Monday, April 02, 2007

The Basics of Christianity (Pt.4)

In our last study we talked about the concept of the body that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Up to this point, I have sought to share with you that the two basics that we always need to return to are prayer and Bible study. Now I want to talk about our function in the body of Christ. To do that, I want to focus our attention on Romans 12:4-8. Here in this passage, Paul gives eight gifts or functions of the body of Christ. He says, “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; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (NKJV).

He begins with the gift of “prophecy.” This is the Greek word propheteia, which comes from pro, “before,” and phemi, “to speak.” It means to “speak before.” It has the literal meaning of speaking forth, with no connotation of prediction or other supernatural or mystical significance. To put it simply, it is the gift of preaching, or of proclaiming the Word of God. Notice a few passages that use this word in this way: 1 Corinthians 14:3 says, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Acts 15:32 says, “Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” “The gift of prophecy is the gift of being God’s public spokesman, primarily to God’s own people–to instruct, admonish, warn, rebuke, correct, challenge, comfort, and encourage. God also uses His prophets to reach unbelievers” (John MacArthur, Romans). In Leslie Flynn’s book, “The 19 Gifts of the Spirit,” he gives the following definition: The gift of prophecy is the Spirit-given ability to “proclaim the written Word of God with clarity and to apply it to a particular situation with a view to correction or edification.

The second gift is listed in Romans 12:7 as “ministry” (NKJV) or “service” (NASB). This is the Greek word diakonia which is “a very broad term meaning service for the Lord” (Believer’s Bible Commentary) or “service of any kind” (Barnes). Specifically the word “refers to one who serves.” This is the activity of the servant. John MacArthur says, “Service is a simple, straightforward gift that is broad in its application. It seems to carry a meaning similar to that of the gift of helps mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, although a different Greek term (antilpsis) is used there. This gift certainly applies beyond the offices of deacon and deaconess and is the idea in Paul's charge to the Ephesian elders to "help the weak" (Acts 20:35). The gift of service is manifested in every sort of practical help that Christians can give one another in Jesus' name” (Romans). William MacDonald says that “The person who has the gift of ministry has a servant-heart. He see’s opportunities to be of service and seizes them” (Believer’s Bible Commentary). What is the gift of ministry or service? Flynn again answers by saying that it is the Spirit-given ability to “joyfully and diligently serve other Christians in practical and supporting roles, often freeing others to minister their gifts” (Flynn).

Do you possess any one of these first two gifts found in Romans 12:6-7? Tomorrow we will continue with our look at this list by examining the gift of teaching.

No comments: