Ephesians 4:7-16; Gifts given by grace for the purpose of serving.
length: 65:15 - taught on Jun, 22 2021
Tuesday June 22, 2021
Our gifts from Christ (4:8-11) are for the sole purpose of serving others (4:12). How much of our thinking is aimed at the needs of others, and how much is focused on ourselves?
We see the disciples fail this test during the last Passover. Jesus uses Himself as the illustration to teach them the right way. He washes their feet and then tells them to do the same. He also tells them that the first or greatest of them must become the last and servant of all. How much of our thinking is pointed toward considering how to serve others vs. occupation with ourselves? I’m of the mind that we should ask God this question every day in prayer, for once we see a defect in this area and begin the work to correct it, it is all too easy and unnoticeable to slip back into being full of ourselves.
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way [way of love, sacrifice, service, etc., the way of Christ] which [entrance] He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water [blood of Christ]. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
Another major aspect of the ministry of Christ to His body, which unifies the body, is the bestowal of gifts on His church. In verse 7 the apostle passes from the unities of the church to its diversities, from the common foundation of the Christian life to the variety presented in its superstructure.
In this second section of vv. 1-16 (7-16) the idea is not unity by which we share in common (vv.1-6) but by our working together towards a common purpose with the diversity of each individual having his own spiritual gift or gifts.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.” The diversity of each individual possessing one or more of a variety of gifts with a variety of manifestations and a variety of effects, 1CO 12:4-6.
God did not affect unity in the body of Christ by making every member identical. He made divine love the perfect bond of unity. And with love there can be a group of people possessing a variety of different gifts and abilities, as well as a variety of different levels of knowledge and maturity, and they can all work together in peace and harmony towards the purposes of God.
“This unity is not to be misconstrued as a lifeless or colorless uniformity. We are not to imagine that every Christian is an exact replica of every other, as if we had all been mass-produced in some celestial factory. On the contrary, the unity of the church, far from being boringly monotonous, is exciting in its diversity.” [John Stott, The Message of Ephesians]
In the doctrine of the body, the individual is not swallowed up in the community. Satan promotes the idea of individuals being lost or sacrificed to the collective. The mantra of the Borg in Star Trek is that everyone must be assimilated. Several of the false religions in our world have this assimilation into some glob as their ultimate end, which is a loss of the individual. But, when we see Christ Jesus resurrected, He is the one and only Jesus, bearing the scars of His crucifixion.
The doctrine of the body of Christ is diverse variety among members who are perfectly united in love and who together share in the “one” gift from God.
One body, one Spirit, one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father over all is a part of what we all share in common. Paul also writes:
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We cannot live without the community of believers. Our individual gifts are not to be lost in our separate individualities.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.
We are each equipped by the Holy Spirit and by Christ individually and uniquely, and each is to build up the body of Christ.