Your Gifts, Your Church Family (Hill)

A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church - Hill, Megan - 9781433563737

I’m halfway through this helpful book: A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church by Megan Hill. Each chapter is a short exposition and application of the various metaphors in Scripture for the church: flock, body, saints, etc. It’s good biblical resource on the nature of the church and what it means to be a living member of a local church family. Here’s one section I highlighted this morning:

Thankfully, the particular composition of the church doesn’t depend on us. Continuing the image of the church as a body, Paul writes, ‘But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each of them, as he chose’ (1 Cor. 12:18). The truth of 1 Corinthians 12 is that however it might appear, the people and gifts represented in our local church are exactly the people and gifts we need. A few verses later, Paul flatly dismisses any suggestion that some people or gifts are more necessary for the body’s well being than others: ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (12:21-22).

This truth should give you confidence: your particular gifts have a valuable, God-appointed place. It should also humble you: your particular gifts are simply one part of the body, and you desperately need other people with their particular gifts (see Rom. 12:3). Finally, this truth should increase your love for the local church: the gifts in the body are exactly what God knows your congregation needs. Because of God’s sovereign choosing, no part is missing, and every part is valuable.

That’s so true! If you’re a follower of Christ, God has given you gifts to use in the service of other people, including his family. You and your God-given gifts are needed in the local church. But don’t get proud, because you also need the gifts of others to help you along in following Christ. In other words, a local church family is a felllowship of Christians who need one another!

Megan Hill, A Place to Belong, p. 80.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

Calling, Gifts, Service (Guinness)

 If you haven’t read The Call by Os Guinness, you should put it on your “to read” Christian book list!  It’s an in-depth look at vocation (or calling).  I was looking over some of my highlights in this book today and came across the following quotes that really have been helpful for me and my own Christian life:

“…God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.”

“A sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career, and the main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be.  Instead of, ‘You are what you do,’ calling says: ‘Do what you are.'”

“In the biblical understanding of giftedness, gifts are never really ours or for ourselves.  We have nothing that was not given us.  Our gifts are ultimately God’s, and we are only ‘stewards’ – responsible for the prudent management of property that is not our own.  This is why our gifts are always ‘ours for others,’ whether in the community of Christ or the broader society outside, especially the neighbor in need.”

“The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there.”

Os Guinness, The Call, p. 45-46.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

Called To Serve (Guinness)

I like this book so much: The Call by Os Guinness.  Here’s a section I found this morning while re-reading part of the book.  It has to do with God’s call and gifts:

“In the biblical understanding of giftedness, gifts are never really ours for ourselves.  We have nothing that was not given us.  Our gifts are ultimately God’s, and we are only ‘stewards’ – responsible for the prudent management of property that is not our own.  This is why our gifts are always ‘ours for others,’ whether in the community of Christ or the broader society outside, especially the neighbor in need.”

“This is also why it is wrong to treat God as a grand employment agency, a celestial executive searcher to find perfect fits for our perfect gifts.  The truth is not that God is finding a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there.”

“…God does call us to ‘be ourselves’ and ‘do what we are.’  But we are only truly ‘ourselves’ and can only truly ‘do what we are’ when we follow God’s call.  Giftedness that is ‘ours for others’ is therefore not selfishness but service that is perfect freedom.”

Os Guinness, The Call, p. 46-7.

Shane Lems

Seven Points on Spiritual Gifts (J. Bridges)

True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia God gives all his people gifts to use for the service and enrichment of others.  Peter put it this way: God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another (1 Pet. 4:10 NLT).  Because the Bible talks about gifts this way, the Westminster Confession echoes this truth: “Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification” (ch. 26.2).  I appreciate how Jerry Bridges talks about this in his excellent book, True Community.  Here are Bridges’ seven points on spiritual gifts (I’ve summarized/edited the following for length):

The purpose of all spiritual gifts is to serve others and glorify God. Our gifts are not our property to use as we please; they are a trust committed to us by God to use for others and for His glory as He directs.”

Every Christian has a gift, and every gift is important.  We have already stated earlier in this chapter that God has assigned every believer a function in the body of Christ and that God has, consequently, gifted every member to fulfill that function.  To say ‘I don’t think I have a gift,’ is to say, ‘I don’t think I have a function in the body of Christ.  Such an idea flies in the face of the whole of New Testament teaching.  God has a job for every believer.  It may be seen or unseen, big or small, but each of us has a job to do.”

“Not only do we each have a gift but each one of our gifts is important.  Again, we tend to recognize the more public, noticeable gifts as important and the low-profile gifts as perhaps not so important.  The apostle Paul anticipated this tendency when he envisioned the foot saying, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ and the ear saying, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’ (1 Cor. 12:15-16).”

Gifts are sovereignly bestowed by God.  You possess the gifts you have because the sovereign God of the universe wanted you to be that way.  He ordained a plan for your life even before you were born, and He has gifted you specifically to carry out that plan.  Never disparage your gift.  If you do, you are disparaging the plan of God and perhaps complaining against Him.  Similarly, never look down on the gift of another.  If you do, you are scorning the plan of God for that person.”

“Every gift is given by God’s grace.  None of us deserves the gift he or she has been given.  All gifts are given by God’s undeserved favor to us through Christ (Rom 12:6, 1 Pet. 4:10).  The highly gifted person should not think he is so gifted because of his hard work or his faithfulness in previous service to God.

“All gifts must be developed and exercised.  Even though gifts are given by God’s grace, it is our responsibility to develop and exercise them.  Paul exhorted Timothy to rekindle or ‘fan into flame the gift of God,’ and elsewhere Paul told him, ‘Do not neglect your gift’ (2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14).  The effective use of our gifts does not occur without diligent effort on our part.”

The effective use of every gift is dependent on faith in Christ.  Although gifts are sovereignly bestowed and their effective exercise involves hard work and diligent effort, it is also true that no gift is exercised apart from faith in Christ.  The necessity of conscious dependence on Christ for His enabling power is a fundamental fact for every aspect of the Christian life, whether in spiritual growth in our own lives or in serves within the body.”

Only love will give true value to our gifts.  In any discussion of spiritual gifts we should give careful attention to the fact that the classic Scripture passage on Christian love, 1 Corinthians 13, is set right in the middle of the Bible’s most extensive treatment on spiritual gifts.  If we have not love, it all amounts to nothing.”

These seven points are very helpful biblical notes on spiritual gifts.  In fact, it is one of the best treatments on spiritual gifts that I’ve read.  I very much recommend this chapter to those who want a solid treatment of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.  Furthermore, I recommend this entire book!  It’s an outstanding resource on the fellowship of the saints: True Community by Jerry Bridges.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

Gifted Stewards or Stewards of Gifts

The Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 55 says that one aspect of the “communion of the saints” is this: “Each member [of Christ’s body] should consider it his duty to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members” (Rom. 12:4-8, 1 Cor. 12:20-27, Phil. 2:4-8).  Os Guinness says the same thing, only he looks at it from a different – and helpful – angle.

“God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness”

“In the biblical understanding of giftedness, gifts are never really ours or for ourselves.  We have nothing that was not given us.  Our gifts are ultimately God’s, and we are only ‘stewards’ – responsible for the prudent management of property that is not our own.  This is why our gifts are always ‘ours for others,’ whether in the community of Christ or the broader society outside, especially the neighbor in need.”

“This is also why it is wrong to treat God as a grand employment agency, a celestial executive searcher to find perfect fits for our perfect gifts.  The truth is not that God is finding a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there.”

“God does call us to ‘be ourselves’ and ‘do what we are.’  But we are only truly ‘ourselves’ and can only truly ‘do what we are’ when we follow God’s call.  Giftedness that is ‘ours for others’ is therefore not selfishness but service that is perfect freedom.”

These quotes can be found in chapter 6 of The Call by Os Guinness.

shane lems
hammond, wi