Date: 2/08/04
Text: Ephesians 4:11-6, 1 Corinthians 12
Title: Created to Serve
Theme: Since God has placed us in the community of the Redeemed, therefore we are to use the spiritual gifts he has given us to help this community grow into maturity.


These past few weeks we have been looking at the purpose of life from different perspectives. We learned that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

We glorify God by worshipping him, caring for others and becoming like Him. As we study these themes, I feel that it must have left an indelible mark in our minds that Christian living is not a solitude event, but is intimately connected with others. Even though some time we may wish we are like Tom Hanks, living on that island by himself in the movie Cast Away.

Yes, we are to interact with others by loving, caring, praying, admonishing, teaching, forgiving and accepting each other. We are to live in a community, connecting with each other. Yet we also realize how difficult it is. So this morning, let us take a closer look at this community.

I. We are created to live in a community.

To understand this community, again, we have to go back to Genesis 1. (Now you understand why first chapters of Genesis are so important. Without them, we won't be able to find answers to our basic questions in life and ministry). In vs.27, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." He first created Adam, then 2:18, "The Lord God said, 'it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper for him.' So he created Eve. It was a small community of two. They had children and this small community began to expand. Later on, the nation of Israel was God's community of his chosen people.

As history continues to unfold, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, also become a part of the community of his chosen people. This community of the redeemed is also called the body of Christ, the church.

Men were created to live in a community. Can you imaging living by yourself for an extended period of time? One of the most severe punishments for prison inmates is solitary confinement. You see, we are meant to live in a community, in touch with others.

II. We live in a community that is marred by sins. Ephesians 4:11-16

Yes, we are meant to live in a community. But this human community is also marred by sins. Adam and Eve deliberately disobeyed God. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve are meant to reflect God's image. What is this image? God being the triune God, so the godhead itself is a community. In this divine community, there is perfect communication, love and harmony. However, because of Adam and Eve's sin, so this image in men is also destroyed. As we look at the human community, from its very beginning to now, including the community of the redeemed, all we see is marks of human brokenness. There were intentional killings, revenge, immorality and alienation. We don't know how to communicate, love. All we have is strife and conflict among us.

Ephesians 4:11-16 tell us what the body of Christ, this community is to be like. We have these words to describe what this body is to become: unity in faith, Knowledge of the Jesus Christ, Mature, fullness of Christ, Standing firm, Speaking truth in love and growing in love.

What does this mean? It means that at present this body of Christ is not functioning as it should be. It is not united, Little or no knowledge of Jesus Christ, Immature, Not standing firm, easily affected by different teachings and social trends, speaking the truth, but often without love, or love with no truth and we may not be growing in love. Living in this community, we feel hurt by others' words, unloved, and confused. We know how difficult it is to live in a community that has been marred by sins. What then? Do we just sigh and accept this and let it be? Or do we pull out and look for the perfect community? You probably know by now, as long as there are human beings, there will be problems.

III. We live in a community that is to restore God's image. Ephesians 4:11-14

Yes, we are meant to live in a community. We are created so that the community we live in is to reflect God's image. But because of sin, this image was distorted. However, in the OT, we read that soon after men's rebellion against God, he began his redemption plan. In the book of Exodus, we learned that God gave the 10 commandments to the community of his chosen people. Why? Not only would they live differently from the surrounding nations, but by obeying the commandments, they were beginning to restore God's image among them. So when others saw this chosen nation, they would know that their God is the creator God.

In the NT, we are given more specific instructions of what this restored image is like. The Ephesians passage tells us that in this body of Christ, in this community of the redeemed, there is: unity in faith, Knowledge of Jesus Christ, Mature, fullness of Christ, Standing firm, Speaking truth in love and growing in love. Other passages tell us that it is a holy and chosen community. It is a community where God's love, peace and communication are to be manifested.

How do we get from where we are to where we are supposed to be? Ephesians 4:11, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (for what?), to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." God gives members of the redeemed community, church, the body of Christ different spiritual gifts. And as the believers use such gifts, the body of Christ will be built up. And as this body of Christ grows into spiritual maturity, it will once again reflect God's glory and beauty. The key to growth and maturity in a community is spiritual gifts.

Now we want to turn to 1 Corinthians 12:1ff, there are several truths we need to know regarding the spiritual gifts:

1. The importance of understanding the truth about spiritual gifts.

Vs1, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed." Paul is saying that there are other issues you may be uninformed (he did not specify which ones), but about the Spiritual gifts, you have to be informed. This truth is very important that we cannot be ignorant about it.

2. The Diversity of spiritual gifts. Vs. 4-10

The scripture wants us to know that there are many different gifts. 1 Corinthians 12 lists some supernatural gifts and the gift of proclaiming the word. In Romans 12:6, there is another listing of gifts: faith, service, teaching, encouraging, giver, leadership and mercy." In Ephesians 4:11, "apostles, evangelist, pastors and teachers." It appears there is no one complete listing specifying that these are the only gifts. The scripture does not seem to restrict spiritual gifts to 7 or 9 or 13 or 24.

There are discussions on whether some gifts, especially those supernatural gifts still exist. The phenomenon may be true, but as a gift, it may have ceased. But others feel such gifts are still being given to believers today. In light of this, different churches will have different emphasis on different gifts. At HCC, we want to focus on the gifts that are used to build up the body of Christ, with emphasis on some of the gifts in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4.

3. God is the origin of the spiritual gifts.

In 1 Corinth 12:4-6, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." Vs.11, "All these are empowered by one and the same spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills." It is evident from these passages that there are many gifts, resulting in many different activities and power is needed to exercise such gifts. Who is the source? The Triune God: Father, son and the spirit.

Sometimes in our discussion and teaching on the spiritual gifts, we run into the extreme of associating the gifts with the Holy Spirit alone at the expense of ignoring the son and the father. I feel Paul is very clear and cautious to maintain a balance. That the giving of the spiritual gifts and their usage are determined by the Triune God. He decides to give what spiritual gifts to whom.

If this is a gift from God, then it is really not up to us to seek such a gift. In his sovereignty, he decides what gift to give us.

4. Each person is given a gift.

From the same passage, it is also evident that each person is given a gift. Sometimes we hear people say, "I can’t do this, because I don't have any spiritual gifts." This is not true. Because God has clearly given each one of us special spiritual gifts. And you know what, besides the spiritual gifts, each one of us is also created very uniquely. We each have different temperaments, strength, likes and dislikes. Our particular spiritual gifts, our personality bends, our behavioral styles make us each a very special person.

5. Each spiritual gift is important.

In vs 12-27, Paul uses the analogy of the body to demonstrate the importance of each spiritual gift. Vs27, "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." Vs 14, "for the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body…" The feet are just as important as the hand, the eyes and ears. In the body of Christ, everyone, every spiritual gift is important. We cannot say the gift of teaching is more important than the gifts of service. They are all from God therefore they are equally important.

6. Gifts are given to be used for the good of the body of Christ.

What are the gifts for? For my personal edification? If our understanding of the scripture is correct, it appears that in vs. 7, "To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good." In 14:12, "so with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the spirit, strive to excel in building up the church." vs19, "nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongues. Paul is saying that speaking in tongues edifies the person who speaks it. But words of teaching and instruction, or the gift of teaching will benefit many.

Gifts are given so that the body of Christ can grow into maturity, thus reflecting God's image, glory.


When God first created Adam and Eve, it was his intention that human beings are meant to live in a community. A community that will reflect God's image. however, because of sin, this community is also corrupted so men no longer know how to live in harmony and peace.

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we become a part of the redeemed community, the body of Christ, the church. In this local church, local community of the redeemed, what is God's purpose? Too often we see God's will for us is to grow bigger; with more people and bigger buildings. Certainly this is good. But if our understanding of the scripture is correct, God's primary purpose for this and other churches is to restore his broken and distorted image; the image of love, peace and harmony. So when the world sees how we love one another, they will know that we belong to this triune God.

How does this restoration take place? God, according to his own sovereign will, gives each one of us one or more special spiritual gifts. Some have the gifts of service, teaching, or leadership. Others have the gifts of mercy and giving. We do not keep these gifts for ourselves, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to use them, we use them to build up this body of Christ.

You see, in order for this body to grow, for individuals in this body to grown into the fullness of Christ, your using of your spiritual gifts is indispensable. How do we know what our spiritual gifts are? Certainly there are many assessment tools we can use. By answering 160 questions, they can tell you what spiritual gifts you have. But if you take a closer look at these questions, they all assume that you have experience in serving in a local church.

This morning, in the lobby we have a displayed different ministry opportunities. We want you to spend time to looking at them. Is there one ministry you are interested in and feeling drawn to? Why don't you get involved in that ministry? Through serving others, it will help you to understand and confirm the gifts that God has given us. God has given us these spiritual gifts so we can use them to help this body of Christ to grow into the fullness of Christ.