God gives Christians gifts so that we can use them. He wants us to learn what our spiritual gifts are. He wants us to learn how to use these gifts in serving the rest of the body of Christ and being a witness about Christ to the outside world. Some Christians are given the job of preaching and teaching the Word. Pastors and other leaders are given to the church to build up the faith of other believers and help them grow into Christian maturity. But the preachers and teachers are also supposed to equip their congregations to find, develop, and use their own spiritual gifts. Many of these gifts are described in other passages of Scripture. Romans 12:6-8 mentions prophecy, serving, exhortation (encouragement), giving, leadership, and mercy. 1 Corinthians adds faith, healing, miracles, discernment (understanding spiritual matters, especially regarding motives and decisions), and the interpretation of speaking in tongues. While some Christians believe that some gifts like healing and miracles are no longer used in most churches today, all Christians agree that many of these gifts are still found among God’s people. Also, many Christians think that there are other gifts and talents (like music) that are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament but are still abilities that can be used for serving the body and bringing God glory. The main point of verses 7-12 of today’s passage is that there are no bystanders in biblical Christianity – all the members of Christ’s body have talents and gifts that God expects them to joyfully use in His service.
In verses 13-16, Paul explains one of the major purposes of our gifts – helping each other grow in our relationships with Christ. God does not want His disciples to wander like sheep and to be tossed about like tiny ships on a vast ocean by all of the false teachings of this world. God wants all Christians to be active members of local churches. He wants us with God’s people at least once week, hearing the truths of the Bible taught, explained, and applied to our lives. He wants us in strong relationships with other Christians where we can serve each other with our different gifts and thus become mature believers. As a Christian school, we provide a loving community for students to hear the gospel and live out their Christian faith. But NRCA is not a local church. We are not covenanted together as a body of believers who hold each other accountable the way that a local church does. We provide opportunities for students to grow in their relationships with Christ, including hearing biblical teaching and finding and using their spiritual gifts. But parents do not attend school here and participate in those spiritual activities – only their children do. Today’s passages is talking about families, parents and children, serving and growing together in local church settings. For this reason, we strongly encourage all of our students to learn to serve and grow up as Christians in their local churches with their families, with our school providing an environment that supports parents and churches but does not replace them.
The Text (Ephesians 4:7-16)
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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.
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 people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Questions to Think About
- Have you discovered your spiritual gifts? If not, this is something your pastors and other mature Christian leaders in your church can help you with. God wants us to know our gifts, which include things that we enjoy and are good at. You might also ask one of your church leaders or your Bible teacher about a spiritual gift inventory (quiz) like this: Spiritual Gifts Test
- Are you using your spiritual gifts in your church right now? Why or why not?
- Do you want to become a mature Christian? What needs to happen in your life right now for you to keep growing in your relationship with Christ?
- Ephesians 4:7-9 is a paraphrase of Psalm 68:17-18, which describes the carrying of the Ark of the Covenant to the top of a mountain in celebration of God’s victory over His enemies. In today’s passage, Paul applies the imagery to Christ’s triumph over sin and death and Satan when He died on the cross and then rose from the dead. He rescued Christians from being “captives” or slaves to sin, death, and Satan and then gave us spiritual gifts to use for His glory.
- Notice in verses 13-16 that as Christians mature together spiritually, they become more unified as the body of Christ. Healthy churches and Christian schools will be full of believers who are both strong in personal faith and godliness and close together in the loving fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity and unity are our goals for NRCA and our community’s churches.