Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Romans 12:3-8

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Vs. 3 "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."

Following our minds renewal that takes us out of the unregenerate worlds ways and values and into God's, and thus our not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds, is the starting point where we become people prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ within a body of believers wherever our brethren assemble (Rom 12:1-2). For our being Spiritually equipped to do so is not the issue here, that's a given, since we all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have been Spirit equipped with specific Spirit gifts and talents to serve the Lord and other believers. The only question that remains then is how will we do that? Will we try to do so according to the self-serving, self-striving, self-glorifying ways that is the mark of this world? Or will we as the Apostle Paul first commanded through our minds renewal, via the Word of God, have a heart of humility and sensibility about ourselves, and others as well, as we serve the Lord (consider James 3:13-18).     
And so beginning in verse three, the Apostle Paul begins an exhortation that at it's heart is seeking to bring out of us all a heart of humility. Since we all come into the Kingdom of heaven only by the grace of God. And so it is that the Apostle Paul now exhorts us through the grace given him, grace that made him an apostle of Christ and Spiritually equipped him for that service and our instruction, that we not think more highly of ourselves than we should, but rather soberly. For just as the Apostle Paul's own calling and Spirit giftedness did not come through himself, so it is with each and every one of us who also believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we must all have sensible estimations about ourselves, (and others as well), since God has dealt to each one of us a measure of faith. So then no one should ever think themselves "superior" to anyone of their brethren. 

Vs. 4-5 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 

Having appealed to us through the grace of God given him, the Apostle Paul now declares that we too are recipients of that same grace that has not only saved him and us, but has also uniquely Spirit equipped each and every one of us who believe in Jesus Christ for His service as well. Thus just as in 1 Corinthians 12, where the Apostle Paul describes the Body of Christ as having many members, yet not all the members have the same function, yet all are needed for the functioning of the Body well. So here in verse four Paul reiterates our mutual need for each other (see 1 Cor 12:12-27). Yet Paul does not stop there, but takes the thought a step further in verse five, saying that we are not only members of the Body of Christ (i.e. collectively we make make up the Body) but we are also members of one another (also see Eph. 4:25). And so we are not only One with the Lord Jesus Christ but also each other as well. It is a profound thought that illuminates the depths of our Spiritual union with Christ and each other. And so just like the human body which God created to be intimately connected and mutually dependent on each member for the function of the whole well, so it is with the Spirit union that each and every believer shares with each other. Therefore since we are members of one another undying-love is what is undergird all of our relationships that are born out of that most intimate Holy Spirit bond. Which then leads us to wanting to look at the great many exhortations throughout the N.T. where this most notable phrase "one another" is used of us believers. And so starting in Romans chapter twelve, beginning in verse ten, and then moving out from there to Rom 12:16; 13:8; 14:13; 15:5, 7, 14, 16:16 and finally the rest of the N.T., Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2, 32; 5:19, 21, Col. 3:9, 13, 16; 1 Thess 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:24-25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1 Peter 1:22; 3:8; 4:8-10; 1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 2:5 etc.) you can clearly see there is a great many exhortations on this one subject alone! And so let us never forget that we are members of one another, with mutual responsibilities towards one another.   

Vs. 6-8 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Therefore as members of one another, and having Spirit gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us use them, for the edification of the church in love, as the Apostle Paul makes clear elsewhere (see 1 Cor 14:12; Eph 4:15-16). Thus not "self edification" as was the misuse of tongues speaking in 1 Cor 12-14, nor using our Spirit gifts simply to forward ones own ministry designs and desires, but ultimately we are given them for the edification of Body of Christ in love. Therefore let us use the Spirit given gifts we have been given for the building up the church collectively, and each other individually, in love (1 Cor 13-14; 14:12, 26-40). And so with that thought in mind lets look at the Spirit gifts listed here, and though not an exhaustive list, (seven are listed), the ones listed here do give us a solid foundation to build this principle upon. 
Now the first gift listed is prophecy (same word form is used in 1 Cor 12:10 and 13:2). In the N.T. individuals with the Spirit gift of prophecy are listed right after Apostles (1 Cor 12:28). In the Book of Acts where we see the gift of prophecy exercised, it plays a critical role in the early churches instruction, exhortation, and encouragement (see Acts 11:27-30; 13:1-3; 15:30-35, vs, 32; 21:8-14). Now the gift of prophecy was in no way is restricted to the declaration of some future happening, rather the gift of prophecy in the main declares the Divine Will, and instinctively affirms the same. Of course we know that any prophetic discourse that does not come to pass is not from God (Deut 18:22). Similarly any prophetic utterance that would turn people away from the Word of God is likewise not from God (Deut 13:1-5; Isaiah 8:20). Thus anyone exercising the Spirit gift of prophecy will always seek to point people into the Will of God, and when that Will has already been revealed to us in the Scripture, will stoutly and unshakably defend that revealed Will as incumbent upon us all. For a little more detail of some of this wonderful gifts aspects see below

The Prophetic Office: This is the position of someone with the gift of prophecy in the church. Which again only comes through the gifting of the Holy Spirit to whom He selects to serve in that capacity, and in the church is second only to an apostle (1 Cor 12:28). It is to be noted that though the act of prophesying may be done by all (1 Cor 14:31), since God's Spirit can empower anyone to speak a word of exhortation or encouragement or rebuke or prophesy. Yet there are parameters for the exercising of the gift of prophecy within the church assembly. Not the least of which is that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Cor 14:32). Meaning that any so called prophetic utterance must be subject to those who are also Spiritually equipped, and must be affirmed by them for any validation when speaking to the collective assembly. Thus any prophetic utterance that is given by the Holy Spirit will never come from an individual that is seeking to remain outside of those Scriptural parameters of being submitted to those within the assembly. Nor will any Spirit given Word be the source of confusion, discord, or strife amongst those who know and obey the truth. Since God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all the churches of the saints (1 Cor 14:33). Therefore any so-called prophetic utterances that demonstrate a lack of self-control, of either one's tongue or ones body is not from the Spirit of God. Since being self-controlled is being led by the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22-23). Now in the N.T. women such as Anna (Luke 2:36); Philip the evangelists four daughters (Acts 21:9); and women in general (Acts 2:17-18; 1 Cor 11:5) could and did exercise the gift of prophecy. Yet theirs was never the prophetic office in the church (1 Cor 12:28). Since that would've placed them in direct violation of not teaching or holding authority over a man (1 Tim 2:11-15), which is a command that is commanded of all the churches everywhere (1 Cor 4:17; 7:17; 14:35). Indeed there were restrictions placed on when, where, and how women could prophesy (head coverings were required to show their submission to God, by their wilfully placing themselves under the headship of the male, and thus under the headship of Christ, 1 Cor 11:3-16). As well women were not allowed to speak in the assembled church, but were to be in silence (1 Cor 14:34-35, 37; 1 Tim 2:11-15). Thus any notion of a woman preaching too or leading the whole congregation as being Christ's will for us is something that has been born out of the desires men and women, and not the Word of God given us (consider Isaiah 3:12). Theirs then was the exercising of the gift of prophecy on a personal level, (as Anna did towards Mary and Joseph in the Temple), rather than a corporate one. Same with Philip the evangelists four virgin daughters who prophesied, they would've done so while under the supervision of their father, since they did not have husbands. Similarly Deborah the prophetess who served as a Judge in Israel did so only on a personal level, she did not lead the nation, Barak did. In regards to this see her rejoicing when Barak and the leaders of the nation finally fulfilled their responsibilities and lead the nation as they should've have all along into God's victory over Jabin king of Hazor (see Judges 5:9).
Therefore if corporate prophesying by woman took place at all, it would've been while being in submission to Christ by following the previously mentioned parameters; head coverings, subject to the spirits of the prophet's, not holding a church office or position that would've made the adult male believers subject to them etc. Which sadly was the case with Jezebel the false prophetess who was permitted to teach the whole congregation, and thus held great sway over the church in Thyatira, leading many astray by her wicked works and ways, whom the Lord condemned when He rebuked them for allowing her to practice her wicked works and ways amongst them all (see Rev 2:18-29).
Now there is one last qualification for the exercising of the gift of prophecy and that is those who do so, must do so in proportion to their faith, since anything more than is simply being presumptuous which can be ruinous (to oneself and others) when one is exercising this Spirit gift. Again according to the proportion of ones faith that God has given them they should exercise this gift, for whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23).

OutWorkings of the Gift of Prophecy

Proclamation: Though InSpired speech is a part of the gift of prophecy, it is not at the forefront in the church today. Rather it is the declaration of Divine Will as revealed through the Scripture, which has already been given through the Biblical Apostles and prophets that is. For all that pertains to the faith has already been delivered to us once and for all. All that is left is it's proclamation and of course it's defense (see 2 Tim 4:1-5; Jude 3). And so the person with the gift of prophecy has an unwavering desire to see the Word of God exalted and glorified amongst God's people by our obedience to it. All which begins with it's proclamation, specifically the proclamation of the Testimony of Christ and the Word of God, which is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 1:2; 19:10; 1 John 5:11 etc.). Therefore any so called prophet who would alter or deny any of the Lord Jesus Christ's Testimony as given in the Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments), or His Preeminent Position as the Only Head of the church (with none before Him and none after), as well as His Words Preeminent Place in directing us all into the Will of God, is no prophet from God (Deut. 18:18-19). For at the forefront of the true exercisement of the gift of prophecy is the declaration of the Word of God, not ones own "oracles", "visions" or "dreams" (see Jeremiah 23:9-40; Ezekiel 13). For only when God's Word is rightly proclaimed and obeyed does the individual believer and church body collectively find it's prosperity, security, and peace, by obeying the Will of God for us all though it (consider Isaiah 48:18; 55:10-11; 66:1-2; Jeremiah 23:28-29, as well as some of these Scriptural excerpts about the preeminence of God's Word).
"keep My word" (John 8:51; 14:33)
"abide in My word" (John 8:31)
"hears My word" (John 5:24)
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17)
"trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2)
"My word is like a fire" (Jer 23:29)
"speak My word faithfully" (Jer 23:28)
"Preach the Word!" (2 Tim 4:2)
Thus the gift of prophecy is singlemindedly about declaring the Testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and God's Word given us through the Scriptures, since again the faith has been delivered to us once and for all, there is nothing that needs to be added to it (Jude 3). All that is needed is our faith in it, and obedience towards it. And so at the heart of the prophets proclamation is their unwavering loyalty to the Word of God. Thus individuals with the gift of prophecy don't seek to alter God's Word to accommodate the fleeting values and degenerating morals of this world. Nor do they proclaim the Word of God for vain reasons or personal profit (2 Cor 1:21-22). Since the true prophets desire is for the churches "profit" through God's exaltation and glorification of His Word and our obedience towards it, which often brings the wrath and contempt of the disobedient, unjust, and or the unrepentant. Be that as it may, the person with the gift of prophecy must not be dissuaded from their loyalty to the Word of God and it's fearless proclamation, because it is only by the Word of God that we have God's light and life to both guide us, and sanctify us for eternity (John 17:17).
Interpretation: Interpreting and or verifying the Word of God and will of God is a mark of the gift of prophecy. That said each individual believer has the Spirit capacity to understand God's Will for them and should seek God and His Word themselves for it (1 John 2:27).
Mediation: Though there is only one Mediator between God and Man the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5), thus no one need go through a so called priest or prophet to come to God unless that Priest and Prophet is Christ Himself (John 14:6; 1 John 2:1; Heb 4:14-16 etc.). The gift of prophecy has throughout the Scriptures always acted in a role of mediation, something that is sadly needed both inside and outside of the church today (consider 1 Cor 6:1-6).
Comfort: Though David's musical skill is noted in refreshing the spiritually tormented King Saul, (see 1 Sam. 16:15, 16, 17, 23). One need not be a musician to offer comfort. Rather that is one of marks of the ministry of the gift of prophecy, offering consolation and comfort to God's people in need of it (Isaiah 40:1-2).
Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Here then are the next six Spirit given gifts listed.

Ministry, "or ministry, let us use it in our ministering"
The next Spirit gift listed is ministry. In verse seven the Apostle Paul says, "or ministry, let us use it in our ministering." Now the word translated ministry here is a related word to the word used to describe the position of a deacon. It is then the general term used to describe serving, and here either the church collectively, or the individuals within it. Thus ministry here is the act of serving others in whatever calling, and with whatever capacities, that God has called and equipped us to serve Him and the church in (see Acts 1:17, 24, 6:4, 11:29, 20:24, 21:19, Rom 11:13, 12:7, 15:31 (service); 1 Cor 12:5, 16:5; 2 Cor 4:1, 5:18, 6:3, 11:8, Col 4:17, 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 4:5, 11).  

Teaching, "he who teaches, in teaching"
Simply put this is the Spirit gift of teaching (see Eph. 4:11) and is third in the list of Spirit gifts listed in 1 Cor 12:28-30. Here the Apostle simply says in verse seven "he who teaches, in teaching". Thus one so gifted should be occupied in that capacity of teaching, since that is what they are Spirit equipped for. Yet far too often believers find themselves trying to do things they are not equipped for, or called to do, which only leads to frustration amongst themselves and others as well. Therefore first discover your gifts, and then seek to serve Christ and church in the capacity that He has called you and Spirit equipped you to serve Him in. For seeking the more "pre-eminent" roles and not being  Spirit equipped to serve in them only leads to the discouragement and disillusionment of yourself and others as well, and not the churches edification in love. For there is stricter judgment on those who teach in the church (James 3:1), therefore entering into this calling without being Spirit equipped for it is again only going to lead to ones own disillusionment.

Exhortation, "he who exhorts, in exhortation"
Taking the preached and taught Word of God and exhorting others to obedience to it is an essential part of serving with this Spirit giftedness (Acts 15:32). John the Baptist is said to have exhorted the people with many exhortations (Luke 3:18), same with the Apostle Peter in turning people to God through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:40). While the Apostle Paul in Acts 14:22 exhorts the church to perseverance and faithfulness (also see Heb. 3:13-15, 10:25). Thus the gift of exhortation takes on a several different traits depending on the circumstances, from strong exhortations as in (2 Tim 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:16 etc.) calling us to obedience, to exhortations where encouragement and or comfort is at the heart of them (2 Cor 1:4; 1 Thess 4:18; 5:11, 14 etc.). The gift of exhortation is not a one dimensional gift that simply barks out orders at people, but rather entails many different aspects depending on the circumstances, from pleading with God or others (), to urging or exhorting us to receive God's Word for us (Heb 13:22), to offering words of comfort and consolation when they are needed (2 Thess. 2:16-17). The person with the gift of exhortation can do much good with this wonderful speaking gift. Therefore don't be silent when God is prompting you to speak. For silence is the fertile ground where the enemy of our souls works loudest. Rather use this gift with tact, wisdom, and understanding as the Book of Proverbs says, which will greatly strengthen the church and those within it.
          "A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
    And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!" Prov. 15:23

Giving, "he who gives, with liberality"
Seeing that the Lord has so richly given so much to us it seems rather logical that He through the grace of God would also Spirit equipped believers to demonstrate and model His generosity as well. If there is a greater virtue in a greedy and self-absorbed world it's hard to say. And so the person who exercises this gift as the Apostle says with liberality will undoubtedly be blessed in ways that we cannot yet fully fathom, not only in this life, but also in the life to come. The Scriptural promises attached to generous giving are too numerous to mention here, but here is a sample of some for us (consider Psalm 44:1; Prov. 11:25; 22:9; 28:27; Luke 14:12-14; 2 Cor. 9:6-9). Therefore let the generous man (or woman) devise generous things, for by generosity they shall stand (Isaiah 32:6-9).

Leadership, "he who leads, with diligence"
In the N.T. Spirit leadership isn't mere "management" of either the church, or the individuals within. Rather it entails both leading and caring for those one has oversight of (gleaned from TDNTA, also see Acts 20:28). This principle then is first to be born out in the home by those who seek the role of leadership within the church (see 1 Tim 3:4, 5, 12). Another aspect of leadership that Jesus emphasized was that of our serving others (see Mark 10:42-45). Therefore serving others through love is how a Godly leader is to lead and we ourselves are too follow (Gal. 5:13). Connected with this command for those who are Spirit equipped to lead, is that we are to do this with all diligence. Thus not lazily or half heartedly (Bible Knowledge Commentary) which is the mark of someone perverse in their ways, and thus not fitting of a person exercising Godly character (consider Matt 25:26). Louw Nida gives this as it's definition saying it is "to do something with intense effort and motivation—‘to work hard, to do one’s best, to endeavor." Thus one is not to be slack in ones leadership role and capacities, rather we are to lead with all diligence. Striving with all of the energy and giftedness that Christ supplies (consider Col. 1:29).

Mercy, "he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness"
That is with gladness and joy. Though the emphasis here is on the Spirit gift of mercy showing mercy to one's brethren, this is in no way limited to those so equipped. For mercy is what the Gospel is intended to bring to one and to all who believe, and is to mark us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:7). Therefore as we have received mercy, let us show mercy to one and all in need (Rom 11:32; 2 Cor 4:1-2; 1 Tim 1:15-16; 1 Peter 2:10; Jude 20-22). 

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Additional Resources Consulted
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 939). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Word Studies
leads: proḯstēmi, Str. 4292; GK 4613; TDNT 6.700; TDNTA, pages 700-703; LN 36:1; (Rom 12:8; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim 3:4, 5, 12; 5:17; Titus 3:8, 14) 8x
diligence: spoudḗ, Str 4710; GK 5082; TDNT 7.559; TDNTA 1069; LN. 68.63; 68.64; 68.79; 27:4 (Mark 6:25; Luke 1:39; Rom 12:8, 11; 2 Cor. 7:11, 12; 8:7, 8, 16; Heb. 6:11; 2 Peter 1:5; Jude 3) 12x

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