Gifts Differing: A Very Dangerous Topic

Greetings,

I am going to be studying two parallel passages with you. The goal is to explain how God gives gifts to people, and also about a specific calling that He gives to some people.

The two passages are Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 (1 Corinthians 13 and 14 are considered as well). The calling is the one of evangelism.

1 Corinthians 12 begins by specifying a topic and a purpose: to help us to understand spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts,] brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

For the sake of time, I will start at verse 4 (although there is much that is fascinating in 2-3).

1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God gives different places, roles, and skills to His different servants and people. He has different things that He needs them to do, and He has different ways for them to do them. One person might be doing the same thing as someone else, but he may need to do it a different way than that other person. This is good and right.

Notice that I am not saying that God puts arguments, strifes, differences of doctrines, and variant beliefs in His body. No, He is against these things (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 1:27, Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8). I strongly believe in absolute truth, and I believe that people are wrong about a lot of things (including myself). We are to resolve these differences in love, without compromising God’s Word and Doctrine.

But we do have different tasks, different ways of going about those tasks, and different priorities. Different skills, different callings. This is ordained by God, and for His good pleasure.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1 Corinthians 12:15-27 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?
20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

We ought to never seek to elevate our own position, calling, or task above those of others. Period. We need every one of us, each doing exactly what we are each supposed to do. There are a couple key words in the above passages: ‘particular’ and ‘severally.’ These both have a similar meaning, that is, โ€œto each his own,โ€ private, separate. We each have our own task, and our own goals, and if we each seek God, we can each find exactly what God wants us each to do.

Now, that seems all rather obvious, doesn’t it? Very plain, very forthright. I believe God did it that way on purpose, because He knew how much trouble we would have with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why is it that we still tend to connect the concept of following God’s calling with going into full time supported ministry in the church or in a mission field or something like that? Pastors continually extol the virtues of ‘going into the ministry’ and how it is the best job anyone could ever have.

…not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think…

…the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee…

Why do we not rejoice as much over someone learning that God wants him to go into web design (or whatever), as when we find out that he has been called to become a full-time pastor?

Pastors and missionaries live off of the offerings of the rest of the people of God. As such, that class of people cannot possibly make up much more than about a tenth of the total Christian population. So are the other nine parts destitute, and unable to give full glory to God?

If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing?

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.

Realize that I am not bashing ‘the’ ministry at all. I am merely pointing out that it is not the only way to serve God, and not everyone needs to be in it.

So now we come to the hard part of my article, the one that will make a lot of people very mad at me (I expect it to, but I hope it won’t).

Evangelism.

Yes, I am going to say that there is more than one way to evangelize. There are tons of ways to do it right. There are some ways that are definitely wrong, and it is very easy to do it wrong, and actually mess up people’s understanding of the gospel so much that they are desensitized to it. This is very possible, and it happens on a massive scale all over the place. But there are also lots of ways to do it right: you just need to learn how. (For the record, most tracts do it the wrong way, which is why we rarely use tracts in our family, because we can’t agree with or promote what is in them.)

But that isn’t really the main point I am getting at.

Not everyone is an evangelist.

Not everyone is called to give the gospel.

Now watch and listen and put that steam back inside your ears: you might get a concussion carrying on that way! ๐Ÿ™‚

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

โ€œBut what about the great commission?โ€ you say. Here it is:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

So, Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach the gospel, teach, and baptize them. He also calls many other people to do this. Some people say that because Jesus obviously wasn’t talking to just those particular people, He therefore must have been talking to everyone, but this is a blatant logical fallacy. Just because a group is not one set in a larger group, does not mean that group must therefore be the whole group: it could very well be a different set.

And notice this: the great commission includes the order to baptize. And yet…

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

This is Paul, the same one who said:

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

Even the great commission itself has different parts for different people! And it doesn’t apply to everyone in the first place, but merely to those who are called to those particular tasks.

The sad thing is that many people try to make others guilty if they do not hand out gospel tracts frequently, or if they do not share the gospel actively. They say that you must not care about people going to hell if you don’t share the gospel with them.

The answer is no. We do care. We care very much. But that doesn’t mean that we feel that it is incumbent upon us to step outside of God’s calling for us to do someone else’s job (although we do it sometimes, we don’t set aside our own calling to do so). Besides, the fact is that every Christian who lives a holy life is, in a very powerful way, sharing the gospel. He is showing forth and being a witness for the glory of God. And living that way can get God’s glory into many places that no other method will. It is very effective, and a very necessary part of the body of Christ, despite what some people try to say against lifestyle evangelism.

Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Advertisements

20 Responses

  1. *trying to remain calm*

    You hit a hot button for me when you came to evangelism ๐Ÿ™‚

    First, I would agree with you on the great commission. Many times that is used to support the idea that everyone has to go out an actively share the Gospel. In context, Jesus was specifically telling His disciples to do so. He did not say “Whosoever follow Me must go out into all the world and make disciples”.

    I would also agree with the fact that their are different ways of evangelism, and I see that in the Bible. Paul did open-air preaching, Peter healed, and others.

    BUT! But, I would say that if Christ doesn’t affect us in a way that we don’t share our faith at all, I would say that is wrong. I am not saying that you have to be extremely active in sharing the Gospel, but if someone just shares their faith just once that’s fine.

    I have LOTS more thoughts on this, but I need to get them all together. Tell me if I’m right or wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alright, so far I agree with you. You caught my main two points there and you agree on them. So far so good.

      You then say that “if Christ doesnโ€™t affect us in a way that we donโ€™t share our faith at all, I would say that is wrong.”

      Well, my response to this is utterly predicated upon how you define ‘sharing your faith.’ Now, if you define it as how I defined it in the last bit of my article, lifestyle evangelism, or glorifying God in how you live your life (without necessarily giving out a tract, or showing someone the Roman’s road, or going through four points to get to heaven with someone), I agree with you. That is because we are commanded to be lights: we are commanded to glorify God.

      However if you define it differently, I see a disconnect between that idea and the idea you earlier stated, and with the Bible.

      Could you clarify?

  2. No steam here… my only problem with your article is that in my personal opinion (notice OPINION) you didn’t go far enough. Those who were called to preach in the scriptures (for example Paul) didn’t draw a salary from a group of believers to whom they preached week after week after week. They were basically missionaries, church planters! They were preaching to UNBELIEVERS preaching to believers is a waste of time. (I guess my bottom line is that most preachers today aren’t even evangelists!)

    There is a huge disconnect between what the modern world calls the church and what the Church was in the 1st century. We are all priests. We don’t need a priest (preacher) to stand before us, because we ARE the priests. We as priests are to minister to each other, not come and sit placidly while one man (a priest in effect) ministers to the congregation. There is a place for teaching. I don’t deny that. I listen to good Christian teaching every day on the radio. But Church meetings were not used for preaching. When the Church met together they ate! Not a crumb of machine manufactured cracker and a tiny sniff of grape juice. They ate! Some of them were drinking enough wine to get drunk! (that would be a lot of refills in the “church” meetings I’ve been in.) They shared their lives, meeting together every day in many cases. It was a community. They praised God. And they GREW! Every day those being saved were added to their number. (Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Cor 11:20-21 are my sources for these statements.) More on this theme in “Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola if you’re interested in the differences between what we call church today and the Church of the 1st century.

    We are all called as believers to live our lives to the best of our abilities in community with each other and in communion with the Lord. Some are called to be missionaries, others to be teachers, some are administrators, others are artists. There are heads and hands and feet all over in the Body. I devoted my life to full time Christian service when I was in Jr High. Little did I know that I’d fulfill that commitment by homeschooling four kids! After having left the institutionalized “church” about 2 years ago I’m now starting to attend a small group that I’m hoping will BE Church.

    Enjoyed the article and your viewpoint. You always make me think. You’re a lot like a yard sale, Jay. I always get more than I bargained for! :o)

    ~Raven

    • Thank you for your nice, long comment! I like those.

      Well, I agree with you on part of your extension of my topic, but not on others. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are two types of things going on in the church, one is outreach (missionaries and etc.), and the other is… I guess you could call it inreach? Both are valid ministries. We need people preaching to the saved as much as to the unsaved.

      (As for the whole communion thing: eating like that was actually a bad thing that Paul was reprimanding the church at Corinth for, but that is kind of off-topic.)

      We went to a homechurch for a long time, and loved it. We are going to a regular church now because we don’t have much else, and it really does a ton of stuff right (more than any other church we have been to so far as I remember).

      Thank you again!

    • Am I correct in saying that you, White Raven, believe that there is no reason for the preaching and teaching of God’s word on Sunday mornings. If you are I whole heartedly disagree and can explain why thoroughly, but before I do that I want to make sure I understand what your saying correctly.

  3. Well, my response to this is utterly predicated upon how you define โ€™sharing your faith.โ€™

    Sharing your faith could either be spoken or silent (meaning lifestyle). And the Bible supports and advocates both.

    I am not saying we all have to go out and start talking to people about Christ. Jesus said that people will see our good works and glorify the Father.

    so, I would agree with the first definition you gave of ‘sharing your faith’.

    • Alright, then we are agreed. Right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ll say yes for now ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Also, a Christian’s we should always be sharing the Gospel either as, Tim Sleeper mentioned, through our lifestyle, or in our actual words.

      I believe that the great commission applies to everyone, though on different levels (which I believe is what you are trying to say, right Jay). What I mean by this is that all should share the Gospel when they have the chance. For instance when dad goes on a plane trip the people sitting next to and around him are going to hear the gospel. My father, however is not an evangelist as most consider the term.

      ~ Ethan

    • Ethan,

      As my article states, I do not believe that all should ‘share the Gospel’ (i.e. give a path to salvation) when they have the chance. Our lifestyle, without actually saying anything about the road to salvation, is telling the gospel enough for those who are in that part of the body. The Gospel is Christ, and if Christ is living in our actions, then we are sharing Christ, and therefore sharing the Gospel, even if we never mention His name.

    • Jay,

      Where in Scripture do you see it say that we do not have the responsibility to declare the Gospel.

      Your saying that if a situation were to arise were a person needed to hear the gospel then it is not necessarily my duty to tell him the TRUTH.

      You ALMOST seem to be taking a Hyper-Calvinistic view of: ‘he is going to be saved because God pre-destined it to be so, therefore I have no responsibility.’

    • What I am saying, Ethan, is that not everyone has that responsibility. Many do, but not everyone. We all have a responsibility to glorify God and emulate His will and yield to Christ in our lives (which is in a certain way sharing the gospel), but we do not all have the responsibility to evangelize at every opportunity. I am not saying that I don’t evangelize (I do), I am just saying that there are some people who have a different calling.

    • I think I can agree with that

    • Ah, that is good. Haha. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ah! That makes more sense. I can agree with it more now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Excellent job Jay! We need more people in this world who will teach the truth no matter what others may think.

  5. […] Gifts Differing – Jay Lauser covers an important topic. He has some really good points, but I am leaning towards disagreement with Jay on the topic of evangelism. Sorry Jay! But, I’ll cover that later. Anyway, it’s really good and you would profit by reading it. […]

  6. I like how you put the part of the article about ‘callings’. However, (oh no!) I believe that ‘callings’ and gifts should not be mixed. The Bible gives us an exhaustive list of gifts, such as mercy, exhortation, and so on. Gifts are given to us by God, while ‘callings’ are discovered by seeking His will. I would also take issue with you using the word ‘calling’. I know it is a convenient word, and maybe you are only using it that way, but we cannot really say that we are ‘called’. We can only truly say we are ‘called’ if God speaks to us, which He does not do anymore.

    I think that there are two different kinds of lifestyle evangelism. The first kind, where all you do is live differently and hope someone will notice, is not enough. However, the second kind, speaking about what you believe, is more effective. An example would be responding to a feminist comment by telling them what the Bible says about submission, etc. Obviously, we can’t go grabbing people in the bus and taking them through the Romans Road, but just living differently is not enough.

    I’m sorry if I lost you, or didn’t explain myself well. I’m not used to this yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you. Even though I may not agree at times, your posts help me solidify what I DO believe.

    • That sounds like a good topic for another article: callings vs. gifts. Needless to say, it has a lot involved in it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      “I think that there are two different kinds of lifestyle evangelism. The first kind, where all you do is live differently and hope someone will notice, is not enough. However, the second kind, speaking about what you believe, is more effective.”

      This is correct, for those who are called to evangelize. However, it is not accurate for those who are not.

      I think I got what you were saying. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: