Summary: The gift of exhortation is not for execution but it is to be executed for encouragement and restoration.
The Mouth of Exhortation; The Encouragement and Comfort of Christ
An article by Sherman Cox was sent to me this week from Sermon Central entitled: “Is the Bible the Seasoning or the Steak in Your Sermon?” I could answer that question with confidence because God’s Word is what we study. We don’t just sprinkle a few verses like seasoning.
Today we place a few more biblical pieces into the puzzle of Spiritual Giftedness within the Body of Christ: Romans 12:5 describes it this way: “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; (DO IT) if it is teaching, let him teach; (Don’t hold back in discipling others: today we look at the spiritual gift in verse 8:) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; (many versions translate verse 8: ”or he who exhorts, in his exhortation.”)
Our biblical framework is the personal receiving OF and response TO the mercies of God (Rom. 12:1) used in the fellowship of LOVING ONE ANOTHER as Christ has loved us. (Rom 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love ; give preference to one another in honor ; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”) Spiritual gifts (GRACES or you could say, “GRACEFULLness, “charismata”,) are given to to us to build up fellow GRACE- recipients to the beautification and strength of Christ’s Bride and to the Glory of the GRACE Giver.
A short review of gifts of GRACEFULLNESS: Spiritual Gifts are gifts from the HOLY SPIRIT. We are studying (and have been studying) this part of God’s Person, the Person of His Holy Spirit on Wed. and Thurs. Everyone ALIVE has certain gifts or talents, but ONLY BELIEVERS who have responded by faith and grace alone in Christ alone will have spiritual gifts given for building up of the Church, the body of Christ. The challenge we have considered is: HAS THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVEN YOU A SPIRITUAL GIFT?
If you look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, you will notice that some of them are closely associated with the Spiritual Gifts. The Beatitudes reveal the characteristics of Kingdom people who have been miraculously changed by the Spirit of the King of His Kingdom. The gifts in Romans 12 are examples of how those gifts take effect in the Church and world.
Spiritual gifts are gifts to be USED not abused They are to be utilized and shared. What would your body be like if you were without certain parts? Some are very important, others are not as crucial, but the fact is, they would be sorely MISSED if DISMISSED. I thought about two people specifically whose gifts were sorely missed from this “BODY” when they moved away, but God graciously supplied other people to do what they were doing so that the body didn’t suffer, having lost certain valuable parts. If each does not USE their gifts, they are sorely missed. If YOU dismiss the use of your gift, YOU are causing hurt to the body, hurt to yourself, and hurt to the GIVER of the GIFT, and to the Savior who died for you.
Looking for a Comforter
Today we look at the gift of exhortation. The verb in our text, “parakaleô,” means to encourage, to strengthen, to advise, to comfort.” The noun in our text, “paraklçsis”, means
“a calling near, a summons, admonition, encouragement, exhortation, consolation, comfort.”
We live in a sin-broken world where people have always NEEDED the comfort of being restored and made well. Sin has broken people and separated them from God: Listen to these Old Testament verses which contain the Hebrew word “Nacham”, which is the equivalent of the Greek word (in our text) for “comfort” or “comforter” and is also translated at times as “repent”:
Psalm 69:20: “Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.” (This is the condition, not only of Israel, but everyone who has a broken relationship with God.)
Lamentations1:16: "For these things I weep; My eyes run down with water ; Because far from me is a comforter, One who restores my soul. My children are desolate because the enemy has prevailed." (How can I be forgiven and restored to God?!)
God gives some hope in Isaiah 40: 1: "Comfort, O comfort My people," (oar REPENT, REPENT) says your God. 2 "Speak kindly to Jerusalem and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed.”