Unlimited Possibilities

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:11
Date: 08/08/2020 
Lesson: 6
'God calls us to witness for Him. Witnessing is not a special spiritual gift that only a select few possess. Witnessing is the divine calling of each Christian. For God, what matters isn’t so much what you have, but rather, what you do with what you have.'
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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends. Welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour," coming to you from the Amazing Facts' offices in Granite Bay, Sacramento. We'd like to welcome all of those who are joining us for our Sabbath School study time. We've been going through the lesson entitled "Making Friends for God." Today we're working on lesson number six, which is entitled "Unlimited Possibilities." Now, if you don't have a copy of the Sabbath School quarterly, you can go to the Amazing Facts website. And if you click on the tab that says Study Hour, you'll be able to download today's lesson and you can follow along with us, or you can visit a nearby Seventh-day Adventist Church and you can ask them for a lesson quarterly if you'd like to study along with us.

We do have a free offer we'd like to tell you about. It is a book entitled "Life in the Spirit," and we'll be happy to send this to anyone who calls and asks. The number for the book is 866-788-3966, and ask for offer number 155. Again, the number to call is 866-788-3966. Ask for offer number 155, and we'll be happy to get this in the mail and send it to you. Or you can request a digital download of the book. And if you'd like to do that, just text the code SH047 to the number 40544. Again, the code is SH047 to the number 40544, and you'll receive a digital download of the book entitled "Life in the Spirit" and I think you'll be blessed as you read through that resource.

But before we get to our lesson, let's start with prayer. Dear Father, we thank You that we have this opportunity to be able to open up Your Word and study a very important lesson, that of sharing our faith with others. We know this is part of the Great Commission in making disciples, and so we ask for Your blessing. Guide us as we open up Your Word, for we ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by our youth pastor here at the Granite Bay church, Pastor Luccas Rodor.

Luccas Rodor: Good morning, friends. It is such a pleasure to be with you here this morning. This lesson today is such a beautiful lesson, and I weigh one of the most important ones we have because it has to do with such a major arc in the quarter's lesson and in the biblical teaching of what it means to make friends for God.

The title of today's lesson, as Pastor Jëan has already said, is "Unlimited Possibilities." And basically up to now we've been talking about the different aspects of what it means to make friends for God; how we should interact with people, the messages that we should be taking for them, the different ways that we can be intentional on our service for God, how to deal with more difficult people and different situations. And so that's what we've been leading up to. And today when we talk about unlimited possibilities, really what we're talking about are the inexhaustible gifts that our God has to reach people. And so today's lesson is basically that; when we talk about how God is inexhaustible in His gifts for us to be witnessing and the fact that we should be witnesses of the kingdom that is to come, of the things that we've seen and the things that we've heard. So today that's basically what we're going to be talk about--what we're going to be talking about.

You know, friends, we're all called to be witnesses. We're all called to be witnesses. Our calling is not to convince people. We're not called to be big debaters or defenders of the gospel. We're called to be witnesses--simply witnesses of what we have seen and of what we have heard. We're called to tell people about the experience that we've had with God and how we have been changed and transformed through our interactions with God and our relationship with Him. You know, the Bible--more specifically in the New Testament where we find this in a very transparent form, we find the Apostle John, for example, in 1 John 1:3 saying, "That which we have seen and heard, we declare to you." And then in another place in a very specific, in a very difficult situation where Peter and John, they had been held for a whole night, they were under--you know, kind of like hostages of the Sanhedrin, of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Under the oppression of that Sanhedrin and of that situation, they were able to say, and this is Acts 4:20, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

The reality that we find here is that when someone has an experience with God, when someone knows Him and walks with Him, when someone has seen and heard things from God, they cannot but speak of these things. They can't shut it up. They can't shut it down. They can't be quiet. They want to shout it out for the whole world to hear, and this is what Peter and John are saying right here. Now, one of the key questions when it comes to witnessing is, well, what does it mean to be a witness? Before we actually begin speaking about the gifts, we have to determine what are witnesses, what does it mean to witness.

Now, let me backtrack a little bit here and explain how we're going to go through this lesson. I presume that you've already studied it at home during the week, and today what we're going to do is try to connect the dots of each day during the lesson. So we're not really going to go Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. What we're going to do is go through the different topics and how they interact with each other, and I hope that that makes sense.

So back to our original question here is, what does it mean to be a witness? How are we witnesses? What do we--how do we define this term and this word? Now, you have to remember that this is a word that Jesus himself used in the context of his departure. So after his resurrection, while he's spending time--the last few moments with his apostles, with his disciples, Jesus uses this term again and again. "You shall be my witnesses. You shall be my witnesses." So it's a--it happens in a very specific moment of Jesus's ministry with his disciples while he's instructing them of what they had to do after he goes back, but this is not an instruction that is limited to the disciples, and this is where it gets important for us.

This is where we come into this whole picture because this order that Jesus gave, this great commission, it wasn't limited to the apostles. This is something that is extended to the entire body of Christ, the church throughout these two last millennia of human history, these two last thousand years of human history. And this is something that God not only reveals to the church as a whole, this is something that God reveals to us as individuals.

Hopefully, this is something that you've already discerned by this point; is that God has a plan, God has a mission for you. As an individual, as a member of this body, God has something that you--specifically right now at home that you have to do; a gift that you have, a skill or a talent that He's giving you that you should be using to engage the kingdom in the life of the people around you.

You know, friends, none of us were won for Christ to just sit--to just sit by idly and do nothing. Peter exhorted the Christians in his second epistle, showing them that God does not want us--and this is in 2 Peter 1:8. That God does not want us to be barren or unfruitful. Look at the terminology. God does not want us to not have spiritual children, not to be spiritually barren or unfruitful. He wants us to multiply. With what we know, with the experience that we have, He wants us to engage with people, to invest in people so that they can become then also disciples and witnesses for God. And more than that, we were reached for a purpose. We were reached for a purpose.

In Philippians 3:12 we read, "But I press on--" And this is Paul. "I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has also lay hold--laid hold of me." So look at what it's saying. "I have been laid hold of so that I may lay hold of." Basically what this is saying is that we were reached to reach, we were converted to convert, we were convinced by God of the glories of heaven so that we may go out and then convince people and relate to people and reach people. Basically, in his words, lay hold of. I have been laid hold of so that I can lay hold of. So that--in Christianity, it's one--and that's the--you know, one of the most famous terms that we have in this whole thing is that it's one beggar telling the other beggar where the bread is at, and that's our situation when it comes to witnessing. Paul declares that we have to--that we have been laid hold of to lay hold of. After reaching us--after God reaches us or lays hold of us, He has given us a goal too, something that we have to do.

We must grow according to the image. Isn't that what we always talk about? We have to grow according to what? To the image of God in us. That's God's ultimate plan here. It's to create in you the heart of Christ, the heart of God. He wants to instill in you His will and His heart. So that's God's ultimate goal, but to do that He has to transform us into many Christs. That's what Christian means, small Christs that reach other people. We must be fruitful as we trail through this process. Now, Jesus's plan for his church was exactly this; to make each and every one of us his witnesses, bearing testimony of the things that we have seen and heard. And, friends, we live for this. This is the purpose of what we live for. Today as Christians, we live for this. And if our Christian life is not serving this purpose, it's probably because we need to remodel this according to God's will.

So, friend, understand what I'm saying. If you weren't living for this purpose--and of course, we need to work. We need to go out. We need to--you know, we have social interactions. We do other things in life. But if all these things aren't filtered by what it means to live for Christ, then this life of ours needs to be remodeled. It needs to be changed. We need to refocus on what is truly important. So the heart of the matter here is the definition of witness. What does it mean to be a witness? How do we witness? How do we define this aspect, witnessing? So in this process of defining it, we might become victims-- and pay attention. We might be victims of the wrong concept of what it means to be a witness. We might be defining witness as something--not something that it's not, but limiting it to only one or another aspect of what it means. So, for example, many may associate the verb witness with preaching or evangelizing. Many may be tempted to define being a witness with either preaching or evangelizing. Now, we know that as a result of the apostles witnessing, many people were evangelized, many people received the gospel; and we know that these apostles, they used their opportunities very well, very intentionally to proclaim the Word of God.

But witnessing, friend, is not primarily preaching and much less evangelizing. Did you get that? Witnessing is not primarily preaching or evangelizing. When the religious leaders in Jerusalem, they tried to forbid--you remember the story. This is in Acts chapter 4. When they tried to forbid Peter and John-- and we mentioned it earlier. When they tried to forbid them of preaching and of teaching in the authority of Jesus, we understand--through the answer that the apostles gave these religious leaders, we know that they understood very well what it meant to be a witness because they said, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

You see, friends, to them it wasn't enough to preach. They preached a lot. We know that. We know that Peter preached to 3,000--you know, a bunch of people, and Paul later on, and the apostles. We know that they did preach, but to them it wasn't enough to only preach but to speak of the things which they had seen and heard, the things that they had experienced with God, and that is what a witness does. That's what a witness does. When Paul was commissioned to be a witness by God, Jesus explained to him what that meant, and that's in Acts 22:15; where we read, "For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard."

Do you see something repeating here? Do you see how we have these two words, of the things that you have seen and heard, the things that you have experienced? The things that you have what? Witnessed. That's what it means to tell people, to relate to them the things that you have yourself experienced. In a legal setting, in a court of law, the witness that is summoned to speak--or the witness is summoned to speak not about his or her own opinion. They're not called to just--" Well, I think it's this. I think it's that. I see it this way." No. They're called to relay the facts which were presented to them by their firsthand experience of what they saw. And so no one has the authority to testify based on something that someone else saw. They're not going to call someone that heard something from someone else and got it fourth hand. No. They're going to call the eyewitness, people that have seen, that have experienced the facts. That is what it means to be a witness, and this is essential.

This is essential. Jesus--now pay attention here. Jesus didn't consider his apostles apt to be his witnesses just because they saw him resurrected. I mean, think about it. If that's what qualified people to be witnesses, if that's what qualified, you know, future generations to be witnesses, well, most of us--any of us--none of us would be here evangelizing and witnessing or, you know, spreading the gospel because we in a real--very real sense of the Word we didn't see Jesus 2,000 years ago. We're not living 2,000 years ago. So we read--and that's a reality that we find in 1 Peter 1:8, where we read, "Whom having you not seen--" This is talking about Jesus. "Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory."

Now, friends, our relationship with Jesus is through faith. Our relationship with Christ comes through faith, and this means that we can walk with him even though we don't see him. We can walk with him even though we don't see him physically. What he told his disciples then that would qualify them to be his witnesses is something that is repeated in our life today. This is something that is reproducible in us nowadays also. That's what we find in Acts 1, verse 8, where we read, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you."

Friends, there is a fundamental connection between the power of the Holy Spirit, what it means to receive the Holy Spirit, coming upon my life and the witness that I have to bear. There's a fundamental connection between one and the other because this is exactly his action in my life that allows me to show others the love that Jesus has in my life. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no way anywhere that I would be able to actually be a true witness because then I wouldn't have seen or heard anything. I wouldn't be a firsthand witness. It is only through the Holy Spirit that I become a firsthand witness.

When we're speaking about the Book of Acts, friends, really what we're talking about is--are the acts of the Holy Spirit. So in that first church, we see the Holy Spirit moving among the disciples and moving among the apostles, and that is what we find today. We find the Holy Spirit moving in our world, moving in our church, moving in our congregations, and moving in us; and it is only that way that we have any kind of authority to preach or to witness. Our witness is the fruit of a partnership. It's the product of a partnership between me and the Holy Spirit. That's why Jesus in John 15:26 and 27 says, "But when the helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me, and you will also be witnesses--or will--also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning."

Do you see? If witnessing is speaking of what we have seen and what we have heard, then what we need most is for the Holy Spirit to bring to us or allow us to taste or produce what it means to have Jesus living in our life, and this is something that Peter talks about in Acts 5:32; where he says, "And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." Friends, it's the Holy Spirit that gives us authority to preach. It's the Holy Spirit who gives us the authority to witness, to testify. By his actions, Jesus becomes provable in my life, Jesus becomes real in my life.

We begin to experience the power of God through many circumstances; for example, first through conversion. We experience the power of God through conversion, the change of direction and the change of connection. The direction of my life, it goes from one direction, one way that I was walking, and you have a 180-degree turn to go in a different direction. The direction of my life changes. But not only this, the connection of my life changes. What was I connected to before in my previous life? And now the connection becomes a connection with heaven. So that's the first change or that is a change that we find when God changes our life. Then we begin to reflect this Jesus of whom we've heard about, but we had never experienced yet. We begin to experience Him. We begin to see the actions of God, and this is the proof. This is the first proof that Jesus is alive and acting in us.

You know, when I speak of Jesus to somebody, I don't only share with them the doctrines or my belief. Friends, there are a lot of people that are very good at speaking about the abstract aspects of the gospel. They'll be very good at explaining doctrine; the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the Sabbath, the belief that we have in the mortal soul, and so on and so forth. There are many people that are very good at explaining the more abstract, the more theoretical knowledge. But if I don't have the catalyst, which is the practical experience of what these more theoretical things do in my life, it's dead. It won't produce anything.

The problem, friend, with many believers today is that they have nothing to say, nothing to show. All those words are just empty. They're superficial because they aren't real. They haven't been lived. They haven't been experienced before. Someone's witness, friends, isn't accepted when it only portrays something that someone else saw or someone else heard. If the police know of someone that witnessed the crime, they're not going to fill out the pages of their report with the witness of someone else that said that they heard what happened from somebody else. No. They're going to call the firsthand witness, the eyewitness. Friends, many Christians, unfortunately, don't witness of Jesus. They only relay the witness of others.

Did you get that? There are many Christians that don't relay their own, that can't witness. They can only relay the witness that they've heard from other people. So what we need is the power of the Spirit acting in our life. That's what Jesus is talking about when he said that the Holy Spirit--the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us. We need to seek not only the anointment to preach, not only the anointment to teach the acts in our life, and then we need to open our mouth. We need to seek not only the anointment, but the power that act in our life to preach and to teach and to share our experience. And then after we've had these--this anointment of the Holy Spirit, then we will be able to go out and to talk about what is written in the Word of God.

You know, we need to not only speak what is written in the Word of God, but we need to speak and we need to be able to portray how what is written in the Word of God was capable of changing our life. That's what we need, really. We will be able then--when we have the Holy Spirit, we will be able to not only speak about what we believe, but how what we believe was capable of changing us.

And that's what faith is, friends. Faith--or better, belief becomes faith on the point of action; when that faith produced something in my life, produced the gifts of the Spirit in my life, and that's what we're talking about today, the gifts of the Spirit. Then that belief became faith because it was real. I will be capable of not speaking about only the things that I believe theoretically, but I will be able to speak about how these things that I believe theoretically we're capable of changing my life.

Now, we see this in a very practical way in the gospel, and here we're going further into the lesson. We see this in a very practical way in the gospels by the very diversity of Jesus's first apostles. Here we find that Jesus's call was irresistible. It was powerful. Think about it. Think about these men that Jesus called. For example, in that group we had Matthew, a tax collector. A tax collector was seen as someone who had sold his soul to the Roman Empire, all right? He was allied to the Roman Empire. They were his employers, and that's why they were so hated by the rest of the Israelite nation.

So we have Matthew the tax collector, and in the same group we have someone called Simon the Zealot, a temperamental revolutionary that hated any type of Roman collaborator or any type of Roman worker or official. And so can you imagine the kind of tensions that they had in that group? I mean, if today you can hardly get people who disagree politically in a room and they'll start arguing with each other, imagine back then where the hatred was multiplied, where people killed each other and hated each other based on that. Think about the--maybe the types of discussions that Matthew as a tax collector and Simon as a zealot would have with each other. So here we find the power, how irresistible Jesus's call to follow him truly was. And just like these two men, we find that all the other apostles, each with his own personality; but instead of being an obstacle, instead of being a hindrance, this contributed to the service that they were to provide in witnessing.

So what Jesus is telling us basically by these men-- think about it. What Jesus is telling us with this group that he had there at the beginning, what he's telling us is this: "If I could work with them, if I could change the world with them, if I could transform the lives of these humble fishermen and tax collector and zealots, if I could work with them and mold them, I can work with you too. I can change you, too. I can transform you, too. I can change the world with you, too." You see, friends, when it comes to the transformation that comes from the gospel, it is--everything is about God. It's not about me. The only participation that I have in this whole process is being available, is allowing Him, is opening my heart because our God is a God that doesn't impose His will on anybody. So when I open my heart to Him and I allow Him to work in me, then He will come and He will change and He will transform and He will embolden and He will give gifts and talents, and that's what we find in this first group of disciples, of apostles.

And this is a great encouragement for us today that sometimes think that we don't have gifts, that we can't do anything, that we are irrelevant, that we don't have talents, that we are not skillful. God can use anyone. God can use anybody. Diversity in the church, friends, was compared in the Bible to the diversity of the body. Has anyone ever heard of a knee wanting to be a nose? And these are--this is the terminology that we find there in the epistles.

Does--has anyone ever heard of a knee wanting to be a nose or lips, or has anyone ever seen an entire body wanting to be just the eyes? First of all, that would be really funny if that would happen, and it would be very weird. But second of all and even worse, it wouldn't work. A body that all the members wanted to be just one member, that body wouldn't function at all. We don't see feet complaining because they've never eaten ice cream. And of course I'm being silly here, but we've never seen feet complaining because they haven't eaten ice cream or an ear complaining because it's never experienced what it means to be like inside a shoe, unless you have some very funny ears out there that like to put themselves in shoes. But that doesn't happen. No.

Each member of the body has its own function, has its own utility. The feet--think about it. The feet, they stay inside a very tight space for the most part of their life and a place that really doesn't smell that well, you know. That doesn't smell very good, always tight, carrying the entire weight of the body, but we don't find it trying to be something that it's not.

A great problem that we face in the church today is the hostility among the members, fighting, bickering. All sorts of reasons: jealousy, indifference, malice, ignorance, fear. A divided body was the great problem of the church in Corinth, and we find Paul fighting and battling against this. Some of them would say, "Well, I am of Apollos." Other said, "Well, I am of Peter." Others said, "I am of Paul." And others yet trying to be even superior and, you know, having that holier than thou mentality, "Well, I am of Christ." When Paul saw this, he became indignant and he said, "What are you talking about? Is Christ divided? Did I per chance or Peter or Apollos, did we die for you?" So that can't happen.

When you see, friend, someone using their gifts for God, when you see someone trying their best, don't fall into the trap of being envious or jealous of them. Praise God for someone that is doing their best at something that you would like to do yourself. Praise God. I know many people that sing marvelously, many people that know how to play the piano and they play up a storm. Those are not my gifts. I wish they were. You're lucky that I'm not here singing for you. It would not be pleasant. So God gives His gifts to different people in different ways, and we have to understand that.

Some people have many gifts. I know people who can play piano and sing and preach and teach. People with many gifts, and there are some that have few gifts. And the thing here is that both are under different temptations. Those people that have many gifts might become tempted to think, "Well, I am so good." They become arrogant. "I can do this and this and this. I'm irreplaceable."

Friends, in the body of Christ, no one is irreplaceable. We have a privilege to work for God. We have a privilege to preach, to teach, to be used by Him. It's something that He uses us to bless us. So people who have many gifts, sometimes they become haughty and they become proud. "Well, I can do this and I can do that."

But on the other side, people that don't have many gifts or many gifts that they know of, okay? And we're going to talk about that in a few minutes. They might be tempted to think that they are unimportant. They might be tempted to be jealous of those that have many gifts. They might be tempted to think that they are irrelevant. My friend, the divine order from God is to preach--it's for the gospel to be preached by the entire body. What does that mean? The gospel has to be preached by everybody. That includes me. That includes here the media folks. That includes my wife. That includes you at home. The divine order, the Great Commission is for the entire gospel to be preached by everybody, including you, including me.

You know, throughout Ellen White's writings, we find at least eight reasons to become personally involved in missionary witnessing and the expansion of the gospel, and these are the eight reasons. First of all, because it is the true proof of conversion. We understand that we've been converted to the cause when we're working in the cause. That's one. A second reason is because it is the divine plan to develop our character or develop the character of Christ in us. As we preach, as we witness, as we use our gifts, we are developing the personality of Jesus or the image, the character of Jesus in our life. Thirdly, because it is the secret for the growth of Christian life.

You want to know the secret of growing, the secret of working for God, the secret of beginning this ministry? It's using your gifts. It's as simple as that. What are your gifts? We'll get to that. The fourth reason is because it is God's plan to strengthen our faith. When I am involved, my faith is growing. When I'm involved in expanding the gospel and taking this message out, I am strengthening my faith. Fifth, because it is the antidote against dissidence and apostasy.

Look, friends, dissidence and apostasy comes about when people have too much time on their hands. That's the truth. When people have too much time to start wondering, "Well, I wonder if the Holy Spirit exists. I wonder if Jesus really was God, if he wasn't the first man to be ever creator, the first creation of the universe." Dissidence and apostasy come about when people have too much time on their hands. When they get involved, when they're busy with the work of saving souls, of being used by God to reach people, they won't have time for dissidence or for apostasy. Sixth, because it is the method of Christ to promote a healthy revival.

The church today is in need of revival, but that revival has to come from somewhere, and the healthiest way for that revival to come is when we witness the need in the world of this message. Just staying at home cooped up inside, just digesting and intaking messages from the TV and from the internet; just doing that, we die. Why is the Dead Sea called the Dead Sea? Because it receives from many sources, but it doesn't give. There's no outlet. Just that way we need to have the intake, but we have to have also the outtake. We need to share, to give from what--or of what we have heard. Seventh, because it is the remedy for spiritual apathy.

Do you find yourself in a low point in your spiritual life? Do you find yourself tired of the spiritual life that you've been having, seemingly dead? Well, start using your gifts, witness to people the things that you've seen and the things that you've heard, and I assure you that that is a remedy for your spiritual life.

And finally, number eight, and what I consider to be the sweetest and most glorious reason for my personal involvement, is because this is the best way to await the return of Jesus. Being involved in Jesus's work, being in communion with him, walking with him day by day and sensing--being sensitive to the needs of people in the world, it's the best way to await the return of Jesus.

That's--honestly, that's why I became a pastor. I couldn't think of a better way of dedicating my life to this than working at it 100% of my time, 24/7. And I love it. I love the fact that we can--or I can minister to people. I can help--look, friends. This is something that blesses me just as much as it blesses the people being ministered to. It's a blessing for me. It's the best and sweetest way that I know of of awaiting the return of Jesus.

Now, when we speak about witnessing, how that translates into a practical term, into practicality, into the day to day is through spiritual gifts, and this is a reality that we find portrayed in the Bible. So when we go to the New Testament, we find basically three places that the New Testament speaks about the gifts of the Spirit; and that's found in Romans chapter 12, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and in Ephesians chapter 4. So through the study of these passages, we find two main characteristics of the spiritual gifts and here, follow me, we find two main characteristics of the spiritual gifts that pop out of the text, that pop out of that narrative.

First of all, every gift is given by God. All good gift comes from the Lord above. That's the first thing that we find out. And second, all gifts--every gift is given for the body, is given to the body, to the Church of God. If you have a gift, friend, if you have a talent, you can rest assured that that talent was not given to you for your personal selfish use. That gift was given to expand, to unite, to mature, to encourage, and to grow the body and the kingdom of God. The gift was not given for you to use for personal gain or for selfish uses, and we can add to this that the distribution of these gifts is God's prerogative.

What that means is that God decides; it's not you. God decides who He will give the gift to, where He will implant it, what gifts are needed. And that while the gifts that are mentioned in these lists and in these chapters are all part of the original lists provided by God that we find in the Bible, rest assured that God is not limited to these lists.

God is inexhaustible. God cannot be limited. Those gifts that are there are gifts that were needed for that first century church, but God is not limited to them. New needs may bring God to offer new gifts. For example, hospitality. Hospitality is not a part of these original lists. But as the church grew, as it was enlarging, as it expanded, the need for hospitality was given. And so that's another gift that we find also in the Book of Acts and that we find in need of today. At conversion--remember this. At conversion when you meet Jesus, natural talent; the talents that you had, the talents that God gave you, they become a gift of the Spirit. Even the things that you were born with, they're gifts of the Spirit. These are the talents of God that He has given you.

Now, since--and this is really important. This is the continuation of this subject, this arc of the gifts. Since every believer does have--and trust me, if you think you don't, you do. I'll tell you straight off, God gives everyone a gift. Since every believer has at least one of the spiritual gifts, everyone should do the best to find their gifts, to discover what their gifts are, and finding your specific gift isn't a work that will ever be concluded or completed completely. It's not something that will ever end. Because as we continue to develop it, as you continue to get better and to find out your gift, rest assured that you're going to find more. You're going to develop newer gifts, more gifts, and this means that the gifts that aren't present now might be present in the future. Perhaps there's a gift that you don't have right now, but you will have in the future.

Friends, I am not one of those people that was born being able to preach. It might not seem so, but I am an introvert. I am. I'm not an extroverted person. I'm not shy, don't get me wrong, but I am an introvert. And so beginning to preach when I was, you know, 19, 20 years old, that was difficult for me. I remember the first time that I preached. It wasn't when I was 11. I wasn't a child prodigy preaching when I was 8 years old. It took time. I was 19 or 20 years old in the third year of seminary, and I had to preach because it was part of--you know, part of what I was going through at school, and I remember that I planned to preach for 45 minutes. I got up to preach, my legs started shaking, my hands-- my palms got sweaty. I became pale, and I--the sermons that I planned for 45 minutes came out in 5 minutes, and my dad had to come up and finish the prayer for me. That was difficult. I was tempted to--" You know what? This isn't going to work out. I'm not going to be a good pastor. This will never work for me." It was a gift that needed to be developed. At least the fear of speaking in front of people was something that needed to be developed. Speaking to a camera, this is something pretty new to me too and so I'm developing that gift.

You see, God, He gives you opportunities to develop gifts. Not all gifts are born with you. You develop them, and God has patience with you and so should the church. The church should also have patience with people trying to develop their gifts. So the question here is, how do we discover our gifts anyway? How do we discover these gifts? Well, first of all, pray about it. Pray intently about it. Pray for the Lord to reveal them. Since spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, they have to be discovered in a spiritual context. And here I'm not talking about a casual prayer, right? This isn't the prayer that you're going to make when you're, you know, having lunch. "Lord, please bless this meal. Oh, by the way, just help me find a spiritual gift." No. This is an intentional prayer. This is something that has to be spoken about intentionally with God. Pray that the Lord may reveal to you your place within his body.

Second of all, explore the possibilities. It's very important to become acquainted with as many spiritual gifts that exists; and the best way to do this, the best way to start, begin with the list in the Bible. Begin with what you find there, with what God has already revealed in there, but remember that these lists do not exhaust the gifts and that the gifts are not limited to those mentioned here. These are suggestive lists of the necessary gifts needed during that first century. They were necessary to compel and to impel the first century church.

But since we don't live in the first century, there are many gifts that aren't mentioned there. For example, today we have media, we have TV, we have the internet, we have websites. And so we need people gifted with cameras, people gifted with media, with microphone, with internet. I can never do any of that. I am a millennial, but I don't have this gift of being that tech-savvy. I mean, I could get around, but I'm not like the crew here that are so good at what they do. I can't do that. These are gifts that God gives, which they are using for Him, and this is something--just one example of so many gifts that aren't mentioned in the Bible because we live in different times.

So explore the gifts. Try to discover, try to know what they are. In third place or thirdly, as much as possible, try to experience with other gifts. Try different gifts. Try to use them and see what the results will be. One of these gifts, for example, is evangelism. How will you know if you don't try? How will you know that you're good or not good if you don't try? You know, a recent study about church growth revealed that at least 10% of any given local congregation, 10% of the people do have this gift, but less than 2% of them actually use it. What a tragedy.

Remember--in this context, remember that just because someone is not gifted in something today doesn't mean that they may not receive and learn. If you really want to test any given gift, try to do some research first. Look, see some tips, see some methods. If you want to be good at giving a Bible study, well, try to research how do people give Bible studies and implement those as you try. Don't be ashamed. Don't be embarrassed. Don't be timid. God has given us a spirit of boldness to conquer this world for Him. So try it. How will you know if you don't try?

Now, on the other side, don't insist in something that you see that you're not going good at. Sometimes there are people that are not good at singing. They're just, you know--and in that sense, you have to have that good sense, that good judgment to recognize what you're good at and what you're not good at, and things that you can get better at and things that you can't. I mean--of course, we're called to sing and praise God, but not all of us are called to be worship leaders. If I don't have a voice--that's my case. A voice that is on key, I'm not going to be a worship leader. I'm not. I can recognize that. I'm mature enough to understand that I don't sing very well. Lucky for you. So we have to understand that difference right there.

Fourth of all, search your feelings. Search your feelings. And again, look. Feelings aren't always the best guide and we can't base everything on our feelings, but they should be considered. If someone tests their gifts, they can ask themselves, "Do I find satisfaction in this? Am I find this enjoyable? Does this bring me joy?" Well, this may be an indication of your gift. But don't confuse being nervous--okay, that first time everyone's going to be nervous, or most people will be nervous the first time trying something new. Don't confuse that with the lack of satisfaction. Sometimes you have to insist a little bit. Try it out, see how it goes.

And lastly, since the gifts are used by the body of Christ, await the confirmation of the church. Other Christians may recognize gifts in you, gifts that you have, and confirm that we have this gift. And so in this way, an atmosphere of affirmation and of confirmation must be sustained in the church. Members need to be sincere in encouragement. So encourage. If you see perhaps a younger youth in the church or even someone that's a bit older, encourage. "Look, you're good at this. I see you doing this. I see you speaking. You're a good Sabbath School teacher. You're a good greeter. You have that--you know, a way of well--a warmth of you." Encourage people. Tell them that they're good at something because in that way you're encouraging them to become active participants in the expansion of the kingdom.

Encourage people. The church must provide opportunities so that gifts may be recognized and placed into practice. And in this context, we have the parable of the talent where, you know, one servant was given more and one some and another one was just given one talent. Now, the moral here, the lesson that we learned from this parable--this is in Matthew chapter 25, verse 14 through 30. The lesson in this parable is not about how many talents were given, but about how they were used. And the lessons is the more you use, the more will be given unto you. And if you just bury it, you hide it and you don't use it, even what you have will be taken. And in this way, we have also what applies to the laws of learning languages. When you don't use it, you lose it. That's how it works with God's gifts. If I'm not using it, I will lose it.

So, friend, use your gifts, the gifts that God gives you. So pray, keep your eyes open for opportunities and possibilities. Don't quit until you find out where you belong, and even then don't quit. Continue going on. You might feel afraid, nervous, scared to use your gifts, scared of failure, but remember what the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said. "You miss all shots that you don't take." And that's true here. You're going to miss all the shots that you don't take. Remember that the use of your gift and the regular practice may be the divine instrument to develop you and grow you into a mature Christian and grow you into a part of the body of Christ, the grown-up part of the body of Christ.

You know, friends, before God, all Christians find themselves in the same position, a priesthood to which we are admitted at baptism. And this is a reality that we find in 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 9 that says, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim these praises--or the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light." You know, the term layman in the context of the spiritual gifts cannot be defined by the dictionary, where the definition is an uninformed, someone that is not professional, someone that, you know, is not really good or not--doesn't know, is not experienced in any given talent or any given occupation. The word layman cannot be defined in this context by the dictionary. The definition has to come from Scripture, from the Bible. In the Bible, layman comes from the Greek word--a technical word called laos or laos, which literally means the people of God, the people of God. A layman is a member of the church of God; of the laos, the people of God. And in this sense, even the pastors are laymen in God's vineyard, but with a different function. They're part of the people of God.

Look, for example, what Sister White says in "Gospel Workers" page 351. She says, "The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women compromising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of the ministers and church officers." Look at what she says in "Christian Service" page 68. "The dissemination of the truth of God is not confined to a few ordained ministers. The truth is to be scattered by all who claim to be the disciples of Christ. It must be sown beside all waters."

And finally, and this one is even harsher. This is in her manuscript 151 of 1897. It says, "The members of the church are trained to rely--" Unfortunately. This is an unfortunate situation which she is relaying to us. "The members of the church are trained to rely upon preaching, and they do little for Christ. They bear no fruit, but rather increase in selfishness and unfaithfulness. They put their hope into the preacher and depend upon his efforts to keep alive their weak faith." Friends, this is so unfortunate.

My dear friends, missionary witnessing, testifying doesn't only bless the object to whom is being ministered, but also the subject of ministration. When you witness of God, you're not blessing only the person you're witnessing to, but it is a blessing to you; perhaps an even greater blessing to you that God is giving you.

Unfortunately, we live in the time of spectators, in the time of fans; seen in the secular world where stadiums are packed full of people to watch football, sports events, or baseball, or basketball, or to shows--music shows or concerts, and we live in that culture. That's just part of our culture today where practically the totality of the people in these huge place just sit by observing a few perform while they themselves are limited to sitting, watching, and applauding. This era of spectators--this time that we live in is invading our homes where millions of people are dependent on the TV, on the internet, on social media platforms, numbed and seduced by these shiny fantasies. And what's worse, this mentality threatens the very church where a few perform--a few people are up there performing and many become--have become nothing more than fans for Jesus.

Friends, Jesus does not need fans. Jesus wants disciples. He wants witnesses. The church doesn't have a stage; it has an altar where we come with the gift of who we are. You know, in the midst of the medieval Protestant reform, Martin Luther rediscovered a very important truth, that each Christian is a priest and has an offering to offer. And this offering in his case was not mass. In our case, it can be whatever we can substitute for that mass, whatever people place in the place of that. No. The offering that we have to offer is the dedication of him or herself in obedience and service.

Each Christian has the duty, has the responsibility of sharing with others the gospel that they have received. And you know that the root of the word responsibility is the ability of response, our ability to act and react to what God has called us to do and what He has revealed His will to be. The Adventist movement has historically gone through some phases. I mean, you look at it, we find the first phase of the pioneers, that they were, you know, taking the message forward. We have the period of consolidation, we have the period of expansion, and finally, nowadays we find ourselves in the period of challenge. And what is our greatest challenge? Involving as many people as possible in ministry, not allowing that Jesus's Great Commission becomes his great omission where people become lukewarm. They become just nothing, fans just observing, just looking.

So, my dear friend, I truly hope that when it comes to your witnessing and your message that you have to spread, that God may use you, that He may bless you, that He may reveal to you His gifts or the gifts that He has for you, that you may be a faithful servant using your gifts for God. That was our "Sabbath School Study Hour."

Please do not forget. If you want this booklet, "Life in the Ministry," you can call the number 866-788-3966 or you can send a text for a digital download. May God bless you. May He be with you, and we hope to see you again here next week for another study of the Sabbath School lesson. May God be with you.

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Announcer: Amazing Facts changed lives.

Charlie Greene: My life was in turmoil. My wife and I were fighting all the time. I got away from everything and everybody. I don't know, it just--I always had this emptiness in my heart, that I wanted filled. I just felt like I went my whole life, you know, just searching for something. My father died, and that ruined me a lot. My father didn't believe in suicide. I didn't want to live, but rather than disrespect him I decided I would just become so mean and someone else would do it to me and I wouldn't have to. So I joined the army thinking, "What better place to get killed than in the army."

And while I was in the army, my daughter got injured. She was in an accident, and she was blind and paraplegic, and--it's just like I felt the whole world was coming down on me. One morning I just really got mad and I gave God a cussing like you wouldn't believe. I said, "I'm not Moses. I'm not Abraham. You know, I don't--but I put my sandals on just like they did and I'm a man. I don't want to know why this is happening to me, I just want to know that it's happening for a reason. If you tell me right now that this is all for a reason and you can stack on me from here to the end of time, and I will never complain again." And that little TV came on. It had been sitting there just static all night long, and there's this minister when he pops up and he says, "Today's lesson is from the Book of Job. God only lets those suffer that he loves the most." And I said, "Well, that's all you had to say, Lord. I appreciate it."

From that day forward, I knew that he was there and he was in my life and that he would help me. I went to prison just almost immediately after that. I was in prison for aggravated assault. I was in one of the worst prisons in the state of Tennessee. It was full of gang activity. I got my throat cut; 52 stitches. My neck, I could take those fingers and stick them all through my mouth. I'd gone to the library that day because it was really about the only thing to do when I ran across this little book called "The Richest Caveman." This book is hilarious, but it is great. I'm sitting there with this big beard I'm thinking, "Hey, I know what it's like to look like a caveman." I'm not an educated person, I guess you'd say, but I'm a simple guy. I'm just really a simple guy. That's what I loved about Doug Batchelor because this guy is just straight out as you can get.

And my wife and I, we've kept contact through all these years and so much is going on. And I told her, I said, "Listen, this is the center of my world right now." And I said, "I really want you to be involved in it with me. I need it." And I said, "You will too if you ever just take hold of it." I told my wife, I said, "Listen, I've got this Amazing Facts Bible study going here, and this is the best way for you to get this information, I think," I said, "because it's broken down and they give you questions and--to make you look for these things, you know. So it's not anyone telling you, you find it on your own. And they teach you actually to use the Bible." She was there faithfully every Wednesday until we decided, you know--she wanted to be baptized also. She saw coming around. The choice was made.

In October 4th, 2014, my wife and I were baptized in the water at the same time and we started our walk together, I guess you'd say. I went through everything that a man could possibly go through, I guess; from marital trouble, loss of family members, death in my family, my children were harmed. And my daughter is handicapped for life. I went to prison, but still I kept my word to God that He could stack it on me as much as He wanted and I'd never question Him again, and I didn't. But I can say this much. He never put nothing on me that I couldn't handle, and He walked with me through it all. And I'd like to say that anyone who is in prison not to give up. Don't lose hope. Put your faith in the Lord and study, and seek Him and He will seek you. My name is Charlie Greene, and I want you to know that you and Amazing Facts have changed my life.

Doug Batchelor: On several occasions, scientists have demonstrated that people and even creatures can struggle with depression when exposed to continual darkness. This can be seen every year in the winter months in the Arctic regions. The beautiful village of Rjukan, Norway is situated in a deep valley where mountains block the sun's rays for about 6 months every year. This, of course, keeps the 3,400 residents in a state of shade and sometimes depressing darkness throughout the winter.

Then the town leaders got a bright idea to help illuminate their village during the murky months. In October 2013, Rjukan installed an array of three gigantic 550 square foot mirrors on a nearby mountain 1,000 feet above the town. The computer-controlled and solar-powered mirrors track the sun through the winter months and reflect a giant beam of sunshine down to the town square, brightening their lives. If you visit Rjukan in the winter months today, you can often see the people gathered or sitting on benches around the town square bathing in the reflected sunshine.

Like those mirrors on the mountain, the Bible says that Christians are to reflect the light of Jesus, who is the light of the world, into this dark planet. Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do we light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it illuminates everybody in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." So, friends, use today to brighten the life of someone else by reflecting Jesus.

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