In chapter 12 Romans takes on a different flavor than the first portion of the book. Chapters 1 through 11 are theological and present man’s need for salvation and God’s plan of salvation. From chapter 12 onward, the book becomes very practical. Theology is now applied is now applied. He is trying to paint a practical picture of how we are to live out the Christian life.
The last time we met Verla spoke from Romans 12:1 & 2. In short, we are to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Those two verses speak of how we are to live out our Christian walk in relation to God. In Romans 12:3 and following, Paul teaches how we can live out our Christian walk in relationship to other Christians.
In verse three, Paul’s next point strikes to the heart of our thinking and our identity. We are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, “but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Paul is teaching against the Pride. It is the sin of Adam and Even in the Garden. It is the sin of Lucifer, the fallen angel.
Paul hits hard against pride, because it is one of the key obstacles to turning a collection of individual Christians into the church, which is the unified body of Christ. Pride is the root of sin which breaks our relationship with God. Pride is also at the root of sin which breaks our relationship with others.
This is not what the world teaches. The world teaches self-confidence, not god-confidence. It teaches that each day, we must increase. Implicit in that, is that God must decrease.
This leads to some mixed-up thinking both practically and spiritually. A practical example of the effects of promoting self-esteem was seen in a study on high school math students. According to an objective test, student in Korea ranked best in abilities and American students ranked worst. Yet in a self assessment of abilities, Americans ranked themselves first. Their math self-esteem was not at all in touch with reality.
In a spiritual sense, this leads to even greater error. If I’m Ok, and you’re Ok, then is there a need for us to change? There is no place for sin. If I’m a victim, and you’re a victim, then neither of us are responsible. We have no need to repent.
God offers man the sober, realistic view of our spiritual condition. Scripture is unflinchingly honest in terms of the truth of sin. It speaks resoundingly of God’s great love.
We are sinners, yet we redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ, we have broken relationships, yet we are united with God and one another in Christ, and we have hearts inclined to evil but we are transformed to live out the fruits of the spirit through the power of God’s spirit. We are children of God, we are held in the inescapable grip of grace.
Before God, we learn spiritual humility and also particle humility. God is better at everything than you are. All of Motzart’s play flawlessly in the mind of God. Are you strong? Can you hold the ocean in the palm of your hand, as Isaiah 41 teaches that God can. Are you smart? God is smarter. Are you creative? How many brilliant sunsets and flashing thunderstorms have you written across the sky? In comparison to god, we are all just toddlers with finger paints. Even our best work, while great in the eyes of the world, is refrigerator art before God. It is great in his eyes because he loves us.
God is better, and he is a better sport. He is kind, gentle, and encouraging in his relationship with us. His example teaches us how to relate to our brothers and sisters who may not share the skills we have.
When we are restored with right relationship with God, we have the security and freedom to see ourselves soberly. Our sober assessment can admit that we might not make a great pastry chef, but that we could make a great airline pilot. We hold our gifts in the right way, because those gifts and successes point to God’s greatness, not our own. We are free to admit and endure our inadequacies and our weakness relative to others, because these, too, point to God’s greatness and provision.
When see ourselves soberly, and we see others soberly, then we recognize that our gifts do not make us superior. We can use our gifts with meekness and humility to support and encourage our brothers without an air of superiority. When we see ourselves soberly, we are free to see that the gifts of another and receive the gifts of others in grace, without a sense of inferiority.
We can then see where we have been given much, without pride, and we can see where we have been given little, without humiliation. With a clear-eyed view we enter the community of the church without being overly prideful in our gifts or overly sensitive of our inadequacies. We enter into mutually encouraging relationships in Christ.
Where does pride hinder you from entering into deeper relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ? How has breaking down pride in your life brought you deeper fellowship with other Christians.
Philipians two teaches: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Do we have the same attitude of humility and service we that we have for God?
The Body of Christ
We pour a couple of different meanings into the word church. Sometimes it refers to a building like this one. We use it to refer to a specific group of people who meet as a church, and we use it to refer to the worldwide collection of believers gathered around Christ Jesus.
All of us who believe in Christ are grafted in to the vine of Christ and through our union with Christ are united with one another. We are members of one body, and members of one another as Paul teaches.
One of the things that is wonderful about the love of Christ and the body of Christ living out that love is that the church has its doors open to the world. Much of what we participate in, we must be qualified for. We need a degree, enough money to pay the price of admission, or we need to pass the hiring committee, or enough athletic skill – except for BSF softball, which doesn’t call any strikes.
Think about this for a minute – the church is a pretty unique place. It is one of the few places in the world where all are welcome without cost or expectation and the most highly prized of all things in this world, love, is freely given.
Christ opens the door to salvation to all. The church is to open the doors to fellowship to all. There are no pre-conditions, no qualifications, no exclusions, no fine print. We, as the body of Christ, are to be Christ, and welcome those who seek relationship in Christ.
Before we last left for spring break, we took a class picture and sent it to growing Young Adult class. That Young Adult class is in Nigeria. They are a continent away, their mother tongue is different, they live in a nation divided between Muslims and Christians. Because it is BSF, they answer the same questions. But because they live a half-a-world away, their answers are much different. They are less concerned with peer pressure, and more concerned with family pressure.
For all of our differences, we are able to relate because we share one great thing in common, our salvation in Jesus Christ.
Though they are very different, it is easy to be one with them because they are far away. It doesn’t cost very much. But when Christians who are different are in the same room, it can be a little harder to admit we are one in the body of Christ because we sometimes additional qualifications to those of Christ. We must take care not to ad our own personal fine print to acceptance of others into fellowship.
BSF has been a great lesson in that for me. During my first year here, I was placed in a group with guys who were in very different places in life than I was. I worked in customer service, another was on his way to an MBA program, and another was recovering from cocaine addition.
In one sense, we had very little in common. We were very different guys. But we had Christ. And, I set aside preconceptions of what it meant to be a Christian and reach out to them as a brother in Christ. The blessing was that I was able to see God in new and rich ways through the testimony of the other men in my group.
By way of application, what fine print do you require to be satisfied in order to enter into Christian fellowship with you? What personal expectations do you expect a brother or sister to satisfy? I realize that we are not all going to be drawn to the same level of friendship with each person, but what steps are you taking to welcome other members of the church body into relationship with you?
In the first two verses of this chapter, Paul spoke of laying down ones life as a living sacrifice. There are many ways and places in which we can do that. The church is one of them.
The body of Christ is to be alive in the world, carrying out the great commission to reach all people. Paul’s illustration of the body does not call us to passive, consumer Christianity. It calls to be active and engaged.
At the simplest sense, that can mean contributing to the life of the church you attend financially. Seattle is an expensive place to live, and it’s tough when we are working to get established financially to find the extra money, but we need to consider the needs of the church body needs a church building, it needs shepherds and teachers, it needs to pay the light bill.
At BSF, we do accept donations. But we are only volunteers. We don’t have a church mortgage or salaries to pay. We consider your church to be your primary home and area of responsibility.
I am not your pastor, and do not depend on donations. That said, what are the needs of your church and your pastors. Are you giving financially in your church with a grateful heart in return for what your church body is giving you? How much do you spend on movies or going out each week, and how much do you spend on the church which feeds and cloths you spiritually?
More importantly, we are to give not only financial treasure, but of our time and talent as well. The sober view reveals to us that we are gifted in some areas. We must be responsible with the talents god has given us.
Think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. To summarize, a master left three servants each with a sum of money before leaving on a long trip. Two servants put the money to good use, making investments. The third buried his talent in the ground, afraid that he might somehow loose the money if his investment went bad.
When the master returns, the two servants who put their money to use were rewarded and praised. The servant who left his money buried was chastised.
God has given us healthy bodies, sound minds, and a spirit of love and power with which to live out the Christian life. The sober view reveals that he has given us specific gifts and talents. Do not take pride in your gifts, but give from your gifts.
How are you serving the body of Christ with the talents you have been given? Have you buried your time and energy under over-commitment to work, weekend plans for fun which don’t allow time for Christian service, or a focus on your own life which doesn’t allow time for encouraging others?
When Christ returns will he find that you have used your gift of service to prepare meals in the church kitchen, your gift of encouragement to cheer up a struggling brother or sister? In the past three months, how many hours have you given in Christian service at your church, or elsewhere?
Don’t be a consumer Christian who looks forward to a 60-minute service, with no commercial interruptions. To use Paul’s analogy of the body, don’t be stomach, always looking to be fed. Be a hand and serve, a heart and encourage, feet and evangelize.
I want to say this especially to the men. When I look around the churches of which I’ve been a part, it always appears to me that women are over-represented in service. Women do often tend to outnumber men in church congregations, but even if you adjust your expectations for that fact, the numbers just don’t look even. Men seem to be under represented. They’re parked in the padded pews. Men, we need to step it up, and take our place alongside the ladies in serving in the church.
Let’s talk for a minute about how we understand our relationships with those in the church. How would you define your relationship with members of the body of Christ, be they in your church or in other Christian communities. We have friends, aquantences, people with whom we serve, and hopefully a handful of close brothers or sisters which whom we walk intimately.
I know that many of us see our Christian friendships a place to turn for fun and encouragement. But, do we also see those friendships as God-ordained relationships in which you are at times to minister to one another as a representative of Christ.
We are to encourage one another
Consider what Hebrews 10:24 & 25: Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We are to encourage one another, not just to do well on the softball field, but in Christian walk and in acts of service. We are to be teammates and coaches cheering one another one in acts of service.
We are to guard one another from sin.
I have a few guys in my life who run the Christian race with me. They pick me up when I go down, the kick me in the but when I’m a spiritual slacker or blind to my own sin. We are friends, yes, but we are friends in Christ and in service to Christ. Their loyalty to the truth of God is greater than their need for my friendship, and the speak the truth in love.
In protecting me, they are protecting the body. They are determining all that is without sin.
See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." (Hebrews 3:12-14)
From Ephesians 4:2, we learn two other marks that are to characterize our Christian church.
First, we are to humble, gentle, and patient. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, and in the same way Christ has gently dealth with each of us, so, too, are we to gently deal with our brothers and sisters. We are to encourage, love, and be patient toward them in grace. Salvation comes in an instant, at the moment of accepting Christ as savior. Sanctification, our growth in becoming more like Christ, will continue for a lifetime. There are times for confrontation and rebuke, but we must remember that it is grace which inexorably transforms us to be like Christ.
Second, we are to remain united through the spirit.
We are members of one another in Christ, and we are to live together in unity. It is too easy, especially if we are living as a stomach, to complain about the quality of the food we are being fed. I’d challenge you with this, before you become a critic, get involved. You will be one with those you criticize. It may change your opinion of things.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2).
What are spiritual gifts? The greek word is charismata. It is used in the New Testament 17 times, 16 of those times by Paul. Charismata is a derivative of the word “Grace” and literally means, “a grace gift”
Spiritual gifts are given by God. They are given for the purpose of glorifying God. They are to be used for his glory and according to his plans rather than to enhance our own glory or further our plans. They are to be used to build up the church, develop Christian character and in service to the community.
The list of gifts in this passage of Romans lists seven gifts. There are other lists in the New Testament as well. There are about 19 gifts listed in the New Testament in total.
Spiritual gifts can be broken in to three categories. The first can be thought of as the gifts of minitstry. Examples are pastor or teacher. The second group of gifts are the gifts of service. Mercy, Giving and Leadership are examples of this type. The third general category are the charismatic gifts such as wisdom, knowledge and prophesy.
Let’s take a look at the gifts in this passage. This passage discusses 7 gifts. The notes will elaborate on a definition for each gift, and the notes will define what they are.
I want to drill down on one gift in particular, Prophesy.
Prophets are those who spoke under the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit to communicate a doctrine, remind people of a duty, or give a warning. The words of prophets never contradict the written word of God, nor are they equal to the written word of God.
Christian teachers who identify themselves as prophets are often very persuasive and deliver powerful messages with very clear teachings. Christians who receive prophetic teaching have both the freedom and the responsibility to test prophetic utterances against the word of God.
Three points about words of prophesy.
The written word of God is the highest authority.
First, prophesies are to be evaluated. First Corinthians 14:29 teaches that we are to teach receive the word of prophets and weigh what has been said.
Second, prophetic words may be rejected. 1 Thes 5:20 teaches that we are to test what the prophets teach and cling to what is good. We are discard that which is false.
Third, we use scripture as the standard by which to judge prophesy. God will not contradict himself. The written word of God is the benchmark against which prophetic words are to be measured.
When you are presented with any Christian teaching, even that which is represented as prophetic, you have the freedom and responsibility to test it to discern if it is true. Be a Berean, one of the churchs Paul commended for testing the words he spoke to them.
Do you identify yourself as having one of the gifts mentioned in tonights passage? If not, there a dozen more to review and study. I have put a list of the other gifts on the overhead.
The notes point out that each one of us has been given at least a spiritual gift in Christ. This is great news. God has equipped each of us for service in the body of Christ. Do you recognize yourself as equipped with a specially chosen gift of God for you? I think that many times we overlook that we are equipped by God to undertake work on his behalf. Or, we may be afraid to exercise our gift.
All Christians are members of the body of Christ, and God has called us as individuals and a church to fulfill his mission to bring his name to the world. God equips those whom he calls. Each of us may be equipped in a different way, but all of us are equipped to serve in the great mission of the church to reach the world with the good news of Christ and to serve one another in the body of Christ. You and I are equipped.
Do you know what gift you have been give? If not, seek out a leader at your church, and discuss with them your desire to serve. Ask for help in identifying an area in which you are gifted to serve.
I have begun to see our need to serve as more than simply a request on God’s part, but a call – a responsibility if you will. In a way, Paul is spelling out part of the Christian’s job description. How we are to think of ourselves, how we are to think of others, how we are to relate to one another, and how we are to serve one another.
When we go to work, we recognize that we have a set of responsibilities to fulfill in our job description. Being successful in our work requires meeting the details spelled out for us in our job description.
In the same way, we have a role and call to fulfill within the church. As taught in this passage, it begins with seeing our selves soberly, and entering into relationship with the body of Christ. What is your job description in the body of Christ? Do you have one? If God were to return like the master in the parable from Matthew, what responsibilities have you fulfilled why he has been away? What fruit would you have to show for it?
Unlike our professional work, in the church we give for different reasons. At work, we give our time and energy and in return we are given a paycheck. We are paid after we have given, at the end of the month. The company is in our debt until we have been paid.
In the church, we have been given to first – we have received God’s love and been welcomed into the body in grace. It is a gift freely given, and a gift which we could never repay, even if we gave it our all. We are to give to church and to the world as a gift of grace in response to grace God has given us.
Where are giving from what God has given you? In light of the gifts you have been given, what is your job description in the church? Are you living up to it?
I want to close with this passage from Ephesians 2:10. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We’ve got work to do.
1 Corinthians 12:4-14
- Word of Wisdom
- Word of Knowledge
- Working of miracles
- Discernment of spirits
- Speaking in tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
1 Corinthians 12:27 - 30
- Varieties of tongues
- Showing mercy
- Pastors and teachers*
Christianity also offers us a clear picture how God has equipped each of us to fulfill his call and purpose.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all phumility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in
the bond of peace
As I look at my own life in the past couple of week, I what it means in practical terms to be a member of the body of Christ, and to both give and receive in the body of Christ.
Christianity also offers us a clear picture how God has equipped each of us to fulfill his call and purpose.
No member of the body is self-sufficient. We are recipients of the gifts of one another. How is it that you can receive from another member of the body of Christ? What you are equipped to give, in what areas are you prepared to receive?
Each Christian has his or her gifts. As they give from those gifts, they are in turn receiving from each member gives from his own gifts. There is mutual service, mutual encouragement. No one is exclusively a gift giver or gift receiver. In one manner we give, and in others we receive.
In this, we are blessed. We recognize that we are
Verla spoke of laying down our lives as a living sacrifice. do we walk in the front door of our church each week looking to lay down our live as a sacrifice.
I think it is important to note that at the beginning of his call to Christian living, right after challenging us to lay down our lives as living sacrifices, Paul raises the point that we are members of one body.
The call to lay down our lives, and use the gifts mentioned a couple of verses later, it is a personal act that that is played out corporately. Some of the sacrifices we make are personal, between us and God.
We must no longer sacrifice animals to God on Sunday, but do we willingly sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others.
Let’s talk more about what it meant to be what it means to be a member of one body and belong to one another.
While Christ upset the established religious order of his day. The need for believers to gather together in community did not. As we read in Acts, house churches were formed and Christians gathered together in communities ordered in a new way. There was no longer distinction between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, servant and masters. The line between earthly realities and heavenly realities was blurred as Christians lived out their faith and worshiped God with a view to the heavenly world rather than the earthly world.
In a forward looking sense, the church in the world today is to exemplify a sort of heaven lived out here on earth. We gather together to serve and worship God today, as we will one day do in heaven.
What is it that makes us one? Let’s look to Ephesians 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
The notes will elaborate on the seven one’s that unite us. One body, one spirit, one lord, one faith, one baptism, and one god.
Our decision to follow Christ may be individual and personal, but when we become one with Christ, we become one with our fellow believers in the church. Christianity is a team sport.
How do you care for the other members of your body?
III Spiritual Gifts
We care Christians because at one moment in our lives, it became readily clear to us that there was a God. That god was not us. And, that only God could correct our problems. We recognized Christ as God. While this has always been very clear to him, this may have not been clear to us. Once we have recognized his sovereignty, the most important relationship in our life is in ou
When we become one with Christ, we do not just change our relationship with God. We change our relationship with the world. More significantly we become a member of the church
Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.
There is one body.
All Christians are to conform to the image of Christ, but we are not called or required to live uniform lives.
How would you describe yourself? Guy. Live in Seattle. Hike. Work in technology. But, what do we make of those facts? How do you answer the question of value? Am I in the right place? Am I doing the right things? These questions strike to the heart of our identity and of our value.
If we look back to the old testament, to the spiritual life of Israel prior to Christ, the order of the spiritual community was quite clear. There was a temple. This was the place in which God was thought to dwell. It is the place at which God was to be worshipped. At the temple sacrifices were made to please God, and offer attonement for sin. The sacrifices were made on an alter. The sacrifices were performed by priests. The priests mediated the relationship between God and man.
The coming of Christ changed all of this. As Hebrews chapter 9 makes clear, Christ is once and for all sacrifice which fulfilled man’s debt to God. Christ himself fulfills the duty of the priesthood and becomes the high priest for all (chapt 7). And, the stone alter is no more.
When we are Consumer Christians we arrive for an 11am showing of church, which continues without commercial interruption for an hour, and we have checked the box of church attendance.
At times I have defined my relationship with the church I was attending with my relationship with the pastor. This is really strange, because m I haven’t really known the pastor personally. I have been one of a few hundred individuals facing forward in the pews on Sunday morning, with a sense of one-on-one connection with the pastor as he spoke and with God during worship. I have approached church as a collection of individuals gathered around God and the teaching of a pastor.
Are we in heart and mind and action, do we consider ourselves a member of a church body?
To use Paul’s metaphor of the church being a body, a lot of us want to be stomachs. We want to be fed. We all need to be fed in our Christian walk. And there are times and places, during which we will be the recipients of the Church’s love.
With your time, your talent, your treasure are you giving as well as receiving?
What have you given lately?
If we choose to marry, God has called us to be the head of our households, and to lead a wife and children. Where better to begin to prepare for that god given responsibility for leadership than in stepping up to assume responsibilities in some area at church. You can learn and grow under the leadership of older Christians so that in turn you may lead well.
p Acts 20:19; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8; 5:5; [Col. 2:18, 23]