Paul’s letter to the Ephesians naturally divides in halves. In the first half (chapters 1–3), Paul’s overarching theme is “by grace you have been saved, through faith…not by works” (2.8–9). But in the second half (chapters 4–6), Paul’s overarching theme is “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (4.1). If I had to summarize the entire message of Ephesians, I would do so this way: Jesus Christ saves us by grace through faith for works.
So, as we begin to study Ephesians 4–6, it is helpful to keep in mind that this half of Paul’s letter deals with works, that is, with Christian behavior. Yesterday, I wrote that a life worth of Christ’s calling includes humility before God, patience with others, and unity with fellow believers. Today, I want to show you how using your spiritual gift is an essential part of the grace-filled life.
Please read Ephesians 4.7–16. The key verse is verse 7: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” The grace Paul writes about here is not the grace of salvation. Rather, it is the grace of using your spiritual gifts. Citing Psalm 68.18, Paul argues that when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, he poured out the Holy Spirit on believers, spiritually equipping them for ministry (verses 8–10). Using your spiritual gift, in other words, is a way of demonstrating Christ’s lordship over your life.
There are a variety of spiritual gifts. In verse 11, Paul lists those spiritual gifts usually associated with clergy: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Notice, however, that this list of spiritual gifts is not exhaustive. In verse 12, Paul writes that God gives these spiritual gifts “to prepare God’s people for works of service.” In other words, the spiritual gift of the clergy is to train the laity to use their spiritual gifts. As Pastor Rick Warren likes to say: “The people are the ministers. The pastors are the administers.” And the people’s ministries take a variety of forms. See 1 Corinthians 12.7–11, 27–31, and Romans 12.3–8 for illustrative lists of these ministries.
What is the purpose of all these spiritual gifts? Verses 12–13 state it: “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.” In other words, when you use your spiritual gift as God intended, you become more Christlike, people within your sphere of influence become more Christlike, and your church as a community becomes more Christlike. A lot rides, then, on whether you put God’s grace to work by using your spiritual gift.
So, do you know what your spiritual gift is? Are you actively involved in a lifestyle of serving others and meeting their needs? If so, keep up the good work! If not, why not?