Summary: Serving and ministering to others is why you were created. Each and every one of you were called to ministry. The call to salvation and the call to service are identical.
Some years ago, my family went to Washington, DC for vacation. If you ever have the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital, it is an amazing experience. From the new Museum of the Bible to the war memorials it is a moving experience for all ages. Of course, while we were there, we wanted to visit the Washington Monument. The monument is a little more than 555 feet in height. From the lobby to the observation level it is fifty stories. To get to the top you could take the elevator – the easy way up – or you can take the stairs. 896 stairs in all to the top of the monument.
Zig Ziglar tells the story of going to Washington, DC, and visiting the Washington Monument. He said as he approached the Monument there was a line that seemed like it was a mile long. He walked up to the front to hear what the guide was saying, and the guide announced that there would be a two-hour wait to ride the elevator to the top of the Monument. Then with a smile on his face, the guide said, “There’s no one waiting to go to the top if you’re willing to take the stairs.”
Keep your Bibles open to Ephesians 4 with me, will you?
This whole section is about your growth. Ephesians 4:15 says, “we are to grow up in every way…” (Ephesians 4:15b). Ephesians 4:14 says, “so that we may no longer be children” (Ephesians 4:14a). God wants you to grow.
Today, I want to encourage you to serve one another. To get to the top in God’s eyes you’ve got to take the stairs of service.
Spiritual growth is a group project. Say that with me: Spiritual growth is a group project. Each believer is gifted to serve one another. This morning, our message is part two of spiritual gifts and service.
Do you know your gift? Take note of the spiritual gifts inventory listed in the sermon notes.
1. You Are Gifted to Serve
“In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?” (Ephesians 4:9). It’s really important for you to understand the significance of serving your brothers and sisters in the body. Your serving is so important, that Jesus died on a cross, raised on the third day, and ascended to the Father in Heaven above in order to secure your gifts for you to serve others. Christ Conquered Evil itself to Gift You for Service.
1.1 What is a Spiritual Gift?
You may ask, “What is a spiritual gift?” A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church. Let me say that again: A spiritual gift is any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church.
When a believer serves in his/her spiritual gift, he/she is bringing healing to those in need. Christ, Himself is moving through you and you feel this power surge. And Paul offers a sample of spiritual gifts in verse 11: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…” (Ephesians 4:11). And there are so many more gifts that what’s listed here (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:11).
A spiritual gift is a God-given spiritual ability for service and ministry. You cannot choose it. And you cannot earn it.
Again, Christ Conquered Evil to Gift You for Service. It’s not a small thing that you serve. It’s a huge thing that you serve. The cross was designed in part so that you would be gifted to serve. The Bible is teaching us that Jesus descended to earth first before ascended back to heaven. Again, Christ conquered evil itself to gift you to serve.
1.2 Ascension Is for Giving
“Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’” (Ephesians 4:8). Paul is quoting from Psalm 68:18 here, he’s quoting the Old Testament. This psalm was originally connected to God’s conquests in Israel in Old Testament times. But Paul connects the passage to Jesus. Jesus is seen as the one conquering here.
Paul specifically mentions the ascension of Jesus. Think of this act as the crowning of Jesus – a public display to show Jesus’ authority. At the birth of Jesus Christ, He was given gifts. But at Easter, at His resurrection and ascension, Jesus gives gifts to us. The whole reason Jesus Christ is able to give out these gifts is because He descended down to battle our enemies, and then He ascended. The cross was designed in part so that you would be gifted to serve.
1.3 Romans Generals