One with diversity

By Gilbert Owens - Guest columnist

In my last article, I talked about how God had revealed a mystery to Paul that there would be one church comprised of Jews and Gentiles. This truth was hidden from the prophets of the Old Testament because Jesus had not yet come to earth. This Church that Christ is building would have no faith differences, no racial differences, no political differences and no cultural differences. This Church would be in complete unity because of the truth that there is one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one hope of our calling, one God and Father of us all.

In the first 3 ½ chapters of Ephesians, Paul profoundly expressed the unity of believers as one Church. In Ephesians 4:7 Paul, however, shifts from unity to diversity. He begins this shift with the word “But” to show a sharp contrast within this unity.

Although all believers are one in unity, there is diversity within Christian unity. This diversity comes in the form of spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are the only place where there should be diversity within the church. Diversity in the church does not mean there is different races in the church because God no longer sees race. Diversity in the church does not mean an even amount of males and females in the church because God does not see male and female. Diversity in the church does not come from denominationalism, different political parties, or different economic status because neither does God recognizes any of these in the Church.

Diversity in the church only comes through spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a capability given to a believer by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit for the purpose of serving God and promoting church growth. Spiritual gifts are not for individual enjoyment, self-glorification, or personal prosperity. They are only for the good of the Church, the Body of Christ. As stated in Ephesians 4:7, Jesus determines what gift or gifts are given to a believer and He also determines how much of a measure that believer receives. Two people can have the same gift but a different amount or measure.

Acts 14:32 and Galatians 5:22-23 clearly reveals that a believer is always in control of himself or herself when the Holy Spirit is at work when activating a spiritual gift. Any so called “spirit manifestations” or “the Spirit took over” is not scriptural because one of the fruits of the Spirit is self control.

How a believer uses spiritual gifts comes from God and the energy to operate spiritual gifts also comes from God. As a result there should never be competition within churches over spiritual gifts and no one should be praises or glorified because of their spiritual gift or gifts.

The Bible clearly spells out the proper way of how some gifts should be used while at the same time indicating that some gifts like prophecy and tongues will cease. It is fairly obvious that in some churches spiritual gifts are being misused and some are even being faked. This misuse and the faking of spiritual gifts contribute to bringing about division and dis-harmony within the church. This is not what God had intended!

In addition to spiritual gifts, Jesus has also given to the Church a diversity of four spiritual office bearers. Some, such as Apostles and Prophets are no longer needed in the church because the foundation of the Church is laid and expressed in the New Testament. Today the church office bearers, as given by Christ, are Evangelist and Pastor and Teacher. It should be noted here that Pastor and Teacher is one office.

It is also obvious, by what the Bible says, that the above office bearers are sorely misused and misunderstood by today’s Church. In articles to come, I will explain in more detail how spiritual gifts and spiritual offices are to be used according to what the Word of God says. You will clearly find, as a result, that some of our Churches are amazingly out of order!

By Gilbert Owens

Guest columnist
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