Question: Does every believer have a gift?
Answer: Yes. Every believer has at least one talent. There is no slave who does not have any gift. First Corinthians 12 says that to one is given one kind of gift and to another is given another kind of gift. Therefore, everyone has some gift. Every regenerated person has a gift. But not everyone has the same kind of gift. According to Ephesians 4, there are only five kinds of gifts that build up the whole church. But as to the gifts that are for the growth of a local church, we have those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. Not every believer has the gifts of Ephesians 4, but they may have one of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Question: How can we know that we are not misusing the gifts?
Answer: In order not to misuse the gifts, we have to accept the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ, the flesh-severing cross, is the basis of everything. The reason there are problems in all the local assemblies and in the church is that the brothers and sisters are not willing to accept the cross of Christ. Everything that issues from the resurrection of Christ is for the Body of Christ; every problem in the church arises when men try to drag out things that belong in the grave. If we are willing to accept Christ’s cross and are willing to allow it to do a deeper work in us, removing our ambitions and grand aspirations, we will not misuse our gifts. For example, yesterday I mentioned the matter of the elders. Who are the ones who are not qualified to be elders? They are those who, upon hearing about the matter related to an elder, expect to be an elder themselves. Who are the ones who are qualified to be elders? They are those who, upon hearing about the matter related to an elder, consider themselves unworthy to be one. Those who aspire to be the authority are not qualified to be the authority; authority can never be placed in their hand. Only those who do not aspire to be the authority are qualified to be the authority.
Question: Why does 1 Timothy 3 say that one has to aspire to be an elder?
Answer: It is because many people may withdraw. Today there are many people who are like Peter, who refuse to be washed. Both fleshly boasting and fleshly withdrawal are of the flesh and are two sides of one truth. First Timothy 3 says that a novice should not be an overseer lest he become proud and fall into the snare of the devil. The Lord is telling these ones not to aspire to be an elder lest they fall into the devil’s snare through their pride. But to those who consider themselves useless, who realize the weakness of their flesh, who consider themselves unworthy, and who are withdrawn, the Lord encourages them by telling them that overseership is a good work and is to be desired. God tells those who volunteer to be elders that they are not worthy and encourages those who are worthy but withdrawn to be elders. May all the brothers see that there are two sides to the flesh; either it boasts of itself or it withdraws. We must never consider the boasting of the flesh as a kind of courage and the withdrawing of the flesh as a kind of humility. When we consider our own virtues, we become proud; when we consider our own weaknesses and failures, we dare not do anything and withdraw. We should not confuse boasting with courage and withdrawal with humility. Actually, real humility is not considering one’s own goodness or weakness. This is why someone has said that real humility is not considering oneself. Boldness is being strengthened in the Lord and looking at the Lord only. This is why Ephesians 6 says that we have to be empowered in the Lord. All those who carefully weigh themselves and become confident in themselves are boastful; they are not bold. On the one hand, we must look to the Lord and, on the other hand, not look to ourselves. In this way, we will be bold as well as humble. This is victory. Many fail because they look at either the powerful side of the flesh or the weak side of the flesh. As a result, they become either a person who boasts in the flesh or a person who withdraws in the flesh. The above discussion touches a principle. This principle can be applied not only to the appointment of the elders and the deacons but to other daily affairs as well.
Question: Do the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers in Ephesians 4 refer to people or do they refer to things or titles?
Answer: Ephesians 4 refers to people, while 1 Corinthians 12 refers to things. Ephesians 4 says that God gives some apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers; these are five kinds of people. First Corinthians 12 says that God gives some the ability to prophesy or speak in tongues. Paul was a gift given by God to the church; he was an apostle. But Paul also had other gifts, such as prophesying, speaking in tongues, and healing.
To my observation, Brother Chi Yung-tung looks very much like a pastor. Let me take him as an example. God has given a gift to the church in Soo-chia-tsui, which is Chi Yung-tung. The whole church in Soo-chia-tsui should then receive Brother Chi as a gift given to them by God. At the same time, Brother Chi has the pastoral gift. His gift is the gift of a pastor. If anyone asks what gift Paul had, we would answer that he had the gift of an apostle. But if anyone asks what gift God has given to the church, we would answer, “The apostle Paul.” All five kinds of people in Ephesians 4 are gifts given by God to the church, and they are for the whole church. First Corinthians 12 mentions the various gifts that God gives to individual believers; the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are for the local churches. Paul was a gift given by God to the whole church. Ephesians 4 mentions men as gifts given by God to the church for the purpose of building up the whole church. Therefore, the gift which was released through Paul has benefited men of all times and places; his work did not pass away; it remains even until today.
Question: How do we deal with lawless brothers in the meetings?
Answer: If a man continually disturbs the meeting but does not have obvious sins that deserve excommunication, we should deal with him in a severe way according to the teaching of Romans 16:17. We should mark him and not communicate with him. “Now I exhort you, brothers, to mark those who make divisions and causes of stumbling contrary to the teaching which you have learned, and turn away from them.” We should not place the affairs of the church in the hands of these ones. Whatever the church is doing, these ones should be excluded from it.
Question: How should one deal with an elder who is involved with some problems?
Answer: The eldership in the Bible is plural in number. If one elder is involved with some problems, the other elders should deal with him.
Question:If the elders are unofficial, does this mean that we can accuse them only in an unofficial way?
Answer: That is right. If one elder is wrong, the other elders can deal with him. This is why the Bible never uses the word elder in a singular sense; it is always elders, plural. Therefore, this does not present too much of a problem.