Summary: Not only does God give to each of us spiritual gifts by which the body of Christ is supported and sustained, He also gives us all that is needed to carry out those functions vital to the health and ministry of His body, the church. With those gifts, God g
Opening illustration: In September 2001, Lisa Jefferson had an unexpected opportunity to be used by God. Her now well-known 15-minute conversation with a passenger on United Flight 93 forever changed the direction of her life. In her book Called, she emphasizes that her listening skills and her ability to take charge and stay calm in a crisis were used to encourage fellow believer Todd Beamer in the last moments of his life. She didn’t ask to be used that way. But God saw a woman who was available and matched her with someone who was in need. Lisa now shares her story with whomever she can to encourage believers to always be ready to serve.
Introduction: Of all the subjects that deal with practical Christianity, spiritual gifts are the least understood. Most Christians do not have the foggiest idea what spiritual gifts are, how they function, or for what purpose they are given. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability or capacity for the purpose of service. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).
Spiritual gifts then are given to the universal church, the Body of Christ, and are to be used as each Christian is dependent upon the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus gives gifts as he wills, and it is his prerogative to direct the gifts of the Body as he sees fit. The various parts of the human body never take orders from the hand or the foot; they take orders from the head. It is the head that sends down messages. As members of the body, Christians must take their direction from Jesus Christ.
The spiritual gifts God gives to every believer are not like those my grandmother gave. God’s gifts are complete. Not only does God give to each of us spiritual gifts by which the body of Christ is supported and sustained, He also gives us all that is needed to carry out those functions vital to the health and ministry of His body, the church. With those gifts, God gives to each of us not only a measure of grace to empower us for service, but a measure of faith as well. Our text will teach us more about these two endowments.
We should first agree that the subject of spiritual gifts is relevant and vitally important to Christians today. Some evangelical Christians believe and teach that spiritual gifts are no longer applicable, that spiritual gifts were given for the church in its infancy. If this is so, why does Paul choose to speak first of spiritual gifts in this portion of Romans? Why does a matter of minimal importance have such a prominent place in this Epistle? If these spiritual gifts are necessary for the functioning of the church, how could they now be extinct? Elsewhere, Paul explains why spiritual gifts have been given and when these gifts will no longer be needed:
Calling of each member in the ‘Body of Christ:’
1. Called to HUMILITY in faith [v. 3]:
For I say - The word “for” shows that the apostle is about to introduce some additional considerations to enforce what he had just said, or to show how we may evince a mind that is not conformed to the world.
Through the grace - Through the favor, or in virtue of the favor of the apostolic office. By the authority that is conferred on me to declare the will of God as an apostle; see the note at Rom_1:5; see also Gal_1:6, Gal_1:15; Gal_2:9; Eph_3:8; 1Ti_1:14.
Not to think ... - Not to over-estimate himself, or to think more of himself than he ought to. What is the true standard by which we ought to estimate ourselves he immediately adds. This is a caution against pride; and an exhortation not to judge of ourselves by our talents, wealth, or function, but to form another standard of judging of ourselves, by our Christian character. The Romans would probably be in much danger from this quarter. The prevailing habit of judging among them was according to rank, or wealth, or eloquence, or function. While this habit of judging prevailed in the world around them, there was danger that it might also prevail in the church. And the exhortation was that they should not judge of their own characters by the usual modes among people, but by their Christian attainments. There is no sin to which people are more prone than an inordinate self-valuation and pride. Instead of judging by what constitutes true excellence of character, they pride themselves on that which is of no intrinsic value; on rank, and titles, and external accomplishments; or on talents, learning, or wealth. The only true standard of character pertains to the principles of action or to that which constitutes the moral nature of the man; and to that the apostle calls the Roman people.