Summary: we are the same in Christ, different in our gifting
We live in a world of diversity, one of choice. Looking around the room we see people of difference, men and women, different ethnic backgrounds, differences in appearance and in personality. When God finished creating man and woman he said, it was good. We can be thankful we are not all the same, how boring life would be.
I want us to talk about diversity and why we have such differences in our world.
Turn to Ephesians 4:7-11 as we continue our study through the book of Ephesians. Lets look at Point 1…
I. God’s Gift to Believers.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
He led captives in his train
And gave gifts to men.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:9-11)
Each of us have been given gifts by the grace of God, the New Testament has several places one can look at the spiritual gifts which God gave, and I might add, the list is a diverse as this room full of people and I don’t think it is exhaustive in its descriptions.
It is important for believers to gain insight in the area of spiritual gifts. The church as an institution of society is in the throes of rapid change. George Barna, a Christian researcher and futurists, speaking in a seminar on the revolution taking place within the church, indicates the local church, as we have come to know it, is about to undergo major transformation. He points out that in the year 2000, 65-70% of Americans found their faith experience and expression in the local church but by the year 2025, that number will be reduced they project to 30-35% while alternative church experiences which were at 5% of the American population will climb to 30-35%. The traditional church has been experiencing decline and will continue to if these projections hold up, by 50%. Barna points out it is not a withdrawal from Christianity, just the means by which Christianity has been assimilated into people’s lives.
There is a paradigm shift in the way Christianity is spreading throughout our culture and the cultures of the world. This shift Barna said will be hardest for those who are over 55 years of age. The place of the traditional church needs to be redefined in light of the coming revolution, which is right now sweeping across the world, America being one of the last holdouts to tradition.
When we look at the rest of the world we see traditional churches, especially those in Westernized Europe, being more museums than centers of worship. Does it mean their usefulness is non-existent? By no means, they need to join the revolution of faith currently underway and allow transformation, Biblical transformation, to sweep through its empty doors, just as we do here in America.
The Apostle Paul states God has gifted us, Jesus Christ, who descended into the depths to take back what was stolen from mankind through sin, the keys to hell and death, now ascends and sets into place the spiritual gifting of mankind, not so we can have a glorious bless me club, but so we can step outside out walls and become the church in action, the church without walls, that transforms society.
We have a choice. To be spiritual morticians, preparing people for an earthly death and passage to heaven, or we can be spiritual mentors, utilizing our gifts to transform the society around us and the society at large which is not objecting to the Christian faith, in fact, Christianity would be embraced except they have run into to many spiritual morticians and have not seen the true life Christ brings to those truly on fire for him. It is time for a revolution. It is time to start a revolution, to be a revolution.
In the 20th century we have seen the restoration of the five-fold ministry, now it is time for those who walk in these gifts to begin to exercise their giftedness. Lets look at verse 11 again…
2. God’s 5-Fold Plan
“11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)
Paul said, after Christ has ascended and he was called to be an apostle of the faith, there are 5 gifts God is going to give for the purpose of keeping the ministry of the church flowing. What are the 5?