What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.7-10

“With Your Spiritual Gift, Build Christ’s Body” Unity through Active Diversity

Part 1: Ephesians 4:7-10

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.7-10

You can turn in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 4. And as you are turning there, let me ask you a question. Do you come this morning to receive something from God?

.

And let me ask you another question. Did you also come to this representation of the body of Christ in order to build up the body of Christ?

.

Both are great! But if we were to survey one another this morning, I would assume that if we even thought about it today, most of us probably prepared ourselves to receive and not so much to give.

.

The goal is to have a proper balance of both. In our age of consumerism, it is easy to have a “what can I get out of this” mindset.

.

The world tells us that we are consumers who consume stuff. Advertisers inform us constantly that we are exist for them. We exist to consume their products.

.

I read parts of an article by David Wells, an Christian cultural apologist. He analyzes culture at large and Christian culture and worldliness. In the article He quotes from a book called White Noise, by Don Delillo.

.

If you were to go to college, even a Christian college, and if you were to watch what the young people bring in to their dorm rooms as they move in, you’ll find all sorts of stuff.

.

There are “bicycles, skis, rucksacks, English and Western saddles, inflated rafts.” There are “stereo sets, radios, personal computers; small refrigerators and table ranges.” There are “the hairdryers and styling irons; the tennis racquets, soccer balls, hockey and lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows; the controlled substances, the birth control pills and devices.” Not to mention the junk food fresh from the supermarket shelves: “onion-and-garlic chips, nacho thins, peanut creme patties, Waffelos and Kabooms, fruit chews and toffee popcorn; the Dum-Dum pops, the Mystic mints,” none of which has anything to do with the basic preservation of life but all of which has to do with the life of plenty.[1]

.

“Clearly,” says Wells, “the advertisers have won the battle for these young minds!”

.

“Here, however, is a paradox.” Wells continues, “The paradox is that while we have so much, we also have so little. Never before have our opportunities been so many, our products so abundant, or our stuff so numerous. At the same time, “we have less happiness,” … “more depression, more fragile relationships, less communal commitment, less vocational security … and more demoralized children.”[2]

.

We are a consumer generation who has been consumed. This aspect of the world is deeply rooted in the world that we live in.

.

And what happens is we tend to bring this mindset to the church. The Christian culture tends to be consumer oriented as well. The health and wealth gospel is the most popular form of religion, it seems, and that is a religion all about getting, getting more stuff, getting better health, getting more wealth!

.

Even though we reject that religion, this mindset of being a consumer is still in us. We flip on the TV and expect to get what we want. We turn on the radio and consume what is most pleasant. We listen to musical tunes today that do not make us think. If the images that we see on the TV or the sound that comes into our ears is not immediately pleasant to us, we choose to discard it.

.

And of course our services are not designed that way! To get a blessing here requires some work.

.

So did you come this morning to flip on this church service like you flip on the television?

.

Well I hope you came to receive something from the Lord this morning. But as is repeated over and over again in the Scripture, God reveals himself to those who seek him with all of their heart. It takes work. You must open your mouth wide, then he will fill it. If you search for wisdom as for hidden treasure, with that diligence, then you will understand the knowledge of God.

.

Seeking God takes work. Hard work. Consistently hard work.

.

But God is one who gives. He doesn’t hide Himself. He gives to those who ask him. If you ask him for his will as it is in His Word, he will give it to you. If what you ask for is truly reflective of the character and the authority of Jesus, you will receive that.

.

God has come to give. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His unique Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

.

God has come to give. He gave His Son! He’s given us eternal life. For everyone who trusts in his name and repents of their sin, he gives eternal life! He’s given you life, health, family, friends, this church.

.

And what he has given, he desires that we use for his glory.

.

In our passage this morning, the apostle Paul tells us that Christ has given something to us that we are to use for his glory as well.

.

Christ has given to us spiritual gifts. And he has given them to use for the building up of his church. Christ has given to us spiritual gifts. And he has given them to use for the building up of his church.

.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:1-10. We have unity, verse 1-6 and then we have a diversity of gifts, 7-10.

.

Ephesians 4:1-10 1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 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? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

.

We’ll stop there. But the apostle Paul goes on to describe the role that certain gifted individuals have in training each member of his church so that each member of his church might participate in building up the body of Christ. That’s verses 11-16. Gifted individuals are called upon to strengthen the members of Christ’s body so that each member build up the body of Christ. Those in leadership train others for service in Christ’s body.

.

And you probably noticed the difficulty of our text, verses 7-10.

.

But we know God has His message in this passage. It takes diligence to preserve the unity of Spirit and bond of peace. If we bring our consumer mindset to church, then we’ll be disappointed.

.

You remember from last time we learned the need for unity in our church.

.

Ephesians 4:3 [again, Paul tells us that we need to be] diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

.

But unity doesn’t mean uniformity. We are not cookie-cutter Christians in the sense that we are all the exact same. We are to preserve the unity, but that does not mean we should do and think exactly alike.

.

No, we need to have unity through active diversity. We need unity through active diversity. And in this passage, we are diverse because of the fact that each one of us has received a spiritual gift.

.

So we are diverse, but we are not broken or fragmented. We are one even though we are different. But how can we have unity even though we are all gifted differently? Through actively exercising our gifts. We are all different. But we must be active in our differences to build unity.

.

This passage tell us that as each of us exercises his or her different giftedness, we will build up the body of Christ.

.

Paul proves that Christ can be the one to give us spiritual gifts. That’s verses 7-10.

.

Then in verses 11-16, Christ is giving gifted individuals to the church.

.

This will be a two-part message entitled “With Your Spiritual Gift, Build Christ’s Body.”

.

Christ is the one who gave you a spiritual gift. That’s this morning. Next week is about us building up Christ’s body.

.

So first up this morning in verse seven, Christ gave each believer a spiritual gift.

.

  1. Christ Gave Each Believer a Spiritual Gift (Eph. 4:7)

.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

.

  1. Every believer has a gift (7a)

.

First in verse seven, every believer has a spiritual gift. He says “but to each one of us grace was given.”

.

Grace was given to each one of us. What does Paul mean by grace?

.

Biblical grace can mean undeserved favor from God or it can mean enablement. Grace can mean God showing his kindness that we do not deserve. But it can also mean a certain kind of enablement or power. And in this context, it is something given to each believer to empower us for ministry.

.

ARG: You can see we are in a context of giving. Verse seven says grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s … what? Christ’s gift. And verse eight at the end of the verse “he gave gifts to men.” Also in verse 11 and he gave some as apostles. So we are in a context of giving.

.

What is the Purpose of these gifts

Well what’s the point of giving each believer spiritual gifts?

.

In various passages of Scripture, we learn that their purpose is for the building up of the local church.

.

ARG: We are told in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that with our spiritual gifts we are to “seek to abound for the edification of the church.”

.

ARG: Paul’s illustration of a human body in 1 Corinthians 12 proves this. The parts of your physical body serve other parts of your physical body. For most of us, you’re right hand is especially gifted. You would choose that member of the body over and above other members of your body for certain purposes. However, for other purposes, you would not choose that member of your body. The gifts given to that member of your body are meant to build up and strengthen the other members of your body.

.

ARG: And 1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

.

So clearly we are to use our gifts to serve one another. And this service builds up the body of Christ. This is in our Ephesians 4 as well, if you’d look down at Ephesians 4:12

Christ gave to the church those gifted men in verse 11 for a particular purpose and that is, verse 12, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service[that is, the saints do the work of service. And as we saints do the work of the ministry, our service has the result …verse 12 at the end…] the building up of the body of Christ;

.

So you can see that our gifts are given to us for the goal that we might build up the body of Christ.

.

What Gifts Did Christ Give?

And what gifts did Christ give? Let me ask you to turn back to Romans 12:3-8. And let me point out that these spiritual gifts are not natural abilities, like physical strength or street smarts or artistic, athletic, or musical abilities. But they are spiritual abilities.

.

Romans 12:3-8 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

.

Other passages of spiritual gifts include 1 Peter 4:11 and 1 Co. 12:4-11; 27-31.

.

God has allotted to each. Each believer has a spiritual gift. If you have truly turned from your sins and asked Christ to save you from your sins and if you trust him for eternal life and him alone and not in any works that you have done and you call upon the name of the Lord to be saved, Christ has saved you and he gave you a spiritual gift.

.

Now, back to Ephesians 4.

.

TRANS: So each believer has a spiritual gift. But also in verse seven of Ephesians 4 you see that Christ determines the amount of giftedness. Christ determines the amount of giftedness.

.

  1. Christ determines the amount (7b)

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given … [here we go…] according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

.

Each believer has received grace, that is a particular enablement to build up the body of Christ.

.

The amount of your giftedness is according to the measure of Christ’s gift. In other words, Christ determines the amount of your giftedness. In any one area, someone may be more gifted than others.

.

You may know that you have one of those gifts that we read this morning. You may or may not be gifted with more than one gift. And with any one gift, you may not be gifted as much in that area as the next guy.

.

And that’s the point: Christ is the one who choices how gifted you are. It is according to the measure of Christ’s gift that you are gifted. Christ determines the degree of your giftedness.

.

TRANS: Now, how is it that Christ can be the one to give us these gifts? The passage answers this question. How can Christ give us these gifts? Paul is going to argue that Christ has earned the right to give spiritual gifts.

.

And the point the major point this morning will come from these verses. Here, Paul gives us motivation to exercise our spiritual gifts.

.

So verses 8-10, Christ earned the right to give spiritual gifts. And it is in his right to give them, that we gain motivation to exercise them. We need motivation to exercise our gifts. That motivation is found in verses 8-10.

.

  1. Christ Earned the Right to Give Gifts (Eph. 4:8-10)

.

Let’s read these verses. Ephesians 4:8-10 8 Therefore it says [referencing Ps. 68:18…] , “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9 [From verse 9, Paul argues from Ps. 68…keep going…], Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

.

Just reading the passage may be confusing for us. But what Paul is doing is proving that Christ earned the right to give spiritual gifts.

.

To do that, he cites Psalm 68:18. And you can see there in verse 8 there are three lines.

.

First line, we have an ascension: WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH

Second line, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES. We have a conqueror leading out his captives.

The third line, HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN. He gives gifts.

.

Now, for the sake of clarity, we’re not going to flip back to Psalm 68. But let me point out that Psalm 68 begins with a prayer that God would arise and conquer the enemy of God’s people. This psalm is reflecting on the Exodus. Think of the Exodus. When God rescued his people from the land of Egypt, he eventually brought them to Mount Sinai. It was there that he gave them the His Law. Eventually, God brought them to the Promised Land, to Jerusalem. But in between Mount Sinai and Jerusalem, God had to conquer his enemies. And that’s the point. God conquers his enemies.

.

If you look at Ephesians 4:8 at the first line, we have an ascension. In the Exodus, we have God ascending from Mount Sinai to Jerusalem. And along the way, second line in verse 8, he leads captive a host, a group of captives. In other words, he conquers his enemies. God conquers His physical enemies as His people travel from Sinai to Jerusalem.

.

And then as a conqueror, third line he gives gifts to men. A conqueror receives the fruit of his conquering. He gets the spoils. He gets all the stuff! And God gives that spoil as gifts.

.

Psalm 68 is referring to the Exodus when God conquered his enemies along the path from Mount Sinai to Jerusalem. And when they got to the Promised Land finally, God gave them the gifts of that land.

.

That’s what Psalms 68 is referring to.

.

Now, if you keep reading into verses 9 and 10, Paul is going to apply this to Christ.

.

Ephesians 4:9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

.

So what is Paul doing? He is using Ps. 68 as an illustration of what Christ did.

.

  • Just like God the Father defeated physical enemies in the Exodus and gave his people the physical gifts of the Promised Land…
  • …so also Christ has conquered His spiritual enemies and gave his people spiritual gifts.

.

That’s Paul’s point. Wait, what? I’ll say it again just like God the Father defeated physical enemies in the Exodus and gave his people the physical gifts of the Promised Land … just like that now … Christ has conquered His spiritual enemies and gave his people spiritual gifts.

.

You can see that Paul is saying this refers to Christ.

He is saying that whoever ascended also descended. So who ascended in the New Testament? Christ did, after his resurrection.

.

And Christ also first descended into the lower parts of the earth. This is the lower parts which is the earth. This is, simply, the incarnation. God the Son descended as the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. He descended to earth in the incarnation. Then after his death, burial, and resurrection, he ascended back to the Father.

.

Now, verse 10 Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

.

So Christ ascended after the resurrection and when he did he ascended far above all the heavens so that he might fill all things. Similar wording is found in Ephesians 1:20-23. I’ll ask you to turn there. You could write down that cross reference here and then turn back there.

.

At the end of Ephesians 1:20, Paul teaches us that Christ is now seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and he’s ascended above every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things in subjection under his feet.

.

And in Ephesians 1:23, Christ fills all in all. He fills all things in every way. What’s the point? He rules over it all. That’s the point when Paul says that he ascended far above all the heavens so that he might fill all things. He rules over it all, he is the conqueror.

.

So we have this theme of a conqueror who triumphs over his enemies and receives the spoil of the conquering and gives that spoil, that stuff as gifts to His people. For Christ, it is that He has triumphed over his spiritual enemies. And since Christ has triumphed over his spiritual enemies, does he not have the right to give spiritual gifts to His people?

.

We read Ephesians 1:21 where it says that Christ is reigning over every rule, authority, and power.

.

Ephesians 3:10 says that through the church God’s wisdom is made known to… do you remember … To the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. To the demonic forces.

.

And these facts aren’t just facts for our intellectual knowledge. We understand that because of Christ’s conquering of these demonic forces that, first in our passage this morning, Christ can give us spiritual gifts.

.

Because Christ conquered our spiritual enemies, Christ can give spiritual gifts.

.

But also we to now can fight spiritual battles. Turn over to Ephesians 6:12-13.

.

Here, Paul will apply Christ’s defeat of his spiritual enemies to our day-to-day battles. Since the battle is already won we are merely fighting off the few that are still standing, as it were.

.

We can take courage in our spiritual battles because Christ has conquered His enemies. Ephesians 6:12 and 13 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

.

And then in the following verses Paul describes each piece of the whole armor of God that we are to put on.

.

Christ has defeated our spiritual enemies so that now he can give spiritual gifts to his people. That is just like God in the Old Testament. Psalm 68 says that God defeated his physical enemies from Mount Sinai all the way to Jerusalem so that he can give physical gifts to his people found in the Promised Land. Just like that, Christ ascended to the Father after having conquered His spiritual enemies and now He can give us the spiritual gifts from that conquering. That’s the point when Paul cites and argues from Psalm 68.

.

TRANS: Now, that is the explanation. But the application of this is simply overwhelming. This is meant to motivate us to use our spiritual gifts. And if you haven’t gotten it, I think this will clarify the point.

.

What Christ went through to give you the gift!

The conquering Christ is he it is who gave you your spiritual gift! Christ descended to earth in the incarnation. In humility he left his throne above in all of his Majesty. And he came as a humble babe in a manger. He suffered and was reviled by godless men. He suffered persecution unimaginable.

.

And to top it all off, he suffered the wrath of God for your sin at the cross. This is his descent.

.

But praise the Lord it doesn’t stop there. He was raised from the dead three days later and then he ascended back to the Father.

.

In this, Christ is a conqueror. He came to earth and conquered his spiritual enemies. He conquered death, sin, and the devil. And then ascended back to the Father.

.

And came and he conquered your enemies. He conquered, and then He ascended back to the Father. He rules over every rule and power and dominion in the universe. And then through that, He gave you a spiritual gift.

.

Fellow believer, that is how you came to have a spiritual gift. What did it take to give you that spiritual gifts? The universal plan of God for all of the ages: sending Christ to earth, conquering his own wrath, sin, death and hell and every spiritual enemy there is for the sake of giving you a gift!!!

.

Believer, in light of this, use your gift. How motivating is this to ensure and to make sure that we are using the spiritual gifts that God has given to us!!

.

Because Christ conquered and gave us gifts like this, we will not do surveys to find out your spiritual gift. We don’t want to demean how we got the spiritual gifts by doing surveys! So how do you find out your spiritual gift? You serve. No surveys, you serve. Serve Christ in this body of believers. Try serving him in this way or that way and see if the body of believers responds to your ministry. Your physical body figured out that your hand is best at doing this or that pretty early on in your life. Just like, try certain things to determine your gift. Serve to find out your gift.

.

If you need further help with discovering your spiritual gift do this: pray to the one who conquered all for the sake of giving it to you. And pray for me as I train you in this body of believers. Ephesians 4:11 again teaches us that I am here to train you. So pray for me as I attempt to train you. And ask around to see what the needs are here. Ask me, ask anyone here what the needs are. Ask a brother or sister in our assembly how you can serve them.

.

But “don’t neglect the gift that is in you” and let Christ’s work of conquering your spiritual enemies motivate you to exercise your gifts in this assembly.

.

162 thine be the glory

.

Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.7-10

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Ephesians Main Page

.

  1. David Wells (https://www.galaxie.com/article/jets51-1-05) quoting DeLillo’s Novel, White Noise.

  2. David G. Myers, The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000) ii.

208 views
208 views
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap