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Maturing into one body
Bible Passage Ephesians 4: 7-16
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & book Ephesians.

Maturing into one body

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached December 14, 2023

7 Now to each one of us grace has been given proportionate to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.

8 That is why God says, “When he went up to the highest place, he led captives into captivity and gave gifts to people.”

9 Now what does this “he went up” mean except that he also had gone down into the lower parts of the earth?

10 The one who went down is the same one who went up above all the heavens so that all things would be fulfilled.

11 And it is he who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers,

12 to equip the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of the Messiah

13 until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God’s Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in the Messiah.

14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed like waves and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, or by clever strategies that would lead us astray.

15 Instead, by speaking the truth in love, we will grow up completely and become one with the head, that is, one with the Messiah,

16 in whom the whole body is united and held together by every ligament with which it is supplied. As each individual part does its job, the body builds itself up in love.

Yesterday, we were urged to be tolerant of each other and accommodate our physical and social differences. Today, we turn our attention to the spiritual giftings and differences. Just as people in the church differ from one another, the spiritual gifts that Christ has given for the functioning of the church vary from person to person (verse 7).

God gives many different kinds of gifts to the members of Christ’s body. No one has all the gifts but each member has some gift. All gifts come from God, so we cannot be proud of our gifts. We did not give ourselves the gifts. They come by God’s grace.

Paul now refers to a verse from the Psalms Psalm 68:18, in verse 8 when he says, ‘When Christ went up to the highest place, he took captives with him, and he gave gifts to men.’

Christ is likened to a triumphant conqueror who has returned from battle and now divides the goods seized in battle among his people. This is what happened in Old Testament days. The person who won the war would take valuable things from his captives. He would return home with his enemies as prisoners. He would then give the valuable things to his own people. After winning the war, he takes the prizes of war (gifts).

In Christ’s case, He came down to earth where He conquered sin, Satan, and all the other angelic powers of evil. He then returned to heaven, from where He shared His gifts with His church (verses 8-10).

Paul mentions some of these gifts that are a great controversy in the church today – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

Some people want to build a hierarchy out of this. That is to say that one progresses from being a teacher to an apostle. That’s why they have those titles in the leadership of the church. Another controversy is the five-fold and four-fold ministry debate. People argue that there are 4 gifts or five gifts that must be visibly present in each church.

But I have this to say:
1. those gifts mentioned by Paul do not in any way refer to church leadership, so Paul was addressing the whole and did not intend to create offices with those gifts.

2. the specific roles of these ‘officers’ are not clear-cut. So no church can distinctively differentiate between the offices to say this is your role and that

For instance, the pastor (as used in today’s sense) who does prophesy is not a pastor. The entire work of the pastor is to go speak the mind of God (prophesy).

Paul was only illustrating that each person has a gift that must be used to edify the church. They are given to build up the Christians so that they also can do the work of God. This will help the Christians individually and the church as a whole to grow in maturity towards the perfection and fullness that is found in Christ Himself (verses 11-13).

Such Christians will not be like immature children who can be persuaded to believe almost anything (verse 14). Mature Christians will be confident in their faith, though they will always act towards others in love. They will be under the control of Christ, as the parts of the body are under the control of the head. This will help them to maintain and develop strength in the church (verses 15-16).

The whole body, the church, depends upon Jesus. Verse 16 is about a body like the human body. God joins the many parts of the body. They all work together. God is feeding the whole body. He is building it up (Colossians 2:19). The arm or the leg in the human body does not grow by itself. It is not there to satisfy its own needs. It grows for the benefit of the whole body. The church grows as all the members use their gifts.

The church grows when new members join it. But that is not the only way that it grows. The church grows as the members learn to love each other more. More of Jesus’ love will grow in the people. Then more members will join (Acts 2:42-47).

🔷 God’s gift is meant to make His people humble to use it for the growth of the people

🔷 Though different, each person has been given a gift that we don’t withhold from the church

🔷 The discussions for today emphasize the need for church and fellowship for which each believer must belong

💥 Pray that you don’t bury your gifts
💥 Ask God to continue to equip His saints to work together in love

The gifts of God in each believer when put together shall make the church superior to any kind of evil spirit that Christ has already conquered. As far as the gifts are used in love, they shall serve as a pillar to grow the church and the individuals.

In series Bright Morning Reflections