Lessons From the Early Church
A Sermon on Romans 12:6-8
6However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; 7if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; 8or …
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, …
Why does God give different spiritual gifts to each Christian? In this sermon on Romans 12:6–8 titled “Lessons From the Early Church,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells that God equips His church in order to strengthen and build it up to accomplish the task of preaching the gospel and disciplining all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is seen in the early church that many of the early believers had different roles and purposes in bringing about the kingdom of God – some as apostles, some as prophets, and others as evangelists. The prophets and the apostles form the foundation from which the whole church was to be built. They wrote Scripture and spoke the very words of God as God’s emissaries to his people. They were often the ones to lay hands on others so that they would receive the power and the giftings of the Holy Spirit, displaying the apostles’ power and authority. Furthermore, some have the specific gift of leading and teaching. These men are called elders, shepherds, overseers, and presbyters. All these titles convey the same role as the leader amongst God’s people. These are the ones whom God has specially gifted to preach the gospel and shepherd the people of God. This is a charge given by the Holy Spirit of God for the glory of God and the edification of the church.
- The apostle Paul is addressing the church at Rome and instructing them on how to properly exercise their spiritual gifts.
- Paul lists several gifts including prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling, and showing mercy. However, this list is not exhaustive.
- The gifts are given by the Holy Spirit either directly or through the laying on of hands. Both methods are biblical. The direct method seems to be more common.
- The early church was a functioning body with all members participating and exercising their gifts. This is evident from 1 Corinthians 14 which describes church gatherings.
- The church had order and leadership in the form of elders (also called presbyters or overseers) and deacons. Elders were responsible for teaching and governance while deacons served.
- Elders and deacons were chosen by the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They were then ordained through the laying on of hands, often by apostles or their delegates.
- Among the elders, some would be appointed to positions of leadership to help guide the church. However, the church still maintained a spirit of mutual participation.
- The early churches were independent but united in fellowship and doctrine. They would meet together to discuss important issues.
- The state of the modern church is very different from the New Testament model. We must consider how the church transitioned to its present state and whether that transition can be justified biblically.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.