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SPIRITUAL GIFTS (1)

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Before we specifically address the question of spiritual gifts we would do well to first set the scene by reminding ourselves about the nature of the Church. The reason for this is that much of the controversy, abuse, tension and imbalance that has often been associated with the subject of spiritual gifts has largely been generated by our ignorance of the nature of the Church.

 

You see, the Church is the setting in which the Spirit's gifts or "enablings" are meant to function. While there is a personal dimension to the operation of the gifts, the more we personalize or individualize them, the further we will move away from the Biblical setting in which they were meant to function.

 

1. What do you immediately think of when you hear the word, "CHURCH"?

( ) Building ( ) Denomination ( ) Creed ( ) Sanctuary ( ) People ( ) Other

 

2. Take time to read the following Scripture references and write in the "image" or "picture" of the Church that you find there.

a) 1 Cor. 3/16 ________________________ (also Eph. 2/22; 1 Peter 2/4,5)

b) 1 Cor 3/5-9 __________________________

c) Acts 20/28-30 _________________________ (also 1 Peter 5/2)

d) Eph. 6/10-18 ____________________________

e) 1 Peter 2/9,10 _________________________________

However, the image that is used more than 30 times in the New Testament is.....

f) 1 Cor. 12/12; Rom 12/5 3. The image of the Church as the Body of Christ communicates a range of vital truths. Keeping in mind the analogy of the human body in 1 Cor.12/12-27, discuss together the following statements. Do you agree or disagree with them? How would you re-state them to make them more 'acceptable'?

 

a) "As the Body of Christ, we now become the physical presence of Jesus in our world."

 

b) "There is only one Head. Jesus is the sole source of authority and initiative in His Church."

 

c) "The members of Christ's Body, the Church, are linked as an organism rather than an organization."

 

d) "A human body is both diverse and yet united. Christ's Body, the Church is meant to have unity and diversity."

 

e) "The Church is the God-given setting in which people grow to maturity and in which spiritually-gifted ministry is to take place ...in and through the Church."

 

4. In the New Testament there are 4 primary passages that relate to spiritual gifts. The nature of the Church as the Body of Christ is explicit in 3 of them and implicit in the fourth. In each of them, the necessity of love is close by.

A. Romans 12/4-8 Look for the reference to love in Romans 12/9

B. 1 Cor. 12/7-13 Look for the reference to love in 1 Cor. 13

C. Eph. 4/11-16 Look for the reference to love in Eph. 4/15

D. 1 Peter 4/7-11 Look for the reference to love in 1 Peter 4/8

 

It is significant that love should feature in all 4 passages because that is the 'climate' for the exercising of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian problem was not the presence of gifts but the absence of love and the failure to adequately understand the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ.

 

CONCLUSION

Let's close this session by reading together 1 Cor. 13/1-13 and praying together that the Lord will teach us HIS concept, purpose and plan for the Church in general and for this local Church in particular.

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