Summary: The presence of God will never be revealed to us, through us, or in us, if we don’t receive our gifts and employ them in unity.
Receive Grace: To Present Christ (Together)
Pastor Jim Luthy
What we have learned so far from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus is that we are to pursue understanding and receive grace. Having pursued understanding, we know that we are blessed in the heavenly realms, awaiting our adoption as sons of the living God. We know that we can receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Christ better, whereby he becomes our one goal. We know that we are God’s workmanship, created—or recreated—to do good works. And we know that we all belong. There is no class system in the kingdom of God.
Understanding these things, the invitation of God is to receive grace. Last week, we talked about the all-critical grace of receiving the grace to possess Christ—to have him dwell within you. Paul’s testimony was that this indwelling made him a servant of the gospel, and he found that his service was also God’s grace, a gift he wouldn’t exchange even for his own physical freedom. The grace to possess Christ and the grace to proclaim Christ are gifts for all who will believe.
In Ephesians 4, Paul will explain that there is even more grace to be received. What we’ll discover, though, is that this grace is not the same for everyone. This grace-gift is not like the grace to possess Christ or the grace to proclaim Christ that is the same gift given to everyone who will receive it by faith. This grace-gift is unique to each individual, like Santa Claus bearing gifts that say "To Timmy from Santa" or "To Sally from St. Nick." In most cases, it is more than one gift. Your gifts are for you—they are unique to you. They are addressed to you. They bear your name, fit your personality, and are profitable for God’s significant plans for your life. They are God’s personal touch of love and grace to help you know even more how much he loves you and values you.
And although the gifts he offers you are uniquely yours and speak of God’s personal love for you, they serve a greater, corporate purpose. When you receive your grace-gifts, and Timmy receives his grace-gifts, and Sally receives her grace-gifts, the use or exercise of these gifts results in one corporate effect. Together, you and Timmy and Sally and whomever receives their unique gifts, become a visible presentation of the person of Christ through the employment of thoes gifts. The invitation of Paul is to receive grace to present Christ together.
Before we can understand these unique gifts, we must first understand the importance of this word "together," primarily because this is where Paul begins, but also because the gift will be useless unless we understand its corporate value.
Let us say, for example, that my grandmother wanted to give my sister and I the ability to go places when we were in our teens. To provide this for us, she gave us, for our October birthdays, unique gifts toward that end. Suppose she gave me a car and my sister a credit card for the unlimited purchase of gasoline. Unless we understood that the car needed the gas and that the gas needed a car, these gifts would have far less meaning to us. And, until we brought our gifts together, we would not have the ability to go places as my grandmother intended. In order to receive our unique gifts to present Christ, we must begin with understanding the importance of "together."
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Using the words "together" and "unity" interchangeably, the lesson we need to learn about together is this: Unity happens. Paul did not tell us to receive the grace to be unified, nor did he say to get unified. "Make every effort," he wrote, "to KEEP the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." When you and I receive grace, unity happens. When Jesus stands among us and his presence and his words proclaim, "Peace be with you," that peace is our bond. We are united by that peace. The peace comes through the grace of God and that peace is our common joy. That peace frees us from competing against one another and comparing ourselves to one another. We are who we are in Christ, and with Christ as our peace, we share a common bond. You and I keep the unity of the Spirit by keeping Christ as our peace.
"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—" (Ephesians 4:4).