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.
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, “to each his own,” 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. 🙂
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).
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! 🙂
“But what about the great commission?” 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,