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Romans 12:3-4 by Robert Dean
What do you want to do when you grow up? This isn't just a question for children, but all believers are given a spiritual gift at the instance of salvation which is to be used to benefit other believers. Listen to this lesson to see how, as we mature spiritually, we gain the resources to use our spiritual gift. Find out how to evaluate a local church to attend or see if your only choice is to participate in electronic messages where you still have options for exercising your spiritual gift. Learn that Christ took a victory ascent to Heaven after His resurrection and distributed spiritual gifts. Ask ourselves if we are willing to go through the process God has designed for us so we are prepared to rule and reign with Christ.
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 32 secs

Spiritual Gifts – Part 2
Romans 12:3

You'll be getting the details in an e-mail shortly but on February 16th, a Sunday night at 6:30, we're going to have the third in these special events, these on-going educational-type current event seminars. Our speaker is going to be Dr. Susanna Kokkonen who is the director of the Christian friends of Yad Vashem, which is the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. She originally went to Jerusalem as part of the embassy from Finland. I think she speaks five or six languages fluently and while she was working at the Finnish Embassy in Jerusalem she earned a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in Holocaust Studies and Anti-Semitism. She's going to be speaking on Anti-Semitism and the Road to the Holocaust. It's not just an historical thing. She's going to tie it in to a lot of things going on today in Europe because there is a repetition of many of the patterns we saw a hundred years ago developing in Europe.

In fact, Sweden made a big deal about a year and a half ago that there were now judenfrei. Judenfrei is a horrible German term meaning "Jew Free". There's a 65% increase in Jewish emigration from France this last year as they are leaving. Many of them are making aliyah to Israel because of the increase in Anti-Semitism in France. This is a crucial topic. Vida is bringing two IDF officers who are going to be speaking about their experiences in the recent military action in Israel, as well.

Okay, open your Bibles to Romans 12. As I pointed out last time in verse 3 it develops an emphasis on the fact that God has given to each and every believer at the instant of salvation a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are often misunderstood today. They're often distorted. Many people sit around, and I'm sure this is probably true of some of you, and wonder what their spiritual gift is. Well, that's not a problem. Some people think that's a problem. Unless you have one of the more overt leadership or teaching gifts such as evangelism, pastor-teacher, or administration you probably have a service gift that is not related to any individual function. Even if you don't know what your gift is, it's not important. The important thing is that you're to pursue spiritual maturity.

Since we're all required to function in all the areas of the spiritual gifts, as I pointed out last time, it doesn't give any of us the right to say, "Well, I don't have the gift of "whatever" so I'm not going to do that." We're all required to teach and admonish one another. We're all required to give. We're all required to be witnesses. We're all required to lead in some capacity even if it's within the home. We're all expected to function in some sort of administrative area however small that may be, but there are spiritual gifts or enhancements in each of these areas. I believe that as we grow as believers and we pursue our application in every area of our spiritual life, that as we mature we will realize that we are gifted in certain areas and that giftedness will manifest itself.

Think about your own background and your own life. As you were growing up you had certain natural talents, natural abilities, things that you were interested in and excelled in and things you didn't do quite so well in and things you didn't do well at all. As you grew up in many cases your parents tried to expose you to a lot of different things such as sports, piano, music, drama, and all these range of activities, not only because they're good to develop you as a person and to educate but also as we're exposed to different things we find that all of a sudden something we didn't know anything about we begin to like. We begin to gravitate to it and before long you realize that you may have some talent or ability in that area that you really hadn't recognized before.

As many of us went through our adolescent years people were asking us that great question, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" (Some of us are still trying to answer that), we were trying to figure out where our strengths lay and what we were going to do with these talents and what talents did we have. Eventually as we grew up we gravitated toward certain kinds of things because that's what we were confident in. Those were the talents that God had given us. Not in terms of spiritual gifts but in terms of his common grace to all individuals.

I think there's an important analogy there that just as every individual believer has been given certain spiritual gifts or enhancements, as you grow up and mature as a believer you will gravitate to certain areas of spiritual life and service to the body of Christ and that reveals what your spiritual gift is. I think that it's just a manifestation of the whole psychological, self-absorbed orientation of our church culture that people run around navel-gazing trying to figure out what their spiritual gift is instead of focusing on the real issue which is individual spiritual growth. As you pursue spiritual growth these other things will develop and be exposed in your life.

So in verse 3 Paul says, "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." Here Paul is tying this back to the grace God has given in terms of justification and sanctification in Romans. The foundation is that if we're going to have the kind of renewed mind that he talks about in verse 2 the foundation for this new mentality is going to be genuine humility. We're not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but we are to think soberly.

Now that doesn't mean that you're not under the influence of alcohol. It's the translation of a Greek word that means thinking objectively but all of these terms as I pointed out last time are forms of the same Greek root, PHRONEO, which is the verb meaning to think and to reflect upon things. So we have HUPERPHRONEO meaning to think more highly of yourselves and PHRONEO translated "to think" twice in this chapter and then at the end to think soberly, that is SOPHRONEO. Using this play on words the Apostle Paul is emphasizing for us the point that the spiritual life is a thinking oriented life.

Then we come to this particular statement that is a little difficult for some people to understand because of the way it appears in the English. It sounds like God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. As I explained this last time I saw a few people sort of scrunch up their face a little bit trying to figure out what I was saying. I want to cover this again to point out a couple of things. First of all we have three options in how we understand the word "faith".  One is faith in reference to saving faith. It's obviously not talking about the kind of faith that is needed to be saved. The second kind of faith is faith in terms of the on-going faith-rest drill. As we exercise faith in God's promises, faith in God's Word as we face different circumstances and different situations each day. Then a third way in which we use the word faith is in reference to the body of doctrine by which we've been taught or the standard we've been taught.

Now if you look at verse six, thinking about verse 3 as sort of a summary introductory statement followed by an explanation of the different kinds of gifts. There's vocabulary repetition as we go through verses 4 through 8. Verse 6 states, "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to each of us." What has been given to us is a measure, a proportion, in relation to a spiritual gift. God does not give everyone who has the gift of evangelism the same degree of giftedness. He doesn't give everyone who has any particular spiritual gift an identical way of expressing that because we're different people, we have different personalities, and we have different gifts and talents. So what Paul is simply saying here is that these spiritual gifts derive from God and God apportions them through the Holy Spirit as He sees fit.

So these gifts differ according to the grace given to us and then he starts going through a list. "If prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith." Now it would be easy and I think some people read this that if you're less mature you have less faith and if you're more mature you have more faith and that's not what it's talking about. It's not saying it's a variation so that as you grow and mature the one who has the gift of prophecy, that that gift changes. It has to have to do with the standard that all gifts have and that is the standard of doctrine. They're to be given and used with reference to what the Bible teaches about the body of Christ.

Now having seen that in verse 6 it helps us to understand what is being said in verse 3 that that is that God deals with each one of us according to this measure of faith. That is, in terms of the faith or doctrine that is given to us as a standard for the spiritual life so that becomes an objective standard and then verses 4 and 5 just emphasizes that there are differences in the body of Christ. Everybody's different. There's a unity in the body of Christ. We're members of one another, which is a deep, deep integral relationship, deeper than physical siblings and a physical family. We are members of one another and we're inter-dependent and so there's a unity, there's distinction, and there's this mutual service that comes out here.

So I started with the introduction to spiritual gifts last time, defining a spiritual gift as an ability or an aptitude that is sovereignly bestowed on every believer in the Church Age by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation for performing a particular service in and for the body of Christ. You may have the gift of service. It might manifest itself in ways when you're with your family or you're at work or you're with friends. That's not its purpose. Its purpose is to be utilized within a local congregation. This is one of the problems that we have when people can no longer participate in a local congregation. I understand the dynamics today. Some people because of health reasons are no longer able to do that. If they're growing older they've grown beyond this and they're in a different stage of life. If they're younger and have health problems, they're limited in their participation. Fortunately, due to technology they can hear the Word of God and they can function as sort of an associate member of a congregation in many ways. They can pray, they can give, they can serve in some capacity but they can find some way in which they can be of service to that local congregation where they are being taught and fed the Word of God.

Then we have other people who are just geographically challenged spiritually, you might say. We have a problem of living in an apostate culture today. It's getting worse. It's very hard for many people who are serious about their spiritual life and serious about the Word of God to find a church within their geographical vicinity. One of the reasons I like this location for a church right on a Beltway is because it allows people from 30 to 40 minute drives away which takes us all the way down to New Territories off of 59S and all the way up to the Woodlands and Kingwood, including everything in-between from Tomball to Katy and all the way towards the inner loop that gives us easy access to this location. At 7:30 at night and 10:30 on Sunday morning there's not a lot of traffic out there, outside of holidays, for people to have to deal with. So it's an easily accessible area, but because of the fact that it may still take some people forty minutes to get here they can't always make it. We have a certain number of people in the congregation that would prefer to be here on Tuesday and Thursday nights but they can't because, for whatever reason, they just can't get here. So they're able to live-stream.

But there are some people who live beyond the area I just outlined. So they have to rely on electronic media. I encourage people that if you live in Podunk Junction somewhere, which actually was about five miles north of Preston, Connecticut. I remember one time we went over to Foxwoods, a restaurant there. They had these paper napkins that had a diagram of what areas in Connecticut went to different Indian tribes. The area just north of Preston was the area for the Podunk Indians so Preston was truly at Podunk Junction, U.S.A. No matter where you are, hopefully you can find a local church where you can have some time of ministry.

I've taught this for many years. I'm going to give you two examples, one negative and one positive. The negative was a man sent me an e-mail when I was in Preston City. He lived in Vermont and he said that he had tried for the last six months to attend a Congregational Church in my area and he wanted to be a good example to teach his children the importance of being involved in a local church. But he was beginning to wonder if he should continue? The pastor didn't believe anything related to the infallibility related to God's Word. He didn't even believe in the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ. I told him no, that he shouldn't go to an apostate church.

There are a lot of people who because of one reason or another the pastor may not be as in line with them with their doctrine as they would like. They think that justifies them in not going there. Well, there was another young man who was a major in the army at the time. He was an armored officer, outside of Fort Leavenworth. He found a small Baptist Church. The pastor was a little bit "lordship". He wasn't real sure if he was dispensational but the pastor did try to teach the Bible. He didn't have a whole lot of training. Well, it wasn't too long before this guy was recognized by the pastor as someone who knew something about the Bible. The pastor asked him to teach the adult Sunday School class. For the next two years, he taught dispensationalism and free grace and the Bible to that class. He had a tremendous ministry in that little local church.

So just because you go someplace and it's not everything you want it to be, even may not be half what you want it to be, but as long as they're not compromising the deity of Christ, compromising on salvation and a few other foundational things such as miracles and infallibility of Scripture and things like that, then try to make a go of it. Another individual which I know recently was working very hard to make a go of it in a local church not too far from where he lived but there were just too many little things that were throwing up as conflicts. He would ask the pastors about these things and finally the pastor said that he really didn't fit in there and that he needed to find someplace else to go. I don't believe he was being obnoxious in the way he was approaching it but it was just that there were a lot of areas of disagreements. When the pastor asked him to teach a Sunday School class and he would teach it and talk about the angelic conflict, the pastor would call him on Monday and ask where in the world he was getting that out of the Bible.

So we need to be involved in a local church but it is getting harder and harder today, even in large urban locations in the south where you would think you would find something. If you had time to go visit 150 to 200 churches, you probably could find one. So if you pray about it, God will let you know. But sometimes you just can't find it, so thank God we have the internet. Still spiritual gifts are not designed for you to function at home with your family. That violates the whole principle. You need to figure out how to be more involved with a local church. If that means packing your bags and finding a job and moving half way across the country so you can be part of a physical congregation then that's really what you need to do. Some people can't do that because of certain restrictions on their job and talent and family and kids. I understand that but the Biblical standard is that people be involved in a local church utilizing their spiritual gifts because that's why God gave every believer a spiritual gift to serve in a local congregation, not just let it lie fallow.

This is something that is very important. Even if you're in a position where you're out in the middle of nowhere maybe you can eventually organize your life so you can get somewhere. It may take you ten or fifteen years and I can give you any number of stories of people who did that. That's important to understand with spiritual gifts. Utilizing your spiritual gift is not something that's optional. That's part of your spiritual life.

So every believer has been given a spiritual gift. They're restricted to the Church Age. Now there are gifts of God such as prophecy in the Old Testament but those aren't spiritual gifts by definition, which is a Church Age bestowal that focuses between the Day of Pentecost and the Rapture. So that's important. There are some of these revelatory abilities that God gave in the Old Testament and will give again in the Tribulational period and in the Millennial Kingdom but they're not by definition spiritual gifts because they're not related to the body of Christ.

As for terminology, I talked about three words. PNEUMATIKON, which emphasizes the source of the nature of the gifts from the Holy Spirit. Charisma. We're all charismatics Biblically. Unfortunately the Charismatics have co-opted and distorted a number of Biblical terms, such as charismatic and such as holiness. If you're a Church Age believer you're Pentecostal. I used to love it when I would get phone calls asking, "Are you a spirit-filled church?" I'd say, Yes, after we confess our sins we are." "Huh? What does that mean?" I used to love twisting people up like that. Biblically speaking all Church Age believers are charismatic, we're all Pentecostal; but those terms have been distorted by confused, Biblically illiterate, theologically impoverished people today. MERISMOS is the third term that's used. I pointed that out in Hebrews 2:4 as it's translated gifts in that passage.

That brought us to the third point, which is that spiritual gifts are unique to the Church Age. No spiritual gifts were given prior to the Day of Pentecost and no spiritual gifts will be given after the Rapture of the Church. That brings us to point four. For point four I want you to turn in your Bible to Ephesians 4. This is one of the other key passages on spiritual gifts. (Also Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12) Just remember the number twelve. It's not a hard Biblical number to remember. How many disciples were there? Twelve. How many tribes of Israel? Thirteen. In some cases fourteen. No, those are from the tribe of Levi who are divided, but that's another story. Anyway, just remember 12. So remember that Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 define spiritual gifts.

Then we have Ephesians 4, which talks about four specific spiritual gifts. Now if you read the literature or you listen to some pastor they get wrapped around the axle trying to decide whether these four gifts are gifted people or gifts. I always ask if they're gifted people that's because they have a gift. Let's not get too caught up in this issue of whether they're gifted people or spiritual gifts. In other passages these are identified as spiritual gifts and they're manifest through specific individuals so they become gifted people but they have a gift. That comes out of the quote from verse 8.

So these four are talking about leadership, communication gifts that are listed in verse 11. So let's look at the start of the passage. In verse 7 Paul says, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." Just reading the English does that have any familiarity to you at all in light of what we've already seen? It uses the same vocabulary that we've seen in Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12. And it does mention the "measure of Christ's gift." Then in verse 8, "Therefore it says, "WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN." The "He" in verse 8 is God speaking in and through the prophet, David, in Psalm 68:18. Psalm 68 is what's referred to as an enthronement Psalm and it's a victory psalm where David has conquered Jerusalem and he is ascending the Temple Mount so it borrows on the imagery of a conqueror who after conquering a city or a country takes of the spoils and distributes those to his army. Some people call that plunder but that's the imagery here. The picture here is Christ in His Ascension, after 40 days of teaching and training his disciples in relation to the coming Kingdom of God He then ascended to Heaven in Acts, chapter 1. One minute He's standing there in front of his disciples and the next second they're all standing there looking up in the sky as He sort of blasted off.

The Scriptures use a passive verb so He's basically taken into Heaven. It's almost a "beam me up, God" kind of thing. God just extracted Jesus from the planet. So He ascends to the high point of the universe, the right hand of God the Father. God the Father is sitting at the command and control center of the Universe. At the right hand of the Father is a human being who has had victory over sin and death at the Cross. So the picture, the imagery that the Scriptures use is very strong military imagery of a conqueror, who has now been taking a victory lap in our terminology.

It's a victory ascent to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Commander and Chief of the Universe. He's sitting there until the Commander and Chief is going to give Him the controls. By that I mean He is going to give Him the Kingdom. What he does as He ascends is that He distributes gifts. This is analogous to what a human conqueror would do distributing plunder to his troops so He leads "captivity captive" and He gave gifts to men." That's the foundation. I'm not doing an exegesis of all the details in this passage. I just want to emphasize the point that we have here that spiritual gifts in the Church Age are the direct result of the Ascension of Christ.

That's why we can make the point we made in verse 3 that spiritual gifts are not distributed in the Old Testament period. It's unique to the Church Age. It's similar to the point I've made in teaching Romans 6 is that when Paul talks about the Baptism by the Holy Spirit in that chapter and our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection so it can't have ever happened to anyone prior to the death of Christ on the Cross or prior to the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 33. No Old Testament saint had the Baptism by the Holy Spirit. Therefore no believer in the Old Testament had the power and the tyranny of the sin nature broken because what breaks it is that identification with Christ in His death. That's Romans 6:1-8.

And so it's the same thing here. We have a situation of spiritual gifts being given that are the result and only the result of the Ascension of Christ. So that never could have happened prior to the Ascension, which was 10 days before the Day of Pentecost. So spiritual gifts are the direct result of the Ascension of Christ, His current Session in Heaven, and the purposes of God in the present Church Age in preparing a bride for the Lord Jesus Christ and a people to rule and reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom. That's a mouthful.

The point that I'm making here is that the giving of spiritual gifts are distributed as a result of Christ's victorious ascension to Heaven. They are given in relation to His current Session where He is serving as the High Priest of the Church and in relation to the purposes of God. Now which purposes are we talking about? We're talking about God's purpose in preparing a bride for the Lord Jesus Christ. Part of my job as a pastor is to prepare the people who listen to me so they become mature believers and are ready then for the time when Christ returns for the Church, which is His bride. He doesn't want to return for a baby bride. He wants to return for a mature bride but unfortunately there are too many believers who reject the whole concept of pursuing spiritual mature. So in a spiritual sense they're not going to be really ready for the return of Christ.

But the mission of the church, in terms of discipleship, is to prepare a bride for the Lord Jesus Christ and those people who comprise the Church, the bride of Christ, are going to be the same group that rules and reigns with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. So the issue is for each one of us is are we willing to go through the process that God has designed for us to mature so that we are prepared and ready for the return of Christ as part of the bride of Christ, the Church, and part of the ruling and reigning cadre of the future Millennial Kingdom? Spiritual gifts fit into that.

Now when we understand this training aspect to the spiritual gifts it makes sense in terms of what Paul is saying here in Ephesians 4. He quotes from Psalms 68:18 and he goes on to say, skipping past verses 9 and 10 which are parenthetical and explanatory, verse 11 says, "And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers." He is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit. Both the Holy Spirit and God the Son are involved in that distribution of gifts.

There are four gifts mentioned here. These are all communication gifts and teaching gifts because in verse 12 we're told their purpose is "to equip the saints for the ministry." So the goal of the apostle was to equip or train saints. The purpose of the prophet was to equip or train saints. The work of the evangelist is to witness to people? Wrong. That's not what it says. The purpose of the evangelist is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. We think that the person with the gift of evangelism is to evangelize. Not on the basis of this passage. If the purpose for the pastor is to equip the saints the purpose for all four is to equip the saints.

I know that's always a rude awakening for some people. It's really hard when we come face to face with the exact verbiage of Scripture. We have to sometimes revise our theology. That doesn't mean evangelists are not engaged in personal evangelism. But that's not their primary mission. Their primary mission for the evangelist is to train the rest of us who aren't very good at evangelism to be better at evangelism. That's their function—same as the role of the pastor-teacher. That doesn't mean the pastor-teacher doesn't function in other areas of service within the local church but it means his primary purpose is to equip and train others to be able to function in their areas of service within the local church.

So the goal of these leadership gifts is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. That means the pastor is the coach but the team that does all of the work, all of the operational ministry of a local church, are the people in the church. The individual believers in the local church should utilize their spiritual gift in whatever area they're gifted in order to carry out that ministry. A pastor cannot do everything. All the pastor can do is to teach and communicate the Word.

Both this ministry at West Houston Bible Church and the ministry at Dean Bible Ministries run on the backs of a lot of people who give a lot of time to do a range of things. That's everything from running the website, preparing materials teaching kids in prep school, taking care of the nursery, various administrative functions, all of these things take a large number of people to make things work. When you're involved it means that everybody carries a little bit of a larger load than when you're operating in a larger church.

One of the reasons a lot of people like to go to a mega-church is because they can be anonymous and irresponsible. They don't have to do anything. They can hide and no one know they're there. No one's going to ask them to teach Sunday School. There's not going to be a need for them to do anything. They can just think that someone else is doing it. They think they don't really need to give so much because someone else will do it. Someone else will help with the kids. And it's easy to do that, to rationalize that way. But when you're in a smaller congregation then there's more responsibility and fewer people so everyone needs to get involved so the team functions well.

So the pastor equips the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying, that is, the spiritual maturation of the church. This concept of edification is using a building metaphor in relation to strengthening and constructing within the soul a body of doctrine that becomes the foundation for that individual's life. Then it leads to something which is the "unity of doctrine". See, ecumenicalism isn't wrong in its goal of unity. It's wrong in how it seeks the unity. It seeks the unity at the expense of doctrinal accuracy. It's the unity of doctrine, of what we believe, of our understanding of the Scriptures and that comes only as a result of being trained and taught by a pastor-teacher.

So the goal is "until we all achieve the unity of the faith" and as I was teaching just last week in the Bible Study Methods class is that one of the characteristics of the Scripture is the unity of the Scripture. We have sixty-six books in the Bible, thirty-nine in the Old Testament, twenty-seven in the New Testament. We have over forty different authors who wrote throughout a period of a little over two thousand years. They wrote from many different educational backgrounds, many different vocational backgrounds, and many different cultural backgrounds. And yet they spoke with one voice. There's a unity in the Scripture so that there's only one opinion expressed in the Scripture and that's God's opinion. It's Divine viewpoint and so only by studying the Scriptures can be all come to a unity of the faith. Our agreement is then based on what the Scriptures says and teaches.

And this leads us to a further knowledge of the Son of God and to maturity, "a perfect man". Perfect almost always refers to completion of something such as maturation, not flawlessness. "To the measure according to the standard of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we should no longer be children." See the whole purpose of the local church is to get rid of little children. The sad thing is and you all have heard me say this many times before, one of my favorite quotes, one of the most insightful things I've heard somebody say was a statement by Dr. Earl Radmacher, the former president of Western Baptist Seminary, now Chancellor and a strong advocate for free grace. He was speaking at one of our pastor's conferences long before Chafer Seminary existed and took them over. It was in Phoenix in 1991 or 1992. He made the comment that the largest nursery in the world is the evangelical church. Most of the nursery workers don't know how to get their charges out of diapers. That is a fascinating statement. If you didn't catch what he's saying is that most pastors don't have a clue how to get the baby believers in their congregation out of their infancy. The pastors haven't studied the Scriptures in any measure of depth to be able to do that.

So when you look at a congregation it's a lot like a one-room schoolhouse. You have a congregation made up of people who are brand new believers, and people who have been around a long time and are fairly mature in their understanding of Scripture and their application, and everyone else is in-between. It's like having a one-room schoolhouse with everything from Pre-K all the way up to high school. The pastor has to address the congregation in a way so that he presents enough meat and nourishment so that everybody from the high school advanced adolescents and mature believers to the infants who need to find something that they can absorb and assimilate and grow.

But what we have in our whole culture is that "babies rule". It's happening in homes where the kids set the agenda. It happens in the schools where the kids set the agenda in classes. It happens in churches where we ask the people in the pew what they want. That's like asking a bunch of kindergarteners what they really want. Well, they want milk and cookies every day. They don't want to have to work. They don't want to put in the effort. They want ice cream and cake all the time so that's what they get in 99% of the churches. They get ice cream and cake. They don't get any meat. They don't get their vegetables. They're not taught to eat salad. They don't have any nourishment. That's the focus of the church.

What's happening is that if you're a new believer and you want cake and ice cream you can go get that at a hundred places in this city but if you want to have a steady diet of really good spiritual food you can't find it except in about a half a dozen places. In some places they try but I know pastors who try but worry that if they do that everyone will leave. That's a problem. We live in an apostate culture where Christians don't want to grow and they don't want to be fed.

But we get another picture of the mission of the local church in Ephesians 4:7-14 here that the purpose is to build maturity into people. I made a decision when I went back in the pastorate and went to Preston City Bible Church in 1998 that I was going to teach the Word of God to build maturity into people. And if people who didn't want to mature came and they didn't like it, they were welcome to go somewhere else. I encouraged them to stay so they could grow but I was going to focus my ministry and target my ministry to people who wanted to grow. If you don't want to grow, there are a thousand other places for you to go. But if you want to grow, there aren't too many. I'm going to be one of those pastors who focuses on spiritual growth. That's why these leadership gifts are given. They're given by the victorious Christ who ascends to Heaven and distributes these gifts to the Church in view of their future victorious reign upon the earth. That sets it in a Biblical context.

Now the fifth point. As with most activities we find in the Scriptures, talking about creation and salvation, all three members of the Godhead are present. It's a Trinitarian function: the Father's involved, the Son's involved, and the Holy Spirit's involved. In 1 Corinthians 12:11 we're told, "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills." That "He" there refers to the Spirit, but what we just read in Ephesians 4 is that the "He" refers to God the Son and overall it's all orchestrated by God the Father so Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all involved in the distribution of spiritual gifts.

The sixth point about spiritual gifts is that they're not earned or deserved. Spiritual gifts are grace gifts. That's the emphasis in the word charisma; they are based upon grace. Oh, by the way, a reference on the distribution of spiritual gifts by the Father is Hebrews 2:4. God gave you a gift free of charge at the instant of your salvation. The gift itself is not developed or learned. You can't do anything to get more of the gift. You've been given x-amount of the spiritual gift of service or giving. You've been given a certain proportion of that gift but you can't do anything to increase that proportion or decrease it but you can do something to develop it.

All spiritual gifts, just as any natural gift or talent, has to be developed. It's part of our training, part of our focus, and we develop it. Say someone has the gift of pastor-teacher. I've heard a lot of misconceptions and garbage about pastor-teachers from people who came out of doctrinal churches and ought to know better. The gift of pastor-teacher doesn't mean I can just pick up the Bible and read a passage and I immediately know what that passage means. The gift of pastor-teacher isn't a study gift. It's not a knowledge gift. It's not a revelatory gift. It's a communication gift.

The gift of pastor-teacher is a gift related to leadership. That's the concept of pastor. And he leads through his teaching. It's not a gift that I can just get up and open my Bible and boom, I'm going to understand what it says. I've heard people say that but that's not what the gift is about any more than the gift of evangelism is that somebody with the gift of evangelism can properly give the gospel five minutes after they're saved. They can't. The evangelist has to be trained. He's got to learn how to give the gospel. He's got to fall on his face fifteen or twenty thousand times in the process of giving the gospel to people and that's how you learn. That's how pastors learn.

That's why I think it's so important and I pray all the time and you should too that we can get some young men who are interested in pursuing seminary education and being involved in West Houston Bible Church. We need to train young men. The only place you can learn to ride a bicycle is by sitting in front of a computer and using a bicycle riding app. Right? No. The only place you can learn to ride a bicycle is to go out and get on a bicycle and fall down once or twice. That's how you develop that ability.

The same thing with a pastor. You get in the pulpit and you teach. It's hard on the congregation. That's a service ministry in a local congregation because they have to listen to him and watch him fall off the pulpit, as it were, a few times but that's how they learn. There's not many other ways where they can develop that skill of teaching, communicating, and reading an audience so they can understand and communicate accurately the Word of God and train people. So the spiritual gift is not developed or learned but its use is learned and developed and that comes with experience and it comes with utilization and it comes with time. So that's what's important. A pastor has to go through training. Others have to go through some training in order to learn how to properly utilize their gift. Well, when I get back from Kiev we'll continue with the seventh point dealing with the categories of gifts.

Gene? What Gene Brown is saying for the people who are listening because you can't pick up his voice real well with the microphone is that one of the important things if that if you know someone with the gift of evangelism, you should hang with them. Travel with them. Watch them. Observe them. I remember about ten years ago Gene and I went up to the Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group one week and on the way it was raining and nasty in Dallas as it usually is that time of the year and one of the windshield wipers on the car I'd borrowed had gone bad. We just couldn't see anything out of the windshield so we had to pull in and find an auto supply place where we could get a new windshield wiper. One of the guys that worked there said he'd come out and put it on for us. He put it on and while he was wrapping it up, Gene said he had a little test he wanted to give him. You may know the little tract Gene has with a test on things and it was just great watching him. Gene led that guy to the Lord right there on the curb and it was just great to see how smoothly and naturally he just used that opportunity to communicate the gospel. I've been with Gene many, many times and observed this and I've been with others like that. It's just so great. I sit back and wish I could do that. I'm not gifted in that area of evangelism but you watch someone to do that and it encourages you to emulate that and to approach it that way. So that's one of the best ways to learn. Thanks for adding that, Gene.