Summary: 29th in a series on Ephesians. Although Jesus creates unity in the church, he gives us diverse gifts to use in that process.
A couple of weeks ago the Worship Team sang “Glory in the Highest” for the first time during our response time. And as all of us on the Worship Team know firsthand, God did a tremendous work that morning. During our rehearsal time, we really struggled to be able to play and sing that song well. We had a difficult time getting all the various instruments and voices to fit together so that the song would be pleasing to listen to. But when it came time for us to play and sing during the service, it seems that God brought everything together. All the diverse elements – the guitars, the bass, the piano, the violin, the drums and many different voices came together as one. Although there were many unique, diverse elements present, they were united in a way that created a beautiful song that gave glory to God.
I think that’s a pretty good illustration of what Paul is teaching about in this first part of Chapter 4 of Ephesians. In order to properly understand this morning’s passage, we need to make sure that we understand the context in which it is written. So take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter 4 and let’s read verses 7 through 16:
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:7-16 (NIV)
As Paul began chapter 4, we saw his emphasis on unity within the body of Christ. And so, particularly in verses 4-6, he stressed those things in that we have in common that allow us to be unified as followers of Jesus Christ. But, as we come to verse 7, while Paul is still dealing with unity, he is going to change his focus. How de we know that?
Hopefully one of the things that we’ve learned in our journey through Paul’s letter is the importance of connecting words and phrases such as “then”, “therefore”, “for”, “for this reason”, and the one he uses here – “but”. That little three letter word indicates that Paul is about to make some kind of contrast.