Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – we don’t get to decide. Go and do.

Class Outline:

Thursday October 7, 2021


In our last lecture we saw the truth that transcendent, infinite, almighty God cannot give anything away, but that all things come from Him and always belong to Him. God is the only self-existent One, all others, whether a cockroach or an archangel, are creatures. Because all things are Gods, then all things must return to Him. Unbelievers will be judged, but we are focusing on God’s gifts to His believers.


Our lives in Christ, and the gifts that have accompanied that life, belong to God and must be used in the service of God, and therefore in the service of His people in the church. We must understand God’s greatness and our smallness, and we must bow to His will. The omnipresence of God, that He is everywhere, in heaven and in His universe, means that He is to us as water is to a fish. Where can we go from His presence and what do we have that is not His?


God gives the gifts as He will, “according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” we do not get to choose them. We must discover what He gave us. Even if you can’t rightly or convincingly determine from Paul’s lists, the name or category that your gift and ministry fall under, you will be able to discover what you were called to do in ministering to the body of Christ. You have to discover it for yourself before God.


God gives gifts as He wills. We must do what service is before us and through those works discover our gift in ministry.


Let’s look at an example of this from the narrative of the Old Testament.


One of the indicators of the character of a person in biblical narrative is in the first thing they are recorded saying.


Example: Samuel, Saul, and David.


1SA 3:1-4

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2 And it happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, "Here I am."


Samuel’s first word - hineiniy = “Here I am,” the word emphasizes presence in attention and duty.


Samuel is ready and able to serve the Lord. And that, in whatever capacity God has for him. We must understand this in our own spiritual lives that God gives as He wills. We must be willing to do whatever God sets in front of us to do, hineiniy - “I am here Lord.”


1SA 9:1-5

Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people. 3 Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. So Kish said to his son Saul, "Take now with you one of the servants, and arise, go search for the donkeys." 4 And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.


5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, "Come, and let us return, lest my father cease to be concerned about the donkeys and become anxious for us."


Saul’s first words: “let us return,” = indecision. A flawed character trait with Saul - not doing all that he was commanded.


Saul was anointed as king. He was Israel’s king. Soon after his anointing by Samuel, the Holy Spirit came upon Saul and he started prophesying with the prophets. The people asked, “Saul isn’t one of the prophets, is he?” He wasn’t, but did Saul know who he was? Not long afterwards, the Philistines were amassing for battle and Saul gathered his army. King Saul was told by Samuel to wait seven days for Samuel to join them and then he, a priest, would offer the burnt offering and then Israel could go fight. The seventh day arrived and still no Samuel.


1SA 13:8-14

Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, "Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering. 10 And it came about as soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, that behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11 But Samuel said, "What have you done?" And Saul said, "Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I said, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.' So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering." 13 And Samuel said to Saul, "You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."


Here we find Saul’s indecision. Samuel didn’t show at the start of the day, but Saul needed to wait that full day. The soldiers started to leave and Saul panicked. So Saul acted like a priest. Is he a priest? No.


Saul again soon finds himself at war with Philistines and he tells his army to fast until he had won his victory. This is a terrible decision. You want your army strong. His men were weak from hunger. Is Saul a king or a priest or a prophet? It seems in his own mind he cannot decide.


Then Saul is told to destroy the Amalekites. The whole city and people are to be put under the ban. Saul spares the king Agag and also spares the best of the livestock. Notice was Samuel says to him.


1SA 15:22-23

"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams.

23 "For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

He has also rejected you from being king."


Obey is better than:

Sacrifice - priest.

Divination - prophet.

King - king. (What he was but was rejected)


Saul was indecisive and therefore did not obey in the specific things he was called to do.


It’s really simple, whether God had made someone a prophet, priest, or king, they need to obey in the manner in which they were called. It is not insignificant that Jesus is all three, prophet, priest, and king perfectly and eternally; but He is the only one. The gifts He has given to His body might fall under those three categories in some way, but the reality is that no believer possesses all gifts. We each need to obey God’s directive in whatever works and gift(s) He has given us. We don’t get to choose what they are. If we think whatever God has given us is not what we want then our gift will remain unused, neglected like Saul’s kingship.


1SA 17:26

Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?"


David’s first words: Pride in God and Israel. David would focus greatly on God’s present will. He would fail, but he would repent with genuine humility.