Graced, Grafted, Gifted!
Dr. Paul Brand, in his book “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”, tells a story of how, after WW II ended, a group of German students—in a spirit of reconciliation—volunteered to help rebuild an English Cathedral in London. The church had been severely damaged by bombing during the Blitz. While digging through rubble of the Cathedral, they found a sculpture that had been shattered into many pieces. It was a marble statue of Jesus Christ. The statue depicted Christ in a standing position with His arms outstretched. The inscription under it read, “Come unto me,” based on Matthew 11:28. The students were able to find and reconstruct virtually all of the statue—except for the hands. The hands of Jesus had been completely demolished. And so, when finished, they had a statue of Jesus with outstretched arms, and no hands.
Someone suggested that they have new hands sculpted, but it was ultimately decided to leave that statue of Jesus handless. You can go to London today and see that marble statue of Jesus standing there with no hands. But they did decide to change the inscription. It now says, “He has no hands but ours.”
That is the truth that is being taught by our Scripture passage.
I. GOD HAS GRACED US WITH NEW LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST!
- "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36, NIV)
- let me tell you some incredible news: You are of infinite worth in God’s eyes
- we live in a culture that often determines a person’s worth by what we bring to the table of life
- our culture tells our little boys that the more points they make or the more rebounds they grab the more valuable they are
- our culture tells our girls that their value is directly proportional to their proportions
- as our children grow up we tell them that their value is based not simply on living up to their potential, but on scoring at least a 26 on their ACTs
- when we grow up we are told that our value lies in how much we produce, the number of figures in our income, where we live, and what we drive
- God loves you with an everlasting love that is not dependent on whether you are a starting player in the eyes of the world
- my value is not based on being David Krueger, pastor of the Linn First Baptist Church
- my value is based on being a blood-bought child of the King of kings and Lord of lords
A. OUR VALUE COMES FROM WHOSE WE ARE, NOT WHO WE ARE
- according to the Apostle Paul, from him and through him we have received grace
- we are of such value that God gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior
- God has graced us with new life in Jesus Christ
- that means that our value in God’s Kingdom is set from the very beginning
- our value does not depend on our position or upon our power or upon our popularity, but upon the person of Jesus Christ
- “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22, NIV)
- you are a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit
- the God of Creation, the Lord of the Universe, the King of Glory has chosen to establish a spiritual residence in the lives of His saints
- we are all equal in God’s eyes
- our value has nothing to do with the role we play in the church
B. OUR VALUE IS ENHANCED WHEN WE ARE CONSECRATED TO GOD
- “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV)
- let’s be honest, some Christians are of little or no use for Kingdom work because they never grow out of spiritual infant-hood
- they never discover their spiritual gifts and consequently never develop a ministry
- like real infants, all they know how to do is whine, eat, and make messes!
- “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. ... ” (1 Corinthians 3:1–3, NIV)
II. GOD HAS GRAFTED US INTO CHRIST’S BODY
- “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)
- one of the extraordinary truths that we teach as Christians is this: Not only has God graced us with new life in Jesus thus setting our value in God’s kingdom forever, but when we accept that new life in Jesus, we are grafted into Christ’s body, the Church
- the Church is Christ’s living body and when we accept new life in Jesus, we are grafted into his body
- just as Jesus was the incarnation of God the Father in his world, so the Church is the incarnation of God the Son, in our world
- that means we are a part of a living organism—not just a part of a lifeless organization
- ILLUS. Most fruit trees today are grown from grafts. That is, branches of a high-yielding variety of, for example, apple tree are grafted onto the rootstock of a particularly hardy variety of apple tree. They are grafted together, and the branches become a living part of an amazingly hardy tree that produces a higher yield of fruit.
- we become part of a thriving, hardy, living organism that is designed to produce
A. WE ARE ALL ONE BODY IN CHRIST
- there are three implications to this truth
- 1st, we are all parts of Christ’s body, and each of us has different work to do
- "so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:5, ESV)
- the foot’s job is different than the hand’s, and the hand’s role is different than the ear, and the ear’s role is different than the eye
- yet all are part of one body
- each of us is a part of the body of Christ and each of us has a different work to do
- some are leaders
- some are teachers
- some do administrative work
- some are good at serving
- the only way a local New Testament church can be healthy, thriving, and spiritually growing is when each of us accept that we all have a different work to do for Christ
- but let me make sure we all understand; these different roles do not imply any sort of ranking or importance
- there is no hierarchy in the local church
- the foot’s job is different than the hand’s—not superior
- the hand’s role is different than the ear’s—not superior
- the ear’s function is different than the eye’s—not superior
- in the same way, the pastor is no more important than a choir member, and the choir member is not more important than the Sunday School teacher, and the Sunday School teacher is not more important than the set up teams
- ILLUS. The local church must be like a symphony orchestra. Each instrument matters, but only if it’s played according to its calling and isn’t fighting another instrument for control.
- "so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:5, ESV)
- in Jesus Christ we are intimately connected, intimately related
- when we accept Christ, we become a grafted into his living body—we belong to one another the way the apple belongs to the branch, and the branch belongs to the trunk and the trunk belongs to the root
- we belong to one another the way brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers belong to one another
- we belong to one another the way the hand belongs to the foot, and the foot belongs to the brain, and the brain belongs to the stomach
- "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Romans 12:15-16, NIV)
- the implication of being part of Christ’s body and intimately connected to our fellow believers means that each of us is indispensable to Christ’s Church and to our fellow saints
- while we’re each uniquely designed, we’ve been made to function in community with one another
- in 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us of an obvious truth:
- "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”" (1 Corinthians 12:17-21, NIV)
- I need you and you need me
- we need each other
- we are each indispensable parts of the body of Christ
III. GOD HAS GIFTED EACH OF US FOR MINISTRY
- God has graced us with new life in Jesus Christ, and in that new life God has grafted us into Christ’s living body the church, and for the benefit of that body God has also gifted us for ministry
- how do we normally think about ministry?
- if you were talking about church to a neighbor, and that neighbor asked you who the minister is, what would you say?
- most likely you would tell your neighbor that your minister is David Krueger
- if you answered in that way, you would be partly right, but mostly wrong
- I am a minister of Jesus Christ—but so are you!
- I went to Bible College, I’ve earned a Master’s degree, but that is not what made me a minister
- I am a minister because, by God’s grace, I have been saved by Jesus Christ and have now been grafted into his body
- as a part of his body, I have a work or ministry to perform
- that is what makes me a minister—and it makes you a minister too
- within a year of being saved, God laid on my heart a verse of Scripture that has become my life’s verse ... 1 Timothy 1:12
- "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." (1 Timothy 1:12, NIV)
A. GOD HAS GIVEN EACH OF US AN ABILITY TO DO CERTAIN THINGS WELL
- "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." (Romans 12:6, NIV)
- the ability that God gives us to do certain things well is called a spiritual gift
- spiritual gifts are not our talents
- each of us is born with certain talents or natural abilities that can be developed
- they’re inherited and often genetically hard-wired into us
- but spiritual gifts come to us only when we’re born again
- a spiritual gift is a distinctive ability, given by the Holy Spirit to every Christian, according to God’s grace and design, for the purpose of building up the body of Christ
- Paul is clear in this passage—each of us has a God given ability
- God has entrusted you with a special ability, a spiritual gift, so that you can help make this church and the entire body of Christ more effective in our ministry
- I’ve had some Christians tell me, “But Pastor, I don’t have any spiritual gifts.”
- then you’ve just denied the authoritative Word of God that says you do!
- I’ve had some Christians tell me, “But Pastor, I don’t know what my spiritual gifts are.”
- hence the Spiritual Gifts Discovery tool in your bulletin this morning!
- when he wrote his first pastoral letter to the Christians at Corinth, one of the issues that the Apostle Paul had to deal with was their ignorance over spiritual gifts
- "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." (1 Corinthians 12:1, NIV)
- for that person I simply have no response but “Woe is you”
- I simply cannot stress enough the importance of you discovering your spiritual gift so that you can help make the church as strong and healthy and productive as possible
- ILLUS. Pastor John McArtur says that “no congregation will be what it could be, what Jesus prayed that it should be, what the Holy Spirit gifted it and empowered it to be, until it understands [and employs] spiritual gifts.”
B. GOD BLESSES THOSE WHO ARE ENGAGED IN SERVICE
- spiritual gifts are not given as “Brownie Points” to the super-spiritual
- they are spiritual enablements for ministry and service
- there are at least three benefits in using the spiritual gifts God has given you
- 1st, you will be fruitful
- "“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5, NIV)
- "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; ... " (Psalm 138:8, NIV)
- Ephesians 4:12 teaches that spiritual gifts are give “so that the body of Christ may be guilt up”
- “So,” says Paul, “if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
In a Chicago revival service many years ago, a minister, in the course of his sermon, pointed to a young woman who had been converted about a year and one-half earlier, and asked her, “What are you doing for God? Why don’t you do something for God?” To give emphasis to his words, the preacher stepped down from the pulpit, went to where the young woman was sitting, took her hand, conducted her out to the middle of the aisle, made her turn toward the door, and giving her a slight push, said to her, “I want you to start doing something for God.”
That push sent the young woman to the other side of the globe. She turned from her occupation of washing cloths, and began to study in preparation for Christian service. After her studies when went to Africa as a missionary. During her sixty-one year career she witnesses to hundreds of thousands of Africans of the Love of Jesus Christ, and was instrumental in winning many British colonists to faith in Christ.
The pastor that gave her the push was Dwight L. Moody. The young woman was Miss Malena Moe, one of the most famous missionaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who served in Africa until she died at the age of ninety.
- God has graced us
- God has grafted us
- God has gifted us…He has no hands your yours!