Summary: Some scholars call the gifts in Rom 12 "motivational" gifts. What do they mean by that and how does that help us understand the value and purpose of the gift of prophecy?
Have you ever heard of a TV personality from years ago named Merv Griffin?
Back in his heyday Mr. Griffin hosted a TV talk show called "The Merv Griffin Show" where he would have guests who would sit down with him and talk about their lives and the passions in their lives. One of those guests was a body builder.
During the interview, Merv asked, “Why do you develop those particular muscles?”
The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed the muscles of his chest his arms, his legs… even his calves.
The audience applauded. And he sat down.
“What do you use all those muscles for?” Merv asked.
Again, the guy got up and flexed his biceps and triceps. The audience applauds again, and he sits down again.
“But what do you USE those muscles for?” Merv persisted.
The body builder looked at Griffin and said nothing. He just had this bewildered look on his face. He didn’t have an answer.
Here in Romans 12, Paul is telling us that we are a BODY of believers.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5
In other words the church is not a collection of people rattling around inside a church building.
We are ONE BODY. We belong to each other. Even if this building ceased to exist, we would be the church – one body of believers.
And just like the parts of OUR physical body work together so that our body functions properly, so also we need each other and our various gifts/abilities so that the church functions properly.
In this passage in Romans 12, Paul gives us a list of 7 “gifts” that God has given us individually so that we can help the church be ALL that it can be. These gifts are like the muscles of the body-builder’s physique. And we need to know how these “muscles” function so that we can use they can work together to make the body function.
These 7 gifts are these:
Giving (Contributing to the needs of others)
This morning we’re going to be dealing with the first of those gifts this morning: Prophecy.
Now, take a look this graph on the screen.
If you’ll notice there are two lists of gifts here.
Notice how different they are.
The list in I Corinthians 12 tells of these gifts:
* and Interpretation of Tongues
With the exception of teaching and prophecy the lists are entirely different. And the 1st question that comes to my mind is
“WHY ARE THESE LISTS DIFFERENT?”
Notice the gifts for the Corinthians are fairly flashy and they are very impressive. Most of these gifts are what scholars call “miraculous gifts”. They’re not normal things that most common people would do – they’re showy.
By contrast, the gifts listed in Romans 12 seem kind of mundane.
The contrast between these two sets of gifts strikes me like the difference between a person who dresses to go to a formal white tie dinner… and a person who dresses for work.
It’s like the list in Romans 12 is set of work clothes gifts.
They’re the “roll your sleeves up and get things done”, get your hands dirty kind of gifts.
So why does Corinth get all the flashy gifts and Rome doesn’t seem to have them?
Well, one of the best explanation is that the “flashy gifts” were very likely imparted by the laying on of Apostolic hands.
Paul, for example, told Timothy: “… I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Timothy 1:6
In the book of Acts you see this kind of thing show up in a couple different chapters.
In Acts 8, for example, a very godly deacon named Philip went into the region of Samaria and preached the Gospel to the people there. His message hits home and people respond by the hundreds, believing in Jesus and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
But then the text tells us there’s something about the Holy Spirit that is missing in their lives. Something that even a godly man like Philip cannot give them. And so they send down to Jerusalem and Peter and John (two Apostles) come to them – lay hands on them – and something powerful and mystifying happens as the Spirit comes upon them.