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Sunday, October 18, 2015 pm                                    Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPEHSIANS (22)
Gifts
Ephesians 4:7-10

 

Tonight we continue our study of the book of Ephesians.  Bearing in mind that Paul’s message is one of unity for all, regardless of our background.  His point is that salvation is available to all.  Understanding this Paul has called for unity among these brethren.  Our past few lessons have emphasized both the attitudes that promote this unity (Eph. 4:1-3) and the basis for our unity – 7 one’s (Eph. 4:4-6).  Paul now turns his focus toward what God has given us to build us up as His body.

Tonight we want to examine a text that is admittedly difficult in the midst of plain teachings about unity and the building up of the church of Christ. 

 I.                    Gifts given to each of us (7-10)

a.        To each of us grace was given – we are here speaking of a general gift available to all mankind, as opposed to spiritual gifts which were given to individuals at the discretion of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11).  This gift is associated with the grace of God. 

b.       According to the measure of Christ’s gift 

                                                   i.      The measure of Christ’s gift means that He provided for us to the full extent or the complete amount that we need, as opposed to individual and differing gifts  - though such certainly exists (see Romans 12:3-8).  Remember this grace is given “to each one of us.
 NOTE: The word for “gift” here is δωρεά (dōrea).  This is a different word than describes spiritual “gifts” (χάρισμα, charisma) in many places.

                                                  ii.      What is this gift?  There are several plausible possibilities

1.       Salvation.  It certainly was made available to all mankind is salvation – Acts 2:38, Titus 2:11, Romans 5:15, etc.  Jesus came to offer Himself for all mankind – John 3:16, Romans 5:8 – He died for us.
In this one might also say that Jesus Himself IS the gift!

2.       Spiritual blessings found in Him – Eph. 1:3-12, etc. 

3.       Unity – as emphasized in this context.  There is unity in the body of Christians because of what Jesus did.

4.       Godly and knowledgeable leaders of the body (vs. 11) – these are teachers of God’s word, that build up the body of Christ so that we can function together (vs. 12-16)

5.       All that produces maturity in us (vs. 16) – the results of God’s word.

6.       ALL of these are true for the Christian.   And they are related to one another. 

                                                iii.      Consider how we ALL have the ability to produce the unity that God demands.  This is NOT a unity in doctrinal diversity, but doctrinal agreement  - a tie that binds us together.

c.         “Therefore HE says” –Psalm 68:18

                                                   i.      To bolster this Paul quotes from Psalm 68:18, “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there.
The context of Psalm 68.  A psalm of David praising God for His goodness at Mt. Sinai.  It demonstrates the power of God to defeat His enemies. And in conquering His enemies, He receives gifts from men and gives gifts to His subjects.   None can stop Him.

                                                  ii.      In our context, the victory of God is compared to the victory of Jesus who defeats His enemies and brings His people together - Something Paul has addressed in this letter – Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-15.

                                                iii.      When He ascended on high – God was atop Mt. Sinai in giving the Law of Moses, and He is higher than man, in ways, thoughts and power. 
So also Christ has ascended -  a reference to Jesus returning to sit at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20)  Phil 2:9, - God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name. 
Colossians 3:1, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. “

                                                iv.      He led captivity captive – God is able to defeat His enemies.  Why was Israel at Mt. Sinai?  Because God had with His mighty hand brought them out of Egypt and defeated them handily.  The captive were free (He captured “captivity” and ruled over it. 
 Jesus, as He arose from the dead and then ascended to Heaven, did so in defeat of the devil and freed those who had been in bondage to Him –
Hebrews 2:14-15 – speaks of how Christ through death destroyed the power of death, that is the devil, and released those who in their lifetime were subject to bondage.
Luke 11:20-22 – Jesus challenging His critics notes that if He cast out demons by the finger of God, then surely the kingdom of God was with them.  He illustrates how a strong man is subdued by one who is stronger than him.
1 John 3:8, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Colossians 2:15, Jesus has disarmed principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.

                                                  v.      He gave gifts to men – the “gifts” above mentioned have been given. 
NOTE: There are some differences between Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8.  In Psalm 68:18, it states that God RECEIVED gifts from men – which He did.  His followers gave to Him in many ways, both at Mt. Sinai and throughout their history.  Today, we give “gifts” to Him – Romans 12:1-2 – present yourself a living sacrifice, etc.
Our text says He gives gifts – which we have seen he has done abundantly.  The very idea of the grace of God attests to His gifts – as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

                                                vi.      In this it could be that Paul takes an Old Testament teaching and makes New Testament application (while keeping a text in its proper context).   As such, his quote is not a DIRECT quote from Psalm 68:18, but an application based upon that teaching.    It is clearly true that Jesus in triumphing over Satan GIVES us gifts – cf. Romans 6:23

d.       Vs. 9-10 – In this text Paul elaborates on the application of the Psalm in Jesus. 

                                                   i.      “Now this, ‘He ascended’ what does it mean but that He also first descended to the lower parts of the earth.”  Jesus was in heaven and left it for us – Phil. 2:5-7.  Hebrews 2:17 tells us that in all things He had to be made like His brethren – to be a merciful and faithful High Priest for us.  Why did Jesus come to this earth? To die for the sins of mankind – ALL of mankind, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.
IN our text, the unity found in Jesus was made possible because Jesus came to this earth!

                                                  ii.      Descended to the lower parts of the earth – first, a reference to coming to a sin cursed world.  And perhaps it is ultimately a reference to the grave where Jesus eventually went. 
But considering His leaving heaven and coming to this earth to live among common men (rather than among the elites and kings, etc.) we find how He cares for all of us. 
  2 Corinthians 8:9, for our sakes He became poor.
John 3:13 verifies this saying, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”

                                                iii.      He is also the One who has ascended far above the (physical) heavens, that He might fill all things.  In going to heaven, Jesus is able to bring to full completion His work and provide for our needs. Colossians 2:9–10, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

e.       Vs. 11-12 - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,”  Various leaders in teaching the word were given for equipping the saints to do their work.  We will address this more in our next lesson.

 II.                    What is the point in our lesson today?  

a.        Jesus died so that all mankind could live. 

b.       God has demonstrated His love to us in this very thing

c.        This was prophesied even in the Old Law, by David some 1000 years earlier.  I see this as the point.  It has ALWAYS been God’s intent for His people to dwell tougher in unity.

 

Considering all that Jesus Christ has done for us, what have we done for Him?  Think about it!