Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vol. II — Chapter 12 — Romans 12:1-8

Vol. II — Chapter 12 — Romans 12:1-8


Romans 12:1-8 (1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (4) For as we have any members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; (8) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. In the first 11 chapters the apostle had dealt with doctrines and the matters of faith; in this and the following chapters of the epistle he sets down precepts of a holy life. In the proclamation and application of the truths of Scripture doctrine and duty are always united. This is essential if there is to be a people who are sound in doctrine and holy in their walk in this world. Paul has been setting forth essential, important doctrines, such as predestination, election, justification, redemption by grace through faith, etc., and he now comes to the results of redemption and the practical view of true religion in the life and conduct of those who have grasped by a living faith the doctrines as living realities. The justification of a sinner through grace that is delivered from the guilt of sin was unthinkable to Paul if unaccompanied by regeneration that delivered from the love of sin, and sanctification that delivered from the dominion of sin (Titus 2:11-12).
     Verse 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living service, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. “I beseech you therefore, brethren.” This Epistle is not addressed to all the world, nor the injunctions before us to, unconverted, ungodly persons. It is to the “brethren” the apostle writes. Unsanctified and unregenerated persons are certainly not brethren. It is those who are “alive to God,” being made so by the new birth. It is the true Church, the elect of both Jew and Gentile, to whom Paul writes; possessed of a spiritual, vital relationship with God in Christ: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7).
     It was these that Paul did “beseech” — the tender language of loving entreaty, asking for a gracious response to the amazing grace of God (2 Cor. 10:1). Both the appellation and the exhortation are applicable to all Christians, in all countries and in all ages. Paul wished to bring clearly and extensively before their minds that an essential part of Christian duty was keeping themselves from those shameful abuses which prevailed so extensively among the heathen, and was a part of their religious services (Eph. 4:1).
     “By the mercies of God.” — The Christian’s incentive to obedience is God’s overflowing mercies, manifold mercies, multiplies mercies (Psa. 116:12). His mercies or riches of Divine grace are seen in every chapter of our epistle. They consist of election, redemption, regeneration, justification, sanctification, with the promise of preservation and glorification. It is by God’s gracious mercies in Christ that such sinner as we are quickened and made alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4-10). By His sovereign mercy God made His eternal choice of sinners to life in Christ. Another mercy set before us throughout this epistle is His effectual calling of the saints: “Called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). This effectual call of sinners to God is by the invincible power of the Holy Ghost in the soul, whereby the sinner is enabled to hear in his soul the “voice of the Son of God, and live” (John 5:25). O how unspeakably great a mercy it is, for by nature we never wanted Him, but by His mercy, in changing radically the elect sinner, God says “I am found of them that sought me not” (Rom. 10:20).
     “That ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” By the mercies of God a man who is under grace, and not under sin, the members of his body are to be employed in the service of his God. Paul was not asking for lifeless performances and dead works from false professors and dead religionists, — those destitute of true faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Instead he was calling for response from the regenerate, those made alive in Christ, created unto good works (Eph. 2:10). In every epistle of the Bible there is first doctrinal foundation, and then the application to morals. In this Roman epistle we have the most complete and systematic statement of the doctrines of grace as a foundation (chapters 9-11), and in the following section (12-15), we have the most elaborate superstructure of morals. The evidence that our Lord has done these wondrous things for elect sinners, is that He continues to work these things in the lives of elect sinners (Titus 2:11-15; 3:4-8). Salvation by free grace through God-given faith obligates us to all duties toward God the Father on account of what He does for us in the gift of His Son, in election, predestination, justification, and adoption Phil. 2:15).
     “That ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” This is the practical recognition that the saints have been sanctified or consecrated to our Lord, doing so not to become sanctified, but in the gracious assurance that they are already holy. The word “body” embraces the whole person. Let our tongues, before conversion used to blaspheme God and utter filth, be employed in praising God. Let our feet, formerly used in walking in the ways of the world, walk in the ways, the commandments and fear of the Lord (Col. 1:10). The same body through which sin once found its concrete expression now must be presented (Yielded) to God as the vehicle of righteousness (Rom. 6:19). The saints are entirely God’s property by both creation and redemption. In response to His work within our hearts we are to present ourselves as a living, loving sacrifice to Him as His bondslave to be, and do, and suffer, whatever He requires of us as followers of Him (1 Cor. 6:13-20). In love to Him we are to be “yielding of ourselves to Him as those who are alive from the dead, and our members to Him as the instruments of righteousness’ (Rom. 6:13). Reborn sinners are those “glorifying of God in our body and in our spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20); “the living to the Lord, and dying to the Lord, because we are not our own, but His” (Rom. 14:8).
     Paul calls on the saints of God not only to present their bodies to Him as a sacrifice, but as “a living sacrifice.” We must devout ourselves to our Lord, not in mere external profession, but in spirit and truth, serving Him according to the Gospel of His Son. We must be quickened and alive to God, and no longer dead in trespasses and sins (Heb. 10:22).
     The apostle further describes this living sacrifice as “holy,” not polluted with any known and allowed sin; and wholly devoted in total consecration to God; set apart to a sacred purpose — purchased by the blood and transformed by the Spirit of Christ. The living sacrifices of the redeemed are holy and acceptable to God solely through the efficacy of Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross.
     Dear saints of God, we and our services are “acceptable unto God” only as they are, “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). It is only pure religious duty of the saints that God will accept, and these are always the result of the inward influence of the Holy Ghost.  In order for any offering to be pleasing to God, it must be what He requires; it must be made in unfeigned love, holy fear, and in living faith, and made in a sense of the believer’s total unworthiness. Too, it is vital that in order for our sacrifice to be accepted by the Lord, it must be presented in the Person and name of our living Lord Christ, and purified by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is in striking contrast to the religious activities of the unsaved for “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord” (Prov. 15:8).
     “Your reasonable service” conveys the idea that such a sacrifice is most reasonable. Those who obey not the Word are called “fools” (Jer. 8:9) and “unreasonable men” (2 Thes. 2:3). As they lack spiritual wisdom to discern the excellency and equity of God’s ways. How reasonable that man as the creature of God should live unto Him who gave him being. The term rendered “service” in the Scriptures is uniformly descriptive of worship. The word “reasonable” is found only here and in 1 Peter 2:2 which refers to “the sincere milk of the Word.” Everywhere in the Word of God He demands that we love and serve Him with all our beings — with all our minds, and soul, and heart, and strength (Matt. 22:37). God gave the Lord Christ to us as a sin-offering and we, constrained by that love, surly are desirous to surrender ourselves to Him as a thank-offering. It is the “mercies of God” appropriated by faith and realized in the heart of the elect that induces His people to give up themselves entirely to His will, to be ordered, employed, and disposed of according to His good pleasure. A genuine conversion involves the renunciation of the world, the flesh and the devil, and the giving up of ourselves unto our Lord Christ (2 Cor. 8:5).
     Verse 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. If we would present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God, we must “be not conformed to this world.” This is our duty toward the Holy Ghost as He graciously works in us. Let not regenerated souls be conformed to the spirit and course of this evil world, whether in the lust of the flesh or the pride of life. Mankind are apostate from God, they are without God in the world, enemies to God by wicked works,  haters of God. As saints our wills have been radically changed and we cannot fashion ourselves after the men and things of this world (Gal. 1:4).  In all things the children of God are to differ from the wordiness of the children of the power of darkness. Our Lord Christ said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14), and as He manifested His separation from and unlikeness to it, so must we. Sons of the King of Heaven are not to conduct themselves like the Devil’s children. The children of God are not to live as the children of the devil (Jam. 1:27). We are not to act on his motives, aim at the things that he aims at; but aim at the glory of God.
     Our age is an age of apathy toward spiritual things. The things of this world loom large in the eyes of the majority of religious people and they stress worldly happiness above holiness, worldly blessings here above blessedness in eternity (Jam. 4:4). A vast majority has adopted the Charismatic emphasis upon health and wealth as God’s best gifts. Death, especially an early death, is not looked upon as thankful deliverance from the miseries of a sinful world, as the old saints of God viewed it, but is now considered a supreme disaster.
     The “world” which the Christian is forbidden to love is fallen human nature acting itself out in the human family, fashioning the framework of human society in accord with its own evil tendencies. It is the organized kingdom of darkness, the “carnal mind which is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). That worldliness of which the Scripture speaks is the world without God. It is called this world to distinguish it, as the seen world, from the future and eternal world. The word “world” often means ‘the men of this world,” worldly men — men who are supremely interested in, influenced by, and occupied about “things seen and temporal,” whom the Psalmist says, “men of the world, who have their portion in this life” (Psa. 17:14). It is the “world” of which John speaks, “For all that is within the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” — what the flesh desires, what the eyes desire, what natural men are proud of — “is not of the Father” (1 John 2:16).
     “To be conformed to this world, is to be possessed of a character formed entirely by the influences of the present sensible state of things acting on the unchanged principles of fallen humanity, managed by him who is ‘the prince’ and ‘the god of this world.’ Unregenerate men are ‘fashioned’ by this state of things, through the medium of ‘their flesh and its lusts.’ The character thus formed — the truth respecting God and the unseen world being shut out form the mind, the ‘powers of the world to come’ supplanted by the power of the present world — is a character of godlessness and selfishness — of alienation from God, and of disregard to the happiness of others, except so far as it is seen to be identified with their own; and they who possess this character ‘walk according to the course of this world, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” — “mind earthly things” (Eph. 2:2-3;Phil. 3:19).” (John Brown).
     “But be ye transformed.” Be transformed in continual sanctification in the renewing of the mind (Psa. 51:10). That is, working out the salvation which the Holy Ghost works within the believer, as He, having commenced a good work in us in regeneration, continues it (through sanctification) until the day of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ, having been formed in us the hope of glory, we “are changed into that image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). We abide in our Lord Christ when our will is merged in His. It is only as we enter in a practical way into His mind and heart, that He enters, experimentally, into ours. The revealed or perceptive will of God is stated in His Word, defining our duty and making known the path in which we should walk. Laying up God’s precepts in the heart (Psa. 119:11) is essential to the transforming of one’s character and conduct. Only by this can the Biblical teaching of transformation and personal holiness be pervasive and manifested in every dimension of our lives.
     “Be ye transformed” means be the very reverse, the very opposite, of what you once were. We must be radically changed and think, feel, and act under the power of the Holy Ghost. Since regeneration we are no longer without God in our lives, and now He must be set always before us; His favor the chief good; His will the grand governing, guiding principle; His glory the great end (Col. 3:10). The saints now have “the mind of Christ,” and instead of minding their own things, they mind the thing of their Lord and Master. They have, by God’s grace, become “new creatures: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
     Regeneration, the communication of spiritual life, is a Divine act, in which we are wholly passive. But the “renewing of your mind” spoken of here is continuous. This continuous work of “renewing” is also the work of God in the soul as Titus 3:5 and 2 Cor. 4:16 tells us; yet it is one in which we as saints are called upon to be active, as our verse here and Eph. 4:23 clearly show. The mind is renewed when, under the power of the Holy Ghost, the truth is, by inward revelation, understood and believed, and the heart is purified from the love of the world. The inward transfiguring of the mind is the only effective preservative against outward conformity with the evil spirit of this present age.
     “To ‘do’ our Lord’s sayings includes very much more than the mere outward performance of those actions which He requires. Our whole inner and outer man must be conformed to them; our character must be molded by them, our affections must be regulated, our wills governed, and our habits of thoughts dominated by them, as well as our actions being in accord with them. The Word of Christ must ‘dwell in’ us, and that ‘richly’ (Col. 3:16). We must ‘lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness’ if we are to ‘receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save our souls’ (Jam. 1:21). . . The ‘engrafted’ Word must be rooted in us, planted in the soul, drawing all the sap of the stock to itself — ‘all that is within us,’ serving the Word. This, and nothing short of this, is what constitutes a genuine ‘conversion.’” (A. W. Pink).
     “That ye may prove.” The Greek word for “prove” is the same as that for “approve.” In the preceding verse, Christian duty as a whole is viewed in reference to God Himself; but in this verse it is contemplated in connection with that system of things seen and temporal, amid which we live our daily lives (Eph. 5:10). We are to grow further and further from the character and conduct of this present evil world, and grow nearer and nearer to conformity to Christ, not only outwardly but inwardly. Our thoughts and affections are to be more and more set upon things above. We are to submit to the authority of our Lord Christ, and find our pleasure in those things which are pleasing to Him. His will of command declares what we as His moral creatures must be, and will, and do. To “prove,” or approve, this will is to become practically acquainted with it — to know its excellence by experiencing it: not merely to know it speculatively, but to realize it in heart and life. This can only be done by “being transformed by the renewing of our mind.”
     “Seeing God has thus manifested His love to you by giving His Son for you — to you, and with Him all good things, manifest your love to Him by devoting yourselves entirely to His service in the spiritual duties of true Christianity, and seek higher and higher degrees of that disconformity in thought and affection to this world, and of that new and better frame of principles and feelings which is to be attained by your mind being renewed through the faith of the truth, and by which alone, you can experimentally know how good, acceptable, and perfect is that spiritual state to which it is the will of God that you, as Christians, should attain.” (John Brown). It is one thing theoretically to acknowledge that God’s will is the standard of perfection; it is quite another to approve it by an experimental, loving submission to its demands.
     “What is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” For any works to be classified by our Lord as “good works” they must be absolutely in full accord with the will of God as revealed unto us in the Scripture (Psa. 19:7-11). God alone is good; and His will is good; and He alone has the prerogative and is able to determine what is good. Good works are unconditional and unquestioning obedience to the will of God. When our Lord speaks, we listen. When He commands, we obey without murmuring, questioning, or reservation, for our Lord’s “yoke is easy, and His burden is light” (Matt. 11:30) to the true children of God. It is not enough that we know His will; we must do it (Luke 6:46; John 13:17). God works in His children “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13), and His revealed will is to be the sole rule of our actions (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
     Verse 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. Paul himself had been given by the Lord the “grace” of apostleship, but every person in the true Church was to exercise, in their personal gift and in their personal walk, the grace of humility (Jer. 9:23-24;Jam. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Our gifts, knowledge, ability, and even saving faith, are the gifts of God.
     “Every man that is among you” designates not only the officers of the Church, but all the members — “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). In the early Church there was special reference to spiritual gifts, both ordinary and extraordinary, but our text does not confine the exhortation to such as had miraculous endowments. The Lord had declared in the Scripture that He had bestowed a special gift on every believer. Lowliness and meekness becomes everything in the Church of our Lord (Jam. 4:6).
     “Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Let none think more highly of one’s self in view of the other members of the Church, or think himself on a higher plane than other members of the Church (Gal. 6:3). The leaven of Pharisaism, pride, self righteousness, and self sufficiency, is interwoven with all of our natures. By nature all men deceive themselves. He thinks himself to be, what in reality he is not. Fallen nature is filled with boasting of supposed natural goodness and devout efforts, which adds nothing for all is of rich, free, sovereign grace. Our Lord said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Man, with all his vaunted “knowledge of good and evil;” his so-called free-will to choose god and refuse evil; his foolish rectitude to perform his duty, and secure his own salvation, by fulfilling terms and conditions; are all vanities (1 Cor. 4:6-7)..
     The Christian is to “think soberly.” When pride creeps in, and we are apt to think ourselves great, “think soberly” (1 Tim. 2:12). Remember we are what we are and where we are by the “grace of God,” and if any has a greater measure of faith than another, it is of the Lord’s dealing. He can take that away in a moment, and everything else we are possessed of; and He will, if there is a need-be, and bring us down from our pinnacle of self esteem. What the Word of God requires is an estimate of ourselves according to sobriety, discreetness, and sanity of mind (Mark 5:15; 1 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:5). We must have a sensible estimation, a reduced estimation, of what we really are. When our Lord said “Without me ye can do nothing,” He is telling us that in ourselves we are nothing.
     The believer is to see himself through the eyes of his Lord and function in true humility, meekness, and recognize clearly his nothingness. However do not make the mistake of millions who think that meekness is a true child of God forcing himself to take a subordinate position before men. That is not true. True meekness is a vertical virtue, measuring self in comparison with God at all times. It has nothing to do with measuring men by other men. The Scripture tells us that Moses was meek, more meek that any man (Num. 12:3). This meekness brought him very low before God but very high before men. Moses exercised faith in accepting that which God had given him and thus he was enabled to confront Pharaoh in his court and thunder forth the judgments of God: “Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go” (Exo. 5:1). This was the voice of true meekness. Moses thought so little of himself that he thought he was unable to do what God had called him to do. But when his God-given faith laid hold of the truth of God and His Person, Moses grew in spiritual stature; and when he lifted his arm to strike for God, he knew that God would be behind the blow and bring Pharaoh and company to their defeat.
     “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” It is God in His sovereign providence who in grace works the glorious gift of salvation in all His people (Eph. 2:8). Paul had, earlier in this verse, spoken of the “grace given” him, as bestowed upon him in his apostolic commission (Col. 1:29). The apostle now has in view the differences that exist among true believers, differences that God, in the bestowal of gifts for use in the body of Christ, has sovereignly caused to exist (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Since God has given to every gifted man his measure of endowment (Eph. 4:7), there is no room for pride, though there is strong reason for gratitude and diligent improvement; and if God has given one a greater measure than another, that is no reason why he should despise or undervalue another, for it is God that made the difference (Eph. 4:16). 
     The word “faith” can be understood of that which is to be savingly believed, the truth of the Gospel of Christ. True saving faith could never be spoken of as distributed to each believer by measure, for it is wrought in each and every repenting sinner’s heart by the Holy Ghost. Faith is here viewed as the inlet to all the other graces, and so as the receptive faculty of the renewed soul. Let every one think of himself according to the degree of faith or confidence in God which has been imparted to him, and let him exercise his gift as God enables. Faith also includes that which is believed or the knowledge of Divine truth that God hath given us.
     Verse 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office. All the saints of God, both Jew and Gentile, “are members” of one and the same “body;” and therefore none should pride themselves in their gifts which are given for the common good of the entire body of Christ. As our natural body hath many members, and these have not the same office or function action, or operation, so it is with the Church, the mystical body of Christ. There are many members, but only one body. (1 Cor. 12:27). All members must respect the unity of the Church as a body, the body of their Head. In the illustration given the Church is compared to a human body having many members. Neither the hand, nor the eye, nor the ear, nor the foot says, “I am everything.” We have to estimate the function of each part, the proportion of power given to that part, and it is always not as a sole thing, but in its relation to every other part — that is a duty that the Church member must perform (1 Cor. 12:4). Each member of the body is just one of many in the organism. The true Church of today, just as the early Church of the first century, is to recognize that they are a fellowship of believers in Christ our Lord (Eph. 4:15-16).
     Verse 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. “We, being many, are one body in Christ.” The apostle saith that all the members of Christ’s body are but one body in Christ; and “he is the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). The true Church is ‘in Christ,” the common Head of all His seed by grace. When Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and when he expiated all the sin of God’s elect by sacrifice of Himself, all of His seed were considered righteous in Him. It is in Christ, our Covenant-Head, the Father’s Chosen Sacrifice and Substitute, the sent One, the sealed, the Anointed of God, — in Him whom all His members are one body (1 Cor. 12:12-18).
     And a humble spirit should be manifested in the functions of all members of all of our Lord’s Church. “And every one members one of another.” Members of the body have different offices to fill, in reference to each other’s welfare, and to the glory of our Covenant-Head. All must strive to get at the Lord’s will concerning the station which God hath appointed him, fulfilling the same in proportion to the measure of faith given. Or if a member’s station is more in the private walks of life, there can still be the ministering to others and the honoring of our Lord Christ, and that without ostentation, but in lowliness of mind.
     The true believers in the New Testament days of the Church gathered as a body in real and genuine oneness, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” There were no so-called Church organizations, different groups divided into different meetings, for this separation of the modern church is alien to the spirit of oneness which the Holy Ghost engendered among the early believers. They allowed not some to cry, “I am of Paul,” others to say, “I am of Peter,” and still others to utter, “I am of Apollos.” Against such Paul’s anguished cry was, “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:13). There is total lack of oneness in the modern church, the church is divided, and our text tells us that such a condition is scandalous.
     “Now, while it is true that each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, the primary meaning here is that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in the collective body of believers; that it takes all of us to make up this mystic body; that every member of the body of Christ needs every other member, and that we must recognize and seek to manifest and maintain our oneness.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse).
     Verse 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us” — the apostle is telling the Church body that each member has different gifts and offices, according as the grace of God has bestowed them upon us undeserving creatures, and we are to use the gift as He leads and enables for the good of the whole body (1 Cor. 12:4-11). The gifts are bestowed on each “according to the grace that is given to us.” We have “the gift;” the measure of faith,” which it has pleased God to bestow upon us (Eph. 4:16). None are to seek the display of their endowments, or the advancement of their reputations, but humbly use their gifts for the good of all and the glory of God (1 Pet. 4:10-11). Every gift and grace that any person has, and any success that may come to that person, is given directly by the Lord to him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17). Especially careful should we be is the matter of using gifts, for many get ideas in their heads, and then run to the Bible to find proof texts, that they think give them strength in advancing their dogma with assurance. This will never do for the only safe way of ministering is always attached to a “thus saith the Lord,” and never “thus saith man” (2 Cor. 4:1-2).
     “Whether prophecy, let us prophesy.” The original meaning of the Hebrew word “Prophet” is a man who is in intimate relation with God. Using this meaning of the word the Scripture says Abraham was a prophet (Gen. 20:7), the patriarchs were prophets (Psa. 105:15), and Moses was God’s prophet ((Exo. 7:1). The term is more usually employed, however, to signify men inspired with the knowledge of God’s will, and commissioned and sent forth to declare it. In the New Testament the term is used much the same way. Remember, dear reader, our Lord Christ did not found His Church by means of intellectual giants but by means of humble, unlearned men who, when filled with the Holy Spirit, were irrestible in the hands of God.
     But in the New Testament “prophecy” was not a gift confined in the primitive Church to apostles, and it was for the edification of the body of believers. (Acts 11:27-28; 1 Cor. 14:3-5). If a man had a gift for edifying, comforting or strengthening the Church of God by his speaking, it was called prophesying. In short, the word prophesy means to speak for God, and the effectiveness of the preaching is not in the prophet but in the power of the Holy Ghost who gave the gift.
     “Let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” The word “proportion” is not the same as the word rendered “measure” in verse 3. Proportion literally means analogy, the standard of faith. That standard is all the Scripture: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). All prophesying, or preaching and teaching, must be the exact revelation of God received. There must not be any who obtrude on the Church their own opinions or speculations, but all must scrupulously deliver the message they have received from the Lord. “He that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully” (Jer. 23:28). The “faith” here spoken of is the doctrine believed and held by the true Church of God.
     In order to put forth their false teaching regarding the prophesying of women in Church meetings, many Charismatic writers distinguish between prophesying, preaching, and teaching. This is truly a far-fetched distinction for all prophesying is teaching. The prohibition that the Holy Ghost gives us on teaching includes the same for prophesying. Paul is extremely careful about this and as God’s spokesman he will not allow a woman to speak in Church, even to ask questions, let alone to prophesy. The scripture says, “it is a shame for a woman even to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:35). To deliberately twist the Scriptures in order to allow a practice that they plainly forbid is an act of rebellion against the authority of God.
     Also, this denomination and their offspring do not distinguish between those extraordinary, miraculous gifts given to the prophets and apostles in New Testament times when new Scripture was being written by the apostles, and the ordinary gifts now given by the Holy Ghost for the function of the ministry and the body of Christ. Having served their purpose of providing credentials for the prophets, Christ and His apostles, and authenticating the Scripture (Heb. 2:4), the former ceased at the end of the apostolic age (1 Cor. 13:8). The later will not cease until the eternal Day.
     Verse 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching. The term “ministry” may mean any general service rendered to the Church of God by the apostles or any member of the body; or it may mean any special service to the necessities of the poor, or widows, the care of the sick, of strangers, and of orphans. John Brown has left us a good explanation of this gift: “There is no doubt that the word ministry is employed in the New Testament to signify any office in the Christian Church, the apostle not excepted (1 Cor. 12:5; 2 Cor. 4:1; Rom. 11:13; 1 Cor. 3:5). But when distinguished from other gifts or offices, it signifies what is concerned rather with affairs than with doctrines; it refers to management rather than teaching ((Acts 6:1-7; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8, 12).” (John Brown).
     “It is quite obvious that the Apostle is not distinguishing offices, but gifts. Every gift does not require a different office. Many of the gifts require no office at all” (Robert Haldane). “Ministry” may refer either to the ministry of the Word or to the office of a deacon. “Let us wait on our ministering” — yet in the ministering of the Word there are not a few who take upon themselves the office, but have neither the gift nor the grace. Surely “let us wait on our ministering” means to let it be carried out with humility, carefulness, and diligence.
     The original Greek word for “ministering” is the root of our word “deacon.” It will be better understood if we translate it “personal ministering,” “ministering to the personal needs” of other believers. All believers must watch for opportunities to meet the needs of the poor. The Word of the Lord tells us that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and that which is thus given will be repaid by the Lord (Prov. 19:17).
     “Or he that teacheth, on teaching.” All preachers are preachers “apt to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2) and “instructing those that oppose themselves” (2 Tim. 2:25). But all the saints of God are, in their daily lives, to teach and proclaim the Gospel (Acts 8:4). When we are taught from the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost we are to share that truth with others (2 Tim. 2:24). The Church is to proclaim the Gospel in all the world and “teach all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things what soever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). The truth must be applied to our own heart first, and then go out to the listeners with the impact of Heaven and the warmth of a real experience with our Lord.
     Verse 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation, : he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. He that “exhorteth,” or comforts, encourages, and urges the saints of God to their duties from the Lords Word. It is the gift of any member of the body of Christ being called to the side of a person in need and helps him (1 Tim. 4:13). There are so many people in difficulty who need solid Biblical counsel and advice. Our Lord tells all true believers to “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2); “They that are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak” (Rom. 15:1). Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the poor, the wretched, the sick and the imprisoned, and spoke of them who came to their aid as the true people of God (Matt. 25:34-36). The Lord has given to many the gift of helping younger believers in the Christian life, or who are in need. We must be ready with the helping hand, but we must extend that help without show, in true humility.
     We are called alongside of the needy to help, but we are also called to give warning and exhortation to those who need it. The experienced believer is to be ready with the word of advice, the word of strength, the word of experience, the word of testimony to blessings received from the Lord, and the word of explanation of the methods that have proven successful in our walk with the Lord. Let us ask our Lord to give us opportunity to drop a word to those who are needy and hurting, so that they may be profited by our testimony of how our Master has helped us. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures (or, in a setting) of silver” (Prov. 25:11).
     “He that giveth” refers to the need of favors (Prov. 22:9; Job 31:16-20). As recipients of God’s free grace and mercy we realize that everything we have belongs to Him. In eating, drinking, or whatever we do we are to do all to the glory of God. Now if we are to obey our Lord when we spend money for food and clothing, how much more, when we make an offering that is to be used to exalt His name? And, we must avoid like the plague, this modern day “give to get” religion. Christian, be careful to give without thought of getting something in return.
     “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity,” liberally, bountifully, unselfishly, and in singleness of heart. This speaks of a virtue of one who is free from pretense and dissimulation. Our giving is to be without public show. Our Lord Christ said we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand does (Matt. 6:3). We give because we have received all things from and in Christ and are moved by His love for us which draws our love back to Him, and we desire to see Him do for others what He has done for us.
     “He that ruleth,” refers to the idea of government, discipline, and administration of the affairs of the Church (2 Tim. 3:4-5). The Lord tells us that such work is to be performed with zeal and “diligence” (Eccl. 9:10). The history of the Church shows that many men have abused this gift and have become domineering, haughty and overbearing tyrants. The Bible definitely teaches us that God has set some men in the Church to be spiritual leaders, and that the body of believers is to follow them as they follow the Lord (Heb. 13:7, 17).
     “Now, taking advantage of office, the rulers of the Church, have perpetrated unutterable horrors in enslaving the souls of men. Men have fought for dominion in the Church far more greedily than dictators fight for tyrannical power in government, for the political dictators are content to rule over men’s bodies and fortunes, but these Church leaders wished to rule over men’s souls as well.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse).
     The Apostle Peter tells us how the Church should be administered. He proclaimed that the Rock upon which the Church was built was certainly not himself but the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter tells men to come to Christ, the living stone, rejected of men but in God’s sight chosen and precious. The Scriptures say, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (or ashamed)” (1 Pet. 2:4, 6). Then Peter told his hearers to “live as free men’ (1 Pet. 4:16). He identified himself as a fellow elder, on an equality with them in Christ (1 Pet. 5:1), telling them that they are to “tend the flock of God that is in your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre (or shameful gain), but of a ready mind (eagerly), not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:2-3).
     “He that ruleth, with diligence,” or carefulness, earnestness care. The leader is to be alive every moment to the needs of those who follow him. He must be so careful that he does not lead anyone astray, but he must diligently study his Master’s Word and follow Him so closely that he can counsel others to follow him as he follows the Lord Jesus Christ.
     “He that showeth mercy,” includes the care of the poor, of the sick, of strangers, of widows, and of orphans. It is a personal duty to be performed by every private Christian. It is to be performed “with cheerfulness,” which expresses the very opposite of grudging, niggardliness and narrow mindedness (2 Cor. 9:7). The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). Our Lord Jesus Christ said “These thing have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Therefore, all the gifts of the Church are administered in the cheerfulness — “the joy of the Lord.”

Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 12:1-8

Verse 1. It is thus you will manifest your gratitude and evince your appreciation of all God has done for, to, and in you. It is thus you will exhibit the sincerity of your love for Him. It is thus you will prove yourselves to be “followers” of Christ and adorn His Gospel. It is thus you will please Him who has done everything for you: not merely by vocal thanksgiving, but by personal thanksgiving. Thus did the apostle begin to present and press those obligations which are involved by the blessed favors and privileges set forth in the preceding chapters. Those doctrinal disclosures are not so many speculative things to engage our brains, but are precious discoveries for the inflaming of our hearts. The contents of Romans 3 to 8 are given not only for the informing of our understandings, but also for the reforming of our lives. We should never abstract privilege from duty, nor duty from privilege, but take them together. The “therefore” of 12:1 points the practical application to all that goes before. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
How many souls have been lost for want of earnestness, want of solemnity, want of love in the preacher, even when the words uttered were precious and true! — Horatius Bonar (1808-1889).
 Think with me a moment on The Christian’s Body.  1. It is bought. ‘Ye are bought with a price’ (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). 2. It is bought with a great price. ‘Not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ’ (1 Pet. 1:18-19).  3. Being bought with a great price by another, it is not our own. ‘What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?’ (1 Cor. 6:19). 4. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit. ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Cor. 3:16-17). 5. It is to glorify God. ‘Glorify God in y our body, and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (1 Cor. 6:20). 6. It is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. ‘Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body’ (1 Cor. 6:13). 7. It is to magnify Christ. ‘That with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death’ (Phil. 1:20). 8. It is to manifest the Life of Christ. ‘That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body’ (2 Cor. 4:10). 9. It is to be controlled. ‘But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection’ (1 Cor. 9:27). 10. It is to be dissolved in death—if Jesus comes not before death makes dark visitation. ‘If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens’ (2 Cor. 5:1).  11. It is to be changed when Christ comes. ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump’ (1 Cor. 15:51) — Robert G. Lee (1886-1978).
God’s mercies are above all His works, and above all ours too. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
We are not truly converted if we are not intellectually and morally converted, and we are not intellectually and morally converted if we have not subjected our minds and wills to the yoke of Jesus Christ. — Anonymous.
The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it. — Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994).
Verse 2. In vain do men pretend to religion while ungodly company is their choice. – Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
He that lives in sin and expects happiness hereafter is like him that soweth cockles and thinks to fill his barn with wheat or barley. – John Bunyan (1628-1688).
He that hath tasted the bitterness of sin will fear to commit it, and he that hath felt the sweetness of mercy will fear to offend it. – Stephen Charnock (1628-1680).
The presenting our bodies a living sacrifice unto God, when attended with serious prayer and reading the Scriptures, is the best means of knowing the will of God. To neglect this, and use other means, is tempting God, and exposing ourselves to the temptations and siftings of the wicked one. We may think ourselves to be divinely convinced by faith of the will of God, though we follow our own imaginations, and spoil the best of our actions. Self-will generally takes quick resolutions, and has a great deal of assurance: whereas, God very often leads His people blindly, and takes methods quite different from ours. Who, therefore, believes, shall not make haste, Isa. 28:16. Let every one be careful that he does not mistake self-will and plausible representations for Divine convictions and assurance of faith; always strictly examine himself first, whether his body, soul, will, affections are entirely offered up to the good will and pleasure of God; for God requires the service of the whole man, even a sacrificing our whole selves to Him at all times, not only at Church, but in all places; that we do not conform to the world, but be daily transformed by the renewing of our minds. — C. H. V. Bogatzky (1690-1774).
No man can set his affections on things here below who hath any regard to the pattern of Christ, or is in any measure influenced with the power and efficacy of His cross. “My love is crucified,” said a holy martyr of old. He whom his soul loved was so, and in Him his love to all things here below. Do you therefore, O children of God, find your affections ready to be engaged unto, or too much entangled with the things of this world? Are you desirous of increasing them, your hopes of keeping them, your fears of losing them, your love unto them, your delight in them, operative in your minds, possessing your thoughts, and influencing your conversation? Turn aside a little; and may faith contemplate the life and death of the Son of God. A blessed glass will it be, where you may see what contemptible they are which you perplex yourselves about. O that any of us should love or esteem the things of this world, the power, riches, goods, or reputation of it, who have had a spiritual view of them in the cross of Christ. — Dr. John Owen (1616-1683).
Jesus did not pray that His Father would take Christians out of the world, but that He would take the world out of Christians. — Anonymous.
There is no surer evidence of an unconverted state that to have the things of the world uppermost in our aim, love and estimation. — Joseph Alleine (1634-1668).
Repentance is a change of the mind and regeneration is a change of the man. — Thomas Adams (1583-1653).
Real repentance produces confession and forsaking of sin, reconciliation and restitution, separation from the world, submission to the lordship of Christ and filling of the Holy Spirit. — Vance Havner (1901-1986).
Regeneration is the transforming not only of an unlovely object, but of one that resists with all its might the gracious designs of the Heavenly Potter. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
That man’s religion is much to be doubted of who frequents the society of the men of this world for satisfaction and pleasure. How can a man conform to the spirit of this world without pollution to his soul, or without feeling the loss of that peace, if he ever had it, which the world can neither give nor take away? — Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
The word “world” means the nature, character, opinions, goals and attitude of unregenerate men. The worldly man seeks the praise of men; the believer the praise of God. The worldling thinks only of himself; the believer considers others. The worldling cares for the body; the believer cares for the soul. The worldling looks only upon that which is seen; the believer looks on that which is unseen. The worldling cares for that which he shall eat, drink, and wear; the believer seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
This spiritual attitude can only be accomplished by a renewing or regenerating work of God in the mind and soul. It is contrary to the nature of flesh (2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 2:12-13). As old leaves drop off a tree to make room for the new ones, so the renewing work of the Spirit in our minds and hearts pushes out pride, envy, malice and covetousness. In this way we both experience and manifest what is pleasing and honoring to God (Eph. 5:9-10). — Henry Mahan (b. 1926).
Verse 3. Grace is nothing but an introduction of the virtues of God into the soul. — Thomas Manton (1620-1677).
Better be a humble worm than a proud angel. — William Jenkyn (1612-1685).
If an angel were sent to find the most perfect man, he would probably not find him composing a body of divinity, but perhaps a cripple in a poor house, whom the parish wish dead, and humbled before God with far lower thoughts of himself than others think of him. — John Newton (1725-1807).
If God gives you St. Paul’s faith, you will soon have St. James’s works. — Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778).
The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle. — Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Lowliness of mind is a flower that grows not in the field of nature, but is planted by the finger of God in a renewed heart, and learned of the lowly Jesus. — Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
Verse 4. When the Bible speaks about Church unity, it speaks of unity not at the expense of truth but on the basis of it. — Anonymous.
Our Lord has many weak children in His family, many dull pupils in His school, many raw soldiers in His army, many lame sheep in His flock. Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away. Happy is that Christian who has learned to do likewise with his brethren. — J. C. Ryle (1818-1900).
The truths of the Gospel are of a nourishing nature; they are the wholesome and salutary words of Christ, and are milk for babes, and meat for strong men, by which they grow and thrive; for though all nourishment comes from Christ, the Head, yet it is ministered by joints and bands to the members, and is conveyed by means of the Word and ordinances, and is ministered by preachers of the Word, who feed the Church with knowledge and understanding; and none but these who are nourished themselves are fit to be nourishers of others. — Allen, from the 1870 Gospel Standard Magazine.
Verse 5. Gifts may be useful in their way; but it is grace, and grace alone, which unites the soul to Christ and to those who are Christ’s. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
The way to the union of Christendom does not lie through committee-rooms . . . It lies through personal union with the Lord so deep and real as to be comparable with His union with the Father. — William Temple (1881-1944).
Oh the blessed communion of saints! One member has the benefits of all the other members’ gifts, prayers, and ministrations. One prays for all, and all pray for one. What one has, the other enjoys also. It may be truly said of them, All is yours. There is no envy, no haughtiness, no strife or harm among real saints; for why should I envy that which is my own? Why should I despise that which serves for my necessary assistance? And why should I strive against and hurt him whose hurt is my own? Is there any strife between the members of our natural body? By no means; they all serve, help, and assist one another; and if one be injured and suffers, all the rest run to his relief, and are neither tired nor angry, if the healing does not follow immediately. O Lord, unite us all in hearty fellowship and tender feelings for each other; and stop all open and subtle divisions which are fermented by lofty spirits, who always boast of mighty things, and to be wise above the rest. Suffer not a self-conceited and a party spirit, which is the spirit of the world, to influence the members of the body; but bless and grace them all with true humility; then we shall live in a solid union and uninterrupted harmony. — C. H. V. Bogatzky (1690-1774).
I am well convinced that there is a secret union amongst the living members of the body of Christ, and surely next to union and communion with the Lord Himself, is union and communion with His dear people. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
Verse 6. All Christ’s gifts are like Himself, spiritual and Heavenly. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
There is none so poor in the Church of Christ who may not impart to us something of value. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
As grace is first from God, so it is continually from Him, as much as light is all day long from the sun, as well at first dawn or at sun-rising. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Beware of a religion that is most taken up about public matters. The sum of the Gospel is Christ crucified. Seek where this is purely preached; and beware of an itch after pulpit debates. — Thomas Halyburton (1674-1712).

The greatest blessing that God can give an individual is to put him under the ministry of a true man of God.  And the biggest curse that God could put upon an individual is to leave him under the ministry of a false prophet.  Matthew 23:15. — B. B. Caldwell (1899-1976).

I would not give much for prophetic intelligence if it does not begin, continue and end with the person and work of Christ. — H. H. Snell.

Verse 7. An ignorant minister is none of God’s making, for God gives gifts where He gives a calling. — Henry Wilkinson.

None is a Christian minister who has not been ordained by the laying on of unseen hands, — Richard Glover.

I cannot recall, in any of my reading, a single instance of a prophet who applied for the job. — Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994).

Proper understanding of the Scriptures comes only through the Holy Spirit. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).

A great part of your prayer work should be imploring the Almighty for a greater measure of His Spirit. — Walter Chantry (b. 1938).
There are no spectators in the Kingdom of God, sitting on the fence or back in the old rocking chair.  If He saved you, He has given you a ministry.  He didn't call you to be a pastor, or an evangelist or a prophet or an apostle, maybe; but He gave you a ministry.  You are His witness, and if you are not His witness you are not His!  The Commander and Chief can transfer one of His subjects any time He pleases. — Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969).
The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust Him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more childlike will be our faith. — J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).
Before Christ sent the Church into the world, He sent the Spirit into the Church. The same order must be observed today. — John R, W. Stott.
Verse 8. Faith is not created by reasoning, but neither is it created without it. There is more involved in witness than throwing pre-arranged clumps of texts at unbelieving heads. — J. I. Packer (b. 1926).
Give to all, lest the one you pass over should be Christ Himself. — Augustine (354-430).
What we spend in piety and charity is not tribute paid to a tyrant, but the response of gratitude to our Redeemer. — James Denny (1856-1917).
He that is sincere is sincere in all places and at all times. — Richard Sibbes (1577-1635).
No duty can be performed without wrestling. The Christian needs his sword as well as his trowel. — William Gurnall (1617-1679).
He that demands mercy and shows none ruins the bridge over which he himself is to pass. — Thomas Adams (1583-1653).
The more godly any man is, the more merciful that man will be. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
Joy is the natural outcome of the Christian’s obedience to the revealed will of God — Anonymous.
Joy is the flag that is flown from the citadel of the heart when the King is in residence. — Anonymous.

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