Ephesians 4:4-6, The one body and the variety of gifts, part 4.

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Thursday October 8, 2020

Title: Ephesians 4:4-6, The one body and the variety of gifts, part 4.


Wanted to share with you a passage from Fields Without Dreams by Victor Hanson.

“Office man can get allergies from plaster, carpet, and perfume. Put that same invalid in the middle of a blooming apricot orchard, his arms in constant motion with the shovel, his brain full of calibrations of water and fertilizer, his eyes following pollen-carrying, life-giving bees, and he revives. A great weight has been lifted. His sinuses will inhale dust and pollen - and then clear as the throbbing over the eye disappears. For he will be growing food by himself, not devising an ad campaign for Korean tennis shoes…

Corporate man has brought himself riches and leisure but not happiness. No wonder Virgil spoke of the always complaining but continually blessed farmer, “O the farmers most fortunate beyond what is due - if they only but knew their happiness.


Is not such rehabilitation and therapy, such cure for malady and affection, religious at its heart? For if you see, hear, and smell the incessant birth, death, and renewal of plant and animal, the sudden inexplicable destruction of crop through hail or frost, the devastation of a year’s grapes in a second, how can there not be some God that wishes to shake you, to cleanse, launder, and heal you, among tree and vine, to teach that you too - for all your formidable tractor and ferocious disk, for all your grafting and budding of man-made cultivars, for all your effort to defeat weeds and kill worms - are not unnatural. Exhausted, beaten down, through at last at eighty, the farmer understands he has only been renting his land all along. Man is not the measure of all things. There are things stronger, more wonderful than man. Man is not a polis animal. For all his sheds and pipelines, the soil has not been altered, cannot be mutated by the toil of a single man in a single life. That confession of perpetuity and eternity - and his failure to conquer nature - leads to the divine, as the farm itself, its guardian now discovers, was ageless and deathless all the time, put there to inculcate in its custodian that there is something more than interest, equity, and depreciation.”


Though few of us are agrarians, life is more than its details. The inability to control almost anything shows us that man is not everything, and that God is. Man can only depend upon God and that by faith. Faith alone, despite circumstances, can carry us through life with love, happiness, and peace. Spiritual gifts have been given to us so that we can work God’s vineyard with joy, knowing that we will only receive from God, according to His will and choice alone, whatever our wage may be, and that wage is always tied to Himself, to His essence, His virtue, His life lived, and no material, no interest, equity, or depreciation of material matters. Only faith in what God will do can carry us through.


Apostles - first as in the highest authority in the church. Apostolos literally means “one sent forth.”


The twelve (LUK 6:13). Jesus (HEB 3:1; JOH 17:3). Barnabas and Paul (ACT 14:14). Andronicus and Junias (ROM 16:7). Epaphroditus (PHI 2:25). Paul, Silas, and Timothy (2TH 2:6).


Are these, outside of the twelve, apostles simply in the meaning of the word - “one sent forth” or did they hold the office? It is unlikely that they held the office. It is probable that they are given the title because they were sent forth with the twelve in a close and similar capacity.


No one after John had the authority of an apostle.


Prophets were New Testament spokesmen for God whose messages came immediately from God by the Spirit. Their ministry was to edify, encourage, and comfort (1CO 14:3).


There certainly was the danger of false prophets and so the churches were instructed to test the message of the prophet, which likely would have been examined by the teachers, elders, and leaders.


EPH 2:20 makes it clear that apostles and prophets worked together to lay the foundation of the church, and we may assume that they were no longer needed once that foundation was completed.


People throughout the church have claimed they possess the gift of apostleship or prophet, but in humility all should understand how a gift is to operate. If a prophet, you would receive revelation directly from the Holy Spirit, but what revelation would anyone receive that wasn’t in the canon of scripture? We have the full revelation. All books not in the canon, claiming to be of the canon, are all found to have falsehood in some or most parts. A prophet cannot function when the Bible is finished since no other revelation is to be given. If the HS told us what was in the Bible, then those with that gift wouldn’t have to read or study it like the rest of us.


Apostles had the highest authority, but when Paul passed the torch to Timothy, we do not find Timothy possessing Paul’s authority. Paul said in 1Co 13 to build the church on his blueprints since he was the wise master-architect. No one is to make their own blueprints, so like prophets, apostles cannot function after the death of John for the canon and the blueprints were finished.


Teachers (and pastor-teachers) instructed believers in the doctrinal truths of the Christian life, from the word and not immediately from the Spirit (prophets), though helped by the HS.


Teachers (also pastor - teacher) instructed converts in the doctrinal truths of the Christian life. They taught from the Word, and before the Word was copied and fully distributed, from the known teachings of the Apostles (tradition).


2TH 3:6-7

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought tofollow our example,


Unlike the prophets, they did not get their messages immediately by the Spirit, though the Spirit helped them in their teaching.


JAM 3:1 indicates that the calling of a teacher has a stricter judgment.


JAM 3:1-2

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man [mature or complete], able to bridle the whole body as well.


Due to the teachers work and looming stricter judgment for either not living in the manner of the word or not teaching accurately and clearly, they are to be honored and loved and respected in the church.


1TH 5:12-13

But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.


The evangelist majored on sharing the Good News of salvation with the lost. All ministers should do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5) and seek to win souls, but some men have been given evangelism as a special calling.


As for miraculous gifts, the Book of Acts, as well as church history, indicates that miraculous gifts passed off the scene. Miracles, healing, and tongues belonged to the infancy of the church. As infatuated as people are with these gifts, one can easily see why God would only give them for a short time. They would only be properly used and not infect a man with pride who was a humble servant of God. Yet still, in Corinth, we discover in 1Co 1, 3, and 14 that the pride of the Corinthians gave the gifts a divisive impact and motivated them to want to talk over one another and interrupt one another during church services, even splitting into factions during the celebrations of the Lord’s Supper.


Miracles, healings, and tongues all belong to what theologians call "the sign gifts" and belonged in a special way to the infancy of the church and passed away when the foundation was built.


The example of Simon the magician:


ACT 8:9-24

Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, "This man is what is called the Great Power of God." 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13 And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.


14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." 24 But Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."


This is a very good reason for why the “sign gifts” were only of a short duration.


1CO 12:28

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.


Help and administration (governments) have to do with the serving of others and the guiding of the church. Without spiritual leadership (deacons and other administers), the church flounders.  


The pastor is the leader of the church, but by far the greatest bulk of his time has to be to study or the teaching suffers. Every pastor who has a humble desire to glorify God, knowing that he will incur a stricter judgment if he does not live and instruct and exhort by the Word of God, thanks God for the people around him who help and administer to the church. If the church is dirty, unkempt, the people’s needs not served, prayer meetings not run or attended, conferences organized, computers run, messages posted, problems dealt with and fixed, finances controlled, all fires put out, building dealt with and managed, and whatever other things need to be done, if the pastor is not helped then the message suffers and obviously the people and the church suffers.


Service or ministry (diakonia - ROM 12:7) and ruling or leadership (proistemi - ROM 12:8 “with diligence”) belong to this same category - the overall function of the church.


We can imagine a deacon having the gift of leadership or helps, or ministry, or two of them, or all three. Yet, to be fair to some poor guy who has the work of three spiritual gifts, God desired the entire body to work together for the common good, meaning that one or two people shouldn’t be doing everything that needs to be done, though in some cases unfortunately, that is the case. My point is that one or two gifts in a believer would seem to be enough work for him or her to do, but that is only an opinion.


There were several "speaking gifts": tongues and the interpretation of tongues (known foreign languages).


The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge might have also been speaking gifts for unique situations that needed solutions.


Some think that the gifts of wisdom and knowledge were for definite, particular situations that needed to be understood and God’s truth applied.


Exhortation could also be considered a speaking gift.


Exhortation - a gift in comforting and turning a person to the solutions in God’s word.


As has already been said, exhortation is more that kind words and a hug, though nothing wrong with that. It also the ability to lead the person in need to their need for truth, perhaps only as a reminder. Comfort in the world is promised in many ways, but comfort from God comes from truth and promises, and our faith in them.


2CO 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.


How did Paul and his find comfort in all the affliction that they experienced? God’s word. God’s promises. God’s calling which is sure, for He who called you is faithful and He will bring it to pass.


ROM 15:1-6

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me." 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement [paraklesis] of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement [paraklesis] grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; 6 that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The verb, parakaleo, is common in the NT, used 109 times. Paul uses it in EPH 4:1, “I exhort you to walk in a manner worthy.” It generally is used by Paul and the writer of Hebrews to exhort and to comfort. Some have a special gift of it while all are called to do it, as is the case with several of these gifts.