It is hard to believe that we have come to our last lesson on Spiritual Gifts. This has been such an eye opening experience for the staff. Unfortunately, many of us in the church do not even know that we have been given spiritual gifts, must less, have been trained in what they are and how to serve according to them. I pray that these articles have been as helpful to you as they have been for me.
Our previous lesson was Understanding Spiritual Gifts: Many to One. We discovered that God has given all of us gifts and placed us in the body where He wants us, raising up a ministry for us to serve in according to our spiritual gifts. He wants us to have the right attitude about our gifts and the gifts that He has given to others in the body.
- We should not look down on any of the gifts.
- All gifts are important and all are needed.
- We should not desire each others’ gifts.
- We should not seek a ministry that does not line up with our gifts.
- We must bestow honor on the less honorable (seen) gifts.
- If one of the members of the body suffers, we all suffer with him.
- If one of the members of the body is honored, we should rejoice with him.
- All of the gifts and ministries are based on the grace of God, they are all gifts given to us by God.
When we all understand this and have the attitude of serving one another with our gifts, we see maturity take place among the body, the Lord is glorified, and the ministry grows.
Today’s lesson will focus on some practical examples of people in the Bible who served according to their gifts. I want to take example by example, looking at how they served and the results of that service.
In Acts 8:4-5, 12 and 21:8, we find the person of Philip serving according to the gift(s) that he has been given in order to serve others, glorify God, and extend the ministry of the kingdom of heaven. Philip was one of the people chosen in Acts 6 to wait on the tables in order to relieve the apostles and free them up to devote themselves to the teaching of the Word of God so that the saints who had been given spiritual gifts could be trained and equipped in employing their gifts for the glory of God. Philip probably came to Christ on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 people were converted, receiving the Holy Spirit and the gifts that came along with the Holy Spirit. He began to be trained immediately, sitting at the apostles’ feet daily and listening to their teaching of the Old Testament along with the teachings of Christ. From Acts 2 to Acts 8, about 10 years pass. Philip has been well trained and so when the great persecution arises, he is not stopped by this difficult obstacle. He goes on serving according to his gift wherever he finds himself. We see him in Acts 8 preaching the Word. Even though in Acts 2, he was chosen to serve the tables, meaning that he probably had a serving gift, we see that his main gift is a speaking gift, he is an evangelist. In Acts 6, Philip serves according to his gift of serving and the ministry grows while God is glorified. When Philip serves according his gift in Acts 8, the ministry grows and God is glorified. People hear the Gospel and understand It because of Philip’s proclamation. Philip preaches the Word of God and the power of God is seen. As a result of hearing and understanding the Gospel from the Word of God, people dedicate themselves to the Lord and the process begins all over again, just like in Acts 2, they dedicated themselves to the Lord, received the Holy Spirit, were baptized, and immediately began to be equipped by being trained in the Word of God. In Acts 21, we see Philip hosting the mission team that Paul is leading. He never misses an opportunity to serve the church with his gift and to reach out to the lost with his gift. He understands the subject of spiritual gifts and because he serves according to his spiritual gift(s), the believers are built up, the ministry grows, and the Lord is glorified.
The next example that we see in Scripture is the person called Apollos. His story is found in Acts 18:24-28. Apollo is a Jewish man so he has a background in the Scriptures. He is from Alexandria so he was probably very well educated. He was a follower of Christ and had received a speaking gift because he was eloquent in his speech. He was able to communicate with the audience very well. This passage tells us that he was mighty in the Scriptures. Apollos was also zealous for the Lord. He was preaching and teaching accurately about Jesus Christ. Although he was well educated and serving according to his gift, he still needed to be better equipped and better trained so that he could mature and be even more useful to the kingdom of the Lord. Two teachers, Priscilla and Aquila took him under their wing and used their spiritual gift to equip him even better in the Scriptures so that he could be of even more and better service to the kingdom of heaven. Once he receives his training from Priscilla and Aquila, he is commissioned by the local body of believers and sent to Achaia to strengthen the church and work for the furtherance of the kingdom. When he arrives in Achaia, he begins to strengthen the church in the Word and evangelizing publicly using the Scriptures. The church is encouraged and strengthened, the ministry grows, and the Lord is glorified because Apollos serves according to his gift because he was trained to do so by Priscilla and Aquila. This brings us to our next example, Priscilla and Aquila.
III. Priscilla and Aquila
Their case is also found in Acts 18:24-28. I would just like to point out a few things about them serving according to their gifts. They saw potential in Apollos. The did not see him as competition. They realized that God had placed them together so that they could serve him according to the gift that the Lord had given to them. The immediately employed their gift in serving the Lord by serving Apollos. They took something good and made it even better. Apollos was already well educated in the Scriptures and serving the Lord with great zeal. He just lacked some equipping and Priscilla and Aquila saw where they could be useful and they served. God was glorified, the church was edified, and the ministry continued to grow. It is amazing what happens when we understand the ministry from the perspective of Spiritual Gifts. The competition immediately disappears. The focus is edifying and serving one another so that the Lord can get the glory and the ministry grows.
IV. Ananias and Sapphira
This is the only negative example in the list. Their story is found in Acts 5:1-6. I believe that this is an example of someone not serving according to their gifts. These two has seen Barnabas display the gift of giving and were jealous of the recognition that he had received. Remember what I Corinthians 12 teaches us, rejoice with those who are honored. Ananias and Sapphira did not do this. They wanted recognition too. They devised a plan to “show” that they had the gift of giving as well. They tried to deceive the leaders and lie to the Holy Spirit. Their focus was not edifying the body, extending the ministry, and giving the glory to God. They wanted the glory. They are confronted by Peter, who shows the gift of leadership and distinguishing of spirits. Peter serves according to his gift and as a result, the church is edified. The Lord is glorified and there is a greater respect for Him as a result.
v. The team of Paul, Barnabas, and John
This team is mentioned in Acts 13:1-5. They are believers who are already serving in the local church. Paul and Barnabas are serving as prophets and teachers. Barnabas has the gift of encouragement, a speaking gift. He also has the gift of giving and here we see either teaching or preaching. Paul is an apostle so he clearly has speaking and teaching gifts. Both are serving in the local church according to their gifts. The Lord leads them through the Holy Spirit to go and plant churches. They go as a team;
- an apostle (Paul)
- an encourager (Barnabas)
- speaking gifts
- prophet or teacher
- a helper (John-Mark)
This is a perfect team for planting churches. They are all trained in the local church, serve in the local church, and are called from the local church to go and plant churches. They go as a team. They serve each other, the ministry grows, and the Lord is glorified. They go out with a plan, to evangelize in the synagogues, a place where people were seeking to know God. The church planting team used the religion that the people already knew to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
VI. Peter and John
Our next case is found in Acts 3:1-10. Peter and John are serving the Lord. They are on their way to the temple to pray because it was a cultural tradition. The place would be packed with people who were seeking to know God. There was a lame man who sat there daily, begging for money. He was passed daily by people on their way to meet with God. No one really cared about him as a person. They were too busy to meet with God to care much about the people around them. If they did acknowledge him, they just threw money at him and walked on. I believe that the Greatest Commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your . . . and then your neighbor as yourself. If you love God then you cannot help but love the people around you who were created in the image of the God whom you claim to love. Peter and John were passing this man and they stopped and looked him in the eye. They saw a person there and they cared about this person so much that they gave him the best gift in the universe. The money that he received daily did not change his state because he was back day in and day out. He needed something more. He needed Christ and that is what Peter and John gave to him. Jesus Christ healed the lame man through Peter. Peter deomonstrates the gift of healing in this passage and he serves according to his gift. As a result, the man believes and begins to glorify God. A door is opened to preach the Gospel and about 2,000 people come to Christ.
Our final example is the example of Phoebe. She is a believer and a deacon. She obviously has a serving gift. Paul mentions her in Romans 16:1-2. She served in the local church and helped Paul in planting churches. She had helped many people with her gift. As a result, the church was edified, the ministry grew, and the Lord was glorified. Amazing things happen when we know our gifts and are equipped to serve according to those gifts.
Do you know your spiritual gifts? Are you being trained and equipped so that you can serve according to your gifts? Are you using your gift to serve others, to edify the body of Christ, to grow the ministry, and to glorify the Lord whom you claim to love? May the Lord help us all know our gifts and learn to serve according to them so that the Lord will glorified in every aspect of our lives.