Bible Study Series: Ephesians - The Third Heaven Epistle
Ephesians 4:7-16 Bible Study - Walking in His Gifts
by I Gordon
- The giver & the gift - the origin and cost of your gift
- The variety of gifts - but with the common need of being plugged in!
- The purpose of the gifts - and how we all need each other to grow
(Psalm 68) is a victory hymn composed by David to celebrate God’s conquest of the Jebusite city and the triumphant ascent of God (represented by the Ark of the Covenant) up Mount Zion (cf. 2 Sa. 6-7; 1Chr 13). After a king won such a victory he would bring home the spoils and enemy prisoners to parade before his people. An Israelite king would take his retinue through the holy city of Jerusalem and up Mount Zion. Another feature of the victory parade, however, would be the display of the king’s own soldiers who had been freed after being held prisoner by the enemy. These were often referred to as recaptured captives—prisoners who had been taken prisoner again, so to speak, by their own king and given freedom.
Psalm 68:18 pictures the conquering king receiving gifts from men, even the rebellious ones he defeated. But Paul sees what is implied in this Psalm where the spoils of the victory over those defeated are then given to His servants. Thus, when speaking of Jesus' ascension, Paul could write 'he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.' He is a Victor who should receive gifts of praise, worship and honour from each of us. But our King is gracious. He gives. And as well as the many blessings of salvation that we have focused on previously, He has given each one a gift for service in the edifying and building up of His body. Think also of what it cost our Victor, the Lord Jesus, to be able to give that gift. That is why we want to use what He has given us... because it cost Him His life.
- Apostles - The word Apostle means 'one sent as an authoritative delegate'. They were specially equipped ambassadors of God who were part of the foundation of the Church3 (Eph 2:20). While people are still divinely commissioned and 'sent' today, and may fulfil the role of an Apostle in that way, it is not in the same authoritative sense that the first century Apostles had.4
- Prophets - I agree with Pastor David Guzik who writes that prophets are those "who speak forth words from God in total consistency with the foundation of the Old and New Testaments. Sometimes they speak in a predictive sense, but not necessarily so, and they are always subject to the discernment and judgment of the church leadership (1Cor 14:29). As with the apostles, modern prophets do not speak in the same authoritative sense as the first century prophets who brought God's foundational word (Eph 2:20)."
- Evangelists - those who are divinely gifted to preach the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. William MacDonald states: "They have special ability to diagnose a sinner's condition, probe the conscience, answer objections, encourage decisions for Christ, and help the convert find assurance through the word."
- Pastors - They are under shepherds of God's flock, whom He has placed within their care. They are specifically gifted and enabled to guide, protect, feed, and lead the sheep through the challenges of this life.
- Teachers - those gifted to expound on God's word, explaining and interpreting what it means, for instruction, correction, exhortation and encouragement. They (hopefully!) do so in a way that makes the confusing passages clear, and not the clear passages confusing! (But don't always count on it!)
"These gifts are like so many electrical appliances. What a variety of appliances are available today! There are electric toasters, toothbrushes, mixers, irons, razors. I even saw an advertisement the other day for an electric shoestring tier! But if you look carefully at these electrical appliances you will see that though they are vastly different in what they do, there is one thing in which they are always exactly alike: They all have a cord with a plug on one end, designed to plug into a receptacle by which they utilize the same power. No matter how different the appliance is, the power is the same...
Eph 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.
Eph 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us...
'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.' (Zec 4:6)
A well-known coach was once asked, “How much does college football contribute to the national physical-fitness picture?” “Nothing,” the coach replied abruptly. “Why not?” the startled interviewer asked. “Well,” said the coach, “the way I see it, you have 22 men down on the field desperately needing a rest and 40,000 people in the stands, desperately needing some exercise.” A similar situation exists in many churches today. When you compare the members who actively participate, you often find a rather pathetic situation. It’s not unusual to have a small group of diligent Christian workers struggling “down on the field” while others in the congregation are acting like spectators, “sitting on the sidelines, eating hot dogs and popcorn.” God’s strategy for the accomplishment of His program is not like a sports event. It does not call for the job to be done only by the “professionals.” In the game of life, all believers have their own positions and spiritual gifts that they must exercise “for the profit of all” (1 Cor. 12:7). My friend, if you’ve been sitting in the stands, you’re badly needed down on the field!
Our Daily Bread
So again... Whatever your gift is, whatever opportunities the Lord gives you, use them for His glory. We want to be people that hear 'well done good and faithful servant' when He returns.
So Christian and Hopeful could have avoided this trap had they taken to heart the advice of the Shepherds (true godly Pastors) and followed the map they were given (the word of God). And we are the same! Let's look a bit closer at that...
- Be innocent but not unwise... be mature in your thoughts! - 1Co 14:20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
- Be innocent, but on guard... Growing in His grace and knowledge! - 2Pe 3:17-18 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Be willing to grow through training yourself to distinguish good from evil - Heb 5:11-14 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
- Be receptive, but test what you hear by God's word - Act 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Before the resurrection Jesus taught that there were two compartments to Hades - one for the unbelievers who experienced torment, and one for believers called 'Abraham's bosom'. There the believers awaited the Savior. There they awaited their conquering King who would free them. The Bible tells us that many rose from the grave after Jesus' resurrection (Matt 27:52-53). Once Jesus had conquered death itself through the resurrection, these believers were also freed and their spirits and souls are in Heaven today. All believers who die throughout the entire Church age go directly to be with the Lord (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor 5:6-8, Phil 1:21-24, Heb 12:23) ↩
I really like what Wayne Barber writes on this passage:
"During World War I there was a tradition in the towns, particularly in France. During the war, many times the cities defended themselves. Therefore, their little army was the army of that particular city. They had a tradition. They had walled cities with huge gates and walkways over the gates. When the group of men who had left the town to represent them in battle came back, the people would get on top of that gate. They would have a choir who would chant. The men would come back, wounded and broken and bleeding from battle, but they came back waving their flag, which meant they had won the victory! The people on top of the wall would shout at them, "What right do you have to enter through these gates?" They would hold up the hands of the wounded. They would hold up the hands of the bleeding. Then they would raise that flag and say, "We have been to battle, and we have won the victory!" The gates would swing open, and they would walk through. The streets would be lined with people. They would shower them with hallelujahs for the victory that had been won.
Can you imagine the Lord Jesus’ return back into heaven? He ascended. He is the ascended Christ. Without His ascension, we would have no gifts. Without His ascension we would have no body. Without His ascension, we would have nothing. He had to ascend and go back to the Father so that the Spirit could come and give gifts to the body. As He walked up to the gates of heaven, the choir of heaven on that gate would say, "What right do you have to enter these gates?" The Lord Jesus Christ would hold up His hands with the nail prints in His wrists. He would show them the nail prints in His feet and the spear mark in His side. Then He would say, "I’ve been to Calvary, and I have won the victory!" Then the gates would open up in heaven, and the Lord Jesus would march triumphantly to the Father and sit at His right hand, the name above every name, the One who is going to send His gift to His body who will dispense the gifts unto all men." ↩
The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds 'The apostles include the Twelve, who had the office of apostleship by virtue of being with Christ (Act 1:21-22) and having been appointed by Him (which would also include Paul; 1Cor 15:8-9; Gal 1:1; Gal 2:6-9). But “apostles” also included others who were recognized as apostles, such as James (1Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19), Barnabas (Act 14:4, Act 14:14; 1Cor 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Rom 16:7), possibly Silas and Timothy (1Th 1:1; 1Th 2:7), and Apollos (1Cor 4:6, 1Cor 4:9). ' ↩
There is a movement within Christianity called the 'New Apostolic Movement' that seeks to place upon certain individuals today, the same authority that Paul, Peter, James etc had as Apostles in the first century. Be very careful with this movement. Right from the first century there has been false Apostles, even in this church of Ephesus - 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; (Revelation 2:2) As GotQuestions writes on NAR:
"The New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR, is an unbiblical religious movement that emphasizes experience over Scripture, mysticism over doctrine, and modern-day “apostles” over the plain text of the Bible. Of particular distinction in the New Apostolic Reformation are the role and power of spiritual leaders and miracle-workers, the reception of “new” revelations from God, an over-emphasis on spiritual warfare, and a pursuit of cultural and political control in society. The seeking of signs and wonders in the NAR is always accompanied by blatantly false doctrine.
Growth in the New Apostolic Reformation is driven primarily through small groups and church planting, often completely independent of a parent congregation. The movement is not centrally controlled, and many of its followers will not self-identify as part of it or even recognize the name. All the same, thousands of churches and millions of believers adhere to the teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation. Popular teachers associated with the New Apostolic Reformation include Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Kim Clement, and Lou Engle."
More here: https://www.gotquestions.org/New-Apostolic-Reformation.html ↩
I know... I've left it at a cliff hanger. Our friends are caught in a net. Will they live? What's going to happen? You'll just have to tune in next week...
Oh ok then, this isn't a TV soap. Here you go...
Come hither, you that walk along the way; See how the pilgrims fare, that go astray!
They are caught in an entangling net, 'Cause they good counsel lightly did forget;
'tis true, they rescued were, but yet you see, they're scourged as well; let this your caution be." ↩