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Ephesians 4:7-16
! Introduction
            Members of my mom's family ran a total of 127 km a week ago Saturday.
How do you run 127 km in one day?
Well it wasn't one person doing it.
In fact, 6 different people were involved.
When each person does part of it, then it is possible.
Ephesians 4:1 tells us to lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called."
God has supplied us with forgiveness, a relationship to Him, the promise of eternal life, the presence of His Spirit and so many blessings.
Since that is what we have been received we must live in a way that is worthy of that call.
But we all know that it is not that easy to do so.
How do we do it?
When we think about all that we have received, we must not only  live worthy of that call, but we also need to let others know about all that God has done for us.
That also is a task that is very large.
How can we do it?
The answer to these questions is found in Ephesians 4:7-16.
God has provided a way and as we will see, it involves each one of us doing a part of the work
I.       Christ's Gift 8-10
            Ephesians 4:7 says that each of us was given "grace according to the measure of Christ's gift."
Where did that gift come from?
How did it come to us?
In Ephesians 4:8, Paul quoted Psalm 68:18.
Psalm 68 is a hymn of praise to God who is a victorious warrior.
The language of the hymn comes from the language of victory in battle.
The king has gone up and gained a great victory.
He has won over all his enemies and has taken captives.
The people he has triumphed over give him gifts in tribute because of His victory.
In this Psalm God is celebrated as such a victor.
He has triumphed on behalf of His people and those he has triumphed over give him gifts to acknowledge His victory.
Paul uses the quote from Psalm 68 to speak about the victory which Christ has won over His enemies.
How did Jesus' gain the victory?
He descended into this world as a human being.
He died on the cross and by dying he "made captivity captive."
Jesus won the victory over sin.
He has taken that which held us captive – sin and death – and has made it his captive.
It no longer has power over us.
Having been raised from the dead in victory, Jesus ascended into heaven and is now sitting there as the one who has triumphed over all things.
Jesus is the complete victor who "fills all things."
Paul goes on to say that having gained this complete victory, Jesus "gave gifts to his people."
This is where the Psalm and Paul's use of it are quite different.
The Psalm says he received gifts.
Paul seems to have no difficulty changing that to say that he gave gifts because that is what Jesus did.
The meaning of all this is quite plain.
Jesus came into this world.
As a human being he triumphed over sin and death.
Having ascended into heaven and having taken His place as the supreme ruler over all, He has distributed gifts to people in order to help them live in and expand the victory He has gained.
Christ has given the church the gifts to do what He wants them to do.
Christ has equipped us to accomplish His work…of walking worthily and of proclaiming the gospel.
It is out of the victory of the ascended Christ that we do the work God has given us to do and to accomplish the things which God has left us on earth to do.
Wood says, "…none other than this exalted Lord is the one who has endowed his church with gifts-by-grace, so that it may indeed be his body in the world…"
Equipped to Use Christ's Gift 7,11,12
            So we see that God has provided the means of accomplishing the great goals of walking worthily and of making the gospel known.
What are the gifts that God has given and how do they function in the church?
!! A.   God Given Leaders
            Following verse 7, we would expect that Paul would begin to list some of the gifts which God has given to all the people in the church.
This is the kind of list we have in 1 Corinthians 12:7ff, where we read, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
That statement is followed by a list of spiritual gifts.
We expect the same thing to happen in this passage, but instead Paul gives a list of spiritual leaders.
Specifically he names, "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers."
He says, "each of us was given grace" but clearly not each of us is one of the gifts listed here.
What he is saying is that leaders are a gift to the church.
Each of these spiritual leaders has a unique role to play in the work of the church.
Most commentators agree that there are four gifts listed here.
The first gift is that of being an apostle.
I do not believe that apostleship is limited to the 12 plus Paul.
I believe that the gift of being an apostle is still active today.
I believe that the gift of being an apostle is the God given ability to give leadership in directing the work of God.
It refers to people like who have vision and the ability to lead the church in its mission.
I believe it refers to people like Randy Friesen who directs the work of MB Missions.
Prophets are those who have a particular ability to understand the truth of God and to hear from God.
About 3 or 4 years before a time of particularly active growth in Westside Community Church in Morden, a prophet spoke a word to the pastor to indicate that such a time was coming.
There are some people whom God gives the ability to hear from Him and to speak into the life of the church with a word from Him.
            Evangelists are those who have a God given ability to proclaim the good news.
All of us are called to make Jesus known, but some people have ability beyond what is normal to understand the right time and the right way to speak the gospel.
The final gift is communicated as a pair.
Most commentators agree that pastors and teachers is one gift.
It is probably the gift we are most familiar with referring to those whom God has given ability to shepherd a congregation.
It would probably be easy for us to identify who the pastors~/teachers in our congregation are.
Perhaps we could even identify some who have the gift of evangelism.
But who are the prophets and who are the apostles?
I believe that all of these gifts are necessary for the healthy functioning of the church.
We need people to give visionary leadership, we need people to speak God's direction, we need people to lead in proclaiming the gospel and we need those who teach and shepherd the people.
!! B.   Task of Leaders
            These are the gifts God has given to the church, however, we need to take careful note that they are not called to do the work of the church.
The text is very clear that the role of these leaders is, as we read in verse 12, "to equip the saints for the work of ministry."
Each of the different leadership gifts is intended to mobilize us and each in a different way.
The job of apostles is to mobilize us to have a vision and follow that vision.
It is up to each member to affirm that vision and begin to serve in it.
It is up to the prophets to indicate to us the direction God is showing us.
It is up to us to work in the revealed direction.
It is the task of evangelists to teach us how to get into the lives of people who don't know Jesus, to love them and to speak the gospel into their lives.
It is up to us to get into the lives of people who don't know Jesus, to love them and to speak the gospel to them.
It is up to pastors to teach us the truth of God and how to care for one another, but it is up to each of us to live by the truth and to do the work of caring for one another.
!! C.   Each Of Us Was Given Grace
            As leaders mobilize the church, this Scripture is clear that each person who is a follower of Jesus must be engaged in some way in the work of ministry.
Ephesians 4:7 tells us that each of us has been given grace, or a grace gift from Christ.
We must take the phrase, "each of us" very seriously.
I Corinthians 12 says the same thing so we understand that this is the consistent teaching of Scripture.
God has supplied each one who is a member of His body with some ability, some gift to do His work.
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