The New Testament Grace the church is least familiar with is Ministry Grace. This Grace is “manifold.” Ministry Graces are the unique endowments of ministry ability God stewards to individual believers which enable them to serve effectively in the unique ministries they are called to and placed in the body of Christ to do. When believers discover, cultivate, and use the unique Ministry Graces stewarded to them, they can render effectual ministry as unique members of the body of Christ.
Paul often testified about his unique endowment of Ministry Grace. He spoke of “the dispensation of the grace of God given to me” [Eph. 3:1]. He testified, “I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” [I Cor. 15:10]. Paul was very conscious of the grace — the unique divine ministry ability — entrusted to him which enabled him to be a unique minister and to do unique ministry work.
To the Corinthians, Paul said, “According to the grace of God given unto me, I am a wise master-builder” [I Cor. 3:10]. If we take the words “as a wise masterbuilder” out of I Corinthains 3:10, Paul’s words read this way,
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me…I have laid the foundation.”
I Corinthians 3:10
By using the words “according to” Paul assigned the credit for his work to the grace he had been given. The reason he could lay foundations was because God had given him foundation laying grace. The Amplified Bible renders Paul’s words this way,
“According to the grace — the special endowment for my task — of God bestowed on me, like a skilful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation…”I Corinthians 3:10 Amp
The men who prepared the Amplified Bible very accurately “amplified” this scripture and, in so doing, accurately depicted what Paul’s ministry grace was. It was the “special endowment” for his “task.”
Ministry Grace can be found all throughout the New Testament. The apostle Peter exhorted believers to minister to each other with the gifts they had received as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God”[I Pet. 4:10]. Paul informed the believers in Ephesus that every man had received a grace for service [Eph. 4:7-8].
Paul taught the believers in Rome that they had “gifts that differ according to the grace given” to them [Rom. 12:6]. The word “gifts” he used is from the Greek charisma. They word “grace” is from the Greek charis. The word charisma literally means, “a manifested charis.” In his Greek dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine defines charisma as, “a gift of grace,” or, “a gift involving grace on the part of God as the Donor.” Another Greek dictionary defines charisma as, “gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit.” These definitions are accurate and enlightening concerning Ministry Grace.
In the New Testament, God entrusts different varieties and various measures of Ministry Grace to different believers enabling them to accomplish His manifold works. His mighty grace-givings enable some believers to be pastors, some apostles, some healers, some evangelists, some teachers, some prophets, some exhorters, some helpers, some showers of mercy, some workers of miracles, some to do practical service, some to prophesy, some to administrate, some to rule, and some to give. The New Testament grace-givings of God can be so substantial that once unregenerate men and women, and sometimes the meanest, weakest, and least skilled of all, become effective servants of Christ.
The unique endowments of Ministry Grace God stewards to believers are based upon His calling and His purposeful placing of each believer in the body of Christ. Just as believers do not choose their callings or their places in the body, they also do not choose the varieties or measures of the Ministry Graces stewarded to them. Believers are responsible, however, to discover their callings, find their places in the body, locate their unique grace endowments, and become effective in their ministries.