As a youngster, I attended a one-room country schoolhouse from kindergarten through eighth grade. Amazingly, one teacher taught students in all grades in the subjects required by the state. Every year the teacher organized an elaborate Christmas program. At her discretion, she would dole out parts for skits, and place each student exactly where needed on the stage for the final song. As I think back on it, she always did a masterful job.
As the Apostle Paul explained the role spiritual gifts played in establishing the newly formed Body of Christ, he explained that God was sovereignly placing believers where He needed them to be. Paul put it this way: “But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Corinthians 12:18). The uses of miraculous instantaneous gifts, or abilities given by God, were particularly needed prior to the completion of the Scriptures. If we can imagine how difficult it would be for us to know what God expected of us, what to believe, or how to function with only a written record of the Old Testament, then we can better understand why these miraculous spiritual gifts were so needed. Once the Bible was complete and began to be more widely circulated, the Lord desired all believers to place their focus on God’s Word (II Timothy 3:16-17). Until that was possible, these gifts played a major role in establishing the saints on a solid spiritual path. Paul specified these miraculous spiritual gifts as being ones of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, discerning spirits and tongues (I Corinthians 12:7-10). The Holy Spirit distributed these gifts “to every man severally as he will,” or “as it hath pleased him” (I Corinthians 12:11, 18), to equip every local assembly with what they needed to function properly until receiving a completed Bible. With these gifts in place, they were able to reach lost souls in any language with the gospel, know sound doctrine, discern false doctrine, and have supernaturally enabled men capable of teaching truth for today. It was a marvelous divine provision.
While the application is somewhat different today, God still sovereignly works to place individuals in every assembly with the needed abilities to minister, so that every saint is contributing a needed aspect of ministry. This is what Paul meant when he referred to us as being “fitly joined together… according the effectual working…of every part” (Ephesians 4:16). What are you contributing in ministry in your local church?
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