Gifts For Good

What is the key to spiritual growth? Number one: Understand the truth of God. Number two: Act on it.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Are you doing Alright? Well, I trust so. Bless your heart, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and you and I are back together again, looking at the 4th chapter of the book of Ephesians in the New Testament of the Bible. Ephesians 4, and we’re down in Verse 11, the gifts that God has given to people, especially as they relate to the work of the church, the body of Christ. We talked about apostles and we talked about prophets. An apostle is one who is sent forth with the Gospel message. A prophet is one who speaks for God as from the very heart of God. Your authority, Christian, is not in what you think or the opinions you hold or the erudition that marks you, but your authority always has to be in the Bible, “thus sayeth the Lord.” Now, what else? Well, he said… He gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists.

What is an evangelist? Well, you know of course, is a person who presents the Gospel and who invites people to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and as their saviour. Some people have particularly the gift of evangelism. When I became President of the college, I followed a man whose gift was outstandingly the gift of evangelism. Dr. Percy Crawford, who founded The King’s College was an Evangelist. And many of us who knew him, have stood with a degree of awe listening to him as he spoke, on some occasions where he was granted very little time, as little, let us say, as seven or 10 minutes, and he would explain the Gospel clearly and then give a Gospel invitation, as we say, drawing the net. And here came the people under real conviction of sin and need and tears and seeking God, sincerely. And after a person has spoken to them for just a few moments– the gift of an evangelist. I’ve often wished I had that gift. I doubt that I have it in that sense. I’ve preached the Gospel all over the world and wanna keep right on as long as I’m breathing, but there’s a very special gift.

Our brother Billy Graham has the gift of an evangelist. I remember when he resigned as president of Northwestern schools up there in Minneapolis. After he had held that position for a year or two, and he said to those of us who knew him, he said, “God has given me the gift of an evangelist, and he said, I have to follow that calling and use that gift, especially.” And so, the school then was given into other hands and has prospered on through the years, become a great college. And the man who helped to make it that great, I think just has passed away recently, Dr. Burnson, has just gone to meet the Lord and others are now leading in the work. But back in those days, Billy Graham was president and then he decided, no, he wasn’t going to do that, because he had a gift for an evangelist. Well, that was in the ’40s or early ’50s, as the case may be, the dates don’t come back to me clearly now, but it was around in that time.

And look what’s happened in 40 years since. This is 1990 now, look what’s happened, all around the world, there are thousands of people who have been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, through the ministry of a man who’s got the gift of an evangelist, and who refused to be sidetracked into some kind of administration, or Christian higher education, worthy though that is, but that wasn’t his gift. Now let me speak to someone who may very well have been given this gift. Don’t lose it. Don’t neglect it. Don’t compromise with something less. If God has given you the ability to win souls use that gift, because it comes straight from the blessed Holy Spirit of God, and He wants to use you in building up His church. Then he said that some pastors and teachers, someone has paraphrased this as meaning, teaching pastors, and that very well may be, but it’s two separate words in my Greek New Testament, and that I think is the way we’re going to handle it.

Pastor, what’s involved in being a pastor? Well, I was one full time for 18 years, I think, I know. It means the expository preaching, it means three calls at least every day thousand times a year. Go see your people and others, tell them about the Lord Jesus. It means caring for your people. It means praying with them, it means being there when they’re in need and also being there in their times of joy. It means being with them, it means being a shepherd, and a shepherd takes care of the sheep, he’s with the sheep, he never leaves them, and he watches out for them and tries to protect them and sees to it that they get fed and sheltered. A pastor, the gift of a pastor. And here again, if God has given you that special gift, the gift of caring and caring for, I’m going to just simply abbreviate all the lengthy definitions we might have and just bring it down to that.

If God has given you the gift of caring and caring for people in your church work, oh, use it, use it. Pastor, are you making enough house calls? Young people come out of seminary these days with the idea that they should sit in their study and people should come to them and make an appointment. And if there’s anybody that has any need, we should hire another person to take care of that. Now, maybe you think I’m old-fashioned, and I guess I am, I was born in 1912, I guess, I have a right to be old fashioned. [chuckle] But my arteries haven’t hardened yet or have my categories, and I know what works. A home-going pastor, makes a church-going people, and you ought to get over with your people. I asked Dr. RG Lee, one time, pastor fame world-renowned pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, in Memphis.

I asked him, I said, “Pastor what is the secret of the fact that your people love you so and they keep coming to your church and all?” Well, he’s a great preacher. One of the greatest that there ever was, a real pulpiteer and a real phrase maker, but beyond that, he told me that he made a habit of getting with his people every day. He would make a date to go see a young couple and have breakfast with them in their home, show up and have breakfast with him and he’d have lunch with a business man and he’d call in somebody else and be in their homes. Pastors, do you make enough calls? My rule in 18 years full-time on the pastorate was three calls a day, go three times a day to tell somebody about Jesus. And of course you salesmen, you know that that’s a very modest schedule. How many calls do you make, salesman, in your day? 15 or 20? Well, sometimes that many. Of course, if you have a juicy one and you have to write up a long order, why you may not make quite as many, but there’s lots of calls.

And one thing I learned, I learned it before, I was taught it. [chuckle] There’s some things that happened that way, you know. After I went to a few sales classes they told me that your sales will increase if you keep on calling on prospects after you wanna quit. Well, I learned that early on in Pastor calling, and I found out that some of the biggest blessings that ever came to me were when I said, “Well, I’ll make one more call, I oughta quit, but I’ll make one more.” And in those extras, came the extra blessing. Lay out a schedule for yourself, and districtize your church members, so that you have them collected in districts, and then get around and call on people. Yes, you may interrupt a television show, yes when you come to the door, a clammy hand may reach out and propel you into the darkness and ask you to keep quiet until the commercial, that’s some of the occupational hazards we have to deal with in these days. But get with them. If somebody’s sick, go see them, and if somebody has a problem of some sort, get with them. And love them and let them know that you care. Pastoral work, that’s a gift that God has given to some of us, and we need to exercise it to the glory of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then this other word, teachers. Now you don’t teach simply by lecturing and telling, you’ve only taught a person until he can tell someone else successfully. The gift of teaching is to go from the known to the unknown, and then for the person who is receiving it to be able to re-duplicate that in communicating the truth to someone else than you’ve taught it. You’ve never taught a person until he or she can tell someone else effectively the same truth as his own. The secret of telling, the law of telling, A tells B, B tells A that he understands and then a tells B that he understands, B understands. That’s the law of telling. And so, you have a doubling back there of the flow of information so that people know that you know that they know.

Teaching, now some people have the gift of teaching, they can open up the Word of God, they can open it up, and folks say, “Well, I never saw that before.” Well, thank God, if you’ve got that gift of teaching, use it, use it, don’t neglect it, use it for the glory of your blessed Lord. Now, what is the purpose of all of this? He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, now for what? For the perfecting, “perfecting of the saints.” Now that word perfecting, it means the growing of maturation, the maturing of the saints. Have you thought about that in your own life? Have you thought about it? For the maturing of the saints. People need to grow up spiritually by meeting you, and hearing you. It’s not that they should get smarter, it’s not that they should have notebooks full of notes, although that’s alright. It is that they should grow spiritually, that they’d be able to say, “Before I met you, I had this and this and this difficulty in my spiritual life, and now, I think I’ve grown a bit and I’m beyond it.”

Some wag was telling us a story. And he said, this little old lady came up to the visiting preacher and she said, “Oh Brother, that was a wonderful sermon,” she said, “I never knew what sin was until you came.” [laughter] Well, we don’t want that, do we? We want people to really understand, really understand what God is saying and then act on it. What is the key to growing up? Have you ever thought of that? What is the key to spiritual growth? “They should be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into all things, which is into him in all things, He who is the head, even Christ.” Grow up. What is the key to spiritual growth?

Number one, to understand the truth of God. Number two, to act on it, “he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work.” James says, “Whoso look at into the perfect law of liberty, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” To understand, when you read the Bible, ask God to help you understand, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” the psalmist prayed. You can pray the same thing, ask God to help you understand, and then act on it and you’ll start to grow. You won’t grow unless you act on the truth. I’ll come back to this the next time we get together.

Dear Father, today, oh, may we be used of Thee in using the gifts you’ve given us through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit for the glory of Jesus, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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