Bethel Christian Fellowship is pleased to introduce our own Blog!
We will endeavour to provide new blogs on a weekly basis, with contributions mainly originating from within our congregation, but hopefully from guests as well over time.
If you would like to contribute to the Bethel Blog then please contact Chris Taylor or send us an email
Gifts to and in the local church part 4: Manifestations (Gifts) of the Holy Spirit by Keith Taylor (12th July 2019) Open Close
GIFTS TO AND IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
PART 4: MANIFESTATIONS (GIFTS) OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are gifts of the Holy Spirit which are supernatural manifestations through the members of the body.
These 9 gifts are described as ‘pneumatikon’ and translated as ‘spiritual gifts’, although a more accurate translation would have to be ‘spiritual persons’. W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that “Pneumatikos always gives the idea of invisibility and of power, it’s an after-Pentecost word, it’s a most appropriate word to describe persons who can transmit the manifestation of the Spirit, for only those who’ve experienced Pentecost can do so.”
The supernatural nature of these gifts can be seen from the fact that there are 9 mentions of the Holy Spirit in 11 verses. The Holy Spirit is the efficient cause of the manifestations and His gifts are manifested in line with His will and those who would transmit such gifts must do so in obedience to the Spirit’s direction and timing.
These Holy Spirit manifestations are occasional and temporary, they aren’t permanent gifts for retention and use as are the ability gifts of Romans 12. It’s not correct, therefore, to refer to someone as possessing the gifts of wisdom, faith or tongues; it’s incorrect to say that ‘he has the gift of discernment, prophecy, healing, etc’. The initiative in the operation of these gifts must remain in the hands of the Spirit and once His purpose is completed the manifestation of the gift will cease. It’s possible that any one person may manifest one particular gift regularly if that’s the Spirit’s pleasure and purpose; but each manifestation is a separate giving with a particular objective.
Let me make two further observations at this juncture. First, that the gifts manifested aren’t given for the person who is channelling the gift, but for a third party – the local church, who is to receive them. Second, it’s important to keep in mind the recurrent phrase in 1 Corinthians 11-14, ‘when you come together’. The gifts of the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be hidden away in special meetings. Paul’s teaching has as its background the coming together of the whole local church for worship, etc. and that’s the right place for manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
The classic way of sorting out these manifestations has been to divide them into 3 groups of 3;
* Gifts of revelation; wisdom, knowledge and discernment.
* Gifts of power; healings, faith and miracles.
* Gifts of inspired speaking; prophecy, tongues and interpretation.
God who planned the whole of creation with such amazing precision and incredible detail shows the same ability in planning the work of His church. Paul tells us that God has set in the church various gifts. That is because they’re all necessary and it would be the height of presumption on our part to despise or reject any of them. Without these spiritual gifts it is impossible for the church to fulfil the high aims which God has intended for His people.
The church of God is a divine organism. It was never intended to be an organisation limited by human ability, operating by man’s ingenuity and directed by hierarchies and committees. The church exists for one purpose, and for one purpose only, to discover and to do the will of God by the power of the Holy Spirit In placing such an emphasis on the Holy Spirit and His gifts we don’t devalue learning, education or personal ability. These are good and have their place, but on their own they’re completely incompetent and inadequate for the demands of Christ’s ministry in and through the local church today.
The spiritual manifestations of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are all effected by what’s spoken. But we need to see that this involves two ‘speakers’. First, the Lord has to speak to the believer who is to be used to channel the manifestation, and then the believer has to speak out what the Spirit has given them to speak. We can, therefore, liken the Spirit-filled believer to a ‘receiver’ and a ‘transmitter’.
All of these gifts work on the prophetic principle of listening and passing on what’s been heard. This raises the most important question for everyone in the local church. “Can you hear God?” It’s quite impossible to manifest any of the spiritual gifts unless you can. This is why it’s so important that each believer can give a positive answer to the question raised by Paul – “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2)
Gifts to and in the local church part 3: The ministries by Keith Taylor (7th July 2019) Open Close
GIFTS TO AND IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
PART 3: THE MINISTRIES
The gifts in Ephesians 4are gifts of the ascended Lord Jesus which are ministries the body needs. Paul speaks of 5 such ministries.
This word comes from the Greek word meaning ‘one who is sent’, indicating the basic idea that an apostle is sent to further the kingdom of God in some new area. It also indicates that delegated powers have been conferred on him for so doing. So far as the 12 apostles of Christ are concerned, they were unique and their office has ceased to exist. They’d been with Jesus from the beginning and were eye witnesses of the resurrection. However, there were other apostles in New Testament days, including Paul himself, who were not of the 12.
Some people would go so far as to say that there are no longer any apostles, that their function has ceased to exist. Paul indicates, however, that the apostles, and the other 4 ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, are to exist in the church until we all reach unity in the faith, and that’s an objective not yet realised. It’s reasonable to assume that the apostolic office is still to be operative within the Church.
In the New Testament they always take second place to the apostles who are always accorded first place. Apostles are ‘sent forth’ but the prophets are to ‘speak forth’.
Prophets shared with the apostles in forming the foundation of the early church and thus they’ve an important role to play in the local church of today. A prophet isn’t the same as a preacher who gets his message from the study of the Scriptures; the prophet receives his message by direct revelation, but never contrary to Scripture.
They have the ability of communicating the good news of the gospel in meaningful and convincing ways with a view to people responding in faith. Alongside their own evangelising they have the ability to galvanise God’s people in the area of evangelism.
This is the only mention in the New Testament of the word ‘pastor’, but it’s the same word that’s regularly translated ‘shepherd’. The gift of ‘shepherding’ or ‘pastoring’ is an ability God has given to certain members of the body of Christ to assume long-term responsibility for the spiritual well-being of a group of believers.
It’s not certain whether pastor/teacher is to be regarded as one or two ministries. What is clear is that pastoring and teaching are very closely related though there are differences. If pastoring involves caring for God’s people, teaching involves instructing them in the truths of God’s Word. It involves the need to give time to the reading and study of the Scriptures and to require the ability to help people to see, hear, grasp and learn what God’s saying to them.
Ministry gifts are functional not status conveying.
The list of Christ-given ministries is a list of functions to be carried out rather than a permanent office conveying authority and status. Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4:12 is that the ministries are to equip the local church. Ministries are the servants of the body to build up the members and enable them to do the work of Christ in the world.
Jesus and the ministries.
Jesus Himself fulfilled all 5 of the ministries and it’s by the Holy Spirit that Jesus’ ministry on behalf of His church is carried out today. Jesus Christ continues His work as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher through the ministries He gives to men and women, and all the facets of His ministry through those He has chosen and appointed in the local church.
Gifts to and in the local church part 2: The Natural Gifts by Keith Taylor (26th June 2019) Open Close
GIFTS TO AND IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
PART 2: THE NATURAL GIFTS
The gifts in Romans 12 are gifts of God the Father which are abilities given to body members.
These 7 gifts are said to be ‘according to the grace given us’(Rom. 12:6), and ‘in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you’ (Rom. 12:3). We conclude, therefore, that though certain abilities have been with us since our natural birth, they’ve been enriched and empowered when handed over to God following our new birth.
Prophesying– is the natural ability to speak clearly.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it includes hearing what God’s saying with the urge to pass it on. There’s a warning that utterances should be limited to one’s faith; no-one should strain after that for which they have insufficient faith.
Serving– is the natural ability to give practical assistance.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it can be used in any area of local church life.
Teaching– is the natural ability to communicate intelligibly with others.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it includes the ability to study the Scriptures and impart to others a right understanding of its truths, having regard to the right interpretation of words and metaphors.
Encouraging– is the natural ability of the encourager.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it includes the ability to stimulate the faith and obedience of other believers.
Contributing– is the natural inclination to share one’s good things.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it includes the urge to give regularly and generously to the work of the gospel in the mission of Christ. It doesn’t presuppose that the person is materially rich.
Leadership– is the natural ability to lead in such a way that others follow.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it’s used in any facet of the church’s fellowship or administration.
Showing mercy– is the natural ability of human compassion.
When it becomes a spiritual gift it becomes the outpouring of the compassion of Christ upon those in special need or in distress, regardless of personal inconvenience or suffering.
It’s such a shame that these ability gifts are so often unemployed in the local church because. people don’t take time to discover them or because there’s no opportunity to use them even of they’re recognised.
Gifts to and in the local church part 1: General by Keith Taylor (19th June 2019) Open Close
GIFTS TO AND IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
PART 1: GENERAL
In the New Testament we’re shown three streams of spiritual gifts, and each stream is as important in the life and witness of the local church today as in the days of the early church. These streams are:
- Natural giftsfound in Romans 12
- Ministry giftsfound in Ephesians 4
- Manifestations (gifts)of the Holy Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12.
Without the free flowing of the first stream of gifts the members of the body of Christ cannot serve and care for each other as God intends. Without the acceptance of the second stream of gifts the body of Christ will be hindered from realising both unity and maturity. Without the unrestricted flowing of the third stream of gifts the local church will be left to academic achievement, human effort and man’s good ideas.
Stream One: Romans 12:6-8
The gifts in this stream are God-given abilities which we’ve already received. We may well have had these abilities from birth, but the fact that the gifts are ‘according to the grace given to us’suggests that they’ve been intensified and enlivened after our second birth. Every one of His children will have received one or more of these gifts from the heavenly Father, and the very clear message is – use them.
Stream Two: Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-13
The gifts in this stream are Christ-appointed gifted individuals. They are the gifts of Jesus the ascended Lord to His church and they have specific tasks and purposes to perform for the well-being of the body of Christ. The message concerning these gifts is to accept and recognise them.
Stream Three: 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
The gifts in this stream are manifestations of the Holy Spirit channelled through any believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit. These gifts aren’t possessed by the believer, he or she is simply the transmitter of the supernatural gift to whoever is to be the recipient. The Holy Spirit is the giver of these gifts, and the initiative in their use remains with Him. The message concerning these gifts is to eagerly desire them.
Paul’s composite list in 1 Corinthians 12:28
Paul brings together eight gifts, two from stream 1 which are helping and administration; three from stream 2 which are apostles, prophets and teachers; and three from stream 3 which are miracles, healing, and speaking in tongues. He uses them to illustrate his teaching that within the local church there are no differences in status; apostles and helpers, teachers, administrators and tongues speakers are all set together side by side as being equally appointed by God. In verse 31 Paul refers to them as ‘charismata’, that is, gifts of God’s grace, and verse 28 indicates that the sphere in which they are to operate is in the local church; that is, the assembly of God’s people wherever they may happen to have gathered.
Peter’s summary list in 1 Peter 4:10-11
Peter indicates that each of us is held responsible for what we do with the spiritual gifts we’ve received. We’re required to be good stewards of the varied grace of God. If we fail to pass on what God has given to us we shall be judged unfaithful stewards of His gifts of grace. Peter goes so far as to indicate that when we’re ministering a speaking gift we’re speaking as one who speaks ‘the very words of God’. It’s amazing that the same word that’s used of the inspired Scriptures is applied here by Peter to an ordinary believer speaking under the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
A very quick look back over the lists of spiritual gifts reveals five gifted individuals appointed to minister to the body of Christ; seven gifts of God-given abilities and nine gifted manifestations of the Holy Spirit, making a total of 21 spiritual gifts in these lists. Where do we each fit in this list?
Monday Morning Catch Up by Chris Taylor (10th June 2019) Open Close
I was challenged by Charles Spurgeon this morning in one of my daily devotional that if it was God’s will at conversion that we should go and be with the Lord then that would of been what happened but the truth is we are part of the building of the kingdom of God. As Romans 14:8 says “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
We have been born with a purpose in time to be a part of building the kingdom of God. We all surrendered to Christ and so we are all part of His building of His Church. As a church this year we are praying the fringes get to know and fall in love with Jesus and the truth is that does fall down to all of us. We have seen a few give their lives to the Lord but we desire more.
Onto this week, I feel that communication is so important and to be able to share the needs of the fellowship is a way of us keeping sight of our vision as a church.
Every single day is an opportunity for us to live to the Lord. Whether that is at work, home, school, a walk to town or a bus ride to Chelmsford. You would be surprised how many people you meet in your day.
I have a challenge for you? Pray for those you meet this week, pray for opportunities to share the reason for your faith with who you meet and if you feel led then follow where the Holy Spirit leads you.
Reading the Gospels by Suzy Taylor (31st March 2019) Open CloseI’ve been studying the New Testament as part of the AOG training modules.I was challenged to pray about how I read the Bible, the format I use through want of a better expression.The content of the session is asking the listener if we read the books of the Bible whole, or if we read short devotions/Bible in a year reading plans ect. There were no right or wrong ways of reading the Bible, I mean after all, God speaks to us in multiple ways and texts.David who was teaching this session recommended reading the Gospels as a whole book and reading all four of them. They all share similar material and are centred on Jesus’s ministry, death and resurrection, however they all come from completely different perspectives.I was challenged to add reading a chapter or two of the Gospel to my collection of daily readings and the BiOY.I’ve found it really interesting as I began at Matthew for breaking down the readings verse by verse is very informative and insightful. The Gospels are fundamental to the Christian faith and can be overlooked at times.I have read a fair few chapters and written notes in my Bible so I can reference them in the future. I’ve found that I still have so much more to learn and am really enjoying this part of the journey. Freeing up time to read the Bible is so important for a believer, so we can gain knowledge and understanding. The Bible is our guidebook for life.As 2 Timothy 3 16-17 says.16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.By Suzy Taylor
Seasons of Reaping by Chris Taylor (17th March 19) Open Close
Many years ago when I first believed, I was given a life verse of 2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
The truth is this is not an easy verse to have. It means a joy which is unimaginable of serving the Lord of reaching those who do not know Christ and teaching those who do. It’s a road which is also a narrow path.
Life can change in an instant and like example of the Apostle Paul, one minute he was living a life which is fulfilling his own purposes then the next he’s being shown that he will suffer for Jesus (Acts 9:16) and he spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Thank God he did, look at the result of his work for us today. A vessel used by God to fulfil His purposes.
Some days it can be hard and Proverb 20:4 is a great truth. The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
Sowing and reaping is a job which we are called to do every day of our lives. Without the work we cannot expect a harvest. So we need to live a life of being led by the Holy Spirit but also have some strategy in what we do.
Pray for the tools to reach out. Pray for the vision to see many souls to come into the kingdom of God. Pray that Jesus is declared, for He is the answer to all.
By Chris Taylor
John Milton by Alan Battley (16th Feb 19) Open Close
They also serve who only stand and wait
Poetry has never particularly been my ‘thing’ though, like most of us, I can reel off the occasional bits and pieces learned at school, including a chunk from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ which I had to study at GCE ‘O’ level English Literature. However, I was preparing a talk for a Sunday morning at Maltings in February on the subject of service and, as I was wandering around the house, the line came, unbidden, into my head ‘They also serve who only stand and wait’. I was familiar with the words and have often heard them quoted (usually out of context it seems!) but that was about it so I did some research.
It transpires that the words are the final line of a poem (a sonnet in fact) by the seventeenth century poet John Milton (1608-1674). Born in London, Milton was a protestant Christian and intellectual speaking several languages. He was a graduate of Cambridge University. He travelled abroad quite a lot and was a school teacher as well as a poet and author of many pamphlets on different subjects. He lived through the turbulence of the English Civil War and the period when the land was ruled by Oliver Cromwell before reverting to a monarchy under Charles II.
Sadly, John Milton lost his sight by the age of 43. Most of us have heard of Milton’s most famous work ‘Paradise Lost’, written after he became blind, but the line that came to my mind is from a poem, also written when he was blind, which one editor entitled ‘On his blindness’. Here it is:
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
I found myself wondering what he meant. He seems to be referring to the loss of his sight and the effect it has had on his ability to serve God. This must be a very real concern to many Christians who are prevented, by ill-health, disability, advancing years and so on, from being as active in the service of God as they have been in the past or would like to be. He seems to pose the question as to whether God is going to take him to task for what he isn’t able to do. But then he reflects that God doesn’t need his labour or his gifts. He refers to Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 where Jesus says “come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Milton says those who bear that ‘mild yoke’ are those who serve God best.
It seems to me that Milton is arguing that what God requires of us is to live as obedient Christians simply serving God as best we may in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We may not be able to rush around ‘o’er land and ocean without rest’ but, no matter, says Milton – ‘they also serve who only stand and wait’. I’ve come across this line being used to attempt to justify inaction – laziness really. It seems pretty clear that isn’t what Milton means. The words should be an encouragement to the person whose circumstances are such that they are honestly prevented from many spheres of service for God in which they might otherwise be engaged. We serve no heartless tyrant with impossible expectations but one who is ‘gentle and lowly in heart’.
By Alan Battley
Youth Culture by Chris Taylor (10th Feb 19) Open Close
On 9thFebruary six of us attended a Newday event called Youth Culture We joined a large group from New Frontiers churches at the 02 in London, in being equipped on the challenges the youth in this country are facing at this time.
This was an eye opener for me in hearing what is going on in the minds and lives of the youth. We had teaching about anxiety, gang culture, pornography and wisdom.
Joel Virgo opened up with a powerful thought-provoking sermon on the wisdom of God. I might add that this was one of the best talks I’ve heard Joel speak, with down to earth advice plus Godly wisdom which comes out of the Word of God. This was mind blowing and challenged my own parenting plus my view on this youthful generation.
Paula Hall shared about the addiction and cycle of pornography with some practical advice on how to deal with this but the bottom line was just how acceptable this stuff is in society today.
Ben Lindsey shared about the new charity he has started to help equip the church for those youth involved in knife crime and violence Power The Fight This is so challenging to hear of the problems which is in truth in most places in this country. My own upbringing in Barking/ Dagenham over 30 years ago had elements of gang culture but it’s nothing like what I was hearing at this conference.
Will Van Der Hart shared about mental health and the effects this is truly having on our youth today. I managed to buy one of his books about worry. He was honest and shared from his own place of being but also tried to dispel the myth of mental health.
Ben Rowe made a fresh challenge to the churches at the end on how to respond to this and that Jesus Christ calls us as a church to be the light of the world in helping those in need. He used a great comparison about Joshua in the Bible not just running up to the walls of Jericho and kicking the wall but rather he waited for God to reveal the plans and purposes on how to overcome the problem.
What did I learn from this? I feel we need to respond to help, we run Fever at Bethel which does draw alongside the youth at Bethel Christian Fellowship and they are doing a fantastic job to help those who they reach but how do we help others who we don’t have contact with? That is the question which I am pondering now….
By Chris Taylor (Pastor at BCF)
A dedicated life and a renewed mind by Keith Taylor Open Close
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