“Every Member a Minister”
(Romans 12:3-8Open in Logos Bible Software (if available))
Series: I Love Sundays (5/5)
Words in Black: Todd
Words in Red: Rich
• We invite you to join us this morning in Romans, chapter 12 (page 764; YouVersion).
Today we conclude our series entitled, “I Love Sundays.” Of course, we’ll go on loving Sundays, but this week is the fifth of five Sundays where we have focused on 5 different reasons why Sundays are the best day of the week.
Today we’re going to talk about how God has uniquely shaped and hardwired each of us to serve through the church.
I often say that every member is a minister. Not every member is a pastor, but every member is uniquely shaped by God to serve and to use our gifts and passions in and through the Body of Christ.
So we want to talk about that this morning and show where this is taught in the Bible. There are a few passages that are helpful here but we want to focus on this text that was read for us earlier, chapter 12, verses 3 and following.
Many of you will recognize this passage as we’ve looked at it before at least a couple of times over the years. Some of you note-takers will have even noted the main points in the margins of your Bibles, but we want to focus on it a little differently this morning, teaching specific application that it has for us today.
Before we do this, let’s go to God in prayer.
Chapter 12 begins a new section of material in the Book of Romans. The Apostle Paul writes eleven chapters of doctrine and then in chapters 12 and following he tells how to live out that doctrine.
He begins Chapter 12 in verse 1 with, “I beseech you,” or “I urge you therefore,”—therefore; in light of all the great doctrinal teaching in the previous chapters—I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.” In other words, “You don’t need to bring sacrifices with you to worship Me; you are the sacrifice, a living sacrifice, live your life for Me, serve Me!”
And then in verse 2, Paul teaches how we are to go about doing that. He says in verse 2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That is, you’re a Christian now, so you think differently from the world. And then in verse 3 and following he gives us specific ways we are to think and act in and through the church.
So if you’re a note-taker, jot down these three action statements. First, number one:
I. Watch Your Pride (3)
Pride happens when we think more highly of ourselves than we should. That can happen in the church. Look what Paul writes in verse 3:
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.
I like the way Paul puts that! “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should, but think soberly—sober up!” You’re probably not as great as you think!
The Phillips translation puts it this way: “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.”
Humility is so important in the church, especially in light of our serving in the church. Not everyone is gifted in the same way and no one of us is irreplaceable. If you ever reach a point where you’re like, “Well, I don’t know what this church would do with me!” then you really need to watch your pride and humble yourself. There are others whom God has gifted to serve, too.
Again, Paul says in verse 3, “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but think soberly.” And then he adds, “God has gifted each person a measure of faith,” so not just one person, not just you, but each person has been blessed by God with an ability to serve in and through the church.
And no one person is gifted to do everything. God has dealt to each one “a measure” of faith, or he has gifted each one of us with an ability to do at least one thing really well, but he has not gifted us with the ability to do everything well.
You may be gifted to encourage others, but that doesn’t mean you’re gifted to teach others. You may be able to teach others well, but you may be weak on administration. You may be able to sing, but perhaps you’re not so good at leading.
So don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. None of us is gifted to do everything. So again, first point of action: Watch you pride.
Now, Paul teaches about the church body by comparing it to the human body. By a show of hands, how many of you have a human body? Okay, just checking. Paul compares the church body to a human body. That’s verses 4 and 5 and each member of the church has a part in the body.
That’s the second main action point, number two:
II. Know your Part (4-5)
Look at verse 4:
4 For as we have many members (or parts) in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
5 so we (the church), being many (parts), are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
In essence, Paul says, “Look at your human body. Notice that there are ‘many members’ in your one body.” That is, there are many different body parts. Well that’s true, isn’t it? You children know that. You young people know that, don’t you? I look at my body and I see two feet, two hands. I have a head, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth. I have internal organs—two lungs, a stomach, a heart. “You’re right, Paul. I have ‘many members in one body.’”
Then Paul says, “But all of the members do not have the same function.” And he’s right again. My feet don’t have the same function as my hands. With my feet, I run. With my hands, I write. My eyes don’t have the same function as my ears. I see with my eyes and hear with my ears.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul even becomes a bit humorous here. In 1 Corinthians 12:17Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) he asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?” Can you imagine a human body that consisted of nothing more than one big eye? Or one big ear?
So the human body has many different members—many different parts—and all of the parts have different functions. But they all work together, each having an important role making up the human body. How does this apply to the church?
Paul says—look at verse 5—“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” That is, we, being many—many different parts of the church—are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. As members we all work together, each having an important role in making up the church body.
See that’s where the word “member” comes from, the idea of a “church member.” What does it mean to be a member? It means to be an active part of the body of Christ. Member means an active part. Church members are church body parts, parts that are alive and active and functioning and working together.
We all work together to make the one body what it is. We use our individual gifts in the body in order to complete the body.
So we each have a part in the body of Christ. As we come together as the body of Christ, all these different parts (sweeping the congregation) come together to make up the one body. Apart from the body we are like a severed body part. What good is a hand without an arm? An arm without a shoulder? A shoulder without a torso? We need one another.
This biblical teaching helps us understand why it can be selfish or self-centered to say, “I don’t need the church.” Or, “I don’t have to go to church or be a member of a church.” Well, yes you do; you do if you want to follow what the Bible teaches.
Again, verse 5 says, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Without each of us here, we are an incomplete body. We are missing some of our body parts.
One of our deacons shared last Tuesday in the deacons meeting that one of our members had recently returned to active membership after about a year and a half of living in the world. This member made a point to say to the deacon, “If I ever fall away again, come after me and come over to my house and pound at my door and don’t let me say, ‘No, I’m not coming back!’ Keep coming after me even if I miss just once.”
Then last Sunday, he came and filled a need that came up last week; he volunteered to work in children’s ministry and wouldn’t be in Sunday school, so he made a point to come up to the Sunday school class and say, “Don’t come after me this week—I’m here! I’m just letting you know that I am helping out this morning in children’s ministry!”
That’s the kind of spirit we should have about our church family. We can’t see completely if one of the eyes is missing. We can’t run completely if a toe sleeps-in on Sunday morning. We can’t be as evangelistic as we should be if even a finger or two decides his part is not important.
Know your part in the body of Christ. And then, use your passion in and through the body of Christ.
Use your spiritual gift for the glory of God. You’ll remember a couple months ago we had that special, “Discover Your Design” Service to help us all identify our spiritual gifts. And we still have those tools available if you need help figuring out how God has uniquely hardwired you to serve in and through the church.
But one of the best ways to identify your gift is simply to ask, “What do I really have a passion for doing?” In all likelihood, that is going to be your gift.
So this takes us to the third action point. This passage teaches us to watch our pride, know our part, and now number three:
III. Use Your Passion (6-8)
In verses 6-8, Paul lists about seven different spiritual gifts that different church members may have. He says:
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;
Prophecy, in the most general sense, is the public proclamation of biblical truth, boldly proclaiming biblical truth. Some are gifted this way. Verse 7:
7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering;
This gift is best translated as general “service” or serving. Some are particularly gifted in helping others, of “being there” for others, of having a servant’s heart for others.
he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts (or encourages), in exhortation; he who gives (that is, someone who is especially gifted to earn money and give money—above the regular tithe—to Christian causes), with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Now, this list is not an exhaustive list.
There are four different places in the Bible where spiritual gifts are listed: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. And when you look at these four passages, you find variation from one to another, which suggests that spiritual gifts are dynamic, they differ with respect to each church and what each church needs.
The different lists of gifts also reflects the fact that the gifts mentioned are not the only gifts there are, but are a representative sample of an untold number of gifts.
It’s kind of like the way you can have primary colors like red, yellow, and blue and then mix them to get other colors like orange and reddish orange, or green and blue green, and violet—and a whole host of other hues and varying colors.
And that’s how it is in the church. Each church is made up of variously gifted members who are like colors that God wants to use as He paints a beautiful picture of service in and through the church.
Every gift, tendency, talent, skill, or ability ultimately comes from God and is to be used for His glory whether God gave the gift before I became a Christian or after I became a Christian. As James says in James 1:17Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”
But each and every one of us should use our passion for serving or ministering in and through the church. One of the passages we mentioned earlier is Ephesians 4. Listen to what Paul writes there, Ephesians 4:11-12Open in Logos Bible Software (if available):
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
In other words, the primary role of the ministerial leaders in the church, like pastors and teachers, is—Ephesians 4:12Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
So I’m not doing my job adequately or biblically if I am not equipping the saints (equipping church members) to serve in and through the body of Christ. We are to be a team but we’re not functioning biblically if all the team members don’t have a chance to play!
So we want to be sure every member has a chance to play on the greatest team in Henderson, Henderson’s First Baptist Church.
One of the application points in your “I Love Sundays” Sunday school book talks about serving in and through the church. In fact, it’s on page 69 if you want to check it out later. Under “Apply It,” applying the lesson. It’s number 2: “Serve.” The writer asks:
“What are your passions? What are your gifts and abilities? Have you found yourself asking God to use you? Get involved in His work by getting involved in the ministry of your church. Join a group at your church that’s making a difference in big or small ways. If you don’t see an outreach related to your passion, talk to church leaders about starting one. But remember, too, that every seemingly small act of service enables the entire church to do its work and impact people’s lives.”
He also talks about reaching out, and going beyond the church walls to serve and make a difference in your neighborhood, community, or elsewhere.
So we want to encourage you to use your passion and serve for the glory of God.
That’s why we have the “Ministry Fair” today. We’ve done this before, but it’s been awhile and a number of our ministries have grown.
We also now have a “Director of Volunteer Ministries.” She’s a volunteer Director of Volunteer Ministries, which only makes sense. My wife, Michele, has helped a number of us to think more about how we are following the biblical model of encouraging team members to really play on the team and that’s what the ministry fair is all about.
God has given each and every one of us an ability to serve and blesses us with the joy that comes with serving. So you have a number of opportunities to serve in this handout that is in the bulletin and also in the pew. This is a guide to the various tables in the fellowship hall that are part of the “Ministry Fair.” And they are all grouped under main headings so you can kind of look it over, and there may be something you’d like to do that isn’t listed. Just share that with Michele; she’ll be at Table 28 as listed there on the back.
We want to pray and then give you some time to go and check out the 28 tables in the fellowship hall set up for the Ministry Fair. This is really simple. Just check out the tables and sign up for what interests you. Even if you are already serving, you’ll want to go to the fair and see all the ministries that are going on each week here at Henderson’s First Baptist—and you may find something else you’d like to do!
So let’s go to the Lord in prayer and then we’ll dismiss to check out the Ministry Fair in the Fellowship Hall (first service challenged to check it out after SS; 10:45-12:45).
• Would you bow your heads in prayer?
In a moment I’m going to invite you simply to commit to using your passion for the glory of God, whatever that is, whatever it is that you enjoy doing in and through the church. You are unique and your gift and talent matters to God and others. You may enjoy singing, greeting others, teaching, working in jail ministry, praying, driving the church van.
So, if you want to use your passion for God’s glory, you want to play on the team, let me invite you to pray this simple prayer, just pray silently while I pray aloud. Pray this way, “Dear God, I really do believe You have created me to minister, to serve, in and through the church body. Show me exactly where you would have me serve and to the best of my ability, I commit to discovering and using my passion for Your greater glory.”
Now with your heads still bowed and eyes closed, if you just prayed that prayer, will you raise your hand? Praise God. I raise mine with you. “Dear God, as we follow through with our commitment, may You magnify Yourself in us and through us. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
• Please stand now as we prepare to dismiss.
You know we have been talking about being a part of the body and that every Christian is a body part.
But you have to be a Christian to be part of the body, you have to be saved from sin. And the only way you can be saved from sin is to turn to Christ and allow Him to be “number one” of your life.
Remember that this teaching in Romans 12 follows eleven chapters of talking about how to become a Christian, how to turn from our sin and turn to Christ.
You may be here this morning as someone who is not saved, not a Christian. You may want more information about what it means to be a “Christ follower.” Maybe you’re unsure about your salvation. Or maybe you sense God is leading you to become a part of this church family and you’d like to join.
We’re going to sing a hymn of invitation and commitment and, as you sense God is leading you this morning, you come. God is leading some of us to be saved this morning, coming to faith in Christ. God is leading some to be sure of their salvation and experience the joy and peace of knowing our soul is secure with God and that we will go to heaven when we die. Others, joining the church; you come however He leads as we sing together, come.
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