Summary: As children of God and members of the Body of Christ, we are basically clueless as to the awesome power which has been vested in Christ’s New Testament Church, through His gifts working through us.
Virtually every cardinal doctrine in the Holy Scripture is covered in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians consists of two basic truths - positional truth and practical truth. In studying this blessed book, I counted thirty nine different benefits which are ours as members of Christ’s Body in the first three chapters, and twenty seven commands given to us in the final three chapters as to how we are to conduct ourselves because of who we are in Christ. In Ephesians 4:7-13, we see the great, meticulous care God took in establishing, empowering, and receiving glory from His church. The church is not a glorified civic or social club, she is a supernatural, spiritual, living organism. She has been enabled to extend the ministry and the life of Christ, and to be "salt" and "light" in this world of darkness and sin-sickness. I submit to you four truths concerning the way in which God, the Father has gifted His church.
I. THE SOURCE OF THE GIFTS: Christ is the Source of all giftedness in the church. If you have a ministry gift of the Spirit, it was first manifested in the life of Jesus Christ. He is the epitomy of all gifts; He is perfect in all the gifts; and He bestows them upon His Body. Ephesians 4:7 says that ". .unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ". He did this when He ascended up on high (verse 8). What did he tell the thief on the right? He told him, "This day thou shalt be with me in paradise". When Jesus died, He went into Sheol, or paradise. Scripture tells us in I Peter 3 that He went and preached to imprisoned spirits while he was in paradise. (He descended into the lower parts of the earth) Then when He ascended from paradise up into the Heavenly Jerusalem while leading captivity captive (transferring the Old Testament saints from paradise into Heaven) he "gave gifts to men. Paul was referring to the victory marches of the Israelites as they would win a decisive victory over the enemy, and then make that nine mile ascent into Jerusalem, taking the spoils of victory with them. In like manner, Jesus won the victory of the ages on Calvary. It was then that Satan was totally defeated. The Romans and the Pharisees, and even the disciples did not see that as victory. But it was! Jesus took the spoils of victory with Him and dispersed them. (Verse 10) He ". . ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things" It was at this point that the church was filled with all the giftedness of Christ. These gifts are not natural talents, but they are supernatural expressions of the giftedness of Christ. That’s one of the things which sets the church apart from any other earthly entity.
II. THE GIFTS: Chapter 4 and verse eleven describes some of the gifts. These in Ephesians 4 are what some call the "office" gifts, or the leadership gifts. There are other gifts mentioned in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12; We could catagorize the gifts in three sections: The office gifts, the motivational gifts, and the sign gifts. Sign gifts were for the authentication of a new era in God’s kingdom work. They were used to introduce the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites (i.e. the plagues of Egypt) and the introduction of the New Testament Church Age (i.e. signs and wonders at Pentecost) But these gifts in Ephesians are the office gifts.
Apostle: "One sent forth" Apostles went into a remote area in which the gospel had not been introduced,and they named the name of Jesus. This is the function of missionaries today.
Prophet: "One who ’forthtells’" A prophet delivers an authoritative message from God. It is a biblically based message, but it is different from the gift of teaching. Prophets are very straightforward as a rule. There are no "grey areas" with prophets. These guys are not interested in comforting the broken; they had rather break the comforted! These are the guys who might come into your hospital room, after you’ve had major surgery and with a booming voice, exclaim, "You must have some deep, dark sin in your life and God is whipping you! -- Repent! Repent! Repent!"
Evangelist: "One who calls others alongside and leads them to have a relationship with Jesus". An evangelist is not an evangelist because he has fourteen pastel colored sport jackets and fourteen hot sermons on hell. Evangelist Billy Graham might be an evangelist, but not by virtue of preaching to thousands in a giant stadium. An evangelist personally leads people to have a relationship with Christ. Housewives might be evangelists, as they lead their neighbor to the Lord.