Kingdom Principle: Spiritual Unity precedes Spiritual Diversity, both are a work of Spiritual Power.
The church is Gifted for Diversity, Graced for Unity
|Psalm 104:24-34, 35b||1 Corinthians 12:3b-13||John 7:37-39|
In my life there has never been such a surge of superhero’s exploitation – a true explosion of “out of this world” powers on display in the media. There has always been (in my life) DC & Marvel Comic, but in the last 15 years (post 9/11/01??) the scales have tipped in the movie releases of X-Men and Fab 4’s (not to mention the abundance of Supermans, Spidermans, and Batmans – each in multiple re-release) , and the rise (again) of Hercules and Greek Mythology as linking humanity with mutant and the god’s of other worlds siring children in the world. All this is reflecting a hunger to know and have – what is powerful, what is possible and who is gifted to do more than anyone else. At the same time, it is all-too-common to hear –“ I am spiritual but not religious”. While this has nothing to do with super heroes, it has everything to do with power and energy. There is a real sense that, being spiritual is like tapping into one’s own super-power, and to be religious is to be branded and controlled by some “evil” boss.
Last week I said that to have the power of God flow through you, but to not attribute that to God’s Glory, is to practice sorcery or witchcraft. This post is not about a warning to those “outside the church” it is a call for who are (within) pursing Jesus to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives unto God’s Glory. Here the crux of the issue – The Church is called to have supernatural powers on display beyond all else in this world. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, and yet the world has declared the church to be dead and offered in its place super powers that are reserved for the elite. I am not sure how it has happened that so many in the church do not consider themselves spiritual or power-filled. As if being spiritual is a bad thing as having been hi-jacked by New-Age thinker’s and captured only by Eastern Mediation. It is time for the Church as a whole (and specifically for me and those in the Reformed/Presbyterian approach to church) to claim or reclaim the beauty, power and potency of the Holy Spirit in our fellowship. (The Holy Spirit has always been very prevalent in our theology, not always so valued in our practice.) There is no true fellowship without the Spirit, so if the church is gathering without the power and fellowship of the Spirit, there is nothing there but dry bones and white washed tombs. Fear Not! The Holy Spirit has power over such a state of being and living waters might yet flow freely from the hearts of those who find themselves there.
Below is an explanation as to how I understand gifts of the Spirit as given to the Body of Christ. (I know this post is full in content, therefore may it be 100 times more full in power.)
The Church is called to be both unified and diversified. Last week Jesus’ prayer calls us to unity, the church is unified under the name and identity of Jesus. We are to be diversified by the work and power of the Holy Spirit, not denominations, doctrine, or traditions. We are called to be unified as one body with many parts. These gifts are given through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism is different and unique to the water baptism of our LORD Jesus Christ, but not “better” or “higher” or even “after”. (Acts 2:38, 8:14-19, 9:17-18, 10:44-48, 19:4-6) Further this filling of the Holy Spirit is not a one-time act, rather it is a filling and movement of power in believer’s lives. (Acts 2:38, 4:8, 4:31, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9-10) For the full review to understand the uniqueness of both baptisms – read hear. The point of this post is to bring to light the work and power of the Holy Spirit which filled the church on Pentecost, and continues today to bring about an explosion of diversity within the unified body.
1 Cor. 12 tells us about spiritual things (verse1 should not be translated spiritual gifts). Verses 4 – 6 help us to see there are many different workings or expressions of the Holy Spirit. Thus we are one expressing a variety of gifts, services, and energies. Energy is the unique power flow of God, not a New-Age concept.
- 1 Cor. 12:4 says there are varieties or diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit (who is Holy).
- 1 Cor. 12:5 says there are varieties or diversity of ministries/service but the same Lord (who is Jesus).
- 1 Cor. 12:6 says there are varieties or diversity of energies/effects but the same God (who is Father).
Further, The roots and fruit of the Spirit are planted in “water baptism” leading and enabling us to walk closely with Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed by the will of God to guide the church in maturity, build up the body and to advance the Kingdom as being called out from the world.
These workings of the Spirit are found within and redeemed in all believers for the common good and building up and equipping of the Body. They are also used to demonstrate the power of the Spirit bringing Glory to God, not glory unto ourselves.
The Motivation Gifts are: Prophet, Teacher, Servant, Exhorter, Giver, Ruler, Mercy
The energies or effects of God our Father are expressed as motivation gifts. These gifts are given to all of humanity, and redeemed by the Name of Jesus. Listed in Romans 12, believers find themselves motivated by the very energy of God to do and go beyond one’s natural personality or strength. I believe these gifts are not isolated from each other, meaning a person can have more than one motivation propelling them to fulfill God’s will in their lives, leading them to offer their life as a spiritual act of worship. In much the same way I believe Jesus walked in the fullness of the Spirit fully demonstrating all of motivation of the Father. While we often have a more dominate motivational gift, through suffering and trials (promotions), we discover deeper awareness of our motivational gifts.
The Mobilization Gifts are: Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Shepherding, Teaching
The ministries or service of Jesus our Lord are seen expressed as mobilization gifts. These gifts are grown in those who are called to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, becoming mature in the fullness of Christ. As mobilization gifts, leaders are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to serve and give beyond their natural abilities reaping a spiritual reward far beyond earthly capabilities. These are sometimes called a 5-fold office, but the gifts are neither offices to hold nor titles to bear. Listed in Ephesians 4, these gifts enhance and enable leaders to lead other in the mobilization efforts of the church. While I believe that all Christians are called to be leaders, it is my opinion that these gifts are given in isolation of one another for the unity of the body to value the diversity of its leaders. One person need not be an apostolic, prophet with the gift of evangelism who pastors the flock and teaches eloquent doctrine… in fact to attempt to fulfill all such roles is to remove the uniqueness and complementary work of those who are called into the leadership of the church. With that said, I believe that a person which a ruler motivational gift who also has a teacher mobilization gift will have a unique power and presentation to that of a person with a prophet motivation gift and a shepherding mobilization gift.
The Manifestation Gifts are: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healings, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues
From the passage this week in 1 Cor. 12 we find the expressions called manifestation gifts. These gifts are dramatic and powerful revelations of the Holy Spirit. There is one Spirit, but a variety of gifts. These gifts are unique to the other two “groupings” in that they truly seem to manifest or appear as the filling of the Spirit is directed and are not a constant or “resident” expression. This is not to say that once you have demonstrated a motivation or mobilization gift, it become “yours” or that it cannot be grieved, quenched or simply dormant, but that with manifestation gifts it is given intermittently as the spirit determines. Beyond this we are told by Paul to seek and desire the greater gifts. 1 Cor 12:27-31 is a summation or each of the gift groupings, and a reminder that to each person God has uniquely gifted and called them into service. A gift is greater based on the impact it has for the church to be edified. (1 Cor. 14:5).
All this to say: The Holy Spirit has come upon the church in a way that prior to Pentecost the world had not seen. In this age, the Kingdom is advanced through the power of the Spirit, and we as the church are called to move in power and humility. Might we seek to be Spiritual and Religious. Might we seek to be clear on our I.A.M…. Identity is tied to Motivation Gifts and being a Child and Image bearer of God. Authority is linked to Mobilization gifts and being a Friend and Follower of Jesus. Motivation (a bit confusing) is bolstered by Manifestation gifts being a temple and expression of the Holy Spirit, based on 1 Cor. 13 – that Love is our true Motivation of all things.
Therefore – in the Power of Pentecost – let us not get uptight about what “gift” we have, but rather move forward seeking the Power of Spiritual realities to overcome World Fallacies. I am not a big fan of Spiritual Inventories – but I welcome suggestions – for most tests –they seek to quantity your past actions and echo the influence of others affirmation, rather than encouraging you to truly seek, know and ask the Spirit for revelation. God is willing to reveal himself to us, we must ask – so ASK the Spirit and learn to listen.
The only place I believe you can truly discover your gifts is in community and fellowship with believers. This is the call to be the church. (I am not talking about a building, nor are that gifts to be used to tell you in “which” ministry you are to serve.) In relationship with the body, your followership will lead you to leadership in the gifts.
May the Lord Bless you on your journey to live your life as a Spiritual act of Worship.