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Darrell Robinson: Evangelism underlies all spiritual gifts

GARLAND, Texas (BP)–Although evangelism is sometimes thought to be a spiritual gift, it actually underlies every spiritual gift that God bestows on a person, notes Southern Baptist evangelism leader and biblical scholar Darrell W. Robinson.

Every spiritual gift — be it one of service, signs or support — is designed to help fulfill the Great Commission through individual people, Robinson writes in a new book, “Incredibly Gifted: A Fresh, Biblical Look at Spiritual Gifts,” recently released by Hannibal Books.

For example, Robinson describes the gift of exhortation (encouragement) as one that strongly prepares a person for effective personal witnessing. Someone who is an encourager is usually talkative, enthusiastic and knows how to reach out to others in a positive way. A person’s gift of encouraging others in a practical way can be used powerfully to share Jesus with the lost.

Someone with the gift of mercy, through his or her sensitivity to others, can be alert to the spiritual condition of the lost as well as feeling for their physical needs, Robinson writes. He contends that each person, regardless of his or her gift, can be taught how to intentionally witness so that he or she can promptly respond to open doors to share Christ.

Many ministries of the church sometimes go begging for helpers because believers feel incapable and fail to rely on God to supply whatever spiritual gift is needed for that assignment, Robinson writes.

Many people flock to take a “spiritual gift inventory” or “spiritual gift assessment” to help identify the gift or gifts God has given them, so that they can adequately serve other members of the body of Christ, he recounts. “These sometimes lead to abuse when people overemphasize their gift or refuse to meet a need because they don’t have a particular gift,” he notes. “That approach then becomes a barrier to what God wants to do through us.”

Robinson, a former pastor of churches in Texas, Kansas and Alabama and formerly an executive with the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now North American Mission Board), serves as president of Total Church Life Ministries, Inc., and is on the staff of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.

In the book, Robinson tells the story of a church member named Jean, whose pastor asked her to start a ministry to senior adults and homebound persons.

Jean responded, “I am not a leader! I do not have that gift.” The pastor replied, “I believe you can do it and I will help you. This is a real need within our church.”

The pastor kept his word, and Jean’s program became a flourishing ministry. Jean found herself using gifts she did not know she possessed: administration and leadership, mercy, giving, hospitality, exhortation, and teaching to meet the needs she observed.

Jean discovered multiple gifts by seeing a need and obeying Christ to help meet it. “Obedience is the key,” Robinson writes. “To simply step out in faith and be available and obey Christ was the critical factor.”

Today’s elevated emphasis on “sign gifts” has led to many excesses, misunderstandings and even rejection of the idea of spiritual gifts by some, Robinson writes. “Whenever the term ‘spiritual gifts’ is used, many think of the excesses they have observed through the emphasis on sign gifts. Others are caught up in the desire for sensational experiences. Consequently the utilization of spiritual gifts in our ordinary, everyday lives has been neglected.”

Regarding the spiritual experience of glossolalia (speaking in unknown tongues), Robinson contends that the legitimate gift of tongues, mentioned in the Book of Acts, provides the ability to speak and communicate the gospel in another language. The interpretation of tongues is the ability to understand a language and convey its meaning to listeners. God indeed still gives the gift of tongues for the communication of the gospel, Robinson writes, explaining, “When the ability to speak in another language to communicate the gospel in order to bring a person to Christ occurs, God gives that ability.”

The apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians not to teach the practice of tongues but to correct the Corinthian church’s perversion of the true biblical gift of tongues, Robinson writes. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul taught these believers to “be zealous for gifts that edify the church.” Believers who elevate the tongues experience to being “The Gift” and contend that those who do not participate are spiritually inferior act in a way that does not build up the body of Christ, Robinson says.

“Those who speak in tongues are not under the control of a force outside of themselves. They are responsible for their behavior,” he writes. “They can control what they do and say, and they are accountable for it. Anything done in church should be orderly and done for the building up of the body.”

Without questionnaires or assessment materials, Robinson’s book examines each of the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament and demonstrates that through Christ believers have the potential to possess any gift the church needs. Christ, the source of all gifts, surfaces whatever is necessary for a person to fulfill his will through that person, he writes.

Incredibly Gifted, with forewords by Georgia pastors Johnny Hunt and James Merritt, is available at Christian bookstores, on Amazon.com or through the publisher, Hannibal Books, at 1-800-747-0738 or on the Internet at www.hannibalbooks.com.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: INCREDIBLY GIFTED and DARRELL ROBINSON.

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