“To Each One Is Given The Manifestation Of The Spirit For The Common Good” (1 Cor.12:7)
Food For Thought from D. M. Lloyd-Jones
There is also this whole question of the exercise of gifts in the church. I mentioned our ex-Exclusive Brethren this morning and I did so deliberately in order that it might focus our attention on this particular point. Here are men who have come out of their bondage but are bewildered and confused; they do not know what to do. They have certain major difficulties, one of which is the so-called “one-man ministry.” We have our views about that, but I feel the time has come for us to examine even questions such as these. It does not mean that you necessarily abandon that ministry, but it does focus attention on this: are we giving members of the church an adequate opportunity to exercise their gifts? Are our churches corresponding to the life of the New Testament church? Or is there too much concentration in the hands of ministers and clergy?
You say, “We provide opportunity for the gifts of others in week-night activities.” But I still ask, “Do we manifest the freedom of the New Testament church?”
In other words, this is another reason why we must come back and consider the whole doctrine of the nature of the church, and the marks of the church. By doing so we shall be solving, in detail, many of these particular points and problems which need to be reconsidered among us.
When one looks at the New Testament church and contrasts the church today, even our churches, with that church, one is appalled at the difference. In the New Testament one sees life and vigor and activity; one sees a living community, conscious of its glory and of its responsibility, with the whole church, as it were, an evangelistic force. The notion of people belonging to the church in order to come to sit down and fold their arms and listen, with just two or three doing everything, is quite foreign to the New Testament, and it seems to me it is foreign to what has always been the characteristic of the church in times of revival and reawakening….
We cannot just go on in the position we have inherited, which we inherited from mid- and post-Victorianism and Edwardianism. The machine is still running so many of these things, but is it running to any good purpose? It is for us to call a halt and to stop.
From Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions, 1942-1977,Banner of Truth Trust, 1989, pp. 195-196. Published in Searching Together by Jon Zens.