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Question for Dr. John MacArthur's       

In view of the fact that as Christians we are to see ourselves as a part of the body, and we are to be exercising our talents in order to be most effective for the Lord. How should we see ourselves relative to society as far as how can we be most effective as lights and as salt to the earth? Should we view society as also being a part of the body?

I understand that. You have a two-fold responsibility: you have a responsibility as a believer to the Body of Christ for which you have been gifted. The responsibility you have towards the Body of Christ falls into two categories. You can simplify; maybe it is a bit of an oversimplification but it's not a stretch.

1. First of all, your responsibility to the Body of Christ is expressed in the New Testament "one another’s"--"love one another," "pray for one another," "confess your faults to one another," "rebuke one another," "reprove one another," "exhort one another," "edify one another," "instruct one another," etc., etc., etc. Those are the characteristics of fellowship. Fellowship is "koinonia" the word "koinonos" means "partner"--so you're partner with people. If you are real partner with somebody you have to do all of that. If you are a business partner with someone, you'd exhort them, you'd encourage them, you'd instruct them, you'd deal with all the issues of their life because so much is at stake because you're tied together in this partnership. If you are in a marriage you'd do the same thing back and forth because you understand how a partnership needs that if it is going to flourish.
So in the Church we have that first area of responsibility called "fellowship." The second one is our "spiritual giftedness"--that's different. You have a unique ability to minister to the Body through a gift that the Spirit of God has designed and placed in you. Now every one of us has "the gift"--1 Peter 4:10-11, "As every man has received the gift, so minister the same..." The gifts are divided into two kinds of gifts: speaking gifts and serving gifts. Some of us "speak" our gift, which is primarily a speaking gift: Preaching, Teaching, Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, Exhortation, Counseling, whatever it might be. For some it is a serving gift: It might be Administration; it might be Helps; it might be Prayer--whatever it might be.
Now, as I see the gift, you have "a gift"--it's just for you--and what the Lord does is: you have these categories of giftedness and the Lord sort's like the colors on a palette...He's going to paint you, so He takes a little of this, and a little of that, and a little of this, and He paints you and you're unique. And when He gives you the gift it isn't that we are all rubber ducks stamped out of a mold and we all "quack" the same way. Everybody who has the gift of teaching doesn't teach the same way. Everybody who has the gift of exhortation doesn't counsel the same way. Everybody who has the gift of helps doesn't help the same way. It's sort of like spiritual fingerprints: there are no two alike, so God takes all the colors in the palette of gifts and blends them together for you.
People have asked me through the years, "What do you think you gift is?" Well, certainly I have a gift for preaching, that's part of what my gift is. I have a gift for knowledge to understand the Word of God. I think part of my gift is administration to lead and direct. Part of my gift is teaching. You know I enjoy the teaching as well the preaching. Many people wouldn't know this but one of the things that I love most is giving. What you have is this sort of this blend of things that comes out "me." That's to the Body--fellowship and that unique design that God has made you.
Now, how do you know what that gift is? Very simple: what do you desire to do when the Spirit directs you, and what do people affirm that you do in His strength? In other words, if I say, "I have the gift of preaching"--and I am done preaching and you all say, "No you don't have the gift of preaching--you had better go back to the list and find another deal." It is not only going to be something that you desire to do, but it is going to be something that causes people to respond, because it is for them--the gift is for them.

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2. The second thing then is your responsibility in the world of unredeemed people, and you have singular responsibility, and that is to preach the gospel to every creature, to go everywhere and make disciples: by telling the gospel of Jesus Christ; bringing the gospel to them, and exposing them to the truth of Christ. You do that two ways: you do it by living it, which lays the platform down that makes your testimony believable. By living it and in every opportunity you have expressing it. That's your obligation. That's the only reason you're here really. The only reason the Church has to hang around here and minister; the only reason that you have to be here in the Body is so that we can reach the unconverted--everything else we could do better in heaven, couldn't we? "Well," you say, "I thought we were here, you know, to serve the Lord." Well, but our service is all bound up with sin and it's not what it ought to be. "Well," you say, "We're here to praise the Lord." Yeah, but our praise is imperfect. "Well, we're here to be delivered from sin." Yeah, but sin is still a problem. Everything in Christian experience is better in heaven except one thing, and that's evangelism--you can't do that there. So that's why we're here. The Lord endures all the difficulties in our life as believers in order that we might accomplish the one thing necessary, and that is to live a changed life so the gospel becomes believable and then to speak it clearly to every one with whom we have an opportunity.


 The belief that does not save is the belief that does not change the person who believes. Jesus said that if you believe in Him, you would be changed