Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the continuation of Christ’s works throughout the age, part 2.
Title: Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the continuation of Christ’s works throughout the age, part 2.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has even been greater than its idea of God.” [A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy]
What we should understand is the reason for the gifts, which is building up the body of Christ, and that they come from God by His sovereign choice. They are manifestations of the gifts that the resurrected Christ possesses (Prophet, Priest, and King) and has showered upon His body so that she, the church, can minister within herself and outside of herself in the manner that Christ would if He were here.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”
Greater works – the healing and strengthening of the soul that the apostles and other members would accomplish in their ministries empowered by the HS.
Certainly this is a difficult statement, but we must caution ourselves against allegorizing it. Jesus says what He means. Christ healed many, and His words saved many. But the man healed of blindness would be blind again at death. The diseased and lame would decay in a grave and never walk again. But when the apostles and the rest of the church, functioning in their gifts, “according to the proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4:16), would impart the gospel to the unbeliever, and also impart the alive and powerful truth to the believer, they would give sight and a walk of life and a healing of lameness that all had existed in the soul, and the results of these works would be eternal. The signs that Christ committed were analogous to everlasting benefits that would come to mankind through the church – as for instance, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and for the believer, the fruit of the Spirit.
What Christ healed and provided in miracle, He would give the church the power to do for man’s soul with eternal results.
Christ plainly and expressly announces to His disciples that these works which He had been doing were not miracles of the highest kind; that miracles of the highest kind were works of healing and renewal wrought not on bodies but on the souls of men, works whose effects would not be deleted by disease and death, but would be permanent, works which should not confined to the area of Palestine, but should be coextensive with the human race.
Remember, the gifts are for the building up of the body, but the edification is spiritual and not physical. Now, that doesn’t mean that we say, “Good luck, I’ll pray for you,” when we can provide for a physical need, but only that the goal of the physical things we do for one another is essentially a spiritual edification.
What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
“save him?” = save his life from the terrible effects of sin (Jam 1:21). A Christian without works is not living.
Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
This vessel of honor serves friend and enemy:
But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
So then, when Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.”
By Christ’s removal from earth through the ascension, His work was not to be stopped, but to pass into a higher stage – the church gifted with powers.
He had not come to earth to make a passing display of Divine power, nor to give a tantalizing glimpse of what the world might be if He freely applied His power to all, everywhere; but to show us what a new spiritual life would be, and then to do the sacrificial work to attain it for us.