The Seven Pillars of Ministry – Wayne Barber/Part 1
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|We’re going to be talking today about God’s Pattern for Ministry. I guarantee you that there is not a single person in here today who is a believer who doesn’t want to be usable to God. I promise you that. You may not be walking after the Spirit right now, in the Spirit; you may be walking after the flesh. But in your heart of hearts, the heart that God gave you in Christ Jesus, that participation in the divine nature causes us to want to be usable to God, to be about the desires of God.|
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Pillar 1 – God’s Pattern for Ministry
Lord, in my weakness will you be my strength. Will you speak to us? Let this series not just be for information, but for transformation. May we understand, Father, that ministry is not what we do for you, but what you do in and through us. We love you and praise you in Jesus name. Amen.
Turn with me, if you will, to 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. We’re going to be talking today about God’s Pattern for Ministry. I guarantee you that there is not a single person in here today who is a believer who doesn’t want to be usable to God. I promise you that. You may not be walking after the Spirit right now, in the Spirit; you may be walking after the flesh. But in your heart of hearts, the heart that God gave you in Christ Jesus, that participation in the divine nature causes us to want to be usable to God, to be about the desires of God. But here is the question: “How? How do I go about it? What is the ministry all about?” Well, today we begin a seven part series on what we call the “Seven Pillars of Ministry.” Let me help you see if you can understand that.
The word “pillar” is something that holds something else up. Something rests upon these seven pillars. So therefore, we have to know what these pillars are, if something rests upon them. Everything that we will do, when it comes to ministry, missions, whatever, are going to rest on these seven pillars. I hope it is not just a concept of where the church is going. My prayer is that each of us will understand that anything God does in and through us rests right here on these seven pillars that we are going to be looking at. These seven pillars define our philosophy of ministry.
Now I hope that you understand there are at least two philosophies of ministry very apparent today. One is that philosophy that says, “We will do all we can do for Jesus until He comes back and we will ask Him to bless the process.” That’s one of the philosophies. How many of you, besides me, grew up on that philosophy? I grew up that way. “But if it is up to you, son, if you don’t do it, it will never get done.” As if God is somehow shackled by my unwillingness to obey. The old hymn—and I have to apologize even before I say it because it probably wasn’t written to irritate me. It is just my flesh that gets irritated with it. Got irritated with it when I first heard it and been irritated with it ever since—that old song that says, “We’ll work till Jesus comes; we’ll work till Jesus comes” I got so tired of that song; no joy, just get out there. And you better work, because in heaven you’ll find your joy one day. As if salvation is getting us into heaven. Salvation is far more than that. Salvation is getting heaven into us, and being able to participate in the divine working of what God is already doing.
But there is another philosophy; that’s where we are going to rest. That philosophy flows out of the understanding of living grace. And that living grace, again, you should know it by now, “Let Jesus be Jesus in me, no longer me but thee; resurrection power, fill me this hour, Jesus be Jesus in me.” The philosophy, which says, “I can’t do anything for Him, other than surrender to Him and let Him do, what only He can do through my life.” In other words, I get to join what He is already doing.
That’s where we are headed with these seven pillars as a church. This last philosophy of ministry is where we will be as a church. We, as elders and staff, are committed to lead the church to have an intimate relationship with Christ so that we might be the conduits through whom the life and work of Christ might flow. We will focus much more on intimacy with Him than we will be focusing on doing for Him. And sometimes you may think that is an imbalance; if I am imbalanced anywhere, it will be right here. Because if I have to err, I am not going to err on the side of “do, do, do” I will err on the side of “become —be what God wants you to be.” If becoming is what God says it truly should be, then the doing will take care of itself.
That is what the book of James is all about. If faith is real, then it will produce the works that it seeks to produce. We will seek to daily surrender to Him and to His word, knowing that it is only when we are saying “yes” to Him, yielded to Him that we can participate in that which He is doing already on this earth. We will discover in this series in God’s word that all ministry, no matter what facet we are talking about, is not achieved for God, but scripturally it is received from God.
Now let me get to the message today, and I’ll show you that. In fact this is the passage that nails it as clearly as any passage that we’ll look at. In our message today, we have to remember that when you think of ministry you have to think of three things:
- The gift, or the ability and motivation to do whatever it is that needs to be done.
- The ministry itself, the actual taking part in that which is going on. That is the second part of it, the ministry.
- The eternal effect that has on the people that are recipients of that ministry.
That is what we want to look at in 1 Corinthians 12, because Paul deals with this. Does it come from man? Does man come up with it? Does man come up with the ability to do? Does man come up with the ministry? Does man come up with the effect? In many people’s thinking, they do. Man does. But we are going to see that man doesn’t; God is the one who originates the gift; He originates the ministry; and God is the one who originates the effect. We will see this, without question, in our passage today. True ministry is a supernatural activity, not just something that you can do, grit your teeth and bear it, is a supernatural activity. When it originates from God, and a believer, the results will be eternal. They will be felt for all of eternity. Only God can burden a person’s heart to minister to somebody else to do good for that person without any thought of credit, of any appreciation from people, applause of men. Only God can cause this to happen.
So our first text is 1 Corinthians 12:4–7. I have to do this because any text without a context is a pretext. You never want to get into a tex, unless you wrap it around where it comes from so that you know you are hearing from God’s word. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul calls them ‘babies.’
I shared with the group last night, I used to have a little barrel, actually a clear container, of pacifiers. I bought them at Sam’s; they were adult pacifiers. I kept them in the pulpit. When people would come up and just “yak, yak, yak,” I would just say, “Would you take this and go over and suck on it for a while. When you come out of the nursery will you talk to me?”
Well, the church at Corinth had never come out of the nursery. This is their problem; the indictment of chapter 3, verses 1, 2 and 3. In chapter 5, to show you the results of that kind of thing, there was a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife, which was probably his stepmother, committing adultery and incest in the same act, and nobody would deal with it as a church. They just let it go, they did not want their reputation to be harmed, by knowing that someone in their midst was doing it.
In chapter 6 they were suing each other over money. At a drop of a hat. Can you imagine two believers suing each other over money, when we are going to walk on streets of gold? That really got Paul’s attention. He wrote the sixth chapter to address that. In the seventh chapter, they thought physical intimacy in marriage was sinful. This was how far off center they had gotten. Paul sort of says, “good grief, people!” It took him a whole chapter to work the family out there in chapter seven.
In chapters eight through ten, they were eating meat sacrificed to idols, and they were using their liberty in Christ to walk all over their weaker brother who did not understand. In chapter eleven they were desecrating the Lord’s Supper; it was a shame what they were doing to it. In chapter twelve, they thought that anything that was emotional and experiential must be “spiritual.” In chapter 13, it is not a chapter on love, really, it is a rebuke to a church that had no idea on what Christianity was all about. In chapter 14, not only was their practice of speaking in an unknown tongue wrong, their whole premise was wrong. It wasn’t for believers, it was for unbelievers. In chapter 15, they did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In chapter 16, he closes the book. Wonderful study! If you lived in Corinth, you would not want to join this church; it was a totally upside down church.
So, in 1 Corinthians 12, he is not teaching gifts, he is correcting error. In verse one, he says, “I don’t want you to be ignorant, brethren of spiritual things”—not spiritual gifts, that is written in italics—pneumatikos. I don’t want you to be ignorant when it comes to spiritual matters. The word is in the present tense; I don’t want you to continue to be ignorant when it comes to spiritual matters. With that mindset, he comes into verse 4 though verse 6. He wants to show them the same thing God wants to show us today: Ministry is not something that we come up with in a committee and ask God to bless. Ministry only comes out of a life that is lived in intimacy with Him, in surrendered yieldness to Christ. Ministry is what He does through us. We can join Him in what He is doing, when we are willing to say “yes” to Him in our everyday life.
Verses 4 through 6, he says: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit, and there are varieties of ministry and the same Lord; there are varieties of effects but the same God who works all things in all persons; but to each one is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good.” Now let’s look into this context and see the pattern of ministry. Let’s see where the gifts come from, where the ministries come from, where the effects come from. Let’s just see some principles that will help us as we want to be usable to God. The key is intimacy with Christ, daily, moment by moment, so that true ministry can happen in our lives. If we are not getting to know him through His word, walking with Him; then ministry is something that is a foreign language to our experience.
These five principles that we want to share today in this message, hopefully, will be a blessing to your heart.
First of all, Paul shows us that all ministry originates from God, and there is no question about it. I’ll show you that in a second. It is interesting how the apostle Paul, with a lot of grace, gently moves these people to thinking sanely in this insane world in which we live. The Corinthians were focused on man and they were not focused on God. We know that from the text. If you have studied the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians, they talk about man’s wisdom, man’s ways. Paul has to come against that. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:11 he says, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, there are quarrels among you.” Now I mean this, he is saying: “each one of you is saying, ‘I’m of Paul’ and then others are saying, ‘I’m of Apollos,’ and others are saying ‘I’m of Cephas,’” and then there is the worst group, “I’m of Christ.” You would think that would be the best group, but no, they are like that group in Heaven, when Peter is walking around with us in Heaven and he says, “be real quiet, shhh; there is a group over here that thinks they are the only ones up here.” But the whole thing was, they were about men. They were men pleasers, they were men followers they worshiped the wisdom of men; therefore, they were all about what men could do and they were enamored with it. They were not about what God could and wanted to do in their lives.
In Verse 4 through 6, to get into this really deeply, he contrasts two words. You have to see that right away. The word “varieties” and the word “same” He uses it in all three verses. He says in verse four: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit; there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord; there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” Now, that word varieties is the word diairesis. It has to do with the way something is divided up, when you put something into categories, or cutting a piece of pie, and you give this smaller piece to this one, and this bigger piece to somebody else. It has to do with the way in which it is cut up or distributed.
For instance, for many people, at first glance they think it’s talking about the fact that the gifts are different, varieties of gifts, or the ministries are different, and the effects are different. And they are, but that’s not what the word is talking about. It’s only used two times in the whole New Testament. The second time it is used is down in verse 11, and it’s talking about how they are distributed, not how that they are different. We will address that in a minute.
But how they are distributed: what it is talking about is that God does not give the gifts, ministries and effects like man would give them. If you told me today that I had the power to give everybody in here the gifts, I would make sure that every single person had exactly the same amount of gifts. I don’t want anybody to go lacking. But that’s not the way God did it. For instance the verb form is found in verse 11, diaireo. It means to distribute, and it is in the present tense.
Look at verse 11, “But one and the same spirit works all of these things distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” So, in other words, it is totally the prerogative of the Sprit that gives the gifts, or Jesus gives the ministry, the Father that gives the effect. It is totally at their prerogative as to how they choose to do that. It may not be the same, and rarely is the same from person to person.
You say, “Why would he bring this up in Corinthians?” Because in Corinth they were jealous over the gifts they thought were the greater gifts. As a result of that they were overlooking that the other gifts were just as important to the body. And the apostle Paul is trying to say, “What are you doing?” It is interesting to me, how when we get our eyes off the giver and we put them on the gift and the ministry and the effect, what happens is we become jealous of gifts or ministries or effects. But when we have our eye on the giver, I’m just glad to have a slice of the pie; what about you?
Anything less than hell is grace in our life. But when we get our eyes off the giver, that all of sudden floats out of the window. Suddenly we are jealous of this gift or that gift, this ministry or that ministry. What Paul is trying to do here is to take these carnal minded, fleshly minded Corinthian believers, get their eyes off men and what men can do and what happens to men and get their eyes back on the Lord Jesus. They were attached to men, they were not attached to Christ, and he is trying to bring them back to what normal Christianity really is.
Well, individual believers can get caught up when they are looking at men and not looking at the giver, they can get caught up in being jealous of other people’s gifts, or their ministry, or their effect. Has anyone ever had a jealousy in their heart that you did not get a gift like somebody else? Get a life. I’ve done it.
Dr. Stephen Olford, who I love so much, is in Heaven, rejoicing. Heaven is sweeter, but the earth has a big hole in it, since he has left us. I had to speak with him several times. I probably spoke with him 15 or 16 times. The first time they ever put me with him, scared me half to death. They were going to let him speak first and me speak second. What?? He was the greatest preacher I ever heard; he was the apostle Paul of our day. Don’t put me behind him, put me first, and then everybody will truly appreciate him when they hear him.
I begin to realize why they put me with him anyway. When Dr. Olford would get up and preach, every preacher and everybody there that wanted to aspire to what God had called them to do said to themselves, “I can’t do that.” And then they had me come up, and they would say, “Yeah, I can.” “Wayne can do it, anybody can do it.” He was the prince of preachers.
We were at a men’s conference. About 450 men were there from about 27 different states and I am supposed to go second. I am sitting back in the back, looking down over the group, sweating. He gets up and starts preaching, oh my goodness, how he literates every text; there is just a glow on him; there is just something so spiritual about him. I’m watching him, thinking, “What am I doing here?”
God brought my eyes down to the group and I looked about three rows down to an old boy from Knoxville, TN, who chewed tobacco and deer hunted. He is just there because he liked me because I deer hunt. I’ve been doing this conference 15 years, a lot of camaraderie build over the years. I looked down here and saw another. I watched all these good old red-necked boys, and I watched them, watching Dr. Oldford. They were sitting saying “Golly, what’s he saying?” Then I looked at the rest of the group. They were taking notes, tears streaming down their face. God was ministering to them.
It was like God said to me, “Wayne, don’t ever think that you need to have someone else’s gift or be somebody else. Wayne, there are people in this room he can’t touch. I can’t get them through him, but I can get them through you. Now, when you get up, you do what I tell you to do, you just be who you are, full of Jesus. That’s all I’ve called you to be.”
That’s what Paul is trying to tell these Corinthians: “Quit being jealous of somebody else’s gift; quit being jealous of somebody else’s ministry; being jealous of somebody else’s effect. Just be who you are, satisfied with Jesus, letting Jesus be Jesus in you. Let God work through you what He’s chosen to work through you. You got a little piece of the pie? That’s fine. You got a big piece of the pie? He that’s given much, much is required. Maybe you got a little piece. Thank God for the little piece. He’s going to hold all of us accountable for that.
Well, not only do individuals get caught up in this, but also churches get caught up in this. I think the biggest problem in churches today in America is a little phrase called, “The Mega-Church.” As a result of it, because of numbers and because of bigness, you’ve got little bitty churches in places just dying because they can’t be what that big church is. It is driven by numbers, and it feeds an ego, in many situations. To me, churches are supposed to be what God wants them to be where they are, just full of Jesus. If that’s big, it’s big; if it’s small, it’s small. It doesn’t mean one’s right and one’s wrong.
It’s incredible. Churches get involved in that. “Oh, you must be a spiritual church, because you are big.” Not necessarily. God is not impressed with numbers. He’s impressed with hearts that love Him. Well, ministries get involved in it. Ministries with this wrong thinking that they have to compete. Everything is measured by bigness and numbers and dollars. It can happen easily.
But Paul is saying, “Would you quit doing that? Would you just be what God wants you to be? Would you just get your eyes back on the giver, and let the giver be who He is in your life? And if that’s small, thank Him for it every day; if that’s big, thank Him for that every day. Just be the piece of pie God orchestrated for you to be.”
Well, the Spirit who gives the gifts, see, is the same. There are varieties of gift, ministries, and effects; and God does not distribute them in the same way. But the Spirit that gives them, He is the same. His character never changes. He loves us just the same. Anything short of Hell is grace, as we said a moment ago, so whatever He’s given me is out of His beautiful love for me, and out of His divine understanding of me, and of you, and of all of us here today.
First Corinthians 12:18 says, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them in the body [How?] just as He desired.” It’s all His business. Then it says in verse 11, “But one in the same Spirit” we read a moment ago “works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” So I guess the question would have to be to all of us today, “Who do we think we are, when we seek to tell God what we’re going to do for Him, and then ask Him to bless it as if it comes from us, and not Him?” There is no gift; there is no ministry; there is no effect, without Him. He and He alone determines all of these. So all ministries originate from God.
Secondly, unless love is present, there is no ministry. There are a lot of people who say they are doing a lot of great things for God, but there is just no love there whatsoever. The love is the key; the love is the clue.
First Corinthians 12:4: “Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit.” That’s the Holy Spirit. Varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. Now wait a minute. Let’s talk about the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of God that gives the gifts, and they are different. As we will see in a moment, they are multi-colored. It’s kind of like, I have a shirt on today, and I guess it’s one fabric, they mix them up so much; let’s just say it’s one fabric. But it’s one color, pretty bland. Looking out amongst you, you have some pretty creative clothing on today. Some of yours is the same fabric, but multi-colored. Same fabric, the Holy Spirit is the fabric, but the colors; however, in there are different.
If you want to talk about how the gifts are different, this is where you look at that. For instance, you say, “Wayne, what are talking about?” Look over at 1 Peter 4:10, and I’ll show you. He says it very clearly. He’s talking about gifts. He says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another.” That’s what gifts are for. “As good stewards of the”—and it’s translated “manifold grace of God.” I don’t know why they translated it that way. Maybe it meant something different in that day, I don’t know, but the word is poikilos. It means multi-colored grace of God. That’s beautiful. Just like our trials are color-coded; the wisdom of God is color-coded, used over in Ephesians, so are our gifts; they are color-coded. They are different.
Oh, could I give some illustrations of the fact that they are different, big time. My wife has the gift of mercy. She is mercy from her head to the end of her toes. I believe God put some mercy in me somewhere, but with her, it’s just total mercy. I’m telling you, that gift of mercy. We’d be on a plane and if you were sick, she’d get sick with you. You die; she’ll die with you. It’s incredible.
Went into a hospital room one day to see a woman who had been in there three weeks. When we walked in, she started groaning. I’m thinking, “Now, wait a minute.” I picked up on that, she’s riding this thing far as she can ride it. She wasn’t groaning when we walking in. I walked over, and I said, “You need to get up out of that bed and get out of here! Other people want this thing; you’ve been in it three weeks!” My wife is saying, “No, No” and she went over and fluffed up the little pillows and got her a little glass, put the straw in her mouth and patted her cheeks and said, “Are you okay?” As if to say, “Don’t pay any attention to him.” I kept saying, “Come on.” When we got out of the room, we started laughing. You know what we started laughing about? She said, “Why did you do that?” and I said, “Well, why did you do that?” And it dawned on us, two different gifts.
Now hear what I’m saying, folks. Working together, and she needed both of us. She checked out the next day. But you see, gifts are different. Gifts are different.
It is so important to realize that the spirit is the same. The same spirit that gave my wife the gift of mercy did not give it to me, but gave me the gift of exhortation and teaching. The same Spirit is the fabric. But He didn’t give the gifts the same color. So often in our church, we have people say, “This is wrong, and this is wrong.” But they are beautiful people, they are walking with God; they are seeing through their strength. Anytime God allows you to see through your strength, usually He wants you to be the solution to whatever it is He’s been faithful enough to reveal as the problem. But the gifts are different.
Now where am I going with this? You say, “What’s this got to do with love?” Well, if the fabric of the gifts is the Spirit of God, my friend, He is also the producer of the love and the fruit. He can never act apart from any of His attributes. If He gives the gifts and the divine ability to trust God in those gifts, then He gives the fruit, which is the wrapping to that gift. He is the same Spirit. When a person is ministering, and there is no love in him, when a person is ministering, and there is no caring for other people, they walk over everybody else, there is no ministry being accomplished. It’s just whatever they’ve come up with in a religious mindset, and have asked God to bless.
The love is the key. You can fake all of the gifts, but you can’t fake the love. That’s what God produces, and that’s what motivates others to be drawn to us. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such there is no law.” The key to that whole verse is that first word, love. Everything else in it characterizes that love in relationships. When are we going to understand that God is not impressed with a good idea we offer to Him? God already has the idea, and if we bow before Him and say yes to Him and to His will—and that doesn’t mean perfection; that means when I sin, I run to the cross, and I confess and I chose to trust Him; that’s all built in to it—but when I’m willing to live predictably that way, then I can get in touch with what He truly is doing and then He uses me just as a conduit to touch other people. And it will be different because the gifts are different; it will be framed according to the individual gifts He’s given to each person.
What is it that’s causing the division in most churches today? It’s not the fruit; it’s the gifts. It’s causing division like you wouldn’t believe. Some of you may even get irritated with me this morning, because you have another thought about the gifts. I’m telling you, I don’t care what another person tells me his gift is. We’ve made it much too important. The key is, where is the fruit? And are we attached to the Giver and not just the gift? God’s love does not divide the body, it unites it.
So all ministry originates from God without the love produced by the Spirit, there is no ministry. No matter what we think we are doing, it’s not ministry. He is the fabric of the gifts, but He is also the producer of the fruit.
Thirdly, ministry is not for our benefit. Verse 5, “And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” Now, the word Lord here is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. In a context, when you have the Spirit and the Lord and God mentioned all together, you are talking about the Trinity. We’ll see God the Father in a moment. It’s so interesting how the whole Trinity is involved in what goes on down here on Earth: The Spirit giving the gift; the Lord Jesus giving the ministry; and the Father taking care of the effect, as we’ll see. The word ministries in verse 5 tells the whole story. The word is diakonia. We get the word deacon from it. It means to serve others, no matter what it cost me, is the idea of the word.
This word was never translated into English, it was transliterated, which means they took a word and made a word out of it. That’s convenient. When the Bible was put into English, the powerful church at that time had deacon as high offices of power who made decisions for the whole body, which is never in scripture. So they did not translate the word, for fear of getting their heads translated, they transliterated the word, and made a word out of a word—Can I shine your shoes? I mean, your grass looks like it needs cutting, can I help you? Uh, is there anything I can do for you?—that’s the word diakonos. So ministry at its very heart is for the benefit of others. It wouldn’t even be there if it was for our own benefit. It’s always, “what can I do for you?” Never for my own benefit.
Ministry is something that has the heart of God in it. Jesus, who initiates all ministry, who lives in us, was the greatest servant of all. It says over in Mathew 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” That’s the heart of ministry, because it’s His heart in us. The greatest minister, the greatest servant, is the one who patterns this for us in our life.
Verse 7 really cinches it, “But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man for the common good.” One translation says “for the profiting with all.” So everybody is blessed by it, not for somebody’s own personal edification. True ministry does not allow hidden agendas. True ministry does not allow self-gratification to be figured into it. When we make the mistake that the Corinthians made, then gifts, ministries and effects becomes all about us, not about others.
Now, I love drama when it is done right. True scriptural, Biblical drama that helps enhance and bring out what you are saying, I don’t have any trouble with that at all. What I do have trouble with are people that bring drama into the church for their own self-gratification. They get a bigger kick out of making people laugh than they do edifying and lifting up the Lord Jesus.
Years ago there was a group of about 16 who wanted to have a drama ministry. Well, I’ve never had any trouble with that, as long as it doesn’t contradict what we’re doing in the pulpit. Don’t do it while I preach. Well, it got to where it was just going nowhere. I mean, you could turn on the television set, they could be on it and you wouldn’t even know it was Christian. So I called them all aside, and I said, “Hey, guys, we’re going to have to shut this down. Something is all wrong. In my spirit, it doesn’t resonate.” You know what they said to me? “Oh, that’s okay, we’ll just take our group and go to some other church and do it.” Now what have they just told me? What they were doing, calling ministry, was for their own personal gratification. It was not under the accountability and Lordship of Christ. Because, you see, when God tells me to stop preaching, I’m going to sit down. I’m not going to keep standing up, because I get a gratification out of doing what I’m doing.
We’ve got to remember something, joy is not in something that you do, joy is in who He is. The very moment we start fighting for what we can do, look out. You’re missing the point. If it’s received, where He guides, He provides. Where he puts a burden for a desire, He gives an opportunity for a door. So all ministry originates with God. There is no ministry without the love, whatever people call it. And ministry is not for us. It is for the benefit of others.
And fourthly we cannot measure the results of ministry. We tapped on that a while ago. Let’s look at it a little further. There is always an eternal effect when God, through the gift, gives a ministry to other people. There is always an eternal effect. And God is the one who determines that. Verse 6, “And there are varieties of effects but the same God who works all things in all persons.” You see, only the father knows what the effect is going to be. The word effects is the word energema, which means energize. The little ma at the end of it means the actual result of what God has energized and empowered in a person’s life. Only the father knows what that result is going to be. The effects of all gifts that truly come from the Spirit minister to others are energized by God the Father, and therefore, He determines how it is measured. It won’t be measured here on earth. When we allow God the Father the prerogative of doing only what He can do, only He knows the eternal effect.
I’ll tell you what, to give you a proof text, ask Stephen in the New Testament in Acts, and ask Peter, if they can say amen to that. Stephen preached the same sermon Peter preached, and they stoned Stephen to death, but Peter saw 5,000 to come to know Christ. Of course, Stephen was a whole lot better off, because he got to go see Jesus. But I bet you right before he got there, he was saying “Do what?? Wait a minute.” The effects are going to be different. The effects will be what He chooses. He’s in control.
Verse 6 again: “The varieties of effects, the same God who works [now watch] all things in all persons.” The term “all things in all persons” is in italics, why? Because he uses it again at the end of the chapter to refer to the fact that he’s not just in control of persons, he’s in control of everything. God is in control of everything that is going on in this world, but He is especially in control of the believer and the effects of what God chooses to do in the life of that believer. There’s a tendency that we always have of measuring everything that we do. I’m telling you that when you are hung up in gifts, ministry and effects, it will be numbers and noses and nickels. That will be the way that we measure everything that goes on. That’s not the way God does it.
Roy Hessian said to me one day, “Wayne, let me ask you a question.” He said, “You’re preaching the same message over here that I’m preaching over in England, but you’re gaining people, and I’m losing them. Which one of us is doing it right?” Folks, we’ve got to get out of this mentality of thinking you can measure everything God does.
You can’t measure everything. Ask Dorie Van Stone. For eight years she never saw a convert. Twenty three years later she finally found out that those seeds that were planted deeply and watered, God had now finally given the harvest, and 250,000 believers had come as a result of her work. Twenty-three years later.
You see, God is not on our timetable. He doesn’t have a watch and says “Oh, my, it’s 3:00 and I better do something, because Wayne’s going to get upset.” As a matter of fact, I can’t see anywhere in scripture where it says “Wayne, I’m struggling up here, can you give me your opinion of what I need to do?” It’s incredible how much we think of ourselves. In Romans 12:3, “Let not a man think more highly of himself than he ought to think.” I tell you what it does to me, and I don’t know how it affects you at all, what affects me is that every day when I drive home, when I go through the day, it overwhelms me that God would give me even the time of day. I’m telling you, if you knew me, and my flesh and how wicked it is, and how every day I am desperate for God to replace me and overcome me.
Hey, crawl off that altar of pride and say let’s get good and honest here. God says, “You think I needed your intelligence to bring you into the Kingdom? You think I needed your creativity? I don’t need anything about you except your surrender, because I didn’t come to make you better, I came to replace you.” I tell you, the older we get, the more we become conscious of desperate need for Him in our life; the more this message of grace and the sweetness and the kindness of the love of God means to us. When I was in my 30’s from time to time needed it. I need it every day.
Finally, the last point. True ministry unifies the body. If you find division in the body, you don’t have true ministry, because true ministry draws people together and to Christ as a wonderful ending to all of this. When God is in full control, the gifts, and the ministries through those gifts to others and the eternal effect it just brings the body together. By the way, I’m so encouraged to see that happening. It blesses my socks off. It’s fun to get out of the bed in the morning. I’m seeing God move; I’m seeing the church come together. I just want you to know that.
Verse 7 says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The word manifestation, phanerosis, is the idea of being able to see something clearly. How do you know the gifts are working? Somebody asked me the other day in another setting, “Do you think that we really need to know our gift?” I’m going to answer that, “Not really.” I think it’s helpful to some degree, but I think that we have put so much focus on gifts, ministries and effects that we have completely taken our focus off of the giver. If we were walking and saying yes to Him, moment by moment, minute by minute, ministry would be flowing like a river that could hardly stay in its current. But we have somehow made it about us, instead of about him.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The word is a Greek word, sumphero. It means seeing; it means together. It’s a beautiful thing. Only God can do this. “Phero” means to bring people into a oneness, not only with themselves, but first of all with God. When that unity of the Spirit is there, and he talks about it in Ephesians, and when that spiritual fellowship is there, and he talks about it in Philippians, the people of God come together. There is not all this garbage that goes on, it is beautiful what happens.
The aura of the Holy Spirit is sweet fragrance unto the Father. People can sense it when they walk in a place. They can sense the power of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is before I die, hopefully that I’ll get to see it, that this church will be a church that is not about themselves, but so much about God that we would do whatever He says in a given second. We’d be a reflex of what He wants us to be down the road.
Well, when we focus on the Giver, that’s what happens. As if to drive his point home, Paul does something here that he doesn’t do in any other context of gifts. But when he says, “to each one is given,” it’s interesting. You see it is in the present passive voice. You see in every other place you look at it is, they’ve already been given that at the time of salvation. But what it saying here is, He is continuing to choose how He gives the ministry, the effect, and the gift. What he is saying is He is in control of it. I don’t go someplace and hang a sign on my door, “this is my gift and I have it and can enact it at any time.” No, sir! What he is saying is this gift is never active until my heart is surrendered to Him, in abandonment to Him and to His will. Therefore, we must be surrendered to Him at all times.
When the Sprit of God is moving, it’s not about a preacher, it’s about a God who lives in all of the people. We’re all ministers when we say yes to God. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The Spirit is free, through the giftedness of people, to affect the ministry and effect that only God can do.
You want to be usable to God? Then don’t look at ministry, and don’t look at gifts, and don’t look at effects. Go to the Giver, get your Word out and get to know Him, and learn to say yes to Him. And ministry and affects, and even gifts, will take care of themselves. They will flow right out of you like a river. Be careful, be careful when you start defending ministry, and beating up people because of effects. Be careful. Because when God is doing it, He draws people together, He doesn’t divide them.