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- Do God’s Work – the Best You Can
- Do the Work through God
- The Manner in Which to Serve God
- Working with Other Believers
- Spiritual Gifts
In instructing us in how to do God’s work, serving him, the Bible urges us to do our best but emphasizes God’s role and the need to rely on him. The Bible also teaches us about: the manner in which we should serve God; serving God in a church context; and God’s extraordinary spiritual gifts to his people for serving him.
Paul appears to be speaking of God preparing particular work for each believer to do (cf. AMP). As such, believers need to look to God to guide them and enable them to do the work – and willingly do it.
Here “fruit” likely refers to spiritual outcomes of quality work for God.
[Jesus, to his disciples:] Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. John 15:4-5 NET
God’s servants cannot themselves produce any true and lasting spiritual results or growth from the work that they do – only God can.
[The early believers, praying:] Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30Show your mighty power, as we heal people and work miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus. 31After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God’s message. Acts 4:29-31 CEV
[Paul, to the Ephesian believers:] Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak – that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:19-20 NET
[Peter, to believers:] Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:11a NET
The first statement is probably indicating that we should rely on God’s help in what we say in ministering to others – as is paralleled in the second statement regarding serving with God’s strength.
[Paul, to believers:] But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6 ESV
God’s people serve and obey him now by following the directing of the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit’s empowerment, rather than by focusing on “obeying the letter of the law” (NLT).
[Zechariah, the priest:] This oath [of God] grants 74that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, may serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live. Luke 1:73b-75 NET
[Moses:] And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, … Deuteronomy 10:12 ESV
The Lord gave this command to Joshua, son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, because you will bring the Israelites into the land that I swore to give them, and I will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:23 GW
God equips people to serve him, notably by giving them spiritual gifts.
To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 8For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 NET
Broadly speaking, “the message of wisdom” and “the message of knowledge” (v. 8) quite possibly are respectively “the ability to give wise advice” (NLT) or insight and “the gift of special knowledge” (NLT) – with probably the application and conveying of spiritual truths being particularly in view.
The term “faith” (v. 9) does not refer to saving faith, but to exceptional faith or trust in God. The gift of “prophecy” (v. 10) is the communication of a revelation from God, such as a foretelling of a future event or a revelation of God’s will regarding a certain matter.
The gift of “discernment of spirits” (v. 10) appears to be the ability to distinguish whether something, such as a prophecy or teaching, is prompted by the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit. The gift of “tongues” (v. 10) is the ability to speak in an unlearned language. (Note that further gifts are mentioned in the following subsection.)
It was he [Christ] who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. Ephesians 4:11-13 NET
As parts of the body of Christ, believers are to use the gifts they have been given (v. 11) in ministry (v. 12a) so that Christ’s body may be built up and become mature (vv. 12b-13).