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Christ's Gifts to His Church

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 8, 2021 7:00 am

Christ's Gifts to His Church

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 8, 2021 7:00 am

If youve ever made yourself a cup of coffee, you probably used your feet to walk to the coffee pot, your hands to measure the grounds and your nose to enjoy the aroma. Did you know that in working together to perform that task, the parts of your body were acting as a perfect analogy for the church? In this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour, Dr. Boice discusses spiritual gifts and unity among believers.

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If you've ever made yourself a cup of coffee.

You probably used your feet to walk to the coffee pot your hands to measure the grounds in your nose to enjoy the aroma. Did you know that in working together to perform that task. The parts of your body were acting as a perfect analogy for the church in this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce discusses spiritual gifts and unity among believers. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. What exactly are spiritual gifts and does every Christian have one listening as Dr. Boyce answers these questions and explains how ministry is the job of each believer, not just of pastors and church leaders were studying. The fourth chapter of Ephesians where the apostle Paul is a great pains to stress the unity of the church of Jesus Christ yet. It's an interesting kind of unity unity which at the same time has room for a great and wonderful diversity. I wonder what you think of when you think of that word unity.

Some people when they think of unity.

Think golf had an organizational oneness or structure.

That's the kind of thinking that I suppose goes on in the minds of most people who are involved in the ecumenical movement. I would like to see the church of Jesus Christ become one organization of all of the individual parts related all of the other individual parts through a structure defined by responsibility and authority. Discipline and with one figure. Perhaps the pontiff of Rome at the head. Some people have that in mind other people when they think of the word unity have conformity in mind that is the kind of unity in which, since we're speaking about the church.

Every Christian is just like every other Christian look-alike think alike. They speak like they do.

How boring that would be. Fortunately this is not the kind of unity about which the New Testament speaks the New Testament has a different model for unity apostle Paul is talking about it here.

He is stressing the unity all right. The kind of things that all Christians have in common in terms of their relationship to Christ in their experience of his grace talks about that in those verses we already studied verses four through six. He says one body and one spirit 101 Ward one faith, one baptism, one God, and father of all who is over all and is through all and in you all hardly stress unity greater when he does in those three verses, and yet no sooner has he spoken of those things that all Christians have in common and he goes on to say, but to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it and he goes on to say that some are given to be apostles, and some prophets and some evangelist and some pastors and teachers to see the contrast. The contrast is between that word all on the one hand on the word each or some on the other all have a common experience of God's grace. Some have been given one gift and one function and some have been given quite another, not only in Ephesians, we find this of course it's found in first Corinthians Romans as well. First Corinthians 12 verses four through six, Paul says, mingling the two ideas.

There are different kinds of gifts, but one spirit are different kinds of service but the same Lord are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of the middleman and then in verse 11.

After a brief passage in which he enumerates some of the gifts just as he does here in Ephesians 46 he says all these are the work of one and the same spirit. He gives them to each man just as he determines. Romans 12 we read this. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us a model that these texts of others put forth for the churches unity is not as I said at organizational model or governmental model. It's not a manufacturing model where everything is turned out to be exactly alike, but it's the model of the body.

Body, which is one because it makes up an organic whole, but which nevertheless at the same time, has many different parts, all functioning to do their own thing, but all necessary for the health and well-being of all without the common experience without the one body. The one faith, one Lord, the one baptism, one God would be no church without the diversity of gifts one body would not be healthy and as I suggested, the fellowship would be a boring and discouraging thing indeed. This is what we need to study in this portion of Ephesians, many commentators regard these verses from verse seven on as being the part of the book because if it is true that Ephesians is primarily about the church of the church came into being what it is and how it's the function then these verses are crucial because they tell us how the Lord Jesus Christ has apportioned gifts in the church and manages it is verses tell us a lot about the spiritual gifts they tell us where they came from. Tell us what they want in some measure and therefore how there to function and above all, they tell us the purpose for which the Lord Jesus Christ has given on the first thing we need to notice is that the gifts are from Christ that is given them to all that is every Christian has at least one gift since Paul quotes here in verse eight from Psalm 68 it's perfectly clear what he has in mind when he speaks of Christ, ascending up on high, and giving gifts to Matt that 68 Psalm is a song of triumph in which God is pictured as ascending to his throne in Jerusalem and receiving there on his throne.

The homage of the gifts of men and women. Interesting that Paul takes out and applies it to Jesus, there's a lesson all by itself, not because of Paul can take a small which is so evidently written of Jehovah God Almighty and applied to Jesus. He is saying and no questionable terms that the Lord Jesus Christ is divine.

That's a lesson all by itself. But Paul's chief reason for referring to the Psalm is not to make a point about Christ's divinity which he assumes, but rather to say that that Psalm is a picture about the Lord Jesus Christ is done in his ascension to heaven and his bestowal of gifts upon the church like a conqueror who as wage victorious battles and was gathered. The spoils of the defeat of his enemies, and now gives it to his people, so does the Lord Jesus Christ having defeated the principalities and powers bestow gifts in largess upon his people risen interesting textual problem at this point because in that 18th verse of Psalm 68, which is quoted in the Old Testament in the Hebrew the word is not gay but received text says he ascended up on high and receive gifts for Matt here is Paul obviously quoting that tax that Ephesians, but changing it so it doesn't say he received gift for man, but rather he gave them it's been a great puzzle for some scholars. Psalm or liberal man simply set out right either the Paul misquoted it or misunderstood it or deliberately change it with no regard for the meaning but that's probably too facile answer because brother wasn't any reason for Paul to quote the text. All you have to refer to it if it did make his point. His point was made perfectly well without the reference to the Old Testament, probably something else is involved. A part of the answer may be in the fact that the Hebrew word can be translated both ways can be translated, received or disbursed, gave so Paul may be playing on the double meaning of the word, but the picture is probably seen in the fact both would be true of a conqueror conqueror would receive gifts, but then he would also give gifts and perhaps that's why the Hebrew word has both meanings any rate, it is interesting that in two of the ancient versions. Syriac version for Juan in the Arabic version that word is translated gave so whatever the explanation may be that explanation that Paul gives was at least an ancient interpretation. Paul is saying, you see, the Lord Jesus Christ and his triumph is not The gifts for himself, but rather through the Holy Spirit has poured them out upon the church for its own growth and betterment number of things that should be set about this just points before we move on.

First of all, if it's the Lord Jesus Christ gives the gifts in the gives obviously must be used for the purposes for which he gave. Above all, not to build up the reputation of the following of the one who has the gifts. Some gifts perhaps don't lend themselves to that there gifts of humble servants where one takes a quiet position, and in some cases hardly noticed, but other gifts are more public in nature and they tend to attract the following is a great danger. At that point of person who has that gift using it in order to attract attention to himself or herself. This must not be gifts are given the Christ purposes, not our aggrandizement. One way we have to measure our effectiveness in Christ services to see whether what we do really contributes to the end.

Paul says Jesus himself had when he disbursed the gifts and thing worth noticing about this is that Jesus has given these gifts, sometimes called the gifts of the spirit to all order to each. In order to use the apostle Paul's own word that means that everyone has a gift everyone should be using it, and that everyone in the church is not using the gift of their people here and people there who were not using what God has given them to use then the church is impoverished as a result, I suppose that it has been a failure to see this that has been responsible and largest major for what John Stott calls the clerical domination of the laity in church history, and a variety of ways, and I'm sure for a variety of reasons.

The pattern has developed in churches and denominations in which the minister is understood to be responsible for the work of the ministry would seem to follow from the very name he's to do it and the laity are to be there and what you do it as a matter fact that there is even been stated officially in some church circles John Stott in his book one people quotes the papal encyclical be a mentorwhich was published in 1906 is saying. As for the masses. They have no other rights than of letting themselves be led in a following their pastors is a docile flock must be said in favor of the Roman Catholic Church that there has been that enormous change in that in recent years, and especially in ecumenical circles in the Roman Catholic Church. It is popular today to describe the ministry of the people of God as follows. The bishops, it is sadder servants of the clergy of the clergy or servants of the laity. The laity are kings who have a servant problem. I'm sure that is true in many circles other than the Roman Catholic Church. But I'm glad to see the change see what the apostle Paul describes here is not a situation in which the ministers run the church. On the contrary, those who have the role of apostles or prophets, evangelists or pastors or teachers. The things he mentioned have been given these gifts in order to equip the people to do work of ministry. That's to say that the people of the ministers and those who are equipped to teach are to be their servants and preparing them for that role. On the second portion of this talks about the gifts themselves. It's important to say. I think that this is not a comprehensive list in the New Testament in Paul's writings. Also in the first letter of Peter there are five different passages that list spiritual gifts Ephesians 411 is one first Corinthians 12 eight through 10 is another later on in that same chapter versus 28 through 30 contain another list. Romans 12 verses six through eight contain a list and then first Peter 411). The shortest of all… First Peter 411 is just to gifts mentioned longest lists are in first Corinthians. Each of those two passages in the 12th chapter has nine gifts of peace and that nine gifts are identical when you put these altogether. Yeah, perhaps 19 or 20 separate gifts, but it's hard to be precise about the number because the gifts may overlap. It may be the same gift with just different work being given for it. In any case, if I could listen to for probably indicate that no list is meant to be comprehensive. Jesus gives such gifts as are necessary for the health of the church and it is conceivable that while in all of church history. Some gifts are absolutely essential and will be present at all times.

There might well be other times that have particular needs for which particular gifts are given by the ascended Christ. When we turn to this list in Ephesians, we find five things are apostles and prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers will last may belong together were thinking about. I take the first two apostles and prophets together because I think that is speaking of a gift to the church which was given in the early days in which is not repeated in the present time, though the effects of it are still with us.

I know is I read commentators that there are many commentators want to stress and application of that today they speak of the apostles as being the Christ appointed receivers and bearers of the new revelation is incorporated in the New Testament and the prophets as being those who heard the voice of God, and gave the very words of the Holy Spirit in the early days of the church, but they say you know there's a sense in which that continues today. Certainly the word apostle does not always find itself restricted to that one limited body of men appointed by Jesus Christ.

Anyone who goes somewhere with the messages and apostle and work profit. While it does have to do with receiving a special word from God. Nevertheless, it also referred anybody who proclaims the word of God clearly is all very true. Of course, and in that sense we could say that there are apostles and prophets today and I think in the context of this letter that that is not what Paul is talking about. He is speaking here in the past tense. And as he speaks of the past tense.

I think he say that in these early days of the church God gave precisely what the church needed in the persons of the apostles and prophets who guided by the Holy Spirit gave us our New Testament. This was the foundational teaching for the church. These are the building blocks upon which the rest of the temple is constructed so while it is true that we no longer have the apostles and prophets today. We do have the benefits of their ministry because it still with us in the pages of the New Testament which is a parallel to the old, when we come to the third gift, the gift of evangelists we can do something quite different. This is clearly something not restricted to some past age of the church, but something which must be present in every age import is the age of the church in which there were few who have this gift evangelist is one who is particularly equipped to communicate the core of the gospel that is the work of Jesus Christ the Savior and dying for the sins of men and women calling men and women. The personal faith in him, Billy Graham and one of his books as the comments on the nature of an evangelist observes that in all the Bible only one person is identified as an evangelist and that was still evangelist and as he points out he was not what we would call an ordained clergyman, he certainly wasn't an apostle, he was a deacon that leads me to observe that this gift of evangelism is not something particularly related to the clergy or restrain to some kind of ordained office in some official way. I would say on the contrary, at least in my experience, it is often been the other way around. I have known quite a few people in the course of my ministry who have had what I would call the gift of evangelism.

They are just particularly well-equipped to cheering the gospel with other people, and in not a single case is one of them been ordained say I'm trying to point out that this is a particularly laying gift and is part of the ministry of the church of Christ to be evangelists is a sense of course, which we all evangelists where told by or Jesus Christ ago in all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

That's work of evangelism but here, as Paul speaks of the gifts it's evident that summer particularly well-equipped to this tax and this is last item pastors and teachers, it may be two separate things are because of the construction of the Greek language. It may actually be one thing we were going to translated that way we put-there would say it was the gift of pastor teacher, chiefly the gift of a minister as we refer to ministers today that were pastor has to do with the care of sheep pastoring in the pasture is a relationship there goes back to the image that the Lord Jesus Christ used for himself because he said I am the good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep is referred to elsewhere in the New Testament as being the chief Shepherd. This is the model that we have.

It's pattern which is particularly necessary in the ministry of elders who are to pastor the flock of Peter in his first letter encourages them to do that to be faithful overseers of the flock which God himself was placed in their responsibility and that word teacher. Well that's self-evident it means to teach the doctrines to teach the word to make these things known to the people of God in order that they might be strong in their understanding of spiritual things. This, incidentally, is the burden of the great commission because the great commission says that were to go in all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son of the Holy Spirit and showing how this is to be done.

Teaching them whatsoever I have commanded you. And low I am with you always, even in the end of the age. I had is worth noting that these gifts that all of these gifts that Paul mentions here in Ephesians 411 are teaching gifts is not to say that there not other gifts that are not primarily related to teaching the gifts that Paul mentions here are teaching gifts, there's the gift of apostles and prophets who laid the foundation teaching of the church that which is the government and from which we are to draw down through all the ages of the churches history our New Testament that goes along with the old.

There's a gift of evangelists that man has the responsibility of communicating the core of the gospel teaching what it really is to be saved through Jesus Christ.

And then there's the building work of the pastor or teacher who is to take the whole councils of God and unfold them for the people in order that they might be strong in faith. I suppose at this point.

If you've been following what I've said concerning the unity and the diversity in the church.

That question might come to mind.

And the question would be this if it is true that the church is to be one and we have a responsibility of maintaining that unity.

But if, at the same time God has given such a diversity of gifts. What is to keep the diversity of gifts from destroying the unity that Christ desires why wouldn't it be a case of everyone using his or her own gift in his or her own way and going off to build his or her own kingdom was a perfectly good question but the answer is found in the end of the passage is Paul begins to speak of the purpose for which the gifts are given they are given. He said not to build our kingdoms but notice to prepare God's 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 pertaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus Christ. See that's what keeps it together using the gifts for the purpose for which the Lord Jesus Christ gave them, and that purpose is service on the building up of the church so the church in every age might become mature as it reflects the full measure of the stature of our Lord put this very clearly. If you and I are using our gifts to draw attention to ourselves, rather than the Christ do his work, then we are misappropriating the gifts that Christ gave and we will answer to him for it in the day of his judgment. If you and I are using our gifts to have people serve us rather than as a means of service to them. We are dishonoring Christ who said of himself that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. You and I are using our gifts to build our little human kingdoms and not the kingdom of Christ in which we preserve the church's unity, then we are betraying Christ because we're using his gifts to destroy the work that he is doing so let's be done with that kind of selfish preoccupation with our own position that has always been so harmful in church history. Let's instead search out our gift pray and ask the Lord to so lead that what he has given us may be used by us that these rate ends Jesus will answer prayer like that is Jesus gave his gifts. He did not squander them. Every gift is necessary. Jesus did not withhold the gifts that were needed. He has given them abundantly was all Jesus is not indifference to how is gifts are used are to be used for his own wise purpose.

You do not give his gifts at cross purposes so we can use them to fight one another, but he gave them fulfill this one purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ does not abandon those to whom he is given these gifts, but he works in them and through them to make the church of Jesus Christ what it should be. We usually guess in that way then we will do what Paul tells us to do. We will keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The church of Jesus Christ will be build up the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature pertaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. This is what God is doing in the world is the most important thing in which you and I can be engaged.

Let us pray our father we ask you to last, these verses from Paul's great letter to the Ephesians to our hearts so easy for us to take things like this and pass aloft other people's I guess so and so should do that. Our father give us grace to apply them personally show us where we fallen short of this ideal. And if it is the case with us that we been neglecting that gifts which has been given it was grace to stir it up, we might make our contribution to the wholeness of the body of Christ.

Here in this place. In this time of the glory of the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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