Summary: Why should you join a local congregation when you become a Christian? The message explores your vital role in the assembly where God places you.
“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
Why should you join a local congregation when you become a Christian? The answer, in part, is that Christians are divinely appointed to membership in a local congregation. There are great benefits in church membership, though I wonder if modern Christians are convinced of those benefits. Among the benefits that could be listed are that church membership identifies the believer as genuine, provides a spiritual family, gives the child of God a place to discover and use spiritual gifts, places the Christian under the spiritual protection of godly leaders and gives the saint accountability.
Tragically, too many Christians appear to view membership in the local congregation as archaic—a relic lingering from an era far removed from the present. They see church membership as useless, or perhaps even detrimental to spiritual growth. Membership in a church is associated with paying dues and performing pointless rituals. However, it is in concert with and in reciprocity with other Christians that we are called to serve the Lord. Join me in exploring the role divinely assigned to each Christian.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS — “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” The passage before us speaks of charismáton, the plural genitive form of the noun chárisma, here translated “gifts.”
The text is essentially an iteration of ROMANS 12:6-8. “Having gifts [charísmata, plural accusative form of the noun chárisma] that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” The word charísmata in our text is a synonym for pneumatikôn, which is translated spiritual gifts in 1 CORINTHIANS 12:1 and 1 CORINTHIANS 14:1. So what is under consideration are “grace gifts,” which are synonymous to “spiritual gifts,” or “gifts of the Spirit.” Understanding this, we can perhaps discover our role in the congregation.
The Bible speaks of the “gift of the Spirit” [ACTS 2:38], the “fruit of the Spirit” [GALATIANS 5:22-24], and the “gifts of the Spirit” [1 CORINTHIANS 12:1; 14:1]. The “gift of the Spirit” speaks of when you actually became a Christian. At that time, the Holy Spirit took up residence in your life. Your body became the temple of the Holy Spirit when you were saved, and the Comforter began living in you. The “fruit of the Spirit” identifies character qualities produced in your life as a Christian by the work of the Holy Spirit. These fruits should be seen with increasing clarity as you continue your walk with the Lord. The “gifts of the Spirit” are enablement given by the Spirit of God to permit you to perform a particular and necessary function in the Body of Christ, the local congregation.
There is a further point of clarification needed before delivering the message. Paul speaks of gifts [charísmata], of service [diakoniôn], and of activities [energés]. The words, “though representing different perspectives, all refer to the same thing. What is from one point of view a gracious bestowal (gift) by the Spirit is from another a service [(service)], and from still another an operation of power [(activity)].” The words speak of the gracious bounty of God, of the purpose God intends in granting them, and of the power at work in giving the gifts.
Think of some powerful truths concerning the “gifts of the Spirit.” One truth is that God has ensured that the Body is diverse both in composition and gifts. Another truth is that the Father gifts each Christian. Implicit is the truth that God values His people and has given each one the best gift that is necessary for a healthy Body.
Consider the diversity demonstrated within any given congregation of the Lord. Following our text, the Apostle writes, “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.