Sunday, March 25, 2012

Evangelism, Missionary, Martyrdom - Part 11 of 11 of Spiritual Gifts

Welcome, everyone, to our final tour of spiritual gifts!  I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that it’s perhaps shed some light on what spiritual gifts you have.  Let’s dive right in. :-)


This spiritual gift is mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 in the middle of one of the classical spiritual gift lists:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.

Here’s a case where the Greek gets a little fun.  Evangelist is the word euagelistes, but its root is euaggelion.  Euaggelion is generally translated “gospel,” but it literally means “good news.”  Now, euagelistes doesn’t translate at all well into English, so we sort of describe it as “spreader of the gospel.”  But if you want to translate it as literally as possible, evangelist means “gospel-er” or “good news-er.”  Do you see the difference here – how spreading the gospel is not just something an evangelist does, but an actual part of who they are?

This latter point is emphasized in Acts 21:8:
And on the next day we departed and came to Caesarea; and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him.
He is “Philip-the-evangelist”, not “Philip…who evangelizes”.

This is a critical point to grasp, because we are all commanded to share the gospel with others (for example, Mark 16:15).  But, it comes more naturally to some then to others – to these people, the gospel just exudes out of them, it’s like they can’t stop themselves from proclaiming Christ’s love.  And they’re also quite successful in bringing others to Christ.


Being a missionary is another one of those alleged gifts that some people believe is a distinct gift, and others believe is just an extension of evangelism.  Let’s look at Ephesians 3:4-8 on this issue:
4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel,
7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

Now, some people would look at the word “gift” in verse seven and think that’s proof that missionary work is a spiritual gift.  The flaw with this, however, is that it’s a totally different Greek word than the one also translated gift in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 (dorea versus charisma). 

However, we also must remember what we’ve discussed a few times before – that a spiritual gift is simply some special ability God has given you to advance His kingdom.  Does missionary work fit this description?  …Yes.

But that still doesn’t tell us if it’s an individual gift or simply an extension of evangelism.  Personally, I don’t think it matters – as long as we recognize that missionaries receive special empowerment and a special calling from God to go and preach His word in foreign lands.


Martyrdom is another case where its status as a spiritual gift is subject to debate, but it seems a little more clear-cut to me than missionary work.  Let’s look at where it’s found in 1 Corinthians 13 (I’ll type all the other spiritual gifts listed in bold):
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Do you see why martyrdom is considered by some to be a spiritual gift?  Literally every other item on the list is specifically recognized as a spiritual gift, so the seemingly logical conclusion is that martyrdom is also a spiritual gift.  Let’s look at one more verse to help us with this debate:

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

From this verse, we see that if God calls us to do something we cannot resist (such as denying Christ while being tortured), He will give spiritual strength so that we can resist.  That is, He will give us a special spiritual power to do something to bring Him glory.

From these two pieces of evidence, it seems to me that martyrdom is a spiritual gift.  Aside from its official classification, however, we have to encouragement of knowing that if there comes a time in our life when we are faced with death for our faith, Christ will give us the strength to not deny Him.

Talk to me! :-)

Well, that wraps up our survey of spiritual gifts.  Is there anything particular you learned from our studies?  What spiritual gifts do you have (or think you have)?

Join us Wednesday as we start a verse-by-verse study of the Gospel of Matthew.  I’m excited; are you? :-)  I'm also planning to do a revamp of the blog this coming Friday (making it look "prettier" and easier to use), so let me know if there are any improvements you can think of. ^_^

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