Summary: The 11th sermon in our series dealing with the Baptist Faith and Message
Using Our Gifts (BFM #11 )
Text: Exodus 4:2; 1st Corinthians 12:1-11
By: Ken McKinley
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (the man the dog was named after) once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” As we continue on in our study of the BFM we’ve been looking at article 6 – the church. Lets read that quickly (read). Now if you remember I told you there were four essential ministries that a church should be doing. The 1st one was the preaching of God’s Word, the 2nd was the administration of the ordinances given to the Church, the 3rd was the exercising of the gifts of its members, and the 4th is proper Church discipline. Now some might say, “Where are those four ministries listed in article 6?”
Well I’ll show you:
“A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the “gospel;” observing the two “ordinances” of Christ, “governed by His laws,” “exercising the gifts,” rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and “seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.” Each congregation operates under the “Lordship of Christ” through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is “responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord.” Its scriptural “officers” are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are “gifted for service” in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”
Now I think that every Christian knows that they are supposed to be fulfilling the Great Commission. I think that every Christian knows that they should be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ when the opportunity presents itself. We should all be witnesses for the Lord, whether you’re a pastor or a layperson. Witnessing is the duty of every Christian. So I’m not going to spend a lot of time on preaching how we should be sharing the Gospel. We know this already. But like St. Bernard said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” We are witnesses in more ways than just sharing the Good News of Christ with our words. There is a saying that goes, “The greatest single cause of Atheism in the world today is Christians, who profess God with their lips, but in reality their lives are far from Him.”
When we read the Book of Acts, we see a church that was exercising their gifts. And if we want to be faithful to the Word of God, and if we want to be a faithful witness for the Lord, then we too need to be exercising our gifts. Do you want to know what the difference between those first Christians in Jerusalem and Christians today in the US is? Persecution. If the United States Government made a law next week and said that Christianity was illegal and Christians were going to be rounded up and executed, Church attendance in the United States would drop drastically the next Sunday. But you know what we would have then? We would have dedicated, Spirit filled, committed people. Now when I say Spirit filled I’m not talking about people who roll around on the floor and bark like dogs, and rattle off some strange words that no-one can understand. I want to make that clear. I’m talking about people who are controlled by the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
So we don’t have persecution today in the United States, and I’ll tell you the reason we don’t… it’s not because we have religious freedom in the US, it’s because we have people in Churches who are not living for the Lord like they should. 2nd Timothy 3:12 says, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL SUFFER persecution.” Scripture doesn’t say you’ll only suffer persecution if you live in Africa, or China, or the Middle East. No it says if you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus you will suffer. In the context there its talking about living out your faith.
But we’ll have to talk more on that some other day, because I want you all to see this. Every Christian has been gifted for service. In some way or another, we have all been gifted for service. Scripture says that the Church is the body of Christ, and it uses the human body as an analogy as to how we are supposed to work. The human body has limbs that perform functions, we have organs that perform necessary functions, we have hands for working, legs for traveling, muscles and joints that allow those things to take place, bones that hold us all together, a nervous system that warns us of danger, skin that protects the vital organs. And if we have an organ in our body that doesn’t function, or a limb on our body that doesn’t work, then the whole body suffers. And so every believer has a vital ministry.