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Christ’s Gifts

October 24th, 2018

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:11-13

Have you seen yourself as a gift of God?

Here God says that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers were gifts, given to the church to build her up. He continues to call people to serve Him, pastors are called by the Spirit and affirmed by the church to this day, as are missionaries and evangelists. (Whether apostles and prophets still are is a matter of some debate – a topic for another time.) I am one of those random people who has been called and enabled by God to serve Him as a gift to the church of Jesus Christ, to every believer and to every group of believers.

But let us remember that God has only one class of Christian – believer and child of God.  So what applies to the pastor – that he is a gift to a church – also applies to every Christian in some form or another – that we are given to one another to strengthen and encourage one another. This principle is proved in many places in scripture, but perhaps the clearest is the Great Commission: “Teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19).

Certainly there is the possibility of misuse, neglect, and even abuse in such an arrangement. But still the principle stands: that we are given to one another for the upbuilding of each other’s faith. Have you become God’s gift to someone else? You may be given the gift of encouragement, or of helping others, or of being merciful. Or perhaps of leadership or administration, or of healings – but none of these gifts is given for people to merely gain attention for themselves. They are gifts to be used for others.

And, the amazing thing, is that as we use them to help others, we find joy and meaning in life. As we let Christ receive the glory and the credit, as we take a backseat as though we are nothing at all (and truly without Christ we are nothing), then there is the holy “rightness” that seems to settle over our souls.

Scholars take this passage in different ways – and Paul’s quotation from Psalm 68 has led to many discussions – but I believe Albert Barnes has the best and most logical interpretation, that as Psalm 68 describes the glory of God inhabiting the Tabernacle and Temple, so Ephesians 4 describes the glory of Christ inhabiting the church, His temple here on this earth. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Cor. 3:16).

The church of Jesus Christ is a holy creation of God. God sees it in light of what it shall become in eternity, and we should also see one another in that light – not in light of our failures, which are many, but as captives of Christ, freed from the dominion of sin and brought into His glorious and eternal kingdom of grace and life.

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