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                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

               Finding Our Function In The Body (12:3-8)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our text, we find Paul expressing several principles concerning
   the church...
   a. Christians are one body in Christ
   b. As one body, we are individually members of one another
   c. The members do not have the same function
   d. We should serve in whatever function God has given us ability

2. The last two principles often cause one to ask...
   a. "What is my function in the body of Christ?"
   b. "How do I determine what function(s) I have?"

3. It may help to compare it to choosing a vocation...
   a. There are principles used in determining one's aptitude and
      vocational direction
   b. These principles may help one determine what our functions might
      be in the body of Christ

[For example, when people contemplate career choices, one thing they do
is acquaint themselves with job descriptions.  So let's...]

I. EXAMINE THE FUNCTIONS

   A. PROPHECY (Preaching)...
      1. The Greek word propheteia is defined as "the speaking forth of
         the mind counsel of God" - Vine's
      2. Originally, this referred to the gift of the Spirit by which
         one was inspired to reveal God's truth
      3. Today, the service most akin to prophecy is preaching
         a. Where one proclaims the counsel of God as already revealed
         b. By expounding upon the Word of God, not through direct
            inspiration

   B. MINISTRY (Serving)...
      1. The Greek word diakonia means "to serve"
      2. It is often used to describe any sort of service
         a. E.g., the service offered by Timothy - 2Ti 4:5
         b. E.g., the service offered by Phoebe - Ro 16:1-2
      3. In a more official capacity, it is used to describe those
         qualified and appointed to serve as deacons (diakonos)

   C. TEACHING (Instructing)...
      1. Involves instructing others of the Word of God
      2. There are variations of this function
         a. Private teaching - e.g., Ac 18:26
         b. Older women teaching the younger women - Tit 2:4
         c. Teaching in more formal sense, which not all were to do
            - cf. Jm 3:1

   D. EXHORTING (Building up)...
      1. The ability to build up and strengthen others
      2. Some may do this publicly (e.g., preachers, teachers) - e.g.,
         Barnabas
      3. Others may be adept to it more privately and daily - He 3:12-13

   E. GIVING (Sharing)...
      1. Some people find themselves abundantly blessed
      2. I.e., God has given them "seed for sowing fruits of
         righteousness" - cf. 2Co 9:8-11
      3. Thus it is within their ability and responsibility to give and
         bless others - 1Ti 6:17-19

   F. LEADING (Shepherding)...
      1. This likely refers to the work of elders (pastors, overseers)
         - cf. Ac 20:17,28; 1Pe 5:1-2
      2. They have the responsibility of watching out for our souls - He
         13:17
      3. They must meet specific qualifications to serve in this
         function - cf. 1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9

   G. SHOWING MERCY (Loving)...
      1. Perhaps this service is best illustrated in Mt 25:35-36
      2. Can involve visiting the sick, the dying, the bereaved;
         ministering to those in prison, etc.

[I doubt Paul's list is meant to be exhaustive; but it illustrates that
there is a great variety of functions in the body of Christ.  With an
understanding of the options of service available, how do we know which
one(s) we may be best suited for?  Those in career counseling would
suggest that one...]

II. EXPLORE THE OPPORTUNITIES

   A. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES...
      1. E.g., training programs offered in teaching, preaching,
         evangelism, etc.
      2. E.g., experienced brethren (going with them as they fulfilled
         their service; "job shadowing")
      3. Even if you prove not to have the potential for a certain work,
         you gain understanding and appreciation for what others do

   B. TRY SERVING IN ALL AREAS OPEN TO YOU...
      1. Be willing to try everything you can
      2. You may have a talent you did not know you had!
      3. You may find yourself to have many talents!

   C. DON'T GIVE UP AFTER THE FIRST FEW TRIES...
      1. Failures may be due to inexperience, not lack of potential
      2. Only with time and many efforts can we know what might be our
         forte

[As you explore the opportunities given you, be open to advice and
counsel from others...]

III. INQUIRE FOR ADVICE

   A. OTHERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE OBJECTIVE...
      1. Pride can get in the way - cf. Ro 12:3
      2. Others may see our strengths and weaknesses more clearly
      3. They may see where weaknesses are due to inability and not
         inexperience

   B. ESPECIALLY MATURE CHRISTIANS...
      1. Such as elders
         a. Who must be multitalented men of experience
         b. Part of their role as elders
      2. Other older Christians are often very helpful

CONCLUSION

1. The more diligent one can be to...
   a. Examine the functions of service in the body of Christ
   b. Explore the opportunities to learn and serve in the different
      functions
   c. Inquire for advice from others
   -- The sooner one should be able to discern what is their function in
      the body of Christ

2. Then the challenge becomes one of being diligent in utilizing our
   function...
   a. As Paul admonishes his readers in our text - cf. Ro 12:6-8
   b. As Peter admonishes his readers in his epistle - cf. 1Pe 4:10-11

Brethren, there is much work to do.  Let us be diligent to do it "with
the ability God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified
through Jesus Christ..." - 1Pe 4:11
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