Ephesians 4:4-8 – “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” NASU
We will get to verses 9-16 momentarily but this lays the foundation for our consideration of the “Gifts” He gave to men. I believe it is obvious from a study of God’s Word that the Plan of God was and is for His followers to ‘have’ spiritual gifts and to ‘operate’ in them in today’s world both inside and outside the four walls of the church meeting place. The Plan has not changed although the participants change from generation to generation. This Plan involves and includes the Church and by that, I mean the “Ecclesia” the Body of Called out Ones. I mean the Body of Christ which embodies All Believers who have received Jesus. It is not Jewish nor is it Gentile it is Christ’s Body. The Church began with Jews by natural birth and by a sovereign and supernatural act of the Holy Spirit became Universal.
The Early Church had and recognized all the “Ascension Gifts” of Jesus. They recognized that there was ONE BODY, not multiplied thousands of small body parts scattered over the face of the globe. Christ Jesus was the recognized head, not some human potentate or overseer, and from His headship, He gave many and varied gifts and ministries to the Church to help fulfill its mission and mission and to develop into MATURE SPIRITUAL PERSONS.
In John 17, Jesus prayed for the UNITY of the Body and here in Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul brings that same thought to the forefront of our minds. He unequivocally affirms that there is ONE BODY. That is a needed reminder in our divided world of Christendom where, too often, we allow ourselves to be fragmented and splinter into groups, sects, cliques, or camps. We tend to forget that no group, sect, clique, or camp has a corner on truth and holds ALL TRUTH. We tend to forget that we see through a darkened glass and see “in part” thus needing the other parts to complete our view and understanding. The analogy of the Body in 1 Corinthians 12 is powerful and appropriate and something we should regularly remind ourselves of. Each part of the Body is important, has function and purpose.
In the Church or Religious World, we seem to have gravitated toward and evolved into a structure or mode of operation the Holy Spirit has little direct control. We have man-made rules, doctrines, by-laws, and job descriptions that are arbitrary rules rather than tools or vehicles to help us move into the fullness of God’s Purposes. Too many have relegated to history, the ministries, gifts, and functions that Jesus gave, and have moved into democratic or papal systems that have no true foundation in scripture and often severely hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in today’s church and the world.
I believe that if we, with ‘honest and open heart’ really read and study the Book of Acts we will realize that The Church of Acts and the Church of today can only be described as remotely resembling each other. We are not the same in structure, mode of operation, manifestation, ministry, or government to name a few differences. This cannot be explained by arguing that they lived nearer the time of Christ’s physical presence on earth or to get the church established. I must ask, “Does the Power of Christ grow weaker the farther we get (in time) from when He walked this earth?” NO? Then the lapse or passage of time cannot be the reason we do not have what they had and do not operate as they operated. What is preventing us from being THAT CHURCH today?
I find it worthy of note that the apostle Paul was concerned enough that he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to include a most interesting statement in v.7 which follows the discussion of unity and oneness in the preceding verses. God has ‘graced’ us with gifts and ‘graced’ us for unity. GRACE is not simply ‘unmerited favor’ it is ‘divine enablement.’ Through God’s Grace we receive the Gifts and through His Divine Enablement, we function in them for the Glory of God.
That leads us to the Ascension Gifts of our Lord Jesus, that He gave to the Church and is still giving to the Church today because His Purpose and Mission has not changed. According to the Bible, the Church is to operate according to GIFTS, not by-laws or the man-made job descriptions of traditional views. In v.10 we notice that Jesus ascended to heaven for a specific purpose, “That He might fill (complete) all things.” A part of this is found in v.11, where we find that He gave (He is the same yesterday, today, and forever) to the Church certain Gifts. The word GAVE means gave, is giving, and will continue to give. The remaining verses validate this as a continuing happening. He gave, is giving, and will continue to give GIFTS to His Church for Purpose.
That lays the foundation for a further discussion on the Gifts He Gave and Is Giving to the church. We will examine them more closely in the next devotional. May the Lord richly bless you as you embark on His purposes this day!