Saturday, February 21, 2009


encore presentation

Dr. Piper's writings and books have been a tremendous encouragement in the lives of countless thousands and his online sermons have been a valuable source of the study of God's Word to equally as many.

Following is a message he preached 25 years ago on the subject of spiritual gifts. I think Dr. Piper offers some very helpful and foundational truths from God's Word about the nature, function and purpose of spiritual gifts. I commend this message to you and pray it will equip you biblically on this always "hot-button" topic.

Grace and peace,
1 Peter 4:10

Preached: March 15, 1981 (Morning)
Bethlehem Baptist Church
John Piper, Pastor

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed" (1 Corinthians 12:1). I assume that applies to us also: we ought not to be uninformed about the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts. So this final message in our series on the Holy Spirit will deal with this subject. Instead of spreading myself too thin across 1 Corinthians 12,13 and 14 (the major section on spiritual gifts) I have chosen to focus on several smaller texts so that we can examine their teaching more closely.

If you were reading through the New Testament, the first place you would run into the term "spiritual gift" is Romans 1:11,12. Let's look at this text together. Writing to the church at Rome, Paul says, "I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." The translation "impart to you some spiritual gift" is misleading because it sounds like Paul wants to help them have a gift, but the text actually means that he wants to give them the benefit of his gifts. "I long to see you that I may use my gifts to strengthen you."

The first and most obvious thing we learn from this text is that spiritual gifts are for strengthening others.
This, of course, does not mean that the person who has a spiritual gift gets no joy or benefit from it. (We will see differently in a moment.) But it does suggest that gifts are given to be given. They are not given to be hoarded. "I desire to share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you." What does strengthen mean? He's not referring to bodily strength but strength of faith. The same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 where Paul says,

We sent Timothy, our brother and servant in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you in your faith and to exhort you that no one be moved by these afflictions.

To strengthen someone by a spiritual gift means to help their faith not give way as easily when trouble enters their life. We have spiritual gifts in order to help other people keep the faith and maintain an even keel in life's storms. If there is anybody around you whose faith is being threatened in any way at all take stock whether you may have a spiritual gift peculiarly suited to strengthen that person.

I think it would be fair to say also from this text that you shouldn't bend your mind too much trying to label your spiritual gift before you use it. That is, don't worry about whether you can point to prophecy or teaching or wisdom or knowledge or healing or miracles or mercy or administration, etc., and say, "That's mine." The way to think is this: The reason we have spiritual gifts is so that we can strengthen other people's faith; here is someone whose faith is in jeopardy; how can I help him? Then do or say what seems most helpful and if the person is helped then you may have discovered one of your gifts. If you warned him of the folly of his way and he repented, then perhaps you have the gift of "warning." If you took a walk with her and said you knew what she was going through and lifted her hope, then perhaps you have the gift of "empathy.'' If you had them over to your home when they were new and lonely, then perhaps you have the gift of "hospitality." We must not get hung up on naming our gifts. The thing to get hung up on is, "Are we doing what we can do to strengthen the faith of the people around us?

I really believe that the problem of not knowing our spiritual gifts is not a basic problem. More basic is the problem of not desiring very much to strengthen other people's faith. Human nature is more prone to tear down than it is to build up. The path of least resistance leads to grumbling and criticism and gossip, and many there be that follow it. But the gate is narrow and the way is strewn with obstacles which leads to edification and the strengthening of faith. So the basic problem is becoming the kind of person who wakes up in the morning, thanks God for our great salvation and then says, "Lord, O how I want to strengthen people's faith today. Grant that at the end of this day somebody will be more confident of Your promises and more joyful in Your grace because I crossed his path." The reason I say becoming this kind of person is more basic than finding out your spiritual gift, is that when you become this kind of person the Holy Spirit will not let your longings go to waste. He will help you find ways to strengthen the faith of others and that will be the discovery of your gifts. So let's apply ourselves to becoming the kind of people more and more who long to strengthen each other's faith.

Now, in Romans 1:12 Paul restates verse 11 in different words: I want to strengthen you with my spiritual gift, "that is, I want us to be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." Paul does two things here. First, he uses the old "It's my pleasure" tactic. You remember my sermon on Christian Hedonism and humility? I argued that when we say, "It's my pleasure," after doing someone a favor, it is an expression of humility. It is like saying, "Don't get too excited about my self-sacrifice; I'm just doing what I like to do." When Paul rereads Romans 1:11 he probably says, "Hmmm, that may sound a bit presumptuous, as if I'm the great martyr doing all for their sake, when in fact I look forward to a great encouragement from them for myself." So as he restates verse 11 in verse 12 he adds that he, too, and not just they, is going to be helped when they meet. That is the first thing he does.

The second thing he does is show that the way he will strengthen their faith by his spiritual gift (verse 11) is by encouraging them with his faith.
In verse 11 he aims to strengthen them; in verse 12 he aim to encourage them. In verse 11 he strengthens faith by his spiritual gift; in verse 12 he encourages by his faith. The conclusion I draw from these parallels is this: a spiritual gift is an expression of faith which aims to strengthen faith. It is activated from faith in us and aims for faith in another. Another way to put it would be this: A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively (in word or deed) for the strengthening of someone else's faith.

It is helpful to me to think about spiritual gifts in this way because it keeps me from simply equating them with natural abilities. Many unbelievers have great abilities in teaching and in administration, for example. And these abilities are God-given whether the people recognize this or not. But these would not be called "spiritual gifts" of teaching or administration because they are not expressions of faith and they are not aiming to strengthen faith. Our faith in the promises of God is the channel through which the Spirit flows on His way to strengthening the faith of others (Galatians 3:5). Therefore, no matter what abilities we have, if we are not relying on God and not aiming to help others rely on Him, then our ability is not a "spiritual gift." It is not "spiritual" because the Holy Spirit is not flowing through it from faith to faith.

This has tremendous implications for how we choose church staff and church officers and board members. It means that we will never simply ask, "who has the skill to be efficient?" We will always go beyond that and ask, "Do they use their skill in such a way that you can tell it is an expression of their hearty reliance on the Lord? And do they exercise their skill with a view to strengthening the faith and joy of others?" A church where the Holy Spirit is alive and powerful will be a church very sensitive to the difference between natural abilities and spiritual gifts.

Now let's go on to Romans 12:3-8, a unit dealing in a bit more detail with spiritual gifts, though they are only called "gifts" here.

"By the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him... (v.3). Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith, if service, in our serving; he who teaches in his teaching; he who exhorts in his exhortation; he who contributes in liberality; he who gives aid with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (vv. 6-8)."

I will only draw your attention to two things. First, I believe this text confirms the earlier point that we shouldn't get too lathered up about whether we can label our gifts or not. Spiritual gifts are not a limited and defined group of activities spelled out in the New Testament. Rather, spiritual gifts are any ability the Spirit gives you to express your faith in order to strengthen another person. Notice the last four mentioned in verse 8, "exhorting" (or comforting, encouraging -- it's the same word used back in 1:12), "contributing" (or sharing), "giving aid" (may mean "presiding" ) and "acts of mercy." The remarkable thing about these (with the possible exception of "presiding") is that all believers are called to do these: exhort, give, be merciful. So the "gift" must be that some are enabled by the Spirit to do it more heartily and effectively and frequently than others. So any virtue at all in the believer's life which he is enabled to do with zest and with benefit to others can be called his gift.

The second thing I want to point out from this text is that both the gifts we have and the faith to exercise them are given to us by God in varying measure. The reason Paul teaches this truth is to help us think soberly about ourselves and not too highly. The gifted are always in danger of pride -- it was a terrible problem at Corinth (and perhaps at Rome, too). So Paul uncovers a profound truth that is intended to blow away all pride -- all self-reliance or boasting. He says in v. 6 that we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. In other words, any distinction that sets you off from others in ability is owing to grace -- i.e., it is freely given and not earned or deserved. So you can't boast in it.

But someone might say, "O.K., I can't boast in what gift I have but I can boast in the zeal with which I use it." That's like the person who says, "Well, I can't boast that I was born in America, but I can boast that I used my freedom to be productive and get rich." Both of those statements are wrong. Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:17,

"Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth."

(And He, incidentally, will hold us accountable for using it to help the disadvantaged rather than padding our lives with luxury.) And in a similar way Paul says here in Romans 12:3,

"Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought to think but think with sober judgment each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned to him."

So not only the gift but the measure of faith we have to exercise the gift is a gift from God. And God has revealed this to us not to lessen our hunger and yearning for great faith but to humble us and cause us to look to him for everything. God has done all things "so that no human being might boast in His presence.... Let him who boasts boast in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:29,31). Few things keep our pride quelled and our thinking about ourselves sober and humble like the awareness that the Spirit of God is absolutely sovereign and gives both the gifts and the faith to use them to whomever He pleases in whatever degree He pleases for the upbuilding of His body. The church should be the humblest and happiest fellowship on the earth.

And now, finally, turn to 1 Peter 4:10,11, one of my favorite texts. I want to make four brief observations about spiritual gifts on the basis of these two verses. Let's read them.

"As each has received a gift, employ it for one another (or serve it up to one another) as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ..."

First, note that "each has received a gift.
Gifts are not for a few but for all, and every believer has abilities which the Holy Spirit has given and can use to strengthen others. And it is the supreme joy of life to discover what they are and then pour yourself out to others through these gifts. And you will find them if you really desire to be God's instrument in bringing about faith and joy in other people. That, you recall, is the fundamental problem.

Second, the picture we have in verse 10 is of a house with variously talented stewards who are given the owner's funds to administer.
The house is the church, the stewards are all of you, the various talents are all our varied gifts, the funds are God's grace and the administration is the exercise of our gifts. The most striking part of this comparison is the analogy between the owner's funds and God's grace. Grace is the currency in the household of God. We are called to be stewards of grace. We have a board of stewards in the Minnesota Baptist Conference and they are given the responsibility to receive and disburse thousands of dollars for the household called the Minnesota Baptist Conference. That's the way we should think of our responsibility in the church - all of us. We are recipients of grace and it is our duty to disburse this grace for others. The vehicle by which we make these disbursements is our spiritual gift. So now we have another definition of spiritual gifts: they are abilities by which we receive the grace of God and disburse that grace to others.

This fits beautifully with our earlier definition of spiritual gifts as the abilities given by the Spirit which express our faith and aim to strengthen the faith of others. They fit together because faith is what the house owner wants in all his stewards and grace is the only currency that can purchase faith. Or, to change the image, faith feeds on grace and is strengthened by grace. God gives us his grace in Christ and all the promises that are Yes in him, and our response is faith; then we, in the exercise of our spiritual gifts disburse that grace to others and thus feed their faith. It is the free and precious grace that strengthens the heart in faith (Hebrews 13:9). So, what should be happening at Bethlehem Baptist Church is that all God's stewards -- all of you -- should be waking up to more and more of God's grace that you have in Christ, and finding more and more ways to creatively disburse that grace to each other and to those outside by the use of your spiritual gifts. O, that the Spirit might cause a wheeling and dealing in the currency of grace at Bethlehem Baptist Church!

The third observation from 1 Peter 4:11 is that grace can be disbursed through gifts which are word-oriented or deed-oriented.
"Whoever speaks (let him do it) as one who utters oracles of God." If your gift involves speaking do not rely on your own insight, but look to God to give His words through you. We impart grace to our listener only if we give them a word of God. It may not be an exact word of Scripture, but a word prompted and guided by God so that attention is directed to him, not us. Our aim is to strengthen faith and He is the infinitely trustworthy hope-giver, not us.

Then it says, "Whoever renders service (let him do it) as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies." So, if your gift involves practical deeds of service do not try to do them in your own strength. For then your gift will cease to be a "spiritual gift." It must come from faith and reliance on grace in order to be a "spiritual gift." So then grace can be disbursed to other people either by gifts of word or gifts of deed, if we speak with the words and act with the strength that God supplies.

The final point from this text, and my final one this morning, is that the aim of all spiritual gifts is "that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ" (v. 11).
This means that God's aim in giving us gifts, and in giving us the faith to exercise them, is that his glory might be displayed. He wants us and the world to marvel at him and think he is fantastic. The stupendous reality of God is all encompassing. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things" (Romans 11:36). And there is nothing more thrilling, more joyful, more meaningful, more satisfying than to find our niche in the eternal unfolding of God's glory. Our gift may look small but as a part of the revelation of God's infinite glory it takes on stupendous proportions.

© COPYRIGHT 1981, 1997 John Piper


Jeremy Weaver said...

I agree with all that Piper says there, I just want to make one clarification. He does not say that we should not define the gift(s) at work in our lives, but that we should not be preoccupied with naming our gift(s). It is a healthy thing to know what your gift is. But it is not all-important. It is better to exercise your gift than to know what your gift is. And in exercising it, you will discover it.
I think this is Paul's line of thought also when he says that we should pursue love above all the gifts. Paul knows that love will exercise our gifts to the edification of the church.

BTW, Am I to take it that you are not a strict cessationist by publishing this sermon? Or are you still exploring the issue? Or are you laying the foundation for a cessationistic discourse?

Jacob Lee said...

Thanks for the Piper sermom Steve. It is the kind of messages we need in this in house discussion!
In His Grip,
Jacob lee

candyinsierras said...

Excellent article!

RevyRev said...

It is our tendancy towards individualistic christianity that says; "what is MY spiritual gift? What is special about me?"

But when we review the texts that are commonly known as those that lists "spiritual gifts" [Romans, 1 Corintians, 1 Peter] you see the context all about loving the Church and building it up... and in loving others with gospel deed or word you learn about how God has gifted you. Its not about you, its about God's people.

No matter were we get in figuring "are those gifts for today" we will never see anything if we are not loving Christ's people like crazy.

Just a convicting thought I think Dr. Piper's sermon also brings to light. I don't intend for this post to lead the discussion off track.

Catez said...

"Whoever speaks (let him do it) as one who utters oracles of God." If your gift involves speaking do not rely on your own insight, but look to God to give His words through you. We impart grace to our listener only if we give them a word of God. It may not be an exact word of Scripture, but a word prompted and guided by God so that attention is directed to him, not us.

I like the tone of the article. On this part though I have some question marks. "Whoever speaks (let him do it) as one who utters oracles of God."

The biblical requirement for those speaking as ones who utter oracles of God is that they point people to God and are 100% accurate. Infallibility. I don't see Piper making that point here.
He talks about a word prompted and guided by God so that attention is directed to him, not us. If he means a word that is 100% God-inspired and infallible he has a point. If not then where does he find the basis?

And who today speaks "as the oracles of God" infallibly? When they don't why is the biblical standard not applied?

These are questions that I am asking because I am quite seriously looking for answers.

Catez said...

To add to that - if some-one does speak 100% infallible God-inspired prophecy does this mean they are speaking on a level with scripture? If so, doesn't that leave room for extra-biblical revelation and thus the cannon is not closed? (If they are not required to speak scripture as Piper suggests).

Jeremy Weaver said...

Are you questioning Peter or Piper? Piper is quoting from 2 Peter, so if you have a problem with that quotation, look at the context.
If you have a problem with Piper's use of that quotation, then I honestly I don't think Piper, or Peter, are referring specifically to prophecy here. They are both simply saying exactly what they are saying.

"Whoever speaks (let him do it) as one who utters oracles of God"

Whether a word of encouragement, preaching, rebuke, or whatever speech we are using in the sense of a 'spiritual gift', then we should take care that we are speaking truth. We must remember who it is that we are called to live for. We live for God. When we speak, only what is wholesome should proceed from our mouths.
And yes, I agree with the 100% accuracy as a goal to push toward, but must admit, I don't reach it in my speech.

SJ Camp said...

Prophecy has three basic meanings biblically; and each in their right context unfolds how the word is to be treated.

1. It was used eschatologically such as in the book of Revelation or through the prophets of the O.T. It was used to unfold God's redemptive plan for man through the promise of the coming Messiah.

2. It was used to foretell individual or national events (i.e. Agabus, Moses, etc.).

3. It was and is used to forth-tell or proclaim God's already revealed Word and truth (Neh. 8:8, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, etc.).

It is not a spiritual gift like we see demonstrated on Christian TV where hosts of various programs are nothing more than the Christian equivalent to "the psychic friends network."

Today, the N.T. prophet is one who preaches God's Word and proclaims the gospel (cp, 1 Cor. 14:1; Jude 3; 2 Peter 3:15ff; 2 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2). His role is to encourage, equip, edify, exhort and evangelize with the Word of God. He has no authority apart from the revealed Word of God. Even in the O.T. this was true (cp, Isaiah 8:20).

In the O.T., if what a "prophet" foretold wasn't 100% accurate he was stoned to death (cp, Deut. 13, 18). That had a profound and immediate effect on those who claimed to speak for God by removing the false prophets from their midst.

Secondly, if their "prophecy" somehow came true, but didn't point people to the true God or was in accordance with His revealed Law, they were also stoned to death (ibid.; cp, Matt. 7:21-23)

Today, people say they speak for God by claiming to have direct words of "revelation" from Him to others ad nauseam... And they do this with such a casual nature because they have not fear of any consequence for their skewed and flawed "prophetic words." How convenient for them: they get to say whatever they want in the name of the Lord, claiming first person revelation with no responsibility for what they may say. They don't speak for God; they speak for themselves!

When people are constantly clamoring for a sign and the phenomenon to be visible in their lives, it is not the evidence of great faith at work; it is doubt looking for proof, and they call it faith. Very tragic indeed.

The simple cure for this is one thing beloved: READ YOUR BIBLES. It is absolute truth; infallible and inerrant in all its claims; it is the very Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).

Hope this helps a bit more.

littlegal_66 said...

Thank you--awesome. Originally preached 25 years ago? And to me, now more germane than ever!

Jeremy Weaver said...

Antonio makes a good point!

Bhedr said...


Were you going to interpret?

littlegal_66 said...

You guys........

Catez said...

Thanks for outlining those things Steve. I was aware them and it's good to have them clearly explained. I particlularly agree with this:
. He has no authority apart from the revealed Word of God. Which in the context of your comment is the bible.

Hi Doxoblogist,

I honestly I don't think Piper, or Peter, are referring specifically to prophecy here. They are both simply saying exactly what they are saying.

"Whoever speaks (let him do it) as one who utters oracles of God"

Whether a word of encouragement, preaching, rebuke, or whatever speech we are using in the sense of a 'spiritual gift', then we should take care that we are speaking truth.

I agree we should seek to speak the truth Dox and see what you are saying with regard to everyday speech. I'm lookin' and contextin'...
Seems to me that Peter refers to receiving gifts, and then in part continues to refer to speaking as the oracles of God which he dirctly connects with ministering.

What I don't agree with is what Piper has said though - If your gift involves speaking do not rely on your own insight - so he is not just talking about our everyday speech, which everyone does, but has put this into the area of speaking in a different way - as a gift of speaking as the oracles of God. As far as I can find biblically, speaking as an oracle of God is not the same as everyday conversation.

To answer you - I am just not sure I agree with Piper on his advice on that point. I don't see him saying the same as Peter there. Jamieson, Faucet and Brown's commentary have the interpretation I have on Peter's reference to speaking as the oracles of God in that verse:
"as a prophet, or divinely taught teacher in the church assembly". Haven't looked up other main commentaries but I doubt there'd be any significant disagreement. So I disagree with Piper. I think Peter is saying they are speaking as a prophet or one divinely inspired - in which case divine inspiration and 100% infallibility is required.

To pick up on Steve's point about no authority today except the revealed word of God (the bible) - that in a nutshell answers my other question regarding extra-biblical revelation and the cannon.


Amanda said...

Hi Steve. I found your blog on Technorati and have added you to my blogroll. I'm a Christian in Perth, western Australia and I also happen to be a big Keith Green fan. You were so priveleged to know him (as you have said). I work for the Christian mission SIM ( and am always interested in Christian blogs. Thanks for your posts.

donsands said...

Actually I probably should be doing this, since it's far from the subject at hand, but I'd like to make a simple remark in response to Antonio.

Quote: "The scriptural revelation knows nothing of a doctrine in which Christian love for God is guaranteed by the mere fact that one is a Chrsitian". -Zane Hodges

This is an absurd statement to make, if one looks to the whole of Scripture.

"If anyone does not love the the Lord, let him be accursed" (1 Cor. 16:22)
Taken from Keith A. Mathison's book, Rightly Dividing the People of God.

I disagree very, very strongly with Zane Hodges.
To keep from a rabbit trail you can contact me personally if you think you have an answer for the above verse of Scripture.

Nathan White said...

News flash! You can be a true believer and yet NOT love the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thank you for the link Antonio, it revealed enough about your position to keep others away.

Antonio said...

You can be regenerate and not love the Lord, yes.

Lets see if I can't at least demonstrate:

1 John talks about sin. There are sins of the world, the flesh and the devil.

When one sins succumbing to the temptation of the world, he is loving the world and not at that moment loving the Lord (1 John 2:15). Are you saying that you can be in sin yet you can say at that moment you are loving Jesus?

Jesus says that a test of love is following the commandments. If you are breaking a commandment, are you loving Jesus?


"...converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God..."

"When these [prayer and watchfulness] are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins, by Satan, the world and the flesh, but sometimes the righteous permission of God actually fall into these evils."

"By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God's favor..."

Are you saying that when a truly born again Chrisian backslides, committing "enormous sins", and having their the exercise of their faith interupted that they are at that moment loving Jesus?


Bhedr said...


You lost me here on this argument.

Oh Where is the balance?

Either we have to be walking dictionaries in order to be saved or we have to be a dead corpse with no sign of life in their faith in order to have true faith.

Does anybody out there no how to extract embalming fluid or do we have an EMT to pump life into our faith?

SJ Camp said...


Two quick things:

1. Zane Hodges brand of cheap grace and saving faith was doctrinally discredited and biblically rivaled years ago by Dr. MacArthur's excellent tome: "The Gospel According to Jesus." If you haven't read it would help you tremendously to understand the nature of saving faith and God's grace in salvation.

2. Per my "rules of engagement" I don't allow comments to be advertisements to move any discussion to another's blog for self promotion as you have done here. I am deleting your comment that promotes such...

Please honor this or you will be prohibited from posting here. It's that simple.

SJ C@mp
Col. 1:9-14

Bhedr said...

Yes....because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Even if the flesh be ruling the New Creation is still there loving God!

In an attempt to affirm the flesh, many are denying the Spirit. I don't think we realize what we are doing.

Again...where is the balance or are we to busy pushing each other into theological positions.

Terry Rayburn said...

I'm aware that Antonio has side-tracked this thread somewhat, but since others are commenting on his Zane-ite stuff, I'd like to join in.

His (and Zane Hodge's) confusion comes from not understanding regeneration and the absoluteness of Grace. Seeking to exalt Grace, they undermine it.

1. They call their theology Free Grace, but then condition the New Birth on an "ACT of punctiliar faith". This is simply another form of legalism, no matter how much they protest otherwise. The "act" is indeed a work (rewarded by regeneration, they would wrongly say).

2. They don't understand the simple truth that unregenerate man is dead to God, and alive to sin, utterly unable to exercise faith in Christ. Therefore, regeneration must come first. As Jesus told Nicodemus, unless a man is born again, he can't even SEE the Kingdom of God, let alone believe in the King. That regeneration, blowing "where it will", is true Grace.

3. They don't understand that when that regeneration happens, by Grace, there is made a New Creation. This new creation then does indeed believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord. And Christ actually indwells that new spirit.

4. They (and many others) don't understand that man is body, soul and spirit. The spirit is the regenerated "part" of man, and not only believes in Christ, but loves Him, and will always believe in and love Him. It can't NOT believe. This is true even when it APPEARS otherwise for a time, as the believer is deceived in his soul (mind, emotion, will) and walks after the flesh, wherein sin dwells, and sins.

5. They don't understand that the New Covenant, by Grace, is EFFECTUAL not only in the forgiveness/redemption aspect, but in exchanging the heart of stone for a heart of flesh, and CAUSING the redeemed one to "walk in My ways".

Seeking to save Grace, they have lost it, substituting the true Grace of the New Covenant with a pseudo-grace of the intellect.


Nathan White said...

The Gospel According to Jesus is a wonderful place to start, but MacArthur directly interacts with Hodge's arguments in The Gospel According to the Apostles. Anyone interested in a Biblical view of 'free grace' should definitely get this marvelous book on the nature of true faith.


Bhedr said...

Amen Terry,

Thank you for such clear distinctions. You are a man of the word and I find myself 99.9% of the time in agreement with you as well as sometimes being ministered to.

Bhedr said...

Thanks Nathan,

I think I will check that book out.

Shawn L said...


Very clear words and how I see it as well.


My personal favorite of the two of John MacArthur's on the topic is "The Gospel According to the Apostles". I think for me he does a great summary of the topic for me so I could see the truth.

Actually as a teenager I was so very deeply affected by the song "Consider the Cost" and used it for evangelism with some teen friends. I later read the book The Gospel According to Jesus.

I think Steve's song grew out of Steve Camp's reading of the Gospel According to Jesus as well as reading and praying through the scriptures, but since Steve Camp is here we could ask him

Bhedr said...

What I've always liked about Steve Camp is that whenever I've gotten a little side tracked on some area, he always said, "Scripture! Stick to Scripture!"

It is a good admonition

Michele Rayburn said...

Please be in prayer for John Piper. I read on another web site that he has prostate cancer. He seems optimistic about recovering. So, that's good news.

In His Love,

Terry Rayburn said...

"I think it would be fair to say also from this text that you shouldn't bend your mind too much trying to label your spiritual gift before you use it.

"....The way to think is this: The reason we have spiritual gifts is so that we can strengthen other people's faith; here is someone whose faith is in jeopardy; how can I help him?

"Then do or say what seems most helpful and if the person is helped then you may have discovered one of your gifts."

This is great wisdom. I've seen through the years many "courses" on such things as "Discover Your Spiritual Gifts".

And thirteen weeks, or whatever, is spent on the course, and people "discover" (really "guess") what their spiritual gifts are, and go away feeling more "informed", but never using their gifts.

If we pray, and minister to one another in the Spirit, our spiritual gifts will kick in.

I see it happen with people who couldn't even tell you what their spiritual gifts are, because they're not focusing on themselves, but on Jesus and His other sheep.