Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – the steward is responsible for the care and use of his ministry.
Wednesday October 13,2021
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.
Christ didn’t come to earth to show off His divine power and from that loft judge men. He came to save us and to show us what a new spiritual life would be.
The works, gifted and expressed by divine power, are not given only to an elite few, but to every believer, in which there are no distinctions of race, gender, economic or social status, genetic gifts, or natural intelligence. All of the body of Christ are given a spiritual gift (or gifts) and all possess the same position of holiness, righteousness, cleansing, and justification by the blood of Christ.
Greater works than His. What a humbling statement that is. A man might take pride in a good work done to some poor man or take credit for an act of philanthropy, but who could possibly merit themselves in doing greater works than the Lord’s? It is incredible but true. Christ never gives us empty gas or platitudes. It is beyond wonderful and by all accounts it could only be a gift. A gift given to sinners, enemies of God, sons of disobedience who have been saved by God’s sacrifice and then gifted all the more. This is grace and mercy flowing from love.
“Greater works” – a gift. Mercy is God’s goodness confronting human misery and guilt, so grace is His goodness directed toward human debt and demerit.
It is by grace that God imputes merit where none previously existed and declares no debt to be where one had been before.
Christ’s death and resurrection and ascension gave the church a gospel whose power had never been so high. Men were saved by faith before the coming Christ, but now that He had accomplished His anointed mission historically, the power of the gospel pulsed through the spiritual bloodstream of the apostles. Paul never disassociates God’s grace from God’s crucified Son. Always in his teachings the two are found together, organically one and inseparable. Peter’s speech at Pentecost is a shining example of a spiritual gift in full operation and the gospel at its peak. Peter would confidently and boldly proclaim,
“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
That day three-thousand souls were healed of sin and death and were given life abundantly through the Holy Spirit and the words of truth heard from the apostles. The miracles of healing men’s souls and giving them life have been happening ever since through members of the church who understood their own gifts and ministries and works and obeyed God within them, humble before the work that God had set in front of them.
I especially like Peter’s method of categorizing gifts – 1) speaking and 2) serving. “… of the manifold (much diversity) grace of God.”
Manifold means “having many facets or aspects,” so Peter sums it up nicely. Peter’s letter leads us to emphasize the proper manner of living in our gift over identifying what the gift might be by name. I think we should seek to know the gift by name, or at least as being under the heading of one of the gifts named, but more so we should be concerned with the manner of our serving and working. If we do that, then I think the identification will come to us, and we will also be confident in its accuracy.
We will not go into a study of each gift. We will look at the gifts in Eph 4:11.
Practical outcomes of our study: discover our gift, appreciate different gifts in others, alter expectations of what gifts should look like (if necessary).
The practical outcome of this discussion is that we should be willing to recognize and appreciate people who have gifts that differ from ours and whose many gifts may differ from our expectations of what certain gifts should look like. And a healthy church should have a variety of gifts which should lead to unity.
Paul uses the body analogy to teach us that there are many differences between believers but that we are dependent upon each other. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’”
In the body of Christ, diversity is unity because we share a common mind, love, spirit, and purpose (Phi 2:2).
No one has all the gifts, and likely, all of us have one (or maybe two), and so God has made it so that we must depend upon each other if the church is going to function properly. Paul wrote, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret” (1Co 12:29-30)?
Paul told Timothy:
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery (assembly of elders).
A gift can be neglected by infrequent use, and it can also be strengthened by using it.
Using it means using it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grudging service or speaking, done under “natural ability” does not strengthen it.
The steward is responsible to use and care for his gift/ministry.
People come up with all kinds of excuses of why they don’t have to do something. Excuses do not sway God’s mind. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2Co 5:10).
And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
“kindle afresh” – anazopureo = keep in full flame (literally: ana (again); zoos (alive); pur (fire). Like a fire, the gift of God can die out through neglect.
It may be that Timothy was spiritually bullied a bit. In Paul’s first letter, he writes: 1Ti 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. What is also mentioned by Paul in the first letter, more than once, is speculative discussions that lead to arguments. By neglecting the teaching of sound doctrine and getting mixed up in fables, Timothy would have neglected his gift. The pastor must be consistently working on exegeting sound doctrine based only on the Scripture and teaching that unapologetically to his congregation, and not focusing on the hot topics of the current culture. The point to all of us, whatever our gift or gifts are, is that we should use them at all opportunities and only in the manner prescribed by God.