Some Christians actively or passively treat the church, or more usually the notion of membership in a local church, as if it is, at best, not necessary for their spiritual growth, or, at worst, as an actual hindrance.
Timmy Brister demonstrates the self-destructive delusion behind that foolish notion by bidding us consider what the existence and nature of the spiritual gifts given to those who form the church in local congregations tells us about our personal needs as individual Christians.
Spiritual Gifts Inform Us of Our Neediness
We do not have an exhaustive list of gifts of the Spirit in the Bible, but we do have a lot of them. These gifts are sovereignly distributed by the Spirit for the common good and edification of the church. When each member is working properly, the body grows and is built up in love.
In the wisdom of God, He has designed that we are all ministers to one another in various ways through a variety of gifts. Have you considered what God is saying about us with the equipment of so many gifts? We are a needy people! You are a needy person. We do not realize how profound our spiritual needs are, but God does, and He has made provision for our needs through the gifts of His Spirit exercised through the lives of His people. For example:
When the Holy Spirit intends a person with the gift of giving to be useful in the church, what does it say about us? We are in deep need of the generous benevolence of others, and God is intentional about providing that financial or practical through others.
When the Holy Spirit intends a person with the gift of exhortation to be useful in the church, what does it say about us? We are in deep need of encouragement and proper motivation, and God is intentional about providing people in our lives to stir our hearts and direct our steps in paths that honor God.
We could extend this exercise through the various lists of spiritual gifts, the point God is making to us is this:
1. We have profound needs in multiple areas of our lives
2. God has made provision for those needs to be met by the gifts of His Spirit
3. Members of the body of Christ supply the needs to one another through exercising the Spirit’s gifts
This is another significant reason for being a covenant member of a local church and meaningful participant in gospel community. As a needy person, you will feel tempted to address those needs through unspiritual means. But when you understand how God ordered the church, you know that God intends that each member would “have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25).
Lone-ranger Christians are at best disobedient and dysfunctional. They are disobedient because numerous commands of Scripture require us to be in regular contact with other believers (“one another” commands). They are dysfunctional because the needs they have are not being met by the God-ordained means of gifts of the Holy Spirit through each member of His body. Perhaps what exists behind of this is a denial of neediness–a determination of making it by self-determination and independence. Sadly, this state of existence is far too common in the church today.
God knows what we need before we ask Him. God has made provision through the distribution of the Spirit’s gifts through the work of ministry when each member is equipped and working properly. As we have our needs met through the ministry of others, we are also meeting the needs of others by the gifts given to us for their good.