Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Spiritual Gifts: Pt 1 (Excerpts from "The Spiritual Gifts" book)

The Spiritual Gifts:  Are they for Today’s Church?
Over the years, a controversy has brewed over spiritual gifts and whether they are operating legitimately in the church today. Some say that these gifts, or at least some of the gifts are not available today and so any claim of their manifestation is illegitimate Others disagree and say all the gifts should operate today, just as they did during the early church period. I want to take a scriptural look at this topic because I believe that our understanding of this subject has great bearing on the life of the church.
Why is this an important topic for us to study? Is it essential for salvation? No, it is not, but it is extremely important in our personal relationship with the Lord and certainly affects the work of the ministry that God has for each one of us. How we see and understand the gifts of the Spirit affects how we relate to each other and the world around us. It can dictate the type of ministry we have, so we need to have a firm grasp of what we believe about spiritual gifts.
Look at what Paul says in 1 Cor 12:1 “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”  The word gift is not really there. It should really say “about spirituals.” It is possible that the word gifts is implied, but looking at the context, it seems likely that Paul was speaking about people, who were gifted but misusing the gifts. In either case, Paul will keep us from being ignorant concerning the gifts. The word in Greek for spiritual, is from the root word pneuma and denotes its’ divine origin.
Here is the Strong’s definition for gifts; NT:5486 charisma (khar'-is-mah); from NT:5483; a (divine) gratuity, i.e. deliverance (from danger or passion); (specifically) a (spiritual) endowment, i.e. (subjectively) religious qualification, or (objectively) miraculous faculty: (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
 When you put this together, it is clear that these gifts have a divine origin.   
So, let’s follow Paul’s exhortation and jump in to the scriptures with both feet to see what it says about this subject. In order for us to understand the teaching about spiritual gifts, we must ask ourselves some questions.
  1. What are they?
  2. By whom were they given?
  3. When were they given 
  4. Why were they given?
Question 1. What are they?
 Let’s start by looking at the passages that specifically describe these gifts. There is two lists given in the New Testament. The first in Rom 12:6-8; “6 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. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
The second list is found in 1 Cor 12:8-10; “8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
Without going into detail right now, let’s sum up this list 
  1. Prophesy
  2. Serving
  3. Teaching
  4. Encouraging or exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Leadership
  7. Mercy
  8. Message of wisdom (utterance in ESV) (word of wisdom in NASU)
  9. Message of knowledge
  10. Faith
  11. Healing
  12. Miracles
  13. Distinguishing between spirits
  14. Various kinds of tongues
  15. Interpretation of tongues
Next Post- Who distributes the gifts and when were they given?
(If you would like a copy of the book, just look to the right side of the blog for information)

Friday, April 21, 2017

NTDS 87: Fellowship with God

1Jn 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

One of the most amazing aspects of the Christian life, is the reality of having fellowship with God. I imagine that since you have become a believer, you have heard this term, “fellowship,” many times. It could be considered synonymous with the phrase, “personal relationship.”

If it is true that we can have fellowship with God, then it would be of the utmost importance to know just what that means and how it comes about. Chapter 1 of 1st John is a great place to find out.

The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia. It is used four times in this chapter alone. It comes from the root word koinonos, which means “a sharer”. It is translated 12 times in the New Testament as fellowship, twice as participation and three times as sharing and twice as contribution. The Greek scholar, Thayer describes it this way, "fellowship, association, communion, joint participation, intercourse(socially).”

Looking at the many descriptive English words used for fellowship, helps to give a fuller understanding of what it entails. You can see some common characteristics that describe true fellowship. What are they?

          It involves some type of sharing
    It involves participation
.       It will involve some contribution on your part
     There will be a need for communication

So, by definition, we see that we can share, participate, communicate and contribute to this fellowship with God. And in turn, He does those same things with us!

Notice here that the fellowship spoken of is with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, but we also have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, (2n Cor 13:14). This shows us that God is triune in nature, one God in three persons and that we have fellowship with all of who God is!

Now, there is a requirement to having this fellowship. In verses 5- 7, we are told that since God is light, we must be walking in His light, in order to partake in this fellowship. That begins with our confession of faith in Christ for salvation, but it does not end there. The word “walk”, literally means to tread all around or figuratively to live. It is a continuous action.

We know that we will not always be walking perfectly in the Light. John says in verse 8, that we will still sin. But the key to getting back into fellowship is found in verse 9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Isn’t it wonderful that God not only provided the means to fellowship with Him, by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, but He also provides the way to stay in fellowship, by forgiving us and continually cleansing us!

There is another important aspect to this gift of fellowship. Not only do we get to have a beautiful relationship with Him, but we get to have that with each other as well (v.3). In fact, it is the very way God has designed us to live in this world. He has made His church one body of believers (Eph 4:4-6). We are constantly urged in the New Testament to live in peace, unity and harmony with fellow believers and be known as Christians by our love for one another.

This is what true fellowship is all about. It is walking in His light, speaking and listening to Him, sharing and participating with Him. He should be such a part of our lives, that we literally do nothing apart from Him. It naturally follows that we will then be sharing and participating in life with other believers as well. What a beautiful design God has for His church! Let’s determine to walk closely in fellowship with Him and each other. We will be blessed!

God bless you,

Coach

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NTDS 86: Looking Forward

2 Pet 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Have you ever looked around at what is happening in the world and wondered, “Is there ever going to be a time when there will be no more bad news to think about? A time where there will be no more evil, no more tears and sorrow, just good things.” The bible gives a resounding and positive answer to that question. The answer is YES! Peter says so in this very verse.

This time will come after the Lord returns. He will destroy the old heavens and earth and He will bring forth a new heaven and new earth. That is promised right here in this chapter of 2nd Peter, as well as other places in Scripture. (Is 65:17,66:22) In fact, in the book of Revelation, chapter 21, we find that the apostle John is privy to seeing this whole event happen before it actually takes place! It comes in a prophetic vision and since over 300 prophecies of the Bible concerning Jesus’ first appearing were literally and precisely fulfilled, I think we can be certain that this prophecy will be as well.

Many times, Christians are castigated for looking forward to this time. We are told that we should be focused on what is happening here and now and not be bothered about what and when this will all take place. It has been said that we become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” Well if it was true, that we never did anything but daydream about what was to become, we would hardly be carrying out the “great commission,” to make disciples of all nations. 

Yet, Peter tell us here, that we should be looking forward to that great day. In fact, in verse 12, he says that we should even be hastening it’s coming. How could we do that? Can we make Jesus come sooner than later? Well, I personally believe that God has set the time for this. The Greek word used for hastening means to “urge on.”  Remember when Jesus taught His disciples to pray? He told them to pray this, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt 6:10) That is our part in hastening His coming. We urge God in our prayers to bring this to pass.

Look closely at what our key verse teaches us about this time. It says that righteousness dwells. That means that the new heaven and new earth will be the place where righteousness makes its home. It will live there. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be, to know that everything that happens from that time on, will be RIGHT! In contrast, nothing that happens will be wrong. That is why there will be no more sorrow or tears (Rev 21) but only joy!

This knowledge should not make us less cognizant of our purpose here on earth, but more. Verse 14 of this chapter says that since we look for these things, we are to be diligent in our faith, to be spotless and blameless. If we are to be that kind of person, we will be following the Lord’s commands. We will be sharing the good news of the Gospel. We will be completing the good works that He has prepared for us before the foundation of the world (Mt 5:16, Eph 2:10, 1 Ti 6:18)

I encourage every believer to take some time to reflect on these things and to anticipate the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded that this world is not our permanent home. We have a place, secured for us by Jesus Himself, which will be our home for all eternity. Now that is something to look forward to!

God bless you,
Coach

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NTDS 85: Everything We Need

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. NIV

In  2nd Peter, chapter 1, beginning with verse 5, Peter strongly encourages his readers to add some virtues to their faith. These virtues are characteristics of behavior, that should be seen in the life of any believer in Jesus. He speaks of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. He even says that if a Christian does not have those qualities, he or she is blind and has forgotten about the forgiveness and cleansing that has taken place in their life.

When you read that statement  does it encourage you or does it make you feel like you could never live up to the demands of this “Christian” life? I know that for many, it would do the latter. It seems impossible to be the kind of person described in those verses. Try as we may, we continually fall short. As much as we would desire to live this way, we just do not have the power within us to do it.

If you fall into that latter category, there is great news for you in our key verse. Verse 3 reveals to us, that we do not have to rely on our own power to acquire these characteristics. Instead, the necessary power is given to us by Jesus our Lord! The verse also informs us, that this power supplies everything we need to live the life we are called to live.This is a staggering revelation and it should free any believer from the bondage of “trying to be a good Christian” by the strength of their own will.

Notice that the power spoken of in verse 3 is described as “divine.” What does that mean and why is it important? The Greek word used here for divine is theios, meaning “godlike.” A non-believer, at the time this was written, would most likely have understood this word as a reference to the kind of supernatural power that the Greek gods possessed. It would speak to them of powers a mortal being would not have. It is certainly not without reason that Peter uses this specific word. Peter is telling the believers that it is Jesus Himself, who gives us a supernatural ability, to do anything that He requires of us. In fact, he says that the power has already been given to us!

If anyone would doubt the veracity of this statement of Peter, all they need do is look at the life of the man who wrote the words. Peter, when relying on his own abilities, failed miserably to represent His master. This is especially evident when he denied Jesus three times during His trial and crucifixion. But follow his life after the Holy Spirit (who delivers that supernatural power to all believers), begins to work in Acts, chapter 2. Peter becomes the leader of the church in Jerusalem, preaching the word, healing the sick, being used by God to do amazing things! Contemplate the fact that Peter spent most of his life as a fisherman, not a biblical scholar or theologian, yet he wrote this chapter as well as many others, full of deep doctrine and theology! It would be impossible for him to do this without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working within him.

If this is all true, why then does it seem that we still fail so often to reflect that power in our daily lives? Well, it is not because the power is not there. It’s that we fail to appropriate that which God has already given to us. Jesus, when teaching His disciples how to pray, told them that they should ask daily for the provision of God. “Give us this day, our daily bread,” means more than just physical sustenance. Remember how Jesus responded to Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread to relieve His hunger (see Mt 4:4)? He said that man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. We need to come daily before the Lord, confessing that we do not have it in our flesh to accomplish anything of spiritual value. We need to ask Him every day for the provision of His divine power to be manifest in us, so that we may accomplish His will and purpose for us.

The list that Peter gives us in this chapter, is almost identical to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. That informs us, that when we ask for the power of the Spirit to work in us, we can rest in the fact that He will work in us. It is not a matter of us striving, but a matter of us surrendering. Surrendering our will to His work. When we do, we will see this amazing, divine power working in and through us.

Now, there is one requirement for all of this to work. Notice in the key verse it says, “through our knowledge of Him.” In other words, in order to receive this divine power, you must know Jesus Christ in a personal way. The Greek word for knowledge here has the implication of being “fully acquainted” with something or someone. Are you fully acquainted with Jesus? It starts with acknowledging Him as your Savior and Lord, but it is more than that. It means that you spend time with Him, in study of His word and prayer, so that you may know Him more fully. You cannot get to know anyone without spending time with them, right?

The more time you spend with Jesus, the more your desire to obey Him will grow. As that desire grows, the more you will yearn for that divine power and thus, ask for it. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” NIV

If you desire to see God’s divine power working in your life, so that you may live the way He has called you to, then spend time with Him daily. Ask for that power to be manifest in your life and you will have everything you need for a life of effectiveness and productivity in your walk with Christ!

God bless you,


Coach