Pastor’s Message

THE KING’S GIFTS TO MEN

Ephesians 4:1-16 
Last week, I talked about the gift of the Holy Spirit from Christ to us!  What a privilege it is for us to have God dwelling inside of us, filling us, and shining through us to a world that is in so much darkness.  In Ephesians 4, we have a reading fit for Christ the King Sunday.  Remember Jesus Christ has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth, so He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  Anyone refusing to submit to His Lordship is rebelling against Him.


But Christ is different from earthly rulers.  As Jesus taught us, so He is, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,” – Matthew 20:25b-26. 

Christ uses His position of authority to offer blessings to all mankind and He gives eternal blessings, including eternal life to those who surrender to Him by faith.  Notice what it says in verse 7 of Ephesians 4, However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,“

When he ascended to the heights,
 he led a crowd of captives
 and gave gifts to his people.”

St. Paul is quoting Psalms 68:18 that when we surrender our lives to Christ, He gives back to us tremendous gifts.  We understand salvation and forgiveness.  We are also to be immersed in or baptized in the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit of God dwells within us becoming a spring of living water flowing from within us to bless the church and the world around us.

Notice what Paul says in v. 7,“he has given each one of us a special gift[a”.  That word, “gift” can also be translated grace.1.  The Gifts In this passage, Paul explains what some of these gifts are saying, 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. – Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT.Notice these gifts are not just to make you personally feel good, or to glorify yourself.  Unfortunately, the chief aim of some is self-glorification.  These are gifts given to help us serve one another, not exalt ourselves or lord it over one another.  That goes against what Jesus taught us in Matthew 20.  Take a quick look at the gifts mentioned.When the Greek word for “Apostle” is translated into Latin, we have the root for the word “Missionary” which means “one who is sent.”  This is a particular gift and assignment from Christ.  Apostles are the people who take the Word of God to unreached people.  In one sense we all do this, but some are set aside to do this as their living.Prophets declare the testimony of Jesus.  It may include giving messages from God about the future, but in the Old Testament 80 to 85% of their work was to declare what God has already told us and apply it to our current circumstances.  Too often, we limit it to the special revelations sometimes given by God.Evangelists are people who have been gifted by God to lead others to the saving knowledge of Christ.  Today we have forgotten that 10% of the people in any given congregation have this gift.  It is very easy for them to share Christ.  Too often, we institutionalize or professionalize this gift. Often people who have this gift feel intimidated into not sharing their faith, because they don’t do it like “Billy Graham” or “James Kennedy” or some program.  Some are called to be fulltime evangelists and they are gifted for it.  But many other Christians also have this gift and need to be encouraged to use it.  Billy Graham, the greatest mass evangelist in the 20th Century, said the most effective evangelism is one person sharing with another.In the Greek Pastors and Teachers are one word.  It is what most pastors/teachers do through the preaching and teaching ministry of the church, but they also do this through their prayers and through talking to the people God has put under their care often on a one to one basis.These three gifts are not intended to be a complete list of the special gifts that God gives to Christians but rather they show us the purpose of all of the gifts of the Spirit is serving one another in love.  John Wesley probably serves as one of the greatest examples of people serving in the Power of the Spirit, Billy Graham was another.  But there are millions of others around the world who have a multitude of gifts give to them by the Holy Spirit. 2.  Our AttitudeOur attitude in exercising these gifts is given to us in the first few verses of Ephesians 4,“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3 NLT.There is purity in “lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”  Every Christian is admonished to lead a pure and holy life, because each one of us is called by God.We are to be humble and gentle, not proud and harsh, to be patient with one another. In making allowance for each other’s faults, we recognize we have faults of our own.  We may laugh when someone says something stupid or foolish, but it should never be done in a mean or belittling way.We need to be united in the Spirit.  Notice it is a qualified “united”, it is not unity for the sake of unity, but in the Holy Spirit of God.  Institutional or missional unity is not unity in the Spirit.  Jesus indicated in Matthew 7:21-23 some will do work “for God” but that it is not “of God”.  They did work they thought was for God, but it was not motivated by the Spirit of God, rather it was motivated by their own flesh.3.  The PurposeThe purpose of the gifts mentioned by Paul in Eph. 4, is given in vv. 12, “is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”  Then verse 13 explains, “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” – NLT.  We still press on to that goal, or on to perfection as we say in Methodism.The purpose of our gifts is to help us to grow in Christ, to support and strengthen each other, not to be self-serving.  You find a similar purpose in other Scriptures.  Have you identified the gifts God has given to you?  Use them with a humble and gentle attitude that is pleasing to God.  God has gifted you; focus on your gifts, and use them to serve and strengthen other believers, and to shine the light of Christ to our world which desperately needs Him.