Archive for March 2015

Romans 3:21-25

God is worthy of all glory because of who He is (Romans 11.33-36). Yet all of us have sinned and fallen short of His glory and are worthy of eternal punishment because of our sinful, arrogant rebellion: giving the glory that He deserves to other things. There is nothing we can do to overcome this condition on our own; seeking to be justified by obeying the Law will not do it. The Law reveals our sin, but offers no ability to save us. By His pre-determined plan (Acts 2:23-24), God demonstrated His love and gave Jesus as a propitiation (atoning for our sin by enduring God’s wrath as a sacrificial substitution) for our sin through His death on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus shows that the payment for our sin was paid in full. This is a free gift of grace given to all who believe in Jesus Christ through faith for salvation.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the severity of God’s punishment for unforgiven sinners indicate the depth of the offense of our sin to God?
  2. Why can’t our attempts to obey the Law justify us? Why do people struggle with trying to “earn” salvation?
  3. How does Romans 3:25a show us that the propitiation of Jesus was an act initiated by God and not in response to anything we did?
  4. How does the Day of Atonement ritual (Leviticus 16) picture the sacrifice of Jesus?
  5. What was the biggest dread that Jesus had as He faced the cross?
  6. What are you truly trusting in for salvation?

Action Steps

  1. With the concept of propitiation in mind, read one of the gospels’ accounts of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus in one sitting.
  2. Everyday in prayer, thank God for the gift of grace shown in the propitiation of Jesus for our sin.
  3. Share the good news of the propitiation of Jesus for our sins with a lost person this week.

 

Listen to the message: Gifted to Serve, pt.4

1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11

Though probably not exhaustive, these four passages of Scripture do give us some of the spiritual gifts that God gives to His body to be used to strengthen each others’ faith, serve one another, and glorify God.

Apostleship: In the sense of apostolic authority of those who saw the resurrected Christ and were commissioned personally by Him as an apostle, this gift has ceased. The apostles’ teaching is the foundation and measuring rod for all doctrine.

Prophecy: Communication of a spontaneous thought, image, truth, application, etc. from God that is not always known to the speaker until that moment and that speaks specifically to the hearer’s situation.

Word of Wisdom: Speaking incredible wisdom to edify believers. Possibly communicating insights into the message of the cross and God’s saving purposes for mankind globally and for individual application.

Word of Knowledge: Speaking incredible knowledge to edify believers. Possibly speaking insight into the depth of God’s grace displayed in Christ.

Teaching: The ability to explain and apply Scripture to people’s lives (Bible teaching and preaching).

Evangelism: A unique ability (beyond the call to every believer to make disciples) to communicate the gospel of Jesus and see effectiveness.

Pastor (and/or Teacher): Shepherding the body of Christ through applying doctrine, guarding, guiding, warning, challenging, instructing, and ministering to the people of God (If the grammatical link in Ephesians 4 reads pastor/teacher, then this gift would include teaching).

Exhortation: Comforting and coming alongside others, encouraging them to live out the teachings of Scripture in their personal lives.

Tongues: “Prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker (Grudem).” Sometimes this is expressed in human languages, but ordinarily in a language no one understands.

Interpretation of Tongues: Interpreting the tongues that are spoken.

Distinguishing of Spirits: Discerning between the works of the Holy Spirit and the works of another spirit, namely a demonic one. Oftentimes this shows up in distinguishing between false teaching and good teaching.

Leadership: Leading the flock of God through managing, overseeing, mobilizing, casting vision, guiding through trials, discipline, etc.

Faith: Unique ability to believe with unwavering confidence that God will bring about certain things, despite obstacles, for which there is no specific Scriptural promise to claim.

Gifts of Healing: Spontaneous ability to be used of God to heal diseases and infirmities at certain times of the Spirit’s choosing.

Workings of Powers (Miracles): Spontaneous ability to be used of God to perform a supernatural event at certain times of the Spirit’s choosing.

Helps (Serving): Assisting leadership to handle material church affairs; serving the body of Christ in practical ways whenever/wherever needed.

Giving: Freely giving resources liberally and generously with a single-minded joy and delight to specific needs in order to further God’s work.

Showing Mercy: A Spirit-given compassion of heart that sympathizes with the suffering and assists/ministers to them in their need.

*Some include hospitality – the ability to provide a welcoming, open house for people in need of food and lodging (some say to strangers) – as a spiritual gift.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the gifts list show God’s gracious care for His people?
  2. What distinguishes the gift of faith that only some Christians have at certain times from conversion faith and continuing faith that all Christians have?
  3. What is the case for and against the more “miraculous” gifts being for the church today?  If some of the more “miraculous” gifts are for the church today, what causes believers to believe that they are not?  If they are not, what causes believers to believe that they are?
  4. How does Jesus and His provision for our sin perfectly exhibit specifically together these three gifts: Helps, Giving, and Showing Mercy?
  5. How can you be a good steward of the specific spiritual gifts of grace that God has given you to use? (1 Peter 4:10-11)
  6. If you know some of the ways that God has gifted you through His Spirit, are there new and fresh ways that He wants to use those gifts for His glory?
  7. How would a correct understanding that all believers have been gifted in different ways according to the sovereign will of the Spirit eliminate rivalry and promote unity and effective ministry in families, friendships, and churches?
  8. How would our church look different if everyone were utilizing their gifts with passion and dedication?

Action Steps

  1. Through prayer, reading the Scriptures, and using some of the resources below or other reputable sources, seek the Scriptures’ teaching on some of the more miraculous gifts.
  2. Through looking over the gift list, spending time in prayer, and asking fellow believers, identify what gifts God may have gifted you with and find one way to use one of them this week.
  3. Ask God for more spiritual gifts and opportunities to use them.
  4. Begin to identify the gifts of those in your family, class, or friends group and celebrate others’ gifts.
  5. Encourage a Christian you know that has one of the less “public” gifts.

For Further Study

  1. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11
  2. ESV Study Bible: notes on these four passages
  3. Books: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts by Sam Storms, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 by D.A. Carson, 19 Gifts of the Spirit by Leslie Flynn
  4. Websites: www.desiringgod.org ; www.gty.org (search key words relating to spiritual gifts for resources), www.blueletterbible.org (search by Scripture and find available resources and commentaries pertaining to each Scripture)

Listen to the message: Gifted to Serve, Pt3

1 Peter 4.10-11

Each believer in Jesus is given the manifestation of God’s Spirit as a divine gift of grace through various spiritual gifts intended to be used to build up the body of Christ, strengthen the faith of others, and glorify God. Peter (in some ways) classifies these spiritual gifts as more word-oriented or deed-oriented, though there may be some overlap in some of them. Some of the word-oriented gifts are apostleship, prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge, teaching, evangelism, pastoring (or pastor/teacher), tongues, interpretation of tongues, and exhortation. Two other gifts listed in Scripture are administration/leading and discerning of spirits.

Questions to Consider

1. As we look at the lists of spiritual gifts in Scripture, how do we see that Jesus perfectly embodies all of them?
2. What distracts you from seeking and using spiritual gifts through your life (1 Corinthians 14:1)? How does that cheat the church?
3. How do the spiritual gifts work as actual “gifts” in the plan of God for those whom He has called to Himself in Christ?


Action Steps

1. Worship Jesus for His perfect embodiment of all the gifts. Worship Him for using you to serve others through the gifts He’s given you.
2. Study 1 Corinthians 14 and Paul’s teaching on tongues and prophecy.
3. Understanding that Paul encourages us to seek the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1), ask God to give it to you should He choose to, along with whatever gifts He’d desire for you to have.
4. Ask a mature follower of Jesus how they see Jesus working through you. Identify if what they say matches any of the gifts that we’ve discussed so far.
5. Identify someone that has any of the gifts that we’ve discussed so far and encourage them this week.

Listen to the message Gifted to Serve, Pt. 2

1 Peter 4.10-11

Each believer in Jesus is given the manifestation of God’s Spirit as a divine gift of grace through various spiritual gifts intended to be used to build up the body of Christ, strengthen the faith of others, and glorify God. Peter, in some ways, classifies these spiritual gifts as more word-oriented or deed-oriented. Though the four basic lists of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11) aren’t meant to be exhaustive, we see that some of the word-oriented gifts are apostleship, prophecy, words of wisdom and knowledge, teaching, evangelism, pastoring (or pastor/teacher), and exhortation.

Questions to Consider

1. Is a spiritual gift that God has given you the only one you could ever receive? What light does 1 Corinthians 12:11, 31 shed on that?
2. How does only focusing on the gifts that you have seen God use in and through your life potentially minimize the ministry that He wants to do through your life?
3. What are some reasons why your spiritual gifts go unused and ministry through your life diminishes?

Action Steps

1. Look at your life. Ask others what types of ways they see God working through you. Explore if what you see and others see matches up with any of these word-oriented gifts.
2. Go to those in your life that you see God working through these word-oriented gifts, encourage them, and praise God with them for His gifts of grace to and through them.
3. If you have identified a word-oriented gift that God is using through your life, look for ways to serve the church, strengthen others’ faith, and glorify God through them.

Listen to the message “Gifted to Serve” Pt.1

In our study of 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, we see that every believer has the Holy Spirit and that He manifests Himself through certain spiritual gifts in every believer. Like salvation, spiritual gifts are divine gifts of grace. They are nothing that we’ve earned or that we claim as anything of our own doing. All spiritual gifts are from the same Spirit and all necessary and important. They are manifestations of the Holy Spirit through which He accomplishes His sovereign work of building His church and strengthening the faith of others through us.

Questions to Consider

1. How are salvation and spiritual gifts both divine gifts of grace?

2. Do you have a desire to build up the body of Christ and strengthen the faith of others? What does that say about your life?

3. Why are we likely to emphasize one person’s gift as more important than another when all are manifestations of the same Spirit to accomplish His work? How can we avoid that?

Action Steps

1. Take some time to reflect on the four primary passages of Scripture regarding spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11.

2. This week, look for one way to build up the church and strengthen the faith of someone else, and do it.