v. 7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
From v. 7 thru 16 we have the divine program for the proper functioning of the Body of Christ.
Each born-again believer has been given a gift from the Lord, and with it the grace or ability to use it.
Some gifts are of a public character other gifts are not.
But whatever the nature of the gift it is important to realize that every believer has something he can contribute to the blessing of the Body of Christ.
In the Body of Christ “every believer” has his place, given to him by Christ or the Holy Spirit. The ideal assembly is one on which each believer has found out, from the risen Lord, his gift and place in the body, and functions accordingly. We should remember that whatever the gift, public or hidden, important or menial, God provides the spiritual ability—strength to operate it. Wisdom.
This is a difficult verse.
The traditional view is as follows (describe)
This view is arrived at because of the interpretation put on the words “captivity captive.” = a “multitude of captives.”
The phrase “captivity captive” is found in Judges 5:12.
“Awake, awake, Deborah: awake and utter a song: Arise, Barak, and lead captivity captive.”
This could only mean one thing “lead him captive who held you captive.”
The meaning of our present passage seems clear in the light of this. Our blessed Lord in His triumph over death lead captive him who had the power of death up to that time.
The lesson is this, our mighty enemy, Satan, is now a conquered foe. He has been led captive at the chariot wheels of Christ. See Col 2:15.
This triumphant Christ sat down on His glorious throne and from there he gives gifts to His Church for their edification and blessing.
The Lord who ascended in triumph, is the same One who descended into the lower parts of the earth.
There is the question as to where His was. Earth or Sheol?
At any rate the descent implied was fulfilled in the incarnation, death and burial of the Lord Jesus.
The One who descended from heaven is the same One who conquered sin, Satan, demons and death and ascended above the atmosphere and stellar heavens that He might fill all things. Chapter 1:20-23.
“There is not a place between the death of the cross and the height of glory which He has not occupied.” F. W. Grant.
The central thought of these two verses is that the ascended, triumphant Christ is the Giver of gifts to the Church.
v. 11 The names of the gifts are now given.
These gifts are men:
“He gave some to be apostles, sand some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers.
Apostles: These were men who were directly commissioned by God to preach the Word and plant churches.
Disciples: They had power to perform miracles, 2 Corinth 12:12 as a means of confirming the message they preached (Heb 2:4). With the prophets this ministry was primarily concerned with laying the foundation of the church, Eph 2:20. The apostles referred to here mean those who were appointed apostles after the ascension of Christ.
Prophets: These were the spokesman or mouthpiece of God. They received direct revelations from God and passed them on to the church. In the primary sense we no longer have apostles and prophets. There ministry was ended when the foundation of the Church was laid, and when the N.T. canon was completed.
Evangelists: There were men who preached the good news of salvation. They are divinely equipped to win the lost to Christ. They have a special ability to diagnose the sinner’s condition, probe the conscience, answer problems, and encourage decisions for Christ. Evangelists should go from the church into the world, preaching the Gospel, then lead the converts into a church where they will be fed and encouraged in Christ. By the Pastors and Teachers.
Pastors (shepherds); These are the men who serve as under-shepherds of the flock. They guide and feed the flock. Their ministry is one of wise counsel, correction, encouragement and consolation. The work of a pastor is closely related to that of an elder in the local church. The principal difference being that a pastor is a gift whereas the elder is not. The N.T. pictures several pastors in a local church (See: Acts 20:17-28; 1 Peter 5:1-2)
Teachers: They are men who are divinely empowered to explain what the Bible says. Gift of knowledge … Wisdom. They interpret its meaning and apply it to the hearts and conscious of the believers. A teacher may not be a pastor. Neither a pastor a teacher but obviously a pastor must have a good working knowledge of the Word.
The Pastor or Shepherd
He is a brother whom the ascended Lord has gifted with a shepherd’s heart, and given to the church.
A true pastor is a shepherd who has a heart for the sheep and the lambs. He has a deep compassion for the saints.
Note one of the qualifications of Peter. John 21, “Feed My sheep and lambs.” Peter’s (Timothy) commission to shepherd the flock.
The evangelist finds the lost sheep, then brings them into the church. Then the pastor seeks to lead them into green pastures and beside the still waters (Psalm 23.)
As they grow in grace he ministers to them when they are sick. Physically-Spiritually. Onslaughts of Satan. He sustains them in their sorrows and struggles.
He stands by their sides when they are passing through the fire of adversity.
He holds them close when they are passing through the deep waters of affliction. “Valley of the shadow.”
He points them to the Cross in the hour when faith is weak. “It makes the coward spirit brave.”
No theological seminary, no college or university can make a Biblical pastor.
It is the ascended Christ who gives the pastors heart and fills him with an unquenchable love and yearning for the people of God. Sheep and lambs.
“They shall feed the flock like a shepherd, they shall gather the lambs with their arms and carry them in their bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
Some characteristics of a true Shepherd. John 10.
He calls the sheep by name.
The sheep hear his voice.
He leads them out. “The good shepherd gives them life.”
He goes before them. “He knows the sheep.”
The sheep knows his voice.
The teacher has an unbridled desire to teach the pure, uncluttered, unadulterated principles of the Word.
The difference between a Teacher and Pastor.
1 Cor 12:8
For to one is given by the Spirit the Word of Wisdom to another the Word of Knowledge by the same Spirit.
The pastor in a unique way has the Word of Wisdom. The teacher has the Word of Knowledge.
The teacher has been given the spiritual ability by the ascended Lord to open up the truth of God’s Word in such a way that those who hear profit by it.
Then it is the responsibility of the pastor to press home the truth in a practical way in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me illustrate this difference.
Have you ever had the experience of carrying a heavy burden, then going to a meeting with a heavy heart, hoping to hear something to lift the weight.
Someone expounded the Word, it was enlightening. It was a clear presentation, accurately presented. To a degree you were blessed and glad you had attended the meeting, but your burden was still there.
On another occasion you attended a meeting with the same concerns and perplexities. Then as the Word was expounded and applied, you thought he knows exactly how I feel, how does he know about my problems! As you listened, your soul was stirred, and your heart was blessed. You were refreshed, relieved and restored.
In the first place you were listening to the teacher, so valuable, steady, so trustworthy, so accurate in his exegesis. He is a pillar and ground of truth.
In the second instance you were listening to the caring shepherd. The patient, understanding, loving-kind one. The one who is always there. (1) Teacher-knowledge; (2) Pastor-wisdom.
“But unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
From v. 7 through v. 16 we have the divine program for the distinctive (unique) purpose of the body of Christ.
Each born again believer has been given a gift from the Lord and with the gifts the power or ability to use it.
In this connection we must be careful to distinguish between spiritual gifts and natural talents.
No unregenerate person, however talented can be an evangelist-pastor-or teaching in the N.T. sense.
Neither can any believer, unless he has received that particular gift from the ascended Lord.
The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural. Natural. Spiritual.
They make a man to do what is humanly impossible to Him.
This verse shows us the purpose for which the gifts are given.
They are for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry unto the building up of the Body of Christ.
The divine process seems to be:
The gifted men prepare the saints, equip the saints for service. The saints then serve one another – minister to one another. The body is then built up spiritually and numerically.
This verse teaches us that (?) should be in the ministry in one way or another. No exceptions.
As the various gifts build up and strengthen each other we will all attain oneness of faith. A full and accurate knowledge of Jesus our Lord.
We will attain mature spiritual manhood.
We will be filled with Christ.
These spiritual exercises will produce:
Unity … maturity … and conformity.
This ongoing development will continue until the RAPTURE
When the gifts given to each believer operates in their God-appointed manner, and the saints are active in the service of the Lord, two dangers are avoided.
1. Immaturity—Children “tossed to and fro”, etc. Babes in Christ – Fed with milk. 1 Cor 3:1-2. Spiritual activity enables us to emerge from spiritual childhood.
2. Instability. Quote the verse here.
Unspiritual believers … shallow and unproductive ones usually fall prey to the trickery and subtlety of carnal and unprincipled men.
The past two verses in the paragraph describe the growth of the body of Christ.
First of all, there is the importance of adherence to sound doctrine.
Speaking or holding the truth.
There can be no compromising the fundamentals of “the faith”. Describe.
Secondly, the truth must be ministered “in love”.
Truth and love must be welded together.
If we do this we will up into Christ.
We will become like the Lord Jesus.
Ministering in love.
Love is patient and kind. Lover never fails.
Love in our ministry never fails, nor become obsolete.
The phrase “fitly joined together” is interesting.
Every believer in the local church is exactly designed for his or her place in the local church.
We are closely joined and firmly knit together.
Have you found your place in the body!
The assembly like the natural body is self-developing.
The indispensability of every member is next indicated. “Compacted together by that which “every joint supplies.”
No one in fellowship is of no consequence—the most humble believer is necessary. When we work together in prayer, worship and witnessing the assembly will grow spiritually and numerically.
Finally in this connection we must be careful to distinguish between spiritual gifts and natural talents.
No unsaved person, however talented, can be an evangelist, pastor or teacher in the N.T. sense.
For that matter neither can any believer, unless he has received that particular gift.
The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural, spiritual.
They enable a man to do what is humanly impossible for him.
This verse shows us the function and purpose of the gifts.
They are for the “perfecting of the saints” unto the work of the ministry, unto the edifying of the body of Christ”.
The process seems to be:
1. The gifts equip the saints
2. The saints then serve.
3. The body is then built up.
This verse teaches that every believer should be “in the ministry” in some form or another. No exceptions.
The divine method for the expansion and growth of the church seems to be:
The gifted men gather faithful men around them, and commits to them the fundamentals of the faith. 2 Tim 2:2
Then they in turn go forth and minister to others, according to the gifts God has given them.
In this way the church grows and expands, both numerically and spiritually.
This verse tells us how long their growing process will continue.
Until we all come to unity – maturity – and conformity
This will take place at the Rapture. “RAPTURE”
When the gifts operate in this God-appointed manner, and the saints are active in the service of the Lord these dangers are avoided.
Immaturity – Believers who never become involved in aggressive services for Christ never emerge from spiritual childhood.
Spiritual exercise of ones gifts is the sore means of spiritual development.
Instability – undeveloped or unspiritual believers – unconcerned or uncommitted ones, usually fall prey to false teachers with false doctrine. These are shallow and unproductive.
Gullibility – Most serious of all is the danger of deception. Weak believers, untaught and unskilled in the Word are easily impressed by a false cultist’s zeal and apparent sincerity.
Their lack of knowledge of the Word leaves them easy prey to the trickery and subtlety of unprincipled men.
The last two verses in the paragraph describe the proper growth in the body of Christ.
There can be no compromise as to the fundamentals of the faith.
Secondly, there must be a right spirit. “Holding the truth in love”.
Truth and love must be inseparably welded together.
As we do this we grow up into Christ, He is our objective.
Our sphere of growth is “in all things”.
Thirdly, in every sphere of our lives we become more like Him and will readily submit to His will.
The Lord Jesus is not only the “goal of growth”.
He is the “source of growth” as well.
The phrase “fitly joined together” is interesting.
It shows the marvelous integration of the members of the body.
Every member is exactly designed for his own place and function.
He is perfectly joined to every other member so as to make a complete lining organism. The Church, like the body, is self-developing.
Then secondly, the indispensability of every member is next indicated, “compacted by that which every joint supplieth”.
The human body consists primarily of bones, organs and flesh.
The bones are bound together by joints and ligaments.
The organs are also attached by ligaments.
Each joint, ligament and organ fulfills a role in the growth and development of the body.
So it is in the body of Christ.
No member is of no consequence even the most humble believer is necessary.
When each member functions in the God appointed place, when prayer, worship, and witnessing is practiced, the body grows, not only numerically, but spiritually and builds itself up in love and unity.
Do the work of an evangelist.
The evangelist is a man of prayer. Power-Spirit filled.
He realizes that the work is all of God, and that methods are of little worth.
He is a man of faith.
He relies unreservedly on the living God.
He is a student of Scripture.
So that he may present the way of salvation in all its fullness.
He is a man of courage.
Not fearing bonds nor imprisonments that may await him.
He is a man of energy.
Instant in season, out of season – always available.
He is a man of perseverance.
Not easily discouraged if he fails to see immediate results.
He is a man of humility.
He says, “Not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
“On to the lost, who never have heard:
On with the life-giving, soul saving Word.”
Do the work on an evangelist
We should not be mere theorists of a system, however true.
We should not only be the mere guardians and celebrators of ordinances, however sacred.
We should be evangelists – the message bearers (torch bearers) because of the blessed Christ to the living, yet dying souls of those around us.
Beloved, the assembly should be among other things, a tributary into society with the life-giving message of the Gospel, rather than a refuge from it.
Conversions in the homes in Sat Beach.
J. G. Bellett, author of the “Moral Glories of Christ”, as he neared the end of his life said, “If I had my life to live over again, I would spend it in a Sychar ministry.”
E. H. Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers”, said, If I had a choice, I would choose, under God to be a Soul-winner. I never experienced such joy as when I led a soul to Christ.
R. A. Torrey testified that he knew little of the joy of salvation until he had led his first soul to Christ.
The Christian Race
A-ta-lan-ta, a beautiful Arcadian girl vowed never to marry. She had many suitors, so to free herself from them she challenged them to a race. In the race she carried a small knife in her hand, while they carried nothing. Being very swift of foot she felt she could out-strip all her competitors.
The suitors started first and the agreement was that if she overtook them she would kill them. SHE PROMISED TO MARRY THE SUCCESSFUL SUITOR.
A young man wanted to marry her and ran the race with three golden apples in his hand, and as soon as she gained on him, he dropped one of the apples. He dropped all three, one after another. She was fascinated by the glittering gold so easy to obtain and stopped to pick each one up, and lost the race.
GOD’S MESSGE TO EZEKIEL. Ezekiel 3:17-19
Son of man I have appointed you a watchman. Whenever you hear a word from Me, warn the people. When I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die” and you do not warn them, or speak out to warn them of their wicked ways, that they might live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand.
If you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.