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The Power of Christ through Each Believer in the Church
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: God’s plan for each believer in the church
1 Peter 4:10-11
In every sport, there are three kinds of people in attendance—1) Those who make things happen on the field, 2) Those who watch things happen in the stands, and 3-Those who don’t know what’s happening. In the church, it’s the same–those who make things happen, those who watch, and those who are clueless.
In fact, it’s called the 80/20 rule–20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church. Typically 80% of the giving, 80% of the serving, 80% of the life-on-life impact is done by 20%. So are you a normal Christian, or an average Christian? Average are those who compare themselves to others and say, “I’m doing good.” Normal are the ones who compare themselves to Scripture and say, “I’ve got growin’ to do.”
The reason many believers have plateaued in their growth is their unwillingness to serve. Then for those who do serve, to take the next step and discover their purpose. What are those Ephesians 2:10 good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them? Like David in Acts 13:36, who served the purpose of God in his own generation–will you?
The Bible teaches, there is no unemployment in the Kingdom of God. Everyone has a job to do. The problem is, the work of the Lord is hard work. You’re often unappreciated and as a result countless ministries go unfulfilled, even though workers are needed. Friends, you were saved to serve. You were rescued to work and worship. Christ came to serve, and unless you serve you will never be like Christ.
So why is there a worker shortage? Christian’s do not think of themselves as in full-time ministry–but you are. There are some who are financially supported so they can teach God’s Word full time. But for every Christian, all you do is done for God’s glory in service to Him.
In the world, we are to display the Gospel and show off Christ. But in the church, we are to exercise our gifts and show off Christ. The ministry of a healthy church is by, with, and through its many parts. Some of you this morning have no idea just how crucial each of you are to the health of this family. To show you, open your Bibles to 1 Peter 4:10 to 11.
We are in the midst of a series, Making a Difference: the keys to influencing others. All of you desire to impact your children and grandchildren, others you love, friends at school, coworkers, family members, students you’re discipling, people in your community group–how do you impact them for Christ? And for you Christian Oakland Raider types, what are the keys to being used of God to make as many people like Christ in the shortest time possible?
We’ve already studied the importance of, 1) genuine salvation and 2) sanctification, examining 3) character selection, while embracing 4) the corporate ministry of the church. Today we study the importance of each believer, from Jr. Higher to senior citizen, to minister their spiritual giftedness in the church body, as found in 1 Peter 4.
This passage is not for super Christians, but for every single believer. Compare your life against the normal, biblical expectations described in 1 Peter 4:10 to 11, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter is writing to people who are scattered over a wide area, in local churches being persecuted by Rome. Peter shares with them about their salvation, exhorts them with the importance of submission, and finally, instructs them how to deal with suffering. In the midst of his instruction about persecution, he is moved by the Spirit of God to give some practical commands as to how to survive until Jesus comes again.
That is exactly what he does starting in verse 7. He says, if you’re going to survive a hostile world, then remember your time is short, think clearly, don’t panic–have an eternal perspective, give yourself to prayer, work at your love for one another, show Christ’s love to others. And finally Peter wraps up his survival exhortations with verses 10 to 11, minister your giftedness in the church.
See how he begins? “As each one has received a special gift.” The moment you were saved, the Holy Spirit graced you with a spiritual giftedness. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability for service within the body, to uniquely show off Christ. Spiritual gifts are unique and special ways each believer gets to see Christ work through them.
And Peter knew if these persecuted churches were going to survive, every believer must choose to exercise his or her spiritual gift. The more who do, the more Christ is seen and the healthier the Church becomes. Churches at only 20% ministry see less of Christ and are definitely unhealthy. To survive a hostile world, the members must be fully involved in ministry with their gifts.
To make it until Christ comes, each one of us must minister to the body of Christ. Peter invests one verse demonstrating the importance of ministering your gifts and another showing the ingredients of ministering your gifts.
#1 The IMPORTANCE of ministering your gifts Verse 10
Every single word of Scripture is inspired, so discover what God says word-by-word.
First Ministering your gifts is CRUCIAL.
Peter begins verse 10 making certain his readers know that the ministry of each individual member in the church is essential. Look at verse 10, “As each one has received a special gift.” The Greek word for “each one” is emphatic. Each one starts the verse, giving it emphasis in the Greek.
God says each of you individually is crucial for the survival of the whole church. In God’s thinking, there’s no gap between the clergy and laity. It’s essential that everyone function. Everyone has a place to serve and a part to play–you are part of a whole.
Each member of the body of Christ can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle piece. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts and abilities) and the indentations represent our weaknesses (faults and bents). Each piece is a part of the whole and fits together to give the world a picture of Christ. And the good news is, my weakness is filled by your strength.
Each member is essential to minister to the other members of the body. You know, when any piece is missing, its absence is obvious and damages the picture. When each piece is in place, no one is conspicuous and the picture of Christ becomes clear. Ministering your giftedness is crucial to the health of this church and to glorify Christ. Peter also teaches . . .
Second Ministering your gifts is a PRIVILEGE
Peter says in verse 10, “each one has received a gift.” The word gift means that which was given out of grace. Spiritual gifts come from God and could never have been achieved, attained or possessed by your own effort. Gifts are a God-given ability for service within the body to uniquely show off Christ.
Gifts are sovereignly given and determined by God to show off Christ through ministry, but gifts are also to be a grace blessing, lavished on us for our joy. Every true believer has received a unique, special and undeserving giftedness to use in service to help others become more like Christ.
I’ve told you, several Valentine’s days ago, I gave Jean a “Bottle of Love”. I had bought some parchment paper, pens, stamps, and a fancy bottle. I cut the paper into long strips and wrote out categories, which would represent gifts or time together. I made ten recreation slips (like bowling), ten dinner slips (special restaurants like McDonalds), ten snacks (like ice cream, honeycomb candy, or peeps) five times zones (to watch the kids), five trips (like museums), ten love slips (which are none of your business–no, like a backrub).
I rolled them all up and put them in the jar and she got to pick one per week to remind her of my love for her and my desire to serve her. Can you imagine how hurt I’d be if she didn’t bother to use my gift designed just for her? What are you doing with the special giftedness God has given you?
How are you responding to God’s gracious blessing to you for the survival of the Church? Just how grateful are you for His gifts–His gifts that were meant to be used? Gifts are crucial and a privilege, but they are also important because . . .
Third Ministering your gifts is a RESPONSIBILITY
Look at Peter’s next phrase in verse 10, “As each one has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards.” Stewardship is a responsibility. All of us know a steward was a slave who was responsible for managing a man’s household and for distributing the wages and food to its members. Peter is reminding you of your responsibility to be serving in the church body with your giftedness.
Turn to Luke 19:16 and look at how God views stewardship. Though there is much truth in this parable, I will focus on key truths related to your responsibility in stewardship. In the parable of the ten mina’s, a nobleman goes to a distant country–but before he leaves, he gives ten slaves one mina each (which is about three month’s wages) and tells them to do business with it until he comes back.
When he does return, he calls three of the slaves (who represent the rest) to report what business they’d done. Had they been good stewards? Look at verses 16 to 17 in Luke 19 and draw out three key truths, “And the first slave appeared saying, ‘Master your Mina has made ten more,’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.’” Principle number one of stewardship is . . .
1 Stewardship starts with LITTLE things
God expects you to use what you have. If you’re a teacher, then teach. If you are a giver then give. You may be the best encourager, then encourage. Or you’re great with your hands, then serve. Or an incredible organizer, then administrate. If you’ve been given one coin or ten, use God’s resources and gifts in service to the Body.
Some don’t want to do little things. They’d never say it, cause it would embarrass them–but they only want to do big things, spotlight things. But stewardship starts with little things–being faithful in little. A second principle of stewardship is . . .
2 Reward means getting a BIGGER job
The reward for doing little things well means more work. Jesus said in verse 17, “If you’re faithful in little things, then I’ll give you authority over ten cities”–wow! Jesus says, “Well done—now here is a really big job.” Once you do well, you don’t stop being a steward, but you earn the right to have a bigger job, more responsibility and a wider influence.
Some of you dream of being greatly used for Christ. Trust God’s Word and be faithful to serve in little things now. Stewardship principle number three is found in verse 20. “And another slave came saying, ‘Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief.” Jesus goes on to call this slave a worthless slave and takes his mina away from him and gives it to the slave who earned ten.”
3 There is great danger in SPECTATOR attendance
The poor stewards are those who do nothing with their gifts. They are in great danger. A similar parable in Matthew would lead us to believe those who don’t use their gifts in service and never produce any fruit need to question whether they’re saved?
As you turn back to 1 Peter, did you see, Peter calls you to be good stewards. He means for you to be the kind of steward who is admired for his service, to be one who is affirmed for his faithful work. Are you a good steward of your gift? Serving in the church is important because . . .
4 Ministering your giftedness is UNIQUE
Look again at the end of verse 10, we serve “one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The word manifold actually means many-colored (like Joseph’s many-colored coat) and is used in the New Testament to describe the skin of a leopard, the changing seasons of the year, or the variations of a strain of music.
God is telling you there are all different kinds of people who are gifted in unique ways. Spiritual gifts are described in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The sign gifts belong to the apostles. The permanent gifts are evangelist, exhorting, faith, giving, helping, serving, leading, administrating, mercy, preaching, teaching, and discernment.
Study the gifts and you’ll conclude they form the main colors on God’s pallet. So when the Lord saves you, He gives you one gift–a unique blend of several gifts making you as distinctive as a snowflake in your ability to show off Christ–the manifold grace. Look at your neighbor—go ahead and look. See how different they are? Yea, they are different! That is the grace of God. God can save a guy that looks like that?
Spiritual gifts are expressions of the grace of God. Serving in ministry is not a burden or work–to God, it’s a unique grace gift. Oh it’s work, and sometimes you’ll be burdened, but it is the manifold grace of God. You are so unique, only you can accomplish the work God has given you to do. You remember this illustration–my favorite on the uniqueness of giftedness.
If each one of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12 were represented in your ministry and someone dropped a dessert on the floor, here is what each one of them might say. The preacher person would say, “That’s what happens when you’re not careful”–he’s motivated to correct your life. The mercy person would say, “Don’t feel bad, it could have happened to anyone”–they’re motivated to relieve your embarrassment.
Serving would say, “Oh let me help you clean it up”–their motivated to fulfill a need. Teaching would say, “The reason it fell is that it’s too heavy on one side”–they’re motivated to discover what happened. Exhortation would say, “Next time let’s serve the dessert with the meal at the table”–they’re motivated to correct for the future.
Administration/leadership would say, “Jim, would you get the mop, Sue please help pick it up, and Mary, go get some more dessert.” Each one is needed–yet all are different. Ministering your gifts is crucial, a privilege, a responsibility, and distinctly unique. But ministering your gifts is not only important, there are . . .
#2 INGREDIENTS of ministering your gifts Verse 11
Peter says in the middle of verse 10, your gift is to be employed “in serving one another.” Then in verse 11, with your service, you’re to rely on the “strength which God supplies.”
First Ministering your gifts is SERVICE
The first ingredient of true ministry is service. The word ministry is from the Greek term meaning “to serve“. In verse 11 it means to wait on another and care for their needs, to place the needs and comfort of someone else above your own in active work and sacrifice.
Serving one another is present tense, meaning if the church is to survive tough times, then we must be continually serving. I’ve been in churches containing 600, 2000, 4000, and 10,000 people–and every one of them is desperate to have people serve. To understand being a servant with your giftedness, turn over to Acts chapter 6.
The Early Church was growing and there were needs going unmet. The apostles couldn’t meet the needs, so they chose certain men to meet those needs. In Acts chapter 6, in the middle of verse 5, it says, “They chose Stephen; a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Verse 8 adds, “Stephen was full of grace and power.”
Stephen had a remarkable grasp of the Word of God and the boldness to preach it with conviction. His wisdom was such that the enemies of the Gospel could not refute him. So what great ministry did the apostles choose for this powerful Christian? What position in the spotlight did they intend for this man of faith?
Verse 2 gives the answer–Stephen was to serve tables. Stephen could have said, “Me? Serve tables? Apparently you’re unaware of my wisdom, power, faith, and preaching ability. Get someone else to serve in the shadows. I am better suited for the spotlight of center stage.” But happily, that was not his reaction. Stephen humbly took his place with the other six servers, and later became the first Church martyr.
Listen, God has called you to serve. There’s always room for another true servant. The small area in the spotlight can get a bit crowded, but there is always room in the shadows for the person who is eager to manifest the grace of service. Remember the example of Christ in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (and to give His life a ransom for many).”
Remember the exhortation of Christ in Matthew 23:11 to 12, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Jesus talked and walked servanthood. True ministry is first the role of a servant. To wash feet, to give till it hurts, to love the unlovely and unappreciative. To set up chairs, stuff bulletins, help the secretarial pool, usher, visit the prisoners, care for a family in crisis, record, work sound, work PowerPoint, shepherd a group, disciple a student and teach a child.
Look at verse 11 again. Did you notice the kind of service Peter describes is both public and private? It’s done with your mouth and your actions. You’re to serve each other publicly and privately, yet most service is private—unnoticed except by God. Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” So ministering your giftedness means service and . . .
Second Ministering your gifts is EMPOWERED
Look at verse 11–here is the literal rendering. God says through Peter, “If one speaks [as God’s sayings], if one ministers [as out of the strength which God supplies]”. As each member ministers, through speech or through actions, true biblical ministry will be empowered by God–God supplies the strength.
God’s work, done God’s way, will not lack God’s strength. Now you won’t experience God’s power if you neglect your dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Zechariah’s words are as true today as the day he penned them. Zechariah 4:6b, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.”
In this series, we have already studied Ephesians 5:18 and the filling of the Spirit for sanctification. You also need the filling of the Spirit to minister your giftedness. It’s the Spirit who fills the sails of your life and moves you along to accomplish God’s will. It is the Spirit who must work through you as you labor in service for Christ. Paul described it this way in Colossians 1:29, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
Listen, the literal word for spiritual gifts is “spirituals”, or “of the Spirit”. The Spirit gifted you with them at salvation and desires to work through you now to serve others. You can do nothing that lasts eternally, nor will your service have any reward if your efforts to minister are not empowered by the Holy Spirit through you for God’s glory.
You can’t glorify God–only God can through you. You can’t live the Christian life–only Christ can through you. You can serve in the Church–only the Spirit can through you. An essential ingredient to your ministry is the dependent empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Plus . . .
Third Ministering your gifts is to be in the midst of a CHORUS of servants
Look at verse 10 and see the phrase, “serving one another.” Then look at verse 11, notice the phrase, “which God supplies.” When Peter says in verse 11, God shall supply the strength to serve, and verse 10, you’re “serving one another,” he’s reminding his churches they’re supplied with a chorus of ministers.
The Greek word “supply” originally meant, “to supply a chorus.” Do you see the picture? Every member of our church can spiritually be singing a different part, yet all singing the same song in perfect harmony. Your ministry is to be corporate. Like the gears in an old watch, you are all interconnected and need each other.
Like mountain climbers roped together, you desperately need others in ministry. Like a football team, you can’t win unless you coordinate your efforts with others. Remember the man who broke his left arm and couldn’t sleep? As he lay in bed, he imagined a dialog between his right and left hands. The right hand said, “Left hand, you’re not missed. Everybody’s glad it was you who was broken and not me.”
So the left hand said, “How are you superior?” and the right hand replied, “Why my owner cannot write a letter without me.” But the left hand replied, “But who holds the paper on which he writes?” The right hand said, “Who swings the hammer?” to which the left hand answered, “Who holds the nail?”
The left hand continued, “Let me ask you a question. When our owner shaved this morning, he used you, but his face is cut because I wasn’t there to help. You can’t take his credit card out of his wallet, because I’m not there to hold it. The master can do very few things without me.” We need each other.
We were not created to serve alone, but together in chorus, in harmony, all of us doing our part. It doesn’t matter if you’re melody or harmony, young or old, instrumental or choral—each of you are critical to the whole orchestra. Spiritual gifts are ministry exercised in the midst of an orchestra of servants. The ingredients of ministering your gifts are service, empowered, in the midst of a chorus and . . .
Fourth Ministering your gifts has a PURPOSE
You see it at the end of verse 11, “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. AMEN.” Our purpose is to be like Jesus Christ, which glorifies God.” You see, ministry is a heart issue—not a bunch of external do’s. It’s a desire from the heart, an expression of gratefulness for having been given so much.
You see, ministry demonstrates you are thankful for what Jesus did for you. Ministry demonstrates you are living for Christ and not yourself. Ministry proves you remember what you were–a rebellious sinner on the way to eternal punishment in Hell, yet Christ saved you, gave you a new heart and now you long to serve the One who sacrificed everything to save you.
When you remember the example of Jesus, then you’ll serve from your heart. When you believe Christ was God, yet became a man, veiled His majesty and lived here as a servant, then a sacrifice for sin . . . then you’ll serve. The model for ministry is Jesus Christ. You and I do what He did, invest into lives, reach this planet by sharing the Gospel and live as servants who minister.
#3 INSTRUCTION for ministering your gifts
1 To impact others, start SERVING in the church
If you don’t know your spiritual gift, start serving in ministry and ask those you serve and serve with how they think you’re gifted. Over time you all will figure it out. It’s not rocket science–if you think you’re a leader, look behind you. If no one is following you, you are not a leader. If you think you are merciful, but the people at the hospital you talk to want to die after you visit them–you’re not merciful.
Stay faithful to serve in one area, but serve short term in other areas. Serve in the context of the church. Gifts are manifested in the church and the Gospel is manifested in the world. Giftedness is not age-graded–like only when you are older or only when you’re young. Giftedness is not sexist—both men and women are spiritually gifted to serve Christ.
Giftedness is not convenience-driven–there may be a short season where you can’t serve, but that should be the exception? Why? Because you were born again to serve. You were gifted to serve. You were created to serve. It is who you are.
2 To impact others, learn the IMPORTANCE of ministering your giftedness
The expression of gifts was necessary to survive persecution. The only way your children will understand how important Christ is, is for you to faithfully, regularly serve Christ in ministry. Parents do not have all the spiritual gifts and desperately need their children impacted by the manifold gifts expressed through a local church.
There is deep wisdom which comes from serving in your giftedness, and a deep humility which comes from knowing you’re not gifted in every area and must rely on others in the body to grow and impact others. As others ask me for counsel, I often have them talk to others who can answer their specific issue better than I, because they are gifted in that area.
One of the major ways to overcome sin is to stop focusing on not sinning and start pursuing Christ through ministry. As you turn to follow Christ, you turn away from sin. One main reason many believers dry up in their walk and stagnate in their growth is their unwillingness to serve Christ with their giftedness.
One of the main reasons why many churches are dry and lifeless is there are too many spectators who do not serve with their giftedness. We all grow mature when you each minister your gift.
3 To impact others, continually check your HEART in ministry
Every Sunday before I preach, I thank the Lord for the privilege and recall that all of this is for Him–not you, not me, not others, but for Him. Make certain your ministry is for Christ–to glorify Him. He did everything for you–this is why you serve Him. Rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit, and serve others for His glory. But don’t allow your heart or circumstances to excuse your lack of service.
If you are recovering from a bad church experience where you were burned–take six months to be refreshed by God’s Word and God’s loving people. But get back in the game. Be a “doer of the Word and not merely a hearer.” Step out in faith, seek to be obedient to the Word of God, and minister for Christ. Great maturing, great joy, and great blessing await those who do. Let’s pray.