This is part of a series from 2009 which explored the connection between Passion, Gifts and Personality.

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gifts and graces basic 1. Knowing who we are is a key part of knowing where to minister. So complete the worksheet: Style Assessment.  Although very simple, it gives surprisingly accurate answers.  Then us the interpretive sheet – to discover more about how you will server.  Share your results with the others – it’s usually a really enjoyable part of the process

God has wired us all up differently!

 

2. Use the summary form to collect up all their answers from the last three weeks. Include the results from your Friends Assessment.

 

3. Share and pray with each other about ways to serve God which co-operates with what you have discovered about your passion, gifts and personality.

 

4. Plan to attend the mission fair at the end of the service on 12th July to see there are openings for you in God’s service at GBC.

 

5. Seek out others with the same or complimentary passions, gifts and personalities.

 

6. Reflect and pray together about the whole of this series and what you have learnt in your cell group.

 

Going deeper with Ps 139

1. How does David feel about God’s total knowledge of him? How do you feel about God’s total knowledge of you? Why?

 

2. Why does it matter that God knows you so intimately? What difference does it make? Why does David make such a big deal over it?

 

3. How do people try to get away from God? Have you ever tried to get away from God? Why?

 

4. What dark situation in your life needs to be brought into God’s light?

 

5. What things about yourself do you have difficulty accepting, even to the point of questioning your Creator? Is there anything in the Psalm that helps you in this dilemma?

 

6. Faith can be defined as “choosing to believe God’s Word (promises) regardless of

our feelings or circumstances”. In other words, if my circumstances and feelings contradict what God says is true, I choose, by an act of my will, to believe and put my trust in God’s truth instead of what my feelings or circumstances may be telling me. If you are willing to believe the truth you have discovered in Psalm 139, regardless of what you feel about yourself and your circumstances, write a short prayer to God telling him you choose to believe the truths of him and yourself.

Adrian is preaching on Sunday but I thought I’d still blog the cell outline, in case it is helpful for those not at their cell group this week.

 

1. Use the Spiritual Gifts (Gifts Matching) worksheet and the Spiritual Gifts Guide to clarify your understanding of Spiritual Gifts.  The aim is for you to get a really good idea of what each gift is for.

 

The exercise is straight forward.  Look at the first line on the worksheet: Administration.  Then go to the Guide and look for “Administration”.  Administration contributes the things in the “description” lines

…understand what makes an organisation function, and the special ability to plan and execute procedures that increase the church’s organisational effectiveness.

So in the “Contributes” box summarise that for yourself – let’s say you can write

“make’s things happen well”.

Finally look down the right hand column for the right matching  description which in this case is “B”.  That letter goes in the third box.

Check out your answers with each other.

 

2. Answer the questions on the worksheet  Spiritual Gifts (Gifts Assessment). This is likely to be the most significant part of the whole process. Answer the questions by completing the table on the final page.

 

The Guide is an extraordinarily good record of how gifts function and practical advice on how to exercise them.   On the Assessment Sheet you can then total down the column. You will be very encouraged and sometime surprised at the results. The letters on the Assessment Sheet relate to the Guide Booklet, and not the Matching sheet!  Which are your top three? And your bottom three?

 

3. You can then refer back to the Guide to think more about your gifts.  Does it ring true?


Going deeper

Use the Servitude or Servanthood table below to think about what motivates you in your ministry? How could you move more fully to being a servant? What actions or attitudes need to change?

 

servitude

noun

1.  The condition of a slave, serf, or the like; subjection to a master; slavery or bondage

2.  Work imposed as punishment for crime

 

servanthood

noun

1. The state, condition, or quality of one who lives as a follower of Christ; in submission to God first, and then submission to one another.

 

2. The condition or state of being involved in ministry to others rather than the service of self, by willingly giving of oneself to minister for and to others and to do whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for another.

 

 

A Christian prompted by servility

A Christian prompted by servanthood

Serves out of

Obligation

It’s an "I-have-to" kind of attitude.

Obedience

It is an "I want to serve God!" attitude.

Is motivated to

serve by

Fear of men

In servility the motivation is driven by:

what will others say if I don’t serve, or if I don’t serve in this ministry, or
don’t serve in this way, or
don’t commit this kind of time?

What God sees

In servanthood we serve because we have fellowship and communion with God. We understand that ultimately we have an audience of One.

Serves with the

attitude of

It’s not my job

Servility aims to do the minimum necessary to get by and fulfil the basics.

Whatever it takes

Servanthood is willing to go outside the "job description".

Has a ministry

mindset that says

Me first

Servility wants to advance its own agenda, and is asking "What’s in it for me?"

Lord God first

Servants look up and say, "Lord, what would YOU have me do at this time? God, how could my life best honour YOU? How can I make a difference today in the way you have enabled me to touch lives?"

Serves with a

spirit of

Pride

When we serve out of servility, we look at what we did and say "Well, I did that, I have something to offer, I’m something." I… I … I … I.

Humility

Servanthood says "GOD did that! GOD has given me a Spiritual Gift and has filled me with his spirit to empower me for the faithful and meaningful expression of that Spiritual Gift. GOD has used me to have an impact in a person’s life."

The results are

Self seeking

Believers prompted by servility try to build up and draw attention to themselves.

God glorifying

Servanthood says "Don’t look at me, I am glad to serve you; give God the glory, isn’t he wonderful?"

1. There Must be a Better Way

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We will not motivate people by guilt but by helping them discover their spiritual passion, discover their spiritual gifts and discover you they are.

 

2. Discovering our Passion is like doing a Jigsaw, we don’t need more pieces, we just need to sort them out and put them together.

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3. Passion is God-given

Ex 20:1-17, Matt 22.36-40, Rms 12.1, Eph 4.11-12, 1 Peter 4

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4. Passion is God’s Choice

Ps 37:3-5, Gal 1:15-16

 

5.Passion tells us “WHERE” we serve

 

Cell outline

There is a worksheet prepared for this week called Spiritual Gifts (Passion).  Don’t be surprised if you put down unexpected things.  God places on our hearts a great diversity of passions which in time widen our expectations of what he can do amongst us.

 

1. Complete the worksheet either before your cell meeting or at it.

 

2. Share what you have put down – and then using the Spiritual Gifts (Passion Help) sheet look for ways that a passion can be expressed.  This is best done in a group or triplets, so that others can help with “dreaming dreams”.

 

3. Try to move from a simple passion e.g. “children”, through to the ways that children can be ministered to, e.g. “directly working with young children, supporting, single parent families, helping challenging children, …. “, the list can be endless.  Help one another to write down all the things which come to mind.

 

4. In discussion and prayer, encourage one another to sense which of the many possible areas resonates with their spirit and the Holy Spirit!

 

Going deeper

1. In what ways can we impose our passion on others? What can we do to avoid doing so?

 

2. How can you avoid the temptation to be motivated by being made to feel guilty that something is not being done?

 

3. “Dependent – Independent – Interdependent”. This is the journey of life. Where are you on the same journey of relationships at GBC.

Spiritual gifts and graces basic logo

Understanding the Body 101
What is the body of Christ?

  • A common expression
  • Not ‘like’, but are (v27, 5.30-31)!
  • Made up of unique members (v14)

How to join it?

  • Given one Spirit (v13)
  • Participate in baptism and communion (v13)

Diversity – The inferiority debate
The complaint (v15-16)
The answer

  1. Variety is essential (v17, v19-20, 1 Cor 1:5-7)
  2. God chooses to do it that way (v18)

Pride – The spiritual wet blanket
The arrogant believer (v21)
The humble reply

  1. The “better” need the “lesser” (v22)
  2. The “presentable” need the less “presentable” (v23f; Mark 10:42-45; 1 Cor 4:9; Col 1:24)

Unity – You, me, the church and its superglue

  • The body needs the superglue of love (v25-26; 1 Cor 13; 1 Cor 3:1-2)
  • The body needs many ministries (v28)
    People/Activities
    Congregational ministries
    Translocal ministries
  • The body needs you to desire the greater gifts (v31)

An issue is the development of a charismatic gift into  a ministry.

 

1. All believers are ministers (Mk, 10.45; 1 Cor 12.5-7; Acts 6.1)

Most people thinking of the term minister, think of someone who is in the ministry, a ‘minister of religion”. We speak of going into the ministry as an honour and leaving the ministry as a shame. Terms like ‘Reverend’ reflect a super-spirituality. Michael Green in Called to Serve says, “[terms like] Reverend, Venerable, Very Reverend, Most Reverend are a hindrance to ministry. They build a wall with others. They can make a hearer just a little proud, a little pleased, a little further removed.”

In the New Testament, the term ministry does exist. It translates the word diakonia, and can be also translated as servant or deacon.

There is a spirit of diakonia (ministry) in Mark 10.45 and the manner of diakonia is seen in 1 Cor 12.5-7. There are many activities associated with diakonia:

1. Apostolic ministry (diakonia) : Acts 1.17 which Judas shared with the other apostles.
2. Food distribution: Acts 6.1.
3. Waiting at table: Acts 6.2
4. Ministry of the word: Acts 6.1
5. Mission (diakonia) of Barnabus and Paul: Acts 12.25.
6. Help or assistance (diakonia) which Paul sent to Macedonia: Acfcs 19.22. Also 2 Tim 1.18, Col 4.7.
7. Evangelism: Acts 20.24, the task (diakonia) which Paul had been given, for example testifying and evangelism. Also 2 Cor 6.3.
8. Overall Ministry: Acts 21.19, Paul is reporting what God had done through his ministry (diakonia). Also in 2 Tim 4.11.
9. Administration: Roms 12.7, 2 Cor 3.5
10. Service: Rms 13.4, 1 Cor 12.5, Col 1.7
11. Devotion: Rev 2.19
12. In 1 Cor 12.7 charismata is translated ministry.

Ministry is what all Christians do. Eph 4.12 talks of the responsibilities of some people to prepare saints (Christians) for works of ministry or service (diakonia). All are ministers.

 

2.  A spiritual gift may develop into an area of recognised ministry

 

A spiritual gift is a significant ability given to each believer by the Holy Spirit.  This “significant ability” exceeds the normal ability level of others in the church.  It has been referred to as a “supernatural ability” in contrast to the natural talents we and others may have in many different areas.   A well established and publically acknowledged gift can be known as a ministry.  For example, a pastoral gift which is nurtured and exercised may result in a pastoral ministry.

 

Both natural talents and spiritual gifts can be used for the glory of God, but spiritual gifts are unique by their powerful nature and in their dedication to the service of the Lord. Sometimes the term ‘ministry’ is used of a powerful and consistently used spiritual gift.

 

Therefore spiritual gifts should be discovered, developed, and used freely and willingly. We were given these gifts by God’s grace, and our use of them should be just as gracious.

 

Pray for guidance: Prayer is essential if you wish to become serious about discovering and using your gift to fulfil God’s purposes. Continually pray for guidance and strength in the use of your gift and ask God to open your eyes to the needs of others that your gift might help.

 

Accept the gift: Believe that you are gifted (1 Pet. 4:10), and give thanks to God for your gift.

 

Learn about the gift: Study scriptural passages on gifts in general as well as specific gifts you believe you have been given. Gain a good understanding of your gift by discovering the characteristics of people who have this gift and the ways the gift can be exercised. Seek out and speak with other Christians who have the same gift, and find out what they have done with it. If there are conferences or workshops that would help you develop your gift, try to attend.

 

Offer yourself to God: Make a commitment to do whatever God asks of you, and trust in him to give you what you need for the task. Do what you are gifted by God to do and avoid the things which you are not!

 

Seek confirmation: Do other Christians who know you recognise particular giftedness within you? Ask friends and family and especially from people who seem to have the same gift. Do they see this gift in you? The support of a small Christian group can be very helpful.

 

Try out your gift: Test the waters as soon as you can! Volunteer in places where you can use your gift. Expect to sacrifice personally in the service of the Lord, and do not be afraid. Having and using a spiritual gift in no way shields us from trouble, but it does give us assurance that God’s at work in our lives.

 

Expect to make a difference: If you have accurately identified the spiritual gift, use of it will produce fruit. Continue working to develop your gift, and the blessings will become apparent to all. If your service has been ineffective,

then seek anew to find your gifts.

 

Cell outline
Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians has a comprehensive discussion of spiritual gifts, however, spiritual gifts are mentioned in at least six other places, so clearly God wants each of us to know and use our special, spiritual gifts. (Exodus 31:3, Romans 12:6, 1 Cor 1:7, 1 Cor 14:1-2, Eph 4:11-12, 1 Tim 1:6-7, Heb 2:4)

1. In verse 13, the word “baptised” does not refer to a traditional water baptism. What could it mean here? And what does it help is to understand about unity in the body of Christ?

2. The first section (roughly verses 14 to 20) and second section (verses 21 to 26)could be addressed to two different audiences. How would you describe each audience?

 

3. Have you ever felt like an unneeded or unimportant part of a group or team? What did you do about it? How does this passage help you to see yourself?

 

4. Conversely, if you are in a position of importance and feel needed, what should you do? (1 Peter 5:1-3, Hebrews 10:24-25)?

5. How could you illustrate the truth of verse 26
from your own experience ? From our experience at GBC?

6. Some Bible translators show the gifts in verse 28 as being in an order:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership (or administration),
those who speak in unknown languages.

Two questions: a) do you think this list (or the one in verses 8-10) is meant to be exhaustive or all-inclusive? b) Is there any significance in the ordering, i.e., first, second, etc.? If so, what?

Going deeper:

1. If we view the body parts as the Spiritual Gifts, are there any the body can do without?

 

2. What Spiritual Gifts do you feel Paul was saying needed to be treated with “special modesty?”  Why?

 

3. Who “baptises” us into the body of Christ?  How? When?

Witness

1. By drawing on your experience of the use of gifts at church, what lesson do you take away for you to use in your home, volunteering or work situation?

Spiritual gifts and graces basic logo Cessationism is the belief that the miracles performed Jesus and the apostles occurred  solely to attest to the authority and inspiration of the New Testament, and that spiritual gifts ceased after the writing of the NT was finished.

As writers such as Jack Deere have argued, this is a position with no biblical foundation. He shows that miracles authentic the character of Jesus (John 3.2; 9:32-33; etc.) and the message of Jesus (Mk 16.20) but have nothing to say about the apostles! His argument makes convincing reading in Surprised by the Power of the Spirit.

It also has a problem with the historical record. That record shows clearly that the early church was quite active in the charismatic gifts at least through 200 AD. There was a decline in the 3rd century, and then again became active.

The early church experienced martyrdom and persecution, resisted Gnostics and Arians and doctrinal disputes, and established which of the books we accept as the New Testament canon.  Tertullian scoffed at those who tried to translate the gospel into the categories of Greek philosophy. Origen of Alexandria nearly single-handedly invented the systematic study of the Bible.  Irenaeus defended the faith against a host of heresies and spoke of the Work of Christ in illuminating new ways.  Cyprian insisted on the unity of the church and its necessity for salvation.

And this same early church and same church fathers from the 100s to well beyond the 200s AD  — Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaeus, and many more — experienced and wrote about miracles of healing, prophecy, and exorcism as everyday occurrences in the church.

Tertullian is typical when he says “God everywhere manifests signs of his own power—to his own people for their comfort, to strangers for a testimony unto them” (Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul).

In other words, the early Christian church was a charismatic church. A community of Christians in the 100s and 200s continued to experience the charismata, the spiritual gifts, described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians.

The influential bishop of Carthage, Cyprian, for example, says:

In Christianity there is conferred (upon pure chastity, upon a pure mind, upon pure speech) the gift of healing the sick by rendering poisonous potions harmless, by restoring the deranged to health, and thus purifying them from ignominious pains, by commanding peace for the hostile, rest for the violent, and gentleness for the unruly, by forcing—under stress of threats and invective—a confession from unclean and roving spirits who have come to dwell within mankind, by roughly ordering them out, and stretching them out with struggles, howls, and groans, as their sufferings on the rack, by lashing them with scourges, and burning them with fire. This is what goes on, though no one sees it; the punishments are hidden, but the penalty is open. Thus what we have already begun to be, that is, the Spirit we have received, comes into its kingdom.

Harnack’s list

The 19th-century church historian Adolf Harnack, in his Mission and Expansion of Christianity, categorises the charismatic activities of the 2nd- and 3rd-century church —and the list is impressive:

(1) God speaks to the missionaries in visions, dreams, and ecstasy, revealing to them affairs of moment and also trifles, controlling their plans, pointing out the roads on which they are to travel, the cities where they are to stay, and the persons whom they are to visit. Visions occur especially after a martyrdom, the dead martyr appearing to his friends during the weeks that immediately follow his death, as in the case of Potamiaena (Eus., H.E., vi. 5), or of Cyprian, or of many others.

It was by means of dreams that Arnobius (Jerome, Chron., p. 326) and others were converted. Even in the middle of the third century, the two great bishops Dionysius and Cyprian’ were both visionaries. . . .

(2) At the missionary addresses of the apostles or evangelist, or at the services of the churches which they founded, sudden movements of rapture are experienced, many of them being simultaneous seizures; these are either full of terror and dismay, convulsing the whole spiritual life, or exultant outbursts of a joy that sees heaven opened to its eyes. The simple question, “What must I do to be saved?” also bursts upon the mind with an elemental force.

(3) Some are inspired who have power to clothe their experience in words-prophets to explain the past, to interpret and to fathom the present, and to foretell the future. Their prophecies relate to the general course of history, but also to the fortunes of individuals, to what individuals are to do or leave undone.

(4) Brethren are inspired with the impulse to improvise prayers and hymns and psalms.

(5) Others are so filled with the Spirit that they lose consciousness and break out in stammering speech and cries, or in unintelligible utterances—which can be interpreted, however, by those who have the gift.

(6) Into the hands of others, again, the Spirit slips a pen, either in an ecstasy or in exalted moments of spiritual tension; they not merely speak but write as they are bidden.

(7) Sick persons are brought and healed by the missionaries, or by brethren who have been but recently awakened; wild paroxysms of terror before God’s presence are also soothed, and in the name of Jesus demons are cast out.

(8) The Spirit impels men to an immense variety of extraordinary actions—to symbolic actions which are meant to reveal some mystery or to give some directions for life, as well as to deeds of heroism.

(9) Some perceive the presence of the Spirit with every sense; they see its brilliant light, they hear its voice, they smell the fragrance of immortality and taste its sweetness. Nay more; they see celestial persons with their own eyes, see them and also hear them; they peer into what is hidden or distant or to come; they are even rapt into the world to come, into heaven itself, where they listen to “words that cannot be uttered.”

One of the best more academic articles on the subject is by Nigel Scotland: http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/pdf/ejt/signs_scotland.pdf

This is the beginning of a series which will take us through to the start of the school summer holidays! So you don’t have to discover everything about “Spiritual Gifts and Graces” in this first week! In particular, towards the end of the series we will explore how to discover our own gifts, ministries, passions and styles. However, we need to ground all of that in the word of God.

 

Gifts and Graces 101

  • These ‘spiritual gifts’ need to be understood (1 Cor 2.14f; Rom 8.16)
    In 1st century Corinth
    In 21st century Godmanchester
  • These are gifts from and about the Lord
    (Col 2.15; 1 John 2.22, 4.2-3)

Gifts + Service + Work = ?

Bittlinger says that charisma in the NT is the ‘concrete realisation of drive grace’.  Whether an ordinary or extraordinary function, charisma serves to build up the body of Christ.

 

In a rare Greek translation of the OT, charisma occurs just once: May your unfailing love be with us.  But this was more usually rendered as by the word for compassion or pity. Giving the AV translation of:  Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us.  Otherwise the term is virtually unknown.  Even in the NT, charisma only appears in connection with twenty gifts from administration to prophecy, healing to celibacy.  There is no systematic classification of charisma in the NT.

 

Almost any attempt to categorise charismata tells us more about the interpreter than the Biblical truth.  The previous attempts at distinguishing between natural gifts and supernatural ones, or between continuing ones and those limited to an apostolic age, fail in the face of church history, theology and even science.

 

Two misunderstandings are worth tackling which .  One is that charismata are in some way sensational – the province of the enthusiast or fanatic.  This understanding fails to take seriously the natural of humanity. Indeed humans are debased if they are only a lifeless instrument, an automaton,  powerlessly acting out the service of God.  The NT is clear that there is no distinction between so-called natural and supernatural gifts.  That’s why the lists are all mixed up!  The administration of money is just as much a charisma as speaking in tongues and the work of service just as much a charisma as a prophetic utterance.

 

But it is equally foolish to suggest that whatever a Christian does, then that is the exercise of a charisma.  That makes charisma everything and nothing.  It opens the door to limiting, say, healing to only being the study of medicine.  Similarly, formal appointment to a task does not of its self impart a charismatic gift. Formal recognition of a ministry should take place after it has be demonstrated as a person’s gift.

 

This activist understanding of gifts also fails to acknowledge our humanity.  We are fallen people, and the ‘old Adam’ will appear! For this reason, we exercise our gifts in the context of faith: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Rms 12.3)”.

Having rejected charisma as solely sensational or universally dull, we need a better working explanation.  Bittlinger suggests:

A charisma is a gracious manifestation of the Holy Spirit, working in and through, but going beyond, the believer’s natural ability for the common good of the people of God.

So we can say that God creates us unique.  Therefore he implants concrete and unique gifts in us by his Spirit.  Through these gifts God himself can work in our Christian community and into our world.  When we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, we are freed to discover the unique way that God can use us.  It also means that we will be continually aware of our own inadequacy and therefore dependence on God.

  • GIFTS: Charismata (v4)
    Gifts of grace are given to everyone in the church
    (Eph 4:18)
  • Service: Diakonia (v5)
    Given for service of everyone (2 Tim 1:6)
  • Workings: Energemata (v6)
    Given to be used and seen to be used (1 Cor 15:28)
    I want to expand the point here.  If we live a narrow life, it is very likely the exercise of, say, a prophetic gift will be similarly narrow. On the other hand if our horizons are wide, taking in the whole of life, then our prophetic words will reach widely too.
    “A committed and dedicated involvement within a definite realm or with a particular person is a prerequisite for charisma to reach that ream or person”.
  • Common good
    (v7; 1 Cor 14:26; Eph 4:11-16)

Gifts and the Giver

John 3:5-6; Romans 8:9; 1 Cor 12.11; 2 Cor 1:22

 

Cell Outline

If you have time before your cell group read through 1 Corinthians 12­-14.

1. Read 1 Corinthians 11. How are chapters 11 and 12 linked? What similarities are there with previous issues addressed?

2. What do you think they said or asked Paul in their letter which provokes the reply in chapters 11 and 12?

3. Read 12:1­-11. If verse 3 is not to be taken literally, then what is it saying?

4. Could there be a reason why particular gifts are mentioned in verses 8­10, and others are not?

5. What are your personal tendencies and temptations in how you view different spiritual gifts?

6. What consequences might these have for our attitude to other Christians?

7. What would make it easier for you to exercise the gifts in verses 8-10 in your cell group meetings?

 

Going deeper:

1. Which idols were you influenced by before you became a Christian? How has the Holy Spirit set you free from them?

2. Is declaring “Jesus is Lord” the sole criteria for deciding if someone is speaking under the Spirit’s guidance? Or are there other things you take into account (v3)

3. Why might there be a Trinitarian structure in verses 4­-6? What can we learn from this?

Witness

1. How might you use the gifts, service and workings described in verses 8-10 for the “common good” of your work colleagues, neighbours or family?