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Equipping the Saints

Salem Baptist Church / Pastor Kivett Hicks
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2021 5:00 am

Equipping the Saints

Salem Baptist Church / Pastor Kivett Hicks

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Your Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter 4 Ephesians chapter 4. How many of you like science, but soon I was in high school and in college I could not stand science. In fact, biology was probably one of my worst subjects I'm in my opinion biology was only for people who are a lot smarter than I was and I was more enough to fully comprehend itů Like try to work through fog. Sometimes, you know, as I was preparing for today's passage in a message on today's passage.

I realize that biology in this passage have a whole lot in common and really what were talking about here throughout chapter 4 of Ephesians is is pretty consistent with what we can find in biology. Now I am going to give a very small science lesson. Okay, this is not come from any great knowledge that I've got this comes from Google right just let you know. From the very beginning. Did you know that the human body is made up of cells pretty common knowledge. She knew that were under that much but listened these these cells make up the body and it makes the body function the way that is supposed to function. We got cells that digest food we ourselves that help us think we got cells that make up our our skin and really the list goes on and on and on. The scientists tell us that the human body has three exhuming 30 trillion cells. About 30 trillion cells. Lesson three with 13 zeros behind it as a whole lot of cells, and now as long as those cells work together. The way that they're supposed to. The body is healthy, but as soon as cells start to break apart and the Aurora Susie start to go off on their own and do their own thing than that is when sickness and that's when injury and eventually that's when death takes place of the apostle Paul has been instructing the church here in chapter 4 about what it means for them to be unified.

If you started in chapter 3 we really hammered home the idea that this is one church. This brought together every from every tribe and nation and tongue. We are one church together. He continues that thought in chapter 4 by talking about practically what it looks like for us to be unified together were to be unity exhuming were to be united under the banner of the gospel. We are to major on the majors and minor on the minors. What's important for the true unity of the church to take place any answers that here the beginning of chapter 4, he list out he says we unite around one body, one spirit, one hope, one board, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all that is what we unite around in today's passage positive show the church that each person in the church has a function like a cell in the human body.

Every every single cell in the church has a function to carry out for the United Church was jumping here and read Ephesians chapter 4 starting in verse seven was read together known invite you to stand as we read God's word together. If you chapter 4 starting verse seven will read through 16. The grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore, it says when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men and saying he ascended, what is it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions the earth. He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes, rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped with each part is working properly makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love by the spray together. Father now as we have read your word father, as I have, as I have studied your word now father as we as we soak it in. Would you teach us. May the Holy Spirit illuminate your word in such a way that we can understand it. But then father we know how to apply it to our lives. We submit ourselves to you in these moments for you to use in any way you see fit, change our minds change our hearts change our lifestyles to match your word in Jesus name I pray, amen bye so I even read that whole passage of Scripture verses seven, always in verse 16 were not to be able to process all of this today.

Okay federal spent several weeks working through this passage verse seven there says this grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. The grace was given, so each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Now this is a loaded verse. This is a loaded verse that grace means that you receive something that you don't deserve.

So Paul here is saying that for each Christian. We have been given a measure of grace that is comparable to Jesus gift. So if if if this grace is being talked about here is comparable to Jesus gift the what is Jesus gift that's being talked about here was the great gift of salvation the gift of salvation is so great a gift that it cannot be compared. It is matchless. It is unrivaled is how great this gift is so when Paul says that grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. He saying that God's gift of grace is unlimited and it cannot be matched.

Thus, the amount of grace that you as a Christian, have been given in verse eight. Here Paul quotes Psalm 68 to help describe the grace that is been given says this. Therefore, it says in the quotes Psalm 68 when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men, others to actions here that the Bible is talking about just to acts of great grace. First, when Jesus ascended on high, he led a host of captives.

The second active great grace is this. He gave gifts to men.

The Ritter process through these two statements here for just a few moments ago that reference to the host of captives is talking about the victorious way that Jesus defeats our captivity in the in the first three verses of chapter 2 and have quoted these verses for you many times there was my favorite passage of Scripture. Peter chapter 2 verse 10 versus those first three verses, Paul describes what it means for us to have been born sinners who were cast off and separated from God because of our sin and a lot of what he describes there in those first three verses of Ephesians chapter 2 is is really this constant idea of being captivated, being in slavery to sin and to Satan. We were we were dead.

He says in trespasses and sins in which we was walked on. We were following the course of this world, meaning that whatever other people did right or wrong most of the time wrong. We just followed the emphasis in our nature to follow.

We were at the disposal of Satan. We follow the prince of the power, the year the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. And just like everybody else. We were children of wrath who deserve God's wrath because of our sin we had defied God because of our sin is that we deserve God's wrath we were captives to our sin and to Satan. So when Jesus ascended after his earthly ministry, he does so, having secured the release of a host of captives of people like me and you accept Jesus as their Savior and find eternal life through him you to verse nine and 10 and that you find a parenthetical statement here from the apostle Paul in saying he ascended, what is it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions the earth.

He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. This week I was on I was doing some painting in my house and and as I went up and down the ladder. I thought about these verses ascending and descending, sending anything over and over and over and over and over again ascending and descending when it comes to going up the ladder. You cannot ascend and not descend otherwise you're stuck on a ladder longways up for really long time you have to descend at some point when we sent we are going to an unnatural position when we descend we are returning to our original position. Jesus, on the other hand, came from heaven to earth. He descended to the earth to fulfill the task that God had given him to do.

Then he ascended after descending, and when he ascended, he returned to his original position at this picture Paul in this parenthetical statement is using common sense to describe the dissension and the ascension of Jesus. And in this statement when he does, he reminds his efficient Ephesian believers that yes Jesus descended to fulfill the task God given him, but he also ascended and when he did he see there the very end of that of a reversed hand, there that he might feel all things. That's the fulfillment of prophecy that the fulfillment of his role on earth as the fulfillment of what he came to do. It means there that Jesus has taken his rightful place as the head of all the universe. I can't help but think of Colossians chapter 1 verses 15 through 20 and and and that's a passage that helps us see what it means for Jesus to feel all things. Here's what it says he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things were created through him and for him and he is before all things and in him all things hold together, and he is the head of the body, the church is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross church listen Jesus ascended to his place of authority to carry out his role in sustaining the universe.

He ascended the taking with him. This host of captives securing our victory from the captivity that we had been in bondage to that is the first great grace that we see right here the great grace that Jesus has secured our victory right. Here's a second great grace we see in verse eight, and he gave gifts to men. And he gave gifts to men. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit came on the believers at Pentecost. Every single Christian received gifts through the power of the Holy Spirit in verse 11. Paul's to get into describing some of those gifts in verse 11 says this and he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelist, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Now this. And this is not a comprehensive list of the gifts of the spirit with binders all throughout Paul's letters were read. Those will look at those starting next week will really dive into the spiritual gifts and really hammer down these things.

Today I'm in a minute just to give us a little bit of an overview of framework if you will for how to understand how to think about spiritual gifts just a few moments ago and then what we can do is we can build on this framework. Starting next week. First of all we finding God's word that each Christian is gifted. Each Christian is gifted as a each and every Christian is gifted here some passages of Scripture that back that up. In fact, say this every single time the gifts of the spirit are talked about in the Bible are talked about in conjunction with each and every believer having received those gifts okay.

I first read this chapter 7 verse seven says, but each has his own gift from God. One of one kind and one another first rate is 12 or seven says to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. First rate is 1211 all these are empowered by one in the same spirit who apportions to each one, believers who apportions to each one individually as he wills first Peter chapter 4 verse 10 as each has received a gift use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's very grace in the right here in chapter 4 of Ephesians, but grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. We talked about what the measure of Christ's gift is talking about there, but each one of us according to the measure. Christ, you each and every Christian is spiritually gifted. You cannot be a Christian and say that you're not good at anything you cannot be a Christian say that you're not good at anything because you are uniquely gifted by God with at least one spiritual gift to first of all, each Christian is gifted. Secondly, the gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ is whether here for the gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ. Romans chapter 12 are reminded that as Christians we are all one body and that we are built up by the gifts of the spirit as that one body first review chapter 14 we see that we are too long for and to pray for gifts that edify and build up the body of Christ by weightless Paul's oversight. If you call that are not, but we are supposed to be praying for gifts to be given to our church so there are churches edified and built up with the last time you prayed for God to bring people to this church and to equip them with gifts that will build up the body of believers.

I fall short in this sometimes, but I was. I remember this, we must be praying for people to come and bring their spiritual gifts and use of spiritual gifts here in our church.

Verse we read earlier was Ephesians chapter 4 verse 12 says that God gave the gifts why for the building up of the body of Christ. If we want to see our church grow. Both deep in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus and the gospel and wide inner influence around us that we've got to utilize the gifts of the spirit you can get around that we have to utilize the gifts of the spirit in the gifts of the spirit are only utilized when individual members step up to the plate and they use the gifts that God is uniquely gifted them with. That's when the church is built up from the members use those gifts. Number three. The gifts are powered by God. The gifts are powered by God, but you don't receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then be expected to use that gift in your own strength is ridiculous.

The same spirit that gifts you the gift that gives it to you. Also empowers the gift for strength is 1211 that I referenced a moment ago talks about how the gifts are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Now this is not a Marvel superhero movie. Okay, you're not for you to just kinda summon all here we go here's a gift now is the Holy Spirit working within you. When the time is right with the gift needs to be used.

He's going to use the gift in and through you if you let him that's how this works become cool if you had become a powerful red wooden can't tell you though that you got a much stronger power than Thor ever thought about having women promise which we talked about several times during the book of Ephesians how we have a resurrection power. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is a power that's at work within us, right now the God wants to use in us and through us. You and might be in my seem like my gift. This is so small is an example. Maybe have the gift of discernment you what you may not think that much about your gift of discernment when the Holy Spirit is working through you to discern something or someone, or bustling about someone you might as well be a superhero, because God's power is at work within you. That's how this thing works is another point here. The kind is along with this and that is that gifts are different than talents, gifts are different than talents. A lot of people can confuse spiritual gifts with talents, but they're not the same thing.

Listen, you can operate a talent without resurrection power, but you cannot operate a spiritual gift without resurrection power. We got some really talented people in our church here who can do some great things with their talents and I'm thankful for those people who use their talents here in our church. But what the church needs is some really gifted people who are not afraid, for God to use their gifts through them to do great things for his glory is what the church needs. Listen, I truly believe that if we are going to fulfill the mission to go and make disciples of all nations, and that happens is read that there is a direct result of us using the gifts that God has given us and I'll be honest with you it's a whole lot easier to come fall back on and rely on my talents as I got a few talents that I can that I can. I can fall back on. In fact, that's that that's the easy way this the comfortable way to kinda move through life all but listen the glory that God can get when our gifts are used.

We allow him to use our gifts. There's nothing in this world like another by the name of of Ray Stedman is this to say about about the subject. He says each one of us shall one day stand before the Lord Jesus and he will not ask us how much money we made or how much fame or status. We acquired these and ask us what did you do with the gift I gave you.

I left my glory in heaven became a man submitted to death on the cross and was resurrected so that you could have spiritual gifts for the service of the father and others. The gifts I gave you were very costly.

Did you use them well. What's your answer to be what ESI did you use them well.

What's your answer to be church must be faithful to you with that with the gifts we been given. Now you money sitting there right now and you might be thinking you know what I really want to do what he's talking about. I really want to use my spiritual gift for building up the body of Christ the way God designed for me to do. The problem is that you don't know what your spiritual gift is some of you know right away what your spiritual gift is in fact you practice it you you you you live it out.

Then there's others who don't have a clue so as answer this question.

First moment. How do I find out my spiritual gifts, how to find out my spiritual gifts under a simple twofold answer for you okay in the first answer is this. Ask Christians you trust what gift they see you and you ask Christians you trust with gift they see in you and you and talk about Christians who are mature Christians who can look at you and say you know what you do have that gift of discernment. You do have that gift of knowledge you do have the gift of teaching.

Whatever it is. And once you've done that what you asked that person cannot process through that request and and they may be right. They may not be right when you asked multiple which are Christians counselors.

Maybe if you will see a pattern there that you got a better idea whether that's a true gift or not but and secondly, things like a spiritual gift survey that you can take the just just help you think through and process them. I don't hold holy to a spiritual gift survey that can be wrong sometimes, but to help it to help that you can use and in fact today we have got printed back here on the back table. The resource table. There's about 20 copies of a spiritual gift survey and that only occurred to take one everyone emailed out to the churches.

You can take it here in the next and next couple of days. If you would like, but maybe to help you think about what your spiritual gift is encourages students to pick that up or printed out so that you can as you can be thinking about this as we approach next week where we really dive into the spiritual gifts a little bit more on the challenger this week with with two things. Number one spent some time praying for the Holy Spirit to clearly show you not only what your gifts are but show you how you are to use those gifts for the good of his kingdom for the good of the building of the body of Christ. But then lastly I'll say this, we see the greatness and the glory of the divine providence of God clearly when we realize how he designed this whole thing out how he sent his son to die all on our behalf in our place. How CNN death was defeated with the resurrection. How went when Jesus ascended to heaven and he led that host of captives he was holding victory in his hands and then the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost in the church is begun in it from there. The gospel goes out all over the world and how does he choose to take the gospel to the world through individual believers like me and like you, any any he gifts us with the ability to do the things that will build up the body of Christ. When we look at that full plan. All we can say is because you are a great God and there is none like you to this we going to challenge you just it just a yes pray about spiritual gifts, me what mine are. Show me how I can use them. But then, praise God. God you are a great God for putting this whole plan in place and there is none like you simple challenge I got for you today for spray together.

Father there really is no one like you and father you are a God who loves us with an unconditional, never stopping kinda love you show that love when you sent Jesus, you continue to show us great grace in the way that you gift us with the spiritual gifts that you choose to use us the way that you do. Father is baffling.

The father I pray that in this call to faithfulness that you have given us in this this this realization that you can hold us accountable to how we use those spiritual gifts that father we steward them well fathers, we spent the next couple weeks working through our understanding of spiritual gifts. I pray that you will illuminate for us your word and then how we are to live it out a father. We love you. Thank you for loving us in Jesus name I pray, amen

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