Searching the Scriptures
“Search the Scriptures…they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39
Author: Bob Moses
Gifts and Duties
The subject of this Study is to share with my readers what God hath bestowed upon his favored ones, in the form of Gifts and the Duties, plus the manifestations which accompany them. Let us begin by saying that all gifts are not the same. When I speak of gifts, I mean the talents which God has bestowed upon us, for the performance of his work. All of our works, after having become acquainted with the saving knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, are for His honor and glory. All, so called works, prior to our salvation and conversion are meaningless. The wealthy can give and the poor can labor for good works, but until conversion, all is for nought. One cannot buy himself into heaven, nor work for the good of mankind, and expect to earn the right to spend eternity in one of the mansions which Christ said he was going to prepare for His elect. First comes acceptance of Him on His terms. Then shall He provide the knowledge and strength of the gift He has in store for us, to be about His mission on this earthly plane with the gift He has given us. This is the focus of this lesson; to identify the gift, and how to run the course and perform the duty as set before us. Unfortunately, there is much confusion on the matter and we find considerable disarray within the Church as a result. And as usual, ego, is the most common culprit.
Let us begin by quoting a few verses from 1st Corinthians Chapter 12. Vs. 1: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant”: Vs. 4 thru 14: “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 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. 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?, 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 (would be) 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. Vs. 24: But God hath tempered the body together. Vs. 25: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. Vs. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. Vs. 28—31; And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostle? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.”
Brother Paul what is this more excellent way? Chapter 13: 8—13, “Charity (Love) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come (The Holy Scriptures), then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part: but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity (Love for one another).” And finally Chapter 14: vs. 33; “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as (should be) in all churches of the saints.”
As mentioned in our first paragraph the focus of this lesson, is to identify the gift, and how to run the course and perform the duty as set before us. It is important that we take a closer look at some of these gifts which Paul has brought before us, and his latter comment thereon. Paul states in Corinthians 12: 8—10 the following. “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”. Note that the first three (three being a trinity number) are, wisdom, knowledge and faith and are all God-ward. The next six (six being the number of man) are man-ward. The Spirit of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Now to proceed to Chapter 13; verses 9 & 10: “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away”. What is the meaning of this? Many commentators will explain that the phrase “when that which is perfect is come” refers to Jesus. This cannot be so, simply because these “gifts” began with Jesus and were passed on to the Apostles: after His death, burial and resurrection, in the upper room, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Then were they given this power to perform these remarkable “gifts”. Jesus had already come and gone, therefore “that which is perfect” had not yet arrived upon the scene.
I can already hear the naysayers proclaiming, wait Brother Moses, God performed miracles with Moses, Elijah, and others back in the Old Testament. Granted, but those miracles were God dealing with His people Israel, in one form or another. God dealt with His Nation, Jesus is dealing with the individuals, of His Church. Two separate things entirely. We must keep Spiritual things Spiritual and understand that God deals with mankind in somewhat different dispensations. For the most part the Old Testament dealt with the “Wife” of God; (the nation of Israel). The New Testament deals mostly with the “Bride” of Christ (individual members of that body). Nevertheless they are harmoniously of one accord. Christ came to the Jew first, but after their rejection of Him, He turned to the Gentiles. Therefore the Church today is made up of both Gentile and Jew.
Returning to our latter observation of the comment of Paul; “when that which is perfect is come”. He was not referring to Jesus, but to “The Holy Bible”. Keep in mind that when Paul uttered these words, Jesus had already been executed upon the Cross and had arose from the dead. Therefore he was referring to something yet future. Jesus had already come to the earth and had returned to heaven. Yet Paul states; “when that which is perfect is come”; indicated that something yet to come; was to be perfect. What could be more perfect than the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ? Nothing more than the Whole Cannon of Scripture in one “Book”. The Book, written by God himself, through the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim his “Love Letter” to his people. My friends the Holy Bible is God’s Love Letter to us. It is his way to declare to his people all that he has planned from the beginning. God is not the author of confusion. He has provided to us an instruction manual. What we are to do, and how we are to do it. He has given us example after example of how to follow the narrow path to him and the blessings we will receive once we get there. It is like following a treasure map, warning us of the obstacles and revealing to us the method of getting around the pitfalls. The question is; will we heed its lessons?
We will learn, upon close examination, that the first three gifts (the God-ward gifts) are still prevalent today, remain relative, and shall not be hindered in any form, as they are honorable to the Glory of God. The six man-ward gifts have ceased. I know this will spawn an argument from many in the Church, as many ministries depend upon them for their doctrine. Nevertheless allow me to make my point. Paul states that “when that which perfect Is come, then that which is in part shall be done away”. Further; “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part”. What he is telling the Church is that these man-ward gifts shall cease once “that which is perfect is come” That “perfect” being; the Holy Canon of Scripture. One must put things in their proper place when interpreting the Scriptures. When Paul spoke these words, the Bible had not been completely written. It was not until the Apostle John recorded the Book of Revelation around A.D. 95 or 96 under the express command of Christ (Rev. 1: 10—13). That the entire Bible was considered complete.
When Paul and the other Apostles were performing their ministries, Christ gave them the power of miracles and utterances as recorded in the Book of Acts. These gifts were a result of the work of the Holy Spirit who provided these gifts in order to convince and persuade the people that Christ was indeed the Son of God. These were signs and wonders. How else could the Apostles prove their authenticity and Godly calling? These particular gifts were provided to first the Apostles, and then the early Church until that “perfect” which was to come was made manifests.
Then Paul says: “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come (The Holy Bible), then that which is in part shall be done away”. (1st Cor. 13: 10). It therefore becomes crystal clear that the man-ward gifts have become obsolete, they have been “done away” for they were in “part”. They ended at the completion of the Holy Scriptures. Why do we feel we need these so-called “gifts” when we have the “Word of God in his own Book”. God has provided his Love Letter to his children, yet we cling to an obsolete obsession with the oratory of some modern day ministers. The do good, and feel right ministries, which provide nothing, while we neglect our personal letter from God. To me this makes no sense. However, many follow the favored, wide-walkway, and the tingle of the flesh rather than the narrow path. Go figure! I have often said that when I stand before the Almighty Throne of God, I will say; Lord I know I have made many mistakes, but at least I have read and studied your “Book”.
It is then safe to say that the man-ward gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues are no longer valid. We do not need them anymore simply because we now have the written Word of God in our hands. We have the “Book”! If we purchase a gas grill, take it home, take it out of the box, and begin the assembly of it, we will undoubtedly find an instruction manual. It came in various parts and we must therefore follow the instructions to put it together. Even with the instruction manual we often find difficulty with connecting part A, with part B, etc. Can you possibly imagine what type of monstrosity we would erect without the manual? You know what it should look like because you saw it in the store, but without the manual there is no way to conceive how all the parts go together. It is the same with Gods Instruction Manual. Up till, and including the ministry of Christ, God spoon fed his people by providing to them, through miracles and healings, prophecies, etc. what they needed. But then after Christ instructed John to write the Book of Revelation, and the Scriptures were complete, God laid the task upon man himself to read His “Instruction Manual”. It’s all there. So we no longer have any excuse, we cannot blame God or the Preacher, or anyone else. If something does not seem to fit, we are to go to the Book and read it for ourselves, and hopefully we can then match up part A, with part B, etc. This is what is meant by “Search the Scriptures…They are they which testify of Me. John 5:39. Or of; “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 11 Tim. 2:15. You cannot blame Home Depot if you cannot read the instruction manual and put the grill together yourself. Nor can you blame God for not providing his Word of Truth; if you are too lazy to read his Love Letter to you, that he has written. He has given you the tools and the means, it is up to you to apply them. And if you do not have this Book, I strongly recommend that you go purchase one. You will find them on the shelves almost everywhere a good book could be found. Furthermore I would suggest the Red Letter Edition, in which the words of our Lord are highlighted in red.
Please forgive me when I digress. Often the Lord lays upon my heart some things that I feel I must write. Returning to our subject matter of Gifts and Duties, we are now in a new era. Since the completion of the Holy Cannon of Scripture is now at our fingertips, we can begin to better understand some of the lessons taught by the Apostles.
We now come to some of the spiritual gifts relating to the Church. Let me introduce some verses from Ephesians Chapter 4: 11 & 12; “And He (Jesus Christ) gave some apostles; and some, prophets, and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. To examine these verses more closely we will note that Christ gave some as Apostles: These were the twelve; delete Judas Iscariot and insert Paul. These were Gods messengers to the people of that time, including those few who wrote various Books of the Bible in the New Testament. To prophets which pertained primarily to the Apostle John, who was the last of the prophets after writing the Book of Revelation. And some evangelists; these are those who preach the gospel to the saving of souls rather that the instruction or care of those who have already “believed”. Then Pastors and Teachers. The Pastors are Christ’s shepherds looking out for the flock of the members of his church. Then Teachers: Moses was a Teacher, as was Christ. Christ was often referred to as Teacher, Master, Rabbi, etc. Teachers must be taught of God thru the Holy Spirit. Teaching is a divine gift. Moses commanded fathers to teach their children. The Priests were to instruct the people. Jesus “taught” the people (Matt. 5:2; Mark 1:21: 4:2; Luke 4:15, 31, etc.) Christ told his disciples “Go; teach all nations” “Preach the Gospel to every creature”. It is one of the precious promises of the new covenant that all its subjects shall be “taught of the Lord” (Isa. 54:13; quoted by Jesus, John 6:45). A teacher was deemed to be inspired in his utterances. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary page 1073). We have before us the number five; five being the number of Grace. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These five are the messengers from God to his people. Thus Grace steadfastly, stands before us, as it is Grace which these spiritual gifts shall forever proclaim.
As one may assume, these five particular spiritual gifts, come with accompanying necessary duties and responsibilities; which we shall now explore. Paul was not only an apostle, he combined, in a striking way, the evangelist, the pastor and the teacher. The role of pastor and teacher are intertwined and it is important that this connection be understood and maintained. The teacher unfolds the truth; the pastor applies it. The teacher enlightens the understanding; the pastor looks to the state of the heart. The teacher supplies the spiritual nutriment; the pastor sees to the use that is made of it. The teacher occupies himself more with the Word; the pastor looks after the soul. The teacher’s work is for the most part public; the pastor’s work, chiefly in private. When combined the teaching faculty imparts immense moral power to the pastor, and the pastoral element imparts affectionate tenderness to the teacher.
Please do not confound a pastor with an elder or bishop of the church. The two are quite distinct. Elder and bishop are frequently interchangeable, but pastor is never confounded with either. Elder is a local charge; pastor is a gift. We have nothing about elders or bishops in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, or Ephesians 4, through in these Scriptures we have the fullest unfolding of the subject of gifts. We must carefully distinguish between gift and local charge. Elders or bishops are for rule and oversight. Teachers and pastors are to feed and edify. (C. H. Mackintosh).
There are most assuredly teachers within the local church. Yet how many teachers do we have standing in the wings, and the local church/pastor will not invite them to enter. This was my point in the opening paragraph of this Study. Ego is the most common culprit. The ego of the pastor will not allow anyone to stand in his pulpit but himself. One certainly can understand that a pastor does not want to allow untoward doctrine from some stranger to upset his flock. But then he allows someone from an entirely different faith to preach to his people. For example, many churches today who preach the doctrine of Grace nevertheless allow a fellow preacher from across town to stand in their pulpit and preach the doctrine of Works. Simply because they are a part of the local Unifying Church Counsel. Meanwhile we have a true teacher, unidentified, waiting outside the gate. The Pharisees were regurgitating the Law, while John the Baptist was teaching from the wilderness; saying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3). Christ comes to mind; The Scribes and Pharisees were within the hallowed walls of the temple, while Christ was teaching on the mount. Paul wrote to the Church of Rome; the Romans with no pastor, while Jude was teaching to the Gentiles without a Church. Thus we find the same today. The Church in many instances, shuns those who God has given the gift to teach the Truth, to those who obstruct the Gospel for their own gain. As Solomon once said; “There is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes: 1: 9) History continues to repeat itself, even within the Church.
This is precisely the reason I began my writing ministry. God has seen fit, for whatever reason, to grant me the gift of teaching. I have studied the Scriptures for nearly fifty years, I have written for numerous newspapers various “Bible Studies”. Many pastors have told me they read my writings and some have even admitted to using them for their worship services. Yet have only a very few invited me to speak to their congregation. I know they embrace pastors from other denominations to deliver messages from their pulpits; I have witnessed them invite musicians, politicians, motivational speakers and the like but very rarely, if indeed at all, a teacher of the Gospel. They will invite an evangelist to save souls at a revival, but then leave the warmer of the pew to feint for himself, in trying to understand the scriptures. Then we wonder why people leave the church. Christians, particularly new Christians, new born Christians, must be fed. The new, upon the milk of God’s Word, then the young men and then the elders. What, may I ask of today’s pastors are you doing to feed your flock? Musicians, politicians, and motivational speakers? Or the Word of God? Why do you present the former and neglect the latter to those in your charge? The former are wolves in sheep’s clothing, the former are associated with the sacrificial Lamb of God; appointed to their gift by God, the same as you. I often refer to these so-called pastors as Mama Called and Papa sent. Mama wanted them to be a preacher and Papa sent them to school. To these, there was never an awakening by the Holy Spirit. They went because Mama wanted them to, and they felt it was the right thing to do and Papa was willing to pay for the schooling. Most of the young pastors of our day have the book learning, but not the spiritual learning, to guide a Church.
“That there is urgent need of pastoral care throughout the Church of God, few can deny who know what pastorship is, and who are at all acquainted with the true condition of the Church. How rare is the true spiritual pastor! It is easy to take the name, and assume the office; but, in point of fact, pastorship is neither a name nor an office, but a living reality—a divinely-imparted gift—something communicated by the Head of the Church (Jesus Christ) for the growth and blessing of His members. A true pastor is a man who is not only possessed of a real spiritual gift, but also animated by the very affections of the heart of Christ toward every lamb and sheep of His blood-bought flock.” C.H. Macintosh.
To continue comments from Mr. Macintosh. “Yes, we repeat it, “every lamb and sheep.” A true pastor is one who has a heart, a message, a ministry, for every member of the body of Christ. Not so the elder or bishop. His is a local charge, confined to the locality in which such charge is entrusted. But the Pastor’s range is the whole Church of God, as the evangelist’s range is the wide, wide world. To imagine a pastor, confined to a certain congregation to which he is expected to discharge the functions of evangelist, teacher, elder, or bishop, is something altogether foreign to the teaching of the New Testament.
But how few real pastors are to be found in our midst! How rare is the pastor’s gift, the pastor’s heart! Where is the close, earnest, diligent looking after individual souls day by day? Nor is this all. How much there is in a pastor’s range that the public teacher never can compass! No doubt public teaching is most important; would that we had many times more of it than we have. The teacher’s work is invaluable, and when mellowed by the deep and tender affection of a pastor’s heart, can go a great way indeed in meeting the soul’s manifold necessities. The public teacher cannot do this. No doubt, if, as we have said, he has something of the pastoral element in him, he can anticipate in his public address a great deal of the soul’s private exercises, sorrows, and difficulties. But he (the teacher) cannot fully meet the soul’s individual need. This is the pastor’s holy work. He must be able to discern the spiritual condition to apply the true remedy. Ah, how few are these pastors! It is one thing to take the title, and another thing to do the work.
Christian reader, we earnestly entreat you to join us in fervent believing prayer to God to raise up true pastors amongst us. We are in sad need of them. The sheep of Christ are not fed and cared for. When the Lord’s people assemble in public, how little there is for their precious souls! What aimless hymns and prayers we hear! How little leading of the flock through the green pastures of Holy Scripture, and by the still waters of divine love! And then, all through the week, few loving pastorals calls, few tender solicitous inquiries after soul or body. It is, alas! The old sad story; “All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s”. May the Lord raise up in the midst of His people pastors and teachers after His own heart; men filled with His Spirit, and animated by a genuine love for His Church. Men competent and ready to teach.” CHM.
This concludes our Study of Gifts and Duties as it applies to the God-ward gifts. In our next article I wish to expose to my readers why the loss of the man-ward gifts as we mentioned in this article. Until then…
May God Bless you and yours.
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