John T. Willis

Thursday, June 24, 2010

God's Marvelous Diversified Gifts--Ephesians 4:1-16

Actually, the THEME of Ephesians 4:1-16 [and perhaps the THEME of the entire Letter of Ephesians] is the importance of UNITY. But BEHIND and UNDERNEATH is a deeper ROOT: God's LOVE. True love is measured in terms of GIVING. God is the great GIVER of all gifts and blessings. James 1:17 says: "Every GENEROUS act of GIVING, with every perfect GIFT, is FROM ABOVE, coming down from the FATHER of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow due to change." The GREAT MESSAGE of the entire Bible is: "For God so LOVED the WORLD that he GAVE is only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:16). Hence, God's GIFTS appear everywhere--especially in Ephesians 4:1-16. This segment falls into three parts.

I. God's SEVEN GIFTS for ALL HUMAN BEINGS. Ephesians 4:1-6.
a. Paul reminds his hearers that he is a "prisoner," not only physically at Rome, but also spiritually "in the Lord." God "controls" Paul's life. Accordingly, Paul summons Christians to "walk worthily" of the calling to which God called them. 4:1.
b. Paul exhorts God's people to be humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love. "Bearing one another in love" is absolutely essential to unity. 4:2.
c. Further, Paul encourages Christians to "make EVERY EFFORT to MAINTAIN the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of PEACE." God has ALREADY brought the people of God to be in unity through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. BUT, all Christians must MAINTAIN that prior unity. 4:3.
d. Now, Paul lists SEVEN GIFTS that God showers on all people. 4:4-6.
1. A common BODY--the church.
2. A common SPIRIT--the Holy Spirit. Often, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a GIFT of God--see Acts 2:38; 5:32.
3. A common HOPE--1 Peter 1:3 says: "God the Father by his great mercy has GIVEN us a new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
4. A common LORD--Jesus Christ. Remember that John 3:16 says: "God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son"--Jesus Christ. Jesus is another GIFT of God.
5. A common FAITH--This is not merely an absract set of beliefs to be accepted, but a common TRUST in God--trust in God alone, in none other or thing.
6. A common BAPTISM--Immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins. See Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 10:19-22. Baptism is a symbol and re-living of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ in our lives. See Romans 6:1-7.
7. A common GOD AND FATHER--God offers HIMSELF as a GIFT to be our heavenly Father. See Matthew 6:9-15.

II. God's Gifts to "Gifted" or "Talented" People. Ephesians 4:7-11.
a. 4:7 is VERY IMPORTANT. Note that Paul says: "EACH OF US [every individual is very important] WAS GIVEN [by God] grace according to the measure of Christ's GIFT." We cannot "seize" or "capture" or "create" or "build" the gifts that God has put into the life of each person. 4:7.
b. After Jesus Christ died and was buried and was resurrected from the dead, approximately 50 days later, he was caught up into heaven and sat down on the right hand of God his Father [see Acts 2:32-33]. Then he GAVE GIFTS to his people. 4:8-10.
c. Some of these GIFTS were people. Paul lists as examples: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. 4:11. It is very unlikely that this is intended to be a "complete list." The important point here is that God's gifts are often PEOPLE. Think of people in YOUR OWN LIFE who are obviously GIFTS from God. Perhaps this may be a parent or a sibling or a friend or a mentor or a preacher or a shepherd or an inspiring writer or singer, etc.

III. God's Gifts or Talents or Skills within People. Ephesians 4:12-16.
a. Paul also enumerates several gifts or talents or skills which various people have and should use to glorify God. A study of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Peter 4:10-11 expands on this great reality. First, God uses trained people to "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." 4:12. Certainly, not every one in the family of God can do everything. We ALL must have each other to support and sustain each other.
b. In this way, we together come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 4:13. But this can occur ONLY if everyone does his talented or gifted part.
c. New babes in Christ may quibble with each other. But soon we must abandon childish ways and become mature in Christ. In this way, we may grow up in every way into Jesus Christ, our head and source and sustenance. 4:14-15.
d. The whole body is joined and knit together by EVERY ligament with which it is EQUIPPED [remember 4:12], as EACH PART [each individual in the church] is working properly. This promotes the spiritual GROWTH of the body, the church, in building itself up IN LOVE. 4:16.

YOU are a GIFT of God. God has given YOU special gifts or talents or skills. Find and use YOUR gifts.

Share YOUR insights and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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