"I want to serve God" was the blunt statement of a young man who approached his pastor after a Sunday morning message. This young man was in the prime of his life and possessed many abilities. He presented his pastor a real dilemma. There were hundreds of ways in which he could serve God. The pastor only needed to look over the youth's shoulder to see that the church lawn needed mowing. The flowerbeds were filled with weeds. Only that morning, the Sunday School superintendent had mentioned the need for someone to teach the third grade Sunday School class. He had been thinking about encouraging the young people to become more active in visiting other young people who had visited the church or who were inconsistent in attendance, and they also needed a leader for the program. Could God be working in the life of this young person leading him to the mission field or a pastorate? How could he wisely encourage this young man in his service to God? All of the possibilities for getting a job done could have clouded his thinking. He could have said, "Mow the lawn and weed the flowerbeds and you will be serving God." He could have given the young man a checklist of activities all of which would have been service to God, but he did not. He made an effort to begin a program for teaching him the spiritual life -- a life in which he could learn to have victory over his spiritual enemies. Of course, the pastor was able to help him by giving him tasks by which the pastor could carefully observe his activities and evaluate his abilities. He encouraged him to have proper motives for serving God and instructed him concerning his privileges as a believer-priest. As a result, the pastor was able to help him determine what his spiritual gift was and helped him function in priestly service. The young man went to college, was active in a local church while attending school and returned home after graduation to take his place in the family business actively serving God in his local church as a stable Christian leader. The church was built up because a wise pastor encouraged the young man to learn how to be spiritual and then how to serve as a believer-priest. They had mutually agreed that his spiritual gift was not a speaking gift but the gift of organization that he faithfully used as his specialty to the glory of God in the local church.
Service is not a professional, paid activity. Service describes the priestly activities of every spiritual Christian. An activity may be service or it might not be service. Any activity by the Old Testament priest, conforming to proper priestly activity, was considered service. It was identified as service simply because it was done either in the tabernacle or the temple. The service of the grace believer has a direct relationship to his priestly activity. Acceptable service to God is service rendered by spiritual believers. They are spiritual in reality because they have subjected themselves to God's standards. Every believer has the potential for serving as a priest. There are two types of service that are involved in the life of the believer-priest: priestly type service and other types of service. Priestly service is service that is peculiar to priestly activity. In other words, non-priests cannot perform such service. The priest only performs it when he is acting as a priest doing a specified priestly activity. The second is service that is not related to the priestly office. The believer-priest as a Christian can perform it, but it is not counted to be a priestly service. The Greek terms "bond slave" (doulos) and "servant" (dikonia) denote this last kind of service. The essential portions of this section will deal with service that is counted by God to be priestly service. There is a broad spectrum of information provided in Scripture for understanding the service of the believer-priest.
Essentially, the privilege of service as a priest will affect every part of his life. In Christ, the believer is a priest every moment of his life. God the Father counts his priestly service to be a continuing activity. This service is related to activities that are uniquely priestly activities. A believer should know which part of his service is counted priestly service without confusing the types of service. Service always involves the condition of the person who is performing specific duties to the benefit of another person or persons. The believer serves as a priest for the benefit of God while doing those things that God identifies as priestly duty functioning as a spiritual believer.
Because of his office as priest, he serves like a priest should serve. The Greek word for "priest" is iereus (hiereus) and is descriptive of his type of service. It is derived from the word ieron (hieron) and so describes one who not only has access but who actually performs activity in the temple. He is an individual who was clearly identified with the temple. Throughout the Greek and Roman worlds, the priest was identified with a place -- a building constructed for service to deities. A priest had responsibilities that he alone knew how to perform and that he was permitted to perform. Not all priestly duties in temples were spectacular for they frequently involved the most menial tasks sweeping, cleaning, chopping wood, dumping ashes, washing garments and utensils, taking out the garbage and such like. In pagan societies, priests spent time studying mystical arts for pagan practice and ceremony. The priest's responsibility was to make the temple acceptable to the god or gods for whom it was built, to perform rituals that would encourage the god or gods to be present there, to appease the god or gods to keep them there and to please the god or gods so that they would provide benefits for the priests and all who came to the temple to worship.
The very idea of temple service came from ancient civilizations. Under Law, Israel's priests performed their priestly service in a single location. The pagan peoples round about them also had temples, but they were offended at Israel's insistence that there was only one place for service and only one God -- Jehovah. The pagan priests ministered in any place designated as a holy place and so served not only in temples but also served in groves and other locations. A primary service of all priests was that of sacrifice because it was the most visible part of their priestly activity. It was one of the most important because it involved the people and was not limited to the sphere of priestly activity or benefit. Sacrifices gave validity to their service.
When the grace believer serves as a priest, he is functioning in the heavenly temple as a priest. Since the earth is counted to be the courtyard of the temple, his service as a temple person can be performed at any location on earth at any time. The priest is a temple worker who has access to the heavenly Holy of Holies and has the privilege of service in the temple. Grace believers are involved in spiritual priestly service because they are involved in a priesthood.
Called a Priesthood. When the believer is identified as being a participant in a priesthood, he is described as being a member of an organization that performs priestly service. How extensive is the service of the priesthood? The Greeks did not select the word "priest" from the word for the very place in the temple where the god's image was naos (naos) but rather used the most general term to describe the area in which the priests were to function ieron (hieron). The priesthood functioned in the realm of the whole temple area -- temple building, courts and grounds. Because of this, priestly activity involved those things that were duties performed in the temple. Persons who were not priests could have done some tasks performed by priesthoods; but because they were in the temple, priests who served there performed them. A priesthood performed special service of a religious nature. These general principles were true of both pagan and Jewish priesthoods.
It is evident that a believer is a part of a priesthood. He is in a holy (1 Pe. 2:5) and a kingly priesthood (1 Pe. 2:9). A priesthood is the result of an act of appointment as is evident in the -ma (-ma) ending of the Greek form ierateuma (hierateuma). In the priesthood, the individual is in an office that is designed by God for specific priestly activity. One must understand that priestly service involves more than sacrifice, though sacrifice is one of the most evident elements of service. The priesthood in which the grace believer participates is an unchangeable priesthood (Heb. 7:24) in contrast to the Levitical priesthood that was changeable (Heb. 7:12).
Called Priests. if a person is in a priesthood, he is called a priest. This is true of the grace believer. He is clearly called a priest (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Rather than identify the believer as a participant in a priesthood, John says that the believer is a participant in a kingdom of priests. By the time of the First Advent of Christ, the Levitical priesthood had grown so large that the priest only acted as a priest for a very small portion of his lifetime. When the priests served in Jerusalem in that short period of time, some of them never enjoyed the highest privilege, the burning of the incense. Zacharias had the privilege to be offering the incense when an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who predicted the birth of John, appeared. As a result of the revelation, Zacharias was struck dumb [i.e. speechless]. "But it came to be when he was acting as priest in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot was to burn incense while entering the Holy Place of God (Lu. 1:8, 9)." He was acting as a priest and able to be the priest of privilege by lot. The angel Gabriel gave him direct revelation from God. One cannot be certain how often Zacharias had actually functioned as a priest in his lifetime. He was called a priest but rarely acted in the priestly office. Some historians are confident that he only functioned as a priest once in his lifetime. Even if he only functioned as a priest once in his lifetime, he was still recognized as a priest. Everyone in the nation understood that the extensive population of Aaron's heirs limited his service. The grace believer does not need to wait a lifetime in order to perform priestly duties. He lives in the temple and has a multitude of daily opportunities to exercise his priestly privileges. He enters the priesthood at the moment of salvation and is identified as a priest throughout the remainder of his life on earth. As a priest, he has service as a priest. After all, his title "priest" means "temple servant."
Paul's Priestly Service. "But I wrote to you with more confidence from a part, as putting upon your mind through the grace that was given to me from God with the purpose that I should be a temple servant of Jesus Christ, unto the nations, while working as a priest for the gospel of God, in order that the offering of the nations may be acceptable having been set apart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:15, 16)." Paul considered himself to be not only the apostle to the Gentiles, but also a minister serving the Gentiles. In his priestly ministry, he was doing priestly work [trans. "offering up" A.V.] presenting the gospel of God with the purpose that the Gentiles might be acceptable to God and set apart by the Holy Spirit. The gospel of God has a direct relationship to God the Father and those who believe. It could be better translated "the good news concerning the God." God the Father indwells the believer! When the Church began at Pentecost, the Jews and Gentiles who became believers both received the same, identical benefits with neither receiving any extra advantages. Throughout Paul's ministry, he was confronted by Jews who considered their relationship to God to be better than the Gentiles. Even believing Jews felt that they had an inside track to God's blessing in some cases. The Roman church was composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Paul had already made it clear in several places in the preceding context that God would deal with the Gentiles on an equal basis. There was no difference between the two. They had lost their distinctions and had become a part of a third, separate entity identified as the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32). The gospel of God involves the fact that God the Father also indwells believers with no consideration concerning the racial background of those who are indwelt (cf. 1 Thess. 2:2, 9). There should be reciprocity between all who are in Christ admonishing one another.
Temple Things. Priests are the ones who handle things that relate to Scripture and the temple. The form ieros (hieros) is found in two places in the New Testament where it is translated "holy" in the Authorized Version. A believer-priest is directly involved with things that are involved in temple service like the priests of the Old Testament. Paul uses the Old Testament to illustrate his right to receive remuneration for his apostolic service even though he had refused to accept remuneration from the Corinthians. Evidently, Paul had been accused of being in the ministry for the financial gains that he would receive. He mentions the fact that the Old Testament priests lived from the temple things that they served. "Do you not intuitively know that the ones who are working the temple things are eating of the things from the temple, the ones who are attending the altar, partake together with the altar? Thus also the Lord ordained the ones who are proclaiming the gospel to live from the gospel (1 Cor. 9:13, 14)." Paul indicates that he did not take advantage of the privilege that was inherent in his apostolic service (9:15-20). A priest is involved in service that involves things that he can use as a priest. His confession of sin and the accompanying cleansing involves the use of things of the temple. The extension of the laver of regeneration into practical Christian life provides an opportunity to use temple-like things. The believer's worship utilizes the things of the temple, just as his sacrifices as a believer-priest do. When the believer manifests the life of Christ in his life, he is using the things of the temple. When the believer uses specific aspects of his communication with God, he is using things of the temple. Some Christians would prefer to have physical implements for serving as priests because they are easily utilized. The spiritual implements involve a comprehension of the provisions of salvation that require a proper spiritual condition on God's terms.
The things that are written, grammata (grammata), relate to the temple. Paul explicitly incorporates this term to describe the Old Testament Scriptures that had been directly related to the Jewish temple. The reason for the identification of the Scriptures with the temple was a simple matter of mechanics. Printing would be invented many centuries in the future. Mass production of paper products had not been developed. The primary writing materials were papyrus, vellum (leather] or clay tablets. While papyrus was portable, it was fragile for long-term handling. Vellum was portable but was very expensive. A lengthy book of the Old Testament or the Pentateuch would require a substantial number of animal hides to produce an adequate scroll. Clay tablets were not portable and were impractical for the writing of long documents and so were not used for lengthy religious documents by the Israelites. As a result, the tabernacle and temple were the places where the manuscripts were stored and maintained. As history progressed, the wealthy hired scribes to copy manuscripts for their own libraries for personal use. Eventually, nearly every Jewish family had at least a small scroll of Esther in their possession for the celebration of Purim. It was very logical for Paul and any other person to identify the scrolls with the temple where they were stored and copied.
In some way, Timothy's mother Eunice and grandmother Lois had access to such documents because Timothy had been taught the temple Scriptures from very early in his life. "But you intuitively have known temple (or sacred] things written from being an unweaned infant, the ones being inherently powerful to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)." In a sense, this is true for the grace believer as well. Timothy had been brought up on Old Testament teaching that was designed to govern his behavior as an Old Testament believer. The Old Testament clearly identified priestly service and its proper utilization by those who were not priests. It established rules for life centered on the earthly tabernacle or temple. The New Testament revelation for the Church establishes guidelines for the grace believers being in the heavenly tabernacle. In a sense, the revelation expressly for the Church is a compilation of temple documents. Because of this, the believer-priest should be a master of Paul's writings as well as other materials directed toward the Church. For some, Hebrews and the rest of the Pauline corpus is too difficult to comprehend and so they neglect it. The most important part of Scripture for the grace believer is ignored because it is "doctrinal." There should be a definite concern for learning the material that will assist the grace believer in his priestly life in the heavenly tabernacle. Timothy had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the teaching of the Old Testament. He, his mother and grandmother were Old Testament believers who became New Testament believers who had been transitionalized into the new dispensation. When a grace believer studies the grace temple documents, he has the potential for spiritual growth. Through the Word of God, he received the facts of the Gospel by faith believing in Christ in his past tense salvation. Through the temple documents, he learns how to live in his present tense salvation as a consistent, effective believer-priest.
It is of interest to note that the "temple" or "sacred" idea has carried over into the English language in the word "hieroglyphics" that literally means "temple or sacred carving." When there is a hierarchy, the priests are in an order of society by which they are over others in a rule of a system of ecclesiastical government. The Asian city of Hierapolis was identified as a sacred or temple city by its name. Some feel that this city of the Lycus River Valley was named after the mythical Amazon queen, Hiera, rather than referring to the temples. It was located in the same valley as Laodicea and Colosse and is identified by name in Colossians 4:13. The Textus Receptus even divided the name into two words in order to give it a stronger emphasis. It is possible that the city had a temple built there that was dedicated to the healing powers of the Greek gods for there were hot springs there that were said to have healing powers and that drew large numbers of people seeking healing. In other words, there is some indication that it may have been an ancient Lourdes where people expected the gods to heal their physical ailments.
A Standard for Priestly Behavior. Paul instructed Titus to verbalize healthy [or sound] doctrine to be believed but not practiced (didaskalia) providing a stability in the lives of four distinct groups of believers: older men, older women, young men and bond slaves (Tit. 2:1-8). Paul gives each group an explicit set of possibilities for their response to the presentation of healthy doctrine. When Titus addressed the older women (Tit. 2:3-5), Paul expected them to respond by living as believer-priests practicing their priesthood with consistency. "in a similar way the older women [lit. elderesses] in deportment [or personal conduct] fitting temple service [or suitable for a priest], not devils [or adversaries], not being enslaved by much wine, teachers of that which is obviously good (Tit. 2:3)." God expected them to believe the doctrine in such a way as to exhibit that as Christians they were involved in temple or sacred things. The Greek word is the compound ieroprepes (hieroprepes) that means "to become, to be fitting or proper concerning the temple or things counted sacred." God expected older women to exhibit a behavior that was proper for one who held the office of priest. Undoubtedly, they would have had some difficulty in grasping the potentials for priestly service because men had traditionally been the ones who represented the family in temple activities and the ladies were infrequently involved. God expected the older women to teach the younger women by example in several areas. One of these involved their priestly responsibilities as Christians even though they were at home. Most translators miss the true significance of the word by translating it "becometh holiness" [A.V.], "reverent" [A.S.V., N.A.S.B., N.I.V], "holy" [Beck], and "worthy of reverence" [Wuest]. In classical Greek, it referred to that which befitted a sacred place, person or matter and involved an identity with a temple and its service. In other words, the older women were clearly to identify themselves with their priestly position by behaving as priests. It is interesting that this term is only used in Titus two and not repeated in other passages of Scripture for other believers. When the older women were training younger women to use their deep reflective thinking, they were not to approach them as mothers or grandmothers but as believer-priests communicating how they were to function as priests at home. Mothers and grandmothers would teach them how to diaper their babies, what to feed their babies, how to cook for their husbands and children and other household duties. An older lady, who is living as a believer-priest, will communicate a fondness for husbands and children, deep reflective thinking, purity, how to be workers at home and how to have goodness and how to be submissive to a husband properly knowing that he will provide benefits so the Word of God will not be blasphemed (Tit. 2:4, 5). The same behavior should be expected of every believer. He should demonstrate that he is in good standing as a priest and is Outstanding in his personal priestly behavior. There is no reason for there to be any distraction permitted from personal priestly consistency in one's service to God. Appropriate priestly activity is learned as a part of the believer's maturation. Some believers have a better potential for communicating with specific groups of believers and so Paul expects the older women to have an ability to communicate with the younger women. Only a spiritual believer can effectively serve as a priest, but he must understand the biblical teaching of the privileges and responsibilities of the grace believer-priest in order to function effectively.
A believer is a priest who is to serve as a priest. His behavior is to be priest-like wherever he is. Scripture clearly describes him as a participant in a priesthood. His priestly activity directly involves temple work for he is a priest of the heavenly temple. He can serve as a priest anywhere on earth. As has already been seen, he can offer sacrifices at any time or any place. He serves as a priest by acting as a priest would normally act. Every believer should be involved in matching up his behavior with his position as a priest. This clearly involves service to and for God.
The word ierateia (hierateia) is only used of the service of an Old Testament priest in the Old Testament tabernacle or temple and is never used of the grace believer-priest. A valuable help for the Christian is the answer to the question. "What am I to do as a priest that is different than the activity of the non-priest?" The more he reads Scripture the clearer the picture becomes as to how to serve as a priest. With prayerful consideration, the material presented in this book will provide many answers to the question.
In the New Testament, there is a special word that describes one's service to God. It is the word latreia (latreia). It is found 37 times in four forms in the New Testament. It is used to describe service rendered to God in the Old Testament under Law. It also describes the condition of the unbeliever who abused proper service. The Christian's service is also described by this term. It is important to evaluate the passages in which the term is found in order to understand its significance for the believer-priest. Latreia is derived from the noun latris (latris) that means servant or hired servant." A related term is latron (latron) that has the concept of paying wages to a servant or employee. It seems to involve the willing or voluntary service of the one who serves. By implication, it is that voluntary service that involves willingness to obey the employer. In the New Testament, it normally describes Divine service. Some have given the word a primary idea of worship toward God. It is most frequently used to describe sacrifice and temple service. When the term appears in Scripture, one must immediately consider the possibility that it is used in some way with reference to priestly service. When it is used of priestly service, it does not point toward financial remuneration or any other physical service but emphasizes the privilege of service and the spiritual blessings that accompany that kind of service. A benefit of being a priest is the knowledge of the fact that one really does have a privilege that others do not have. It is a real privilege to enjoy being a participant in a service that God has graciously provided. Some have a philosophy that teaches that human beings cannot function without a remuneration motivation. The love motivation will be more than adequate for the service of the grace believer. It is interesting to see that the Law did have the remuneration motivation for its priests. As it carried from the text of the Old Testament into the period of the Gospels under the Law, no Old Testament priest ever became wealthy from his priestly service.
Used of Service in the Old Testament. In the Septuagint, latreia (latreia) and latreuw (latreuo) are used predominantly to translate the Hebrew ahvodah (ahvodah) and ahvad (ahvad) referring to serving as a slave or slavery. No emphasis is made to distinguish whether the individual is indentured or hired. This root is found nearly 80 times in the Septuagint and is most often used to describe service to God. Its first occurrence in the Greek text of the Old Testament is in Exodus 3:12 where Jehovah speaks to Moses from the burning bush predicting that Moses was to serve God as a slave on the same mountain. The Hebrew clearly indicates that Moses was to direct his service toward God by adding a directive nun (nun) at the end of the verbal form. As a nation, Israel was to serve Jehovah (Ex. 7:16; 8:1; 23:25) as did her leadership. Jehovah demanded that the service of Israel as a nation continue after the giving of the Law and throughout her existence (Deut. 6:13; 10:12, 20; 11:13; 28:47; Josh. 24:14-24). This service included the Levites (Num. 16:8, 9). The Law clearly prohibited service of this sort to any other deities (Ex. 20:5; 23:24; Deut. 4:19, 28; 5:9; 7:4, 16; 8:19; 11:16; etc.). Normally, the translators of the Septuagint isolated the use of these terms to service rendered to deity as a matter of faith and practice whether they related to Jehovah or to pagan gods.
It is interesting that when Satan tempted Christ, he was met with a quotation of Deuteronomy 6:13 (cf. 1 Sam. 7:3). "Then Jesus says to him, Lead yourself away, Satan; for it has been written: You shall worship the Lord your God and you will serve Him alone (Matt. 4:10 cf. Lu. 4:8)." Christ confronted Satan with His deity admonishing him with a part of the Law given to Israel. His rebuke seemed to be effective because Satan immediately left the scene. In Satan's third temptation of Christ, he offered Him all the kingdoms of the world on the condition that He would fall down and worship him. When Christ quoted Deuteronomy, it was a tailor-made passage of Scripture for the situation for it not only rejected Satan's right to receive worship but also confronted him with proper service, which he no longer rendered to God. Christ considered Himself to be under the Law and was willing to submit to the Law in His humanity, but He still retained His deity that prevented Him from yielding to Satan's temptation.
In Zacharias' prophecy at the birth of John the Baptizer, he referred to the oath made with Abraham in the fourth Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 22:15-18 in which he swore "That he would freely give us [Jews], having been saved from the land of our enemies to serve Him in piety and righteousness before Him all our days (Lu. 1:74, 75)." Israel was a chosen nation that had been blessed with salvation with a purpose of serving God. He wanted their service to be characterized as holy [or pious] and righteous. "Holy" or "piety" has the basic idea of the careful observance of one's duties toward God considering them to be a sacred trust while they were acting right ["righteous"] in relation to the Law. Zacharias anticipated his son's involvement in the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the serving of the people (Lu. 1:76-79). All of his prophecy pivoted around the Genesis 22 covenant made with Abraham.
God predicted that the seed of Abraham would be in bondage and suffer evil for 400 years (Gen. 15:13, 14). The total time of their sojourn in Egypt was 400 years (Ex. 12:40; Gal. 3:17) with only thirty years when they did not suffer evil and bondage in some form. Stephen responded to the accusation of blasphemy made against him by members of some of the synagogues. He traced the fact that God did change things in history and ultimately indicated that Christ, being God, would change things as well. Israel's 400 years of bondage indicated that things were different for Israel for 400 years. When they were released from bondage, God changed things again. He punished Egypt and delivered Israel. In Acts 7:7, Stephen breaks the Genesis fifteen quotation in half and adds an interpretation of the results. "And the nation that they will serve as slaves I will judge, said God, and after these things they will come out and will serve me in this place." Genesis 15:14 said they would come out with great substance, while Stephen incorporates the promise made to Moses in Exodus 3:12 with the prophesied Exodus made to Abraham. The nation served Jehovah in a religious way because they were the chosen people of God.
Israel had an inherent propensity to idolatry in their fallen natures (cf. Gal. 5:20). This propensity reared its head at Sinai with the construction of the golden calf (Ex. 32:1-6 cf. Ac. 7:40, 41) and carried beyond the time of Amos the prophet. Stephen reminded his accusers of the fact that their idolatry had been a primary reason for the Babylonian captivity (Ac. 7:43). "But God turned and gave them up to serve the host of heaven, as it stands written in the book of the prophets, O house of Israel, have you not offered me beasts and sacrifices forty years in the desert (Ac. 7:42 cf. Amos 5:25)?" Israel attempted to serve other deities like God, and Stephen reminded the Jews of the bent of mind that continued among their people. They did not have the ability to make proper decisions in the matter of service to God.
Hope appeared to be a motivation for serving God in the nation Israel. When Paul appeared before King Agrippa, he defended himself as being a devout Jew from his youth and as a Pharisee. He professed to have retained the same hope that he had as a Jew practicing Judaism. "And now I am standing, being judged, upon the hope of the promise having been established unto our fathers by God, to which our twelve tribes by intensity night and day while serving, is hoping to come [or arrive]; concerning which hope I am accused by the Jews, O king Agrippa (Ac. 26:6, 7)." It is evident that Paul was referring to the religious service of the Jews to God. Paul was very careful not to identify the promise that provided the hope because it would have brought him into direct conflict with Agrippa, since it involved a national homeland for Israel that had been promised in the covenants and confirmed to the fathers of the Jews.
Paul fully understood Christ's prediction in the upper room that some Jews would count the murdering of Christians to be a service to God. Paul himself had been one of those Jews who had persecuted and killed Christians (Ac. 9:1, 2, 14, 21; 22:4, 5, 20; 26:10, 11). He considered it to be a service to God and had a good conscience even when he was instrumental in killing Christians (cf. Ac. 23:1). Christ clearly recognized that there would be a reaction to His work among the Jews. "These things have I spoken to you that you may not be scandalized. They will make you synagogue outcasts; but an hour is coming, that anyone who is killing you has the opinion that they are offering service to God (Jn. 16:1, 2)." They could be as Paul and have a good conscience because they would not have an experiential knowledge of God the Father or Christ (Jn. 16:3). Murder and persecution may be considered service to God by some. Such a consideration has not just been limited to the Jews, but has carried throughout history by many religious groups and even by segments of Christendom.
Anna was a prophetess who was of the tribe of Asher. Scripture describes her as a widow who had lost her husband seven years after she had married. By Luke two, she is 84 years of age having served the Lord in the temple area for many years of her life. "And she was a widow almost 84 years old who was not leaving the temple while serving with fastings and supplications night and day (Lu. 2:37)." Her service is clearly defined in that she was involved with supplications and fastings. She was a regular participant in periods of fasting and evidently limited her daily diet as a part of her progressive fasting. Some have attributed her longevity to her self-imposed dietary restrictions. She was involved in supplications by which she cried out for help to God. Some have interpreted this to be a ministry of prayer or intercession, but the word "supplication," dehsis (deasis), prohibits such a translation. She was crying out for help. In light of the verse that follows, it seems that her supplication contained a cry for the soon redemption of Jerusalem. "And at the hour itself coming up, she openly confessed to God and spoke concerning Him to all the ones expecting the redemption of Jerusalem (Lu. 2:38)." She openly confessed or expressed an agreement that the redemption of Jerusalem had come in Christ. Anna [as did Simeon] fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 40:31, "But the ones who are waiting for Jehovah will proceed to cause to change their strength; they will proceed to ascend with wings as eagles; they will proceed to run, and not proceed to be toiling in weariness; and they will proceed to walk and not come to weariness." Anna was an Old Testament saint who anticipated the return of the glory of Jehovah to the temple in the Person of the Messiah. Her supplication had been made by calling to God for help by sending the Messiah. She clearly served God as an Israelite in the temple -- not as a priest, but as a prophetess. She did not infringe on normal priestly service, but rendered service to God as any other Israelite could.
Paul seemed to be an exclusionist in his attitude when he wrote Romans nine. He indicates that the Israelites, because of their election, were the only ones who could serve God in a proper way historically. "Who are the Israelites, of whom came the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the service and the promises of whom the fathers and out of whom Christ came according to the flesh; the one being over all, God blessed into the ages [or forever], Amen (Rom. 9:4, 5)." Israel had the service that was unique in that their God was the true God. Service could be rendered to other gods, but in actuality it was not service, because these gods were not God. Israel shared a unique relationship to Jehovah that made their service within the bounds of the Mosaic Law acceptable to God.
Hebrews describes the service of Israel and her priesthood under the Law in five passages. The service of the nation and her priesthood was centered on the tabernacle or temple. "Therefore the first covenant had both ordinances of service and a worldly holy place (Heb. 9:1)." In these instances, it is clear that the priests were the primary performers of this service for the people. The nation served God through the priesthood. Had the priesthood ceased to exist, the nation could have served God, but in an ineffective manner unless God had abolished the ordinances of the Law. The priesthood was available to assist in making the service of the nation effective and acceptable to God. They were the interpreters of the ordinances as well as the performers. When the priests performed service for themselves and the nation to God, they were limited in the manner in which they could serve because they served in an example or a shadow of the heavenly things (Heb. 8:5). "But these things having been prepared [or established], on the one hand the priests at all times go into the first tabernacle finishing the service (Heb. 9:6)." The priests served in the holy place and any other part of the temple complex, but only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. Their service was severely limited for little of it had any consequential effect on the Holy of Holies. Their service would approach the Holy of Holies, but the veil prevented their entering. As has already been mentioned, the priest's service to God could never make him mature (Heb. 9:9). If his service could not make him mature, it could not make anyone else in Israel mature either. The grace believer has a service that was impossible for any of the Old Testament priests to share. "We have a place of sacrifice [or altar] out of which the ones who are serving the tabernacle do not have authority to eat (Heb. 13:10)." Even though they may have desired the better thing, it was impossible for them to share it. It was just as impossible for the high priest himself to partake of the altar of the grace believer as it was for an Aaronic priest to enter the Holy of Holies because they did not have the authority to take part in high priestly service.
Used of the Service of the Unbeliever. Fallen man has perverted service to God. He has abused a large portion of that which God provided for him. Romans one and three clearly indicate the depraved condition of mankind. Reverence and service are tied together when Paul describes their provision. "Who changed the truth of God into the lie, and revering and serving the creature rather than the One having created, who is blessed forever: Amen (Rom. 1:25)." There are three factors that have a close connection: the lie, reverence for the creature and service to the creature. The reason for a potential change in reverence or service is that they perverted the truth. God sees things as they really are and is totally reliable in all He does and arranges. Man has changed the truth into the lie.
Whenever the definite article is used in the Greek text with "lie," it is specifically referring to an identifiable lie. Satan is the father of the lie (Jn. 8:44). In the tribulation period, the man of lawlessness will be revealed and deceive those who are unbelievers (2 Thess. 2:8). "And as a result, God sends to them an energy of error [or leading astray], with the purpose that they believe the lie (2 Thess. 2:11)." The lie found its origin with Satan in the garden of Eden in his temptation of Eve and has been perpetuated on men from that time forward. "For God is continually knowing that in the day of your eating from it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], then your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5)." The lie is that a person can be like God. In other words, he can be independent of God. God expects man to be dependent upon Him; but as a result of the fall, man has changed the truth of God that provides for man's dependence and has made it an appeal to independence from any Divine restraints or blessings. As a result, they show reverence at the temple of man rather than God.
The word translated "worship," sebomai (sebomai), in the Authorized Version actually means that one is to show a reverence that comes from the feeling of awe and devotion to something or someone. Mankind has a great feeling of awe for mankind. Humanism is not a modern innovation. It has existed ever since the fall in the garden of Eden. Man has possessed a reverence for himself just as great or greater than for God. The third problem is that of serving the creature as one would serve God. A man who serves mankind is a great humanitarian. A man who serves God is a candidate for an asylum. One is amazed at the great number of humanitarian organizations that are serving mankind in such a wide variety of ways meeting a diversity of needs. The thinking of Christendom has been directly affected by the desire to serve mankind rather than God. If a person was truly a servant of God, he would be doing God's will concerning mankind. Some feel that God is not enough of a humanitarian to provide for human beings in need. The reason for this conclusion is that God permits all the disasters of life to occur. Man is constantly confronted with new possibilities for acting independent of God and showing reverence to man while serving him as he would God.
Service Rendered to an Idol. The fallen nature of man prefers to serve that which is visible to the eye. Give man an idol and he will serve it before he will serve the living God. "Idol," eidolon (eidolon), is found eleven times in the New Testament and is derived from the verb oraw (horao), "to see." In other words, an idol is something that is seen representing something that is unseen. Men performed service to idols in the offering of sacrifices and offerings to the idols (Ac. 15:29; 21:25; 1 Cor. 8:1, 4, 7, 10; 10:19, 28; Rev. 2:14, 20). Idolatry is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20) and so can effect both the believer and the unbeliever. Idolatry is literally the service of a person to something that can be seen as he would serve God. The word "idolater" describes both believers and unbelievers. They are an inherent part of the world system (1 Cor. 5:10, 11). In the future, idolaters will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 21:8; 22:15). The grace believer is not to be characterized as an idolater (1 Cor. 10:7), but he is to flee from idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14). It is important to realize that the believer can be an idolater to a limited degree in his life. A good illustration of this is seen in the fact that covetousness is a form of idolatry, covetousness that is having the character of idolatry (Col. 3:5)." Paul indicates the same thing in Ephesians, "For this, be experientially knowing, that every fornicator, or unclean person, or one who desires to have more [or covetous one], who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. 5:5)." A man who is habitually characterized by a work of the flesh will have his life terminated by God if he is a believer. He may not even be a believer in the first place if he is characterized by any of the descriptions of Ephesians 5:5.
Peter clearly considered idolatry to be a part of his pre-salvation behavior and not to be a part of his Christian life (1 Pe. 4:3). A covetous person serves that which is seen in the same way that he would serve God giving the idol honor and worship. His desire to have more makes him subject to the thing he desires. A Christian can see a new Jaguar in the dealer's lot and have such a desire for it that he will do anything to possess it for himself. Then when he does purchase it, he serves it just as though it could meet every need in his life. Because idolatry is an appetite from the believer's sin nature, he has the potential for being an idolater. He perverts the potential for serving God by serving that which is visible.
All three enemies of the grace believer can pervert the believer's service. Satan can encourage the believer to be independent and to serve the creature rather than God. The world system can draw the believer into idolatry by appealing to him through his eyes (1 Jn. 2:15, 16). The sin nature has a natural bent for idolatry. It is an appetite that will seek gratification in the carnal believer. A carnal believer can be the busiest person in the church because he serves that which is seen rather than God.
Service by Paul to God. Paul's life history is one of service to God. He served God as a devout Jew and then as a Christian. Some of his service was against Christians, but it was done with a clear conscience. "I have thanks to God, whom I am serving from my forefathers by [or with or in] a clear conscience, as I have unceasingly, the remembrance concerning you in my supplications night and day (2 Tim. 1:3)." Paul's testimony to his personal service to God is clear. He served God as a Jew with all the propriety required by the Law and by the tradition of the Pharisees. When he became a Christian, his whole relationship to God changed, but he continued serving God though in light of his new relationship in Christ.
In Paul's defense before Felix, he reviewed his service to God as a refutation of the same accusations made against him. "But I am confessing this to you, that according to the way that they are saying is a heresy, thus I am serving the God of my fathers, while believing all the things according to [or down from] the Law and the things in the prophets that have been written (Ac. 24:14)." He carefully indicated that the Law and the Prophets were the object of his faith. The accusation involved more than his theology, but also clearly related to the doctrine that he believed and practiced. He was involved in a consistent service to God as is evident in his personal testimony.
In Paul's life as a believer, he understood that he was doing service to God. He describes his life as a life of service to God. While on his journey to Rome as a prisoner, Paul was able to say, "I told you so" to the ship's master and owner. He had advised them to remain in the haven of Crete for the winter, but they insisted on continuing the journey gambling on the weather. They were well out to sea when the storm came up and attacked the ship with extended and great ferocity. Paul remained silent. Finally, Paul confronted the ship's master and owner because of the severity of the conditions. He had been visited by an angel of God who had promised protection to Paul and all who were with him on the ship. Paul delivered the message to the men making it Clear that he was in the service of the God who had sent the angel. "For there stood alongside me this night an angel of God whose I am, whom I also am serving (Ac. 27:23)." Those aboard the ship were well aware that when Paul said he served, he meant that he was serving God because of his use of the verb. He was in religious service to God. As a result, all of the lives of those who were aboard were saved though the ship and cargo were lost.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul identifies himself as continuously serving God. His service to God involved his human spirit. It was a rational service that involved a consistency in his relationship to God. "For God is my witness, whom I am serving in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how I am unceasingly making mention always at the time of my prayers of worship (Rom. 1:9)." Much religious service is accomplished in ignorance as the blind lead the blind. Some follow instructions without realizing the value of the activity that they are to perform. Others perform religious service in response to strong emotions created by a religious environment or tradition. One of the joys of truly serving God is to do so knowing why the service is performed and what the result will be. Paul's life was a life in which he knew exactly how he was serving his God. Undoubtedly, this is one of the reasons Paul's ministry was so effective. His human spirit was in control.
Paul warned the Philippians to be alert for those who performed service to God based upon other sources or motivations. "Beware [or look out for] the dogs, be looking out for the evil workers, be looking out for the concision [or ones who are mutilated), for we are the circumcision, the ones who are serving by the Spirit of God and boasting in Christ Jesus and not trusting in the flesh (Phil. 3:2, 3)." The Holy Spirit is the One who cooperates with the believer's human spirit bringing about a service that is acceptable to God. Service is closely related to Paul's position in Christ. Any reliance on the flesh will produce failure. Even with Paul's extensive background and training, he could not rely on the flesh in the matter of service. He had learned to live by the Mosaic Law and could serve God as a devout Jew; but he had to learn that, as a grace believer, he had Divine enabling that would permit him to serve God in an acceptable way in the new dispensation.
The Service of the Grace Believer. Service to God for the grace believer relates directly to his being a believer-priest. Every believer should be serving God because he knows that is what God desires. Such service involves the believer's awareness of the potentials that he has for priestly activity. He must also serve God from his intellect. In Romans 12:1, the sacrifice of the believer's physical body is clearly identified as a logical service to God. Because it is performed by a believer-priest and is seen as a priestly activity, it is a priestly service. The term itself refers to service to God, but the context places a priestly limitation on its use in the passage. When the believer gives his physical body once for all, it is a primary act of service to God. He has come to realize that his body is a purchased possession of God and sees that the most sensible response is to give it to its rightful owner. His human spirit works in cooperation with the Holy Spirit who sheds light on the revelation of Scripture in order to get the believer's attention so that he will react in a positive way by giving the sacrifice. The act of service and sacrifice is the result of an act of the mind. While emotion may be a response to the sacrifice, it is not to be the reason for offering the sacrifice. There is a mental awareness of what Christ has done and how His work applies to the believer. Based on awareness, one makes a decision to perform the service because it makes perfect sense.
A believer can direct service to any deity. Some believers have had their heads turned toward other things that are deficient in their character. Unfortunately, this was true under the Law. Throughout the history of the Law, there was a general disregard for the God of the Law with more interest in the Law of God. Of course, there were high priests in the history of Israel who were key people and even the whole nation gave God His full weight in isolated instances. When God's presence was manifested in the wilderness, the people reacted to the phenomenon rather than to the Person. The works of the Law accomplished service to God through the Law. A consistent keeping of the works required by the Law brought health, wealth and happiness. A violation brought penalty. The readers of Hebrews were having some problems in that they attempted to live by the Law under grace. The blood of Christ had paid the penalty and they were free from the Law. Christ died fulfilling the Law so the works of the Law became dead works. "By how much more the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself once for all unblemished to God, will cleanse our conscience from dead works with the purpose of serving God (Heb. 9:14)?" The whole spectrum of service to God is changed when a person becomes a grace believer. He serves a God who is alive when he separates himself from dead works. Only the grace believer has this capability as a priest.
One of the privileges of the Dispensation of Grace is that when the believer serves God, he has confidence that his sins have been purged once and for all. There is no need to offer a multiplicity of sacrifices for sin. A believer who has a proper knowledge of Scripture will have the confidence that his past, present and future sins are all cleansed. Because of this, his conscience should be free from any guilt because of sins. "Since they [the sacrifices for sin] would not have ceased of themselves being offered, because of the ones who are serving once standing as being cleansed have yet no more conscience of sins (Heb. 10:2)." The complication for those under the Law was that their conscience was constantly confronted as to whether or not the sacrifices were sufficient to take care of sins from year to year. The grace believer enjoys the fact that Christ's work is more than sufficient for sin. The Christian's priestly privilege gives him an assurance that what he does in service to God is accepted because of the sufficiency of the death of Christ.
At salvation, the grace believer has entered a kingdom of priests that provides the grace that enables the believer to serve God. Even though the earth and heavens may be shaken, the kingdom will not be moved. "Wherefore while receiving an unshakable (cf. 12:26, 27) kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well pleasingly with reverence and awe [or apprehension] (Heb. 12:28). Since the believer receives a kingdom right beside him, he has the potential to be living in that kingdom knowing that though earthly kingdoms may rise and fall, and the earth and heavens will be shaken, the kingdom of priests will remain. When the believer-priest serves in the kingdom, it is because God has provided grace for the service. This grace must be appropriated in order to be effective. The grace is there for the believer and the believer must make it his own. If it is not appropriated, the believer will not be able to serve God effectively in the kingdom of priests. Through the agency of (dia) grace the believer may serve God. Being in the kingdom provides two potentials for the believer [indicated by the two subjunctive forms]: there is a potential for appropriating grace and then the potential for service. The believer must be involved in each phase actively before he is able to say that his service is effective. It is possible for him to appropriate God's grace without serving God. By appropriating God's grace, he can serve God if he will only do so. The believer-priest serves God through grace. As a result, his service is well pleasing and acceptable to God. Only service that is well pleasing to God is worthwhile. All other effort expended is futile.
The service is to be done with "reverence and godly fear (A.V.)." The word translated "reverence," eulabeis (eulabeis), literally means "well taken hold of"and has the basic idea of being cautious or wary in matters pertaining to God. As a result, many translate it "reverence." It involves special care in maintaining a proper behavior toward God. Christ's human nature functioned in this way in His earthly ministry (Heb. 5:7). "Fear," deos (deos), is more clearly related to the idea of a fear produced because of the magnitude or greatness of a person or thing. Hence, it has the idea of awe toward God in service. It is the kind of reaction that a lady might have if she were given a set of the most expensive, exquisite china in the world. She might be afraid to touch it for fear of breaking one of the pieces. When she uses it, she is extremely cautious so that she will be able to enjoy it to the fullest. In this era of voluntarism, it is difficult for the believer to serve God with care and awesome fear. It is easy to volunteer for Christian activities and to blunder along in them doing a partial, sloppy job. All that matters is that the job is accomplished and that the believer is doing it for the Lord. The quality of the result is very important for it not only reflects the attitude of the one who serves but also reflects on the God that he is serving. Certainly, some believers will be reluctant to serve when they serve with reverence and awe, but that is when grace comes in.
Only the grace of God makes it possible for sinners saved by grace to serve God acceptably in any way. Grace does not provide a specific job for the believer to do as service to God and leave him to figure out the best way to do it and then to serve to the best of his ability. The spiritual believer applies grace to his service to God. He can ask for wisdom concerning how the job is done and God promises graciously to provide the wisdom (Jas. 1:5). Grace provides the strength to serve. Grace keeps the believer's service in the realm of Divine pleasure. He serves his God with a caution that protects the glory of God and the believer's personal testimony. He serves with awe in the fact that God has graced him to perform acceptable service to God. He carries within that awe a concern for God's personal approval of the service. One must not be quick to volunteer but quick to appropriate the grace of God and by that grace to ascertain whether or not he should serve God in specific areas of his life. Every pastor and Christian worker can suggest many ways a believer can serve God as a priest, but service of itself is of no real benefit. It is the appropriation of the grace of God with a proper attitude that produces the acceptance of the service by God. Service to God can be performed before a hundred thousand people or none at all. When it is done by the grace of God, both are equally well pleasing to God. If only believers would understand this truth and live in light of it!
Because of the contexts of Scripture in which the word latrew or latreia are used of the grace believer, one can only conclude that they refer to a believer's priestly service to God. In each context, it has some relationship either to the priestly activity of the believer or to a kingdom of priests. It is service done for God with an awareness of His character and His will in its performance. It is activity specifically performed for God. It is done with God's opinion being central in the believer's thinking. He thinks of it as service to God and not to man. It makes no difference to him what men may think of his service because he focuses his attention on God's opinion in the matter. Service can involve offering sacrifices. Service can involve certain aspects of the believer's communication with God. It can involve any aspect of the believer's use of his spiritual gift. Ideally, service to God should involve everything that is done by the believer. He does a good job at work because he is serving God. When he comes home, he is a good husband and father. At school, he does his best because he is serving God. Every phase of a believer's activity should be affected by his service to God. He has been saved by grace and serves God by grace to the glory of God. His only reluctance to serve is based on his knowledge that God does not expect him to do everything people ask him to do. His service is built on God's will for him in his personal life.
Future Service Rendered to God. Scripture mentions two groups of people who will serve God in religious service in the future. Undoubtedly, there will be others who serve God in one way or another, but Scripture only uses the term to describe two groups of people: tribulational saints and the Church. A large group of white robed individuals is seen gathered around the throne of God in Revelation 7:15. These are ones who are seen coming out of (ek) the Great tribulation [not grace believers] and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. These are individual believers who have appropriated for themselves the provisions of Christ's death as they come out of the Great Tribulation alive. They will not have redeemed or glorified bodies for they will eat, drink and have the ability to produce tears (7:16, 17). "Therefore they are down before the throne of God and will serve Him day and night in His Holy of Holies and the One who is sitting upon the throne will tabernacle over them (Rev. 7:15)." These individuals come out of the Great Tribulation and are the Gentiles gathered out of the nations who will serve as Levites in the millennial temple (Isa. 66:19-21). They are tribulational believers who are not in the Body of Christ. They will have specific duties in the temple. Christ will be seated on His throne, tenting or tabernacling over them in the New Jerusalem, while they serve Him on earth.
In the millennial kingdom, the Church will serve God. "And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [the city -- New Jerusalem]; and His servants will serve for His advantage, and they will see His face, and His name will be upon their foreheads (Rev. 22:3, 4)." Who are the servants? They are identified in Revelation 1:1 as the ones who receive the revelation of the things that are about to happen -- the Church. The Church will have the privilege of serving God in the New Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Christ. They will serve in the heavenly Jerusalem as it orbits over the earth, while the Gentiles who serve God as Levites will serve in the temple on earth.
Even though latreia and all its forms are found in Scripture a number of times, it does not have the idea of specific service to God but is used to describe a general service to God. Its root idea is that of being hired for wages, though it does not denote the compulsion that is required for a bondslave. Hence, it is a voluntary service to God. In Scripture, it always is used of service to higher powers whether to idols or to the true God. Some scholars have been convinced that the Christian Church refused to employ this term for their special service to God because of its heathen connotations, but the context of the passages of Scripture that describe the service of the grace believer do relate it to Priestly service. The context places limitation on general terms like this one. The believer has a real potential for careful, considered service to God as a believer-priest. He is able to serve only as he appropriates the grace of God that provides the ability for him to serve. His service to God may have a wide influence on many people or may be unseen by men. Even so, every facet of the spiritual believer's service can be well pleasing to God.
When one serves in special offices and ministries set apart for priests, he is involved in priestly service. Special priestly service is described by the word leitourgia (leitourgia) and its three related forms in their fifteen occurrences in the Greek New Testament. The English word "liturgy" is derived from the Greek form and describes various rites, forms or formulas for public "worship" services or for various aspects of the service. In classical Greek, it denoted an individual who served the state in a public office having specific responsibilities often at his own expense. It is a compound word that means "people-work" having the original idea of working for the benefit of the people and with the people. It involves the more technical aspects of priestly service and is a part of general service to God (latreia). In this section, a study of the word leitourgia and its derivatives will provide a basis for understanding this specialized form of the believer's service as a priest.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew root sharath (sharath) most closely resembles this idea. It was normally used of the Divine service specifically required of priests. The Septuagint most frequently translates the verb sharath with the Greek word leitourgew. In the very beginnings of the Aaronic priesthood, the term was used to identify the ministry that was uniquely given to the priests. The service was a close, careful, specific service (Ex. 28:35, 43). It is used to translate sharath nearly sixty times in the LXX. In Numbers four, where the Levitical service is allotted to the specific sons of Levi, the Greek word translates the Hebrew for priestly ministry (4:9, 12, 14), for host (4:3, 23, 24, 30, 35, 39, 43) and for simple service (4:24, 26, 30, 37, 41). Other examples of its use in the Old Testament may be seen in Deuteronomy 18:7; First Samuel 2:11, 18; First Chronicles 16:4, 37; Ezekiel 40:46 and 44:11. Under Law it is for the most part the term that describes the activities of the Levites and the priests.
Specific Priestly Service Under Law. Three New Testament passages describe priestly activity under Law as a specialization. When Luke describes the service of Zacharias and the time he spent in the temple, he describes it as a time of special service. Zacharias was a priest by birth but had only served as a priest in the priestly office for a very small proportion of his lifetime. He was a priest of the course of Abia (Lu. 1:5), who with his wife Elizabeth, was righteous before God walking by every aspect of the Law and was blameless (1:6). He had the opportunity to serve as a priest (1:8), having his priestly duties determined by lot (1:9). While he served in the temple burning incense, the angel Gabriel appeared to him revealing that Elizabeth would bear John. Zacharias came out of the temple dumb and motioned to the people with his hands as a means of communication. "And it came to pass when the days of the service were fulfilled [or completed], he went away to his house (Lu. 1:23)." After Zacharias left the temple, he no longer had the office in which he had the privilege to serve in the special duties prescribed for a priest in the temple. He could only serve in this way a few calendar days and no more. When they were fulfilled, the service ended and he returned home. The Old Testament priest had limited special service. He had other opportunities to serve God, as did other Israelites. He continued to receive the stipend as a priest and a Levite but was only able to function in office when the opportunity was assigned to him.
The Old Testament priest was only able to perform his service by using special utensils designed to perform the service and appropriately set apart to the service. Without the utensils Provided in the Levitical Law, service was impossible. As a result, the vessels for the temple's use are identified as "vessels of the ministry." They were set apart and cleansed just as the priests themselves were. Specific procedures were required for their maintenance and use under Law. "But both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the service, he sprinkled with blood likewise (Heb. 9:21)." Blood was the instrument that set them apart for their peculiar service. From the very beginning at Sinai, blood was sprinkled on the altar. "And Moses proceeded to take half of the blood and proceeded to place it in basins; and half of the blood, he proceeded to sprinkle on the altar (Ex. 24:6)." With the con- struction of the altar of brass, the blood was applied to the altar cleansing it (Ex. 29:12, 36; Lev. 8:15, 17; 16:18, 19) and to the mercy seat (Lev. 16:14). The blood was applied to the essential utensils for priestly service. Only a priest could use the implements and only the high priest could be involved with the Ark of the Covenant with its mercy seat [lit. propitiatory].
A specific part of the Old Testament priest's special service was that of sacrifice. His service involved sacrifices that were limited in their value for they only covered over the sins of the offerer and of the priest himself. The sins still existed even though they were covered over by the shed blood of the sacrifice. Even the privilege of offering sacrifices under the Law had its limitations. "And on the one hand every priest stands daily while serving in priestly office and while offering the same sacrifices frequently, that do not have the power themselves to take away sins (Heb. 10:11)." It is clear that even though the special service of the priest was frustrating, it was still a unique privilege and performed the task that God desired. As he functioned in the office of priest, he performed priestly service to God in his activity.
Specific Priestly Service of Christ. Christ has a specific priestly ministry in the heavenly tabernacle. He continues to effectively fulfill the office of high priest and priest as He is seated at the right hand of the Father. "But the summary of the things having been said, we continually have such a high priest who sat in the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister [or people worker] of the holy things and the true tabernacle, that the Lord erected, and not man (Heb. 8:1, 2)." Christ's specific service is as the High Priest who is functioning in the heavenly Holy of Holies. Already the details of His special priestly ministry have been discussed in the chapter on His high priestly ministry. Christs service is for His people. As a people worker, He cares for His people and performs His priestly service for them.
Specific Service of Spirit Beings. Since leitourgia is used of human and spirit beings, it is evident that it does not always refer to priestly service. It clearly describes a special office that is determined by a careful examination of the context. In Hebrews one, Christ is seen as being better and above angels. "Being so much better than the angels, as He stands as inheriting a more excellent name [or character] than them (Heb. 1:4)." The angels of God were to worship Christ (Heb. 1:6 cf. Deut. 32:41-43 LXX; Psa. 97:7 Heb.) because of His superiority even as the Incarnate One. "And concerning the angels he is saying: The one who makes His angels spirits, and his ministers [or special servants] a flame of fire (Heb. 1:7)." Psalm 104:4 is quoted by the author of Hebrews, In Psalm 104, there is an emphasis on the character of God beginning with His power. His character is manifested in the power expressed in creation of both physical matter and spirit beings. Angels are created beings that perform special service to God. The service is not defined but evidently relates to their duties in relation to the heavenly tabernacle. Evidently, they are limited in activity to the heavenly tabernacle and so serve in special ways within its bounds. One of Satan's desires, as a cherub who sought his independence, was to go beyond the third heaven (Isa. 14:13, 14).
The angels perform service to God when God assigns them to serve in relation to grace believers. Undoubtedly, this is only a portion of their service to God. They serve God in the court of the heavenly tabernacle when they serve in relation to Christians. "Are they not all ministers (or special serving] spirits being sent forth into service, through [or because of] the ones who are about to be inheriting salvation (Heb. 1:14)." The unfallen angels of God have a special service in relation to the believer. Some have identified their service as being that of a guardian angel who is present to protect and care for the believer. The service of angels to believers is not likely permanent service but rather a rotation of angels who share the duty of performing service for God for the ones who are about to receive their future tense salvation. They Perform a special service manifested in their activity toward the Christian. Angels have the obligation to serve. Christ is greater than angels in that He is seated in the throne of God having been given authority over His enemies (Heb. 1:13). Angels have the privilege of serving, but they are never given the opportunity to sit on the throne of authority as Christ is.
Specific Service of a Human Ruler. God counts civil rulers to be in special service to Him. God has ordained that they hold their Political offices; and because of the service they perform, they are seen as persons in God's service (leitourgia). They have a responsibility for controlling the sin nature in the world system. It is necessary for the ruler to have a means of support. His support was built on revenue gained through taxation so that his ministry could be carried on. A ruler has the authority to judge evil and to reward good. Paul calls him a minister of God to the believer for good using the word diakonos to describe his service in activity (Rom. 13:4). "For therefore, be paying also taxes for they are ministers in special service to God, with the purpose of constantly attending to this very thing (Rom. 13:6)." The ruler is to be treated like a paid priest of God. He was paid taxes for the service that he performed for God. Like the Old Testament priest, he receives his support from a percentage of the income of his subjects. He is a people worker in that he protects the people from evil and provides a reward to those who are good. But how can such wicked rulers as Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin be included as ministers of God? When Paul wrote Romans, one of the most notorious of the Roman rulers was in office as Emperor. Nero was probably the ruler that was in Paul's mind as he communicated to the Roman believers. Nero was a vicious, unstable ruler who indiscriminately abused the privileges of his position, yet Paul identified him as a normal servant as well as a special servant of God. Even with all the abuses in his reign, Nero was still considered to be a minister of God as are all rulers.
Specific Priestly Service of the Believer-Priest. The service of the believer-priest is very clearly defined in Scripture. The service of the grace believer is unique because Christ provided it as a better thing. "But now He has obtained a more excellent priestly service, by how much also he continually is the Mediator of a better covenant that has been established on better promises (Heb. 8:6)." The grace believer has a service that is superior or more excellent than any service of man to God even before the work of Christ. Christ is also the Mediator of a better covenant that is based on better promises than any previous covenant. The context indicates that this service is a priestly type of service because it is contrasted to the priestly service mentioned in the preceding context under Law. In other words, Christ provided for a totally new type of priestly service to God with special, unique responsibilities and privileges that had not been available to anyone before.
The Service in the Church at Antioch. In the church at Antioch, there was a gathering of prophets and teachers who were enjoying the opportunities of serving as priests. "And while they were continually ministering to the Lord, and while fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Indeed, separate Saul and Barnabas to me for the work to which I have called them; then having fasted and having worshipped and having laid their hands on them, they sent them away (Ac. 13:2, 3)." The exact way in which this group of men was serving is not clear, but their service was obviously performed for the Lord. They were so involved in their service that they neglected eating food. Evidently, a part of this service involved a ministry of communication to God, since worship communication accompanied their continued fasting. It was a service that responded to the Lordship of Christ. They served Him in submission to His desires and in conformity with His provisions for their service.
It is likely that their priestly service was being worked out through their spiritual specialization -- their spiritual gift. In verse one, they are described as individuals who had the character and quality of being prophets and teachers [anarthrous -- no definite article]. As they expressed their gifts as members of the Body of Christ, their service was to Christ who is the Lord and Head of the Body. They were experiencing joy as spiritual believers. Their spirituality is evident because the Holy Spirit could easily communicate with the group in such a way as to cause them all to know exactly who was to be separated out and for what purpose. There was no controversy as to who was to go and who was to stay because of the unity that they possessed as spiritual believers. There was no question in the minds of Paul and Barnabas that the Holy Spirit had been the One who had sent them. The church at Antioch experienced the full benefit of the service of these gifted believers in the church. Paul and Barnabas had exhibited the quality of being teachers or prophets. They were both apostles [not just Paul] who had abilities to prophesy and to teach as the need arose and as the Spirit gave them ability. Service in their specialization provided an active and effective life in the church at Antioch. Every church should enjoy similar service on the part of all the gifts and have the ability to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in the use of the gifts whether in the church or away from the church.
The Service in Giving. When a believer assists in meeting the needs of saints, his service may be a part of his normal priestly service. The context of Second Corinthians 9:12 focuses on the financial provision for believers who are some distance away. Money was easy to transport, so they gathered it to be delivered to the poor saints in Jerusalem. This service ties directly to the sacrifice of giving. "Because the service of this priestly service not only is supplying for the poverty of the saints, but is also abounding through many thanksgivings to God (2 Cor. 9:12)." When the believer recognizes the privilege of helping others, he should see the potential for being involved in priestly activity. As a result of the giving, those believers who receive the benefits will glorify God because of the spiritual condition of the believer-priest accomplishing the provision of the need. Physical needs are met by priestly service as are spiritual needs. Even though Second Corinthians is speaking of physical things, there are spiritual needs that can also be met in the church. Often a word of encouragement or exhortation will meet a spiritual need. Some spiritual instruction will make up that which is lacking in the life of the untaught believer. In times of difficulty, a testimony to the sufficiency of the grace of God will often upgird the human spirit to press on by faith believing that God will meet every need. As a result, there may be spiritual abundance that results from priestly service beside financial needs. Simple help with physical tasks meets a tremendous need on the part of an elderly or ill person. A little house cleaning and yard work will often meet needs that are far more important to that person than financial needs. A hot meal prepared when there is illness can prove to be one of the greatest encouragements of the week to a sick person. The friendly visit or the offer to pick up some needed groceries or the offer to run errands can be service performed by the believer. By a telephone call when one checks on another person's well being, service is performed. Sometimes a little carpentry and plumbing can meet some very important needs. A visit will fill an empty day with joyful thoughts of friends and God. What a large variety of possibilities there are for priestly service in the church and community. The believer should be a cheerful giver in more areas than financial giving. One of the blessings that result is more than the "Thank you!" from the recipient of the giving to the giver. It is the "Thank you!" that is given by the recipient to God that results. No greater compliment or expression of appreciation can be given than, "I thank my God for you and what you have given me."
The Service of Your Faith. Priestly service and sacrifice are together in Philippians where the sacrifice of faith is described. Service and sacrifice are seen in the text as having a common idea that is indicated by the grammatical construction. The common idea is indicated by the use of a definite article before the first noun, faith, an "and," kai (kai), between the two nouns, the second noun occurring without an article. This construction always indicates that the nouns governed by the single article have some kind of common idea. What is the common idea? Is it faith or priestly activity? Faith seems to govern both nouns linking the service of faith and the sacrifice of faith together with a common idea that the service of the priest and his sacrifice are controlled by faith. It is true that priestly activity is also a common idea because both sacrifice and service share as a part of priestly activity. Sacrifice is mentioned first and is followed by service. "But since indeed I am poured out upon the sacrifice and serving of your faith ... (Phil. 2:17)." The Philippian believers had offered faith to God on behalf of Paul as they directed their attitude of faith that is the fruit of the Spirit toward God for him. After the sacrifice was made, evidently they did something about their faith by sending financial help and something to encourage him. As a result, Paul and the Philippians rejoiced together (2:17, 18). Paul was encouraged in his soul and anticipated that the Philippians would be encouraged in the same way (2:19). "... That I may also be of good comfort knowing the things concerning you (2:19)." Good comfort is a compound that means "good soul." Paul anticipated good feelings springing from his personal emotions because of the report that he expected to receive from Timothy.
The Philippian letter, as well as the report concerning Paul, had given the Philippians the same good feelings toward Paul that he expected to receive from them. The Authorized Version translates the word as "good comfort" while others translate it "good cheer." Some lexicons give the word the idea of being animated or encouraged. Almost any priestly service performed by the believer-priest should produce joy and good feelings. Since joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), it is produced in the believer's human spirit. As a result, he is able to enjoy any circumstance of life. The human spirit normally should be controlling the soul so that a proper perspective can be maintained. Should the soul control the activity of the spirit, there is no sensible guide for one's response to priestly service that has been rendered. When one evaluates service by emotion, it is considered on the merits of how it makes the person feel. The same service can produce a wide variety of results depending on the emotional state of the recipient of the service. If he has had a rough day at the office, he will react in one way. He will react in a totally different way if he has enjoyed playing the best round of golf he has ever played. Anything will make him happy after that! When service is evaluated by the rationale, one gives thanks to God because the true character of the service is clearly seen. Paul evaluated the Philippian sacrifice and service. He rejoiced with them and expected to provide that which would cause them to rejoice more and more and to have good feelings.
When the believer-priest serves as a priest, he should do it with joy. As a spiritual believer, he has the potential to enjoy the positive circumstances as well as the negative. Whether the service lends itself to the person's enjoyment or not, he can rejoice in the service because he is serving God by his priestly activity. If he is thinking of all the joys of service in his activity, his attitude will be reflected in the attitude of the recipient of the service as was true of Paul and the Philippians.
The Service of Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was a man who was known for his priestly service toward other believers. He served Paul and was sent to serve the needs of the saints at Philippi. Even though there is limited revelation about him in Scripture, it is clear that he was a believer who enjoyed the privilege of priestly service, "But I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, but your apostle and priestly servant of my need (Phil. 2:25)." Once again, there is a common idea presented concerning Paul's relationship to Epaphroditus. He was a person that Paul counted to be a brother by spiritual birth, a fellow worker by the labor they had exerted together in the Body of Christ and a fellow-soldier in their mutual defense against the attacks of Satan in their Christian lives. A great deal is said concerning him in very little space. Paul wanted the Philippians to see Epaphroditus in two ways: he had the character and quality of being an apostle and a priestly servant (leitourgos). Epaphroditus not only had the character and quality of being an apostle but also had the spiritual gift of apostle just as he had the character and quality of being a priestly servant that was actually demonstrated in his performance. Paul considered Epaphroditus a representative of the Philippians because he had performed priestly service toward him in the same manner, as the church would have. Most Bible scholars consider Epaphroditus to be a Philippian who had been sent to Paul as an envoy and a representative of the Philippian church. He had gone to Paul with the intention of not only bringing financial aid from Philippi but also to intervene by his priestly service for them to Paul. He had arrived and assisted Paul, but while in Rome, he had suffered an illness that had nearly taken his life (Phil. 2:26, 27). Finally, Paul sent him back to Philippi bearing the letter and encouraging the church to receive him with honor for his service. "Because through the work of Christ, he came near to the point of death, risking his life (psuche), in order that he might supply [lit. fill up] your lack of service toward me (Phil. 2:30)."
Evidently, the gifts from the Philippian church needed to be converted into usable goods and Epaphroditus was the one who made certain that Paul personally received the full benefit of the things that were provided. He spent the time representing the church doing priestly service to the extent that it nearly cost him his life resulting in his physical weakness. Some might think that verse thirty was an insult to the Philippian church, but it was probably taken as a compliment. Of all the churches that Paul started or visited, the one church that had stepped in and helped him was the church at Philippi. It is clear that they had sent support to him during his short stay in Thessalonica twice and probably from time to time throughout his ministry. They would have provided personal priestly service to him had he been in Philippi, but he was incarcerated far away in a Roman prison. They selected Epaphroditus from among their men to go and to act as their proxy providing the service that they were unable to give because of the geographical distance separating them. There were other believers with Paul in Rome, but the Philippian representative proved to be one of the most important in his priestly service.
How Epaphroditus served is not mentioned, but the fact that he served as the Philippians would have served is mentioned. It may have been necessary for Epaphroditus to find employment while in Rome to meet Paul's needs. He may have served Paul in the legal process, attempting to gain Paul a hearing before Caesar. He may have spent a great deal of time not only with Paul but also outside the prison house gathering those things that would meet Paul's needs in prison. The record is not clear except that he did more than the Philippian believers expected when they sent him and that many of Paul's personal needs were met. Priestly service can be performed by proxy when necessary, even though it is far from the best way for it to be handled. Paul identified the Philippian church as a unique church in its service. "But you also are intuitively knowing, O Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I went out from Macedonia, not even one church shared [or fellowshipped] with me concerning the matter of giving and receiving except you alone (Phil. 4:15)." Epaphroditus represented a good activity and a very close identification with Paul that had existed in the Philippian church (Phil. 4:14). Priestly service is often rendered directly for God to individuals. The service can go beyond the individual and be done for groups of people large and small.
The Service of Paul. Paul's service as a priest involved groups of people as well as individuals. He was serving as a priest to the Gentiles i.e. the non-Jews. "But with more confidence and freedom, I wrote to you in part, as reminding you through the grace that was given to me from God that I should be a priestly servant of Christ Jesus unto the nations [Gentiles], while presenting as a priest the gospel of God, in order that the offering of the nations [Gentiles] may be acceptable, having been set apart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:15, 16)." His priestly service involved the things that pertain to God (15:17) and involved a specific ministry to the Gentiles that gave them opportunity to respond properly to the work of Christ. "For I will not presume to speak anything of the things Christ did not work out through me for the obedience of the nations [Gentiles] in word and work (Rom. 15:18)." Paul's priestly ministry to the Gentiles involved his word and his work. As he spoke, they had the opportunity to see the effectiveness of the gospel of God in the teaching. In his work, the gospel of God was evident in his life. The prospect of seeing the Gentiles obey the truth that Paul taught made his priestly service worthwhile. Hence, it is possible to serve as a priest in spiritual things and not just physical things. When any believer communicates Bible doctrine to another believer, he performs a priestly service as a spiritual believer. God will also see the practical manifestation of a godly life in the work that he does as priestly service. Because of this, priestly service should permeate the lives of Christians in their work and their speaking for God.
Paul expected other believers to reflect not only the spiritual service but also the physical service of the priest. Once again he reminds the Romans of the offering that was being collected for the contribution [lit. sharing] for the poor of the saints in Jerusalem. "For they of Macedonia and Achaia had a good opinion to make some sharing for the poor of the saints in Jerusalem. For they had a good opinion, and they are debtors of them; for if the nations [Gentiles] shared in their spiritual things, they ought also in the fleshly things to serve as priests to them (Rom. 15:26, 27)." These verses alone give a clear indication that priestly service involves both spiritual and physical things. The Gentiles had the responsibility to act as priests toward the Jews because the Church's beginning at Pentecost was in Jerusalem and was composed of Jews and Jewish proselytes. The book of Acts demonstrates the transition from a Church composed of Jews to the Church that included both Jews and Gentiles. It traces the development of the Church from the Jews in Acts two, to the Samaritans [half-Jews] in Acts eight, and then to the inclusion of the Gentiles in Acts ten. Paul encourages the Romans to perform physical priestly service in sending a gift to the poor ones in the church of Jerusalem in light of his own priestly service in spiritual things. Paul had left a legacy for the Roman saints in spiritual things that he expected them to utilize. Christian activity also involves physical service. Because of this, he encourages their involvement in physical service for the saints in need who lived a substantial distance away.
Paul's priestly service included both the spiritual and the physical. It is clear, from his perspective in Romans, that he considered his priestly service to be related primarily to spiritual things as he communicated the Gospel of Christ to people and taught believers how to live the Christian life. As God accomplished good things through his ministry, Paul could boast concerning the work of God in his life. Spiritual priestly service produced strong spiritual Christians who understood some of the important details of the Christian life. Paul was not one who encouraged people to do something that he did not do himself. Rather, he was active in every facet of priestly ministry in his own Christian life. He is a good example of true priestly service in his people work.
Priestly service (leitourgia) is the regular service of the believer-priest. It is the duty of one who holds a priestly office to be serving for the common good of all the priesthood. Such service may be performed for individuals or for a large group of people. It is a service of a lesser who serves a greater one who in this case is God. The believer-priest works for and with the people but always for God as a part of his service in the heavenly temple. An important aspect of this priestly service is that it is normally performed for someone else. It is true that the individual may benefit in the blessings of service but other persons always benefit to the greatest extent. This service can involve spiritual things or physical things. Active participation in priestly service should be normal for most believers because such service can be done at any time another believer is near. It is important to recognize that most priestly service is toward believers with only a few aspects directed toward unbelievers. Some of the sacrifices that are a part of priestly service include the unbeliever. This is true when the believer intercedes for their salvation (2 Tim. 2:1-4). Scripture emphasizes priestly service as a Body activity by which God is served by the Body of Christ. New Testament liturgy is not a form of public service for Sunday services, but it is the active functioning of priestly service in the everyday life of the believer, when he is spiritual. This service can be performed anywhere and at any time, and hence, is not confined to church buildings and professional clergymen. It is the privilege of priestly office for every believer and is only limited by the Christian's spiritual condition. He functions well in the priestly office if he is spiritual. He is a failure in the priestly office if he is carnal.
The service of the believer-priest is described in the New Testament by three Greek roots, each of which looks at service as a priest from a little different perspective. Because a believer is a priest, he has the potential to be accomplishing all three aspects described in Scripture. He can be a priest and either act like a priest who is functioning or act unlike a priest. Specific duties are normally expected of a priest. As a believer and a priest, he renders general service to God and should not render service to idols. This voluntary service is performed in response to the provision of God. To some degree, it anticipates God's pleasure as a result of the service that is done. The last type of service expected of the believer-priest is identified as people work that is performed as a part of special offices and ministries set apart for priests to perform. Service and sacrifice go hand in hand. Sacrifice is a part of service. On the other hand, service goes beyond the activities that are identified as sacrifices in Scripture.
When the believer became a priest, he was immediately drafted into priestly service. From the moment of salvation, he has the priestly responsibility to be serving as a priest. God has provided priestly activity so that even the newest believer has the potential immediately to function as a priest. To some, this is counted to be a privilege, while others count it to be an unwanted requirement. What a potential there is for a local church to be a church of active priests who are functioning as spiritual believer-priests serving God to His glory in the service of other believers and those who are not. A priestly church will be a changed church in the matter of service. There will be no shortage of volunteers to accomplish the work of God in the local assembly. One must remember that the Church does not have a priesthood, it is a priesthood!
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The priesthood of the grace believer plays an important role in the Christian's understanding of the New Testament teaching concerning spiritual gifts. The believer's spiritual gift is a part of the possessions that he receives from being in Christ just as his priesthood is. One may wonder whether it is appropriate to include a short section on spiritual gifts in a book on the priesthood of the believer, but it is evident that Scripture relates them very closely to one another. The priestly activities expounded by the Word of God establish a norm for all Christian behavior as long as the believer is spiritual. The believer's spiritual gift is an area in which God gives him a specialization from the moment of his salvation. In that area, he exceeds what is normal. As a priest, he functions in the norm as any other believer would in the areas in which he is not gifted. His spiritual gift gives him an added measure of ability in a single area of his spiritual life. A believers spiritual gift is not an ability that he possessed before his salvation, but it is a special ability given at his salvation in the realm of spiritual things. Because the believer has a spiritual gift, God does not expect him to avoid the norm and to function only in the realm of his specialization. A spiritual gift is the result of the gracious provision (-ma ending) by God of a special ability in the Body of Christ to function above and beyond that ability that is normal for all spiritual believers. It is supernatural in that God has provided it over and above one's natural abilities. It is impossible for one to receive such a spiritual ability in any other way.
Spiritual gifts are sovereignly given to believers. They can be neither lost nor traded. A believer can gain no more spiritual gifts than the one he was given at salvation. A spiritual gift was given to each believer at the moment of salvation (1 Pe. 4:10 cf. 1 Cor. 12:11-30). Every believer has a spiritual gift. If a person is a true believer, he possesses a spiritual gift. If he sins and becomes carnal, he can no more lose his spiritual gift than he can lose any other aspect of his position in the Body of Christ. God does not give the believer a spiritual gift for his personal benefit. He gives it for the profit of the Body of Christ especially as it is manifested in the local church. A believer's spiritual gift is given by God's grace and the believer cannot choose the gift he wants. What is a spiritual gift?
The Greek word carisma (charisma) occurs seventeen times in six New Testament books (Romans, First and Second Corinthians, First and Second Timothy and First Peter). It is a term primarily used by Paul though Peter uses it in First Peter 4:10. It is a noun that comes from the root caris meaning "grace." The noun has a -ma ending indicating that it is the result of an action of being gracious or gracing. In the Authorized Version, it is consistently translated "gift" except in Romans 5:15, 16 where the English adjective "free" is added by the English translators. The noun caris (charis) ["grace"] is found 156 times in the New Testament while the verb carizomai (charidzomai) [in the middle and passive voices] occurs 23 times. In New Testament revelation for the Church, it is used of unmerited favor from God. Hence, the spiritual gift is given by God's grace to the believer. It can be identified as that specific thing that is given by the grace of God. A careful study of all of the occurrences of charisma indicates that it is a special gift freely given for the edification of others. Charisma is not always used of the spiritual gift that a believer receives for his possession in Christ.
In Romans 1:11, charisma refers to a spiritual provision that establishes the individuals in the Roman church and provides a basis for Paul's own personal encouragement. The term describes the work of Christ as a result of grace in Romans 5:15, 16; 6:23 and its application in salvation. In Romans 11:29, charisma is tied to the call to salvation, describing God's giving of salvation. Some have the ability to remain single that is identified as a thing of grace. God does give some a measure of grace to remain single as was true in Paul's case (1 Cor. 7:7). It is apparent that the gift of singleness or chastity is not a spiritual gift but a separate manifestation of the grace of God. Charisma describes the gracious provision of Paul's needs by the saints of the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 1:11).
In its technical sense, the word charisma is found in Romans 12:6; First Corinthians 1:7; 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31; First Timothy 4:14; Second Timothy 1:6; and First Peter 4:10. In these passages, it has a special technical definition. A spiritual gift is the provision, supplied by the Holy Spirit [as the mediate source], of a function in the Body of Christ that was totally unearned and undeserved. The gift involves the spiritual activity, ability and agility of the believer in and for the Body of Christ. Some guidelines are necessary concerning this definition. The spiritual gift of a believer is not an office but it is an ability. That ability may be used in an office, though of itself, it does not automatically guarantee participation in an office in any sense. A spiritual gift does not describe the place in which one serves but rather describes one's ability to function in the Body of Christ. A spiritual gift is not limited to any one age group. Every believer at any age possesses a spiritual gift. He has the potential to use his gift with any age group including his own. A believer's spiritual gift does not determine his occupation. Just because a man has a pastor-teacher gift does not guarantee that he will hold the office of bishop as a lifetime occupation. A believer's spiritual gift is not a natural ability that he possessed or may have possessed before he was saved. Musical, artistic, creative and constructive abilities are not spiritual gifts in the technical New Testament sense even though they may be used in the service of the Lord. These principles establish the definition and guard against its abuse. It is too easy to add gifts to the New Testament list without Scriptural justification.
At this point, it is necessary to address the question as to whether there are more gifts than those listed in the New Testament. "Can the definition be applied to those who excel in other areas of contemporary church life?" The bothersome question that always results concerning the revelation of Scripture is, "If there are more gifts, why didn't God consider them to be important enough to reveal their existence in the Bible?" Where there is no biblical revelation, there is no real authority. Without biblical revelation, it is groundless speculation. Speculation is a shaky basis for any faith and practice. It makes little sense to say that God gave additional gifts as time moved on and did not reveal them because the New Testament reader could never understand the spiritual gift of Sunday School bus driver or Sunday School bus mechanic when the bus had not as yet been invented. If God chose to list specific gifts with the amount of detail that He did, there is no sound reason for seeking to find other gifts not included in Scripture. Too often the activities and ability that are considered spiritual gifts are no more than those abilities that the person had before his salvation or had the potential for developing as a part of his natural ability. In many instances, an unbeliever could do as good a job or better. Some have identified musical ability as a spiritual gift. A vocal musician did not have a change in physiology at the moment of salvation to give him the voice of a Caruso or a Bjoerling. He did not receive perfect pitch, nor a welldeveloped technique by which he produces magnificent music with his voice. He had to practice diligently for long hours before he could produce magnificent sound. When he was saved, he received the spiritual gift that God chose for him and retained all of his natural abilities.
A Christian's spiritual gift is an ability in the realm of spiritual things that no unbeliever can possess. An unbeliever may be a successful orator and a superb communicator, but he will never be able to communicate doctrine to be believed and practiced like a spiritual pastor-teacher. This does not mean that the pastor-teacher has a better speaking ability but that he can communicate spiritual things to spiritual believers better.
The subject of spiritual gifts has always had an important role in the Church of Jesus Christ even though there have been ecclesiastical abuses of the privileges by the individual believer. With the contemporary interest in spiritual gifts, there is a large amount of confusion concerning spiritual gifts. There is more controversy than the question of permanent and temporary gifts.
Some hold that spiritual gifts as a whole ceased to exist at some time near the end of the early church period. Others agree that there were gifts that carried beyond the early church but disagree as to whether there were temporary gifts or not. Those who believe that some of the gifts ceased, disagree as to which gifts are extant today. Others believe that the men were the gifts to the church rather than a God-given ability to the individual believer. Some are confused as to whether additional gifts are given to those listed in the New Testament. Further confusion exists as to whether a carnal believer can have a spiritual gift or whether it is just for spiritual believers. An important question is whether there is only one gift given for the lifetime of the believer or whether he can possess more gifts than one. in some cases, there are believers who are seeking additional gifts to add to the one that they received at salvation or to supersede it. The following list indicates the confusion in Christendom concerning spiritual gifts. There is no end of doctrinal controversy concerning differences of opinion concerning the subject. It is interesting to note that a large portion of the controversy is built on subjective experience rather than the objective revelation of the Word of God. Sound exegesis with a solid knowledge of Greek grammar settles the confusion for the spiritual believer in most cases.
Contradictory Positions On Spiritual Gifts1. Spiritual Gifts exist today -- Spiritual gifts do not exist today 2. Gifts in Scripture include temporary and permanent gifts -- All gifts are permanent 3. Limited number of select gifts -- Extensive gifts 4. Gifts are given to individuals -- Gifts are men given to the Church 5. New Testament revelation sets limits on the number of gifts -- More gifts than listed in the New Testament 6. Every believer possesses a spiritual gift -- Carnal believers lose their spiritual gift 7. Each believer has only one spiritual gift -- Each believer can have more than one spiritual gift 8. A spiritual gift is a possession throughout one's spiritual life -- A spiritual gift may be lost if it is not used 9. A spiritual gift never changes and is retained by the believer from salvation -- A believer can get additional spiritual gifts after his salvation
If some gifts ceased, which gifts continue to exist today? Essentially, there were three types of temporary gifts. There were communication gifts that gave revelation [apostle, prophet, word of wisdom and word of knowledge], There were confirming gifts that confirmed the fact that the revelation was from God by verifying it with miraculous activities [healing, miracles and tongues]. And there were gifts that controlled additional revelation by responding to the revelation making it communicable to other believers while demonstrating its veracity [discerning of spirits and interpretation of tongues]. The fact that some of the gifts ceased does not indicate that they were not of God. For example, the apostle gift is a gift that Scripture considers to be foundational to the building and is counted to be a part of the building but only as the foundation is a part of the building while the permanent gifts comprise the building itself (Eph. 2:20). Without the foundation, the building would not stand but it is only a part of the substructure of the building. It is the basis on which the rest of the building is built.
Those who accept the Scriptural limitation of gifts to temporary and permanent have some difficulties ascertaining which ones are "temporary and which ones are permanent. Some include the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge in the list of permanent gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:8) while others do not include the gift of faith because it is found in the list in First Corinthians 12:8-10. Others believe that the gift of teaching (1 Cor. 12:28) and pastor-teacher (Eph- 4:11) are identical while others make pastor one gift and teacher another. There is also a problem with accurate definitions for the gifts that adds to the confusion as to which gifts exist today. Some have redefined prophet to make it the gift of preaching. It is true that the prophet was one who proclaimed the truth, but it is clear that the proclamation by the gift was the delivery of revelation directly from God whether old or new revelation. There is no New Testament support for the position that there is a gift of preaching that in reality is a contemporary manifestation of the gift of prophecy. In First Corinthians 13:9, prophecy is very clearly identified as a gift that was a part of that which would be done away or abolished (1 Cor. 13:10). Detailed arguments for and against inclusion or exclusion of certain gifts are not really pertinent to the purpose of this section. The author assumes that the gifts of faith, pastor-teacher, evangelism, teaching, administration [i.e. governments], organization [i.e. rule], giving, exhortation, showing of mercy, ministry and helps are extant today. It is clear that these gifts are the specialization that is the result of the believers being in Christ today.
Another controversy concerning spiritual gifts involves whether the gifts were given to individual men or given to the Church. The basis for the argument that these were men given to the Church is that in Ephesians 4:11 they are identified as men [apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers]. Scripture clearly teaches that the gifts were given for the benefit of the whole Church and not for the benefit of the one possessing the gift (1 Cor. 12:26, 27; Eph. 4:11, 12). It was for this reason that the Corinthian church was to covet [lit. be zealous for] the best gifts for their local church (1 Cor. 12:31). Those who believe that these are men given to the Church who possess natural abilities rather than a specialization are forced to ignore sound exegesis of First Corinthians 12:28-30 where gifted men are mixed with the gifts. Both are given equal weight in the grammar of the text. The men are identified with their abilities especially when they possess public gifts that tend to be very visible in the local church.
Confusion exists in some realms of Christendom as to whether additional gifts have been given by God beyond those that are verified in the New Testament. With the fantastic technological developments of the last 100 years, some individuals believe that God has gifted some individuals with gifts that could never have functioned in the early church because there was no technology for the gift to function. Computer programming experts, sound system operators, lighting experts, bus mechanics and such like never could have existed in the early church because such individuals would have had little to do outside the norm. There is no reason to believe that God left an open door for additional gifts in the church today. An unbelieving computer expert can do just as good a job of programming and operating the church computers as the believer can. While biblical gifts can be used in harmony with modern technology, new spiritual gifts are unnecessary beyond the ones described in the revelation of Scripture. Had God said that there would be other gifts provided at a later time, it would not only be possible but would be obvious that certain God-given abilities outside those revealed in Scripture could exist today. An argument from silence works both ways. It is far safer to accept the clear revelation of Scripture without venturing into the subjectivity of speculation for doctrine to be believed and practiced.
A more recent confusion concerning spiritual gifts is whether a carnal Christian has a spiritual gift or not. Some have supported the position that when a believer is carnal, he loses his spiritual gift. It is important to recognize that the Corinthian church [which was characterized as being carnal because a large majority of its members were carnal] had a clear expression of a majority of the spiritual gifts in the church. Paul's criticism was not that they had lost their gifts but that they did not have agape love as spiritual believers by which the gifts were most effective. It is clear that the church had an active membership using their spiritual gifts even though a majority of them were carnal. It is in the First Corinthian Epistle that Paul uses the figure of the Body to show that God gave gifts as a part of a believer's placement in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-30). To say a man could lose his spiritual gift if he is carnal is to say that he can lose his position in Christ which is impossible in New Testament theology.
The human ego is filled with the confidence that it can accomplish more than it actually has the ability to accomplish. Because of this, a prevalent teaching in the church today is that a believer can possess more than one spiritual gift. "if I have a special proficiency at one thing, I can develop a proficiency at other things." Because of this and an appeal to experience, there has been a refusal to accept the one gift position by many Christians. A common argument is that some pastors have become Bible college presidents so they must have both the gift of pastor-teacher and administration. This is similar to saying that a plumber who wires his own home is an electrician. It is true that in the Lord's work some men have many positions, but this does not prove that they have many spiritual gifts. A man who is gifted as a pastor-teacher may have been the head of a large corporation before he was saved and possessed a measure of administrative ability from his own natural abilities with no relationship at all with his spiritual abilities. Too often churches call men as their pastors expecting them to have all the gifts so individual church members will not need to be involved in the work of the local church. The pastor who believes that he can have more than one spiritual gift gives them ammunition supporting their misconception. Pastors have cultivated this misconception by rejecting the biblical position of one gift. "But Timothy had a second gift given after he was saved!" Timothy received the gift of evangelism by prophecy and the laying on of hands of the elders (1 Tim. 4:14 cf. 2 Tim. 1:6); therefore, some say that any believer can have additional gifts after salvation. Timothy was an apostle who had potentials that no non-apostolic believer had. He could function in twenty-two different ways that the normal believer who did not have the gift of apostle could not. There is no indication that even one other believer in the New Testament ever received an additional spiritual gift or could receive an additional spiritual gift. More will be said about Timothy later.
With all that has been written concerning spiritual gifts, confusion persists on the subject. If all of the subjectivism of experience was limited and a sound, knowledgeable exposition of the text of Scripture applied by spiritual students of the Word, most of the confusion would be eliminated. Too much of the confusion comes from plain and simple ignorance. Because of the ignorance involved, the distinctives of Scripture are deemphasized and annihilated. As a result, it makes no difference, in the minds of some believers, whether a person has a spiritual gift or not, or whether he is a believer-priest or not.
A believer, who is using his spiritual gift, is functioning in the,will of God. God, in His desirous will, provided each believer with his gift and expects him to use that which has been given to him. "But now God has placed for Himself the members, each one of them in the Body as He desirously willed (1 Cor. 12:18)." God's desirous will was the basis for determining which member would be what part of the Body of Christ. He desired that the believer be in his specific position possessing the specific gift. Logically, He expects the believer to be using his gift. The Authorized Version confuses the picture by translating qelw (thelo) ["to desirously will"] by the English "please" [which would appear to be a translation of the Greek eudekw, eudokeo]. If a believer wants to be living in the will of God, he will be learning how to use his spiritual gift. When a believer seeks to discover his spiritual gift, he is not involved in an exercise in futility but is openly seeking the will of God that has already been manifested in the provision of the gift. Once the believer is reasonably certain that he has discovered the gift that God has given him, he has the potential for an added measure of happiness that comes from knowingly living in the will of God by using his spiritual gift.
When Does One Receive His Spiritual Gift? An answer to this question not only involves the time of receiving the gift, but also the method by which he receives his gift. The grace believer receives his spiritual gift at the moment he is placed in the Body of Christ. Scripture clearly teaches that this happens at the point of initial salvation with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "For as the Body is one and is having many members, but all the members of the Body being many are one Body, so also is the Christ, for even we have all been baptized [once and for all] into one Body whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond slaves or freemen, and we all were given to drink one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12, 13)." A careful analysis of the context clearly indicates that the metaphor of the Body is used to show the distinctiveness of each spiritual gift, the interdependence of the gifts and the placement of the person into the Body of Christ. In other words, at the moment a believer became a priest, he received the spiritual gift that is his specialization in his priestly ministry. His spiritual gift is the direct result of his being immersed into Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In First Corinthians 12:13, the verb is in the aorist tense which indicates that the event happened at a point in time and once and for all. Scripture does not permit a post-salvation baptism of the Spirit but always sees it as a part of initial salvation and an essential one at that.
The Role of the Godhead. As has been seen, the believer received his spiritual gift by the desirous will of God the Father. All three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the provision of the believer's spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Godhead who actually bestows the believer's spiritual gift as the active agent and applier. "There are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4)." Actually, He is the giver of the gift even though He gives it for the other Persons of the Godhead. "For to one is given through the Spirit ... (1 Cor. 12:8 cf. 12:9, 10)." His bestowal of the gifts is based on His response to the determinative will of the Godhead. "But the one and the same Spirit operates these things distributing to each one its own thing as He has determined for Himself (boulomai) (1 Cor. 12:11)." When the Holy Spirit places the believer in Christ, He gives the believer his spiritual gift.
Jesus Christ has a role in the provision of the believer's spiritual gift in that He determined which gift the believer would receive in the actual execution of the plan of God. "But unto each of us was freely given the grace according to the measure of the free gift of Christ (Eph. 4:7)." In the context, Christ provides the specific gifts to men who in turn are characterized by the gifts that they possess and who in turn perform a specific service to the Body of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:8-12). "And there are differences of services [or ministries], and the same Lord (1 Cor. 12:5)." Verse two clearly identifies Jesus Christ as the Lord in the context. Christ established the different services in which the gift functions in its own unique ways; so that, when the believer received his gift, Christ determined the ministry of the specific gift given to the grace believer.
God the Father is not only the ultimate source and planner, but He also energizes the believer's spiritual gift through the new nature. "And there are differences of energies for operations], but the same God who is continually energizing all things in all ways (1 Cor. 12:6)." When the believer is spiritual and living in the realm of his new nature, God the Father energizes the gift so that it is most effective. Without such an energizing, the gift still exists and may function to the benefit of other believers; but it will not function to its fullest extent and the believer will not receive the blessing from the use of his gift.
All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in the provision of the Christian's spiritual gift and its effective operation in his life. The gifts were given at the moment of salvation by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. It was a gracious provision and its activity is a gracious operation as the Godhead works in the life of the believer. There is an essential inter-relationship between believers in the Body of Christ by which the gifts are effectively manifested in activity toward one another. There is reciprocity between believers in the use of the gifts because of the Divine arrangements. Each individual believer directly benefits from the other saints in the Body and they in turn benefit from him and his spiritual gift.
One of the frustrations of life is to have limitations placed on what a person can have even though he might want it. "Only one to a customer" or "limit two" in a newspaper advertisement is frustrating whether it is a jar of mayonnaise or a television set. It seems to be a normal human reaction to want more than the limit whether he can use it or not. The same is true of spiritual gifts. Believers just want more than God has chosen to provide. One of the reasons for the rejection of the one spiritual gift position is a faulty understanding or ignorance of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. As has already been mentioned a number of times, what a believer does as a believer-priest is a Divinely established norm for specific areas of Christian behavior. A "pastor" can be an evangelist, not because he has two gifts, but because the church originally called a person with the gift of evangelism to be its "pastor" [or bishop]. If a man possesses a pastor-teacher gift and enters the field of evangelism, he will be no more effective than any other believer bearing witness in the norm.
The Support for One Spiritual Gift for Each Believer. One does not need to be a Greek scholar to understand Scripture's emphasis on one spiritual gift. Any English text will give adequate support without requiring knowledge of Greek grammar. Greek grammar only reinforces the focus of the English text. Because of this, both the English and the Greek will be used to evaluate the position presented in Scripture.
The Person With the Gift Confirms One Gift. In the New Testament, individuals are identified by their gifts. In Ephesians 4:11, there are four groups of gifted men who are identified by their gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers. These are not officers in the church but gifts that are manifested to the degree that the early church could identify the individual believer by his gift. The same is true in First Corinthians 12:28-30 where individuals are identified as apostles, prophets, teachers and workers of miracles. At no place does a passage of Scripture identify a man as a prophet-apostle or a pastor-teacher-evangelist. One cannot legitimately interpret personal identification by gift to mean that one gift was dominant providing the identification of the person while other gifts also existed. In Acts 21:8, Philip is identified as "Philip the evangelist." The same is true of the apostles in Acts and the Epistles. They were identified as "the Apostle Paul" (cf. Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 1:1; Ac. 14:14), "the Apostle Peter" (cf. 1 Pe. 1:1; 2 Pe. 1:1; Ac. 5:29), and others were also identified by their gift of apostle (cf. Ac. 5:29, 40; 14:14; 15:2, 4, 6, etc.). At no point are the two gifts combined to describe a single individual believer. [The rules governing the use of the definite article before nouns connected by the conjunction kai with no article before the second noun prevent making the pastor-teacher an exception for they clearly make the combination refer to one man with one gift.]
Each gift requires that special initiative be used by the gifted person that is directed in one direction -- toward functioning in that single gift. "And while having gifts differing according to the grace that has been freely given to us, whether prophecy functioning according to the proportion of faith, or service [ministry] in the service [ministry]; or the one who is teaching, in the teaching, or the one who is exhorting in the exhortation; or the one who is giving [or sharing] in simplicity; the one who is organizing in diligence; the one showing mercy in readiness of mind (Rom. 12:6-8)." The function of one who possesses a spiritual gift must be focused on that gift. This does not prevent him from functioning in the norm as a believer-priest but establishes the focus of his personal ministry for the Lord. Evidently, there were individuals in the Corinthian church who were enamored with the other gifts and lost their focus concerning their own personal gift. One person may have tried to function in the same way that the gifted believer functioned in his gift with its special abilities to the neglect of his own gift. He could accomplish a great deal in the norm but could never accomplish the results that the gifted person could accomplish using his gift as a spiritual believer in his specific area of expertise. The isolation of the gift and its ministry indicates that one man has one gift that is to be the central focus of his ministry.
Another argument supporting the single gift position is that the word "another" is used to describe the distribution and reception of the gifts. In First Corinthians 12:8-10, the gifts are isolated from one another by the use of two distributive pronouns both of which are translated "another." One refers to another of the same kind, allos (allos), while the other refers to another of a different kind, eteros (heteros). "For to one, through the Spirit, is freely given a word of wisdom, but to another of the same kind a word of knowledge down from the same Spirit, to another of a different kind faith by the same Spirit, but to another of the same kind gifts of healings by the one Spirit, but to another of the same kind operations of powers [or miracles], but to another of the same kind prophecy, but to another of the same kind discerning of spirits, to another of a different kind of sorts of languages [tongues], but to another of the same kind interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:8-10)." There are three things in this passage that point to one gift: the distributive pronouns, the mild adversative particle, de (de), and the "one," men (men), that begins the passage. The whole context supports one man having one gift that is different from another man and another gift. The Authorized Version does not translate the particle de (de) that is mildly adversative showing the contrast between individuals and their distinct gifts. The text does not permit the person to go back through the line for seconds when the grammar so neatly isolates the participation to one individual and one gift.
There is a great emphasis on the difference between gifts and their use in Scripture. There were differences when the Godhead made the believer's gift possible and also in the content of the actual gift. In First Corinthians 12:4-6, the English "differences" and "diversities" are the translations of the same Greek root. The Greek root has carried over into the English language in the grammatical term "diaeresis" that is a term used in grammar referring to the distinguishing of two successive vowels as separate sounds. In the Greek, it simply means to take asunder or apart. There are differences in gifts but the same Spirit (12:4). There are differences of services and the same Lord (12:5). There are differences of energies but the same God (12:6). Not only are the roles of the Persons of the Godhead different in the provision of the gifts, but also the gifts themselves are different. "But having gifts differing according to the grace that has been freely given to us ... (Rom. 12:6)." The root idea of the form is to carry something different ways, pointing to the fact that one thing is different from another thing. Just as the stars are different from one another so are the gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 15:41 Gk.).
The Picture of the Body Communicates One Gift. Paul uses the metaphor of the body to describe the Church Universal. The Body of Christ exists in the mind of God demonstrating the unity yet the distinctiveness of all believers. The Body of Christ is identified as a unity and a diversity at the same time. "So we, the many, are one Body in Christ, but each one [is or are] members of one another (Rom. 12:5)." The unity is also expressed in First Corinthians 12:12 by the phrase "... one body, so also is the Christ." That one body is composed of different members that are the elements composing the Body. Paul describes it further, "For indeed the body is not one member but many (1 Cor. 12:14)." In the Body, there is interdependence. "If the foot should happen to say, Because I am not a hand, I am not out of the body, not aligned in this position, is it not from [or out of] the body? And if the ear happens to say, Because I am not the eye, I am not out of the body, not aligning with this position, is it not out of the body? If all the body happens to be an eye, where is the hearing? If all hearing, where is the smelling (1 Cor. 12:15-17)?" Scripture teaches that the members of the Body have their own peculiar distinctiveness and cannot become another member no matter how Much they may try. The whole metaphor of the body is used to describe something that has unity while having diversity. There are no foot-hands in the Body of Christ. Some believers may suffer foot-in-mouth disease, but they cannot have a foot-mouth combination in the Body of Christ. It is evident that the ear cannot evolve into a hand nor reject other members as being worth less than the specific member itself (cf. 1 Cor. 12:21-27). One does not build theology on figures of speech but upon the reason for the use of the figure of speech by the writer. Here it was to emphasize the idea of the unity and the diversity (or distinctiveness] of the gifts.
The Proposition of Scripture Confirms One Gift. First Corinthians twelve and thirteen, Romans twelve and Ephesians 4:11 are the most definitive passages that describe specific spiritual gifts. First Peter 4:10, 11 is the most important passage for establishing one gift and the two general categories of gifts existing today. It simply says that there is one gift for each believer. Here a careful analysis is necessary. "As each individual one received once and for all a [single] gift, while serving it with reference to yourselves like [or as] good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pe. 4:10)." The Authorized Version's translation "any man" translates a Greek masculine singular indefinite pronoun emphasizing one individual who happens to have a gift. The singular pronoun does not include a group even though it may include all of the individuals in a group if they are believers. "Received" is in the aorist form that emphasizes punctiliar action with its time being determined by the context. Scripture has already established that a believer received his spiritual gift at the moment of salvation (cf. 1 Cor. 12). "Gift" is singular and does not have the definite article as is found in the Authorized Version. If the text really did have the definite article, every believer would have the same gift by the rules of Greek grammar because the article would identify the single gift. Because there is no article, it emphasizes character and quality rather than identity. In other words, every gift has the character and quality of being a gift no matter what its distinctiveness might be. The singular is far more important. Each individual believer possesses a single gift. There is no way one can construe it to mean that each believer has "at least one gift" because that is not what the text says.
Even though the believer has only one gift, Peter says that he uses it for others in the Body of Christ. The "one another" is a reflexive pronoun in the second person indicating that the gift should be used for other individuals of the same group. God gave the gifts to be used toward others in the Body of Christ. Every gift should be ministered by the believer who has the gift like a good steward of the manifold grace of God. The ministry of all the spiritual gifts is divided into two types: speaking and serving gifts. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as an oracle of God; if anyone serves, let him serve as out of an endowment of power that God is supplying; in order that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ to whom is the glory and the manifest power into the ages of the ages: Amen (1 Pe. 4:11)." The only way a man can effectively minister his spiritual gift is by the power of God. When God empowers the believer to use his spiritual gift, He is glorified in all the things that are accomplished by the use of the gift.
The Substance of the Major Arguments Against One Gift. There are several consequential arguments against the one gift to one believer position. It is important to consider the arguments because of what they do to that which should be normal for the believer-priest. Six of the arguments need to be discussed in order to clear the air of controversy that they create.
The first argument is that the believer is expected to covet earnestly the best gifts in First Corinthians 12:31. An accurate translation helps one to understand the verse. "But you [men plural] keep being zealous for the greater gifts ...." The plural refers to the church members as a group and not to isolated individuals. The letter is addressed to the church and the plural encourages its members to have a zeal for having specific gifts active in the local church. In other words, the letter was not addressed to individuals but to the church as a whole. Paul encourages the church at Corinth to be zealous that all the spiritual gifts might be manifested in its midst.
The second argument is that there are Christians living today who have more than one gift. The question asked is, "Aren't there Practical examples of persons living today who have more than one spiritual gift [as pastors who are now evangelists and pastors who are now administrators in Christian institutions]?" The believer's spiritual gift is a special spiritual ability above and beyond the norm for all believer-priests. Isn't it possible for a man to be a normal administrator with the gift of pastor-teacher or visa versa? One must always remember that the spiritual gift is not an office nor does an office give a person a spiritual gift. As a normal Christian, he may have a natural ability in some areas without any special spiritual ability in that area. One must always remember that the gifts are given for the benefit of the Body of Christ. One gift may be used in more than one way. There is no stereotype for the ministry of any spiritual gift. The gift should be used as the Spirit leads and as the believer is cognizant of the will of God. There is no prohibition that limits the way a gift can be employed in the Lord's work. For example, the gift of teaching is not limited to a particular age group, church or organization. Human perception based on experience that does not conform to the clear teaching of Scripture is of no value for establishing Christian doctrine.
A third argument against one gift is that Timothy possessed more than one spiritual gift. "Stop neglecting [or disregarding] the gift in you, that was given to you through prophecy with the laying on [lit. putting on] of the hands of the elders (1 Tim. 4:14)." Paul was one of the elders who was involved in the laying on of hands. "Through which cause I am reminding you to stir up [lit. kindle a dormant fire] the gift from God, that is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Tim. 1:6)." One must remember that Timothy lived in the transitional period in which unusual things happened during the shift from Israel to the Church as the object of God's blessing. Timothy was a Jewish believer under Law having been trained in Judaism by his grandmother and mother (2 Tim. 3:15 cf. 1:5). Furthermore, there are a number of indications in Paul's letters that Timothy possessed the gift of apostle. During the final years of the transition, God may have deemed it necessary for Timothy to have a second spiritual gift in order to be more functional after the completion of the transition when the canon of Scripture was completed. Timothy would have been one of the youngest of the twelve apostles to the Church, if not the youngest, and would have faced many years when his apostolic gift would have been generally ineffective, if usable at all. Timothy had walked with the apostles and had seen his spiritual father, Paul, suffer for the purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by which one is saved. He was a witness to the fact that Paul suffered because he insisted that the Gospel include the resurrection of Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 2:8-10). Timothy's gift of evangelism needed to be honed before his apostolic gift became less usable, and hence, the admonition in both of Paul's letters to Timothy. Furthermore, Timothy was filling in at the Ephesian church that was in a state of decline. When Paul was there, it had built up to the point that there were several pastors [or elders] (cf. Ac. 20:17, 28-38). By the time Timothy arrived, the church had no pastor and needed a review of the requirements for one who was to hold the office of bishop (1 Tim. 3:1-7). It had degenerated to the point that they needed assistance for the selection of deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Without a doubt, the Ephesian church could have benefited from the consistent use of the gift of evangelism in its midst. There is no indication that anyone else could, would or did receive a second spiritual gift in Scripture.
A fourth argument against a single gift is that the body description is only a figure of speech. Doctrine is not to be based on figures of speech. The whole purpose of the figure of the body is to show the distinctiveness of each member as a part of the unity. The explanations for each figure make this clear in each context in which the figure is used. Scripture itself gives the interpretation for the figure in relation to a local church [note the anarthrous noun. "But you all are a quality of body of Christ and members out of a part (1 Cor. 12:27)." Paul himself accepts the figure of speech for what it teaches and not for its own doctrinal content. One must notice how each context where the body figure of speech is employed carries the figure over into the Christian life and directly influences the way that individual Christians should be relating to one another.
The fifth argument against a single gift is that Paul infers that he personally had more than one gift in First Corinthians 13:1-3. "If I should happen to speak with the languages [tongues] of men and angels, but I have not love, I have become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, and if I happen to have prophecy and happen to intuitively know all the mysteries and all the knowledge, and if I happen to have all faith so as to remove mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:1, 2)." The recurrence of the subjunctive mood in the verses prohibits Paul from actively having the gifts mentioned in the three verses. When the forms are in doubt and can be taken as either subjunctive or indicative [as is the verb "speak"] and are parallel with forms that are clearly subjunctive, they must be considered to be subjunctive. Paul is simply making hypothetical statements that are not factual, but which serve to illustrate his point. In other words, he suggests the Possibility for the sake of argument. The whole point is that if Paul should happen to have any gift, its use would be of little value if he were not a spiritual believer possessing agape love. Essentially, he is saying that though a carnal believer may be using his gift, it will only have a limited effectiveness without the other-centered, self sacrificing love that the Holy Spirit provides to the spiritual believer.
The last argument is that it is possible to pray for additional gifts. Scripture does not encourage any individual to pray for additional spiritual gifts. In First Corinthians 12:31, the church at Corinth is encouraged to be zealous for the best gifts to be evident in the church. "Be pursuing love, but be zealous for the spiritual gifts, but rather in order that you might prophesy ... (1 Cor. 14:1)." The church is addressed again. "Wherefore, my brothers, be zealous to prophesy ... (1 Cor. 14:39)." Paul addresses the church as a whole in the matter of zeal for spiritual gifts in its midst. The church at Corinth would have best benefited if the revelatory gifts were present and active to tell them more about God and His Word since the canon of Scripture had not been completed at the time of Paul's writing. Furthermore, all the prayer in the world will never change the believer's gift that has already been determined by God. The Holy Spirit distributes to each individual believer the gift that He and the other Persons of the Godhead have determined (boulomai - 1 Cor. 12:11).
It is difficult to understand why it is so important for some believers to want more than one gift. The human ego is filled with desire to have more than God chooses to provide in many areas of life. God is not limited in His power when He chooses to limit each believer to a single spiritual gift. He has imposed such a limitation on Himself voluntarily for His own purposes. Most believers have not mastered the use of their single spiritual gift let alone have the ability to attempt to master others. What a blessing it is to learn how to use that single gift to the glory of God for the blessing and encouragement of the other believers in the Body of Christ. It is time that some, who would argue for plural gifts, would spend more of their time and energy learning how to use the spiritual gift that they know that they have rather than spending their time attempting to accumulate a plurality of gifts for themselves.
A survey of the gifts that exist in the church today will assist the believer in determining what his own spiritual gift may be. Some gifts are easily defined because of the extent of the related material available in the New Testament. Others require assistance from some extra-biblical sources in order to establish the elements that comprise the gift. In the writers estimate, there are eleven gifts of the Spirit that exist today in the Church and each of these will be discussed in this section.
Several principles need to be established before an analysis of the individual gifts is made. The gifts have a variety of characteristics that are evident in Scripture. There are gifts that appear to be weaker but which are absolutely necessary (1 Cor. 12:22). Some are counted to be less honorable while others are given greater honor (1 Cor. 12:23). Some gifts do not have as appealing an outward appearance as others do (2 Cor. 12:23, 24). God has blended or tempered the Body so that the less honorable are given more abundant honor (11 Cor. 12:24). The members of the Body should care for one another in the matter of suffering and honor (1 Cor. 12:25, 26). Everything done by the members of the Body should be done with an open awareness of their relationship and dependence on Christ, the Head of the Body. With a balanced relationship between spiritual believers, the gifts can best function. In the local church, it is possible to encourage the use of spiritual gifts for the unity of the Church and the glory of God. (See Spiritual Gifts Charts, Appendix II)
The Gift of Faith - 1 Corinthians 12:9; 13:2. As has already been seen in the chapter on the sacrifice of faith, the word "faith" is used in a diversity of ways in Scripture. There has been some confusion as to what the gift of faith involves. It is true that God gives the believer faith to believe the Gospel (cf. Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29; 1 Cor. 3:5), but that is not the provision of the spiritual gift of faith that comes from the believer's possessions in Christ. Such faith is common to all believers and is compulsory for one to become a believer and is complete at salvation. The gift of faith is not the use of the fruit of the Spirit, faith, by the believer because that is normal for all spiritual believers and is necessary for priestly service to be effective (Gal. 5:22; 2 Cor. 5:7). It is not the body of doctrine that instructs the grace believer on how to live in his present tense salvation being victorious over his spiritual enemies (1 Tim. 3:9; 4:6; 6:10). It is not the measure of faith that every believer possesses in order to use his spiritual gift (Rom. 12:3). If it is none of these, then what is it? The gift of faith is a special ability to have abundant faith [above the norm] that will remove obstacles to the work of God by His power.
The gift of faith is listed as one of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit in First Corinthians 12:9. Paul gives an illustration of how the gift of faith may function in contrast to normal faith. "... And if I should have the faith so as to remove mountains ... (1 Cor. 13:2)." The gift of faith has the potential to be involved in major projects as well as minor projects. It is a far greater amount of faith than is expressed in the norm of the sacrifice of faith. One must be reminded that faith gives substance to the things hoped for (Heb. 11:1) while hope is defined in Romans 8:24, 25. The gift of faith involves an ability to rely remarkably on the promises of God in His Word for grace believers. The believer who has the gift of faith will not permit any obstacle to deter him from accepting God at His Word. He expects the promises of God for the grace believer to be accomplished in his life and in the lives of other Christians. He has a comprehension of the will of God as revealed in the Bible for himself and for other believers. One who has the gift of faith has an ability to believe God over and above what is normal in his communication for himself and others. It is very likely that when the individual who possesses this gift is spiritual, he will be more consistent in his communication with God than the normal believer living in the norm. With the gift, there is an overwhelming ability to appreciate the character and nature of God. One of the indicators that a person may have this gift is a strong desire to learn the details concerning God, His character, nature and work. This person does more than learn what the attributes of God are. He has an absolute confidence that the attriibutes will be the basis for God's actions on behalf of the church and other Christians. His appreciation of God extends to a confident appropriation of what God will do. When the person with the gift of faith sees another believer's lack of faith, he is quick to step in and to encourage the other believer by his own faith to believe God no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. As a result, he motivates the other believer to offer sacrifices of faith in the norm as a believer-priest.
In the local church, the person with the gift of faith will share and confirm the works of God by encouraging the faith of others. When decisions need to be made by the church, the person with the gift of faith will share what he sees as God's will in the matter encouraging the church to proceed by faith. As an example, a church had grown to the point that its facilities were taxed to the limit. Giving was not what it should have been and the church was having great difficulty paying its bills. Because of the dismal treasurers reports, there was no interest in even suggesting a building program. A person with the gift of faith stood up in the business meeting exuding faith that God wanted a new auditorium to be constructed and made a motion that the church proceed with a building program. Because of the faith of one individual, the church acted even though it appeared to be impossible. What appeared to be a miraculous set of circumstances provided plans, materials and skilled laborers who completed the project at minimal expense with all the bills being paid by the time the church occupied the new facility. No other person in the church imagined that such a project could be possible. The person with the gift of faith expected the project to be accomplished because he knew the will of God in the matter. The gift sees the lack of faith in the church and other believers. It sees God's goals as no other gift does for the physical and spiritual needs of other believers. As a result of the gift, other believers and the church receive extra strength and appreciate the extended grace of God. Because the gift is effective, essential tasks in the church are accomplished.
The Gift of Pastor-Teacher - Ephesians 4:11. The pastor-teacher gift is the most visible of the spiritual gifts in the modern church because of the office of bishop or overseer. In order for a man to hold the office, he must have the pastor-teacher gift. When a church calls a man to the office, the gift should be an essential part of their consideration. As a result of the public ministry of the office holder, the pastor-teacher is before the people at a majority Of the public meetings of the church. He shepherds and teaches doctrine to be believed and practiced to the local church.
There has been an effort made to separate pastor from teacher by some. Every Greek grammar that deals with the use of the definite article before two nouns connected by the conjunction kai (kai) the second noun being anarthrous [i.e. without an article] presents the fact that the two nouns will share a common idea that is determined by the context. In Ephesians 4:11, the common idea is the man who is characterized by the gift. The same man holds the gift of pastor-teacher. In Ephesians 4:11, there is only one man who has the single gift that is described by a dual designation. Scripture requires that the man who holds the office of bishop is to be "apt to teach (1 Tim. 3:2)."
The word "pastor" is actually the word "shepherd." He serves as an undershepherd to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (1 Pe. 5:4). Christ is also identified as the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 14) and the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20). In First Peter 2:25, He is identified as "the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls." Shepherding is most evident in the use of the verb poimainw (poimaino) that is most often translated "feed" in the Authorized Version (cf. Matt. 2:6; Lu. 17:7; Jn. 21:16; Ac. 20:28; 1 Cor. 9:7; 1 Pe. 5:2; Jude 12 Gk.). Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders, "Be taking heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as bishops, to shepherd the church of God, that He purchased through His own blood (Ac. 20:28)." Three terms describe these men. They were elders, presbuteroi (presbuteroi - 20:17), shepherds, poimainoi (poimainoi - 20:28) and bishops episkopoi (episkopoi - 20:28), indicating that all three were descriptions of one man who was more mature, possessing the pastor-teacher gift and holding the office of bishop. The flock is the church of God in Ephesus over which the Holy Spirit put these men. In First Peter 5:2, 3, the flock is identified as the heritage of God. "Shepherd the flock of God among you, while taking the oversight, not by constraint for necessity], but voluntarily according to God, nor for the sake of eagerness for dishonorable gain but eagerly, nor as one who is lording it over the inheritance, but becoming examples [or types] for the flock (1 Pe. 5:2, 3)." In the context, elder (5:1), shepherd (5:2) and bishop or overseer (5:2) are found together describing a single individual.
The shepherd aspect of the pastor-teacher gift is manifested in several important ways. It is evident in taking the oversight that is the verbal form of "bishop." There is a textual problem in First Peter 5:2 where a small minority of the manuscripts omit the form. One who shepherds must step into the office willingly and not of necessity. Money is not to be his motive, but he is to be good tempered [possibly recognizing that he might not have his needs fully met by the church]. A shepherd who holds the office is not to be a dictator who focuses his lordship over the flock, but he is to lead the flock by his personal example providing a pattern for their lives. He must remember that he is still a sheep who because of his office has a greater responsibility to emulate the Chief Shepherd to the other sheep so that they can follow the pattern. As a shepherd, he leads the flock to feed (Ac. 20:28; 1 Pe. 5:2, 3) and there he feeds them the good things of God. He sets spiritual goals for the flock under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He protects the flock from spiritual danger warning them of error and sin.
The teacher aspect of the gift centers on doctrine to be believed and practiced, didaxh (didache cf. Eph. 4:11, 12; 2 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 1:9). The pastor-teacher has an abnormal appetite for the Word of God and should be constantly studying and examining the Word so that he can be involved in its exposition to the flock (1 Tim. 3:2). The teaching aspect of the gift is evident in "doctrine" (didache) in First Corinthians 14:6, 26. He exhorts through the Word of God and not his own opinion. His only legitimate authority is Scripture.
There are several characteristics of the pastor-teacher gift that need to be mentioned. The gifted person possesses a strong desire to lead God's people in doctrine to be believed and practiced. He possesses a unique determination to know the truth of the Word of God. He has a special discernment for accurately making Scripture practical for other believers without allegorizing. He has a special desire to preserve and protect other believers from spiritual danger. He enjoys caring for the flock of God. He has an ability for caring, feeding and leading the flock of God. A Simple definition of the gift is that it is a special ability to lead, Provide for and care for the flock of God through the teaching of doctrine to be believed and practiced from the Word of God.
The Gift of Evangelism - Ephesians 4:11. Because of an overt emphasis on evangelism in the church today, there has been a limited emphasis on this gift. Some believers are totally convinced that the sole purpose of God and the single plan of God for the Church of Jesus Christ is evangelism. As a result of an overt emphasis on this subject, believers have been very active in evangelization without being spiritual, working from carnal zeal (cf. Gal. 5:20 Gk.). Human agents have stepped in where the Holy Spirit should be and attempt to convict or convince men of sin, righteousness and judgment (cf. Jn. 16:8-11) by evangelistic techniques and methodologies. Because of this, some believers only hear evangelistic messages from the pulpit and are starved for truth by which they can live the spiritual life as a Christian. A limited evangelistic diet is one of the reasons for the limited spirituality in some churches. The very idea that evangelism is spirituality is of itself a flagrant contradiction to the revelation of Scripture. In the New Testament, one must be spiritual in order to have an effective witness. In many evangelistic programs, there is such a great emphasis on evangelism by a leader that the saints actually serve the leader rather than the Spirit.
Another important area of consideration is the matter of witnessing. In the New Testament, witnessing and evangelism are not the same. Every believer has the responsibility to have a consistent, spiritual witness. It is simple to make evangelism and witnessing synonymous, but the New Testament makes a clear distinction between the two. Witnessing is not identified as a spiritual gift as is evangelism. Witnessing is by far and away the most essential of the two because of its role in the everyday life of every believer. A careful study of the terms for witnessing (marturia, marturew and such) very clearly places an emphasis on the life witness rather than the lip witness. Christ must be manifested in the life of the believer in order for him to have a New Testament witness. The one with the gift of evangelism also needs to have a witness so that his evangelistic ability will have the added effectiveness when a life supports the presentation of the Gospel. Too often the man with the gift of evangelism is out of balance and does not have the kind of life that backs up his word as an evangelist. God expects every believer to have a life witness while the one with the gift of evangelism has the potential to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a greater degree of effectiveness than the believer living in the norm.
The gift of evangelism directly involves the aggressive presentation of the Gospel. In its verbal form, "evangelize," euaggelizw (euangelidzo), means "to present or announce the good news." The word, evangelist, is found three times in Scripture (Eph. 4:11; Ac. 21:8, 2 Tim. 4:5) while the verb, "evangelize," euaggelizw (euangelidzo), is found fifty-five times with the noun "gospel," euaggelion (euangelion), occurring seventy-seven times. The gift of evangelism is a spiritual gift that is given at salvation providing a special ability to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever to get him saved and to demonstrate to the saints how to communicate the Gospel. The gift of evangelism can be effective in the church by instructing other believers in how to share the Gospel, through the demonstration of the gift in the church and community and through the directing of the church in its outreach programs. This gift finds its primary emphasis outside of the local church though the church should be enjoying numerical growth as a direct result of its effective use.
A person with the spiritual gift of evangelism is filled with interest and concern for an accurate understanding of the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some who claim to possess the gift are careless about the Gospel and react negatively to the New Testament definition of the Gospel in First Corinthians 15:1-4. This may indicate that they are not truly gifted with the biblical gift of evangelism. As has already been mentioned, some in the church persecuted Paul because of his insistence that belief in Christ's resurrection was an essential part of the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:8-10). The contents of the Gospel are that Christ died for our sins according to Scripture, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3, 4). One who has the gift of evangelism has a special ability to present the Gospel to the unbeliever effectively. A part of the gift involves an ability to search for and to find the unbeliever in order to give him the Gospel. The gift involves an ability to discern the Holy Spirit's leading to elect unbelievers. In the New Testament, there is no indication that the person with the gift of evangelism was involved in wholesale evangelism, but he concentrated on a selective evangelism. He has a special ability to teach other believers how to present the Gospel to the unbeliever. He has a special enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel that may be catching. As a result of the effective use of this gift, the local church of which the person with the gift is a member should benefit.
Philip is identified as having the gift of evangelism in Acts 21:8. He had a reputation as an evangelist and was identified as "Philip the evangelist." Philip's ministry is best illustrated from Acts eight. He had a very effective ministry preaching Christ in Samaria with definite results (8:5-8, 12, 13). Even in the time of an effective ministry, God took him away to minister to one man in the person of the Ethiopian eunuch who was saved as a result of his evangelistic presentation (8:26-40). Philip did not return to the place of his successful ministry, Samaria, but was delivered airmail by the Holy Spirit to Azotus some distance away. The man with the gift of evangelism seeks only to be where God wants him and the numbers are inconsequential to him. In Second Timothy 4:5, Timothy is reminded to be using the gift of evangelism. "... Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." The person with the gift of evangelism will normally use his gift outside the local church for the benefit of the church. He is most effective as a spiritual believer who is led by the Spirit in the use of his spiritual gift.
The Gift of Teaching - Romans 12:7. Teaching is a spiritual gift that involves the effective communication of a specific kind of teaching. It is included in the list of gifts in Romans 12:7 and First Corinthians 12:28, 29. Teaching involves comprehensible communication of information so that the hearer can learn it. The spiritual gift of teaching is a special ability to convey or impart knowledge to believers of doctrine to be believed but not practiced, didaskalia (didaskalia), from the Word of God. It is evident that teaching is a distinct gift from pastor-teacher. In Romans 12:7, it is clear that a person with the gift of teaching is involved with didaskalia rather than didache. Romans 15:4 establishes several important things concerning didaskalia. "For whatever things were previously written, were written for our doctrine to be believed but not practiced (didaskalia), in order that through the patience and through the comfort of the thing written we might have hope." The things that were written before time are didaskalia. Those things include the whole Old Testament and Old Testament materials in the New Testament. It is clear that didaskalia and didache are distinct from one another. In Second Timothy 4:2, 3, the two terms are included together indicating that they were intended to be distinct from one another. In Titus 1:9, the Authorized Version totally ignores the two terms in the verse and conceals the ,distinction by omitting one completely in its translation. An accurate translation is, "While holding fast the faithful word according to the doctrine to be believed and practiced (didache), in order that he may be able both to exhort by healthy doctrine to be believed but not practiced (didaskalia) and to convince the opposing [or contradicting] ones." Hebrews 5:12-14 establishes the norm for all believers for teaching doctrine to be believed and practiced. Every believer should have the character and quality of being a teacher who can teach the first principles of the oracles of God [i.e. the ABCs]. The person with the gift of teacher can effectively communicate doctrine to be believed and practiced in the norm but has the added ability to communicate doctrine to be believed but not practiced well above the norm.
A person who has the gift of teaching has an appetite for the Word of God above the biblical norm. He has an extraordinary ability to communicate doctrine to be believed but not practiced to other Christians. When he teaches, he expects the believers who listen to learn the truth that he teaches. A part of the ability that comes with this gift is a comprehension of what the saints need to learn of didaskalia. A person with the gift of teaching has an appreciation for the character of God in His past workings. He has a desire to assemble foundational truth for learning doctrine to be practiced recognizing that the Old Testament tells the believer what he is not to do as a warning (1 Cor. 10:6) and gives hope (Rom. 15:4). Frequently, one who has the gift of teaching has a strong desire to accumulate information from the Bible for sharing with other believers. He has an assurance that the revelation of God and man provides a basis for other biblical revelation. It is important for those who teach the Word of God to be reminded of the responsibility that goes with the teaching of any kind of Christian doctrine. "Do not become many teachers, my brothers, intuitively knowing that we will receive a greater judgment (Jas. 3:1)." Every teacher has the responsibility to make certain that he is accurate in what he teaches. His tongue may run loose and cause some to stumble by inaccurate teaching (Jas. 3). What a magnificent responsibility to learn what God said, to accept its single meaning and to communicate it to other Christians. Each one who teaches should always be filled with fear of being inaccurate which always leads to doctrinal error however minor it might be.
The Gift of Administration - 1 Corinthians 12:28. In First Corinthians 12:28, the word government in the A.V. is best translated "administration." The root kubernhsis (kubernesis) has the idea of guiding. The term is only found in First Corinthians 12:28 in the Greek New Testament. A noun form is found in Acts 27:11 and Revelation 18:17 with the basic idea of one who is the pilot of a ship. In the classical Greek, it denoted one who steered or piloted a ship. Hence, it came to refer to the steersman, helmsman or sailing master who guided the ship on its course. He was the man who controlled the direction of the ship so that it would reach its destination safely. The gift of administration is a special ability to guide or lead the affairs of the church so that the tasks of the church can be accomplished. The gifted individual effectively sees that the church reaches its corporate goals.
The gift of administration clearly perceives the direction that the church is to take and sees the best spiritual gifts to get the job done. As the church expresses its desires for goals, this individual sees the goals more clearly than anyone else. He not only understands the goals but also sees the best ways to get the job done.
The man who possesses the gift of administration has a special ability to guide the church. He may be the man who is most effective in leading or moderating the business sessions of the church. It is too easy for a business meeting to bog down unless a person with the spiritual gift of administration is effectively using his gift. From the moment of salvation, he has been involved in some aspect of administration in the local church. If he was saved in his youth, he is the one who would see to it that the youth group accomplished what it intended to accomplish. He is the person who makes certain that things that need to be accomplished are done. He has a unique ability to see what the objectives of the church program are and knows the very best ways to accomplish them. A person with this gift can analyze the situation so that the job is done in the best way possible to the glory of God. A Christian contractor may know all the loopholes in the building code and the short cuts that can cut down on building costs, but those manipulations do not always bring glory to God. An administrator knows best how to maintain the testimony of the church when confronted with a wide variety of choices in accomplishing the goals of the church. The administrator has confidence that the programs and projects of the church will be done. This ability is a little different than the gift of faith in that the person sees every detail that should produce the desired result and because of this has confidence. This man has the ability to set a course and to steer the church along that course. When the church acts to get a task done, he steps in and steers the church to the goal. As an example, he may be selected to be the director of the Vacation Bible School program. The Christian education committee and the individual with the gift of organization arrange the materials and the administrator leads the school to a successful conclusion. He has the ability to get the job done without being offensive to those who are recruited to accomplish the task. Many other believers create friction in their attempts to get the job done while the person with this gift is most effective when doing the will of the people in conformity with the will of God. This person will frequently be involved with the government of the church and its outworking.
The Gift of Organization - Romans 12:8. In Romans 12:8, the gift of organization is identified by the word "rule" in the Authorized Version. God expects the one who possesses this gift to organize with all diligence or earnestness (spoudh). In the New Testament, the word proisthmi (proistemi) is found eight times as a verb and once in the noun form (Rom. 16:2). It is a compound form that simply means, "to stand before." It has a specific technical concept of presiding over the order of things. In classical Greek, it had the idea of superintending and protecting that which needed an organized orderliness. The spiritual gift can be defined as a special ability to take the leadership in arranging and putting in order good works done by the church and in the church.
In its non-technical uses, it is a part of the norm. This is true of those who are elders who function in the norm in the congregation to the degree that their organization provides positive results in the lives of those they serve. "Let the elders who are organizing well be counted worthy of double honor, especially the ones who are laboring in the word and doctrine to be believed but not practiced (1 Tim. 5:17)." In order for a man to meet the qualifications for bishop or deacon, he is required to have a wellorganized family (2 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12). This does not mean that his whole family must be believers but that he has organized it in such a way as to permit him to be effective in the office without any adverse marks on his character. The believer is to organize his good works carefully. "Faithful is the word, and concerning these things I have determined that you assert strongly, in order that the ones who have believed in God may set their reflective thinking to Organize good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Tit. 3:8)." Good works need to be organized in the realm of those things that are absolutely true needs. "And let us learn also- to organize good works for necessary needs, lest they be unfruitful (Tit. 3:14)." One of the realms for the gift to be functioning in the church is putting in order the good works of the church so that they are most effective and productive.
The gift of organization is different than the gift of administration. The gift of organization is like the programmer or plotter versus one who is an administrator who actually pilots the ship. In the military sense, the organizer is the strategist while the administrator is the captain who actually accomplishes the strategy on the battlefield. In the business sense, the organizer is the planner while the administrator is the manager. Very often these two gifts involve the same activities but different aspects of the activity are emphasized in what the gifted person does.
The gift of organization is primarily concerned with the order of the church and seeks to maintain orderliness in church affairs that will lead to the smooth operation of the church program. As a part of his interest in order, he will be involved in the management of church programs in the realm of organization. The gift keeps the church organized and makes it easier to accomplish the things that need to be done for it sees the simplest and the most efficient ways to accomplish the task. A person with the gift of organization will assist in many of the matters of the church business with ease that others do not possess. Whether he moderates or voices his opinion in the church business meeting, he is able to put the item of business in an orderly perspective so that the church understands the issue and can intelligently vote on it. He is an ideal coordinator. He has a special ability to develop methods for the coordination of the affairs of the church and to explain them to other believers. He also has the ability to recognize the biblical objectives for the local church and perceives the individual steps toward accomplishing those objectives. He provides direction to the church so that it can meet those objectives. He has an awareness of how to accomplish the desires of the church. When the gifts of administration and organization are working hand in hand, the church's program will be efficiently accomplished to the glory of God.
The Gift of Exhortation - Romans 12:8. God reveals the gift of exhortation, paraklhsis (paraklesis), in Romans 12:8. The simple definition of the Greek form is "to call alongside." It involves a kind of speaking to another person that produces a specific effect whether it is encouragement, comfort or exhortation. The various forms of the word are found 137 times in the New Testament. It is a part of the norm as well as a spiritual gift. "Look, brothers, lest there shall be in anyone of you a malignantly evil heart of unbelief in the departing from the living God, but be exhorting yourselves each day, while it is being called today, lest any one from you be hardened by the deceit of the sin nature (Heb. 3:12, 13)."
When the believer is under pressure, he needs someone with the spiritual gift of exhortation to come along and exhort him. Since the gift of exhortation is a special ability to encourage and admonish believers that gets them to do a job or encourages them to move [i.e. act], it is most appropriate to use it when one is suffering tribulation in his life here on earth. God can use this gift as a source of His comfort. "Well spoken of is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and God of all comfort the one who is comforting us on all our affliction, that we may have the power to comfort the ones in every affliction through the comfort by which we are being comforted ourselves by God (2 Cor. 1:3, 4 cf. 5, 7)." God will not only use the gift to bring encouragement and comfort, but He also uses His Word and other believers in the norm. Exhortation is needed in times of concern as is evident in Paul's relationship with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:7, 8). It may be better to call this the gift of encouragement.
Exhortation deals directly with the hearts of human beings. God's comfort is directed to the believer's heart, "May He comfort your hearts and may He confirm [or make stand] you in every good work and word (2 Thess. 2:17)." Tychicus was sent to the Ephesian church to be a source of comfort or encouragement as Paul's personal representative. "Whom I have sent to you for this very thing, in order that you may possibly experientially know the things concerning us and may comfort [or exhort] your hearts (Eph. 6:22)." The heart involves the mental and emotional capabilities of the individual so that both aspects are encouraged to respond in a proper manner to the provision of God. One of the ways that exhortation works itself out in the life of the believer is that it binds together love and the believer's relationship to God the Father in Christ. "in order that their hearts may be encouraged [or exhorted] being united together in love and unto all the riches of the full assurance of understanding unto the full experiential knowledge concerning the mystery of God, even the Father, and of the Christ (Col. 2:2)." Whatever is necessary to straighten the believer out in his mind and/or feelings and to cause him to see himself as he is in Christ involves the direct application of exhortation.
There are excellent examples of exhortation in the New Testament. In Hebrews 12:5, the author of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3:11 illustrating a form of exhortation. "And you have forgotten the exhortation that is dialoging with you as with sons, My son, stop despising the chastening of the Lord, nor faint being reproved by Him (Heb. 12:5)." This exhortation discourages an improper reaction to God's chastening [child training] and encourages a solid response to Divine rebuke. The believer is encouraged to get his head on straight especially when he is being treated as a child of God. A part of the encouragement is that if a person is really a child of God, he will be chastened because, "Whom the Lord happens to love He chastens, but is scourging every son whom He receives (Heb. 12:6)." The second example of exhortation is Paul's straightforward approach to the problems in the Corinthian church. "Now I am exhorting you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all may be saying the same thing and there may not be divisions among you, but that you may be ones who have been thoroughly adjusted in the same mind and in the same knowledge (1 Cor. 1:10)." Paul expects the Corinthians to respond to his exhortation by correcting their manner of life. It is important to note that though most exhortation includes a negative aspect it always encourages a positive result on the part of the person being exhorted.
The person with the gift of exhortation appeals to the hearts of other believers and discourages improper behavior. He has the ability to encourage people to move from their apathy and to get a job done that needs to be done. An exhorter can comfort another believer and communicate with him on a personal level providing Positive encouragement. He has a unique ability to see a need that needs to be done and to get another believer to step in and to meet the need. He sees the deficiencies in the church program and has the ability to stir up the appropriate gift to be active in making up the deficiency or stirring up believers in the norm should the gift not be found in the church. An exhorter has an ability forthrightly to cause people to change their lives and activities for good. While a pastor or any other gift exhorts by using the Word of God, the exhorter has an ability over and above the use of the Word of God to confront people with truth. It seems that the person who possesses this gift has a greater awareness than is normal to see the consequences of carnality. He can see the direction that carnal behavior will carry the carnal believer and has the fortitude and concern to intervene in the situation and encourage a change in that behavior. When other believers are discouraged, this gift has the ability to lift them up and to encourage them to press on. If they need encouragement to put forth greater effort, the exhorter will provide that encouragement. He always is able to determine the best way to approach another believer with the best results. He will encourage others to lead a spiritual life, to use their spiritual gift and to be involved in church activities. It appears that this person grasps areas of doctrine to be believed and practiced in such a way as to use that doctrine in exhorting other believers.
The Gift of Giving - Romans 12:8. The gift of giving is listed as a spiritual gift in Romans 12:8. "The one who is giving in simplicity, ..." Giving, metadidomai (metadidomai), has the idea of freely giving by sharing with others. It has the idea of a no strings attached type of giving in response to a need that has been discerned. The gift of giving is a special ability to distribute freely ones own goods or money without grudging and without expecting personal benefit. This giving is above the norm. Wealth is not a prerequisite for having this gift nor is a great deal of money necessary. Some who possess this gift are poor in this world's goods yet use the gift in a wide diversity of ways for the benefit of the church.
There are some very important characteristics of the gift of giving that must be considered. In order for the gift to best function, the person must possess or have access to the item that is given. This can be illustrated from Luke 3:11 where the verb is found, "But answering He said to them, The one who has two inner garments, let him freely give to the one who does not have, and the one who has food [pl.) in like manner let him do." If a man only possessed one inner garment or tunic, it was not necessary for him to give for he did not have anything beyond the necessities for his own personal life. A person with the gift of giving often has a different attitude concerning what is necessary for life and frequently will give what others consider essential for existence to someone in need. Another factor in the gift of giving is the existence of a specific person who has a need. "Let the one who is stealing no longer steal, but rather let him labor while working with his own hands the good thing in order that he may have to give freely to the one having the need (Eph. 4:28)." If there is no need, it is not necessary for one to be giving nor is it necessary to make needs so that this gift will function. Some pastors have the philosophy that there must always be a need before the people in order to keep them giving. Paul's ministry in relation to giving primarily involved freely giving spiritual things to others who needed them. When one freely gives, he needs to have a personal desire to give that which he has to others. "So while earnestly desiring for you, we were of a good opinion to freely give to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls because you became loved ones to us (1 Thess. 2:8)." With a proper attitude springing from love for other believers, the gift of giving is most effective. A believer, who has the gift of giving and is carnal, will be reluctant to give to some believers what they need. He may possess the capability for meeting the need but he is prejudiced against them. Other believers that he likes will have many of their needs met by his use of his gift. When he is spiritual, his personal feelings do not play such a great part because agape love surmounts the prejudices and permits the gift to be used freely toward all the believers in the church who have needs.
There is a control placed on the gift of giving in Romans 12:8. It is to be done with or in simplicity. There are a number of definitions given for the term including: simplicity, sincerity, purity, proclivity of mind, liberality or bountifully. It originally meant that one did not go by sea or on a voyage. It communicates some important concepts that regulate the use of the gift. The gift is not to be used in a complicated manner. In other words when the giving is done, there are to be no complicated prerequisites or requirements to limit or deter the recipient of the gift. There is not to be a requirement that reimbursement be made at a later date. One must not give the gift in a flagrant manner to exhibit his generosity. When the offering plate is passed, this person does not make a show of his giving by making certain that as many people in the church can see what he gives as possible. It does not require public recognition for God alone knows the motives for the exercising of the gift. The gift works best close to home and functions without striving to find needs to be met in other places. Some, who possess this gift, will send their money and goods all over the world with total disregard for the local church and its needs and needy people. If simplicity truly controls the gift, the giver will see that the needs are met in the local assembly. When they are cared for, he may then go beyond his primary area of focus toward the local church. A dilemma that faces a person with the gift of giving is that the needy in the local church do not advertise their need and seek help. At the moment he goes outside the local church, he faces a long line of begging Christian organizations that quickly solicit funds and advertise their needs and wants. Which organizations merit his giving and which ones do not? Too often the organization with the best public relations and saddest stories receives the gift rather than the organism that God has chosen for him in which to exercise his gift. The gift of giving must be controlled by an objectivity [the part of the fruit of the Spirit identified as meekness] in order to best function in simplicity yet without credulity. When he practices the revealed will of God, the one with the gift of giving can discern the will of God concerning the directions the gift should be directed beginning with the local church.
The characteristics of the gift provide real encouragement in the local church. There is a willingness to give ungrudgingly at any time with minimal restraint. The gift involves an ability to see a need before others do. It is looking for needs that can be met by something given. It welcomes the opportunity to give in spite of other circumstances. Sometimes it appears that there is an added measure of faith beyond that given to those who possess other spiritual gifts. Sometimes circumstances mitigate against the exercise of the gift, but a determination to do the will of God comes with the gift. The gift of giving works best when it is correlated with the activities of the other gifts. Persons with the other gifts may see needs and point them out to the individual with the gift of giving because of their close personal involvement with other believers while exercising their gift. The person with the gift Of giving is willing to give a greater proportion, even to his last cent, in the joy of the Lord than most other believers do. It is a gift that encourages others to be involved in giving to meet the needs of the church and other believers. It can see the results of giving to a specific need knowing the benefit to the recipient and God's reception of the gift that is given. A person with the gift of giving gives to please and to serve God.
Every believer is to give a proportion of his income as a spiritual sacrifice to God. This is the norm for giving. It appears that the person with the gift of giving is not concerned about the proportion that he gives but gives as the Spirit leads him to give trusting that God will continue to meet his own personal needs as he gives of his own substance to others. When the church has a gift of giving present, these Christians have the most positive attitude toward giving of all the members of the church. At times, they may question the legitimacy of a project or a need, but that is only the natural outworking of the gift.
The Gift of Showing Mercy - Romans 12:8. The gift of showing mercy is a special ability to have pity on believers who are suffering the results of sin and to show that pity in giving them a measure of relief. It is the Greek word elewn (eleon - participle of eleew). Adam's sin in Eden brought some drastic results on the human race. Sin brought the fall and with the fall came the curse that was a form of punishment transmitted to the whole race. Sin perpetually brings many sufferings. Had there been no sin, there would have been no sickness and suffering. Because of sin and its results, there is a need for mercy. The provision of mercy is based upon several factors. There must be a recipient with a need for mercy as well as recognition of the need for mercy. One must have the resources for meeting the need. In order for mercy to be truly effective, there must be a provision of some relief from the need. An ideal illustration of these factors is in the story of the good Samaritan (Lu. 10:30-37). The man was beaten and suffering as the result of the sins of the robbers who left him half dead alongside the road - he had a need (10:30). The Samaritan had pity and showed mercy (10:33, 37). He cared for the man providing relief (10:34) continuing the care from his own personal resources (10:35). His action is identified as doing mercy (10:37).
Scripture identifies a number of needs that demand mercy. Selfdeception with its false hopes (1 Cor. 15:19) and false assurance (Rev. 3:17) require mercy. An inability to meet one's responsibilities requires mercy (Matt. 18:33 cf. 27). Human frailty [or fainting] (2 Cor. 4:1), human grief (Phil. 2:27), suffering from just punishment (1 Tim. 1:13, 16; Lu. 16:24), personal instability (Jude 21, 22), the results of carnality (Jude 23) and times of need (Heb. 4:16) all require mercy in some form. When a person is in a hopeless spiritual condition, there is a need for mercy for salvation (1 Pe. 1:3; 2:10; Eph. 2:4). It is also needed for demon possession (Matt. 15:22; Mk. 5:19). Often a hopeless physical condition such as blindness (Matt. 9:27; 20:30, 31; Mk. 10:47, 48; Lu. 18:38, 39), leprosy (Lu. 17:13) and sickness near to death (Phil. 2:27) need mercy. When a person is in a helpless physical condition, mercy is also needed (Lu. 10:37). Some do not realize the extent to which the gift of showing mercy may be used, but the preceding list should demonstrate the potentials for its use in the church.
In Romans 12:8, Paul expects the gift to be functioning with cheerfulness. The Greek form has carried over into the English language in the word "hilarity." It is an optimism that sees beyond the immediate result of sin and enjoys the prospect of future relief. The gift of showing mercy actually seeks the opportunity to be merciful often overlooking the reason for the problem expecting a positive result and relief for the problem.
The one who has the gift of showing mercy has special concern for the consequences of sin in the lives of his fellow believers. He is a person who has a concern and care for the sick in their time of need. One who possesses this gift has a special ability to comfort the afflicted by using pity on their behalf. He has the ability to cooperate with other gifts in meeting every need of the afflicted. He may encourage the other gifts to be active in the situation when they either have not seen the need or have not been interested in becoming involved. He will often have a willingness to overlook the reason for the need. He perceives the consequences of the various results of the fall of man and sin in the lives of believers. He concentrates on conditions that are pitiful often while seeing the need for mercy before others do. There is a Personal commitment to providing relief to those who are afflicted in the church. He has the ability to see the best ways to provide relief and anticipates the positive results that will be produced. It almost seems as though the life of this individual is dominated by kindness. Other believers show mercy in the norm as they offer the sacrifice of doing good in certain circumstances.
Most references to showing mercy are references to God who is the example for mercy that, in His case, springs from the attribute of love. Mercy may be extended in the norm from believers to unbelievers with the anticipation that they might receive mercy in salvation (Rom. 11:31). James expected mercy to be a part of his readers' normal lives. Should they be in a position to need mercy themselves, they would receive the amount of mercy that they had evidenced in their own personal lives. "For the judgment will be unmerciful to the individual not doing mercy; mercy exults in judgment (Jas. 2:13)." The wisdom that gives to the normal believer when he asks for it (Jas. 1:5) is "... first pure, then peaceable, forbearing, easily persuaded, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, non-hypocritical (Jas. 3:17)." When a man uses God given wisdom, he has a real potential for exhibiting mercy in the norm as God gives him that wisdom. All spiritual believers have the responsibility to have mercy on those who are wavering or disputing (Jude 22). There are many opportunities in the local church for exercising the gift of showing mercy.
The Gift of Ministry - Romans 12:7. In the 101 occurrences of "ministry," only Romans 12:7 is a clear reference to the spiritual gift. The word diakonew (diakoneo) means "to render any kind of service," while the noun diakonos (diakonos) describes the servant in his activity in the work. The term is used to describe four types of service in Scripture: of any service to the Lord (Heb. 6:10), of all believers in general use of their spiritual gifts (1 Pe. 4:10, 11), of the office of deacon in the local church (1 Tim. 3:10-13) and of the spiritual gift (Rom. 12:7). When one serves in this way, there are several significant characteristics that manifest themselves. One always supplies something that would otherwise be lacking in the life of another believer. The other believer is deprived of something that would permit him to function in a normal way. "Because the ministry of this priestly service not only is filling full [or supplying] the things lacking of the saints, but is also continually abounding through many thanksgivings to God (2 Cor. 9:12)." The one who ministers may do this immediately or mediately through another person whether he is a direct representative or not. Ministry always involves sharing in the life of a saint so that he can serve God better with a goal of bringing glory to God. How does one serve? He can serve in the provision of his own service activities (ex. Lu. 17:8) or in provision of things (ex. Lu. 8:3). There are a number of examples of ministry in Scripture that illustrate the types of activity involved in ministry in general. All of the examples involve the direct supplying of a need or a deprivation. Matthew 25:42-44 (cf. 35, 36) gives a picture of what was involved in ministry during the time of Christ. It involved providing food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, shelter for the stranger, clothing for the naked, visitation of the sick and visitation of the prisoner (25:42, 44). It can involve the sharing of possessions (Lu. 8:3), provision of food and drink (Lu. 12:36, 37; 17:8) and serving tables (Ac. 6:1, 2). It can be done in the home (Mk. 1:31; Lu. 10:40; Jn. 12:2) or in the church (Ac. 6:2).
The spiritual gift of ministry is a special ability to serve the saints by performing a task so that another believer will not have to do it thus supplying that which will lighten the load for other responsibilities or service. The gift of ministry permits the free use of other spiritual gifts without distraction. With the gift, there is a desire to serve the saints in any possible way. There is a determination to handle necessary details. The one who has the gift is visibly dedicated to serving the saints seeking the best ways to serve them. He is dependable in performing the service in the menial tasks of the church perceiving those details that encumber the other saints. The gift has a built-in determination that all the saints be comfortable and cared for in the church facilities. With the gift, there is a perception of things and needs that distract from the spiritual growth of the church. The individual with the gift has a special satisfaction in his service to God for the church. He has the ability to discern the opportunities quickly in which service may be performed. The gift of ministry is effective when it relieves other saints so that they no longer need to perform certain menial tasks and then are able to use their spiritual gifts to a greater degree to the glory of God.
The Gift of Helps - 1 Corinthians 12:28. The spiritual gift of helps, antilhyis (antilepsis), is a part of the list of gifts in First Corinthians twelve. When a person cries for help, he is seeking someone capable of providing a measure of assistance, whatever the situation may be. There are a broad number of situations in which a person may call out for help. The term means to take or lay hold of something in exchange with another person rendering assistance to that person. It involves making the project one's own with the other individual by giving aid and assistance. The noun antilhyis (anfilepsis) is only found in the New Testament in First Corinthians 12:28, while the verb is found three times. In Luke 1:54, it is used of the work of God in the Magnificat of Mary as she expressed her joy in God. "He helped Israel His servant, to remember mercy." God's help for Israel was evident in that He used the arm of His strength when dealing with people by assisting them to a proper place in life (1:51, 52). He assisted the hungry with good things and sent the rich home empty (1:53). He assisted Israel in remembering His mercy that had been directed toward the nation in spite of their sin from Abraham forward. In Acts 20:35, Paul reminded the Ephesian elders of a part of the instructions that he had given them during his ministry in Ephesus. "I have showed you all things, that while laboring thus it is necessary to help the ones who are weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to freely give than to receive."
Those who lack strength of themselves are the ones who need help or aid. They have a measure of strength, but need more in order to function in life effectively. When the Christian slave in the Roman Empire served a believing master, he was not to despise the other believer, but was to act as a slave knowing that the believing master is not only a brother but a believing one who is helped by the good work of his slave (1 Tim. 6:2). Of themselves, the masters were incapable of accomplishing all the work necessary though it was possible for them personally to accomplish a portion of the task. As a result, it was normal and necessary for them to purchase slaves to aid in the tasks of the family business.
Compound forms of the word are found in Luke 10:40 and Romans 8:26, 27 where the compound identifies the help as a close working together by taking the place of another person. The Holy Spirit helps the believer with his weakness by assisting him with a proper intercession when he really does not know how to properly communicate for himself (Rom. 8:27, 28 cf. 8:23). The distinction between ministry and helps is very evident in Luke 10:40. Martha was busy preparing for the necessities of Jesus and those who were with Him as a good hostess. She was evidently ministering by preparing food for a meal. Mary, her sister, on the other hand, chose to sit at Jesus' feet and to listen to Him speak. "But Martha was distracted [or over-busied] concerning much ministry [or serving], but standing immediately near Him she said, Lord, does it not matter to you that my sister left [or abandoned] me alone to minister (or serve]? Tell her therefore in order that she may help me (Lu. 10:40)." Martha was the one who had been active in the ministry and demanded that Mary give her some assistance or aid in the ministry. The one who helps often is involved in assisting in many activities. He may not have the best ability to do the whole job by himself or possess the knowledge of how to do the job best, but he is there to lighten the load for others who have the proficiency.
The spiritual gift of helps is a special ability to lay hold of any menial task in the church by taking the part of a saint who needs assistance, giving a helping hand so that together they can accomplish the task. The gift best functions when there is a need for assistance. The gift itself has the ability to assist in the need and actually shares in giving aid. In a sense, the gift of helps is a supporting gift providing additional help where it is needed.
An analysis of the characteristics of the gift of helps will assist one who has the gift with the use of the gift and the one who does not possess the gift with knowledge of what to expect from the gift. The gift of helps has a special ability to assist the weak and the ill giving them a helping hand so that together they are able to accomplish tasks. Assistance may be rendered to the needy as well. The gift of helps provides an environment for other believers that will not distract them from their relationship to God. Frustration can fill the lives of those who lack strength because of tasks that need to be accomplished but which cannot be accomplished. Attention is drawn to the tasks rather than to God and His provisions. The helper will assist with the tasks so that the things that need to be done will no longer distract the needy believer. There is an association of the gift of helps with the other gifts in the church to assist them in performing needed tasks in the church. The pastor may be frustrated at the piles of material on his desk and around his study that need to be organized and filed. A person with the gift of helps may come in for a few hours and work with him filing and organizing the material relieving the frustration giving the pastor space for study. This gift has a special awareness of those who need help. It includes a special affection for helping other saints. The person with the gift will often take decisive action when help is needed and step right in providing that help. He can see the potential results when he helps in menial tasks seeing their greater contribution to the whole work of God. He knows the proper time to step in and help another believer and recognizes his own personal strengths that will best help other saints in specific situations. The person with the gift of helps will also be involved in encouraging other believers to pitch in and help one another.
The eleven gifts listed are extant in the church today. These are essential for the work of God and provide all the elements that are necessary for the Church of God to bring Him the most glory. In Appendix II there are charts that give a concise overview of the definition, location, indicators, insights and use of the gifts in the New Testament context. These charts will assist the believer in determining his own gift as well as knowing what to expect personally from the other spiritual gifts.
There are two ways to react to revelation: accept it [at least to some degree] or to reject it. When the subject of spiritual gifts is brought up, too often it is either rejected or relegated to a position of unimportance. This eliminates an important part of Bible teaching. Ideally, it should be a subject not only accepted wholeheartedly within its biblical limits but also applied in practical ecclesiology. Adequate information needs to be given to believers in the church so that they have some objective facts concerning what the abilities are that are inherent in the gifts. Every operation of the church needs to consider the spiritual gifts in the church that best accomplish the tasks necessary to conduct the operation to the best extent. A special part of the teaching program of the church needs to be designed to help each individual believer learn what his spiritual gift is. Balanced instruction is essential so that the believer understands that his gift is one ability that is above what is normal while he has many other abilities within the norm. Pareful instruction without undue pressure will communicate the fact that with the ability comes responsibility before God to be using the ability to His glory. Each one, who knows what his gift is, should be encouraged to be using it as an example of how the gift can be employed in the practical activity of the church. Every believer at any age needs to be made aware of spiritual gifts and the joy of functioning in his gift knowingly. Too often young people are never apprised of the subject in their Sunday School or youth programs. They are often held in ignorance only to function in the realm of their gifts without enjoying the full benefits of the knowledge of what one's gift is and how it is working to the glory of God.
In the organization of the church, some adjustment must be given for spiritual gifts. Most church constitutions do not openly require that the one who holds the office of bishop [or overseer] possess the pastor-teacher gift though some do by implication when they require that he meet the biblical qualifications of First Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Other offices are not built around spiritual gifts but are determined by what the organizing group considered essential offices for a normal, functioning local church. Even where constitutions are deficient concerning spiritual gifts, it is possible for them to be considered in the nominating procedure of the local church. Every nominating committee should give due consideration concerning how a prospective nominee's spiritual gift will relate to the office for which he is being considered. When the individual church member votes for a new slate of officers, he should base his judgment on his knowledge of the spiritual gifts of the nominees and to vote accordingly. When the gifts are clearly recognized and involved in the operation of the local church, there are many direct benefits to each individual member of the church because the church has attempted to operate in God's way.
If an individual believer does not know what his gift is, there are resources available for help. The revelation of Scripture is always the sole authority for faith and practice in this matter. The charts in the appendix have been a very positive assistance to many believers. Other Christians who have observed the activities of the individual believer can suggest some of the characteristics that may indicate what the other believer's gift may be. An excellent way to work on discovering one's spiritual gift is by the process of elimination. One makes a list of the eleven gifts and as he studies the Word of God, he eliminates those that he knows that he does not possess narrowing the list down to two or three gifts, one of which may be his gift. Specific activity in these areas may demonstrate a special ability above that which is normal in one area indicating that ability is the gift God had given to him at salvation. If there are two or three areas and uncertainty still exists, a believer should not throw up his hands in frustration, but he must continue to be working in the areas in which he is most comfortable while trusting that God will make clear what his gift is in the future. Normally, as the believer learns to conform to the revealed will of God, he will learn what his spiritual gift is as a part of his Christian maturation. A believer does not need to know what his spiritual gift is to be using his spiritual gift. Many people have functioned all their Christian lives in their gift without ever knowing what it is. They enjoyed their activity but missed the joy of knowing how it all fits into the program of God for the Body of Christ. When the believer knows what his gift is, he knows where he will be most effective in the work of the Lord and will be less reluctant to be active in the proper areas of service.
A believer's spiritual gift is his specialization. It is a God-given ability over and above what is normal for other believer-priests. Each individual believer can function in the norm in every area because God has given gifts. He will never have the degree of ability of the gifted except in his own gift. A norm can be demonstrated in all of the areas of the spiritual gifts from Scripture. In several instances, the norm is found in the sacrifices of the believer-priest. The chart on the following page exhibits the norm and the spiritual gift with which it is aligned.
When the believer-priest is functioning in the norm and using his spiritual gift as a spiritual service, he is living his Christian life to its fullest. The Holy Spirit leads him in the areas of the norm in which he is living moment by moment. More specifically, He shows him how God desires him to be directing his spiritual gift in activity towards others and the work of God. It is not a complicated procedure but a simple activity of the spiritual Christian who is attuned to the will of God in his personal life. There should not be a problem of too much specialization and too little general practice because that is not the way the Holy Spirit works in the spiritual believer. It is true that a carnal believer can abuse the New Testament doctrine of spiritual gifts and attempt to function only in the realm of his gift. This is a typical abuse coming from carnality that uses, what God has made for good, for the satisfaction of the sin nature just as the works of the flesh do. The carnal Christian fulfills the appetites of the religious works of the flesh when he is abusing the New Testament concept of spiritual gifts, insisting that his gift is the only area of activity in his service for God. A spiritual believer will enjoy living in the norm as a believer-priest knowing what his spiritual gift is and calmly using it without desiring to have more gifts. He will appreciate the expansive provisions for him to be functioning as a believer-priest with a specialization to the glory of God.
Spiritual Gifts and the Norm| Norm | Spiritual Gift | | Sacrifice of Faith - Phil. 2:17 | Gift of Faith | | Teacher's of First Principles - Heb. 5:12-14 | Gift of Pastor-Teacher | | Normal Christian Witness | Gift of Evangelism | | Teachers of First Principles - Heb. 5:12-14 | Gift of Teaching | | Sacrifice of Doing Good - Heb. 13:16 | Gift of Administration | | Tit. 3:8, 14; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12 | Gift of Organization | | Sacrifice of Fellowship - Heb. 13:16 | Gift of Exhortation | | Sacrifice of Giving - Phil. 4:18 | Gift of Giving | | Sacrifice of Doing Good - Heb. 13:16 | Gift of Showing Mercy | | Sacrifice of Doing Good - Heb. 13:16 Gift of Ministry | | Sacrifice of Doing Good - Heb, 13:16 | Gift of Helps |
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Since the believer is always a priest, every phase of his life is filled with potentials for functioning as a priest. When the believer comprehends the implications of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer, his whole perspective will be changed. He will observe every aspect of his life from a priestly point of view. His recognition of his responsibilities as a priest will encourage him to consider how to handle each situation in his life in alignment with his priestly privilege. Because of this, his relationship to other people will be changed as well as his relationship to other essential elements of his Christian life. Not only are his horizontal relationships influenced but also his perpendicular relationship with his God. As the believer shares his life with others, his life of priestly privilege may have a positive influence on the believers and unbelievers.
It is obvious that the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer is an extremely practical doctrine for the grace believer. As has already been seen throughout the New Testament, the priesthood of the believer permeated the attitude and activities of the apostles and early spiritual Christians. Too often the contemporary search for practical teaching leads believers to seek information on how to live the Christian life from sources outside of New Testament revelation written for grace believers. It is very popular for grace believers to establish systems for living based on Old Testament doctrine rather than God's new and living way presented in the New Testament that is addressed to the Christian. Common sense will often replace the clear revelation of Scripture. Psychology, sociology and political science establish bases for practice in the believer's life as the world system brings the believer under its influence. Too often it is easier to read a pop Psychology book [Christian or otherwise] for direction in the Christian life than to read the Bible. Unfortunately, Christian pop Psychology is given credibility.
The Bible is a practical book. Teaching to be believed and Practiced by the grace believer is designed to be practical for the believer who is in a proper spiritual condition. A consistent, literal interpretation of Scripture by a Spirit-filled believer is effective in teaching useful truth for every aspect of life. Some believers are convinced that the Bible is too difficult to understand and so are seeking easier instructions for life and practice. It is true that the Bible is confusing and incomprehensible to the unbeliever and to the carnal believer. It cannot be overemphasized that the answer to many of the believer's most important problems is found in the consistent instruction concerning the spiritual life. Such instruction will encourage at least a portion of the church to be spiritual at least part of the time. When the carnal believer, who considers Scripture to be impractical, becomes spiritual and begins to grow toward spiritual maturity, he will find that Scripture is more and more comprehensible as well as more livable. Priestly truth is livable in every aspect of the Christian life. When he shares with others, he finds a wide variety of prospects for exercising priestly privilege.
There are five areas in which the grace believer has the potential to be sharing as a believer-priest. These include his relationship to the Bible, the Godhead, his personal life, his communication with God and his church. In these areas, a believer will find that every facet of his life may be influenced by his priestly position.
Just how much of an influence should the Bible have on the grace believer's life? Almost every Christian will say that Scripture will have a major influence. Verbal allegiance to the Bible does not testify to its reality in the believer's practice. No believer would speak against the Bible any more than he would speak against his mother, his country's flag or God. A carnal believer's religious superstitious awe demands some form of loyalty to the Bible. For the spiritual believer-priest, the Bible is the manual for all priestly practice. The Christian identifies himself with the Word of God. What a challenge it is for the believer to have a proper attitude toward Scripture and then to have a proper approach to Scripture. As he relates to Scripture, he will strive to handle it in the way that God intended for it to be handled. He will learn to use the simple principles of literal interpretation and live a life that will permit the Holy Spirit to illumine the truth for him. Because the Bible is a revelation of God's thoughts in specific areas, it is evident that the believer-priest has a special relationship to God. His relationship to God involves the Divine provision for approaching God. With the privilege of approach comes a personal accountability to God for the believer's activity. The Christian functions as a priest before God seeking to please Him in every aspect of his life. The believer's communication with God is directly related to his priesthood. One half of the types of communication that God has provided for the believer are a part of his priestly privilege. Because of the extensive involvement of the spiritual believer in communication, his understanding of the priestly aspects of his communication can only enhance his "prayer"life.
In his personal life, the believer will find his priesthood can influence every aspect of life. As he shares on his job, with his family and in his rest and relaxation, he continues to be a priest. If he learns to live a consistent life as a believer-priest, each of his personal relationships will have a new meaning. If he is a mate, a child or a parent, his priestly living will enhance every facet of his relationship.
To many, the believer will be most active as a priest when he is involved in the meetings of the church. It makes perfect sense that the gathering of the saints will provide the best opportunity to exercise priestly privileges. There is more involved than priestly activity because the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer teaches the equality of every believer in the church that produces a change in attitude toward one another. One must recognize that equality not only involves the relationship in the church services but also in the government and business of the local church. Some of the important influences of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer on the operation of the church will be considered in this section.
Each individual believer has the privilege of sharing in priestly activity in his various positions in life. He may hold any one or More of the positions that will be considered in relation to the interaction of the believer with others in the realm of priestly activity. He may be a pastor, a parent, a peer, a teacher, a child, a church member or a missionary. In each of these positions, there is a potential for a wide number of priestly activities that can encourage other Christians to become active in priestly privileges. A believer may be involved in a number of Christian institutions in which he is able to have a significant influence on other believers. Whether he is in a Christian home, a church, a Christian school [on any level] or in a missionary organization, he can enjoy priestly activity.
In this section, a number of suggestions are made concerning how the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer should influence every Christian. Undoubtedly, there are many other implications that will come to the readers mind that are not included in this section. It is hoped that this section will stimulate further thought on the part of the reader concerning how his priestly privilege can be shared with other believers in the various levels of his own life. With united effort, the saints of God can enjoy the blessings of priestly service in the local church, in the Christian community and throughout every aspect of their lives together with God. "Let us share together our priestly privileges."
One of the practical implications of the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer is that God considers each individual believer to be competent to read, interpret and understand the Bible as a spiritual believer who uses accurate hermeneutical principles. Throughout history, there has been a great deal of controversy concerning who has the right to possess and to read the Bible. Some churches have historically discouraged the possession of the Bible by the people though that position has somewhat changed in the last few decades. With the advent of the printing press and the mass production of books, the Bible became the best seller and has continued to be so for many years. In some countries, nearly every home has at least one Bible while in others massive efforts are being made to make the Bible available in the native languages of the people. Why is there a drive to print the Bible in so many languages? Because it is the Word of God by which men are saved and by which saved men learn the will of God. Whether the motivation for printing Bibles is evangelism or edification, the fact remains that the Bible is more available than ever. This is true in places where its distribution has been prohibited. Sometimes it is difficult for some believers to realize that the Bible is a book primarily written for believers. Only a very small part of the Bible presents the Gospel of Christ by which man is saved. If believers possessed the appreciation for the written Word of God that those who have little or no access to it have, they would take full advantage of the opportunities available to read it and to study it. Of all the books printed, no book has more tools for its study than the Bible. There are tools with which one can find any and every form of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek of the Old and New Testaments. One of the advantages of the Authorized King James Version is the abundance of English and original language tools available that are built on its translation. Young's and Strong's concordances deal with nearly all of the English words in the Authorized Version. Englishmen's Greek and Hebrew Concordances provide Authorized Version citations for Most of the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic words in the text of Scripture. Several modern language translations have their own concordances but they are limited in their ability to reflect the original languages [each to a varying degree]. A more recent concordance is an attempt to index a paraphrase version extensively advertised and promoted among the churches. The version itself is confusing because of its inaccuracy though it is easy to read. One can never be certain that he is really reading the Word of God or the word of the translators. What a major undertaking it is to try to organize a concordance for a paraphrase -- without computers, it would be absolutely impossible!
Because of the availability of the Bible, no believer in any free country in the world today has an excuse for not reading the Bible. The churches, that have historically prohibited the possession of Bibles, are now permitting them as long as the reader does not interpret them outside of the traditions of the church. Without written revelation provided for men by God, there is a severe limitation placed on their potential for Christian growth and living. While the act of reading the Bible does not make a person spiritual, it is possible for him to learn how to be spiritual by reading the Bible. The Bible is more than a manual for priestly service. In revelation directed to the grace believer, it primarily provides information that will permit him to grow to maturity'in his Christian life. Then he will have the ability to practice priestly privilege to its fullest. There is no excuse for the believer to ignore his source of information for directing him in his behavior as a believer-priest.
Because of the attitude of some of the churches where the Bible has always been permitted, the Bible was basically a closed book to their people. Scripture is interpreted by the established theological system of the church. In order for the individual to understand the Bible, it was necessary to master the dogma of the church or else his conclusions were not considered authoritative. A man-made system of theology limits the believer's potential to relate to the revelation of Scripture. It was much easier for the individual to avoid the Bible because of the amount of effort required to grasp the system. Some people became so enamored with the system that they gave it equal authority with the Bible and studied the system instead of the Bible. The result was that it was necessary to establish a system for teaching the system instead of the Bible with references made to the Bible in the form of proof texts to support the system. Books about the Bible became equally important nearly replacing the Bible itself.
The believer-priest has the responsibility to use the Bible for its intended purpose. It clearly reveals the will of God for priestly behavior. No system or dogma should interfere with Scripture. It is most important for the believer to make a sincere effort to forget dogma that he has been taught or to carefully substantiate its validity in Scripture. Objective revelation from God is far more authoritative than that which is formulated by the minds of men. Scripture does not need to be complicated by human interference. God designed the Bible to communicate truth to spiritual men. Every aspect of revelation for the grace believer is positive in nature as long as he is spiritual. The negatives are designed to handle the believer who is doing that which he should not be doing as a carnal believer.
Its Character. In its original manuscripts, the Bible was inspired. These documents had a God-breathed quality. Inspiration does not describe the human author of Scripture or the process of making Scripture. It describes the result of the process. The original manuscripts had a God-breathed quality. Human writers were borne along by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pe. 1:21 Gk.) who selected the accurate words from their vocabularies to communicate verbally and conceptually revelation from God. This is not inspiration. Scripture describes the men as being borne along -- they were not inspired or involved in any ecstatic experience, but the Holy Spirit made certain that what was written was the absolute, accurate communication of God's thoughts as they were written down. The most accurate description of the process is communicated by the term "inscripturization." As a result of the process of inscripturization, the original manuscripts had a God-breathed quality and character (2 Tim. 3:16 Gk.).
Scripture is revelation from God. Through the Bible, God communicates to man truth that he would not otherwise know. Without the Bible, the only revelation that a man would have of God would be the natural revelation of creation that only reveals the eternal power and Godhood of God (Rom. 1:20 Gk.). There would be no revelation concerning the way of salvation or the work of Christ. Creation only provides enough revelation to guarantee that mankind is without excuse. The Bible is objective revelation that is external to the believer. It is available to communicate God's Word to him. It provides the potential for the believer to make it his own by accurate interpretation with the illumination of the Holy Spirit by which it can become subjective revelation [internalized]. Only in this way can the believer think God's thoughts with Him as they are revealed in the specific passage of Scripture.
The Bible is God's Word. In other words, it is God saying in words what He wants to say to mankind. Because revelation is in God's Word, it is designed to speak to some or all of mankind. Every portion of the Bible must be understood in light of its intended recipients. Because it is God's Word, it is authoritative to the proper recipients. A truth communicated by God to a Law believer does not have the same effect on the practice of the grace believer. It is authoritative as a whole for the grace believer's faith, but only the passages addressed to grace believers are authoritative for his practice. Every Christian should be able to take his Bible in hand and say, "This is the Word of God for me." It is God's means of communicating His thoughts to men.
The Bible is infallible and inerrant. One may ask why both terms are included here since every dictionary in the English language identifies them as synonyms. It has been necessary to use both terms because of the manipulation of some "Bible scholars" and "theologians." Essentially, they have limited infallibility to matters of theology [or faith] and relegate inerrancy to other fields of academic study. When the Bible speaks of theological issues, they agree that it does not contain error. Since the Bible is not a textbook of science, history, sociology or other fields of study, they believe that it may include errors in these areas. In other words, they believe it is unreliable as a textbook for anything but theology and matters of faith. The degree of reliability ultimately is determined by human reason rather than faith in an accurate God who produces a reliable record. As an example, in the realm of social science, Paul is not considered to be a reliable authority on the role of women in the church or society because he is said to possess a prejudice against them because of his social background and training. Therefore, some of these men feel that it is perfectly proper to ignore any restrictions that Paul would place on women in Scripture. Infallibility and inerrancy are still one and the same. The Bible continues to retain its reliability in all of its information. Men ignorant of the Bible and its languages discover most of the so-called errors. A man who has preconceived notions that do not conform to Scripture or science itself has no right to present himself as an authority for determining what errors there are in the Bible. Where Scripture accurately translates the original language, it will contain no errors.
The Bible has a unique power of its own as well as a life of its own. "For the Word of God is living and energetic and sharper than any two-edged [lit. two-mouthed] sword and penetrating through as far as the division of soul and of spirit, both of joint and marrow, and is quick to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12)." The Bible is alive with spiritual life. It possesses a special kind of animation that pertains to spiritual things. It is the instrument that brings spiritual life. Through the revelation of Scripture, a man sees Christ; and through the Gospel of Christ, he believes in Christ. The Holy Spirit provided the life of Scripture in its original writing. It is powerful, having an energy that is actively penetrating the soul and spirit of man. Its energy is seen in its ability to relate to the thoughts and the intentions that come from the heart. Because of the life and power of Scripture, some believers are reluctant to approach it for they fear that it will confront them with responsibilities that they do not want to take or it will convict them of sins that they are committing. They are afraid that it will be necessary for them to change their manner of life. One of the joys a believer should have as he relates to Scripture is the joy of being conformed to the Word of God in his Christian life and of having the capability of knowing how to live the Christian life so that God receives the most glory. This is only Possible if he is studying the Bible as a spiritual believer.
Much more could be said about the character of the Word of God, but a short, simple survey of bibliology demonstrates the character of the Bible that makes it so important to the grace believer. There is no excuse for a believer to forgo the study and application [of the parts addressed to him] of Scripture in his life. Inspiration guaranteed its divine character and accuracy in the original manuscripts. Revelation exposes the believer to truth that he would not otherwise know, permitting him to know the mind of God in matters of faith and practice. It is God speaking to man, presenting in words what He wanted man to know. It is the authority for faith in its every part and for practice in portions addressed to grace believers who meet the criteria for being recipients of the information. It is infallible and inerrant possessing a life and energy to influence the mind and emotions of the believer. Because of the character of the Bible, the grace believer is without excuse when it comes to spending time reading and studying its pages. A believer-priest has priestly documents that are reliable sources for information for priestly activity. There are also documents that are included in the Bible that will have no influence at all upon his activity as a believer-priest.
Its Contents. From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture contains a wide variety of information for a divergence of people over a span of many centuries. It contains extensive sections of historical narrative, prophecy, poetry and doctrinal information. It provides a potential for learning information. Timothy had learned a great deal from the Old Testament as a young person and had gained some intuitive knowledge through the Old Testament Scriptures. "But you continue in what things you have learned and were assured of, intuitively knowing from whom [pl.] you learned, and that from being an unweaned infant you intuitively know the temple-like [or sacred] things written, the ones having the power to make you wise into salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14, 15)." The contents of Scripture were a basis for his learning the Old Testament and are also available to the believer-priest as well. Every part of the contents of Scripture has the potential for being beneficial to the believer in some way. "All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine to be believed and not practiced, for reproof, for correction [lit. set upright again], for instruction [i.e. child-training] in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16)." The contents of Scripture have a wide diversity of uses. It has a value for communicating two kinds of doctrine to the believer. In a nontechnical sense, any teaching of any type is doctrine. The New Testament clearly distinguishes between doctrine to be believed but not practiced and doctrine to be believed and practiced. Doctrine to be believed and practiced will provide reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. The contents of Scripture should produce a definite result in the life of the believer when he is willing to relate to it. "In order that the man of God may be fitted being furnished completely for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17)." Use of Scripture will ultimately put the believer in such a condition that he will be capable of producing works that God counts to be good.
When the believer-priest attempts to learn how to live as a priest, the New Testament revelation for grace believers is his sole source of authoritative information. He may consider the Old Testament as a negative source of information by which he grasps the uniqueness of his own personal privilege as a priest beyond that which was available to the sons of Aaron. In reality, the Old Testament is a dead book for the priestly activities of the believer-priest. A race driver who plans to drive in the Indianapolis 500 does not spend all of his time researching the equipment and racing techniques used in the Roman chariot races in the Coliseum. There is very little similarity aside from the fact that racing is involved. The racecar driver has a completely different set of circumstances with which to contend. There is a different amount of power involved - even though his engine is rated in horsepower there is no similarity to a horse drawn chariot. There is a difference in the ability to control the activity. There is a tremendous amount of difference in speed and track conditions. Very few lessons can be learned for high-speed auto racing from a Roman chariot race. The same is true for the believer-priest. Even where there is similarity, there are consequential distinctions between the Old Testament priesthood and the New Testament priesthood. A believer who attempts to live in the Old Testament is like a person who is trying to run a Roman chariot in the Indy 500 -- he would not even make the time trials! Before the believer attempts to master the Old Testament, he must master the New Testament. He must know what God has provided for him and apply those truths to his life and practice. When he responds to the revelation of the New Testament, he has the potential to function fully as a believer-priest for the contents of the New Testament revelation for the grace believer are the guidelines for his practice.
Its Command. Paul carries Christ's admonition to the Jews even further. Christ said, "Search the Scriptures, because you think in them to have eternal life; and those Scriptures are the ones whoo are bearing testimony concerning me; and you do not desire to come to me that you may have life (Jn. 5:39, 40)." The Scriptures were to be an authority for the Jews and it was necessary for them to search them to find eternal life. In all of their searching, they had neglected all of the passages that pointed to Christ as the source of life. Christ used the imperative to suggest strongly that those Jews had a great deal more searching to do; because in their orderly system of theology, they had neglected revelation concerning Christ. Paul does more than encourage the believer to search, as the Jews were to search. He encourages them to be eager to discover truth that is contained in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). The eagerness is to be gained by carefulness. It seems that when the believer understands his position in Christ as a priest that he should have an insatiable appetite for information that will tell him how to live as a priest and how his priesthood will affect various aspects of his life.
Its Communication. The believer-priests involvement with the Word of God is built on the fact that it is revelation designed for the spiritual man. The magnitude of the revelation is evident. Paul refers to Isaiah 64:4 and applies it to the mysteries that God has revealed to grace believers. "But as it stands written, The things that the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and upon the heart of man has not come up, the things [i.e. mysteries] that God purposed for the ones who are loving Him (1 Cor. 2:9)." These mysteries have been revealed or unveiled by the Holy Spirit for all grace believers even though only a few appropriate them. "For God revealed them to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit is searching all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10)." The spiritual believer is the one who has the potential to comprehend these spiritual things. He must be taught by the Spirit and be responsive to that teaching with the mind of Christ. Paul gives the whole picture in First Corinthians 2:13-16. "Which things also we are speaking, not in words taught of man's wisdom, but in the ones taught by the Spirit, while comparing spiritual things with spiritual things, but a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are insanity to him, and he does not have the ability to know them because they are spiritually discerned, but the spiritual man on the one hand is discerning all things, but on the other hand he is being discerned by no one. For who has experientially known the mind of the Lord, who will instruct [lit. bind together] him? But we are having the thinking ability [or mind] of Christ." A man who is carnal can never enjoy that which is communicated to the grace believer. The Holy Spirit teaches the believer only as he is capable of accepting the teaching because the things that He teaches are spiritually discerned. A believer-priest has the potential to be using the same thinking ability as Christ because of the possession of the new mind. As a result, he has the potential and capability to know the mysteries. The mysteries are provided for the maturing believer (1 Cor. 2:6, 7 Gk.) so that he can see how God's program for his maturation all fits together. Too many Christians live their Christian lives built on isolated tidbits of biblical instruction and never relate to the whole package because they have been spiritual for such a small proportion of their lives as believers. They are not well rounded and need to be encouraged to become spiritual so that the Holy Spirit can put Scripture together for them in its proper perspective. If a believer-priest only knows that he is a priest and does not understand everything else that he has in Christ, he misses the potential for a truly effective Christian life as a believer.
When the believer approaches Scripture, he has the personal responsibility to interpret Scripture accurately. Bible interpretation is one of the most essential and elemental disciplines for the grace believer to know and to understand. Why is it that there are 25 or more interpretations of some passages of Scripture? In Most cases, the reason for such diversity is found in the diversity of principles that people use to govern their interpretation. Christendom has an extremely broad variety of methods for interpreting Scripture. Most allegorists do not agree on an interpretation of a passage unless they have established common theological assumptions that control their interpretation. Those, who say that they take Scripture literally, themselves have a diversity of principles and applications. How can a believer-priest be confident when he interprets Scripture for himself? It is his priestly privilege to do so, but how should it be done so that he is confident that he knows the mind of God rather than his own mind and conclusions? Literal interpretation is normal interpretation. When a person reads a history book, he accepts the description of the events of history as a description of events of history and the author's interpretation of those events as his interpretation. He does not seek to find hidden meanings and a diversity of applications. The same must be done with the Word of God. A person who reads of General Douglass MacArthur's activities in the Pacific War Theater during World War II does not attempt to live MacArthur's life by his orders and principles for himself. He might accept the good advice that MacArthur offered and appreciate certain attributes of his character, but he only accepts him as a historical figure. Any normal interpreter of most literature willingly accepts its characters, events and principles in their historical and social contexts. One understands encouragement and exhortations as being addressed to the proper recipients. Unless a person is included as a recipient, he has no right to take whatever was given as his own. Some have done this very thing with historical figures and fictional figures and have been committed to hospitals for the insane. How many times has Napoleon Bonaparte been institutionalized since his death on St. Helena in 1821? Ironically, the same kind of thing happens in the church with people who are attempting to live like Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David and such Old Testament heroes. To some degree, these people are involved in the same kind of abuses by which those outside of the church have declared to be insane.
Just because the believer-priest is considered to be competent does not give him license to interpret Scripture in any way he sees fit. He must learn the principles for a normal, historical, grammatical, literal interpretation and carefully apply the principles to Scripture. God only intended to communicate one thing in most of Scripture and it should be the believer's objective to discover what God intended. This involves careful research by the consistent application of the principles for literal interpretation.
The Research of the Word. The believer-priest should be a researcher of the Word of God. The careful examination of the Word of God is the backbone of Bible interpretation. Every church needs the reputation that the Bereans possessed, "But these were continually more noble [lit. of better birth] than the ones in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness, while examining daily the Scriptures to see if these things have thus [or are so] (Ac. 17:11)." They received the Word with an eagerness that had the idea of a readiness or preparedness of temper or mind. In their examination, they came to a specific, settled conclusion. These were wealthy Jews who could afford to purchase scrolls of the books of the Old Testament Scriptures. "Searched" (A.V.) or "examine" comes from the Greek root krinw (krino) that means to judge or render a judicial decision connected with ana (ana) that means "again." It has the idea of researching, re-evaluating and coming to some substantial conclusions. They tested their own belief system and specific beliefs against Scripture. Because of this practice, they did the same thing with the revelation that was presented to them by Paul and Silas. God used this practice to convince some of the Jews of the truth of the message and many of them believed in Christ (Ac. 17:12). They were consistently involved in a check and double check system of biblical interpretation. They were not reluctant to subject what they believed to the close scrutiny of the Word of God. When Paul and Silas arrived, they preached the Word of God but it did not conform to the Jewish theological system that prevailed among the Jews of that part of the Roman world. They had developed a system of interpretation that was consistently put to the test as they subjected what they believed, what they heard and what they read to the Scriptures to determine its validity. As Jewish believers, they did not have the assistance of the Holy Spirit's illumination that would have given them more light concerning the actual content of the Word of God. One can only imagine the consequences had they persisted in their previous check and recheck system of interpretation when they were illumined as spiritual grace believers. What a confidence they must have Possessed in their grasp of Scripture as God's Word.
When the Christian develops the attitude that the Berean Jews had toward Scripture, he can speak with authority. The Greek Word khrussw (kerusso) ["preach"] means "to herald with authority." It is not the authority of good homiletics and rhetoric, but the authority that comes from "Thus saith the Lord." Pluralistic interpretations essentially say, "Pay your money and take your choice, the Lord may have said one of these things." Because of the diversity of interpretations, it is necessary for each believer to put what he hears and reads to the test. When the believer listens to a message, he is responsible as a believer-priest to research the material presented to see if what is said is what Scripture actually says. Some discerning Christians have been forced to choose churches for membership based on the fact that there is less doctrinal error preached in one church than in some other churches in the community. Saints with spiritual discernment long for churches that have pastors and teachers who preach the Word rather than about the Word of God. Perpetual errors in the interpretation and application of the Word of God would lead a Berean to question the validity of the truth when it is preached. With the trends in the theological world today, it is even more important for the believer-priest never to believe what he hears from any pastor or teacher until he goes to Scripture and carefully examines it to see if what has been spoken is really what Scripture teaches for him as a grace believer. If Scripture disagrees with the human speaker, it is the final authority and what has been spoken must be rejected. Every godly pastor-teacher should desire that the people in the pew would be doing this whenever he preaches or teaches. He should encourage the people to do what the Word of God teaches whether he is accurate or not.
With the advent of the printed page, there has been an unending succession of literature printed on religious subjects. Some of what is written is nothing more than religion spiced up with a few biblical quotations that are added so that the book can be called "Christian." They are no more than good advice by the standards of the world religious system. A believer must learn to read Christian literature with discernment. The Bereans examined what they knew and heard on a daily basis -- it was work on their part. It takes work to evaluate Christian literature in light of Scripture. God Himself must be ashamed of a great deal of the literature that appears on the Christian best-selling books list. "But doesn't every book have something good in it?" Of course but that can be said of some of the most repugnant and unacceptable literature as well. It can also be said of rat poison. Some books provide good examples of Poor hermeneutics and inaccurate application, but because they quote Scripture, they are considered to be of value no matter how extensively the Word of God is abused. The believer-priest must know the Word so well that he can see the error and not be led astray by erroneous doctrine.
The Bereans were judgmental in that they examined what they heard to make a judgment for themselves anakrinw (anakrino). Doctrine, that has been examined over and over, provides the basis for conclusions. How many times have Christians sung a hymn in the hymnbook before they suddenly realize that the hymn has a phrase that totally disagrees with the Scriptures? After further investigation, the song is found to be filled with heresy. In some messages, it is more worthwhile for one to sit and read his Bible rather than to take the time to count the errors expounded from the pulpit. It is not because the speaker disagrees with the listener but because he disagrees with the Word of God that is the problem. As a reader reads an author, he must exercise the same judgment. Does that which is written meet the test of Scripture'? Every Christian should pass the test of Scripture and exhibit a careful hermeneutic and accurate application for it to be worth the believer's time for reading. The believer-priest needs to strive to know the Bible so well that he can have a measure of discernment. The believer should exercise an eagerness to make certain that his interpretation aligns with God's intention.
The Right to Cut Straight. "But endeavoring earnestly to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed worker, cutting Straight the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)." Paul encourages Timothy to exhibit an eagerness to meet the test before God. As a result, Timothy will be a person who directs his energy without being ashamed either of himself or of his work. The way he is able to meet the test is through the Word of God. His positive practice of Scripture permits him to be presented to God as a person who is exactly what he professes to be. "Rightly dividing the Word of truth" describes a cutting straight of the Word of truth. Because of Timothy's knowledge of the truth, Paul expected him to make the path smooth so that he could easily travel it in the Word of truth. The object of Bible interpretation should always be to make life easy by Scriptural standards through an accurate interpretation and clear understanding of the Word so that life can accurately reflect the truth. There should be no confusion or apparent contradictions as to what is proper and what is practical in the believer's life. This is especially true concerning how the believer should be handling his sin nature [by "the truth"]. It is possible for the believer to attempt to be living under the wrong principles using them as a means for controlling the appetites of the sin nature. The Law was designed for that very purpose. The depraved nature of man was subjected to rigid requirements that channeled the appetites of the sin nature into proper areas of activity. The grace believer can lead a rocky life filled with contradictions when he subjects himself to the Law and yet attempts to live by grace. Some believers have a major dilemma in their lives when they attempt to live by the Mosaic Law, grace principles and Kingdom Law at the same time. The path is far from smooth for these believers because major contradictions arise and cause them to stumble along in their Christian lives. One's interpretation of Scripture will always determine what will be acceptable guidelines for his life. A believer-priest cannot function as a spiritual believer unless he is cutting straight the Word of God. His service to God only exists when he conforms to the Divine provisions for his life as a grace believer. An accurate interpretation makes it possible for him to discover and to practice the Divine provisions for Christian living without the contradictions of a double or even a triple standard.
The Restrictions of Scripture. When a believer-priest interprets Scripture, he must be willing to submit himself to the natural limitations of Scripture. As has been mentioned, it makes no sense for the believer-priest to seek to find principles for being a believer-priest from the Levitical regulations. Scripture itself establishes the guidelines for the grace believer's use of the Old Testament. Second Timothy 3:16, 17 indicates that all Scripture is profitable for the believer with special purposes in mind. There are two biblical uses for the Old Testament by the grace believer. The Old Testament was written to give hope to the grace believer. "For whatever things were previously written, were written for our doctrine to be believed but not practiced, in order that through the patience and through the comfort of the writings, we may have hope (Rom. 15:4)." Through the Old Testament revelation, the grace believer will have patience and comfort from the Old Testament writings. He will be confident that if God has promised him something as a grace believer, it is absolutely certain that it will be brought to completion simply because God promised it in His Word. The Old Testament will tell the grace believer what he is not to do by giving him negative examples. "But these things [historical events that ultimately ended with Divine punishment] became types for us, with the purpose that we should not be lusters after evil things, as those lusted (1 Cor. 10:6)." Verse eleven emphasizes the negative aspect of their purpose. "But these things continually happened to those individuals typically, but it was written down for our admonition, unto whom the completion of the ages has arrived (1 Cor. 10:11)." A Christian should learn how not to live rather than how to live from the Old Testament.
A grace believer is restricted in his use of the truth for grace believers if he is a carnal believer. When he is carnal, Scripture for him involves negative commands by which he should see the error of his ways and apply Scripture so that he can become spiritual. When a believer is spiritual and living in the realm of the grace of God, his life is not placed under them for they are not necessary. The more negative restraints required of a grace believer the more certain one can be that he is not spiritual. Many of the humanly developed restraints that make the believer "spiritual" only establish a false sense of spirituality that will produce a Galatianite or an age-conforming believer. The believer-priest has the wonderful privilege of having available to him all things that pertain to life and godliness being graciously provided so that he can freely function as a priest.
Just as the Aaronic priesthood was identified with the Law, so the grace believer-priest is identified with the Bible. A believer-priest is a man of the Book when he is actually enjoying the blessings of priestly service. Several aspects of his Christian life identify him with the Word of God as a believer. Every phase of his life as a Christian who is studying the Word of God will be directly influenced as the life of a believer-priest.
As a Priest for Service. The Bible describes every facet of the Privileges provided for the believer as a priest. It is interesting how God saw fit to arrange the revelation of the New Testament. It would have been much easier for the Christian to have it written as a field manual for the believer's behavior. A whole section could have been written explicitly establishing every facet of the believer's activity but it was not. God could have given fifty pages of clear, concise instructions for the believer's Christian life but He did not. The Divine organization of New Testament truth for the grace believer sometimes seems to be designed to conceal truth rather than to reveal it. In order to understand what it means to serve as a believer-priest, the believer must study the whole spectrum of grace truth in order to systematize principles for priestly living by the grace believer. There is no way that a Christian can identify with a section of priestly regulations or narrative in the New Testament for no such section exists. There is no Christian book like Leviticus identified as Melchesedicus for the grace believer-priest's regulation. Because of this, the believer is required to identify with the whole of grace truth in order to learn how to function in his priestly office. All of the information is there. Diligent study with accurate interpretation and the Spirit's illumination are absolutely necessary for the believer to understand how he is to perform his priestly service.
As a Christian for Spirituality. Just as the believer was saved by grace and is sustained by grace, he is spiritual by grace. God provides the arrangements by which the Christian can be filled by the Spirit of God who makes up the deficiencies in his Christian life. As has been repeated many times, only the spiritual believer can enjoy the fullness of the privileges of his priesthood. How often it is that the most important passages of Scripture for the spiritual life are relegated to a place of secondary importance only to be seen for their full importance years later. It is interesting how many systems have been developed for the spiritual life. Yet the Scriptures present one way in which the believer can be spiritual and emanate the things of the Spirit. Interwoven through revelation from the Upper Room Discourse through Revelation chapter three, there are important elements of the spiritual life revealed.
As a Saint for Sanctification. God the Father sees every Christian as a saint or a holy one in Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:1). This is a part of his position in Christ. Because he is in Christ, he possesses positional sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). In his Christian life, it is important to be living a life as one who is set apart to God in the matter of practical sanctification. The Bible tells the believer how to be holy in his day-to-day living. Holiness in the New Testament always sees the believer as being set apart to God. Because he is set apart to God, he is separated from the world and things of the world. A Christian is not seen in Scripture as holy by the things he does not do but by his relationship to God. He is a priest in a holy priesthood (1 Pe. 2:5) and a participant in a holy nation (1 Pe. 2:9). He should be actively demonstrating practical sanctification in his life. He must identify with the Word of God to know how to be set apart to God in his life here on earth.
As One Who Glorifies God. One of the reasons for the Christian's existence is to bring glory to God. In himself, man has little ability truly to give God glory. His response to God's creation may glorify God in the matter of power and Godhood but beyond that the average fallen human being is incapable of really giving God His full weight. One definition of the word "glory," doxa (doxa), is that it is God's opinion of Himself. His opinion of Himself is reflected in what He does and how He accomplishes it. It is revealed in the Word of God. A priest exists as a priest to glorify God in his priestly ministry. Only a careful study of Scripture can demonstrate what God's glory is and how a believer-priest who acts as a priest can glorify Him. Because of this, it is essential for the believer to identify himself with the Word of God.
For the Substance of the Will of God. It appears that the Christian church goes through cycles of interest in areas of Bible doctrine. Some doctrines become popular and are preached and written about to the neglect of other doctrines of Scripture. Ultimately, they are set aside for yet another popular doctrine. One of the popular teachings of Scripture that runs through this Cycle is the doctrine of the will of God. It appears that about every twenty years there is a resurgence of interest in the will of God with a substantial amount of Christian literature written on the subject. If one reads extensively on the subject, he can only wonder what God actually says about His will when man has done SO Much formulation on how to know the will of God. One could attend a thousand popular seminars on the will of God and learn very little about what God actually says about His desirous will. Scripture is far from silent and is more than sufficient. With substantial revelation of the will of God and how to determine the will of God in the believer-priest's life, New Testament revelation is more than adequate. There are so many possibilities for Christian activities that many Christians are frustrated by their attempts to determine what the will of God is for them. Many believers have never done the will of God knowingly. Some believe that "It must be the will of God because it seems so right to me!" The believer-priest must be involved with the Word of God for his personal life. A careful study of the words for God's desirous will qelw (thelo) and qelema (thelema) clearly provides the believer with twelve things that are the will of God for the grace believer. These twelve are scattered throughout New Testament grace revelation [See Appendix I]. When the believer hears these truths and practices them, he has the potential for recognizing the will of God in other aspects of his life. He will have so much experience doing the will of God that it will be natural for him to be doing the will of God concerning the details that have not been revealed in the Word of God. Ideally, every believer-priest should be seeking to be doing the will of God. The Bible is the textbook for the will of God and though a person had a library of books on how to know the will of God, he should be driven back to the Bible as the sole authority.
The believer-priest and His Bible should be inseparable. The effectiveness of his priestly service is absolutely dependent on his appropriation of God's provisions for grace living as they are revealed in His word. Because of soul competency, he has the right to approach Scripture accepting it as the Word of God and to interpret it and to understand it for himself. There may be deficiencies in his method of interpretation and spiritual life, but he still retains the right to make Scripture directly his own without external interference. Some of his conclusions may be wrong or defective but that does not disenfranchise one believer of his privilege of studying the Word of God. Ideally, the believer will have proper principles of interpretation and be in a spiritual condition that would permit the Spirit's illumination, but most believers rarely meet the ideal. Even with extensive preconceived error a believer may possess, he still retains the privilege. It behooves pastors and teachers of the Word to teach consistent principles of interpretation and to demonstrate them consistently in their use of them in their public ministry. Every part of every message and lesson should be a practical lesson in accurate hermeneutics. Leaders must guard against "minor"doctrinal errors as well as the major ones. It is far easier to teach truth than it is to unteach error. Every believer, including teachers and pastors, should have a kind of fear of misinterpreting God's Word.
The believer-priest should develop an objectivity concerning Scripture. He needs to learn to see things in Scripture as they really are. Too much energy is misdirected to nonessentials in the Lord's work because of a lack of objectivity. When the spiritual believer understands the potentials for priestly activity, he will establish priorities from the Word of God for his life. Because the Word of God establishes a beautiful balance for the believer's life, he must be identified as a man of the Word of God living in light of the Book no matter what any other person might say. Every believer has such a potential. He is competent to make decisions concerning the Bible that will influence his life as a priest. One cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Bible to the spiritual believer-priest for his faith and practice. It is his guide for all his priestly activity as well as his Christian life.
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Because a believer is a priest, he has clear responsibility to his God. The believer has the privilege of relating himself and his service directly to God. In a world that is filled with questions about God, the believer has the privilege of serving God directly without question. The world of unsaved mankind has a wide diversity of opinion concerning God. They may deny His existence or may have a complex system of deities all of whom they serve. One of the greatest problems that man has involves whether or not God is a personal God. Is it possible for a human being to have any relationship to a personal God? The Bible assumes that God will relate to individuals on a personal basis and expects the believer to enjoy the privilege of such a personal relationship. A major part of the relationship that a believer has to God involves his activity as a believer-priest in Christ.
Man has devised a great number of systems by which he seeks to please God or gain God's favor. Since he possesses the religious works of the flesh, mankind has an appetite for religious activity toward some supernatural power or powers. Great structures have been built to deity. Religious systems have developed as many religious rituals as the human mind can devise to attempt to get the attention and favor of deities. The socalled "vacuum in the heart of man" can easily be filled with religious activity because of the religious appetites of the flesh. A pagan is satisfied with his religious activity. As a believer-priest, the Christian can find his life fulfilled by his direct relationship to the God of all creation. This is not necessarily true of all believers. Some Christians are practical atheists living as though God only exists on Sunday. They live as though He does not exist the rest of the week.
There are specific opportunities and obligations for the believer-priest in his relationship to God. He is a priest to God. He performs service to God. He is a representative of God in his spiritual life. As a priest, the believer has all of the potential for approaching God at any time. For the grace believer, his priestly activity should be a full-time consistent activity in his Christian life. God expects the believer to appropriate the opportunity for maintaining a proper relationship to God that in turn will produce an acceptable service on the part of the believer. As a priest, the believer stands before God in Christ. God sees him standing at His right hand because the believer is seated in the heavenlies in Christ. Because of his position in Christ, he has a special relationship to God that is not available to any human being who is not a believer.
In the chapter on direct access, a great deal was said about approach to God so it is only necessary to review that material to establish the fact that the believer has access to God and so may directly approach God. When the believer understands the implications of his being in Christ, he has little problem understanding his potentials for approaching God. In Christ, the believer has a boldness to approach God in that he comes to a throne of grace that will provide help when it is needed (Heb. 4:14-16). The believer is able to enter into the Holy of Holies in heaven as a spiritual believer because of the provisions of the work of Christ (Heb. 10:19-22). Because of this gracious provision, the believer can approach God with a true heart and a heart that has been sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:22). Through Christ, the believer has access to the Father (Eph. 2:18). The Holy Spirit is the Person who makes the access work for the believer. "Because through (dia) Him, we both are having access by (en) one Spirit unto the Father (Eph. 2:18)." Personal approach to God is built on the believer's acceptability in Christ. God the Father sees the believer as accepted or highly favored in the One He loves (Eph. 1:6). Approach with acceptance is true approach. If God did not acknowledge the existence of the one who approaches Him, the approach would be of no value to the believer.
Because the believer can approach God, he can share in fellowship with God. As a priest, he offers the sacrifice of fellowship (Heb. 13: 16). That fellowship can be with either the members of the Godhead or other believers. It is possible for the believer to have fellowship with any Person of the Godhead (cf. 1 Jn. 1:3). Fellowship with God is manifested in the believer's manner of life (1 Jn. 1:6). As the believer matures, he has the potential to be fellowshipping with individual Persons of the Godhead more an more. When the believer is in close communion with God, he can function in the priesthood to the fullest extent. Awareness of the commonality that can exist between a believer and his God should be an essential part of his whole Christian life.
Most Christians think of communication [i.e. prayer] as the primary means of approach. A spiritual believer can communicate with the Father and know that the Father hears and responds to his communication. The believer can approach with words of appreciation and worship and his communication will be accepted as long as he is spiritual. When he asks God for certain things in a proper way, he can be confident that his approach will result in a Divine response. His approach in communication involves much more than priestly activity. More will be said in the next chapter on the communication of the believer-priest. God has made perfect arrangements for the believer's communication so that there is no type of communication that is not provided for in the believer's access to God.
As a believer-priest, the Christian can approach God with his spiritual sacrifices (1 Pe. 2:5). God counts the sacrifices to have been offered in His very presence in the third heaven and the Holy of Holies there. Because He accepts the sacrifices, the believer can be confident in his approach to God with each sacrifice as long as he is a spiritual Christian. God sees the Christian's spiritual service done here on earth in the same way. God counts every part of the spiritual believer's priestly activity to be a part of his approach to God. As the Christian lives in his position in Christ, the Father accepts his every approach. There is not a time when the Father rejects or refuses the approach of the spiritual believer for He always accepts him as one who is in Christ.
The believer is directly responsible to God for his behavior and activities as a believer-priest. God is the ultimate authority to whom he is accountable. Though men may establish rules for behavior, the believer is primarily responsible to God and then responsible to human authority. The reason the Christian child should obey his parents is because God tells him to obey his Parents as a spiritual believer in the Lord. An employee may have standards of performance placed upon him by a human employer, but the spiritual Christian will do a good job because he is serving the Lord and not man. Social mores are only permitted to relate to the believer's life as long as they are in conformity to God's will. There is continued accountability in the life of the Christian. Some are looking forward to the future day when the records will be opened and they will be judged for their use and misuse of their accountability. It is almost as though they will never know that they have been saved for certain until they face Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Many of these individuals believe in a single universal judgment of all mankind and do not understand the significance of the Judgment Seat [Bema] of Christ. To what extent should the Bema affect the thinking of the grace believer? Its influence should be a positive influence and not negative. It is not a Protestant purgatory where the believer suffers for the "sins of commission and sins of omission." It is a time in which the works of the believer are examined for the prospect of giving reward. Every grace believer will share in this blessed event that is a part of being caught up (harpadzo) in the Rapture. The Bema Seat will take place between the Rapture and the presentation of the Church to God the Father by Christ.
"... For we shall all stand before the Bema of God. For it stands written, As I am living, says the Lord, that every knee will bend, and every tongue will confess out to God. So therefore each one of us will freely give a word concerning himself to God (Rom. 14:10-12)." Since the believer will give a word concerning himself to God, what sort of word is it? Is it a word of defense as in a trial? In verse eleven, Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23 to indicate that there will be a statement by every human being including grace believers. The Hebrew "swear" (shamah) is translated by "confess out" (exomologeo) in the New Testament. Confess is defined as "to agree with or to say the same thing." With the ek preposition it has the idea of an outward confession or profession. All, who appear at the Bema of Christ, will give a word of agreement concerning their relationship to Christ and to God the Father. Their presence, of itself, is almost a form of confession. Evidently, verbal confession will be made.
What is the believer accountable for at the Bema of Christ? His sins have been cleansed by the work of Christ. There are no acts of sin yet to be judged because they have already been judged at the cross (cf. Rom. 8:1). The same is true of sin guilt and the sin nature. God has already dealt with every other form of the believer's unrighteousness. Every believer will have a glorified body and no sin nature so no judgment can be levied against the physical body. The only thing that remains after the Rapture is the believer's works. As a believer-priest, the Christian performs works that will be evaluated for their worth. God has ordained specific works for the believer to do (Eph. 2:10). Most believers do more works than those marked out beforehand in their flesh. The believer is not judged at the Bema. His judgment is settled. His works will be judged. He will receive reward for the works that the Spirit of God performed through him while he was living in his natural body. Christ will not be acting as a judge behind the bar of God for criminals but as the judge who gives rewards in the Olympiad. He is not the punisher but the rewarder at the Bema. "For it is necessary for all of us to be brought to light before the Bema of Christ, in order that each one may receive for himself the things done through the instrumentality of the body according to the things he practiced, either good or not producing anything [lit. fallow] (2 Cor. 5: 10)." Christ will evaluate the believer's works and deal with them destroying those that are nonproductive and rewarding those that are productive. "But if anyone is building upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, the work of each one will of itself become manifest; for the day will make it evident because it is being revealed by fire and the fire will try [to see what is approvable] the work of each one to see of what sort it is. Since the work of anyone is remaining that he built on, he will receive a reward, since the work will be consumed [or burned] of anyone, he will suffer loss, but he will be saved, but so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15)." A reward will be given for those whose works meet the test but those works that fail to meet the test will be burned. Even if every work of the believer is burned and he is saved as by fire, he will still receive a blessing at the Bema of Christ.
"Therefore do not be judging any thing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will shed light on the hidden things of darkness and will bring to light the determinations of the hearts; and then the praise will be to each one from God (1 Cor. 4:5)." It is clear that at the Bema, Christ will have a word of praise for every Christian. He will know each person's motives and intentions. Christ expresses his appreciation for the character of the worst Christian in the world. Undoubtedly, there will be varying amounts Of Praise, but it is clear that every man [lit. each one) will receive Praise from God.
What value are the rewards to the believer as he is about to enter the eternal state of bliss? He will have the privilege of returning the rewards to their rightf ul owner since he will cast the victors crowns at Christ's feet. Working with the Holy Spirit in the believer, Christ accomplished the work that earned the crown making it possible for the believer to give the crown or crowns back to Him as a part of his adoration and worship. Any other work is not eligible for such reward.
The accountability of the believer-priest is evident in that he can serve as a priest. He performs his priestly ministry in the power of God as a spiritual believer and expects to receive a reward as a result. His other option is to do priestly activities in his own strength and to receive no reward but his works will be burned as unapprovable. What an important encouragement for the believer to learn the Christian life so that in the future, he will be able to return his reward to Christ for his consistent priestly service. As a believer serves as a priest, he has the potential to earn at least four or five crowns. These crowns are clearly identified in Scripture and include the incorruptible crown for controlling the bodily appetites (1 Cor. 9:25-27); the "soul winners" crown or crown of rejoicing for leading another person to Christ (1 Thess. 2:19; Phil. 4:1); the crown of righteousness for living consistently loving the prospect of Christ's imminent return (2 Tim. 4:8); the crown of life or martyr's crown for enduring temptation or trial even to death (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10); and the crown of glory or the pastor's crown to the pastor-teacher for being a proper pastor under Christ (1 Pe. 5:1-4). These victors wreaths or crowns (stephanoi) are all clearly described in Scripture and available to the believer for his life as a believer and as a priest. He is accountable to God alone. Undoubtedly, there will be those who are rewarded by our Lord that no man would expect to receive a reward, while others will not receive a reward that men would expect to receive the most. Christ knows the truth concerning a believer's works and He is the final authority. The believer will not question Him as to the legitimacy of Christ's decision concerning what is good and what is nonproductive among his works. In the future, the believer-priest's accountability for his works will culminate with the Bema of Christ as they are judged as to their value for approval. Accountability is a part of the believer's activities in his life.
In order for the believer to have any level of fellowship with God, he is accountable to God for his acts of sin to the extent that they need to be confessed. Christ permanently paid the penalty for sin, but sin will directly affect the believer's fellowship with the Godhead. When the believer confesses his sin, he agrees with God saying the same thing that God does about the sin by calling it a sin. Confession is a possibility clearly available to the believer. He has the option to confess or not to confess his sin to God. "If we should happen to confess our sins, He is continually faithful and righteous, in order that He may forgive us our sins and may keep on cleansing us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9)." As a result of confession of sin, there is an immediate forgiveness available for the believer. At that point, the believer does not become an instant spiritual believer. He has the option as to whether he will become a spiritual believer or to sin again and become carnal. Only if he sets his reflective thinking on the things above [i.e. his position in Christ] and appropriates his position will he be spiritual (Col. 3:2). The believer is responsible for maintaining fellowship with the Godhead. As he grows in his spiritual life, he learns how to have fellowship with each Person of the Trinity. The blessings for the spiritual believer are many as he is able to relate to spiritual things and emanate the things of the Holy Spirit.
The Christian is accountable to God for living in the will of God. "Therefore be not foolish for yourselves but understand what the desirous will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17)." Without knowledge of the will of God, the believer will not have the ability to understand how he should be living. As a result of understanding the will of God, the believer's walk [the ordering of the details of his life] will be an accurate representation of the will of God (Eph. 5:15). It is absolutely possible to be doing the will of God with Divine assistance. "But the God of peace, the One having led up the dead ones, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of an eternal covenant our Lord Jesus, with the purpose of adjusting you in every good thing to do his desirous will, while doing in us the well pleasing thing before Him through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory for ever and ever. Amen (Heb. 13:20, 21)." With God's adjustment, the believer has the potential to do the will of God. He can only do the will of God if he knows what the will of God is. The will of God is not revealed in the clouds of the sky or by the flipping of a coin. it is clearly revealed in Scripture. It is simple for the believer to begin a pilgrimage to discover the will of God for his life. Clear instructions are given in the objective revelation of the Word of God. Much of what is taught concerning the will of God is subjective and relies upon circumstances for determining what God's will is. Every Christian should recognize the fact that Satan and the world system can control circumstances nearly as well as God. Any study of Satan's activities will lead the believer to understand that he is the great manipulator of circumstances. The believer is accountable to God for knowing what the will of God is as well as for doing it.
Full experiential knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding will produce a walk that is in balance or identical to the desirous will of God as the believer properly relates to the Lordship of Christ. "Therefore also we, from the day in which we heard it, do not cease for ourselves on behalf of you while praying prayers of worship for ourselves and while asking for ourselves in order that you may be filled with the full experiential knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you be walking worthy [i.e. with balance] of the Lord into all pleasing in every good work while bearing fruit and growing in the full experiential knowledge of God (Col. 1:9, 10)." It is possible for the believer to possess a full experiential knowledge of what God's desirous will is for him as a believer and as an individual Christian. God has made some important arrangements for the believer's relationship to His will. He has revealed His will as His will in Scripture for every grace believer. He expects the believer to learn His will and then to live in the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Scripture does not reveal who a person is to marry, where he is to go to college or how many children he is to have. He will never really know what God's will is in these areas if he is not practicing the will of God in the areas of his life that are revealed in Scripture. Without knowing and living in light of Scripture, the Christian ultimately ends up playing the traditional will of God roulette with the result being that he lives the permissive will of God rather than the "perfect" Will of God.
It is possible for the grace believer to stand mature and to be convinced fully in all the desirous will of God as it is revealed in Scripture. The specific details will simply fall into place as a matter of course and are easily recognized as God's desires. "... The one who is doing the desirous will of God feels at ease into the age (1 Jn. 2:17)." A believer can feel at ease in his accountability for doing the will of God. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life, he can intuitively as well as experientially know what the will of God is for him. "And you continually have an anointing from the Holy One, and you intuitively know all things (1 Jn. 2:20)." A careful study of thelo and thelema will reveal the definitive will of God in Scripture and one will discover the twelve things that God desires in and for the life of every believer. God holds the believer accountable to be doing His desires. He placed the revelation of His will in Scripture and expects the believer, through diligent study of the Word, to learn the details and to live them. In a sense, practice makes perfect. If the Christian is practicing the will of God, he will easily identify the will of God in other areas of his life as they come along. A fire department will drill its fire fighters in standard procedures for extinguishing various kinds of fires and that knowledge will provide the basis for handling situations that arise not described in the manual. Someone might ask the fireman why he did what he did to put out an unusual fire and his response would be, "I just knew from experience." The same is true for the believer and the will of God. He can identify it because he has practiced it so much that he knows exactly what it is in situations that are not revealed in Scripture. One can be living in the will of God.
Accountability is the basis for God's acceptance of his service as a believer-priest. Because a believer is a priest, God expects him to serve accurately. It is very easy for one to believe that he is a priest to God and to enjoy the very thought without pursuing it any further. He must know and understand the details in order to function as a priest properly. Laziness has made many contemporary Christians ignorant of the details that are presented in Scripture. Details are important in every other part of life. Why shouldn't they be important for the Christian life? One of the important objectives for writing this book is to present the details of being and functioning in the priesthood. To some, details are unnecessary and repulsive. Others revel in them. When the grace believer understands how he can serve God and offer sacrifices to God, he should be filled with enthusiasm because he not only knows that he can, but he also knows how. The Scriptures provide a "how to" manual for every essential activity of the Christian life. He must know how to serve as a priest in order to please God. He is accountable for knowing how to practice what he has learned in his daily life. Of course, he is accountable to God for his living as a spiritual believer. All of the provisions for being filled by the Spirit are also a part of the believer's accountability to God. A spiritual believer knows that he is spiritual and can have assurance that his life is pleasing to God and that his accountability matches up with what he has in Christ before God.
"It all depends on how you look at it." Personal perspective is a major influence on personal conclusions about things and people. If everyone had the same perspective, there would be no need for variety in life. Everyone would drive the same kind of car, live in the same kind of house, work on the same kind of job, share the same kind of entertainment and like the same courses in school. What a dull and boring life that would be. Because of the diversity of perspective and preferences, the believer will look at the priestly privileges differently. As a priest, he will consider God from different perspectives. Believers' appreciation of God will vary in its content as well as its degree. Some will appreciate God's provision for priestly service while others will appreciate God's revelation of the priesthood and its activities. A real diversity of perspective is possible for the believer's appreciation to be expressed to God. His appreciation can be expressed in his thanksgiving as a normal spiritual believer expressing appreciation for the things that God has provided. In response to his thanksgiving, he may offer praise by which he expresses his appreciation for the character of God evidenced in that which He has provided. In response to his praise, he may offer thanksgiving in which he expresses his appreciation for the things or benefits that God has provided. This appreciation can be directed to God verbally in the believer's mind.
The believer's appreciation of God may just be a reveling in God as He has revealed Himself in His Word. Worship is not a response to anything God has done but it is reveling in the character of God by which the believer repeats back to God that which He has said concerning Himself.
"But an hour is coming of itself and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such who are worshipping Him (Jn. 4:23)." The word "worship" is not speaking Of a worship communication but is describing an act of reverence or homage that reflects an attitude. It has the root idea of kissing toward someone. It can be done without any speaking of a word of worship. A believer-priest can fulfill the potentials for such homage at any time. Just the thought of being seated in Christ causes some believers to desire to lean to the left and to revere the Father. The same is true when the believer recognizes Christ as the High Priest and knows the access that is available in Him. One bows in reverential awe before Him because of who He is and what He has done for the believer.
Proper appreciation may be expressed in proper service. When the translators of the Authorized Version translated latreuo "worship," they understood that service to God in itself should be an act of appreciation (Phil. 3:3). Some people are appreciative that they have been given a job. As a result, they do their best to please the employer. A believer-priest should have the same kind of appreciation but to a greater degree. God has given him a unique privilege in a unique position and in response, he serves by the power of the Spirit to the best of his ability.
Appreciation can be expressed in music. "... I will announce your name [or character] to my brothers, in the midst of the church I will hymnize unto you (Heb. 2:12)." Christ is seen quoting Psalm 22:22 where the word "praise," (hahlal) is pronounced in the congregation or assembly. Appreciation can be expressed in music as well as teaching and admonition. The spiritual believer Will be expressing himself in certain types of music. "Let the word concerning the Christ be indwelling in you richly in all wisdom while teaching and admonishing yourselves by psalms, hymns and spiritual songs while singing with grace in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16)." Appreciation can be expressed in the believer's heart by his thoughts of accurate lyrics related to God. Ephesians 5:18, 19 indicates that this should be the result of the filling of the Spirit. "And stop being drunk with wine, in which is unsavingness, but keep on being filled by the Spirit while speaking to Yourselves in Psalms [basically Praise] and hymns [basically worship] and spiritual songs [songs which come from the Holy Spirit], singing and Psalming in your heart to the Lord." A spiritual believer has the Potential for truly expressing appreciation to God as he sings with his voice and within his heart. Every believer priest should be a singing priest. The melody sung in the heart is far more important than that which is produced on the lips. Undoubtedly, some of the best musical appreciation comes from those who are tone-deaf. They sing in their hearts even though they are incapable of hitting a note accurately with their voices. Music must conform to biblical guidelines to be acceptable as an expression of appreciation by God. One must always remember that music appeals to the emotion and secondarily to the mind. Most popular music clearly illustrates this fact. A third grader could produce better lyrics yet crowds emote over the music, performers and atmosphere. A spiritual believer will express his appreciation with intelligent and accurate lyrics that have found a home in his heart because they express his attitude of appreciation toward God and all He has done. It is the words that are important. Every believer should enjoy accurate lyrics communicated by pleasant, appropriate [to the words] music in his life.
Since a believer's service can be a form of appreciation, undoubtedly, all of his activity must be performed with God in mind. Why does he offer sacrifices to the Father? Of course, every believer at some time in his Christian life decides that he would like to do that which will please God. As the believer matures, he expects his priestly service to bring glory to God. God can be happy with the believer's service and the believer blessed. God is choosing out a people from among the Gentiles for His name by His grace. As the grace of God is manifested in the lives of believers, it is possible for the believer to exhibit the character of God in his life. His priestly activity is an exhibition of the grace of God. Others see priestly activity and identify his service as being directed to God and God receives the glory. God's provisions for priestly activity are a manifestation of His character. Every time a sacrifice is offered, it is a reflection of the work of the Spirit in the believer.
The God, who the believer serves, is a God who is consistently involved in the service of the believer as a spiritual believer-priest. He gives the wisdom for service when the believer asks for it (Jas. 1:5). He provides the strength to perform the service while maintaining his happiness in that service. God makes provision for the believer's holiness so that his service will be like God's own service. When the believer serves, he has a standard so that he can know that he is acting right as a believer and a priest. Since God sees things as they really are, He can perfectly lead the believer so that his priestly activities will give God His full weight. True priestly activity by a spiritual believer is God performing the activity to His own glory through the life of the believer.
Much more could be said of the believer-priest and his God. The believer is responsible before God for all his life as a priest. He may be acceptable to God or he may not be. His sacrifices may be of value or they may be worthless. Because of God's revelation for priestly service, the believer is absolutely accountable for his service. He can approach God using the access that God has provided through Christ. His communication and communion with God are essential parts of his life as a believer-priest. His response to his God is expressed in his appreciation to God. It may be verbalized in thanksgiving, praise and worship. It may be evidenced in reverence that is directed toward God as he revels in the character of the Persons of the Godhead. Service to God is in itself a form of appreciation for what God has done for the believer. Because he is a priest of God, he will persist in priestly activity knowing that through that activity, God will be glorified and pleased with his service as a priest. The believer's priesthood is based on a special relationship to God. He has made the priesthood possible and provided the means for priestly service. It is crucial for the believer to recognize the importance of his relationship to God as he serves as a priest.
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A careful study of the Old Testament demonstrates what a privilege it is for the grace believer to communicate with God in the way he does today. It is very easy to read New Testament knowledge back into the Old Testament and to miss the uniqueness of the New Testament privileges for the grace believer. Only the priests [and sometimes kings and prophets] were permitted to communicate with God for the people under the Mosaic Law. They were involved in a true ministry of intercession, standing between the Israelite petitioner who had come to ask the priest to intercede with God for him, and God. It was an essential part of the priestly position and service. The priesthood was designed to perform intermediary activities for the nation. They not only mediated in the offering of sacrifices but also interceded in their communication for the nation. The severe limitations concerning their communication are evident in the physical restrictions that some of the Old Testament believers suffered. In the wilderness until the entry into and division of the land, it was less a logistical problem. The priests were immediately available in the center of the encampment at the tabernacle. In order to have communication made to God, an Israelite only needed to go the distance from his tent to the tabernacle. It was somewhat inconvenient, but it made communication with God possible at close intervals of time. It was impossible for the believing Israelite to share with his God with any regularity. Priestly travels and other activities of the limited number of priests restricted access to the priests.
When Israel entered Canaan and divided the land among the tribes, communication was even more limited. Forty-eight cities were allotted to the Levites within the land distributed to the other tribes (Josh. 21:1-42). The sons of Aaron were given nine cities from the tribes of Judah and Simeon (Josh. 21:13-16). Depending on where he lived, an Israelite had a degree of access based upon his geographical location. Many Israelites were limited to three opportunities each year to have their communication made by a priest when they came to Shiloh or Jerusalem for a solemn assembly in the feasts of Jehovah. Even if a person lived near a priestly city or Jerusalem, all the other activities required of the priests by the Law limited his access to the priests for intercession. It is highly probable that the average believing Israelite actually was able to have a priest intercede for him in communication with Jehovah only on rare occasions in his whole lifetime.
Communication with God is a unique privilege that permeates the spiritual grace believer's life. He can speak with his Heavenly Father hundreds of times every day. Though not all of his communication is priestly, some very important parts of it are. There are eight types of communication that are mentioned in the New Testament for the grace believer [cf. chapter on the sacrifice of praise]. In a sense, all eight are built on the believer's access to God as a priest though not all of them are specific priestly activities in themselves. As a believer-priest in Christ, the believer communicates with the Father from His right hand using at least seven of the eight kinds of communication at one time or another. Only four of the eight are specifically priestly activities. As has already been seen, praise is one of the sacrifices of the believer-priest (Heb. 13:15). Intercession for others is a very normal part of priestly service while supplication is a logical adjunct to intercession. Confession permits the believer-priest to serve as a purified priest even though its use does not guarantee that the believer will be acting as a believer-priest in his personal life as a result.
Because of the direct access that the believer has as a priest in Christ, there should be no hesitation on the believer's part to utilize his privilege. Since all eight types of communication for the grace believer are founded on the provisions of access for the spiritual believer, it is essential for the believer to understand his access [cf. chapter on access]. When performing priestly service in his communication, the believer acts in confidence because of the provisions available as a result of the work of Christ. The only thing that prohibits his use of his access in communication is his own carnality. When the carnal believer attempts to communicate with God, he is no more heard than the unbeliever is heard. God does not hear and respond, akouw (akouo) because He has sovereignly and deliberately chosen to ignore the attempts of the unbeliever and the carnal believer to communicate with Him. In His omniscience and immensity [of which omnipresence is a part], God knows what either person speaks, but He never acts in response to the communication that is essential to the New Testament meaning of the verb akouo. Under grace, He does not hear [and respond] to any communication of the unbeliever. Even the "sinners prayer" does not receive a Divine response. Since the cross work was completed, He has never recognized the legitimacy of such communication. In reality, He only responded in the single New Testament instance in Luke 18:13 to the publican who was a Jew living under Law who communicated the prayer. When he said, "God, be satisfied with [or propitious to] me, the sinner," he was seeking Divine satisfaction for a life that was considered to be filled with sin by God and the Jewish population. Today God only responds to one who has directed God-given faith toward Christ in salvation. Man is saved by faith alone and there is no prayer that will save the unbeliever today. God is never satisfied or propitious to a sinner who has not already appropriated the work of Christ that is the basis for Divine satisfaction. Of what value is communication with God when He does not respond to the communication? Such communication offers a false hope to the communicator who attempts to be saved by such a prayer.
"Communication" is a far more accurate word for the spiritual believer's speaking with God than the word "prayer." "Prayer" is only a part of the whole spectrum of communication. This is easily seen in First Timothy 2:1, "I am exhorting therefore first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men." If prayer was a general word for communication, grammar would require it to be placed at the beginning of the list as is true in Philippians 4:6. If it was first, it could be translated "... that prayers: supplications, intercessions, thanksgivings ..." There is absolutely no way that one can make "prayers" a general term for all forms of communication with God because of the grammar of First Timothy 2:1. In Philippians 4:6, "prayer" does occur first in the list. "Be not anxious about anything, but in everything by the prayer and the supplication after thanksgivings let your requests be made known to God." The articular noun "prayer" is connected by a conjunction kai (kai) to "supplication" that also has a definite article making "prayers" and "supplications" equals rather than one a part of the other. "Prayer" is only one eighth of the communication that God has provided for the grace believer. The purpose of this chapter is to isolate the forms Of communication that are available to the grace believer as a priest without writing a separate volume on the biblical doctrine of communication with God. When the believer understands the elements of his communication that are uniquely priestly, he can look at them from a different perspective and will have more confidence in his communication as a believer-priest.
The grace believer-priest does not take confessions but he makes confession when he sins. Confession is essential for living the Christian life. It is not a license for sinning nor does it make the believer immediately spiritual as a result of its use. When the believer commits an act of sin, confession is immediately available to open the way for him to be spiritual. When some believers sin, they confess their sin and choose to go on sinning. All the confession in the world will never make them spiritual. Some even make confession to be a joke in their lives when they say, "Lord, forgive me for what I am about to do!" Such a statement is an indicator of compounded confusion concerning confession. Confession is not asking God for forgiveness, nor is it to be done before a sin is committed. Because of the general confusion concerning confession, some general guidelines must be established.
"Confession" in all of its forms is found 43 times in the Greek New Testament and is normally translated "confess" or "confession" in a majority of the cases [27 times] while also being translated "profess" or "profession" [three times). As has been mentioned concerning the sacrifice of praise, it is a compound word in the Greek that means "to say or speak (lego) the same thing (homos)." It communicates an agreement between the one who is confessing and the one to whom he is confessing concerning the sin involved. There is a wide diversity of ways in which confession is used in the New Testament. The most important passage of Scripture for the grace believer is First John 1:9 where confession for sins is emphasized for believers [not unbelievers -- cf. context].
"If we should happen to confess our acts of sin, He is faithful and righteous in order that He may forgive us the [previously mentioned] sins, and may cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9)." Several general things must be said about this passage before one analyzes its teaching. First John 1:9 is not a salvation verse. No believer was ever saved by confession of sins. Even the Jews who were given different requirements than the Gentiles in the early church in Romans 10:9, 10 [cf. context] were not saved by confession but were saved by believing in their hearts. If First John 1:9 is a salvation passage, the apostle John was an unbeliever when he wrote the passage because he includes himself in the "we" and uses the present tense "confess" rather than the aorist that occurs so frequently in the context. The overwhelming evidence of the text prevents its use as a salvation passage even with minimal exegesis. Another important generality is that confession is not asking God for forgiveness. The text simply says, "If we confess ... He will forgive ..." Forgiveness is promised not only for the sins that are confessed but also for all other forms of unrighteousness. It makes little sense to ask for the forgiveness that God has already promised to provide.
Confession is a possibility for every believer [subjunctive mood). It is a possibility that may or may not occur in the life of the Christian. Confession is necessary because of the sin nature. "If we should happen to say that we do not have a sin nature [singular], we are leading ourselves astray and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8)." Acts of sin grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) making confession necessary for the believer in order to return to a position of fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Some believers say, "O God, I am so weak and always sin ..." Confession is not a general statement of weakness -- God already knows that the believer is weak.
Confession is rooted in the knowledge of the believer who recognizes that what he has done is sin. He knows that he has committed an act of lawlessness -- sin (cf. 1 Jn. 3:4 Gk.). He knows that what he has done is considered to be sin by his God and there is no doubt in his mind that such action has come between him and his God. All of the guilt in the world should not prevent the believer from confessing his acts of sin. He should have no reluctance to confess any sin that he commits. When the believer confesses his sins, he names the sin identifying it as sin. He calls the act the same thing that God calls it -- sin. Confession always involves the naming of the sin in agreement with the fact that God calls the act a sin. This is not the typical bedtime prayer Of some Christians. "Father, forgive me for all the sins that I have committed today." Blanket confession is not biblical confession. The believer knows what his sins are and how they have affected his relationship to God and others. Some Christians have been carnal so long that it would be impossible for them to remember all of their sins. At this point, it is important to remember that "... the blood of Jesus Christ His Son keeps on cleansing us from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7)." He can confess the specific sins that he knows and have the confidence that the work of Christ is sufficient for all of the unrighteousness in his life.
Several important lessons can be learned from First John 1:9. God is faithful in that He will never change His promises to the grace believer. The believer's confession is built on the faith that God will keep His Word and forgive not only the sin confessed but also every other form of unrighteousness that exists in the life of the Christian. This is especially true of all of the unrighteousness that leads to the act of sin. God is righteous in that He acts rightly in every instance concerning sin. He sees the sufficiency of the work of Christ for every act of sin and other forms of unrighteousness past, present and future. God's forgiveness is based on the fact that the penalty has already been paid in the work of Christ. God the Father's forgiveness is final and complete. All the believer needs to do is to confess his acts of sin. In other words, he must agree with God concerning those specific acts of sin. He calls them what God calls them -- sins -- and nothing else. He must name it! It is clear from the verse that God forgives more than the believer confesses.
Confession appropriates the cleansing that permits the believer-priest to enter the presence of God in his position in Christ. Before an Old Testament priest could enter the tabernacle or temple, he was to be ritually, ceremonially cleansed. Without that cleansing, he could not enter the tabernacle or temple nor could he perform the tasks that were an elemental part of his priestly ministry. The grace believer cannot have access to God the Father if he is unclean. In the work of regeneration, there was a washing or "lavering" (Tit. 3:5) so that the believer has a purity that appropriates the work of Christ in his spiritual birth. Individual acts of sin can never change that purity, but they can affect the accessibility that the believer has with his God in the realm of fellowship. It is impossible for a believer who has sinned and who has not confessed his sin to share in common ["fellowship"] with any member of the Godhead.
As a result of confession, the believer is placed in a position where he must determine whether he will appropriate his position in Christ or return to his sinful behavior. At the moment of confession, he does not become a filled believer with the Holy Spirit making up his deficiencies immediately producing the fruit of the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit can only come in his life when he determines to set his reflective thinking on things above and actually does it (Col. 3:1-4). When the spiritual believer sins, he confesses and directs his reflective thinking to his position in Christ and continues to enjoy the relationship that he shares in Christ with the Godhead.
Confession involves the believer-priest's functioning as an acceptable priest. Nearly all of the activities identified in Scripture as priestly activities can be performed by the carnal believer. God the Father does not count them to be priestly activities in that case. They may be beneficial to others and assist the work of God but a believer who is "ceremonially" unclean performs them. Until confession of sin is made, the activities are not acceptable to God nor are they satisfying to Him. The whole spectrum of priestly service is reliant on maintaining an acceptable relationship with God.
What about confession to other people? Is it proper for a believer to confess his sins to another believer? Yes, it is proper but not to a designated clergyman who acts as a priest. James 5:15, 16 speaks of this aspect of confession. An accurate translation of the text clarifies the situation, "And the vow from faith will save [physically] the one who is mentally sick, and the Lord will raise him; and if he may be one having done sins, it will be forgiven him. Confess out for yourselves therefore to one another your sins, and pray a prayer of worship on behalf of one another, so you may be healed; a righteous man finds a very strong supplication very effective." In James five, there are four men. In verses 14 and 15, there are two men who suffer two kinds of illness in the Greek text. One suffers from physical debilitation (5:14). The second man suffers from mentally induced illness because of sin against a brother. James encourages believers to confess their sins to one another [i.e. those sins which they have committed against one another] so that they will not suffer the same illness as the second man. He in turn makes a vow of faith that he will right the wrong committed against the brother, if feasible, to make possible a restoration to health. Confession of sins to other believers does not involve any intercession or mediation on the part of the one who hears the confession. The sin is only confessed to the offended one and to no one else. Sin is against God but may directly affect another believer. The believer who sinned simply seeks to right the wrong and to receive the forgiveness of the offended believer to whom he confesses. This personal confession makes it possible to relate to one another on a horizontal level here on earth and provides a basis for personal fellowship. Sin that affects a brother may affect the relationship that he has with other brethren. This confession is between individual believers and not corporate. This makes his priestly ministry ineffective toward them since they have been offended by his sin against them. Such a confession is not of itself priestly service but definitely will affect one's priestly service in a positive way.
When the grace believer confesses his sin to God, he can be involved in priestly activities immediately after confession. If he sets his mind on things above, he is in a position where he knows, that should he choose to act as a priest, his service as a spiritual believer is acceptable. Very often after the believer confesses his sins to God, he is immediately led to offer the sacrifice of praise. After confession is made, it is logical for the believer to say, "Thank you, Father, for forgiving my sin." That immediately should direct the Christian's thinking to praise by which he confesses the character of God that has been evidenced in the forgiveness. First John 1:9 establishes two attributes of God that are evident in His forgiveness: truth and righteousness. Faithfulness is a manifestation of the attribute of truth by which God sees things as they really are and by which He proves Himself to be absolutely reliable. By His righteousness, He does what is absolutely right. God has neatly arranged things so that the sinning believer can move directly into priestly activity after confession and a determination to do what is necessary to be spiritual.
One of the most talked about forms of communication, intercession, is one of the least mentioned in Scripture for the grace believer. Only the vow is mentioned less. Intercession (enteuxis) is only found nine times in its noun and verb forms. Intercession is clearly a priestly privilege by which the Christian enters the presence of God the Father to plead for or against persons, things or needs. Intercession has the basic idea of standing in between God and a known person, thing or need to plead its cause. Intercession always involves a known need rather than an unknown. Not all intercession is positive as is evident in Elijah's intercession against Israel (Rom. 11:2). The picture painted by the term is that two people meet together to discuss a specific situation known to both parties. This same term is used of the intercessory ministry of Christ, the Heavenly Intercessor (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:33, 34) and the Holy Spirit, the Helpful Intercessor (Rom. 8:26-28) as well as human intercessors. Intercession always involves at least three parties: the intercessor, the one with whom he intercedes and the one for whom he intercedes. Groups of believers can intercede and one can intercede for groups of individuals or unbelievers. Intercession cannot change the plan of God nor does it guarantee a result.
As the Old Testament priest stood between the Israelite and God, so the grace believer-priest stands between others and God. His intercession may either be positive or negative. General factors must be understood in order to master the biblical concepts of intercession. Intercession always involves a known, specific need whether for a known or unknown person or group of people. Intercession may be made for things rather than persons (1 Tim. 4:5). It is only directed to God the Father and not to either of the other two Persons of the Trinity. Intercession is most normally made for someone, but it may be made against someone. Intercession, of all the types of communication involving asking, is the most frequently used of the genre although supplication comes in a close second in the life of the normal Christian.
In the context of First Timothy 2:1, there is an indication that intercession for the salvation of others is legitimate. Intercession neatly lines up with verse four, "Who is desiring all men to be saved and to come into a full experiential knowledge of truth." The desirous will of God is manifested by His own action for all men in the work of Christ. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, the one who has given himself a ransom in place of all, the witness in its own times (1 Tim. 2:5, 6)." intercession is for the salvation of those who are unbelievers, a specific thing. it is a communication for more persons than those who are known in the context. The objects of the four kinds of communication are listed in verses one through four.
Things can also be the subjects of intercession. In some areas of the world, it is necessary to intercede for the food about to be eaten. There is probably a two-pronged emphasis in intercession for food that is eaten: for health protection in case it bears organisms that could bring illness and for the prevention of causing some weaker brother to stumble by the eating of the specific food. In the latter times, there will be those who depart from the faith. These individuals pay attention to fallen spirit beings that lead them astray by the doctrine of demons. They speak lies in hypocrisy, have a conscience that has been seared as though by a branding iron, forbid marriage and abstain from foods (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Food was created by God to be received with thanksgiving by believers who know how to have freedom from the dominion of the sin nature. The reason it is acceptable to eat anything created by God is established in verses four and five. "Because every creature of God is good, and nothing to be cast aside, being received with thanksgivings; for it is set apart through a word from God and intercession." The last word in verse five is "intercession" in the Greek text. There are two contributing elements that set apart [i.e. sanctify] food that is about to be eaten by the believer: a word from God and intercession. Undoubtedly, the word from God is the permission to eat anything in God's creation. By faith, the grace believer recognizes that he has permission to eat ham with his eggs for breakfast even though the Mosaic Law prohibited the eating of pork for Israel. No matter how virulent the Law keepers are in their insistence upon keeping the dietary restrictions of the Law, the grace believer has a word from God that permits him to eat with a good conscience. In the Roman Empire of Paul's day, there was substantial possibility that one might contract a wide variety of diseases that were transmitted in the food to the whole population. Parasites and disease were prevalent. Any type of meat could bring disease because of the way in which it was handled and because of the lack of adequate preservation or sanitation methods. When the Ephesian believer ate, he needed intercession for what was about to be eaten seeking God's protection from unseen parasites and bacilli that could bring disease and death. Timothy's personal stomach problems possibly resulted from food-borne parasites or bacilli. Intercession may have extended beyond the food to be eaten and toward believers who had given a sympathetic ear to the apostates who insisted on dietary restrictions. As a result, a measure of their freedom in Christ had been taken away and a new basis for their stumbling in their Christian lives provided. intercession could be made for them by seeking God's assistance in causing them to see the error of their ways and causing them to reject the error. As a result, they would no longer be susceptible to stumbling. Intercession may have been necessary because Timothy and some of the Ephesian believers knew that the apostates were already teaching their false doctrine, but they did not know who in the church had been influenced and so intercession was made for a specific need though the people themselves were unknown. It is clear that the thing eaten is sanctified or set apart by a word from God and intercession.
Paul used an Old Testament example that teaches that intercession could be made in opposition to or against someone. Elijah interceded against Israel for what they were doing, "God did not cast away His people who He foreknew, or do you know what the Scripture says by Elias, how he is interceding with God against Israel, saying, 'They have killed your prophets, they have dug down your altars, I was left behind alone and they are seeking my life [lit. soul]' (Rom. 11:2, 3 cf. 1 Ki. 19:10, 14)." Elijah was a prophet who was involved in an intercessory ministry by Divine permission. The priesthood had been corrupted and God gave Elijah the privilege of intercession. His intercession was clearly against the nation of Israel. In a family with a number of children, a child does not tell the parent what to do when he is wronged in most cases, but he calls the parents attention to the offending child's action. He expects the parent to do something about the misdeed. This is exactly what Elijah did against the nation. He told Jehovah something that He already knew expecting a penalty to be exacted. God's response was interesting in that He did not immediately judge Israel but revealed the fact that He had 7,000 men for Himself who had not bowed down to Baal. New Testament intercession is very much like Old Testament intercession. It is possible for the grace believer to intercede against someone or something as a part of his priestly ministry. A logical adjunct to intercession as a priestly ministry in communication is the communication of supplication.
Many times the believer intercedes for known things and finds himself confronted with unknowns. When this occurs, he shifts into supplication by which he appeals to God for help in relation to some unknown factor. Supplication may be made for one's self or for others. In the 41 references in which the noun or verb are found, only six do not refer to communication with God. Supplication (deasis and deomai) is the form of communication by which the believer appeals to God for help, casting the subject of supplication upon the mercy of God for that help. In the English translations of the New Testament, supplication is difficult to find because of the diverse translations of both the Greek verb and noun. For example, the Authorized Version translates the verb deomai (deomai) "pray" [12 times], "beseech" [9 times], and "make request" [1 timej while it translates the noun dehsis (deasis) "prayer" [12 times], "supplication" [6 times] and "request" [1 time]. As a result, most people in the church have little knowledge of supplication. Rather than develop the whole doctrine of supplication, a short survey of the biblical evidence that establishes the general principles that are evident concerning this form of communication will be presented.
There is always an area of uncertainty in supplication on the part of the communicator. This uncertainty may involve the means, method, supply, need or assistance concerning something in his own life or that of others. A thorough study of the whole usage of the terms in the New Testament solidifies the concept of an unknown factor. In supplication, the communicator throws himself upon the mercy of God by sheer faith expecting God to provide in His own unique way and time. Supplication always involves a willingness on the part of the communicator to accept whatever God chooses to provide in the situation. It is like the cry for help from a drowning man. By his cry, he indicates that he will accept help in any form to save his life even if the lifeguard must render him unconscious to make the rescue possible. In supplication, the believer acknowledges that he is at the mercy of his Heavenly Father.
Supplication is always addressed to God the Father in Scripture. Peter and John shared in supplication soon after the Church was established because of a resurgence of persecution and resistance to their preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They addressed the Father as "Lord" seeking His protection and power (Ac. 4:29-30). Their communication is identified as supplication in the Greek text. In Acts eight, Simon sought the same power as the apostles and offered them money. Peter encouraged him to repent of his wickedness and to supplicate to God the Father (Ac. 8:22, 24). Cornelius was an Old Testament Jewish proselyte who had a life of supplication to the Father before he received his New Testament salvation (Ac. 10:2). In spite of his good behavior, he called out to God for help. These are but a few of the instances that indicate that supplication is only to be addressed to God the Father.
As a priestly ministry, one's supplication for other believers is most important. In a sense, this is a part of the intercessory ministry of the believer-priest even though it is not true intercession. It does involve three parties but there is always an unknown factor that is never found in intercession. First Timothy 2:1, 2 makes it clear that it can be made for other people. Supplication can be made "For kings and all that are in authority in order that we [believers] might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (2:2)." Paul supplicated so that he could have an influence on the Roman believers in Romans one. "... While supplicating if in any way now at any time I will have a good journey in the desirous will of God to come unto you (Rom. 1:10)." Even though Paul's supplication was for himself, it had the potential of having a definite influence on the Roman believers.
When the Corinthians were given the opportunity to give to the Poor saints in Jerusalem, they could expect to be the subjects of the supplication of the Jerusalem saints (2 Cor. 9:14). Because of the time involved to have the gift delivered to Jerusalem, intercession would become supplication. Because an interval of time had passed, there would have been many changes in the circumstances of the Corinthians since the time that they had sent the gift. It may have been that the recipients were concerned that the Providers had not kept enough to meet their personal necessities.
In the day of Satanic attack, the spiritual believer has the opportunity to put on the whole armor of God and to stand protected against Satanic or demonic attack. When the believer is standing against Satan, he should be involved in communication. it would appear that he should be calling to God for help for himself because of the attack, but Scripture presents a totally different picture. He stands protected by the armor so there is no need for him to call on God for help. Help has already been provided in the armor of God that repels Satanic attack (Eph. 6:11). A simple reading of the text indicates that his communication under Satanic attack is different than the common notion of many believers. He worships on his own part and supplicates for other believers. "While praying a prayer of worship in every occasion through all prayer of worship and supplication by the Spirit, and while watching with reference to it in all perseverance and supplication concerning all saints and on behalf of myself, that a word may be given to me in the opening of my mouth ... (Eph. 6:18, 19)." The emphasis of the supplication is on all saints. Paul recognized that when other saints were under Satanic attack, they would need Divine help to remain spiritual by defending against Satanic attack. His supplication did relate to his own service but not in the attack, unless Paul was thinking of the Satanic attack of cowardice in spiritual things (cf. Lu. 22:31, 32).
In Philippians one, there is reciprocity in the communication of supplication. Paul communicated on behalf of the Philippian believers. "I am thanking my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every supplication of me on behalf of all of you with joy while making the supplication (Phil. 1-3, 4)." The Philippian believers supplicated for Paul. "For I intuitively know that this will result into salvation [present tense] through your Supplication even the supply of the Spirit from Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19)." Paul expected his present tense salvation to be effective because of their supplication. Both the supplication and supply share a common idea in the passage, The Philippians sought Divine assistance for Paul, and God supplied the need by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. It would be interesting to know what the unknown was in the Philippian supplication, but God chooses to emphasize the supply rather than the unknown factor.
There are two supplication promises that provide a capstone for this type of communication. "Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous ones and his ears are open into their supplication ... (1 Pe. 3:12)." A believer, standing beside God the Father in the righteousness of Christ as he lives in his position in Christ, has the confidence that God will hear his supplication. When Peter uses the preposition eis (eis) ["into"), it indicates that God the Father sees more than the surface of the supplication but goes to the very depth to provide the perfect solution for the need absolutely dealing with the unknown from all His Divine perfections. The second supplication promise is James 5:16, "... A supplication of a righteous man being made effective is very strong [i.e. has an endowment of power over and above what is normal]." Another translation is, "A righteous man finds a very strong supplication very effective." The response to a believer's supplication is based on his righteousness and appropriation of that righteousness as a spiritual believer. When this is true, God sees beyond the immediate cry for help and makes the supplication very effective.
Supplication may be made for oneself (Phil. 4:6). It may be made for persons whom one has never met (cf. Rom. 1:10). Supplication is always a cry for help that comes from uncertainty. When one supplicates for other individuals, it is clearly a part of his priestly ministry.
The communication of praise is one of the sacrifices of the believer-priest as has been seen in the section on the subject. Praise is the only type of communication that the Word of God says is a sacrifice for the believer-priest (Heb. 13:15). It is interesting that one form of positive communication that is priestly is identified as a sacrifice. Thanksgiving and worship communication are also both positive in their nature. As one expresses his appreciation for the benefits provided by God, he is simply functioning as a normal spiritual Christian. Thanksgiving is an indicator of the believer's spirituality (Eph. 5:20 cf. main verb in vs. 18). Worship communication is repeating back to God that which He has said about Himself but not in response to a benefit provided and is a part of the spiritual believer's communication. True praise holds a special place in God's heart in that He not only considers it to be priestly communication but also a spiritual sacrifice of the believer-priest. While thanksgiving is based on an awareness of what God is doing, praise is based on an awareness of who God is. Praise requires knowledge of God's character that springs from the Christian's desire to know God better and to respond to who He is. True praise has a greater intimacy than thanksgiving. In his praise, the believer-priest expresses his appreciation for the character of God in response to what God has done. As a result of praise, God is happy and well pleased with the sacrifice of praise by the spiritual believer.
Each individual Christian has an expansive opportunity, literally, to be offering the sacrifice of praise continually (Heb. 13:15). A part of priestly training should include a careful study of theology proper [the doctrine of God] with an emphasis on the attributes and essence that comprise the nature of God. The practical application of that information is evident in the praise given to God by the sacrifice of praise. As the believer is exposed to the Word of God from the moment of salvation, he will find himself training to perfect his priestly service. Praise is one of the easiest areas to start such training that will continue for a lifetime. It is easy to say, "Praise the Lord!" but it takes work and mental activity to praise the Lord in reality. When Christians are convinced that "Praise the Lord" is praise, they miss the blessings of actually practicing praise in their lives. One of the great privileges that a pastor has is to teach people what praise is and to demonstrate it in public practice in the meetings of the church. Scripture teaches very clear distinctives for each of the types of communication that God has provided for the grace believer. How important it is for pastors and teachers to learn the distinctions through inductive study of Scripture and then to teach them to the people. Without such instruction, Christians do not know how to communicate properly and do not know what to expect from their communication.
Communication plays a very important role in the life of the believer as a priest. Half of the forms of communication that God has provided for him are distinctly parts of his priestly service. As a priest, he has access to God. Upon this ground, he communicates with God. He does not communicate with the Father "in the merit of Christ" but because, in Christ, he is a priest. When the Christian learns to effectively utilize the four types of communication that are uniquely priestly privileges, he automatically is drawn to at least three of the other four types of communication. Thanksgiving is a natural response to a thing provided. When the believer is thinking in terms of God's character manifested in that which is given, he will appreciate the thing given as well. When he is involved with intercession for others, he will be faced with needs of his own and learn how to ask for himself in Christ's character [i.e. name]. As he thinks of the Word of God that teaches the nature of the Godhead in his praise, he cannot help but worship his God by repeating back to God what He has said of Himself as his mind considers the teaching of the Word. Because of his priestly service, he may feel it necessary to make a New Testament vow to God by which he commits himself to something should God permit it to be possible. It is not binding but will be accomplished if it is at all possible for the believer to accomplish it.
Practicing communication provides greater and greater spiritual blessings. Because of the role of the local church in the lives of believers, it should be the first place they learn the doctrine of communication and its practice. There is a tremendous value in learning the distinctives that Scripture itself makes between the types of communication. The terms do not look at the same thing from different angles but are distinct parts of the whole that is properly designated as communication. The public communication of pastors, teachers and knowledgeable believers should provide instruction by example while the accurate preaching and teaching of the biblical doctrine of communication will provide the basic information concerning what the types of communication are and how they fit together. From the church, an understanding of the distinctiveness of communication can be carried into the home. Children can be instructed by example and teaching if they are believers. Adults can practice with the family and have the confidence that they communicate acceptably as spiritual believers. in the believer's daily life, his communication as a believer-priest will keep his attention on his God and will cause him to look at his own life from God's perspective rather than his own.
When the disciples asked the Lord, "Teach us to pray (Lu. 11:1)," they had no experience in communication with God. Scripture clearly gives the grace believer adequate instructions for a system of communication that conforms to the program of God and the will of God. The grace believer is without excuse if he does not know how to pray. It is an insult to God when the grace believer asks the same thing of God that the disciples did, "Teach me to pray." The information has already been provided and some effort must be expended in order to learn how to pray. Diligent study, with the consistent application of the principles of literal interpretation and the illumination of the Holy Spirit will provide adequate instruction for the believer to learn how to communicate with God as a grace believer.
Some have said that a study of the distinctives in the doctrine of the believer's communication with God is an exercise in doctrinal trivia. This kind of ignorance only prevents the believer from enjoying the fullness of God's provision for him. When the communication promises from all over the Bible are poured into a program of communication for the grace believer, he is confused because of the contradictions between the promises. As a result, he misses the blessings of biblical grace communication as a grace believer-priest. May the Church of Jesus Christ begin to teach her people carefully a consistent doctrine of communication with God from the biblical revelation for the Church.
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Too often the will of God for the believer is thought of as intangible and unknowable. Most Christian books written on the subject impose the will of man as the will of God rather than accepting Scripture as the sole authority for such information. Man has developed formulas for knowing the will of God that confuse the Christian as to what is and what isn't the will of God. Waiting on the Lord after prayer and Bible reading will never produce any true concept of what the will of God is in the life of the grace believer. The Bible clearly teaches twelve things as being God's desirous will (thelema) for the grace believer. Hebrews 13:20, 21 clearly describes the fact that it is possible for the believer to be doing the will of God with God's direct assistance.
Ephesians 5:17 commands the grace believer: "Wherefore be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." There is no uncertainty in the imperative. It is essential for each believer to understand what the evident will of the Lord is. As a result of understanding the will of God, the believer's walk (the ordering of the details of his life) will be an accurate (Ephesians 5:15) representation of the will of God.
A full experiential knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding will produce a walk that is in balance or identical to the desirous will of God as the believer properly relates to the Lordship of Christ (Colossians 1:9, 10).
The grace believer has the potential to stand mature and fully convinced in all of the desirous will of God (Colossians 4:12). When the Christian is practicing the will of God as it is revealed in Scripture, the specific details of the will of God simply fall in place as a matter of course and are recognized as God's desires.
A grace believer who is consistently doing the will of God will be feeling at ease into the age because the Holy Spirit gives a knowledge of all things [how to be doing the will of God] (1 John 2:17, 20).
1. Present your bodies a living sacrifice -- Romans 12: 1. This is the basis for the following eleven.
2. Be transformed by the renewedness of your mind -- Romans 12:2.
3. Use your spiritual gift -- He desired you to have it and expects you to use it -- 1 Corinthians 12:18 (example: Paul an apostle by the will of God -- 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1).
4. Give yourself to the Lord and to other believers -- 2 Corinthians 8:5.
5. Serve the Lord (originally as slaves) -- Ephesians 6:6, 7.
6. Be set apart (sanctified) and abstain from fornication -- 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
7. Be thankful for and in everything -- 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
8. Experientially know the riches of the glory of the indwelling Christ -- "Christ in you" -- Colossians 1:27.
9. Ask for yourself (middle voice) according to His will -- 1 John 5:14, 15.
10. Do good in every part of your manner of living -- 1 Peter 2:15.
11. Suffer in some circumstances for your consistent testimony -- 1 Peter 3:17; 4:19.
12. Live the remaining time in the will of God and not to the flesh -- 1 Peter 4:2.
God never desires the impossible of the believer. Always remember that Hebrews 13:20, 21 is in the Bible. God will complete the task of seeing His will accomplished in the life of the grace believer. Yielding to the Spirit of God, the believer is then able to be doing the will of God because he is a spiritual believer. A Christian must be spiritual in order to stand and walk in the will of God. God will make the proper adjustments in his life so that he can be doing the will of God.
"Now the God of peace ... make you perfect (adjust you) in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ ..."
© David K. Spurbeck Sr.
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Each grace believer has one spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:10). That spiritual gift was given at the moment of salvation by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). A spiritual gift is a specialization with which God has graced the believer giving him or her a special ability over and above that which is normal for other believers who do not have that specific spiritual gift. He has the potential to excel in this area of service within the Church as he relates to other Christians.
The gifts are listed in three primary New Testament passages --
Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, 28-30 and Ephesians 4:11.
Individuals possessing the gifts are identified by their gifts in Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29. A part of the gifts that were given for communicating or confirming revelation in the Apostolic Church were temporary and ceased to exist after the completion of the canon of Scripture (cf 1 Corinthians 13:8-12). Since the gifts of the Spirit that were given to the Church today are of primary importance, each believer needs to determine what his or her gift is. The following charts are designed to assist the believer in determining what his or her spiritual gift is and how it should influence other believers.
It is important that one's spiritual gift does not prevent him from the activities of other Spiritual gifts. Each believer should be living in the norm that includes normal/average Christian activity that does not require the unique ability of a spiritual gift even though the gift may excel at the activity. God expects normal activity as a part of the believer's priestly activity (cf Giving -- Philippians 4:18; doing good and fellowship -- Hebrews 13:16) or ordinary Christian living. When the believer knows what his or her spiritual gift is, he or she is able to enjoy the blessings of using the gift to the greatest degree to the glory of God.
Though there are limited passages describing the gifts, a large amount of material is available to determine the gift. A study of words in the New Testament is crucial. Careful word studies provide the basis for the information in the charts in order to avoid as much speculation as possible. In some cases it was necessary to rely upon extra-biblical Greek sources for some help (ex. Administration and organization).
Examples of words to study are: faith (pistis, pistews), pastor-teacher (poimhn, poimainw, poimnh, didaskalos, didaxw, didaskw, etc.), evangelism (euaggelisths, euaggelizw, euaggelion), teaching (didaskalos, didaskw, didaskalia), administration or ["governments"] (kubernhsis, kubernhths), organization (proisthmi, prostatis), exhortation (parakalew, paraklhsis, etc.), giving (metadidwmi), showing mercy (ilaros, eleew, eleos, etc.), ministry (diakonos, diakonew, diakonia) and helps (antilhmyis, antilambanomai, sunantilambanomai).
The conclusions are built upon the results of the study of these words and their cognate forms.
© David K. Spurbeck Sr.
A special ability to guide, pilot or lead the affairs of the church so that the tasks of the church are accomplished so that the spiritual goals can be met.
1. An Above Normal Ability to Guide the Church 2. An Above Normal Association with Administration from the Time of Salvation 3. An Above Normal Accomplishing of Things That Need to Be Done Because of Person's Guidance 4. An Above Normal Awareness of the Objectives of the Church Program and the Ability to See That They Are Carried Out 5. An Above Normal Analysis of the Situation So That the Job Is Done Best for the Glory of God 6. An Above Normal Assurance that the Program of the Church Will Be Done 7. An Above Normal Ability to Set a Course and to Steer the Church Along That Course 8. An Above Normal Ability to Get the Job Done without Being Offensive
1. It Detects the Direction the Church Is to Take 2. It Detects the Best Gifts to Get the Job Done 3. It Detects the Goals for the Local Church Clearly 4. It Detects the Best Ways to Get the Job Done 5. It Detects the Organization in the Church that Can Be Used to Get the Job Done 6. It Detects Spiritual Management Techniques for the Church
1. By Leading in Various Programs of the Local Church 2. By Managing the Organization of the Church 3. By Encouraging Others to Be Involved in the Use of the Gifts in the Church 4. By Involving Others in Accomplishing the Goals of the Church 5. By Steering the Church on its Course 6. By Directing and Organizing the Business of the Church
1. Encourages Gifts to Be Used in Achieving Goals of the Church 2. Expects the Job to Get Done 3. Endeavors to Manage the Business of the Church in an Orderly Fashion 4. Emphasizes the Accomplishments of Goals 5. Explains How One's Gift Can Be Used to Accomplish Goals 6. Establishes Government of the Church
1. Director of Education 2. V. B. S. Director 3. Sunday School Superintendent 4. Sunday School Office 5. Committee Chairman Etc.
A special ability to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers, to know the leading of the Holy Spirit to elect unbelievers and to demonstrate to saints how to communicate the Gospel to the unsaved.
1. An Above Normal Ability to Defend the Accurate Presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Its Inherent Power 2. An Above Normal Ability to Present the Gospel Effectively to the Unbeliever 3. An Above Normal Ability to Detect the Elect in a World of Unbelievers 4. An Above Normal Ability to Search for and to Find the Elect Unbeliever 5. An Above Normal Ability to Discern the Holy Spirit's Leading Him to Elect Unbelievers 6. An Above Normal Ability to Teach Other Believers How to Present the Gospel Accurately to the Unbeliever 7. An Above Normal Ability to Assist in the Numerical Growth of the Local Church 8. An Above Normal Ardor and Enthusiasm for Sharing the Gospel
1. It Detects the Unbeliever as an Unbeliever Compared to a Believer 2. It Detects the Holy Spirit's Leading to Elect Unbelievers 3. It Detects the Potential for the Unbeliever as a Believer 4. It Detects the Special Spiritual Needs of the Unsaved 5. It Detects the Proper Scripture Passages that Accurately Communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ 6. It Detects the Reality of the Future of the Unsaved if He Remains Unsaved 7. It Detects the Need for the Gifted to Be in the Right Place at the Right Time 8. It Detects Areas in Which Other Believers Are Deficient in Their Witness 9. It Detects Tares in the Local Church
1. By Actively Sharing the Gospel with the Unbeliever 2. By Carefully Studying Scripture for Methods for Accurately Communicating the Gospel 3. By Actively Encouraging a Consistent Christian Witness by Other Christians 4. By Consistently Bringing New Believers into the Local Church 5. By Normally Working in the Outreach Activities of the Local Church 6. By Always Encouraging Other Saints to Live the Life of Witness 7. By Encouraging Other Gifts to Be Used in Ways That Can Permit His or Her Gift to Work Best
1. Puts Pressure on Saints to Keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ Pure and Accurate 2. Explains Methods and Techniques for Presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ 3. Uniquely Knows That Someone Is Unsaved and Their Need for Salvation 4. Encourages the Local Church in Its Christian Witness (individual and whole) 5. Will See People Saved in the Community 6. Will Be Involved with the Unbeliever Who Visits the Church 7. Expect New Believers to Be Added to the Local Church
1. Visitation Programs 2. Evangelistic Meetings 3. Counselor 4. Writing Gospel Tracts 5. Outreach Programs Etc.
A special ability to encourage and admonish believers in their hearts so that they will do a job or so that they will move into appropriate activity or activities.
1. An Above Normal Ability to Get People to Do a Job 2. An Above Normal Ability to Communicate to People on a Personal Level 3. An Above Normal Ability to Make People Move into Action 4. An Above Normal Ability to Connect with the Necessary Parts of the Human Heart 5. An Above Normal Ability to Discern a Need and to Get Someone to Meet that Need 6. An Above Normal Ability to Encourage Another Believer to Complete a Job 7. An Above Normal Ability to Cause People to Change Their Lives and Activities for the Good 8. An Above Normal Awareness That Sees the Consequences of Carnality 9. An Above Normal Ability to Encourage Believers on to Greater Effort
1. It Detects the Needs That Require Action 2. It Detects the Potential in Believers to Get the Job Done 3. It Detects the Part of the Human Heart That Needs to Be Approached with Encouragement 4. It Detects the Deficiencies in the Church Program 5. It Detects the Problems in the Spiritual Lives of Believers 6. It Detects the Ways in Which to Get People to Act 7. It Detects the Best Approaches to People 8. It Detects the Believer's Best Methods for Encouraging
1. By Appealing to the Hearts of Believers 2. By Encouraging Saints to Use Their Spiritual Gift 3. By Stirring Up the Saints to Greater Action 4. By Confronting People Who Need to Change Their Lives 5. By Analyzing Problems that Need to Be Solved 6. By Providing Motivation for Tasks That Need to Be Done 7. By Stimulating People to Do Good 8. By Getting the Job Done with the Right People for the Job
1. Encouragement to Lead a Consistent Spiritual Life 2. Encouragement to Use One's Spiritual Gift in the Church 3. Encouragement for Involvement in Activities of the Church 4. Confrontation with Problems and Needs in the Church 5. Encouragement for the Best Potential of the Believer to Be Reached in the Church 6. Direct Involvement in the Personal Lives of the Saints 7. Promotion for Reaching the Scriptural Goals of the Church
A special ability to have abundant faith (above the norm) that will remove obstacles to the work of God for the Body of Christ and the local church.
1. An Above Normal Ability to Rely on the Promises of God in His Word in a Remarkable Way 2. An Above Normal Ability to Know and Understand the Will of God through the Word of God 3. An Above Normal Ability to Believe God in Communication with God 4. An Above Normal Overwhelming Ability to Appreciate the Character of God 5. An Above Normal Ability to Encourage Other Believers by One's Personal Faith 6. An Above Normal Ability to Share and Confirm the Works of God by Encouraging the Faith of Others 7. An Above Normal Ability to Discern the Movement of the Plan of God and Decree
1. It Detects the Lack of Faith in the Church in Church Decisions 2. It Detects the Lack of Faith in Other Believers in Personal Decisions and Life 3. It Detects the Potentials of God's Will Before Others Do 4. It Detects the Provision of a Need Before the Provision Is Apparent 5. It Detects the Accomplishing of Spiritual and Physical Goals
1. By Providing Stability in Times of Confusion 2. By Providing Confidence in Times of Communication 3. By Providing Assurance for Others When Decisions Are to Be Made 4. By Providing Confirmation of the Definite Results in Times of Action 5. By Providing Encouragement to Strengthen the Faith of Other Believers 6. By Providing an Expectation of God's Perfect Provision of Needs in the Church and for Believers
1. Will Strengthen a Believer's Own Individual Faith 2. Will Strengthen the Corporate Faith in the Local Church 3. Will Confirm the Desirous Will of God for Individuals and the Local Church 4. Will Provide Confidence in the Capabilities of God in the Lives of Believers 5. Will See How God Will Be Glorified by Whatever Happens 6. Will Encourage an Enjoyment of the Bountiful Provisions of God 7. Will Have a Grasp of the Implications of the Outworking of the Decree of God
1. Prayer Meeting Leader 2. Missionary Committee 3. Building Committee 4. Sunshine Committee Etc.
A special ability to distribute one's own goods or money freely
without grudging and without expecting personal benefit in return seeking
the glory of the Lord above the norm. A special ability to lay hold of any menial task in the church taking
the part of the saint who needs assistance giving a helping hand so that
they can accomplish the task together freeing the one from the pressure. A special ability to serve the saints by performing a task so another
believer will not have to do it thus supplying that which will lighten
their load for other responsibilities or service. A special ability to take the leadership in arranging and putting in
order the good works done by the church and in the church. A special ability to lead, provide for and care for the flock of God
through the teaching of doctrine to be believed and practiced (didaxh
didache) from the Word of God. A special ability to have pity upon believers who are suffering the
results of sin and to show that pity in giving them a measure of relief. A special ability to convey or impart knowledge to other Christians of
doctrine to be believed but not practiced didaskalia (didaskalia)
from the Word of God. © David K. Spurbeck Sr. Return to Table of Contents
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Ability to Be Willing to Give Ungrudgingly at
2. An Above Normal Ability to be Watching for a Need that Can Be Met
by Something Given
3. An Above Normal Ability to Give Whether One Is Poor or Wealthy
(Wealth Is Not a Factor)
4. An Above Normal Ability to Welcome the Opportunity to Give in Spite
of Other Circumstances
5. An Above Normal Ability to Work with Other Spiritual Gifts in
Providing for Needs with Physical Provisions
6. An Above Normal Ability to Be Willing to Give a Greater Proportion
Than Other Believers Even to One's Last Dime
7. An Above Normal Ability to Witness the Potential for the Involvement
of Other Saints in Giving
8. An Above Normal Ability to Work to Raise Financial and Physical
Help for the Needs of the Church
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Need for Giving Before Other Believers Do
2. It Detects the Potential, Positive Results from Giving
3. It Detects the Ways That God Receives the Gift That Is Given
4. It Detects the Ways That God Can Use the Gift That Is Given for
5. It Detects the Ways That What Is Given May Be Used
6. It Detects the Things Available That May Be Given
7. It Detects the Benefits to the Church and the Christ in Giving
8. It Detects the Giving of the Persons of the Godhead as a Motive
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Being Alert to Things That May Be Lacking
2. By Planning Ways to Make Up the Lack
3. By Giving to Believers in Need as the Holy Spirit Leads
4. By Arranging Personal Finances So That the Gift Functions Best
5. By Encouraging Other Believers in Managing Their Finances So That
They Can Be Giving to the Lord's Work
6. By Expecting Positive, God-Glorifying Results from Giving
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. The Needs of Other Believers to Be Met as the Lord Leads
2. The Needs of the Local Church to Be Met as the Lord Leads
3. The Provision of Things That Benefit Other Believers
4. Involvement with Physical Needs
5. The Lord's Servants to Be Cared for
6. An Effort to Provide for the Needs of Projects That Need to Be Done
7. The Encouraging of Other Believers to Give More
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Financial Secretary
2. Benevolence Committee
3. Finance Committee
4. Building and Grounds Committee
5. Missions Committee Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Helps
Key Passages of Scripture
1 Corinthians 12:28
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Ability to Assist the Weak and Ill
2. An Above Normal Ability to Assist the Needy
3. An Above Normal Ability for Providing an Environment That Does Not
Distract from God and His Will
4. An Above Normal Association with Other Gifts to Help Them Perform
Needed Tasks in the Church
5. An Above Normal Awareness of Those Who Need Help and How to Help Them
6. An Above Normal Affection for Assisting Other Christians
7. An Above Normal Ability to Take Decisive Action When Help Is Needed
8. An Above Normal Ability to Give Rather Than to Receive (Acts 20:3)
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Incapability or Limitations of Saints That Need Help
2. It Detects the Menial Tasks That Will Help Other Christians
3. It Detects the Ways that Help Other Believers Relate to One Another
4. It Detects the Results That Come from Helping Other Christians
5. It Detects the Contribution that the Results of Helping Make to
the Body of Christ
6. It Detects the Importance that God Places on Helping Others
7. It Detects the Proper Time to Step in and Help Another Saint
8. It Detects the Personal Strengths that Will Best Help Other Saints
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Being Alert for Those Who Need Help in the Local Church
2. By Pursuing Tasks That Will Assist Other Christians
3. By Investigating Areas in Which Help May Be Needed
4. By Building the Ability to Assist in Any Way Possible in the Church
5. By Having an Eagerness to Help Other Believers in the Assembly
6. By Stepping in Whenever There Is an Opportunity to Help
7. By Encouraging Other Saints to Be Helping One Another
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. To Provide Assistance When Assistance Is Needed
2. To Support Weak Saints
3. To Assist Needy Saints
4. To Assist Disabled and Sick Saints
5. To Seek Opportunities to Help with Menial Tasks
6. To Enable the Saint Who Is Helped to Get the Job Done
7. To Be Involved with Other Spiritual Gifts to Assist When Needed
8. To Encourage Other Believers to Help One Another
9. To Glorify God Through His or Her Helping
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Building and Grounds Committee
2. Church Secretarial Service
3. Assistant to Various Officers
4. Benevolence Committee
5. Social Committee Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Ministry
Key Passages of Scripture
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Desire to Serve the Saints in
Any Possible Way
2. An Above Normal Determination to Handle Necessary Details So That
Other Gifts Can Function Freely
3. An Above Normal Dedication to Serving the Saints
4. An Above Normal Dependability for Voluntarily Doing Menial Tasks in
5. An Above Normal Determination that All of the Saints Will Be
Comfortable and Cared for in the Church Facilities
6. An Above Normal Special Satisfaction in the Service of God in the
7. An Above Normal Discernment of Opportunities in Which Service May
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects Tasks That Others Do That Hamper the Use of Their
2. It Detects the Potential for the Functioning of Other Gifts
3. It Detects the Details that Encumber the Local Church
4. It Detects the Best Ways to Serve the Saints
5. It Detects the Ways that Menial Tasks Contribute to the Other Saints
6. It Detects the Results of Ministering of the Needs of the Saints
7. It Detects the Physical Things and Needs That Distract from the
Spiritual Growth of the Local Church
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Seeking Out Menial Tasks So That Other Believers Will Not Need
to Do Them
2. By Serving Other Saints When a Need Is Perceived
3. By Evaluating Ways to Serve Another Believer So That His or Her Gift
Is Most Effective
4. By Expecting Other Saints to Permit the Gifted One to Provide Relief
5. By Working with the Physical Tasks of the Local Assembly
6. By Providing Things That Will Make the Saints Comfortable in Meeting
7. By Realizing That Menial Tasks Bring Special Glory to God
8. By Knowing that Physical Tasks Contribute to the Spiritual Welfare of
the Local Church
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. To Assume That Other Saints Will Let Him or Her Serve
2. To Be Personally Involved with Relieving Others of Menial Tasks
3. To Provide for the Physical Comfort of the Saints
4. To Prevent Distractions from Other Believers' Use of Their Spiritual Gifts
5. To Be Pursuing the Best Ways to Serve the Saints
6. To Glorify God Through His or Her Service
7. To Enjoy the Privilege of Serving the Lord in the Little Things
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Church Cleanup Committees
2. Church Janitorial Service
3. Social Committee
4. Building and Grounds Committee
5. Church Secretarial Service Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Organization
proisthmi (proistemi) "ruling"
Key Passages of Scripture
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Ability to Maintain Order in Church Affairs
2. An Above Normal Ability to Manage Church Programs in Relation to
3. An Above Normal Ability to Mobilize the Church in Its Organization
4. An Above Normal Ability to Move Church Business Matters with Ease
5. An Above Normal Ability for Methods to Coordinate the Affairs of
6. An Above Normal Ability to Recognize Biblical Objectives and a
Direction for Meeting Them in the Local Church
7. An Above Normal Awareness of How to Accomplish the Desires of
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Lack of Orderliness in the Church Program
2. It Detects Potential Problems that Result from a Lack of
3. It Detects the Easiest Procedures To Get the Job Done
4. It Detects Methods that Best Accomplish the Job
5. It Detects the Best Ways to Maintain Order
6. It detects Objectives Clearly Beyond the Norm
7. It Detects Details that Bring Projects to a Smooth Conclusion
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Encouraging Order in the Church
2. By Planning Programs in the Church
3. By Organizing the Church's Business
4. By Arranging Church Documents and Materials
5. By Presiding Over Areas That Need to Be Organized
6. By Coordinating Various Programs and Activities of the Church
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. Helps with the Organization of the Local Church
2. Assists Individuals to Fit Into Local Church Program
3. Expects a Kind of Orderliness in the Church and by Believers
4. Explains the Organization of the Local Church
5. Arranges Materials Relating to the Local Church
6. Plans for Accomplishing the Desires of the Local Church
7. Provides Details to Accomplish the Best Organization
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Church Clean-up Committee
3. Sunday School Superintendent
4. Work Chairman
5. Committee Chairman Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Pastor-Teacher
poimenas kai didaskalous (poimenas - didaskalos)
Key Passages of Scripture
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Desire to Lead People in
Doctrine to Be Believed and Practiced (didaxh didache)
2. An Above Normal Appetite for Knowing Doctrine to Be Believed and
3. An Above Normal Seeking for Accurate Application of Doctrine to Be
Believed and Practiced to Other Christians
4. An Above Normal Awareness of Spiritual Danger for Protection of
5. An Above Normal Anticipation of Spiritual Growth in Other Believers
6. An Above Normal Appreciation and Joy for Caring for the Flock of God
7. An Above Normal Ability for Caring for, Feeding and Leading the Flock
8. An Above Normal Ability to Arrange and Present Doctrine to Be
Believed and Practiced So That the Flock of God Can Live It
9. An Above Normal Association with the Chief Shepherd Evident in
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Desires of the Chief Shepherd of the Flock
2. It Detects Spiritual Needs in the Lives of the Flock of God
3. It Detects Practical Implications of Doctrine to Be Believed and
4. It Detects Spiritual Dangers That May Threaten the Flock of God
5. It Detects Spiritual Potentials for the Saints
6. It Detects Biblical Answers for Specific Spiritual Problems
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Leading the Flock of God to Spiritual Food
2. By Teaching the Flock of God Doctrine to Be Believed and Practiced
3. By Guarding the Flock of God from Doctrinal Error
4. By Being an Example (or Type) for the Flock of God
5. By Responding to the Chief Shepherd
6. By Preaching and Teaching with True Authority Coming from the Word
7. By Feeding Oneself Adequately to Feed the Flock of God
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. Encourages Practical Christian Living by Doctrine to Be Believed
2. Protects the Flock of God from Doctrinal Error (in Both Types of
3. Assists with the Flock's Reaching Spiritual Goals
4. Expects All the Gifts to Be Actively Involved in Ministry Not Just
the Gift of Pastor-Teacher
5. Anticipates Benefits to Be Derived from the Use of the
6. Expects Accountability to the Chief Shepherd on the Part of the
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Office of Bishop (Pastor)
2. Bible Institutes
3. Teaching Classes
4. Bible Studies
5. College Bible Classes Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Showing Mercy
Key Passages of Scripture
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Ability to Have Concern for the Consequences of Sin
in the Lives of Fellow Believers
2. An Above Normal Ability to Care for the Sick in Their Time of Need
3. An Above Normal Ability to Comfort the Afflicted by Using Pity
4. An Above Normal Ability to Cooperate with Other Gifts in Meeting
Every Need of the Afflicted
5. An Above Normal Ability to Be Willing to Overlook the Reason for
6. An Above Normal Ability to Concentrate Upon Conditions That Are
7. An Above Normal Ability to Make Commitments to Provide Relief to
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Consequences of the Various Results of the Fall and
Sin in the Lives of Believers
2. It Detects the Condition Needing Mercy Before Other Believers Do
3. It Detects the Personal Problems That Result from the Fall
4. It Detects the Potential for a Measure of Relief
5. It Detects the Severity of the Condition Needing Mercy
6. It Detects the Best Ways to Provide Relief for the Afflicted
7. It Detects the Blessings of Relief to the Afflicted
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Discovering Situations that Need Mercy
2. By Providing Relief for Afflicted Saints
3. By Assisting the Sick, Grieving and Suffering
4. By Encouraging the Other Spiritual Gifts to Provide Relief
5. By Evaluating Means for Providing Relief
6. By Encouraging Other Believers to Show Pity
7. By Exhibiting a Readiness of Mind to Show Mercy
8. By Being in a Spiritual Condition to Perceive the Holy Spirit's
Leading to the Proper Conditions and Persons who Need Mercy
9. By Expecting Other Believers to Become Happy Through the Ministry of
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. To Care for the Needs Resulting from Sin and the Fall
2. To Provide Relief for the Afflicted
3. To Know the Most Effective Ways to Show Mercy
4. To Approach Individuals Who Need Mercy Before Others Do
5. To Give Proper Attention to the Best Ways That Mercy Can Be Shown
in the Church
6. To Exhibit a Life to Be Dominated by Kindness and Goodness
7. To Express Joy When an Afflicted Person Finds Relief
8. To Seek Biblical Happiness for Those Who Are Miserable
1. Sick Visitation
2. Sunshine Committee
3. Benevolence Committee
4. Counselor for the Afflicted Etc.
The Spiritual Gift of Teaching
Key Passages of Scripture
The Identification of the Gift
The Indicators of the Possession of the Gift
1. An Above Normal Appetite for Doctrine to Be Believed and Not
2. An Above Normal Ability to Communicate Doctrine Not Practiced
3. An Above Normal Ability to Identify What Saints Need to Learn of
Doctrine to Be Believed and Not Practiced
4. An Above Normal Appreciation for God's Past Dealing with Men and
the Evidence of His Character
5. An Above Normal Ability to Build Foundational Doctrine for Doctrine to Be Believed and Practiced
6. An above Normal Accumulation of Biblical Information and Knowledge
for Sharing with Other Believers
7. An Above Normal Assurance that the Revelation of God and Man Provides
the Basis for Other Revelation
8. An Above Normal Anticipation of an Accrued Objective Knowledge of
God's Plan and Program
The Insights (or Radar) of the Gift
1. It Detects the Need for Teaching Doctrine to Be Believed and Not
2. It Detects the Methods that Best Communicate didaskalia (didaskalia)
3. It Detects the Potentials for Knowing didaskalia (didaskalia)
4. It Detects the Unchanging Areas Between didaskalia (didaskalia)
and didaxh (didache)
5. It Detects the Character of God as it is Manifested in didaskalia
6. It Detects the Deficiencies in Believers' Knowledge Of didaskalia
The Use of the Gift by the One Who Has the Gift
1. By Leading Other Believers in the Study of didaskalia (didaskalia)
2. By Laying a Foundation for didaxh (didache)
3. By Consistently Studying the Word of God for didaskalia
4. By Teaching in Any Teaching Situation That God Provides
5. By Encouraging Other Believers to Study the Whole Word of God and
Especially didaskalia (didaskalia)
6. By Encouraging the Development of the Teaching Program in the Church
7. By Teaching didaxh (didache) in the Norm
The Expectations of Other Believers of the One Possessing the Gift
1. Emphasizes Doctrine to Be Believed and Not Practiced didaskalia
2. Seeks to Have Bible Studies with Other Believers
3. Pushes Christians to Learn the Bible as a Whole
4. Makes Great Efforts to Find Learners
5. Will Communicate Foundational Truth for Other Doctrine
6. Has an Interest and Presentation of Details of didaskalia
7. Can Expect the Communication of didaxh (didache) in the Norm
Dovetailing in the Presentation Of didaskalia (didaskalia)
The Potential Use of the Gift in the Local Church
1. Bible Studies
2. Sunday School Classes
3. Training Union
4. Vacation Bible School Etc.
A special ability to lay hold of any menial task in the church taking the part of the saint who needs assistance giving a helping hand so that they can accomplish the task together freeing the one from the pressure.
A special ability to serve the saints by performing a task so another believer will not have to do it thus supplying that which will lighten their load for other responsibilities or service.
A special ability to take the leadership in arranging and putting in order the good works done by the church and in the church.
A special ability to lead, provide for and care for the flock of God through the teaching of doctrine to be believed and practiced (didaxh didache) from the Word of God.
A special ability to have pity upon believers who are suffering the results of sin and to show that pity in giving them a measure of relief.
A special ability to convey or impart knowledge to other Christians of doctrine to be believed but not practiced didaskalia (didaskalia) from the Word of God.
© David K. Spurbeck Sr.
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