Embracing Your Gift to the Body

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto Titus—a son in the faith, and Co-laborer in the work of the ministry. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the third chapter of the book. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the apostle Paul brining this letter written unto Titus to a close. With this third and final chapter the epistle written unto Titus will include the final instruction meant to be given to Titus during his ministry and service within the church in Crete. I have to admit that I absolutely love the words and language that is found in the pastoral epistles, for while they are meant to provide practical instruction concerning order within the church, they also provide us with a tremendous amount of language concerning Christian living. We dare not read the pastoral epistles and simply write them off as providing instruction solely for those who are in ministry and that’s it. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that each and every saint of God—each and every disciple of Jesus Christ—has been called to a specific degree and measure of service before the Lord. We have been so jaded and so misguided in thinking and believing that only those who are in the spotlight, and only those who have been given a public voice are the ones who have been called to ministry and arrive within the church of Jesus Christ. We read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the church which was at Ephesus concerning the Lord giving some apostles, some prophets, some pastors, some teachers and some evangelists, and we think that these are the only forms of ministry and service within the church. In all reality, I am convinced that there are a number of men and women within the church today who are living far beneath their calling because they have not been called to serve in one of the roles and offices mentioned within the epistle written unto the church in Ephesus. I am convinced that nothing could be more tragic than men and women within the house of the Lord who spend their time living and operating on the sidelines because they feel as though they have no ministry, and perhaps that they have not been called to ministry.

The more I read the words and writing of the apostle Paul, the more I am becoming increasingly convinced that each and every saint of God has a specific role, a specific purpose, a specific function within the church. Would it surprise you if I told you that there are a number of men and women within the church today who are living so far beneath their calling and purpose? Would it surprise you if I told you that the ministry of and the ministry within the church could be so much more powerful and so much more effective if each and every man and women discovered what their purpose and role within the Christian community truly is? When did we ever start believing the lie and the deception that we need a title, or a role, or an office to fulfill our divinely mandated calling within the earth, as well as within the church? When did we begin operating and functioning beneath our purpose and role within the house of the Lord because we felt as though only those in the spotlight were able to serve within the body of Christ? If that which the apostle Paul writes unto the Corinthian church is true, and if we truly do believe the words he wrote, then we must admit and even accept the fact that each and every one of has a very specific place within the body of Christ. It is true that there is one body with one Head who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is true that this one body has many members, but that doesn’t simply, nor does it specifically mean that this refers only to our place within the body as a part of the body. We tend to think—and even believe—that these words which the apostle wrote apply only to that of actually placement within the body of Christ, and within the church, and yet this simply isn’t the case. We have bought into the gross lie and delusion that only those who we presently see in the spotlight and those in the limelight are those who have been called to a life of ministry and service. Would it surprise you if I told you that the roles and offices which were presented in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus weren’t the only means and methods of servicing within the body of Christ? Would it surprise you if I told you that that these weren’t the only gifts the Lord gave to the church of Jesus Christ and to the body? GIFTS TO THE BODY! YOU ARE A GIFT TO THE BODY!

Do you know you are a gift to the body? Do you know that you have a specific role—a specific purpose and function within the body? Do you know that when Jesus Christ added you to the body, He didn’t do so simply so you could be a spectator and experience emotional highs within the house of the Lord? Do you know that when the Lord placed you within the body He knew exactly what He wanted to do, and exactly what He was going to do? I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation, for it’s within this particular chapter that we get a clear and defined picture of the body of Christ, and the individual placement of the members within the body of Christ. Consider if you will the words and language that is found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation beginning with the twelfth verse:

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

The words we find within this passage of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you consider that what the apostle was in all reality saying was that the body is not made up of one member, but made up of many members. That which the apostle Paul was writing unto the Corinthian church and the saints therein was that each and every saint of God—each and every disciple of Jesus Christ—has been ordained a specific place within the body of Christ. What’s more, is that even when speaking of that it is necessary and imperative that we recognize that there is no member of the body that has more stature, more prominence, more weight, more significance than any other member of the body. I am absolutely certain and confident that there are certain members within the body of Christ who would think and believe the lie and the delusion that they themselves somehow have more weight and more significance within the body of Christ, and that there are others around and others among them who are inferior to them, and essentially do not matter as much. Such a way of thinking is incredibly dangerous, and is detrimental and disastrous within and unto the church. God help that man, or that woman within the church who thinks and believes themselves to have more prominence, more worth, more value within the body of Christ than those around them. That which the apostle Paul wrote within the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthians is a powerful testament and testimony to the reality that while it is true the body itself is one body and has one Head who is Jesus Christ, the body is made up of countless members who each have their own rule, their own specific function within the body of Christ. We dare not think and believe for one moment that the Lord has only set apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers within the body of Christ, and those are the only members within the body that truly matter. Such a way of thinking is absolutely erroneous and false, and could not and is not further from the truth. What’s more, is that when writing unto the saints which were in Corinth, as well as the churches in Galatia, we find the apostle Paul writing concerning that which has been given unto and that which has been raised up within the body of Christ—namely, the ministry of fruit, and the ministry of gifts. I am absolutely and utterly convinced that gifts and fruit go hand in hand, and work in direct connection and relationship with each other—much like faith and works go hand in hand. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation, as well as the words which he wrote unto the churches in Galatia. Consider also the words which James wrote concerning faith without works being dead, and how works is both the demonstration and manifestation of faith within the earth:

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles,; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition’s, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:13-26).

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast Faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well? The devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

I am convinced these three passages of Scripture are intrinsically linked together, and essentially paint the same picture that is found in the second chapter of the epistle which was written by James. When writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul wrote of the gifts of the Spirit which were given unto the body of Christ, yet when writing unto the churches which were in Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote concerning the fruit of the Spirit. I have written before how there would be those who would place such a great emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit as though the gifts of the Spirit were of the utmost importance within the body of Christ. There would be those within the body of Christ who place such a tremendous emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit that they completely neglect and ignore the fruit of the Spirit. Conversely, there are those who would place so much emphasis on the fruit of the Spirit that they allow no place for the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. I am absolutely and utterly convinced that a healthy and balanced church is one that not only has all the gifts of the Spirit manifested within and among its members, but also has the fruit of the Spirit manifested among its members. I would dare say this is precisely what James was writing when he wrote the words concerning faith without works being dead, for he was not placing more emphasis on works than he was faith. I know there would be some who would read the words of James and somehow believe the lie that he is declaring that works are somehow greater than faith. I would present unto the tremendous declaration that such a reality could not be the furthest thing from the truth. That which James was writing in this particular epistle was that while it is true we are justified by faith alone according to the grace of God, faith has never and will never operate alone and independent of works. I am convinced that works is the byproduct and the direct manifestation of the faith which we claim ourselves to possess. I am absolutely and completely convinced that works is the direct outflow and outworking of the faith which we ourselves possess within our hearts and spirits. That which James was writing was that faith and works work together within our lives to provide a complete reality before the living God. It is true that we are justified by faith alone according to the grace of God, but that faith cannot and must not be without action. That which James was emphatically declaring and proclaiming unto those to whom he was writing was that faith with inaction is of absolutely no worth, no use, and no value before the Lord within the earth. It was true that Abraham was justified by faith, but there were certain manifestations and evidences of that faith within and throughout his life, for it wasn’t simply his faith that was at operation in the earth, but his faith partnering together with works.

It is necessary that we have a true and proper understanding of this reality within our hearts and lives, for it would be very easy to get caught up in faith, and to do so to such a degree that we completely neglect and ignore the need for works as the natural byproduct and manifestation of the that faith. In addition to this, I am convinced that the body of Christ cannot survive on gifts alone, but must also have fruit which works in direct partnership and operation with those gifts. If we truly believe that just as surely as there is one body and one Spirit then we must also believe that that same Spirit is not divided. Oh, how many times would we seek to divide the Spirit of God, and divide Him along the lines of gifts and fruit? How many times would we seek to promote the reality that the Spirit is divided along these lines, and would somehow emphasize gifts over fruit, or fruit over gifts? In all reality, I am convinced that the church and body of Christ cannot truly function within the earth the way it was designed, created and intended to without and apart from both faith and works working in tandem with each other. I would dare say that that body of believers which places sole emphasis on gifts without also place equal emphasis on the fruit is a divided body, and is presenting a false witness to those within and those outside it. Similarly, that body which promotes and advocates fruit without also promoting the working of fruit together with gifts is also divided, and presents a false picture of the church to its members, as well as to the world around it. With all of this being said, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that since we are speaking concerning fruit and gifts, these realities are manifested within and among the individual members of the body of Christ. Just as there is diversity within the body, so also there is diversity within the gifts of the Spirit, and the gifts are given unto individual members according to the sovereign will of the triune Godhead. While it might be true that not every member of the body moves and operates in all the gifts of the Spirit, it must be true that each and every member of the body cultivates and possesses each of the fruit of the Spirit. I may not possess all nine gifts, and may only possess one or more gifts of the Spirit, however, I must diligently strive to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit within my heart and life. There would be those who would dare say that the gifts of the Spirit were only for the early church, and that they have no role and function within the body of Christ, and I am convinced that such a reality is both erroneous and false. With that being said, a true and healthy body of believers within the earth is one in which both the gifts and the fruit are working together in tandem with each other, for the body cannot survive without and apart from these working together.

With all of this in mind, it is absolutely imperative that we understand that our role and our purpose within the body of Christ is to be a kingdom of priests—a generation of holy ministers before and unto the Lord within the body of Christ. Scripture is replete with examples of the tremendous reality that we have in fact been called to be a kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood within the earth, as well as within the body of Christ. This reality is perhaps best noted and demonstrated in the first epistle which the apostle Peter wrote unto the diaspora, and specifically in the second chapter. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this chapter beginning with the first verse: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:1-10). This is not the only place within Scripture where this reality is found, for if you examine the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find two specific references to this kingdom of priests, and this royal priesthood. Beginning with the fourth verse of the first chapter we find the following words: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the princes of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6). In the fifth chapter of the same prophetic book we find a powerful worship set taking place in heaven, and one which centers upon the scroll or book which was in the hand of the one who sat upon the throne. Present within this worship set is a powerful declaration of the reality that we are indeed and in fact a kingdom of priests holy unto the Lord within the earth:

“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book ,and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:1-10).

In light of all this, I can’t help but be struck by the awesome and tremendous reality that we have been granted a place within the body of Christ among its many members as a royal priesthood. If you pause for a moment and consider the tremendous privilege we have been given in the earth to be one of the many members of the body of Christ, your heart should burst forth and sing with exultant jubilation and rejoicing. This reality is especially true when you consider the fact that we have been granted a place in the body, and this despite who and what we once were during the days of our flesh. When the apostle Paul wrote unto Titus in this third and final chapter he wrote using similar language as he did when writing unto the Ephesian church and congregation. IN the third chapter of the epistle which was written unto Titus we find the following words written by the apostle Paul: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7). With these words the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy concerning who and what we once were, and how it was the divine grace of God which took us from where we were and brought us to where we are. It was the grace of God working within our lives that took us from being enemies of the cross and enemies of Christ, and translated us into a place within and a part of His body. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus, and specifically in the second chapter of the epistle. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the second chapter you will find the apostle Paul writing an incredibly powerful declaration concerning who and what we once were, and where we have brought, and who we have been made to be. It isn’t and it wasn’t enough simply to bring us from where we once were and into and unto where we are now, for we must also be transformed into an entirely new person and people within the earth. I leave you with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus beginning with the first verse of the second chapter:

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness twoard us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more st rangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:1-22).

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