THE GIFTS OF THE BODY
Part One & Two – Proving the Will of God & The Manifold Grace of God
If anyone knows the importance of having a physical body that is in good health and working properly right now, it is your pastor. Sadly, we don’t usually realize this until something isn’t working the way it was designed to. And as in my case, when something as important as our back gets hurt, it seriously compromises the overall function of one’s body.
Well, the truth is—all of us who are born again Christians don’t just have our physical bodies, but are a part of the body of Christ, which is called to work together in the same way our physical bodies do. And likewise, if one part of the body isn’t doing its part—particularly those hidden and unseen parts of the body—then the rest of the body can suffer for it. Amen?
So, this is the way we need to see every member of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ—as valuable and important parts of the church. No, not one of us is expendable and none of us are irrelevant. We ALL play a vital role in the health and growth of the body of Christ, not just those who hold the microphone or stand on stage.
So, from the example I just used, just like our spine & vertebrae are in the back and unseen, there are members of Christ’s body that might be in the background and unseen as well. And that’s what I want to start talking to you about today—the gifts that God has given each one of us and our function in the body of Christ.
Again, I’m not referring to the gifts that are the face of the church that everyone sees and esteems, but to the internal bones and organs of the body that provide the support that it needs and help with the overall function of the Lord’s church. We will learn what these gifts are and how God has designed them to work together for the building up of His church.
TWO KEYS TO KNOWING GOD’S WILL
So, let’s start today in the beginning of Romans chapter 12:
Verses 1-2 say, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
In these verses, what the apostle Paul was encouraging his readers with is that in light of all the mercy and grace the Lord has showered on our lives, we have a reasonable service—and that is to walk in that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. That means that the Lord has a plan for each one of us and expects us to walk in His will for our lives.
But the fact is that most Christians don’t feel like they know what God’s will is for their lives. I’ve found that most believers are confused as to what their purpose and calling is. But these verses not only teach us how important it is do His will, but how to know His will as well. This happens as we both lay our lives down for His sake and as we learn to renew our minds to His plan and purpose for our lives.
Sadly, the truth is that most don’t ever do these two things contained in these verses. They don’t truly present their bodies as a living sacrifice, by laying their lives down for the cause of Christ. They still want to do things their way and the way they feel but don’t resolve to give it all to Him.
Church, this is the first step to discovering God’s will for our lives—laying down our wills. Jesus had to do this, didn’t He? He could have succumbed to His feelings and said, “Father, I don’t want to present My body as a sacrifice for them. I’d rather do it this way or that way.” And guess what would have happened—or in this case, what wouldn’t have happened? No, crucifixion. And sure, that would have been more pleasant for Jesus, but it certainly would not have been good for us. But because Jesus prayed that oh so powerful prayer— “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”—we have had God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will be done for our salvation. Amen.
Let me give you a great example of how this works: I’ve seen this happen numerous times in how someone finds their mate.
There have been a few ladies whom I know who had a difficult time finding their husband. They dated and dated and dated, and it seemed like they would never find their Boaz. But when they finally came to the place where they laid that desire down on the altar and truly made seeking first the kingdom of God their priority, it was amazing how quickly their Boaz showed up in their field. It was as if the Lord was not going to let them find him while the desire for him had too great of a place in their heart.
And I believe this works in so many areas of our lives—if we would lay down our own desires and delight ourselves in Him, then He would give us the desires of our heart. Sounds like a Scripture, doesn’t it (See Psalm 37:4)?
So, finding the will of God begins with losing our own lives and laying down our own wills, but then there is another step to proving it—and that is found in Romans 12:2. According to this verse, our lives must be transformed by the renewing of our minds in order to prove His will. That describes us truly learning to think like God thinks and letting His Word—His thoughts—transform the way we look at things.
You see, I’ve found that one of the reasons people miss God’s will is because of the way they think. They still see things the way they always have and have not allowed God’s way of thinking influence their own mind.
For example, if one’s thinking never changes to understand that in God’s kingdom, we are all servants, then they might be confused to thinking that things work in His kingdom like they do here in this world. Therefore, their idea of what is being successful might not be the same as God’s. If one never comes to realize that love is the only true way, they might live their entire life trying to acquire the very thing that they are called to give.
Church, there are a lot of ways that a Christian might not have the mind of Christ, once we start thinking like God thinks, discovering His will will be so much easier. This is why we see so much in the Scriptures about meditating on His Word day and night when it comes to possessing the land promised to us and prospering in all our ways (See Joshua 1 & Psalm 1). It is because the renewal of our minds is key to experiencing His good, acceptable and perfect will in our lives.
So, that is what we are going to begin doing over the course of the next few weeks—renewing our minds to God’s will for our lives and discovering our place in the body of Christ.
THE GRACE GIVEN TO EACH ONE OF US
Now let’s move on to the following verses in Romans chapter 12 that begin to get into the various gifts and callings of God in our lives that prove His will …
Paul goes on to say in Romans 12:3-8, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 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; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
In verse 3, the apostle Paul starts off by saying, “For I say, through the grace given to me.” He was saying that it was through the specific gift of grace that he had received—which was obviously His calling to be an apostle to the body of Christ—that he was about to give this authoritative breakdown of how God distributes His grace to the rest of the body.
Then he goes on to say, “… to everyone who is among you …” This is an important phrase because as this verse goes on to say, God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. In other words, “everyone” who was a part of this church had been dealt a measure of faith for the grace given to each one of them.
Now we will get more into that in the weeks ahead, but the point I want you to see from these verses is that just as it was for the church in Rome, everyone among us have been given a measure of faith for the differing gifts of grace given to each of us. That doesn’t sound to me like any of us are left out. Does it to you? No, these verses make it apparent that we are all a part of the body of Christ and because of that, we all have certain graces and a measure of faith that has been given to us. (I’ll get back to this in a moment)
But let’s continue: “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly …” So why did Paul say this? It is because there is a tendency that creeps into all of us who are in the body of Christ to magnify our part of the body and our position in the body in a disproportional manner.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say for teaching purposes that the left arm of the body of Christ emphasizes the importance of teaching in the body of Christ and the right arm emphasizes the importance of evangelism. What happens a lot of times is that those are a member of the left arm in the body of Christ will be so inclined towards their gifting that they believe that teaching and instruction of the Word is all that is important, and they disesteem the power of evangelism. On the other hand (no pun intended😊), those who are a part of the right arm, tend to think that evangelism (which is witnessing and getting people saved) is all that is important and that we shouldn’t spend a lot of time studying the Word but rather should be “hitting the streets” to bring people into the kingdom. How many of you know that both of these mindsets are both correct and incorrect? What do I mean by that?
It is a correct way of thinking because evangelism and discipleship are both vital, integral, and important. It’s also incorrect because one should never say one is any less important than the other.
Let me give you another example: There are also different parts of the body that emphasize different teachings themselves. For instance, there have been and are different ministries that are called to emphasize certain subjects. One example is Brother Kenneth Hagin, Sr. God told him to go and teach the subject of faith to the body. So, he emphasized and threaded that subject throughout his entire ministry. Then I think of Andrew Wommack. God has obviously called him to teach the body about His grace and unconditional love. And there are many other examples, but my point is that the problem comes when ministries that are called to emphasize certain things in the body of Christ start to disesteem and devalue those who teach or emphasize anything else because I have news for you: as great as the subjects of faith, grace, etc. are, there are more subjects in the body of Christ than those. Therefore, we need to recognize that, and while we certainly should continue to focus on the things that God has put in our hearts and inclined us towards, we should also recognize that there are other parts of the body that are needful as well.
Now don’t get me wrong: It’s not wrong to esteem and value our part in the body. In fact, I believe that is a point Paul is actually making here—that we need to “think highly” of our place in the body of Christ; just not more highly than we ought to think. No, it is not wrong to magnify our ministry and to think highly of our place in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul himself said that he magnified his office (Romans 11:13). So, if the apostle Paul magnified his office, we should also magnify our office!
This is why the apostle of faith said that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. He was not condemning us thinking highly of our place and grace in the body; he was correcting the attitude of thinking more highly of our place and grace in the body than we ought. Yes, we should think highly of our gifting and office because if he said that we should not think more highly than we ought to think, then evidently there are high thoughts that we ought to be thinking! And that is what Paul himself practiced as he continuously magnified his office and gifting as an apostle.
This is thinking “soberly” as Paul went on to say in Romans chapter 12 because to not think soberly is to think with an exaggerated and unrealistic perception as people who get intoxicated tend to do. One can do that both ways—either by thinking they are more important than they truly are or not thinking they are as important as they truly are.
THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD
But the fact is, everyone has a special gifting! Every man and woman in the body of Christ has been given a specific function and a specific ability that is to be used for the building up of the body. Yes, everyone of us has a good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for our lives.
Let’s now go over to a passage of Scripture in First Peter chapter 4 that reiterates this point …
First Peter 4:10-11 says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 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 belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Notice that verse 10 clearly shows us that each one has received a gift from the manifold grace of God. So, again, contrary to common belief, it is not just some believers that are gifted. “Each one” of us has received a gift! That means that every born-again believer has a gift that they have received from the various kinds of God’s grace.
And notice that Peter says that each one “has received a gift.” These gifts that we all have are not gifts that come after we have been saved for multiple years etc. We have received them! In other words, they were evidently given at the moment we were born again and became Christians.
Then we notice that Peter goes on to call them “gifts”—that is, something that we did not earn or that has to be worked for. Our gifts are free gifts of grace! This is why Paul, in describing our gifts and callings, said that these gifts and callings are “without repentance” (Romans 11:29). This means that they are irrevocable and will not be taken away. Why? It is because they are gifts of grace! They are not something that we have to work to keep. We can make the decision to go into the world and that gifting that God has put into us, of say singing, stays with us.
But what is God’s intention for us to do with that gift? Peter said that we are to “minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Notice, first of all, that Peter said “minister” it. This tells us that not only are we all gifted but that we in all actuality are all “ministers.” We like to refer to those who stand behind a pulpit as the ministers, but the truth is we are all ministers because this word denotes being a servant. And no one would argue that every believer is called to be a servant, right? Yes, we are called to serve one another; therefore, we are called to be ministers.
And “ministers” (i.e., servers) of what? Ministers of the manifold grace of God that we have been made stewards of! You see, as we saw in Romans chapter 12, to each one of us grace has been given. And each one of us have been given different graces based on our calling. This is what Peter is referring to when he refers to the “manifold” grace of God. The word “manifold” literally means “many kinds or a variety.” So, the manifold grace of God is a reference to the many kinds or variety of giftings that come from the grace of God.
GIFTS, NOT WAGES
But here is the point I want to leave you with today: Yes, we all have been blessed with a specific calling & function in the body of Christ, but these things are called “gifts” that come from the variety of God’s “grace.” So, the first thing we need to understand about our gifts is that they are indeed that—they are gifts of God’s grace.
The reason I want to make this point is because far too many believers do not see the things God has given us this way, but rather see them as a “wage.” What do I mean by that? I mean that most Christians think that you and I have to “work” to either gain or maintain the graces given to us by God; that we have to do something to see them manifest in our lives. But that is simply not true. The gifts that God gives us are free gifts! They do not have to be earned, worked or paid for! They are gifts, not wages! Amen?
For instance, when we see the word “gift” used in the New Testament, oftentimes it comes from the Greek word charisma. Now when you look this word up, you find that it is defined— “a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own; the gift of divine grace; a free gift.” This sounds an awful lot like the grace we receive at salvation, doesn’t it? Now we know that this grace is not obtained by any good works of our own. Rather, it is a gift given to us by God. Well, if these other things we are called with are also called “gifts”, then they should be understood to be the same way—gifts of His divine grace, freely given without any merit of our own. Amen.
Now when we use the word “charisma” in our modern-day language, we use it to describe someone who has flare and a gift to influence and attract people’s admiration. It is often tied to people in positions of leadership—specifically because their magnetism is what launched them into that position.
And, you know, when it comes to “charisma,” this is not something that people usually claim to have themselves. Rather, others are usually the ones to ascribe it to them. In other words, the person who possesses “charisma” does not usually go around saying, “I’ve got charisma!” No, it is recognized more by others around them.
Likewise, with the “charismas” given to us by God, most people don’t believe that they already got ‘em! They see other big-wigs and super-dupers in full-time ministry as possessing “charisma,” but they do not see themselves as having the goods too.
Which holds a great point as to how we can figure out what our “charisma” is: Ask others! Inquire of those you respect around you and those who know you best. Let them tell you what you are best at and where your gifting lies.
But the truth is, if you have been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, then you have “charisma!” Amen? So, guess what that means? It means that you are gifted! It means that you’ve got flare! Yes, you’ve got charisma! Amen!
Do you have Scripture for that, pastor? You bet your bottom dollar, I do. Hallelujah!
I looked up the various times that this Greek word charisma is used in the New Testament and guess what the common usage is? That we’ve already got it! Let me give you some examples:
First of all, First Corinthians 1:4-7 says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, Paul starts off this letter thanking God for the grace of God that was given to them by Christ Jesus. And notice He is addressing a church body, not just it’s leaders. So, it is to be understood that these verses are applicable to everyone in the church.
And notice that he doesn’t say, “I pray to God always concerning you that God would someday give you grace by Christ Jesus.” No, he is saying they’ve already got said grace! Amen?
Paul continues that they were enriched in everything by Him—not hoped to be enriched in everything someday, but they already had been given everything and were enriched in this! In what? In all utterance and all knowledge! What does this mean? Well, “utterance” describes “speech,” which is an obvious reference to the various vocal gifts in the body of Christ such as the preachers, teachers, tongues, prophecy, etc. The term “knowledge” is a likely reference to the other gifts such as the wisdom and understanding given to others in the body. But my point is that this church was already enriched in all of these gifts.
Now was this just true for the Church of Corinth or is this a reality for all of God’s Church today? It is for all of us today just like it was for them 2,000 years ago because God does not include these things just for the benefit of one select group! No, He is no respecter of persons! Amen?
Let’s look at some other New Testament verses:
Later on, in First Corinthians 7:7, Paul begins to explain the principles of marriage, saying that a man has his wife and the wife has her husband. In verse 7, he says, “But each one has his own gift from God …” The word that is used here for “gift” is again the word charisma. So, Paul also calls our spouses our gifts from God, which beautifully illustrates the point I am making.
You see, if you are a man and you are married, you’ve already got a wife! It would be considered immoral for you to go around trying to find another wife when you already have your “gift” from God, right? Likewise, since we are married to the Lord, have His Spirit living in us, and have been given our own gifts from God, we need not go around trying to get something else! Amen?
But how many people do this very thing? They feel insignificant and useless to the body of Christ, so they try and operate in someone else’s gift because they want to feel like they are making a significant contribution to Christ’s church. That’s not right, church! Like we should with our spouse, we should recognize what we have and be thankful for it—understanding the good things that are already being brought to the table.
So, it is not a matter of you and I having or doing something else. It is simply a matter of believing that the Lord has already put good things on the inside of us and letting those graces be manifested in and through our lives the way God designed them to—by grace!
So, if we don’t earn them—not receiving them by our actions—then can we lose them through our works? Nope! For Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts (Greek, charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This means that any “charisma” of God (including the gifts of the Spirit) is unable to be changed or reversed. Another way of saying this is to say—God’s not an Indian giver! Once He gives it, He doesn’t take it away.
Finally, let’s look at one more instance where this Greek word charisma is used, and in so doing, learn how to release the gifts within us:
In Second Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy with— “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Again, the gift of God is already in there; put in us by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. However, as good stewards of these gifts, we are called to “stir up” the gift! One might describe this as “unwrapping” the gift that we’ve been given!
Therefore, I believe we can see a principle here: When it comes to any of God’s gifts that are in us, you and I “stir up” those gifts through our faith that’s in us!
The final point I believe that the Lord is making today is that we do not need to have the mentality that we are trying to get these gifts from God. No, we’ve already got them—for if we already have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then we have the gifts that He gives. Amen?
Well, someone will say, “Yeah, but how can we say we have something if we don’t see it?” Good question, but wrong perspective. We are called to walk by faith, not by sight—simply believing what God says is ours no matter if we are walking in the reality of it or not. So, I submit to you that we need see the gifts of the Spirit as God’s gifts to us—not things He might give us in the future, but gifts that He’s already given. Then, understanding that the Holy Spirit is just looking for an opening to let these gifts flow in our lives, we invite Him to do so in us.
Church, this is when I believe the gifts will begin to flow like rivers of living waters—when we tear down the dam of unbelief, complacency, and indifference. Let us believe God when He says that we have charisma and walk in that favor today! Amen!