Summary: A sermon encouraging believers to understand that Salvation is more than eternal fire insurance. An emphasis on spiritual gifts. Don’t miss the concluding illustration.
Intro: I hold in my hand the greatest gift I have ever given. It is a gift that I gave to my wife before she was my wife. At the time I was a student and it cost me every penny I had (which wasn’t much) plus all the other funds I could muster up. It meant giving up a great deal in order to purchase it, but I have never regretted what I gave and often wish I had had more to give. It is worth far more than the money that I spent on it, for it is a tangible representation of the love that I have for my wife. It was with great hope and apprehension that I flew across the continent to offer my gift to the one I loved and it has been my joy ever since that she accepted my gift and wears it to this day.... How crushing it would have been if she had refused it, or if she had accepted it and then left it in it’s box.
Prop.: We should realize that we possess valuble gifts.
Passage: Read Ephesians 4:7-11. In this short passage Paul delivers a sermon on spiritual gifts to the people in Ephesus, let me re-preach this sermon.
T.S.: Because of the accomplishments of Jesus we should realize we possess valuble gifts.
I. Jesus Descended v. 9
1. John 1:1-2, 14 - Jesus took on human flesh and dwelt among us for a while.
2. The question is often raised as to what Paul is referring to when he says that Jesus descended into the depths of the earth? Is he teaching that Jesus descended to hell? Or is there another option.
3. It seems most likely that this passage is teaching that Jesus descended from heaven to earth, just as it says in Philippians 2:6-8. For indeed this descent was truly a terrible descent for Jesus. For in limiting himself to the experience of a man Jesus removed himself from the power, glory and safety that his deity allowed him and became vulnerable and despised. At no time did he cease to be God, but at no time did he raise himself above his human existence. All this was done to achieve the final purpose of his mission. Indeed the world has never known such power as it must have consumed for God to become one of us. But this was a portion of the cost required to secure salvation and to purchase gifts for mankind.
II. Jesus Conquered v.8
1. 1. This ‘sermon’ in Ephesians is drawn by Paul from Psalm 68. Let’s turn to that Psalm for a moment. This Psalm pictures a common scene in the ancient middle east, a great king returning from battle with captives in his train as he parades through the city to ascend to his throne. This is a Psalm that is looking forward to the Lord’s total conquest of his enemies:
- vs.1 - Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.
- vs. 12-14 - Kings and armies flee in haste.
- vs. 21 - Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies.
- This is a Psalm that speaks of salvation:
- vs. 5-6 - A father to the fatherless, defender of widows, family to the lonely.
- vs. 19-21 - God daily bears our burdens, God saves us from death.
2. This is a Psalm that pre-figures Christ! Christ has come to conquor and save, and in his conquest he has led captivity captive.
3. Illus.: Allies leading captivity captive at the end of the Second World War.
4. Whom did Jesus lead captive? Death, Sin and Satan. All the work Satan had done to separate man and God was undone as Jesus hung on the cross. Death was conquered in the resurrection, Satan was deposed and the power of sin broken.
Appl.: Do you know pain? Jesus knows pain! Do you know suffering? Jesus knows suffering! Do you know death? Jesus knows death! But here is the good news, Jesus has overcome it, he has conquored Satan and sin and death. We can now cry out with the apostle Paul: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Those things which once held us captive are now captive of Christ. But there is more; Paul tells us here that in his death Jesus Christ purchased gifts to give to men!!!
III. Jesus Ascended vs. 10
1. The ascension of Christ is the seq2uel to his descent, his humiliation. As much as he humbled himself, so much more has he now been exalted!
3. We often recognize the cross as a symbol for Christ, but we must never forget that he has gone beyond the cross, beyond the grave, beyond simply ascending to heaven, he has ascended to the highest place and will return in glory one day.