Thursday, August 13, 2015


WITHOUT, that is, also teaching 1 Corinthians 12. Well ... you can ... but you risk badly misleading people.

I recall a lively discussion about this, one day, in Sunday School. The message seemed to come across as we all need to be making disciples. And that's the part I disagree with.

The Great Commission, of course, is to go into all the world (really to every society or people group) and make disciples ... learners ... pupils ... and to baptize them and teach them everything Jesus commanded. When the teacher said that it was every believer's responsibility, I asked for a show of hands among the ladies in the class, showing how many of them had baptized someone. Nobody raised their hand, and the teacher remarked that he hadn't baptized anyone, either.

I then asked if they were being disobedient to the Great Commission.

The point is, IF the GC applies to each and every believer, it would have started by applying to each individual Apostle, too. And I wonder which of them went to Europe or South America. They're part of "all the world".....

And if that individual applicability holds true, then everyone has to teach, too. That does not seem logical when we consider that the gift of teaching does not apply to everyone. 1 Corinthians 12 rules that out via a pointed series of rhetorical questions.

So ... what IS the deal?

Go back to Genesis, and God's command to multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it. Did God tell Adam & Eve to personally have several billion babies? I doubt that. But if you view the command as applicable to mankind, it seems reasonable. We've kind of done that over the last few thousand years.

Maybe not very well.....

Let's put that thought on the Great Commission. If it's to each individual, then it conflicts with other scriptures and fails miserably as I don't think anybody can go into all the world. And for sure not everybody. But if we recast it as applying to the church ... the Body of Christ .. then it makes sense. Particularly when coupled with 1 Corinthians 12.

That chapter describes the church ... the ekklesia...  as the Body of Christ. The flesh & blood He uses when He wants something done here on earth.

  • He wants the Bible preached to some folks, He confiscates the flesh of a preacher. Someone gifted with that.
  • He wants some folks ministered to, He appropriates the body of someone gifted in that.
  • He wants Bible teaching, He grabs a gifted teacher and uses him (OK .. or her).
  • He wants some healing or managing or interpreting done, He's got folks available to use those gifts, too.

I believe that's the secret of Communion ... the "Lord's Supper". He wants us to take His flesh and His blood into our bodies where it will survive and be available to Him when He needs to commandeer some flesh to give that cup of cold water in His name.

Makes sense to me.

Romans 12 says we're to think of ourselves with sound reasoning .. with sober judgment. That ought to include areas in which God has sovereignly gifted us. If He has given us the gift of teaching, we should be able to simply say so. It's not a matter of pride, since it was a gift and not of our own doing. And the same applies to all the other gifts which the Holy Spirit bestows, as well. His service is no place for pride, or for false humility.

OK. So the Bible carefully explains that the church is a body, made up of different and diverse parts, each gifted for a particular task or tasks. For a human body in which each part did not know how to perform as it was designed, it would be a huge problem. But evidence I see in the church is that most parts don't know what they were designed to do.

Folks always seem surprised when I ask the first "spiritual gift" mentioned in the Bible. Nobody's ever known, so I always tell them to check Exodus 31:

1 The Lord also spoke to Moses: 2 "Look, I have appointed by name Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with God's Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft 4 to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every craft".

Really? Arts and crafts as a Spiritual gift? Sure. The task of the church .. Israel .. at the time was to build the Tabernacle. So God placed people in their midst who were gifted to accomplish the work God had in mind for them.

I wonder if we have that attitude today? That God has placed in our midst the people gifted to accomplish the tasks God has in mind for our church. And for yours. Or could it be that leadership looks out the window, at the community, decides what they need, and then enlists volunteers to do those thing.

Specifically thinking of the Great Commission, every member should know their gifting, what God has prepared for them to do, so they can do their part in the church's fulfilling of the Great Commission. If a member's gift is caring for infants or pre-schoolers, then it's important. Without that, mom & dad will not be in Bible Study, being discipled.

Trying to determine the relative importance of gifts in a church is like trying to decide the relative importance of the right and left wing on an airliner. I don't suggest you ask a pilot which wing he consider to be the more important....

If you don't know what your Spiritual gifts are, find out! God wouldn't have gifted us if He hadn't intended us to use them, and it seems to me that doing just that is one of the biggest keys to leading an abundant life.

Take it from someone who is old enough not to need any more "stuff" and who has been to enough states and countries that he doesn't want to travel any more .... doing those things does not constitute an abundant life. That abundance lies in serving the God Who will, one day, reveal what all He accomplished through the things we did in His name and His service. When that happens, we'll really understand what Jesus meant when He said that He came so that we might have abundant life.


At 6:37 PM, August 16, 2015, Blogger Lee said...

I think there are a lot of churches in our culture today that are warehouses of body parts and spiritual gifts; people "attending" but not doing anything for the kingdom, or for their local congregation.


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