Ephesians 4:7-16: Spiritual gifts –summary of permanent gifts (giving God your best).
length: 86:21 - taught on Dec, 12 2021
Sunday December 12,2021
As we briefly summarize the permanent spiritual gifts, I want to remind you that all of them are for the one purpose of edifying or building up the body of Christ, and so serving God.
Spiritual gifts are for the purpose of building up the body of Christ in the service of God. We are to give God our very best.
We’ll be looking at the opening of the Book of Malachi this morning. A little background on the book will help. At the start, the prophet reveals the condition of the people of Israel at that time quite openly. The abuses were a stingy and careless profanity of the temple services, which specifically were the people withholding tithes and suitable offerings, and the priests and Levites passing animals for sacrifice they should have rejected. There was an unfaithfulness on the part of the priests to the responsibilities of their office, especially in the administration of the Law. There was intermarriage with aliens. And there was a skepticism which was becoming bold and defiant. I find it interesting that when people get lazy in their worship of God that their skepticism grows. It makes sense that the less a person respects and fears God, the more bold they become in discounting or even critiquing God’s word.
In light of that thought, I quote Edmund Burke from his Reflections on the French Revolution (1790):
“We know that we have made no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality; nor many in great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born, altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould on our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity.”
The knowledge and wisdom of the Christian is eternally old and will soon be the only one around.
Thus says the Lord, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, "declares the Lord.
Malachi means “My messenger,” which is a title that Haggai gives to himself. There is debate over whether this is the real name of the writer or a title he is using, but the opening lines point to it being his name. Nothing is known about him. He is the last of the prophets, writing somewhere in the vicinity of 430 B.C.
The history of the circumstances of this time teaches us an important lesson. Nehemiah, cup bearer to king Artaxerxes, was given leave to go to Jerusalem. For twelve years he acted as governor of Judea (NEH 5:14), and during this time he thoroughly fortified Jerusalem, induced a larger proportion of the Jews to reside in it (NEH 7:4; 11:1), and enforced several much-needed reforms in civil as well as in ecclesiastical matters. Especially he caused the whole population to enter into a solemn covenant, by which they engaged to observe the whole Law of Moses, not to intermarry with aliens, to desist from trading on the Sabbath, and to release creditors (slaves) every seventh year, and, above all, to uphold by tithes and taxes the public service of God in the temple. After thus establishing and endowing the leadership and the people, Nehemiah returned to the court of Persia in 433 B.C.
I show this for the purpose of asking us how long do we think that these things lasted in this condition.
We don’t know exactly how long it was before Nehemiah returned, but we know that it was ten years or less. And when he did return, how broken hearted he must have been when it was revealed just how slight a hold his reforms had taken on the character of the people. For on his return he found matters worse than ever.
The conduct and appearance of a good and holy people might be the result of a powerful leader, while their hearts are actually rotten.
This point comes out of the background of Nehemiah’s life and work, and it always rings true. In our service of one another, which is our service of God, and the function of our spiritual gifts in our lives, it is vital that our hearts see and are transformed by the Holy Spirit and the truth and that we’re not just doing what is perceived to be right because of any other reason.
Remember the parable of the two sons who were asked to go and work in the vineyard by their father. One said no, but then later thought better of it and went. The other said he would go but didn’t go. The Lord Jesus asked, “Which one did the will of his father?”
Then the Lord said,
"Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous;
And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed."
15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord [plans in the heart that are not godly],
And whose deeds are done in a dark place,
And they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?" [lip service is enough]
16 You turn things around!
Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay,
That what is made should say to its maker, "He did not make me";
Or what is formed say to him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
Concerning principles like this, I always say, that if you know the right thing to do and don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway.
However, we are aiming higher. The motivation behind the work and service we do is of a better quality than peer pressure, or fear of a leader, or even fear of personal pain or loss; rather it is a transformed heart who is like the good steward who does the will of his master day in and day out though he has no idea when his master is returning.
be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
It is likely, though we can’t say with certainty, that Malachi prophesied some time between Nehemiah’s first and second periods in Jerusalem.
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Thy name?'”
Notice how these priests were doing this.
It wasn’t that they were offering Him nothing.
"You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled Thee?' In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is to be despised.' 8 "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts. 9 "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts.