Current Bible Studies
Ephesians Chapter 4,
Thus far, we have noted in Ephesian Chapter 4: 1. The Appeal to Preserve Unity, The walk to be worthy .
2. The Basis for Unity, The seven unities given to us by God, .
Therefore, we have noted: the believer’s walk of worthiness, , and the believer’s walk as an expression of doctrinal unity, .
In our next section we will note:
3. The Means of Unity, The ministry gifts of Christ to His body, .
In this section we have two parts.
a. Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension proclaimed, as well as being the giver of gifts, vs. 8-10.
b. The purpose of our gifts; building up of the body of Christ, individually and collectively, vs. 12-16.
So this section will tell us about the believer’s walk as a ministry of gifts, .
As we have noted, all members of the Royal Family have the same Father, just as all members of the Royal Family have the same Saviour. Likewise, all members of the Royal Family have become a living palace for God to dwell by the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. And as we noted in vs. 4-6, all members of the Royal Family are unified by the attributes of nobility, (one body, one Holy Spirit, one Lord, one way of salvation (faith), one entrance into the Royal Family (baptism of the Spirit), and one heavenly Father). Yet, all do not have the same function, nor do all achieve the same stage of spiritual growth.
In regards to not having the same function inside the body of Christ, vs. 7- 16 tells us of varying spiritual gifts with various functions being assigned to members of the Royal Family. All believers are members of the same team, therefore members of the same royalty. But as members of the team, they have different functions. We are different members but the same body, and the differences are many, but the things that unite us are permanent and eternal. Therefore, this section begins with vs. 7, by reminding us of the grace of God in our lives.
, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
“But to each one of us” is the Adversative Conjunction DE for “but, now, moreover, yet in fact, or indeed,” with the Dative Neuter of HEIS, which is HENI that means, “to one” or “to each one,” plus the Dative Adjective HEKASTOS meaning “each or every,” and the Personal Pronoun HEMEIS in the 1st Person Plural for “us,” meaning members of the body of Christ. This tells us of the individuality we have inside the common essence of the Royal Family in vs. 4-6.
Paul is suddenly moving from discussing the Church as a whole, to the individuals comprising the Church, and that unity does not mean uniformity. We are still individuals inside the body of Christ.
The Church does not come from one cookie cutter. Instead, this tells us that in His work of developing unity among God’s people, the Holy Spirit, nor Jesus Christ, obliterates your individuality. In fact, God uses our differences to make up the full functioning body of Jesus Christ. But yet, there is something about these spiritual “gifts given by Jesus Christ” that bind and unite us.
After emphasizing our individuality inside the body of Christ, we next have the phrase “grace was given,” which is the Noun CHARIS with the Aorist, Passive, and Indicative of DIDOMI. This tells us that the spiritual gifts we received at the moment of our salvation are a “grace gift” from God, and specifically that the communication gifts, noted in this section, vs. 11, were a grace gift from Jesus Christ. So we are talking about all believers who have received God’s grace by giving the Church these unique spiritual gifts by Jesus Christ. In other words, all believers are blessed because Jesus gave these communication gifts to a few men by His grace.
Then we see the giver of the gifts noted later in this chapter, “according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” with the Genitive of KATA HO METRON HO CHRISTOS HO DOREA.
METRON used here for “measure” was used in classical Greek with the broad meaning that includes the standard by which something is measured whether of content, space, length, or weight. The word referred either to the standard of measure, i.e., the vessel or weight, or rule which is used as the tool for measuring. In our passage, it applies to our Lord Jesus Christ and His “standard” for measurement. In other words, it is His Sovereign decision as to whom He would give these gifts too, according to the God the Father’s Plan; the rule by which He would give these gifts.
This tells us that the diversity of our spiritual gifts is not a random, adhoc affair. They are given with purpose, design, and control, so that the Plan of God can be fulfilled for every generation. It also tells us that we do not choose our spiritual gifts, but that they are assigned to us by the grace of God in a purposeful manner for our collective benefit and good.
The key word in this passage is “grace,” CHARIS that means, “all that God is able to freely do for and give to the believer.” It is the unmerited favor of God towards us.
As we have seen in this chapter, grace gave us unity inside the body of Christ by means of the Trinity, vs. 4-6. Likewise, grace has given us the opportunity to experience that unity inside the body of Christ through the application of the Royal Family Honor Code, vs. 1-3. Now we are about to see that grace has given us specific communication spiritual gifts for the empowerment and enablement of the body of Christ, to achieve experientially collective growth and unity, while maintaining our diversity as individuals. Grace is also given to us so that we have joy and delight in our lives that is totally undeserved and many times unexpected.
Finally, we will see that the communication gifts mentioned in vs. 11, are not given to each individual believer, but are given to a select few believing men for the benefit of all believers. This is part of the understanding of the “measure of Christ’s gifts.”
But, before we get to the gifts and their benefits to the Church, we are told of a great correlation to the grace gifts of God; the grace death, burial, descent into the lower parts, and ascension of our Lord in vs. 8-10. This is given to us first in correlation of the grace of God that did all that, to the grace of God that provides us with the communication gifts for the Church.
, “Therefore it says, ” WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”
, “Therefore it says, ” WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
In vs. 8 we have a quote from . Paul paraphrased to show the qualifications of Christ to grant these “gifts” or ministries to His disciples. This Psalm gives a description of what probably was a return of King David after a military conquest. Paul’s quotation of this verse reveals that the ascent of the Ark to Zion was a type of Christ’s ascension to heaven after His resurrection. Therefore, at the same time, it is a Messianic Psalm of victory, describing the completed work of Christ in accomplishing the Plan of Salvation.
“Ascended on high” is the Aorist, Active, Participle in the Nominative Singular of ANABAINO with the Preposition EIS and the Noun HUPSOS. ANABAINO, ἀναβαίνω is a compound word form ANA that means, “up” and BAINO that means, “I go.” Besides its basic meaning of “going up,” it is specially used here for the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. It refers to the Ascension of Jesus Christ as a part of the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict. The culminative Aorist tense views the Ascension in its entirety but regards it from the viewpoint of its existing results; glorification of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father as the unique person of the universe. The Active voice: Jesus Christ produced the action of Ascension.
It is also a reference to the Third heaven, God’s Throne room where Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in His Session. Therefore, when we talk about the Ascension of Jesus Christ we typically talk about His Session as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Doctrine of the Ascension
1. Ascension is that doctrine of Christology pertaining to the transfer of our Lord’s true humanity from planet earth to the Third heaven, in a resurrection body, cf. 11. The Ascension of Jesus Christ is that doctrine of Scripture to describe the Lord moving from planet earth to the Third heaven, God’s Throne room.
2. In our passage, , the Ascension of Jesus Christ is spoken of as a singular event, but according to Scripture it happened at least twice and possibly many more times. It occurred immediately after His Resurrection, and then occurred in its final instance 40 days after His Resurrection. Both seem to be in view in our passage.
3. The first Ascension occurred immediately after His Resurrection, , to fulfill the typology of the High Priest sprinkling blood on the articles in the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat, cf. , cf. ; ; . It was an invisible resurrection as Jesus left earth, ascended to Heaven, and presented Himself to the Father in resurrected humanity as the “better sacrifice” to cover the sins of all mankind.
4. That resurrection was closest in time to the descent of Jesus noted in vs. 10, where upon His death, and while He was in the grave, His soul went into Hades to proclaim His victory over sin to the deceased O.T. unbelievers and believers who were held there, as well as over imprisoned fallen angels in Tartarus, .
5. Upon Christ’s Resurrection, He then went to the Third Heaven, led the believers that were in Hades to heaven, and presented Himself as victor to the Father, signified by bringing the captive believers held in Hades to heaven.
6. After the first Ascension, our Lord returned and interacted with His disciples for a period of 40 days, .
7. At the end of the forty days He led the disciples to Mt. Olivet and ascended in resurrection body for the final time until His Second Advent, (His physical return at the end of the Tribulation), . This was a visible, final departure from earth to heaven and the seating of Christ at the right hand of the Father. (Also note that the Lord will meet believers in the clouds of the air at the Rapture/Resurrection of the Church at the end of the Church Age, which is just prior to the Tribulation.)
8. gives the historical facts related to Christ’s final ascension in simple terms. Before this ascension He indicated the Divinely arranged delay in the realization of Israel’s earthly kingdom and that in no way is it abandoned, , and defined the scope of the responsibility of His disciples in the world in this Age together with the provided power of the enabling Holy Spirit, .
9. , tell us only that He was removed from human sight. That He ascended above all authorities and powers in angelic realms, that He assumed vast authority, and that He is seated upon His Father’s throne is understood from other portions of the N.T.
10. During the Forty Days before His final Ascension, He demonstrated the capabilities of the resurrection body. The Ascension of Christ was predicated on the capability
ies of the resurrection body, which is capable of space travel; the ascension is space travel. As such the resurrection body can:
a. Travel horizontally and vertically at unlimited speed, and is capable of unlimited space travel. Our Lord traveled horizontally during his forty days on planet earth, as well as moving through closed doors.
b. The Ascension of Christ demonstrates the vertical travel of the resurrection body, moving with ease through the atmosphere of the earth, the galaxies of stellar universe, and the billions and billions of light years in an instant, entering into the third heaven, the abode of God.
11. Christ’s Ascension also completed the resurrection of the First Fruits, .
12. The doctrinal importance of Christ’s Ascension lies not so much in His departure from the world, as it does in His arrival in heaven. Once arriving in heaven, Jesus Christ was seated at the right hand of the Father and glorified. This is called the Session of Christ, ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; .
13. In our passage, as elsewhere, an equally great achievement is indicated, namely, Christ’s return or ascension back to His former place and glory. It was the answer to His prayer in the Upper Room, , “And now, O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was,” .
14. The Ascension and Session of Christ formed the basis of, and is the key to victory in the Angelic Conflict, . As the strategic victor, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Royal Priest, and our only celebrity distributes the spoils to both dispensations; Israel and the Church.
15. The Ascension and Session of Christ began a new phase of the Angelic Conflict, ; . Therefore, the believer of the Church Age is involved in the intensified stage of the Angelic Conflict.
16. The Ascension and Session of Jesus Christ began operation footstool, prophesied in and quoted in ; ; .
, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
, “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET”.”
a. The Second Advent of Christ will conclude operation footstool, ; ; ; .
17. The Ascension and Session of Christ completes the glorification of Christ in His hypostatic union, ; ; ; .
, “Who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
18. The Ascension and Session of Christ explains the uniqueness of the Church Age and the importance of having a Royal Family in this dispensation only, .
19. The Ascension and Session of Christ made possible the second High Priestly function of our Lord, namely intercession or praying for all members of the Royal Family on earth, ; .
20. Therefore, the Ascension is the consummation of the Transfiguration. Our Lord went back into His primal glory; but He did not go back simply as Son of God; He went back to God as Son of Man, as well as Son of God. As a result, there is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man. As Son of Man, Jesus Christ deliberately limited His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Now they are His in absolute full power to benefit the believer. As Son of Man, Jesus Christ has all power at the throne of God. He is King of kings and Lords of lords from the day of His Ascension until now.
Next we have: “He led captive a host of captives,” is first the Aorist Active, Indicative of AICHMALOTEUO, αἰχμαλωτεύω that means, “capture or make prisoners of.” It is used only here and in in regard to false teachers who capture “silly woman,” (those without Bible Doctrine in there soul), in their false teachings. It speaks to those who we captured by sin.
Then we have the Noun in the Accusative, Singular, Feminine of AICHMALOSIA, αἰχμαλωσία that means, “captivity.” It is only used here and twice in , speaking of imprisonment. In classical Greek this word meant either the condition of “captivity” or a “group of captives.” In our passage, it is the group, “host of captives.” This is the spoils of Christ’s victory onto the Old Testament saint. He brought them from their captivity in the heart of the earth called Paradise or Abraham’s bosom to the third heaven, God’s throne room, in the Triumphal Procession, as noted above in the Doctrine of Ascension.
Next we see the spoils of the Strategic Victory of Christ given to the Church Age believers who are still on earth.
“He gave gifts to men.” As we noted above, Paul significantly altered , “received among” into “gave to,” sufficiently showing that he is not arguing from a verbal prophecy, but from a typical fact.
“Gave” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of DIDOMI. This giving was of “gifts,” DOMA, meaning spiritual gifts, “to men,” HO ANTHROPOS that means both men and woman. Combined this phrase means the giving of spiritual gifts to Church Age believers. This is the topic picked up again in vs. 11, after the parenthesis of vs. 9-10 that speaks to our Lord’s, “descending into the lower parts of the earth.”
In vs. 9-10, that was the time when Jesus proclaimed His strategic victory won at the Cross to those held in Hades, Tartarus, the Abyss, and below the Euphrates River, as we noted in the Doctrine of Ascension above and in ; cf. : . This was during the time immediately after His physical death on the Cross. He was a Trichotomous being at the point of His death. His body went into the grave, , His spirit went into the presence of the Father, (3rd Heaven), ; , and His soul descended into the lower parts of the earth, ; ; ; . See our website for more information, especially the lesson taught on July 31, 2016.
Finally, in vs. 10 it reads, “that He might fill all things,” HINA PLEROO HO PAS. PLEROO is in the Aorist, Active, and Subjunctive. The Subjunctive mood is for potential of filling all things where the potential is in mankind. If man accepts Christ, Christ fills Him, if man rejects Christ; he is not filled with Him. Likewise, as the believer goes forward in the plan of God, his life is filled with Christ, but if he does not go forward and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, he is not filled with Him experientially.
It means that Christ’s body, the Church, is to be the full expression of God in the present world. And as individual members of His body, we have been given spiritual gifts which are to be used as the manifestation of God here on earth. Therefore, the Church, (all believers in any given generation), is the manifestation of God on earth that fills “all in all,” which means we are the physical working and functioning ministry of God here on earth during the Church Age. It indicates that the Church is filled with God’s Divine attributes and that the Church receives its fullness from Christ, who is receiving complete fullness from God, as He builds the body of Christ through the Church. It also speaks of Christ giving all things, namely gifted people, to the Church. Therefore, this is a reference to the Super-Grace life and blessings; the sum total of superabundant blessings, which completes the Royal Priesthood. This refers to the perfect happiness, the wealth, the success, the promotion, the prosperity, and all the blessings from God the Father provided for every believer as a part of the Royal Family.
This simply states that the Lord Jesus Christ has unlocked the door to super-grace living and blessings for each believer. It is a reminder that super-grace is not automatic. The potential subjunctive indicates the fact that while the super-grace blessings were designed in eternity past and provided, that at the present moment the Lord Jesus Christ is tapping His foot waiting to give us these things, it is only provided for those who reach the super-grace status, which demands a consistent positive volition toward Bible doctrine. Compare with notes on , , “fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Vs. 11 – The source of Super-Grace blessings.
, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”
“And He gave,” is KAI AUTOS DIDOMI, in the Aorist, Active, Indicative. This is the absolute source of super-grace blessings, Jesus Christ, through giving us spiritual gifts, especially the communication gifts. The direct or the immediate source of super-grace blessings is the Evangelist who communicates the gospel for salvation and the Pastor-Teacher who communicates Bible doctrine for the edification of the body of Christ during the Church Age.
This picks up where vs. 8 left off, and continues the “grace given” of “Christ’s gifts” of vs. 7. We are talking about the giving of spiritual gifts here, specifically the communication gifts noted here in vs. 11.
When we think of “Christ’s gifts that He gave to men,” it has a double meaning. First and foremost, it means the spiritual gifts themselves. Secondly, it means the men who receive these communication gifts. These are certain men who are called to the ministry, and placed and provided locally in their service to God for the benefit of the Church / the body of Jesus Christ. They are “His gift to men.” The Lord did not leave this work to the uncertain and insufficient judgment of men, . He, Himself bestowed these gifts with His personal and individual supervision as the exalted Christ over each member of His Body, as each one is appointed to the exercise of a spiritual gift “as He wills.”
Therefore, as a result of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, He left behind communicators so that believers could reach the super-grace life. As such, we will note the Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts, as well as how you can discover what your spiritual gift.
The Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts
A Spiritual gift is a supernatural endowment by God to His children to empower and enable them to serve or function in some certain capacity as a member of the body of Christ. Their gift may be exercised towards those inside the body of Christ, believers, or to those outside the body of Christ, unbelievers.
In , “gift or gifts” are the nouns DOREA and DOMA respectfully.
DOREA refers to a “gift” or a “present,” especially a “free gift,” or a “benefit” for someone. In the N.T., it is used for God giving us the Holy Spirit, ; , or of giving us Jesus Christ as the Savior . Paul used it in and for the communication spiritual gift he received from God.
DOMA is related to the word DIDOMI “to give” and emphasizes “what has been given,” that is, the gift itself. It is used in the New Testament only four times, ; ; ; .
Another Greek word for gift is DORON that means “gift or present” including the votive offerings of religion. DORON is also used of God in giving us His Son Jesus Christ, ; . Likewise, God’s grace for salvation is a gift from Him, f.
Finally, we have the word CHARISMA that means, “a gift, grace, benefit, or favor,” that is used predominately for the spiritual gifts the believer is given by God. Except for one instance in , CHARISMA is exclusively part of Paul’s vocabulary. The use of CHARISMA falls into two theological contexts:
a. It concerns the “gift” of salvation God has given to us in Christ.
b. It involves the spiritual “gifts” bestowed upon the Church.
In regards to spiritual gifts, 1 Cor 12 – 14 gives us the most information along with Rom 12. Oddly enough, “spiritual gift,” CHARISMA PNEUMATIKON is a phrase found only in .
, “For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.”
The key word in understanding “gift” in Paul’s terms is “give,” as God is the only “giver” of “gifts” to His Church, .
As such, all Spiritual Gifts are for the benefit of the Church as a whole, even though they may build up the individual recipient. The gifts of the Spirit are not to be exercised selfishly; rather, their intent is most fully realized only in the context of corporate worship and edification, as the ministry of the Spirit is ultimately manifest in the CHARISMATA.
Spiritual gifts are distributed to the Royal Family of the Church Age both as recognition of Christ’s strategic victory in the Angelic Conflict, and as recognition of the royalty of every believer in the Church Age. The distribution of spiritual gifts in the Church Age recognizes that Christ has already won the victory; therefore we have the distribution of the spoils. As such, we are given spiritual gifts first as recognition of being members of the Royal Family of God.
In addition, for the Church Age, spiritual gifts are the Father’s organized witness and testimony to grace in salvation, .
, “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
Finally, Spiritual gifts demand the function of royalty under the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP), , resulting in the attainment of the tactical victory of the Super-grace life, . Therefore, the challenge of spiritual gifts is to GAP it daily and reach Super-grace.
2. Distribution of Spiritual Gifts.
The distribution of spiritual gifts is divided into two parts, initial and subsequent.
a. Initial distribution: At the beginning of the Church Age, spiritual gifts were provided immediately by the Lord Jesus Christ, , especially the communication gifts.
b. Subsequent distribution: During the Church Age distribution is accomplished by the sovereign decision of God the Holy Spirit, who gives every believer of the Church Age at least one spiritual gift, known or unknown, .
, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
These gifts do not depend upon human ability, morality, talent, achievement, but constitute a sovereign decision of God the Holy Spirit.
3. The Time of Distribution.
All spiritual gifts were given after the resurrection, ascension, and session of Jesus Christ, . Spiritual gifts were given for the first time on the day of Pentecost when the Dispensation of Israel was dramatically interrupted, . Function of Spiritual Gifts.
At any point in the Church Age, each spiritual gift in every geographical area is necessary for the function of the body of Christ in that area, . All spiritual gifts function through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, ; 1 Cor 13. The function of spiritual gifts also depends upon Bible doctrine in the soul as the result of functioning under GAP. Bible doctrines also mold a grace attitude for the application of spiritual gifts, .
We learn from that the gifts, ministries, and effects of God are all for the benefit of the Church so that God may be glorified. Paul did not see the CHARISMATA, “spiritual gifts,” DIAKONIA, “ministries,” and ENERGEMA, “effects / workings,” as three distinct manifestations from the three members of the Godhead. He saw them as coming from ONE God, “the same God” who “works all of them in all men.” And as we see, through the exercise of a CHARISMA, God’s grace (CHARIS) is ministered in a variety of ways, with a variety of impact.
5. Two Categories of Spiritual Gifts; Temporary and Permanent.
Temporary gifts were a certain group of legitimate spiritual gifts that were in use for the benefit of the Church in the pre-canon period of the Church Age, that is, before the New Testament was completed. These gifts ceased to function, and were no longer given to the Church when the N.T. was completed. In the post-canon period, we have what are called permanent spiritual gifts, because they began in the pre-canon era and continue throughout the Church Age. So we have temporary gifts from ~30-96 AD, and permanent gifts ~30 AD through the present and continuing until the Rapture of the Church.
Temporary gifts were necessary to take up the slack until the canon of Scripture was completed and circulated. Once the Bible was completed, certain temporary spiritual gifts were withdrawn. These temporary gifts include apostleship, prophets, tongues, interpreting tongues, healing, miracles, discerning spirits and so on. The fact that tongues was removed earlier is found in the Greek of . The fact that healing was removed, even in Paul’s day half way through his ministry, is found by comparing with ; , as well as , where the sick are instructed to seek the elders for prayer in healing, rather than to seek out someone with the gift of healing. When Paul stated in that the apostles and prophets are the foundation for the universal church, this at least implies that they were only for the beginning of the Church, Cf. .
The fact that the Holy Spirit has withdrawn temporary gifts in our day, post-canon period, is His way of focusing our attention on the Word of God. Everything we need is in the Word itself. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we have something more powerful, more important: the Word of God itself.
Permanent gifts continued after the completion of the canon and throughout the Church Age, as per ; . We live in the age when the Holy Spirit produces the character of Christ within us, and Divine Good on the outside. Therefore, no temporary gifts (such as miracles) are necessary.
A. Pastor-Teacher, (; ; ).
This is the ability to shepherd, provide for, care for, and protect God’s people through the ability to explain God’s truth to people.
B. Evangelism, ().
This is the ability to proclaim the Gospel message with exceptional clarity. Also included in this is the idea that the ministry of an evangelist was itinerant. It might also be done publicly or privately.
C. Administration, (; ).
The gift of Administration is the supernatural ability to lead others. This is the gift of administrative leadership. Those with the gift of Administration will clearly understand the immediate and long-range goals of the local assembly, then devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals.
D. Ministry / Service, ().
This gift is the supernatural ability to minister or serve within in the local assembly or other Christian organizations in a variety of ways. These are the “worker bees” as it were. This gift functions in the administration and maintenance of the local church, serving on committees, mission boards, outreach or service programs, etc.
E. Helps, ().
This is the ability to help or serve in the broadest sense of the word. This spiritual gift functions by helping and ministering to others including the sick, the afflicted, the handicapped, and the helpless. It is the supernatural ability to invest in the life and ministry of others, thereby enabling them in their ministry and effectiveness, while increasing their success.
F. Exhortation, ().
This involves the ability to encourage, comfort, admonish and entreat people, with an appeal for action, leading them into the active realization of the will of God.
G. Giving, ().
This is the ability to be very generous with what means one has. It should be exercised with simplicity, i.e., with no thought of return or self-gain.
H. Showing Mercy, ().
Like the gifts of serving or helps, this involves succoring particularly those who are sick and afflicted. This gift is related to the sick and afflicted and any other who might fall within the sphere of needing succor, (help, aide, assistance, relief, rescue, etc.). In dealing with such, some Christians are given special ability to show mercy with cheerfulness to those that others would consider unlovable.
I. Faith, ().
This is the ability to believe God for the supply of specific needs. It is manifested not so much in trust in Christ as Savior but in confidence in God in respect to His power and love working in the details of your life, supplying your needs and guiding your steps. Every believer should walk by faith and each has a measure of faith, but not all have the gift of faith.
Two debatable permanent gifts, which are probably more of the works of the Spirit rather than gifts of the Spirit include:
J. Word of Wisdom, ().
The Word of Wisdom as a gift is the supernatural ability to apply Bible doctrine to circumstances in life and to give that insight to others, as in counseling. It is understanding the Word of God in such a way as to give insight and enlightenment that best applies to specific needs within the Body of Christ, as lead by the Holy Spirit.
K. Word of Knowledge, ().
The gift of the Word of Knowledge is the supernatural ability to categorize doctrine for application. It is the ability to accumulate, analyze and clarify information and ideas, which are pertinent to the well-being of the body of Christ. This gift can be used to assist a Pastor in his writing and teaching materials and be applied in academic settings by preparing systematic theologies or other academic books, resources and courses for the edification of the body of Christ.
6. The Abuse of Spiritual Gifts.
The Corinthians were taking the spiritual gift of tongues and magnifying it out of proportion and calling it spirituality. That is why Paul wrote 1 Cor 12-14, especially chapters 13 and 14. These scriptures tell us that there is nothing in the Christian life apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit producing Divine love in the life of the believer. In 1 Cor 13, Paul takes three temporary gifts and sets up the principle of the discontinuance of temporary gifts.
As such, cannot boast or complain, and arrogance are the causes of the abuses of spiritual gifts in two areas.
a. The attempt to perpetuate temporary gifts of the pre Canon period into the post Canon era. Many times people have tried to, and continue to, perpetuate into the post Canon period some temporary spiritual gifts like; healing, miracles, tongues, the interpretation of tongues, etc. When anyone claims the gifts of apostleship, tongues, miracles, healing, they are apostate and reversionistic; separate yourselves from them. It is an abuse of spiritual gifts to try to claim them beyond the closing of the Canon in 96 A.D.
b. The problem of arrogance or inferiority, (which too is a form of arrogance). Many believers are arrogant because their spiritual gift is more obvious in its function. Others are in a terrible state of inferiority, thinking that because their spiritual gift is not obvious and does not function in front of people, they are second class Christians. There is no such thing as a second class Christian.
21, describes this abuse. This is a part of the dissertation on the body of Christ, the Royal Family of God, in which distinctions are made only where our spiritual gifts are concerned, but not in regards to superiority and inferiority. Remember that when it comes to our privileges and opportunities, we all have equal privileges and equal opportunities from our Portfolio of Invisible Assets to fulfill God’s Plan for our lives and receive escrow blessings for time and eternity.
Behind all this is the erroneous assumption that you earn, deserve, or merit your spiritual gift. In reality, the wisdom of God the Holy Spirit gave you your gift. Spiritual gifts are not issued based on your spiritual growth or spiritual advance. Those with supposedly “less spectacular” gifts are not spiritually inferior to those with an ostentatious gift. The Royal Family of God, when it comes to spiritual gifts, is a team. Each part is necessary. So, whether you are a lady or a gentleman, and regardless of any other human distinction, you are important in the Royal Family of God.
Your spiritual gift is simply your position on the team. It was sovereignly bestowed to you by God the Holy Spirit at salvation, and your spiritual gift is just as important as anyone else’s. Therefore, there is no place for arrogance or an inferiority complex inside the body of Christ!
Those with “spectacular” gifts are no better than those with hidden gifts. You are not “more spiritual” because you have a spectacular gift. Neither the Pastor nor Evangelist is necessarily any better as a Christian than anyone else. What differentiates them is simply that their spiritual gifts are exercised in public, while other believers’ spiritual gifts are exercised in private. Therefore, the only difference among believers’ is whether or not they used their free will to advance to spiritual adulthood or not. Differences are not to be determined by their spiritual gift.
Spiritual gifts have nothing to do with the inferiorities or superiorities that are assigned in this world by race, socio-economics, business, professional or academic life, athletic ability, personality, or to human attractiveness or ugliness. You are just as much a part of the body of Christ if your spiritual gift is exercised in public or private!
Remember that Spiritual gifts do not determine the status of experiential sanctification. The superior spiritual life results from consistent residence inside of God’s Power System, under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, and momentum from metabolized doctrine in your soul.
, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
Spiritual gifts are distributed according to the sovereignty of God, not according to the merit of any particular believer.
There is no excuse for a superiority complex because you have an ostentatious spiritual gift. In fact, a spectacular spiritual gift does not in any way indicate a superior spiritual status.
There is no excuse for an inferiority complex because you have an obscure spiritual gift. In fact, an obscure spiritual gift, like helps or mercy, does not indicate an inferior spiritual status.
Whatever spiritual gift you have is a matter of the sovereignty of God. Therefore, you cannot boast or complain about your spiritual gift. It is the will of God, not yours. You did not earn it, deserve it, or work for it. It is strictly the function of the sovereignty of God.
Since the Holy Spirit assigned these spiritual gifts at salvation, there is no place for human merit, or assigning any greatness or arrogance to your spiritual gift. We all have equal privilege and equal opportunity for the fulfillment of the Plan of God for our lives and the distribution of escrow blessings for both time and eternity, regardless of the spiritual gift you may possess.
25, teaches the importance of obscure spiritual gifts. Vs. 26 27, teaches the importance of teamwork in spiritual gifts. Vs. 28 30 teaches the perspective of spiritual gifts. Vs. 31, is a transitional verse into the doctrine of virtue-love, Chapter 13, as the answer to any apparent inequalities in spiritual gifts.
7. The Relationship between Spiritual Gifts and General Ministry/Service.
As mentioned above, it is very interesting that the permanent spiritual gifts for the Church Age are also noted within the N.T. as areas of “general service” that all believers are mandated to function in. The general service of believers’ means, from time to time he or she will be in a position where they will have the opportunity to serve others in a particular area of ministry, whether or not they have that gift. For example, we are all “Royal Ambassadors” for Christ, which means among other things, we give the gospel message to unbelievers when we have opportunity to do so. We are all mandated to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ, yet, we all do not have the spiritual gift of Evangelism.
Having the gift means you will excel in that area and much of your Christian service will be focused in that area, yet, from time to time you will also have opportunity to serve in the other areas classified as spiritual gifts. Keep in mind that just because you do not have certain spiritual gifts, that does not exclude you from operating in the capacity of the other spiritual gifts. We all have the responsibility to function in our own spiritual gift predominantly, as well as the others gifts as “general service” from time to time.
Scriptures that give us the commands for “general service” in all areas of the permanent spiritual gifts include the following. (Please also note that no Scripture commands “general service” for the temporary gifts, for example tongues, healing, apostleship, etc., which is another indication that those were temporary gifts.)
Gifts Given to Some Commands Given to All
1) Ministering 1) Serve one another, .
2) Exhortation 2) Exhort one another, .
3) Giving 3) All give, .
4) Teaching 4) Great Commission, .
5) Showing Mercy 5) Be kind, .
6) Faith 6) Walk by faith, .
7) Evangelism 7) All witness, .
Thus, all are commanded to do various ministries whether or not they possess the corresponding spiritual gift. If we faithfully obey these commands, we may discover our particular spiritual gifts, as general service / ministry is the key to discovering your spiritual gift(s) and particular ministry.
8. Discovery and Development of Your Spiritual Gift.
Knowing that we have each received a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation, which will be a manifestation of the Spirit in us, what matters most is that you discover what your gift is and then develop it. Interestingly enough, your gift is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, therefore, if you are “walking by means of the Holy Spirit,” , on a consistent basis, He will be manifesting Himself through you in the area of your spiritual gift. Even so, this should never be an excuses for not discovering, knowing and developing your spiritual gift, as knowledge of something always means power, ; . Therefore, if you know what your gift is, it will give you an opportunity to empower it even more so.
, “A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge increases power.”
If you know what your gift is, you can then learn how that gift is applied and then excel in the application of it. In addition, all Bible doctrine is beneficial for your life. That same doctrine will also enhance your application of your spiritual gift. Therefore, it is important in the maximum exercise of your spiritual gift, to have maximum Bible doctrine in your soul. Remember that the Holy Spirit only works with the Bible doctrine you learn. If you do not learn God’s Word, the Holy Spirit cannot use it in the exercise of your spiritual gift, .
, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
The following are several ways to learn what your gift is and how to develop it.
a. Be active in the Lord’s work.
As noted above, we are mandated by God’s Word to function, from time to time, in all of the areas of ministry that permanent spiritual gifts are specifically designed to function in. By serving generally in the various areas of ministry when you are given the opportunity to do so, is the first and best way for discovering and developing your one particular spiritual gift. Gifts are both discovered and developed by activity. Practice in the various areas of ministry brings perception of which area you seem to be best at, have a natural affinity for, or have an inclination of which one best fits you.
Mandates for general service given to all believers, as noted previously, includes.
1) Serve one another, .
2) Exhort one another, .
3) Give, .
4) Teach, .
5) Show Mercy/Be Kind, .
6) Walk by faith, .
7) Evangelize, .
If you are seeking to discover your gift, then do not turn down opportunities to serve, even if you think they do not fall within the range of your gift or abilities. God may be trying to tell you that you have a gift you do not recognize.
If you are active in doing what you can, then other opportunities may arise which will bring to light your spiritual gift. For example, when we first meet Philip in the Book of Acts, we see him helping distribute the relief money to needy and bickering widows, . It is doubtful that before he undertook this ministry he sat down to decide whether or not he had that spiritual gift. Here was an opportunity to serve and he took it. He proved faithful in performing this menial task. The Lord then entrusted him with another ministry; that of evangelizing the Samaritans, , and later, the Ethiopian eunuch, . As he used that gift, he became known as Philip the evangelist, . But first, he was Philip the helper of the needy and widows.
The same principle was true in Stephen’s life. He first served along with Philip in ministering to the widows. But he also was full of faith, , and was a great witness, .
Principle: Faithfulness in one opportunity leads to other opportunities that can lead to discovering your spiritual gift.
We are all commanded to do various ministries, whether or not we possess the corresponding spiritual gift. If we faithfully obey these commands, we may discover our particular spiritual gifts. Therefore, prepare yourself by taking every opportunity of Christian service available to you.
b. Be willing to do anything for God.
Dedication or willingness to do anything can be more important than discovering your spiritual gift. The passage on spiritual gifts in Eph 4, begins with an exhortation to a worthy life of “humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and peace,” vs. 1-3. The extended discussion on gifts in 1 Cor 12 is preceded in that letter by several exhortations to dedication, ; ; , and is followed by the exhortation to “love,” in Chapter 13.
Which specific gift is the most valuable one? Paul’s answer to this is clear and emphatic: the one gift all Christians should have is love, -. Love is the ultimate gift that we put on when we have the Word of God resident within our soul and apply it. If we have all the other spiritual gifts and lack love, we have nothing; if we have love and nothing else, we have everything. Paul said that love fulfills the entire law, ; compare . Love makes possible the fellowship of the Church and guarantees that spiritual gifts will be used unselfishly. Love is the greatest gift given to us by the God, Who is love.
Likewise, the passage in Rom 12 begins with the great call of dedication of life to your “spiritual service of worship,” in vs. 1-2.
, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The believer who is not dedicated to God will never discover the gift and abilities God has given him to serve with, nor will he fully develop the gift he does discover.
If you have the correct motivation and are faithful to respond to the opportunities for service / ministry before you, it will soon be evident that you do not do all things equally well. This is no reason to excuse yourself from every form of ministry, but it certainly tells you the areas of service upon which you should concentrate. Out of your general service, a more particular ministry will most likely emerge. It will probably be a ministry that is unique and that others do not seem to desire to perform. Not only will your ministry become evident, but you should be more able to identify the spiritual gift that equips you for your service.
It is by ministering to others that we find “our own ministry” and come to recognize the spiritual gift with which the Spirit of God has empowered us.
c. Inform yourself about the total package of abilities you have.
In addition to our spiritual gift, God has given us other abilities by which we can apply our spiritual gift. These abilities come in two forms, Natural and Acquired.
1) Natural abilities are God-given at birth, they include things like I.Q., a measure of health and strength, musical talents, the ability to sing well, linguistic abilities, mechanical aptitudes, etc.
2) Acquired abilities are things like cooking, sewing, driving a car, learning a language, learning to play an instrument, learning about business or financials, etc.
While we may tend to take such skills or abilities for granted, remember that, many people in the world have few opportunities to acquire skills beyond their natural abilities.
However, with both our natural talents and abilities we may have been able to acquire, the believer should inform himself or herself of the total package of these various abilities that God has placed in their life so that they can potentially utilize them in conjunction with their spiritual gift. In other words, you should take inventory to know what stock you have available for the Lord’s use. Just going through the process of self-evaluation, taking inventory of your abilities, periodically may help you ascertain what areas of service you ought to explore.
When you recognize the total package you have, you can then sharpen your talents, acquire new skills if necessary, and work on the development of your spiritual gift. For example:
a) If you think you may have the gift of teaching, then it will be necessary to study the Word of God in greater detail than just of personal application, learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew, develop your writing skills, etc. The ability to communicate may be more directly given as part of your spiritual gift, but even that skill can be sharpened by education. Nevertheless, the content of which you will be teaching, (Bible Doctrine), must be learned.
b) If you think you have the gift of giving, then you should work on being a good steward in all areas of life, , so that you have the means to be able to give and give wisely. The ability to be generous is God-given, but to have the wherewithal with which to be generous requires discipline in financial affairs.
c) The gift of evangelism in the early Church not only involved the preaching of the Good News, but also itinerating, (moving / traveling from place to place), with the message. To be able to do this may involve paying special attention to one’s health, in order to have the stamina to travel in spreading the Gospel, and living a life of flexibility with few anchors holding you back.
4) If one has the gift of exhortation, it certainly should be based on Biblical knowledge and not the latest trends in psychology, which are constantly changing. The only valid and worthwhile exhortation must be rooted in Biblical truths. And, of course, to have Biblical knowledge requires consistent study of God’s Word.
These are just a few examples of recognizing the natural or acquired talents or abilities you have, compared to what you might need in order to serve with your spiritual gift. Once you have done the evaluation of your natural talents and acquired skills, you can then determine what else you may need to acquire in order to maximize your effectiveness in the application of your spiritual gift.
Nonetheless, as mentioned above, the first thing we all need in order to maximize the effectiveness of our spiritual gift is God’s Word resident within our souls. Therefore, we need to objectively assess the amount of Bible doctrine we have store within our souls, and continue to receive more and more of it from our right Pastor-Teacher.
d. Do not attempt to discern your gift by comparing your service / ministry with those of others.
We should never try to determine if we have a certain spiritual gift on the basis of our specific ministry compared to that of other believers. Often, we define spiritual gifts in terms of the ministry of well-known servants of God like Billy Graham, who obviously has the gift of evangelism, or Pastor Robert Thieme, Jr. who has the gift of Pastor Teacher. Even though these men had those gifts and excelled in them with a specific ministry and effect, we should never compare ourselves to them and think that if we do not have the same impact, personality, charisma, speaking ability, knowledge, etc. as they did, that we do not have that gift.
We have to keep in mind , that there are “varieties of ministries and effects” that God has designed our gift to be used for. We need to recognize that there are additional factors to consider other than just the gift itself.
Each Christian possesses a spiritual gift. They also have a specific ministry and a particular degree of effectiveness in how God will use their gift. We are all part of the body of Christ and God uses the entire body to reach the world and serve His body. You might conclude that you do not have the gift of evangelism simply because you do not preach to large audiences from a stadium and have thousands respond. In this case, you may be wrongly comparing your ministry and effectiveness with some of the “giants” of the Christian faith, .
, “You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.”
We know from , that there are not only diversities of gifts, but also of ministries, and of levels of effectiveness. Out of 100 men who are gifted as evangelists, only 10 may have a public ministry, and only 1 may have a ministry of national or international prominence. It is wrong for the 99 to conclude that they do not possess the gift of evangelism because another believer has a prominent public ministry in which many come to Christ. We must be very careful to define spiritual gifts from Scripture and not from the experiences of others.
Only a few others in your local assembly may possess your particular spiritual gift. Among those who possess the same gift, each will have a unique ministry. Your gift will be expressed in a certain environment, deployed through your personality and individuality. With all things being equal, even those whose gifts are identical with yours and whose ministry is similar will have differing degrees of effectiveness. Remember effectiveness does not translate directly into successfulness in God’s eyes. It is not a measure of servant-hood. Effectiveness is merely God’s plan and will for the faithful servant.
The Warning Against Desiring Spiritual Success
by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.
“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you …” ().
“Worldliness is not the trap that most endangers us as Christian workers; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success; that is, success measured by, and patterned after, the form set by this religious age in which we now live. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God, and always be willing to go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (). In , Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have a commercialized view—we count how many souls have been saved and sanctified, we thank God, and then we think everything is all right. Yet our work only begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation. Our work is not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace, and our work as His disciples is to disciple others’ lives until they are totally yielded to God. One life totally devoted to God is of more value to Him than one hundred lives which have been simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God, we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and those lives will be God’s testimony to us as His workers. God brings us up to a standard of life through His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that same standard in others.
Unless the worker lives a life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (), he is apt to become an irritating dictator to others, instead of an active, living disciple. Many of us are dictators, dictating our desires to individuals and to groups. But Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced His words with an “if,” never with the forceful or dogmatic statement—“You must.” Discipleship carries with it an option.”
The point is this. You cannot determine your gift merely by studying this subject in the Bible. You must find your gift and specific service by ministering, and by obeying the commands of Scripture to serve one another. You cannot identify your gift by comparing yourself with others because the ministry of every Christian is unique. While some may have the same gift, their ministries and relative effectiveness will differ.
, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter tells us that every Christian has received a spiritual gift and that we are stewards of this “grace” of God. To be a good steward of your spiritual gift you must know what your gift is. Not knowing your gift is like being in charge of a man’s investments without knowing what he has in the bank. You must know the gift that God has bestowed upon you to be a faithful steward and it is discovered by ministering to one another.
e. Some specific action to discover your Spiritual Gift.
1) Pray, ask God to make your ministry and your gift evident. , (an example of prayer regarding a temporary gift); ; .
2) Study the Scriptures, note the commands of the Bible, and ask God to give you insight into specific ways you may put the imperatives of the Bible into practice. , “Study to show yourself approved to God, as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately, (rightly dividing), the Word of truth.”
3) Look for needs around you, and consider how you may meet those needs, ; , “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.”
4) Always be sure you are filled with the Spirit when entering into service. You cannot exercise your Spiritual Gift without the filling of God the Holy Spirit, .
5) Listen to what others are telling you regarding your gift. Many times it becomes evident to others well before it becomes evident to you, ; .
, “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight.”
, “And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Take the initiative to get to know others and their needs and stop waiting for people to have you over. Begin to seek ways of serving others. Before you begin each day, consider a particular place that you are going to and serve as the moment presents itself.
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: ‘If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… and then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
Now consider this: Your spiritual life is the coffee and your Spiritual Gifts are the cups. They are just tools to function in your Spiritual Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Spiritual Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. ‘God brews the coffee, and has given you a cup. Don’t look for better cups; utilize the one you have been given and enjoy your coffee!’
a. Spiritual Gift: A supernatural endowment of the Holy Spirit whereby every Christian is empowered to perform a certain function which edifies the Church and glorifies God, ; ff.
b. Specific Service: That unique service / ministry for which each Christian has been gifted and to which he or she is called, ; ; .
c. General Service: The commands regarding the obligations to serve for which all Christians are responsible, regardless of gift or calling, ; .
d. Romans chapter 8 gives great encouragement to the servant of God by reminding us of what God has accomplished on our behalf and the freedom we have. Therefore, the servant should be bold in his discipleship to exercise his spiritual gift not being held under slavery to sin but living in the freedom of the Royal Family of God.