Oct 10, 2021 God Gives Diverse Gifts for Unity

We need some help with technical stuff – if you are interested in helping, let me know!

There are a number of people listening online and others who listen during the week – and it all happens because of those back there.

3 weeks ago, John Ference talked about Eph. 4:1-6 – Paul focuses on unity.

From 1:1-4:6, there is this focus on unity. I am jumping into verse 7 – where Paul goes from unity to diversity in verse 7:

Eph. 4:7 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

So what he says – there is this diversity and spiritual gifts – and each of being gifted differently, there is diversity, so the goal is to learn unity in diversity. We each have unique gifts, abilities, and talents, and we are to use these in a way that vitally connects us in the church. We are not to be off on our own – doing our own thing with what God has given us – we are to be connected with people!

In Corinthians, Paul used a metaphor of the body – the church has one body with many parts – we each have different functions. When you are doing something and your foot goes one way, your hand can’t go another – we have to do what the body tells it to do – it all moves together. It is the same with diversity in the body – it is for the purpose of moving together in the same direction

Eph. 4:7 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.“

He is quoting Psalm 68: You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts from men, (Psa. 68:18)

Notice the difference? You received gifts from men vs. he gave gifts to men – what is going on? In the NASB, they capitalize direct quotes.

In Paul’s time, they used the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible – that was the common scripture.

When translators put together our bibles – they used the LXX – the Septuagint – and there are always variations between what the New Testament author is quoting – but this here says the opposite! So what is happening? Paul is talking to people in a context.

I will describe this with a song – which I will not sing. I will give you the line – give me the next one.

I can’t remember if I cried… the day, the music died…

You know the context –

Psalm 68 – they would have been familiar with it – Paul takes pieces parts and sticks them together as if they were one verse – because they didn’t HAVE verses.

Psalm 68 tells a story of the warrior God – the first 80% is the warrior God’s victory over the power of darkness and that ties in completely with the theme of Ephesians – Christ’s victory over darkness and sin through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

At the end – Paul comes in – and after the victory is won – He gives gifts to His people.

As Christ has won the victory – it is of huge importance that He gifts us the gift of the Holy Spirit – and with that – He gives us special gifts – our experience of His victory is already, and not yet – we don’t yet experience it fully – so we are still in the battle – which has been won – but we are in the battle – and God has given us spiritual gifts so we might engage the battle.

From here on out – here is how we engage the battle. Think of the Chronicles of Narnia and Aslan gave each a gift – which eventually became useful in the battle.

Paul will list gifts.

The next verse – ties back to Eph 1

4:8 Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.“

when He raised Christ from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, (Eph. 1:21)

Over. Victory. Done. All the powers are subject to Christ. This is the gospel. It is just a summary of the gospel – what is going on there.

9 Now what is the meaning of "he ascended," except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth?

10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.

11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

So he begins to list 5 gifts – there will be many others – and I will show you those. Some call these gifts the five-fold ministry – but the next verse tells us how to think of these:

12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,

Maybe the best way to see these? Equipping gifts. They are there for the sole purpose of building the church.

You might think this is simple – but there are pages and pages of arguments. Do apostles and prophets still exist? Some say no – they have ceased – some say yes, of course, and others, yes, but different. Most would agree that they are not like the original apostles. If there is the gift of apostle – it is not like the New Testament apostles. Apostle is the same word for missionary.

Others say these are offices/positions within the church. Others say – no, it is just spiritual gifts. Others say – no, he is talking about PEOPLE – God gave people to the church. And at that point, we ask, what is the point? Ultimately – it doesn’t matter. Let me tell you why – Teacher – is that an office or a gift – does it change what they do? No. Evangelist? Office or gift? It doesn’t matter – the point is to use it!

We get so concerned about names and titles and taking spiritual gift tests to figure it all out! JUST USE IT! USE THE ABILITIES AND GIFTS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU IN SERVING THE CHURCH!

Here is what is important:

Eph. 4:7, But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

They are given by grace. They are not earned. They are not deserved. They are not something if we work hard enough we will get. God just gave them to you. When we think of leadership or equipping gifts, it is easy to think – if they have the gift of preaching – that we can put a person like that on a platform and think they are a special class of Christian – like there is a professional and amateur in the Christian world – or a performer and an audience – but that is not found in the Bible. Each of us has gifts, given by grace, to be used.

Eph. 3:7, of which I was made a minister (because I had all the right degrees and interviewed well? No, it doesn’t say that!), according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,

Rom. 15:15, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles,

1Co 15:10, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain;

Who am I? nothing beyond the grace of God – Christian leadership is not an upward advancement into position and power – it is not! It is a downward movement into service and humility – and it is at the bottom that we receive power and strength to do His work. When we go to the bottom, that is where we find His grace.

We think, when I get something important to do, God will come with all this grace – but rather, it is you get down to the bottom and discover God’s grace and figure out what to do!

That is the first important thing about these gifts – the second – they are there for the equipping of the saints -

Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,

The goal is to gain full participation of the people in the church in ministry. There are two reasons – first – the leaders – Then – the people! That covers everyone!

For the leaders – the equipping aspect – one reason leaders struggle – some want to just do everything themselves because they think they know how to do it right. Second – some have a hard time asking for help. Neither of these are positive!

Everyone needs to be participating equally for this to work! The hand can’t stay out of it – it has to get involved for it to work.

For us here – you do an excellent job volunteering for so many things – but we need to excel still more. Like – we need help with the tech – opportunities abound. You get things going in one area and something else comes up.

Tim Gombis explains it this way:

“Paul describes church leadership in ways that correspond to acting coaches and directors of dramas – if the church enters into a drama - the leaders are the directors –

You are the ones onstage – and the equippers coach you!

I can improve on this.

I would compare these equipping people with Clint Eastwood – and I don’t mean Dirty Harry blowing up everything – although that happens – but he was an actor and director – he did both. Leadership has a role too.

Sometimes it is a small role for the equipper. Think of it like a player/coach – Frank Robinson was one of the last ones. Ty Cobb was always a player/coach.

In football – you might have a coach – who might be a lineman! You would think he would be the quarterback – but maybe not.

There is a great variety of gifts – there are no all-inclusive lists. Here, Romans 12, 1 Cor…

Rom 12:6-8, And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy,

1 Cor. 12:8-10, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues.

1 Cor. 12:28, And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

As you look at the gifts – it seems as though there are some gifts that maybe hold a larger role – first, apostle, second…

What is clear? There is equality in the gifts people have.

Rom 12:6-8, And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy,

Here is the question – this person has this gift, and it might not seem glamorous. Someone once told me I was an encourager – and I thought, what a discouraging gift to have!

But we all receive gifts according to God’s grace.

None of us lacks any grace.

John 1:16 – from His fullness we have received grace upon grace.

You can’t get any more! No matter your gift – what you have is all of God’s grace – He has poured it out on all of us.

1 Peter 4:10 – Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God (we are all different, but it is given in varied ways) – Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies. We speak or serve – and it must be done in reliance upon Him.

Over the summer, it has been exciting to see different teams doing Sunday morning messages – and we have developed this informal thing – we have a lot of gifted speakers in our church. We will still do sermons, but we will also do team stuff so more gifts can be used.

I would close with three things –

Consider trying something new.

It is helpful – develop a growth mentality. What new thing could I do?

Maybe there is some grace that you have received from God that you don’t know about.

His grace is much more abundant than what you know!

2nd – Consider being creative! Not just try new things – but new ways! There is never anything in the Bible about how a church service should be run – it might tell us what not to do.

I am not an evangelist – I try – we were talking about this at Men’s Group – and there are some where it comes really natural for them.

There is no one way that it happens. There are so many ways to engage people with the gospel.

Make sure whatever you do – always focus your gifts and abilities on connecting with people and ministering to people

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