A CALL TO UNITY, A CALL TO PURPOSE (PART 3)
Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams
USAGE OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
In summary, God’s Son through his love enacted God’s mission. The love of God then equips the believer to receive the empowerment of love to carry out the mission. To do this, God presented diverse gifts to the church through the Holy Spirit. These gifts have specific purposes. The purposes are to mature the saints, equip them for service and to build the kingdom.
Sydney H.T. Page adds additional information regarding maturity. In his article, Whose Ministry? – A Re-Appraisal of Ephesians 4:12 states the scripture affirms that Christ gave gifts to the church in order that through exercising of them the body might come to maturity. Bryant states the life in Jesus Christ brings renewal and transformation for both the individual as well as the community. When the believer is seeking to live for God, to follow his way, then the Holy Spirit reshapes the lives and relationships of the believer. Repentance and acceptance of God’s redeeming grace makes it possible for a new way of living and loving in community as the believer matures.
Gifts – Equipping the Saints
As the believer matures, they are better able to use their gifts for the equipping of one another. Page states Christ provided the church with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints to do his work. Gilbert W. Stafford writer of the book Theology for Disciples posits that the wrong point to start when seeking to discover gifts is within ones self apart from the purpose of the church. The scriptural focus is to consider the needs of the church and how ones gifts would equip others within the body. He warns that charismata is never for individualistic pleasure but always for corporate edification. He further states the gifts are evidence that God’s divine mission of edifying is taking place in the life of the church. He further intimates that part of Christian unity is the oneness of faith and order in the life, work, mission and witness of the body. As the people of God use the gifts they edify the body. The body then is able to grow as each invests in the whole.
Michael J. Anthony in his book, Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century presents input from an educational stand. He states the church is placed in service to work in a three-fold way. The focus upward is to God to glorify, worship, love and be in communion with God. The focus inward is to grow and nature itself in love and community and to care for the needs of the saints. The last is outward, which is to bring the good news to a world without God. Anthony argues the spiritual formation of the body is more than a transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a learner. It requires a holistic growth and development within the body. The goal is maturity. Boa presents three overarching reasons for the Spirit gifts. First, knowing one’s spiritual gifts brings satisfaction and helps the believer to present their unique significance to the body. The second point he presents is that one’s gifts edify others. The primary purpose is ecclesiastical – build up and purify the church as the body and bride of Christ. The third reason is God will be glorified. Ultimately when one uses their gifts it brings glory to God.
Gifts – Building the Kingdom
Richard E. Waldrop, writer of the article, Pentecostal Perspectives on Holistic Church Mission Today contributes by stating all mission begins with emanates from the Triune God. He states God is a missionary God (for he first sent his son). Waldrop quotes Emil Brunner as saying “The Church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” In regards to the different missionary ventures of the church, it is the Spirit that proceeds and inspires the mission. This reminds the believer it is the Triune God one follows and not one’s self or own abilities. The gifts of the Holy Spirit equip the believer to go into the world and make disciples (come back next week for the next installment).
 Isam E. Ballenger, “Ephesians 4:1-16.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 51, no. 3:292. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009).
 David A. Ackerman, “Fighting Fire with Fire: Community Formation in 1 Corinthians 12-14.” Evangelical Review of Theology 29, no. 4: 347-362. Academic Search Complete, ESBCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009)
 Gilbert W. Stafford, Theology for Disciples, (Anderson: Warner Press, 1996), 191.
 Michael J. Anthony, Christian Education: Foundations for the Twenty-first Century, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 40.
 Bertil Ekstrom. 2003. "The Kingdom of God and the Church Today." Evangelical Review of Theology 27, no. 4: 292-305. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009).
 Richard E. Waldrop. 2007. "PENTECOSTAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLISTIC CHURCH MISSION TODAY." Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 10, no. 2: 178-191. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 23, 2009).