Spirit of God and inspired through his authors to be the word that identifies only one of two offices in the New Testament church, an office occupied by men of wisdom and faith known as the diakonot, the deacon, the waiter, the servant. What the world devalues as a lack of status, Jesus Christ is elevated as an honorable lifestyle, an honorable position, and it's listed high in the list of gifts. I trace this word through the New Testament and more than 100 appearances you discover it used in a multitude of scenes. I give you just a few, meeting some need in the church body, 1 Peter 4.10, helping Christians with their personal duties, some of them mundane, Hebrews 6.10, sending relief funds to a needy church, Acts 11, performing menial physical tasks, Philemon, verse 13, meeting the physical needs of widows, Acts 6, verse 2, sharing the gospel, 2 Corinthians 8, verse 19, and then literally waiting on tables supervising a meal, Luke 10, verse 40. Most of this stuff is happening behind the scenes or seen only by a few people.
It's hidden muscle that you don't see as I move my arms. So also in the body of Christ, you don't see it as it moves the body forward. One of the problems, ladies and gentlemen, we have as it relates to gifts is that we have in the church the sort of unwritten prioritization of gifts and we've got it all wrong. It's all wrong. We tend to think of the gifts that are seen as significant.
People may not say it directly, but their words betray this underlying thought or feeling. You hear that misconception and the way people talk, you know, I'm just an usher, you're the pastor. You're the soloist on Sunday morning, I just hand out curriculum to second graders. You're the class leader. I just put out the folding chairs. You're the Bible study teacher.
I just stock the kitchen with cups and spoons and knives and forks. All of those statements, whether verbalized or thought, reveal the misconception that the gift of service is somewhere lower on the food chain than the public gifts of teaching and leading. We have this unwritten view that gifts are on some kind of vertical ladder and you get promoted up the rungs one at a time. As I've often told my greenhouse classes, you know, people have the misconception when you come to this church is that when you go to most other churches, you want to serve great. We're going to start you in the parking lot in the middle of the summer. If you don't wreck anybody out there, you get promoted indoors as an usher. If you don't drop the offering plate, knock anybody over, we'll then move you into Sunday school and then on to class leader and teacher and then deacon and then elder and then Steve and I get your job. You can't have it.
Spent two years in the parking lot to get in here. No, I'm just teasing. Listen, in the body of Christ, there are no promotions, only placements. It isn't vertical.
It's horizontal. I just happen to be here and you're here and here and here and here and here. And together we move as unseen or seen servants of God. You know what I recommend would go a long way as I thought about this to sort of rewriting for this fellowship, our assembly, our body, this misconception.
How do we get over this? You know, I thought, well, maybe one of the ways we could do it, not just teaching the scriptures, but exercising a correct philosophy of thought related to gifts would be to just sort of begin a ministry personally. Let's all adopted a ministry of thankful response to the myriad of volunteers who will serve today. There are more than 200 this morning just keeping infants and preschoolers. So when you pick up your child, identify those in the class or the nursery room who have helped and just say, thank you for serving. I really appreciate it. It gave me an hour break where I could worship God in English. It was wonderful. You recognize someone in the choir or orchestra who spent hours rehearsing this week.
You spent hours and hours practicing for years. Just say thank you for leading us in worship. They'll probably just stare at you. Come pass the usher, stop when you get that bulletin and maybe lean forward and say, thank you. They'll probably just stare at you. You know, next Sunday when you pull in, thank the traffic control guys with their orange wand.
Roll down your window as you drive by and say, even though I'm going to ignore where you're telling me to park, I thank you. Thank you for the ministry you tried to do on my behalf. One ministry of service is the service of prayer. There's an invisible service, that invisible work accomplished by people who recognize it is not just asking God to bless ministry.
They recognize it is ministry. One speaker was referencing the fact that the world of missions looks to William Carey as the father of modern missions, which we do. He went on though to bemoan the fact that there are too few carries today. He went on to reveal the fact that I had never read before that William Carey had a sister who lay paralyzed on her bed for 50 years. She wasn't even able to articulate her words well at times. Propped up in her bed though, she would write lengthy letters to William Carey, her brother, letters of encouragement.
And she prayed throughout every day for her brother's work. And then the speaker went on to postulate, maybe we don't have more William Carey's who served like that because we do not have more sisters who pray like that. We've got to shrug off the idea that the gift of service in whatever form it takes is sort of like the consolation prize. You know, you get it.
You look at this list in Romans 12 and you say, well, I don't think it's that. I don't think I'm that. I don't think, well, I guess I'll be, you know, the service guy. I can do that.
That's for the ones who don't figure out anything else. Okay, I'll serve. I'll forget how high it is on the list. Without the gift of service, every single thing that is happening today, everything that happens throughout the week on this campus and beyond is not going to happen. It's going to be severely limited or even impossible were it not for volunteers, even down to the very fact that you can right now hear my voice even when I whisper because of some volunteers back there. And then after this sermon is over, it's going to be handed this digitally recorded message that volunteers are doing right now on a computer. It's going to be edited and eventually the program is going to be created and it's going to be heard, this message on five continents.
Imagine that. We don't even get past this point without volunteers. So, you know, I think of that when we get a letter, Wisdom for the Heart, which is the radio ministry of this pulpit, we get a letter from a widow in Virginia recently who says, I get under my electric blanket and I turn your program on and the Holy Spirit brings me joy. Or a pastor in Africa this past week who wrote, who said, I am reteaching your stuff to my congregation.
Or maybe the prison inmate who wrote a few days ago, the program is traveling around our prison like a torch. It wouldn't be possible without volunteers. Servants are the muscle of ministry. The gift of service moves the gospel of Jesus Christ forward in ways we could never calculate. That's why it'll take the bimah where the Lord himself will tally it all up and we have the promise that it'll not overlook anything, not one thing.
Can you imagine that day? Well, Paul goes on, He who teaches in his teaching, daraskalia, daraskalos, the teacher, it appears in a number of forms throughout the New Testament, simply the one who communicates what God has already said and explains it. This would have been in Paul's day, by the way, not a gift to be sensationalized. The prophet would have been. The one receiving revelation from God, that would have been the exciting one. The teacher who would take what God had said and explain it would not be.
In fact, it's further down in the list, but today, the primary role of teaching scripture. One of the great teachers in our generation is now well into his 70s, a British author and commentary writer named John Phillips. I have all of his commentaries. In fact, he was in our worship service a couple of Sundays ago, unannounced, and I'm glad I didn't know it.
It's kind of like playing golf and finding out Jack Nicholas was watching, kind of intimidating. He came to the visitor's reception afterward with his family, and I had a chance to tell him I just ordered all the rest of his commentaries just a week earlier. I asked him to come and preach to this congregation in the near future, and he's agreed.
You just, oh, what a blessing he will be. Well, I have his commentary on Romans. It's a short book, not nearly as long as it ought to be, but he was in a hurry.
Well, he put these three gifts, these first three gifts this way. A prophecy was the inspiration of truth. Service is the incarnation of truth, and teaching is the interpretation of truth.
It's great. And he's right. It is simply the interpretation, the explanation, the exposition of what God has already said. Another author defined the gift of delascalia as the art of making an unchanging message understandable. That's all it is. For those of you who teach, that's all you do. You don't come up with it. It isn't original. It's just an explanation.
When your time's up, you sit down, you go back, you study, and you come back, and you explain a little more. That's it. It shouldn't be the exception of the church.
It ought to be the rule. And it breaks my heart to have people ask me, do you do that every Sunday? Who visit here? What do you mean? Do you open the Bible and just read a little bit of it and explain?
And I say, yeah, that's it. But for the teacher who will explain, that means they must first understand the truth before they can make it understandable. I wonder, one of my former teachers warned us in class, the minute you stop learning, you stop teaching. So if you're a teacher, then you are first and foremost a student. The better student that you are, the better teacher you will be. Now, you need to understand that the word teacher or delascalas is a wide word.
It means more than what I'm doing right now. It refers to one-on-one. It refers to the challenge of fathers teaching children. It refers to one teaching a group of children perhaps in the neighborhood.
It could be teaching standing outside a cubicle with co-workers or in the shop. And they ask you a question about some current event. And they say, you know, what do you think about that? And you give them your answer. And as you're answering your slipping and biblical truth, you are teaching. Could be to a group of teenagers or to a class of women or men that maybe on a Sunday morning to a Sunday school class or maybe here in an auditorium like this.
The gift of teaching is simply taking biblical truth and discovering what it meant to its original audience, what the words mean, and what it means to us today. That is the mandate of the church. That's it. Go. And while you go, in the process of going and making disciples, I want you to do two things. It's not rocket science. You don't have to look. You don't have to struggle with the purpose of the church.
Here it is. Baptize them and teach them everything I've commanded you. It's never changed for 2,000 years. That is the purpose of why we exist, to make disciples and do those two things to disciples.
So it isn't an option and it shouldn't be an exception. I remember a number of years ago spending a few weeks in Kagoshima, Japan, with our global staff there. And I was to preach that Sunday morning to a group of mostly hearing impaired Japanese men and women. My sermon would be interpreted into Japanese for those who heard, and then it would be interpreted as it is being done here only in Japanese.
It would be a slow, painstaking process because I would have to stop after each phrase. I worked for hours on that particular sermon and I handed my manuscript to our staff to review and Bill changed a number of phrases that would have been confusing. He asked me to clarify a few points and add a little data here and a little data there and maybe another verse. We worked on it then together and the morning came. It took an hour to communicate.
And for those of you who teach, you know that feeling and a difficult surrounding where you can feel the sweat rolling down your back. After the service, several women and men came up to me and in their custom bowed politely and then they said something to me or they signed something to me that I couldn't understand. And eventually Bill pulled me aside and said, listen, they are paying you the highest compliment that you can receive in this setting, in this culture. By the way, it wasn't, boy, I really liked that, or that was a good story, or that was interesting, or I stayed awake. It was just two words. I understood.
Isn't that great? I understood. That's the joy in a teacher's heart to say what God has said and for people to say, I got it. I caught it.
Oh, that's what it means. I understand. For those of you who teach, this is your objective. So that they who hear come to understand and the Spirit of God who like a train moves along the tracks of truth, moves into their lives and they obey.
Now these two gifts are very, very difficult. It is not something that you do. It is who you are. Do you understand that?
It isn't something you're going to do for an hour. I think I'll be a servant when I show up. No, you are a servant. A teacher is a teacher. You live life. You look at life looking for ways to communicate truth to your class. It's not what you do. It's who you are. Are you willing to become a servant?
Are you willing to become a teacher? I have learned in recent days that for 75 years now, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, soldiers have guarded the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Guards are rotated every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. The guard on duty, I learned, is carefully instructed in everything, every detail, even how to walk. During his 30 minutes of duty, he paces carrying his rifle and he paces exactly 21 steps signifying a 21 gun salute, the highest honor you can pay. And then he pauses for 21 seconds and then turns and walks 21 steps and pauses 21 seconds. And he does that to honor them. At the end of his 30 minutes, another guard replaces him.
His gloves, like his, have been moistened so that he won't lose his grip on his rifle. He spends five hours a day preparing his uniform so that when he appears, there is no lint, wrinkle, or fold. For a person to apply to be a guard at the tomb, he must be at least five feet, 10 inches tall, yet not taller than six feet, two inches. His waist size cannot exceed 30 inches. That takes care of me and most of you.
What are you snickering at? He must commit to two years of life to guard the tomb and he lives in a barracks underneath the tomb. When he arrives as a fresh recruit, he goes through six months where he is not allowed to talk to anyone, watch television. He is to study. In fact, all of his off-duty time is spent studying the records of the cemetery. All 175 notable people, he knows their life story.
He knows where they're interred. The guard must promise never to drink any alcohol on or off duty. He must promise to never swear ever in private or public. He cannot disgrace the uniform.
He cannot disgrace the tomb in any way. There are only 400 living guards today. We who are soldiers of the cross, who serve our creator and great commander-in-chief of the universe, how disciplined are we? How careful are we of our vocabulary? How do we limit our liberty for the sake of the honorable cause? Do we pursue with passion, purity, and devotion to his name? Do we consider it our greatest honor to serve him, to represent him, to speak for him? Never forgetting, never forgetting.
The tomb we represent is empty. In case you joined us late, you've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is the pastor of a church in Cary, North Carolina. You can learn more about him and our ministry by visiting wisdomonline.org. Our mailing address, if you prefer to communicate that way, is Wisdom for the Hearts, PO Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. Thank you for listening. Please come back next time for another lesson filled with wisdom for the hearts. you
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