Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip Heitzig: And our speaker today Ed Stetzer is an author, he's a pastor of a church in the South, and he's a researcher. And as a researcher he has provided leaders with all sorts of great information on where the church has been historically, what's it's going through now, and what he sees in the future. So, Ed Stetzer is from New York City originally, but he pastors a church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He lives in the Nashville area. He has a wife and three daughters and one long goatee. Please welcome Dr. Ed Stetzer. [applause]
Ed Stetzer: Thank you. Well, thank you for that kind applause for just showing up, actually, so I appreciate that, but glad to be here. If you have a Bible, take it out. If you don't have a Bible, repent and look on with a friend, or turn on your Bible, you know. And, so, but I'm glad you're here. First Peter, chapter 4, is going to be our text today. Pastor Skip's already gone through First Peter recently as a series, so you're going to be familiar with some of the text, and so I can kind of jump in on the two verses. I want to draw four truths out of two verses today. The title of the message is "Engaging All of God's People in God's Mission." Now, it's not missions, it's not missions, though I'm a big believer in missions. My Ph.D.'s in missions. But we're gonna talk about engaging all God's people in mission.
Missions is often defined as maybe crossing a culture to plant churches, do ministry, crossing a body of water, going a different place. We need more, not less missions. I'm talking about mission. Mission is a bigger word. It's, basically, we're joining Jesus on his mission. He said in John 20:21, he said, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you." So Jesus was sent on mission by God to die on the cross for our sin and in our place. And then Jesus says to us, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you. I am sending you." So as God's people, we're sent on mission. And what we're going to look at today is that all of us are sent on mission, all of us are to serve in ministry for the glory of God. The passage is First Peter, chapter 4, beginning at verse 10. I'll be using the HCSB translation, and let me read it to you beginning in verse 10.
It says, "Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." Four things I want us to look at today. We will kind of go through them, but they're all going to build around this passage. We're going walk word by word through this passage, because we have a bit of a challenge. This passage calls us to have all of God's people engaged in God's mission, all of us saying, "Yes, here I am, Lord. Send me. Here I am, Lord. Use me." But the statistics tell a different story.
All right, so I lead LifeWay Research, I lead an evangelical research firm, so I'm going to quote some statistics. I have to quote some statistics, right? Matter of fact, when I do, every time I quote a statistic, an angel actually gets its wings. [laughter] So let me quote just a couple of statistics here. We did a study in a book that Thom Rainer and I coauthored called Transformational Church, and we found that of the 7,000 churches we studied across the United States that the majority of people in the majority of churches were unengaged in meaningful ministry and mission. In other words, most people sort of show up for the show, but they don't show up for the serve.
In other words, where most churches have actually a majority of passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God; passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God. And so what then are we to do? Well, let's look to God's standard in God's perfect Word that gives us that direction, four things, if you're taking notes. Number one, all have gifts, all have gifts. Let me see where we get that, right? Verse 10, "Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others." "Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others." So let's just walk through the passage, right? So, "Based on the gift," so "in line with," right? "because of," "related to the gift."
Now, the "gift" here is singular. And so most scholars say that it's singular because it's referring to the Holy Spirit. We are gifted with the Holy Spirit. When you are born again, when you are changed by the power of the gospel---because of Jesus' death on the cross for your sin and in your place, you received by grace and through faith---and became a follower of Jesus, you are gifted with the Holy Spirit, indwelt. And with continuing filling, you were filled with the Holy Spirit. So we're gifted based on the gift they have received, but we're also gifted by the Holy Spirit. We have spiritual gifts that (God's Spirit) he has given us, and he has given us to use them to serve others. Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others.
So, gifted with and by the Spirit. "Based on the gift they have received," received. I'm not trying to sound like a preacher by emphasizing the 'D'. It's kind of the preacher thing, not a Pastor Skip thing, but maybe somebody else. "Based on the gift they have received." I'm emphasizing the "past tenseness" of the word---in the past. So Peter is writing to believers and in the first verse of the book he says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents . . . ." That's code word for those who are---this is not of their world, their home is "not of this world," the believers. So this passage is written to Christians, not to non-Christians, not yet to people who are---to people who are not yet followers of Christ. So let me say to you this morning, if you're here and you're not yet a follower of Jesus, first, we are so glad you are here.
You have the opportunity to hear and kind of consider what the gospel is about. But this passage is really not for you, not at this point at least, because this passage is written by a Christian to Christians about how to live a Christian life serving others "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." If you're not yet a follower of Jesus, the message for you today is not that you should try to serve others, so that God will be happy with you or Jesus will be pleased with you, and that's not the answer. The answer---but here's why: it's not what you do, the gospel is not "you do," the gospel is "Jesus did." And because of what Jesus has done, you can respond and call upon him. And the Bible says, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved," and I invite you to that today, to trust and call upon his name.
So, I don't want you to listen to this message if you're not yet a follower of Christ and say, "I've got to turn over a new leaf," when what you really need is new life. You need new life in Christ. And so, but so this passage is written, though, to---the vast majority here today are followers of Jesus, and so this passage is written to you. "Based on the gift they have received," by nature of our conversion and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we've been gifted with and by, we have received, and then it says "everyone," "everyone." "Based on the gift they have received, everyone . . . ." Would you say that word with me together, just the word "everyone." Let's say it together. "Everyone." You know, the irony is about half of you didn't say the word "everyone."
And there really couldn't be a more ironic word not to say if you're asked to say it, would be the word "everyone." So let's try that again. Are you ready? Let's say it together. Here we go---"everyone." So "Based on the gift they have received, everyone, everyone . . . ." Now because statistically it's about 30 percent in the typical church are actually using their gifts in meaningful ways; that means 70 percent are not. And, but, you know, in better churches or more involved churches or engaged churches with a better level of involvement, it gets higher, forty, fifty, sometimes a majority, sixty. But it's certainly not everyone in almost every church in, well, the United States and the Western world in which we live.
So I decided to do a little word study in the original language. The New Testament is written in Greek, and so I said, "What does the word 'everyone' mean in the original language?" Well, after intensive study, that I want to impress you with my deep knowledge of Greek, here's what it means literally in the original language---are you ready? Everyone. [laughter] There's really no escaping it, and that leads us to an unescapable conclusion that this passage says "everyone," our practice says "someone," and there's got to be a way to bridge the gap between our practice and this passage. And I would dare say that there is, and it's obedience to the Word of God and the power of the Spirit. So all have gifts, right? We get that. So why then is there so few comparatively that are using their gifts?
Well, I think there are a lot of reasons, right? Sometimes it's the---it's the way we build our buildings. Matter of fact, let me just---looking at your building, let me comment and give my impression of your building. I hate it. Let me explain why. First of all, people are like, "Guest comes and says he hates our building"? You know, I mean, what are you going to do? You gonna to pull me off the stage at this point? No. We're already in and we're going till we're done. Um, but so why do I hate your building? Well, here's why, here's why: because what happens is when you get more than fifty, sixty people, we start lining them up in rows like shelves at Wal-Mart facing forward like a theater. So this is built like a theater. Now, obviously you've retrofitted it into it, but you've built it like a theater.
And when churches are built like theaters, don't be surprised when people act like showgoers. I mean, that's what you're supposed to do when you go to the theater. You're not supposed to participate; you get asked to leave. I can actually tell you from experience, you get asked to leave [laughter] if you seek to talk too much in a theater. I have three daughters, so that's why I know that, and we're movie theater talkers. And so, but so here's the deal. So you say, "Well, Ed, well, Ed, what's the---I mean, you come, you come into our house and you criticize it? What are we supposed to do? Do you have an alternative?" Well, no, I don't have an alternative. I just wanted to complain about the current situation. I'm like a church member. I just bring the concern to my pastor; I don't have solutions to the problem. [laughter]
Now, but all seriousness, to illustrate the level of my hypocrisy: I pastor a church that I planted a couple years ago, and we actually meet in a literal movie theater, a Regal Cinema's. Our seats recline, though, and have cup holders for the Starbucks coffee we serve in the lobby. [laughter] And so you know I'm kidding. I love your building. You've done a great job sort of transitioning it into this gathered space. But there are unintended side effects that we shouldn't be naive about. That when we have stages that people sing beautiful music from and you get dynamic teaching from Pastor Skip from, it teaches us that our job is to sort of watch, is to sort of stay down there and pay and pray and sort of stay out of the way. And that's not God's design or God's plan.
Matter of fact, First Corinthians 12:7 says this: "A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial." So every person in this church who names the name of Jesus has been gifted with and by the Spirit when they received, and now everyone is to use their gifts to serve others. It's for the common good. Sometimes it's the language that we use, right? So, some of you, I've had the privilege of meeting some of you, and you automatically call me "Pastor Ed." That's a cultural thing in your context, which is good. You know, I live in the American South. And I'm a New Yorker, but in the South they teach their children to refer to adults by their first name with the word "mister" before. But "Mr. Ed" becomes a little awkward sometimes in my world [laughter] unless you're under forty.
And everyone under forty is like, "Why are people laughing around? You know, I have no earthly idea what you're talking about." People were, like, translating to their children all around the room right now just being neighborly. [laughter] But you call me "pastor," because why? Because I'm pastor. The problem is this, is when we create this distinction, what happens is people begin to think that pastors are the only ones who were called to the ministry, right? So I'm clergy. I'm up here clergying right now. I'm clergying over here and I'm clergying over there. Right? That's my thing; I'm clergy. You're lay people. What do you do all the time? You lay around. [laughter] And that's not God's design. That's not God's---matter of fact, that's just wrong, sinful, and just totally unhelpful, because God has called you to the ministry.
Say it with---"everyone." God has called you. You're part of the "everyone." If you name the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord, you're part of the "everyone" who has received. You've been gifted with and by the Holy Spirit, and God has called you to minister at this or beyond this church. And I'll talk about that in just a minute. Now, the problem is this---and I'm always---I have to be careful using this illustration. But if the church is a body, and God's people have been placed in the body, it has implications when large parts of the body are inactive or immobile. Matter of fact, let's look at that. Let's go to number two. Number one, all have gifts. Number two, God intends all to use. God didn't just give you the gift, so you could feel good about yourself, God gave you the gift to serve---we saw that in point one---"to serve others."
But he says specifically, "as good managers of the varied." There's the hint, by the way. We've gone from singular, gifted with and by the Spirit, to "varied"---we're going to get to spiritual gifts before we're done---"the varied grace of God." Now, so what did this mean? Well, it means that you're to manage, be a good manager. Now I first became a manager when I was nineteen years of age. And the word "manager" now, very similar to what it meant then. So I remember they pulled me into the back and they said, "Ed we're going to make you a manager." And I was so excited. It was at the Burger King, and I was so excited. And they said other words before the word "manager," but that didn't---I mean, there was "assistant" and "night," but that didn't matter to me. [laughter]
Didn't matter to me that there was a label maker involved and they stuck it on my name tog. None of that mattered to me. What mattered to me is I was the manager. And for two hours, typically between midnight and 2:00 a.m., I was in charge of the Burger King, me and one guy, the fry guy. And I ruled over him with an iron fist. "Make sure those fries are hot." [laughter] But a manager then is like a manager now. It's somebody who doesn't own. I didn't own the Burger King. Davgar Enterprises owned the Burger King. But I was doing it for the benefit of the owner and for the benefit of the customers. Well, when it comes to spiritual gifts, we don't own, we're actually blessed by these gifts. And they come from God, and so we're stewarding, we're managing the gifts that we have that come from God and are for the benefit of others.
Now, how do say "for the benefit of others"? Well, because that's what the Bible consistently points us to. This body of Christ at Calvary Albuquerque is a local expression of the body of Christ---that is, to be filled with people who are using their gifts for the glory of God and for the advance of his kingdom. Matter of fact, First Corinthians 12:18 puts it this way, it says, "But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as he wanted." So if you're here---maybe you're visiting from another church, and your body is somewhere else where God has placed you. But if you're here and this is your church, or maybe you've been praying about it, and I would say that you might listen to what this means, the implications of this.
If this is your church, then God has placed you in this local expression of the body, so that you might be used of God for his glory and for his mission by using your spiritual gifts. See, part of the problem is this---and I sometimes hesitate to use the illustration, because we've all had family members who have experienced this. But a church that's filled with people who are---who are here but are not serving, and they're part of the body, but they're a deadened and inactive part of the body, sometimes cause the church to look like parts of the body have been impacted by some sort of spiritual stroke where they're not engaged and they're not involved. And that's not God's intent. See, but here's the challenge. Now let's take a church like yours, right?
We have a---I do research. We have a category for churches like yours. I have a file folder for your church. And we call churches like yours, the technical, kind of research definition is this: "freakishly abnormal." That's kind of it. [laughter] Now, is that a bad thing? No, no, it's actually a remarkable thing. You know, one of the twenty-five largest churches in the country, strong and evangelistic passion, just this incredible history and journey, and so it's freakishly abnormal. And what I find when I go to churches like yours that are freakishly abnormal, a lot of times people think that this is normal, it's normal that you start a church and it explodes like this and does all these things. It's not normal; it's freakishly abnormal.
But one of the things that happens when you're a great church---and I think I can---I'm quite happy---this is a great church. When you're a great church, here's what you attract: customers of great churches. Man, I love the---I love the music. I love the---I love the teaching. I want to come to this great church. But what happens is this, is over time the church begins to attract more and more people who come because they're customers of the religious goods and services in the way that they are distributed here. "We like it this way. Matter of fact, if you change it, we like it this way so much if you make changes, we'll kind of express our customer service disappointment that you're not singing the way we want you to sing, or teaching the way we want you to teach, or the programs of the times.
"Because we're customers, and if you bother us too much as customers, we're going to leave Wal-Mart and go to Target. We're just going to go." And what I would say to this: God has not called us to fill a room up with customers; he's called us to fill a room up with colaborers. And so you have to make a decision: Are you going to be a good manager who's going to be a colaborer? Because I don't care if it's a big church or a small church. What I care about is it's a church filled with people who are being equipped for God's work, equipped for God's ministry. And that can be in the church, that could be through the church, that could be beyond the church. Let me explain. Some of you will serve in the church, and so thankful for that, right?
You'll lead a Connect Group, or you'll be involved with the children's ministry, or you'll be involved with the students, or you'll be involved with the men's or women's ministry. We need more who are going to serve in the church. Some of you will serve through the church, ministry sponsored by Calvary where you'll be involved in ministries of mercy, or mission projects, or things kind of outside but connected. And some of you for God's glory will serve beyond the church, right? You'll be part of and blessed and encouraged by your pastors to do so, but you'll be engaging with other believers in an apartment complex and doing something for God's glory and for his mission there. And what I would say to you is thank God for all of them, because God intends us to use our gifts for his glory and to advance his mission.
See, the alternative is this, is you can get to the place---"Well, I want to be a mature church." And you can get to a mature church in a lot of ways. Some people will think you get to a mature church by teaching every obscure thing possible in the Bible. And I want you to learn everything in the Bible. I want you to know the Amalekites, the Jebusites, and the mosquito bites. I want you know to all of them. [laughter] But sitting back, getting deeper knowledge of the Bible by being unengaged in God's mission is a recipe for pride, not a recipe for spiritual progress. God has called you to ministry. Well, you say, "Well, Ed, but not all of us. I mean, I'm kind of in a situation or a season where I just need to be fed. I need to be fed." Now, and I get it. I get it. I know it.
And what I would say to you is this, is that one of the ways that you need to be fed is by not just receiving, but also blessing others with the gifting God has given us. Some of you say, "Well, I'm in a season in my life where maybe I'm struggling. I need people to minister to me." Praise God for that. Don't misunderstand that. I believe in that. Right? Let me give you an example. We have a family in our church, they have---I just saw them for Labor Day picnic. They have two children, and they sort of decided that they were going to not have any more kids. They were kind of done and they were discussing that, but one thing led to another and she was pregnant again. [laughter] And she---they were kind of---I mean they were very thankful, but a little intimated.
They didn't think they could afford another child. So they went to the doctor and he said, you know, just flippantly, "Well, as long as it's not twins, we're going to be fine. We're thanking God for this new child." And the doctor sort of looked, and looked again, brought somebody in. And the doctor said kind of sheepishly," No. It's not twins, but it is actually triplets." [laughter] And natural-born triplets, I've been told, are a 1 in 8 million probability. Now, we see more today because of fertility drugs and things of that sort, but natural-born, unexpected triplets change your life. [laughter] Right? In one day they went from a man-to-man to a zone defense in their house, in one day. [laughter] Right? Everything is changed. And I want you to know that they don't have to serve anybody right now, right?
Right now we're just going over their house, we're waking them up in the middle of the day, hugging them as they cry and say, "I need sleep." We're bringing them meals for the next eighteen years. [laughter] I mean, their world has changed. But the problem is this, friends, is in most churches the majority of people have decided that they are the exception rather than the norm in the biblical teaching. And so even now here at a great church like Calvary there are hundreds, thousands of people who are unengaged in meaningful ministry and mission, have come to some conclusion that this Scripture does not apply to them. They like to be objects of the ministry, right? To hear the teaching and the worship. They want to be objects of the ministry, but they don't want to be partners in the ministry.
And what I would say is God has called us to be "good managers of the varied grace of God." So how do we do that? Well, that's number three. Number one, all have gifts. Number two, God intends all to use. Number three, for which he empowers us, for which he empowers us. In First Peter 4 verse 11 it says this: "If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God," teaching the Word of God in the power of God. "His speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides." We see the singular, the gift, (we're gifted with and by the Spirit) now becoming the plural. We saw the various graces of God in the words before, now we see two broad categories of service: speaking and serving. Why? Because all believers are gifted and called by God---all of them.
If you're a follower of Jesus---I want you to hear this---you are called to the ministry. "So, I thought only pastors were called to the ministry." No. Pastors are called to a type of ministry, but all of God's people are called to the ministry. And listen, you don't---I don't want you to miss this---you don't retire out of it. You don't get too busy for it. But you say, "But I got little kids at home." Listen, I got three kids at home. I got three daughters. So just let me say, you can pray for me, I got three daughters: sixteen, twelve, and nine. I am the lead counselor at "Camp Estrogen," you can pray for me. [laughter] And I love my girls. And it's just my life, I just love my life being surrounded by these sweet, wonderful daughters. But I get it. I'm busy too, right? One sings, one's in soccer, one (the youngest one) takes pictures of herself all the time.
But, I mean, they all---she's nine. We had to do kind of a selfie intervention. [laughter] "Uh, no more posting selfies." And so, but here's the thing: I love my kids, but you know what my kids need? Not to have their every whim catered to. They need to serve Jesus along with their mom and dad and see that the totality of our existence is not just us. [applause] And if you're retired, what a blessing it would be to say, "You know, I didn't work my whole life to stop serving Jesus; I worked my whole life and now I'm more free to serve Jesus." Here's the thing: but we have to do that in the power of the Spirit. "If anyone speaks as one who speaks God's word, if anyone serves. . . from the strength God provides," in the power of the Spirit, using our gifts for the glory of God and the advance of his mission.
And here's the thing: I know that there are all kinds of people in this church who are gifted by God for his glory that are just not using their gifts. Now I know what some of you are saying. You're saying, if you're serving---and I'm so thankful. I just, I want to echo for Pastor Skip, I want to echo actually---from the Lord: thank you for how you're serving God and how you're serving others. And I know some of you who are serving others are saying, "Man, I'm so glad the guest speaker is calling out the lazy people today." [laughter] But I want you not to, because I want you to see that you have to be part of creating a culture of service that---and there's already one here. But I want to exhort you today "to provoke [you] to love and good deeds," the writer of Hebrews says.
I want to exhort you today to taking that to another level, to do "exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think." Think of all that God has done already at Calvary Albuquerque. And then think of all that God would do if the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who have kind of checked out of serious service and checked out of using their gifts for God's glory were to say, "No. In the power of the Spirit I'm going to be one who uses my gifts. I'm going to be one who moves from being a customer to being a colaborer. I'm going to minister in, through, and beyond this church." And if you're already serving, I want to ask you to be a part of helping that, of helping make that happen. And part of that is you can be in community. This is why Connect Groups are so important.
In Transformational Groups, it's actually my newest book, we found a very clear correlation: you want people serving, you need them in community. We got to increasingly move people from sitting in rows to sitting in circles, so they provoke one another to love and good deeds, so they live on mission. That's essential. That's why I'm so excited about the Connect Group emphasis here right now. But I want to say to you that there's all kinds of people who have gifts that they don't even know they have them. And if you're serving, you've got to help us to help people find their gifts. Let me give you an example: a few years ago---maybe you'll remember. How many of you remember when you first saw the Susan Boyle video on television? Raise your hand if you saw that video, all right.
Yeah, almost all of you. And the rest of you, we're going to run electricity and television to your home any day now. [laughter] Because if you were alive, you saw that video. You couldn't---you'd walk by in restaurants and it would be playing. At small groups people would be crying and watching it. Because if you remember, Susan Boyle sort of started from the edge of the platform and she walked onto the platform. And as she did, the camera went to the people. And as she walked on, before she said or sang a thing, they started laughing at her. And she didn't---she wasn't deterred. She came up, she stood in front of all these people who were snickering at---what?---her appearance? her age? What was it? We don't know, but they were snickering like she shouldn't even have been there.
And then Simon Cowell---you remember Simon Cowell? He used to be on the American Idol, and at that time he was on Britain's Got Talent, which was the show that I'm talking about. And he asked her these patronizing questions, you know: "Where you from, dearie?" And she struggled, "I'm from a collection of villages in Scotland." And everyone laughs at her lack of articulation. He asked some more questions to which the people smirk or groan, and ends with "What are you---what are you going to sing?" And she says, "I'm going to sing 'I Dream a Dream' from Les Miz." And the music starts to play, you remember: "Da-da da-da, da-da da-daaaaa." And she starts to sing, "I dream a dream in time gone by . . ." And she hits that first line and the camera goes to the people who suddenly go, "Huh."
And she hits the second line and her voice gets stronger. She's getting her confidence at the second line and people all around her, just their mouths are just a little bit open, and they're looking at each other with this stunned look. And she gets to the third line and she's now in her groove and the camera goes to two guys backstage. And one says to the other, "You didn't see that coming, did you?" And you didn't, right? You're watching this and she hits the fourth line and the camera goes to Simon Cowell and he actually smiles and he nods and the earth, like, shakes on its axis for just a second. [laughter] And then she hits the next line, and it's to the audience, and at this point they start standing and they're applauding, the whole audience is applauding.
And I'm watching this video. I'm watching it over and over. Donna, my wife, comes in, says, "What are you watch---who's this woman you are watching on YouTube over and over again." I said, "Don't worry, baby, it's all good." And so I'm watching this over and over and I start crying. Right? I'm not a weeper, there's nothing wrong with that, but I'm not a weeper and I am crying like an eleven-year-old girl at a Taylor Swift concert. [laughter] I mean, I can't stop crying and I've been with an eleven-year-old girl to a Taylor Swift concert, so I know what it looks like. That was me. [laughter] And I'm just weeping at this. And to the world that's a shocking moment on YouTube where somebody finds their talent, and a God-given talent, and just shocks and surprises the world with the talent they have.
To the world that's a shocking moment on YouTube that we can all watch, but to the people of God, in the kingdom of God, in the church of God, that should be Sunday, because men and women are saying, "I'm gifted by God." And there's a difference between talents and gifts. I don't have the time to unpack all that. But there's hundreds, thousands of people at Calvary Albuquerque who need to find and use their gifts for the glory of God. And that might be you, or there might be somebody you can help, but we need to find hundreds and thousands more who will say, "Yes, Lord, here I am. Send me." [applause] So we find and deploy those gifts for God's glory. In a few minutes I'm going to talk about three ways we could respond to this message.
And one of them is those of you who are serving, is not just so serve and then be unhappy with those who are not, but to serve and then to reach out to those who are not. And to help them find how God has gifted them for his glory and for the good, the benefit of this church in, through, and even beyond, and help them to find those gifts. Let's not bemoan that we need more who serve; let's actually change that we need more who serve. And for those of you not serving, I love you, I'm not mad at you, but I don't want you to miss out on what God has gifted you for. See, the spiritual gifts are to be used for the edification of the body. And if you're not using your gifts, you're robbing the body---in, through, and beyond---you're robbing the body and then you're even robbing yourself.
Because I want you to participant in the glory of God. It's not about you. And if we live our lives thinking it's about us, we end up going to the end of our life as knowledgeable, religious people not living on mission. And that's not God's plan and that's not God's intent. Number one, all have gifts. Number two, God intends all to use. Number three, for which he empowers us. Number fourth and finally, to bring God glory. And I'll close with this. You know what it means when a guest speaker says, "I'll close with this"? Absolutely nothing. [laughter] Again, what are you going to do, um? [laughter] All have gifts, God intends all to use, for which he empowers us---number four, and, finally---to bring God glory. Let's look at what it says. The next words are "so that."
"So that" implies that that which is before lead to that which follows. So, if we live this way, using our gifts for God's glory, based on gift they have received or gifted with and by the Spirit, now everyone is using their gift to serve others in the power of the Spirit. When that happens, "So that"---what happens?---"God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything." God gets the glory. Matter of fact, look at what it says after: "To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." The implication, I think, is that some way we're robbing God of his due glory. I infer from this verse that we are robbing God of his due glory when the church is filled with passive spectators rather than active participants in the mission of God. When the church is filled with people who come as customers but don't serve as colaborers, God is robbed of his due glory.
Now, I don't know the future of your church. I know the past, but I'm not a prophet. I'm not the son of a prophet. I work at a nonprofit organization. [laughter] But what I would say is I believe God's got greater days ahead, "exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could ask or think." And it's not just this. There's so much more. There's faithfulness, there's continual stewardship, there's trusting and relying on the Spirit, but it has to include this. God wants to get greater glory than he already has at Calvary Albuquerque, and he will do so, "so that in everything he may be glorified," if we will continue and even to a greater level become a church filled with people who know they've been gifted with and by the Spirit, that everyone's to use their gift to serve others as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
So my encouragement to you is this, really, three encouragements. If you're not yet a follower of Jesus, I want you to know I've been talking about the Christian life, and that's what you need. Again, not to try harder, not to start serving others, but to meet Jesus. He's ready if you'll respond. By grace and through faith you can trust and receive him today, and your life will be changed, and this will be part of the life you'll live. If you're already serving, I want to invite you to help create a greater culture of serving in, through, and beyond Calvary Albuquerque, to find brothers and sisters who are maybe not sure of their gifts, to find that "Susan Boyle" who's gifted in ways that they don't even yet---maybe the world around them doesn't even yet know. And if you're not serving, I love you. I'm not mad at you.
There may be a season in your life, but it can't be God's design that the majority of people are in a season that teaches them not to do what this passage says. Now I recognize, I've been there, I've had sick kids at times, and people just minister to me. There are times you're going to be just a recipient of God's ministry. But I wonder if God might be speaking to your heart through his Holy Spirit that it's time for you to step up and say, "I also want to serve others." I want to give us the opportunity to respond to the Spirit's prompting in our lives today. And I want to ask you, if you wouldn't mind, to join me and let's pray together, and let's ask God's direction for us. Would you bow your heads with me.
Father, by your grace and your goodness you have redeemed us, called us by name. And, Father, I thank you for the women, the men, the young people in this room, and I thank you for the privilege to open God's Word to them. But I, Father, I pray, Father, you're Spirit might speak to hearts now. If you're here this morning and you haven't trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord, I don't want you to leave this place without inviting you to call out on his name. He says, "Whoever calls out in the name of the Lord will be saved." There's nothing you have done, there's nothing that can preclude you from the grace and exclude you from the grace of God.
Would you in the quietness of this moment, if it's the prayer of your heart, just pray and say to the Lord---just pray to him silently and say, "Lord Jesus, forgive me of my sin. Come into my heart. I want you to be my Savior and my Lord. I call upon you. I can't do it myself. You died on the cross for my sin and in my place. I receive that new and eternal life you give me this day." And, Father, I and we pray for people who just prayed and trusted in Jesus, Lord, that you would indeed help them to begin this journey, Lord. You began a good work and you'll be faithful to complete it, and I pray that, Lord, you give them the boldness to take that next step of just sharing that here today. Father, I pray for those who are serving.
And, Father, I pray that you might speak to their hearts and encourage them that they might minister in the grace and the power of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, using their gifts for God's glory and for the good of others. And, Father, I pray that you might in us create a deep burden and passion to raise the level of service here at Calvary Albuquerque exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. If you're serving, could you just in the quietness of this moment would you just pray. Would you just say, just pray and say, "Lord Jesus, awaken a greater part of this body to minister in the church, through the church, and beyond the church." And as you're praying, I'm going to ask the Lord to give you some direction.
Father, I pray that those who are serving and praying right now, that you'd bring to mind some people that they might reach out to and say, "Hey"---maybe not using these words, but---"how about no more 'customer,' let's be a colaborers together." Just let the Lord speak to your heart about who you might reach out to. And, Father, I pray for those who are not serving, some because they're hurting, in a season when they need to be minister to. And, Father, I pray we'd minister to them well here at Calvary. But, Father, for others I pray that you, not me, not Pastor Skip, that you might convict the hearts of those who need to move from the sidelines and into the field, who need to stop being passive spectators, but be active participants in the mission of God.
So, Father, by your grace we come before you, we thank you that we're gifted with and by the Spirit, and everyone is to use their gifts as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. May we live that way, and may you receive even greater glory than you already have through this remarkable church, even greater glory as we serve you and make your name and fame more widely known.
Skip Heitzig: Amen. Would you stand please, colaborers. I love serving the Lord with you and I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do next in and through you. Jesus changed the world with twelve ordinary fishermen. What he's going to do in this city through you, through us, is going to be outstanding. Two great days of your life---the day you were born and the day you discovered what you were born for. And the Lord has so much for you. Thanks to Ed, thanks to---for that great message. That's was just a---that was a message from his heart to our hearts. [applause]
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.