Context for Gifts

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22)

So here we are as the Church being described as the dwelling place of God in the Spirit! How? 1st “fitted together”, 2nd “growing into a holy temple in the Lord” and 3rd “being built together”… all of which must be actively in progress if the Holy Spirit is to feel welcome.

I don’t want to sound critical, but there is no guarantee that those fellowships we visit on Sunday morning are a dwelling place of God by His Spirit. And as such, they often do not qualify as a context for spiritual gifts to move in their purist form. Remember that we are told that the gifts should be used for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:7). Our current model tends to only look for spiritual gifts to move from the pulpit. If the Spirit is not welcome to freely move in our fellowships, why should we expect spiritual gifts at all? And how do we contend for gifts to influence secular society, where real needs are most obvious? What I would like to suggest is that the context for spiritual gifts is the bond of peace.

The Prince of Peace is our Chief Cornerstone:

We must endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), why? Because Jesus “gave gifts unto men … for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”  (Eph. 4:8 & 12-14). 

Spiritual Gifts have a Context:

Like bookends there is a context for spiritual gifts; that without them, gifts are nothing more than games Christians play. Notice the above underlined phrases seem to offer keys to how we keep gifts in balance. First we endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit, so that we come to the unity of the faith. The unity of faith often becomes our standard in Christian circles, because we have forsaken our commitment to the unity of the Spirit… the bond of peace. 

The Right Goal: Is the “bond of peace”? 

The right goal is peace with God andpeace within our hearts toward others. When the Body of Christ walks in love they are reflecting the bond of peace. This bond of peace is the key element that releases the “Christ” anointing. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6 & Eph. 2:14) and has declared that the peace makers will be called the “sons of God” (Mt. 5:9). 

As Jesus stood up to read in His childhood home tabernacle, something amazing was taking place in the minds of the people. They said, “is this not the carpenter’s son?” and they found themselves having to embrace what they had never witnessed before… the Holy Spirit was about to be released in their midst. And it would come through a man they had watched grow up as a familiar member of the community. Could they hold on to their peace or would they become offended?

Jesus made the public declaration, “God has anointed Me with the Holy Spirit and I am now going to preach good news to the poor, heal the broken hearted, preach deliverance to the captive, andrecovery of sight to the blind. God has sent Me to set at liberty those who are oppressed and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:18-19).

Indeed, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). He was living as a dwelling place for God by His Spirit. And just as we would expect; hundreds of peoples lives were changed, while the leadership was offended and tried immediately to kill the Anointed One (Lk. 4:28-29).

Peace & Anointing:

This anointing was an experience that Jesus pointed to as the moment that shifted His life into ministry. His ministry was evidence that He was the Prince of Peace! He could maintain the anointing only as He maintained His peace – remember Jesus was known by John the Baptist as the Messiah by the Spirit coming like a dove and staying to rest upon Him. This gift of the Holy Spirit would release spiritual manifestations and ”gifting” only as Jesus responded according to the will of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 5:19). He had done no miracle until this experience, but everything was about to change. The Kingdom was at hand (Mt. 4:17-25) and many would see what ministry could become. He would later tell His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they also would get this same anointing from above (Lk. 24:49). He had promised them that they would do even greater works than He had done (Jn. 14:12).

The Spiritual House:

Jesus was the Cornerstone of real ministry, but also ”a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” according to the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:8). Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone has been chosen by God and precious to the foundation of the Spiritual House. We are that House! We are living stones made of the same substance as the Cornerstone. We are the peace making, sons of God who should walk with spiritual manifestations of gifts from Jesus. We are made to drink of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), to manifest power and glory as Kingdom people (1 Cor. 4:20), be moved along by the Holy Spirit and produce fruit that ignites the generations that follow. We are also called to be chiselled off pebbles of the Chief Cornerstone, able to reflect His nature and character of peace. When this happens there is a context for spiritual gifts… that edify the Body and equip them for the work of the ministry. So that in turn, we will come to the unity of the faith and to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ – our Anointed One.

We are to be living stones… members of the House of God. This “chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation; called as His special people” kind of Church, are to reflect the Prince of Peace, so “that we might proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!” (1 Pet. 2:9)

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