GIFTED WITH GIFTS
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Gifted with gifts or graced with gifts. Both are loaded phrases. These are three powerful words that help us to see how Holy Spirit has enabled us to walk with Him and to see how He has equipped us to serve Him. You have probably guessed that I am going to address the subject of the gifts of the Spirit. Anytime you bring up the gifts, you are bound to get a reaction. Some people run toward them, others shrink back in fear or doubt. Needless to say, there’s a lot of curiosity and interest in the subject, and a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. We are probably going to park in this passage for a while, so get ready for some idea shifts.
In Ephesians 4:7-12, we are told by the Apostle that Jesus both offers us gifts and He has made us a gifted people. As Paul glorifies Jesus, he rephrases Psalm 68:18 , You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there, which paints a picture depicting a conquering LORD who is returning with the vanquished captives in tow, as he enters Jerusalem. The conquered are chained behind him, serving as gifts through their possessions and their presence as spoils of war. Paul does a retake of the Psalm however, as he points out that Jesus has shown him that Christ the conqueror hasn’t taken from His captives. Instead He has given gifts to His entourage.
The new picture is designed to show us that Jesus has transformed our bondage to sin and captivity to this worlds fallen ways into a captivating alliance and allegiance to Him. Instead of demanding that we give Him gifts, He has generously gifted us, operating in an opposite spirit from this worlds perspective. Paul’s central message of the Book of Ephesians is being reiterated, the Father has made Christ Jesus the ruling and reigning LORD of the church. He has gifted us and made us a gift. We become capable of walking in this gifting through transformation. Let’s look at Peter for support on what transformation looks like.
1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
We are currently in a time of awards: the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Tony’s, among many. As we watch these, either by the broadcasts, or by the second hand reports, there is one area that always amuses me: it’s the assessment of the clothing & jewelry that is worn. Some achieve high marks; some are mercilessly given bad grades. Let me propose to you by living a life that demonstrates a thankful & grateful heart as we respond to redemption everyday in our lives.
Peter talks about our response metaphorically by using the example of changing clothes. This is something we all do regularly, hopefully-Turn to your neighbor and ask… Peter lists for us the apparel of heavenly raiment and what we need to have removed to show its fabric. We Must be Stripped of the Garments of Sin; We Must be Clothed With the Positive Attributes of Transformation; We Must be Adorned With the Strength of Heaven.
Stripped of the Garments of Sin Peter lists a series of attitudes and actions that are not proper for the Christian; therefore, they are to be removed if we want to advance in His Kingdom. The first word is Malice (kakia) & it means a general reference to all types of evil. It is a blanket word that encompasses a whole lot of activities that aren’t desirable for Christians to participate in, as they are contrary to the Father’s Heart revelation in Jesus. This word, malice, is focused on active, destructive ill will that can be devastating in its ability to harm. J.B. Lightfoot indicates that the word stipulates: “the vicious nature which is bent on doing harm to others” as such, it carries with it an intentional weight.
The second word is: Deceit (dolos) which has numerous possible translatable variations like: guile, bait, lure, snare, or craft(y). Scripture gives us a splendid example of this activity or activation, in the OT Patriarch Jacob whose name literally means supplanter or deceiver. You remember him don’t you? He’s the one who gave up on the concept of brotherly love to rip his brother off of his inheritance in Genesis 27. Now, in order to balance this out, we find his counterpart in the NT when we first encounter Nathaniel In John 1:47. This is when Jesus says of this soon to be Disciple/Apostle that he is: “a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”
The third word is: Hypocrisies (hupokrisis) which means play acting or pretending, and is taken from Roman plays when the masks were worn to hide your identity and show you as something other than what you really are-you know appearing one way, but really being something different. This is when our commitment to being truthful or to the truth isn’t quiet what it should be. When this happens, we become dangerous enemies to the Body of Christ due to our inability to promote unity and commonality of purpose. Jesus most severe words of rebuke were to those whose religion embraced this form of playacting. If you don’t believe me look at Matthew 23 for His citations.
The fourth word is envy (psthonos) which means: jealousy & resentment toward someone else that appears to be superior to you in some fashion or means & is the product of a covetous spirit. Again, we have sterling examples of this type of behavior in the Old & New Testaments: 1) Envy & jealousy compelled Joseph’s brothers to sell him into Egyptian slavery (Genesis 37): 2) Pilate knew that Jesus was being delivered up to death out of jealousy/envy (Matthew 27:18). I assume none of us want to be found in that company, do we?
The fifth and last word is: slander (katalalias) and it is defined by its ability to speak in an incriminating way that defames someone else-it is the normal function of gossip. It’s also a compound word that is interesting in its make up or compositions, as the two words are: kata/behind the back and, lalias/to speak. In other words: it means to speak behind someone’s back. It is important to note that Paul made frequent references to this negative attribute as a cornerstone activity that leads to a number of destructive characteristics that appeared in the Church (2 Cor. 12:20).
We Must be Clothed With the Positive Attributes of Transformation It is a common truth that newborns will grow-it’s the same with us in our spiritual odyssey. It is also true that Christ’s presence in us will never produce a vacuum; our flesh may, but not Jesus. What do I mean by this? You are never truly defined by what you aren’t, only by what you are. That is why it is so critical to be conformed into the image of He who saved you in a deliberate way. This is what daily crucifixion is all about-putting off the old man & putting on the new as a deliberate act of the will.
Walking in the disciplines of the Spirit is like William Carey’s statement about missions & service when he said: “Expect great things from God: Expect to do great things for God.” Laying down the burden of ungodly behaviors in our lives is “expecting to do great things for God.” Carey/Spurgeon are examples: both converted in their teens and began pastoring in their late teens/early twenties: both changed their world.
Gracelets – Grace Packages
God dresses His bride with the jewels of grace. These gracelets are visible expressions of the bride’s adornment. Grace beautifies the bride. These gracelets are the manifested presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of “Spiritual Gifts.” Numbers 6:24-26: Before and after the word gracious is the word face. When you are in His face (presence) you receive grace.
You have been called, chosen and elected by the courts of heaven to be a Kingdom gifted person. You are not talented, you are gifted, and there is world of difference. In our modern vernacular, we call highly talented people gifted. That’s not what I’m talking about. When we look at the aspect of the gifts in Ephesians, we are talking about the basic gifts of grace, salvation and faith, coupled with the indwelling Spirit. Paul has already given us a summation of our giftedness in 2:8-9. Grace is the gift Jesus gives, faith given to enhance belief and salvation is the gift that enables us to live in Christ now and forever. This is our inheritance, and this inheritance of giftedness becomes yours the moment you lay claim to it. (4:7). The word measure (metron), is defined as a determined extent or portion. In this context, it means that our gift of grace is measured and determined by the will of Christ. The Father is the point of origin of this grace and the Son is the focus and the facilitator of this grace in our hearts and minds.
IT’S ALL BY GRACE!
Grace is defined as: God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s mercy granted to the undeserving and the ill-deserving, The unmerited favor of God. Greek: (charis) general grace, and (charisma) grace made manifest. Hebrew (chen ratson) this means beauty or attractiveness. The Old Testament root meaning of grace is favor. To have favor is to obtain grace in the eyes of somebody “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8).”
People, a person, a congregation in the grace of God is attractive. If we don’t have the grace of God, we may have the truth, but it won’t attract anyone to it. A legalistic “gospel” is unattractive! It all starts with the way that God chooses to look at us. God can look at us and see us as attractive in His sight. Remember, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
FAITH IS NECESSARY
Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you;’ and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this…’” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matt. 9:29; Mtt. 13:58)
- A) There are categories of Faith: The ‘measure of faith’ that each “born again” believer receives and must exercise to bring an increase of faith ( 12:3-8); The fruit of the Holy Spirit called “faithfulness” which deals with the character of God in the life of the individual (Gal. 5:22,23); The “gift of faith” is a special surge of confidence in God and His Word which sometimes arises within a person faced with a specific situation or need (Mk 11:22-24); Faith comes (present active tense) and continues to come by the words (rhema) of Christ (Romans 10:1).
Two of the main ways we exercise this kind of faith are declarative in nature: 1) Words spoken to God on behalf of a person, an object, or a situation:
- i) I Ki.17:1 Fall of rain and dew controlled by Elijah’s word
- ii) I Ki.18:41-45 Elijah spoke to God on behalf of the rain (James 5:16-18)
2) Words spoken to a person, an object, or a situation on behalf of God
- i) Josh. 10:12-14 Joshua spoke to the sun and moon on behalf of God
3) Derek Prince, “All progress in the Christian life is by faith.”
4) This Kind of Faith Does Not Operate Alone: This gift operates in connection with several other gifts. It often works with the gifts of miracles, healings, and a word of knowledge.
We could say that the gift of faith is an irresistible, unshakable faith. When God reveals certain facts concerning His will in a circumstance, one “just knows” it will happen. And as God restores this gift, there will also be a restoration of miracles on a greater level in the church. This gift will also be used for the release of finances and provisions to do the will of God. May the Father restore a pure use of this gift in His Body in our time.
PRACTICAL POINTS ON THE GIFT OF FAITH
Derek Prince – Author and International Bible Teacher: The gift of faith is a tiny portion of God’s total faith supernaturally imparted by the Holy Spirit, operated only under God’s control. It is different from faith essential for salvation or faith that is a fruit of Holy Spirit. It is a miraculous, “mountain- moving” gift. John Wimber – Late Vineyard Ministries International Leader The gift of faith is the mysterious surge of confidence which sometimes arises within a person faced with a specific situation or need. It gives that person a transrational (otherly) certainty and assurance that God is about to act through a word or action. It is both the irresistible knowledge that God wills to intervene at a certain point and the authority to effect this intervention through the power of the Holy Spirit.
GIFTED FOR GIFTING
In the economy of God, He has given gifts to the gifted through the Spirit. It’s an equipping kind of a thing. Everyone of us who have been named by Jesus have been called into the ministry of Christ. To be in Christ is to be in His ministry.