Bible Study Notes:
Doctrines and Gifts: Ephesians 4:1-14
These notes are from a transcript of the
postings during Bible Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
|Father God we thank you for this day you have
given us and another opportunity to learn your Word and grow closer to you. Bless our
hearts that we can receive your Word and anoint our eyes and ears to listen Jesus we love
you and honor your Name. We thank you that you died that we might live - have abundant
life here and eternal life in the world hereafter. Father, guide us tonight in our study.
Lead us the understanding of Your word that You have planned for us.
satan we come against you in the mighty Name of Jesus. We bind you and rebuke you and cast you out in Jesus Name. Fear, doubt, depression, suicide, anger, hurt, we bind you in the Name of Jesus and command you to leave this place! You are bound in the name of Jesus and cast out of this place you foul satan.
Father God we pray your peace on this place and ask you to be real to all of us. Holy Spirit, we invite you to be our teacher and thank you for the understanding that you will bring us. In the Holy Name that is above Names, the Name of Jesus, we ask these things. AMEN and AMEN Thank you Lord in the name of Jesus. AMEN
Last time we got to Ephesians chapter 4:1. We had been talking about Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. He was praying that they would be able to comprehend the love of Jesus and be rooted and grounded in it. If we are rooted and grounded in anything else, we will fall. After the prayer Paul states in
Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Remember that Paul was a prisoner in Rome, awaiting trial and probable execution when he wrote this. What do you think he meant by our "calling" that we received?
The Amplified says: I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called - with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service.
Paul's calling was to be an apostle, but here he is talking about EVERY believer's calling. And our calling is to live a life of service to God. What an invitation! My prayer is that you have have accepted it and are walking in it daily.
Yes Z, amen. Now Paul is very practical and I like that. It's nice to say "walk worthy of your calling". But my first question is, how do you do that? How can we walk worthy of such an invitation? First of all, Paul is talking to believers.
Hebrews 12: 6 Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him [God]; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Paul is speaking to those who have RECEIVED this calling or invitation and have accepted it. As I said, Paul is practical and tells us how to do this in v. 2.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
The Amplified: Living as becomes you - with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness) with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.
Such a simple verse, yet such a hard thing to do! Notice it says "Living as becomes you" - what lengths we go to for fashion, the right hairstyle, cosmetics to look "becoming" - and what we really need to do is beautify the inside with godly humility!
Patience is the virtue we need the most when we want it the least! It's hard sometimes to be patient, not only with others, but with ourselves as well and the work God is trying to do in us. We need the Spirit to produce the fruit of patience, humility and gentleness in us! And we have to be patient with God as He's teaching us too!
You see, how do we learn patience? When situations arise that tend to irritate us. How do we learn humility? By being shown our false pride, which is always painful. How do we learn gentleness? Sometimes by suffering ourselves and having someone else be gentle with us. Or even worse, by being harsh to someone and then knowing we hurt them.
Why does God want us to learn these lessons? So we can be like Him. After all, if we're going to spend eternity with God, we'd be miserable unless He changed us to be like Him, wouldn't we?
Bearing with one another in Love - this is hard sometimes isn't it? Making allowances for one another because you love one another.
If more Christians would just put into practice this one verse, what a different world we'd live in! Sometimes we forget that Christ died for that brother or sister who is making things difficult for us.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
What do you think this means? I have run into some Christians who thought that their specific favorite doctrine was more important than the feelings of another for whom Christ died. Instead of promoting unity, they created division. What would Paul say to them do you think?
Amplified: Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.
Now, I'm not saying that right doctrine is NOT important, but I AM saying that there is a right way and a wrong way to express your views. Find the way that promotes unity and peace. We should be eager and earnestly labor to keep peace and unity in the Body of Christ. It should be one of our major goals. How can we accomplish this?
Well let's look at the opposite, what does NOT promote peace and unity in the Body of Christ?
How about rebelling against authority too? How about insisting on legalism?
Right ES! If we are humble, patient and gentle - there WILL be peace and unity!
We need to STOP ourselves and examine our behavior when a conflict comes especially. Ask first of all, should I even be involved in this? What can I do to promote peace and unity? What should I NOT do or say? Of course, we need to read the Word and pray and ask the Lord to guide us in all things.
We are under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. It is not the Old Testament regulations, but we do have guidelines to live by. Every commandment has a positive and negative side. If the Word says to be patient, it is wrong to be impatient. If if says to be humble, it is wrong to walk in pride and boasting. Not to bring us under condemnation, but to walk worthy of our calling and to please the Lord because we love Him. We are to let the Spirit produce the Fruit in us, being aware of God's love and our limitations.
Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (KJV)
John 13:34 (English-KJV) [Jesus said] A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Romans 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
James 1:25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.
James 2:8-13 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Lets look at the next 3 verses that describe this unity we are to strive to keep:
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
How many churches are there today according to God's Word? Just one! Then why are there 3 major divisions and at least 23,000 denominations?
Why are there so many divisions today then? If there is only ONE church?
Well we can't fix it all ourselves, and it is man's doing. But what can we do as individuals to promote the unity of the Body?
Love is the key, I think. Loving each other earnestly and truly. And loving the Word, testing all things by the Word. And most of all striving in our own lives to be like Jesus. And also, seeing this unity ourselves, believing firmly in it, and treating each believer as our sister or brother. One body, One Spirit, One faith, One Hope, One baptism, One Lord, One God!!!
We are all one body, and the divisions are man's doing not God's. The body is the whole group of believers into Christ, HIS body, and the Spirit is Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Amplified: Yet grace (God's unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually - not indiscriminately, but in different ways - in proportion to the measure of Christ's [rich and bounteous] gift.
Although we are part of Christ's body, we still have been given grace as individuals. God does not see us as a mass of humanity, but as beloved children, sons and daughters that have received Christ's gracious gift.
Now this next section has different interpretations. I'll give you the one I believe makes the most sense.
Ephesians 4:8-10 This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
I believe in this section that the "he" Paul is speaking of is Christ as in verse 7. Remember when Jesus spoke of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man dying? (Luke 16:20-31) They both went to Hades, but the rich man was tormented in flame and Lazarus was comforted? The rich man asked for Lazarus to bring him some water, but was told that there was a gulf fixed between the two that could not be crossed. The righteous dead, according to Jesus, were kept in Abraham's bosom, although not tormented like the rich man, they were still held captive in the domain of the enemy.
Traditional doctrine calls this the "Harrowing of Hell". After Jesus' death he descended into the lower regions, led the righteous captives in Abraham's bosom to God, and took the keys of death and hell from the devil. When Adam sinned he gave dominion of the earth over to the devil. This is why satan is called "the prince of the power of the air" and the "god of this world".
2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (KJV)
When Jesus died, he bought not only our salvation, but bought back those righteous already dead who were held captive by the devil in Hades. KJV says "led captivity captive". NIV "led captives in his train". NAS "he led captive a host of captives". In other words Christ rescued those that satan had held captive or prisoners.
If you are interested in more scriptures about this, I have them posted elsewhere on my web site. The point Paul is making here is that Christ has given certain gifts to men. What are these gifts, what are their purpose and how long will Christ keep giving them to us?
Ephesians 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 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, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
We don't often think of our leaders and teachers as gifts from Christ, but they are. Think how much harder the Christian life would be without them! Now these aren't the only gifts we've been given by Christ. There is another listing in Romans 12:6-8 includes prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement (exhortation), giving, leadership, and showing mercy:
Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Another listing of gifts is in I Corinthians 12:7-11, commonly called the gifts of the Spirit:
I Corinthians 12:7-11 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
Bernard Underwood calls these gifts of the Spirit manifestation gifts and the other gifts listed here as ministry gifts, if that distinction is helpful. Does everyone have a ministry gift? That's a good question, I believe everyone has a ministry in serving Jesus and witnessing for Him, but does everyone have one of the ministry gifts listed? I think these two lists combined contain a minstry for everyone. It is up to each individual to find his or her place in the kingdom and his/her ministry gift.
Now your ministry gift is based on what talents and so forth the Lord has given you. I happen to know I'm called to teach. If you are good at organizing and motivation groups, your gift is probably administration or leadership. My aunt's main calling is service or hospitality - although the Lord is now leading her into a teaching ministry as well.
The Spirit leads us into our ministry, but God gives us the talents we need to perform the ministry He calls us to. And discovering your ministry involves learning what talents you have and where they fit into God's plan. Also some make a distinction between ministry gifts, which we normally think of as a vocation, calling or "career" in worldly terms, which is usually a lifetime calling and endeavor, and manifestation gifts, such as prophecy, speaking in tongues and miracles, which the Spirit dispenses as He wills at a particular time and place.
Let's look at the ministry gifts listed here:
An apostle (Greek apostolos) is a delegate, one sent with full power of attorney to act in the place of another, the sender remaining behind to back up the one sent. There are 24 apostles mentioned in the New Testament, including the Chief Apostle, the Lord Jesus Christ. I have heard it taught that today an apostle would be like a pioneer, breaking new ground, planting new churches.
Prophets, Greek propheteia, speak for God, which includes forth-telling of the mind and counsel of God, the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, a revelation with reference to the past, present and and sometimes the future (fore-telling). The purpose of their ministry is to edify (build up), to comfort, and to encourage believers. The effect of their ministry upon unbelievers are to show that the secrets of a man's heart are known to God, and to convict them of sin.
Evangelist , Greek euangelistes, means bringer of good tidings. These are normally those who evangelize, bring good news to the lost and new converts to the faith, specifically missionaries.
Pastors, Greek poimen, usually translated shepherd, means to tend a flock. Pastors are responsible for the day to day care of a group of believers, their spiritual guidance, feeding and protection with tender care and vigilant superintendence.
Teachers, Greek didaskalos, are responsible to training believers in the Word and bringing understanding to them.
What is the purpose of the ministry gifts?
Ephesians 4:12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
The purpose of a teacher, preacher etc. is not to exalt his or herself or build up some earthly kingdom, but to train believers for service and to build up Christ's body. How long will God appoint teachers, pastors, etc in the Body?
Ephesians 4:13 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.
Here's that word unity again - God will keep appointing leaders for us until we achieve this unity! A unity of faith and knowledge of Jesus. And until we become mature, and have attained the measure of Jesus Christ. Now the KJV says a "perfect" man - this word doesn't mean sinless perfection, which is not an attainable goal in this life, but maturity, which is.
Some Christians are content to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, be saved, and just coast until we get to Heaven. But God wants us to grow into maturity. That takes effort, that takes accepting the teaching and training of the leaders He has appointed for us. That takes patience, not only with others, but with ourselves as God molds and makes us according to His will.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (KJV)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)
Strive diligently to present thyself approved to God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line the word of truth. (Darby)
Now verse 14: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
When we're first born again, we're like infants, babes in Christ, that need the sincere milk of the Word that we can grow.
I Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Not all of the "spiritual food" that's out there is from God. And if we feed on the wrong things, we will not grow in Christ. A person can be a Christian for 50 years and still be an infant if they don't put forth the effort to grow!
I Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Hebrews 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Z, you're learning girl!!! Praise God! Being an infant tossed back and forth by waves and blown by the wind is a nautical image of what would happen if we tossed a baby into the raging sea! Not very pleasant, but this is what happens to spiritual babies if they don't grow on the sincere milk of the Word!
"Every wind of teaching" - did you ever notice how there are fads in the church, a whole lot of people get excited about a particular doctrine and that's all they teach about? Then that will fade, and another topic will come up?
And these doctrines are not always Biblical, or so much emphasis is placed on one thing that everything gets out of balance. It's like a wind blowing through and some get caught up in it. One example is the so-called "shepherding movement". Some got caught up in the idea of the pastor being a shepherd, and the sheep's need for accountability, that they went way overboard, not letting a Christian make ANY decision on their own, and it became bondage.
When you examine a doctrine, if any part of it is found to be a lie, reject it. When certain groups give me literature, I read the last paragraph or chapter first. The first chapters or paragraphs are usually truthful, they save the lie to stick in at the end.
"By the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming". Now the winds and waves of doctrine that Paul is referring to here are specifically those that are sent by men to take advantage and control of the unwary - they are scheming and plotting to ensnare them, and spiritual babes are at their mercy!
Father God bless the hearers of your Word tonight. May we be doers of it as well, not deceiving ourselves. May we seek to become spiritually mature, and not be infants tossed about by every wave and wind of doctrine. In Jesus Name AMEN
Remember, whenever God
gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate
on what you've learned!
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