Yesterday I, Pastor Todd, taught our third installment of our Spiritual Gifts series. You can listen to the whole sermon here (May 19, 2019). Today, I’d like to reflect a little bit about the three gifts I discussed: Faith, Evangelism, Craftsmanship.
We find a pretty good biblical definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the evidence of things not seen, the essence of things hoped for. (my paraphrase). The spiritual gift of faith is different from what all believers experience as “saving faith.” All believers in Jesus have some measure of faith. All believers in Jesus are given spiritual gifts for the building up of his church. Yet we see in 1 Cor. 12 that not all believers are given all spiritual gifts. The gifts themselves are distributed as the Holy Spirit determines based on the needs of a local community and the vocation He has on each believer. One of the gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. Faith is deeply rooted in belief. I say that because real faith is always accompanied by action. As James says in 2:14 of his letter. Without action (works), faith is nothing but a dead and useless thing. More of an intellectual or emotional exercise with zero effect.
Psychologically, we act on what we truly believe. What we believe is not necessarily what we verbally agree to (anyone can cite the creeds and agree with them intellectually). What we believe determines what we do. If we really believe Jesus has forgiven us of our sins so we can be freed from them, then we will act in ways that show we are freed from our sins. Those actions will affect how we relate to people. How we treat ourselves. How we think about ourselves and others. What we really believe (proven by actions) sets our priorities and value systems.
Our priorities and value systems determine where we put our mental, emotional, and physical energies. If our energies are not placed in advancing the kingdom of heaven, then we don’t really believe. In the Bible, “to believe” and “to listen” meant “to obey.” If we don’t obey, it’s not difficult to conclude that we don’t really believe.
This is related to the spiritual gift of faith in that such an extra measure of confidence and belief in God has a way of re-arranging one’s priorities. There can be an intensified focus on the Kingdom of Heaven and God’s mission. Like a parent willing to ensure their child’s safety at all costs, someone with the gift of faith will ensure the kingdom of heaven’s work at all costs.
This pursuit of heaven as one’s highest priority in words, actions, energy, mental focus, etc. means one looks at and relates to the world and even the local body differently. And rightly so. A faith person will put their prayers and their works to use ensuring the taking of the next steps and achieving the next milestones for the kingdom of heaven.
We need this kind of perspective in our churches. The leaders of the church need this kind of insight from those gifted. It is easy for leaders to get caught up in the organizational structures and the congregants’ setbacks and lose site of the the kingdom of heaven. Those with the gift of faith can help leaders keep the kingdom of heaven in focus as they direct the local body. Since faith people have a great track record of seeing results for things they pray about and put work into, they are an invaluable component to the success of a healthy local congregation that keeps Jesus as a central focus and His agenda in the forefront. We cannot afford to discount the gift of faith.
Those are a few reflections on the gift of Faith. Let’s look at the next gift from yesterday, Evangelism.
The organization “Natural Church Development” has done extensive studies on churches worldwide. They found that in any given local body, the representation of Evangelism is about 10% of the people. It can easily be said that Evangelism in the church is like childbirth in society. Where in most sociological structures, giving birth is primary means of maintaining or growing the population, in the Church it is through conversion. Those gifted with Evangelism are like birthing mothers in the church. It is mostly through their gifting and calling that others enter into (are born into) the kingdom of heaven.
Just like in society, it takes a village to raise a child, but takes a very limited # of people to conceive and give birth…so it takes a church to raise a new believer, but very few evangelists to give birth. Evangelism is the linchpin to growing the kingdom of heaven. We can have the greatest prophets, teachers, and leaders in our church. But if we don’t have an influx of born-agains, we are not fulfilling our mission. This is why the Evangelist is such a crucial part of the church globally and locally. Without Evangelism, the church would have died out after the first generation. Had the disciples and people like Phillip (the Evangelist) and St. Paul not spread the “good news” no one would have believed in Jesus or his atoning sacrifice.
Evangelism is more important in terms of the kingdom of heaven than marriage and childbirth because conversion is the way to populate heaven. Childbirth is the means to populate earth.
Those are a few of my reflections on the gift of Evangelism. Now let’s turn our attention to the final gift for this week, Craftsmanship.
This is one of those gifts that aren’t officially listed in the Big 3 passages: Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, and Eph. 4. Yet we see the gift present in building the kingdom of heaven in both the Old and New Testaments.
When I did my internship in Peru back in 2006, I was part of an American missions team that partnered with local Evangelical churches in reaching the lost. During the trip, we took tours of local churches in areas ranging from the suburbs to the ghettos. During one of the ghetto church tours, the resident missionary was explaining that the incomplete upstairs was due to a missions team coming down and building it wrong, so it had to be demolished and rebuilt. They were in the rebuilding phase. That was the springboard to our trip leader to share an account of a South American Pastor coming to share at some of the supporting American churches. During his talk(s), he asked the congregations “How many of you would allow a bunch of teenagers to build your home and church?”
It’s a serious question for us to ponder. Yes, missions trips are wonderful experiences for youth groups. It gets them into the bigger world. It teaches them the importance of structure and planning. It prevents idleness. But how many teenage youth groups have the necessary skills to build a house or church. Yet we fly them to all parts of the world at great expense to let them build houses and churches in 3rd world countries, often with sub-part quality.
Those are true accounts, and a stark testimony to the importance in the church for the gift of Craftsmanship.
People gifted in craftsmanship seem to have a knack for picking up the techniques of what they put their hands to. They not only learn the technique, they also see why it makes for superior work. They have the ability to work on things with their hands and produce quality results.
Many of the trades benefit from people with the gift of craftsmanship. Any type of manual work that requires skill can fall into the category of craftsmanship. Plumbers, carpenters, tailors, cobblers, etc. Just as the spiritual building of the church is done by apostles, evangelists, prophets, and teachers, so the physical building of the church is done (well) by those with the gift of craftsmanship. Masons, carpenters, interior designers, landscapers, electricians, plumbers…all are needed to build and maintain a physical church building. When those gifts are present in the church, they can greatly benefit the community with their skills. Some of the work could be donated. Some of the work should be financially compensated (workers are worthy of their wages).
In addition to lending their skills to the physical components of church property. Craftsmen are an integral presence in the world for the Gospel. Let’s look at the impact craftsmen have had on God’s Kingdom:
- Carpentry, masonry and architecture built the temple(s)
- Tailors made the priestly garments
- Metallurgists made the high priests’ breastplate\
- Metallurgists forged the weapons for Israel
- Tent-makers funded NT missions (Aquila, Priscilla, Paul)
- Jesus was a Carpenter
- Fishermen made up ⅓ of the disciples
- Lydia provided meeting places for churches and sold purple dye
So without craftsmen, we wouldn’t have had any notable temples in Israel, no special garments for the priests, no weapons for the army, no funding for Gentile missions, and Thyatiran believers would have had to keep meeting on the shore.
True, Craftsmen do not often stand at the front of the church with everyone’s undivided attention. But their work lives on in the way they create physical atmospheres for the body and help fund the mission of the church.
They are great mentors to young believers, often pulling on their daily skills as reference points for building character. Even though “Craftsman” is not listed in the Big 3 passages, it is truly a gift to the church that continues to play a vital role in its establishment and continuation.
Thank you for reading this week’s blog. I hope you are able to view our gifts today with a deeper appreciation, knowing how important they are to the church. I also hope today’s post has helped you better experience our Lord’s
Presence. Love. Power.