Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gifts For The Edification Of The Church

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
‘When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men’.” (Ephesians 4:7-8 NIV)


In my last post, I made reference to the Greek work ‘charin’, which we have translated as ‘an account’, as in the account of righteousness that belongs to Jesus.

From Ephesians 4:8, ‘gave gifts to men’, the word for gifts is (singular accusative, by the way) ‘charis’. ‘Charis’ is to bestow graciously. So, we arrive at the word ‘Grace’ as an alternate way of saying ‘gifts’, which we read Paul explaining that Jesus gave gifts.

Look at what Paul says about what God gives in Romans 2:6-8, below;


“God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done’. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
(Romans 2:6-8 NIV)




Look at how this plays out in Matthew 25:31-46: click here (specifically verses 44-46).


Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evil doers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)


You may want to ask, “How is it that these people have the Holy Spirit by which they were empowered to prophecy, drive out demons and work miracles?”

Answer:
“If anyone confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (which these people in Matthew 7:21-23 do) and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead that person will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-9)


Paul reiterates from Psalms, in reference to those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord:

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
‘When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men’.” (Ephesians 4:7-8 NIV)



The people in Matthew 7:21-23, as well as those in Matthew 25:31-46 do call Jesus Lord. They believe in Jesus’ ministry and obviously the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So God recognizes them as righteous. They had faith. With that, (and here is the point I am getting at concerning gifts) they received gifts for the edification of the church.

So what was lacking?

Jesus said to them, “I never knew you.” Could it be as Paul says in Romans 2:9, these people were “self-seeking”? Could it be they sought to do these works in an effort to secure eternal life? In their selfishness, they were not seeking a relationship with God through holiness. These people did not consecrate themselves for God’s use?
Paul says:

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached..” (Philippians 1:15-18 NIV)




We can now apply Romans 2:6-8. Paul says we will be judged according to what we have done. Christ gives us the opportunity to draw near to God. This is what it means to be saved from ‘the law of sin and death’. But, with out doing, ‘works’ we have no relationship with God. The relationship never grows, only recedes.

In our works, we show ourselves to be the family of God, signing our membership with love. And so, I conclude, the gifts we are given are for the edification of the Church. In using them we cultivate our relationships with man and Jesus Christ. If we sit on them as in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 , we can expect that God will not see us as being truly invested in the atonement of Christ. For this, as we see in the parable of the talents, the imagery is of one being cast away from the Master, in the dark and cold where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

15 comments:

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"But, with out doing, ‘works’ we have no relationship with God."

Jim, our "relationship" with God is solely dependant upon and secure in the Person and Work of Christ. When we come to Christ by faith through grace (Eph. 2:1-10, John 6, Romans 8, etc.) we are "born again" by the Spirit and we are given the Spirit who indwells us. We are Children of God (this is our "relationship" with God--we are Children) if we have the Spirit...that's it (Romans 8). Our "relationship" as Children of God is not determined by our "works".

Also, you seem to suggest that those who Christ says to depart from Him in Matthew 7:21-23 are actually saved. I hate to point out the obvious, but Jesus is contrasting those who say to Him, "Lord, Lord" with those who actually believe in Him as Lord. He opened the section by saying that "not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom."

You say about these people: "The people in Matthew 7:21-23, as well as those in Matthew 25:31-46 do call Jesus Lord. They believe in Jesus’ ministry and obviously the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So God recognizes them as righteous. They had faith."

This is the exact opposite of what Jesus is saying in this section. These people did not have faith and therefore will not enter the Kingdom.

I certainly agree with your conclusion that, "the gifts we are given are for the edification of the Church.", but you simply cannot make that conclusion based on your faulty exegesis of Matthew 7:21-23.

I know I'm going to be considered a bad guy because of this comment, but the Gospel is more important to me than what other people may think about me. When we endeavor to "teach" the Gospel, we had better get it right. I have no problem with disagreements over non-essential issues (though gracious debate should be encouraged so as to benefit the Body and to help us all "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ"), but you continue to introduce "works" as a necessary part of the Gospel. Your "teaching" is Romanism...not the Gospel.

I'm sorry Jim, but I can't keep silent when the Gospel is at stake. Maybe you mis-spoke concerning the first part that I responded to above, but your exegesis of the passage in Matthew is in complete error when you conclude that these people have been "born again". Jesus flat-out says that they are outside the Kingdom ("out into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth").

I'm still concerned...

In Christ,
Jason

Andrew Clarke said...

I think you're perfectly right here, Jim. Some people seem to try aggrandising themselves by doing what are supposed to Christian works (and which actually be) but they are not seeking the Glory of God. This was the glaring error of the Pharisees. The Bible says, some of them knew in their hearts that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, but they kept quiet because they did not want to be put out of the synagogue. They preferred to be approved by people, not by God. And others too try to make a personal career out of God without giving Him His rightful place. One example of this could be the man who tried to prove that God would protect Him when he started up a buzz-saw and put his hand through it - with disastrous results. God is NOT an entertainer and does not need a manager to set up his shows for Him. That man was trying to draw attention to himself, rather than to God, and it all went wrong. If he kept doing that all his life he would, as you say, be one of the ones of whom God said "I never knew you" because they never really tried to get to know Him. They tried making Him serve their purpose.

jeleasure said...

Hi Andrew,
thanks for stopping in and posting a comment.

I had never heard of the man who cut himself up with a chain saw. But, the story reminds me of the men in the book of Acts, whom went about healing in the name of Jesus, "whom Paul preaches". The devil came to them and said, "I know Jesus. And, I have heard of Paul. But, who are you." And the devil gave them a whooping.

they kept quiet because they did not want to be put out of the synagogue. They preferred to be approved by people, not by God.

I am often ashamed to acknowledge my church when I am asked, "What church do you attend?" because of the very thing you state here. The Pastors these days are more concerned with numbers than real spiritual growth. They gave up their ability to speak against homosexuality and abortion, here in the United States, now that Barak Obama is President. All because they did not want to offend anyone, they did not stand in the fight to oppose federal funding of abortion. Because abortion is federally funded, the ministers no longer have a voice to oppose it.

Thanks for your comments.
Jim

Vicki said...

Dearest,
I appreciate the message herein. So many times I have heard the Holy Spirit nudge me to do something outside of my comfort zone to edify the church. It is by grace that my efforts make any difference.

Motivation to edify the church family and not self is centrally important to the gift.

We are all doing something all day long. We are either working for God's Kingdom or just for ourselves. We are accountable for our actions. We are not going willy-nilly through life without purpose.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Vicki,
that is true.
To a point, I should give ministers some credit. However, most that I know of only half-step. They do go "willy-nilly" and fail to support, at least a symbolic pressence of God.

Where are the ministers with gifts of prophecy and healing? They are very rare. To the point we can't find them on t.v. because so many of them abused the gifts they claimed to have. For that, the church is far from being edified.
Thanks for the comments,
Love, your husband.

Jody said...

Hi Jim,
I'd like to send you an email, are you still at the verizon address?

the_thinking_frog said...

Greeting Jim,

Thank you for this post. I compare works and grace with this example.

My wife, Kathleen, did not have to give me a list of rules when I committed to be her husband. The law of love motivated me to serve her and work for her well being. Likewise I did not give her a list of rules.

However, if the marriage is solid, we constantly do tasks and chores for the other person, not because it is required but because we love each other. The same is true for me in my relationship with God. The works are not required for my salvation but without works, motivated by my love for God, there is little visible evidence for others to see.

I like the way Jesus stated it, "that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 05:16b).

Joyfully Serving,

Kermit

Tamela's Place said...

Hey Jim,

Maybe i don't truly understand the the word "works" If worshipping and loving the Lord as well as others is a work than that's not a hard thing to do if you are doing it out of a heart of love for God/Jesus. It's something i "want" to do.

I will have to be honest and admit though that i do need His Grace and the power of His Spirit in me to desire and to even be able to do these things and thusly God is glorified! But see, it's because He loves me and I love Him thus we "Know" each other.

Here's a question to consider. What if these people who came to Jesus in Mt.7 were lying? what if they were like those in 1Jn. 2:22-29. Could those in Mt. 7 been false prophets, Anti Christs who were just seducing the brethern and causing them to go astray by deceiving others? Could they have been showing forth great signs and wonders and speaking lies only to bring glory to themselves? Could this be why Jesus didn't know them and thus He told them to depart from Him?

jeleasure said...

Hi Kermit,
thanks for visiting. I enjoy reading your comments and appreciate what you have to say as a Minister of The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You are correct. We don't get saved by our works or because of our works. Works is the out growth of the family of God. We are signing the signature of God's family when we love one another. And, there is the fulfillment of the "New command" to "love one another" which we must do because Jesus requires it as He gave the command.

Now, if we call Jesus Lord, we are saved. For the scripture declares, "anyone who confesses with his mouth and believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord, shall be saved".

Here is the rub. Most people see our confession and acceptance of Christ as the Messiah as the be-all, end-all. Jesus is going to hold a judgement. It will not be according to the Law for those who have confessed and believed in Him. You, myself and the others who have confessed that Jesus is Lord will be saved from the Law. But, Paul declares, we will be judged according to our works. Christians will face a judgement based on the works they did for the least of the brothers of Jesus. Jesus said this will occur in Matthew 25.

I don't believe this confuses you. It may, because not all believers have surpassed "child like faith". But, I see you as having educated yourself in the word. I think of you as someone who wants to understand more than what is on the surface. So, here is a message to ponder....'What did Christ mean by judging on behalf of those who did works and against those who did not do works? Why was it important to Jesus that works were done? Why was it so important that He condemned those who did not do works to the least of the brothers of Jesus? There can only be one answer. I skip down a few lines incase you don't want my thougts on the answer.




God created all of man to be the human family of God. As a household loves under the rule of leadership, so must the human family love one another under the rule of the leadership of Christ.

jeleasure said...

Hi T.

Most of what I wrote to Kermit is also addressed to you, as well.

It is very possible that those in Matthew 7 were frauds. In fact, Jesus says as much when He says He never knew them. This is one sure way to know a fraudulant "Christian". We know them by their fruite. If there is no fruit, they are not of the brances of the vine and so, the Gardener comes along to prune those unfruitful branches from the vine.

"Here's a question to consider. What if these people who came to Jesus in Mt.7 were lying? what if they were like those in 1Jn. 2:22-29. Could those in Mt. 7 been false prophets, Anti Christs who were just seducing the brethern and causing them to go astray by deceiving others? Could they have been showing forth great signs and wonders and speaking lies only to bring glory to themselves? Could this be why Jesus didn't know them and thus He told them to depart from Him?
"


I will just say, Jesus says, "Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven". And, Jesus was speaking directly to those perpetrators. They said, we even acted on the gifts you gave us. And, as Paul clarifies, there are those who will use the gifts of the Spirit for selfish motives.

I believe these people Jesus is speaking to have desired to be followers of Christ. However, I think they became corrupt. And, as Paul says, "What difference does it make? (in reference to those who preach Christ out of selfish gain?) The important thing is that Christ is preached by all means".

Thanks for helping me to think through some explanation, T.

Jim

Tamela's Place said...

Hey Jim,

Thanks for the reply. So what i am understanding you to say is that they were righteous but became unrighteous? Is that correct?

Another question to consider is that if they were frauds and were casting out demons then why didn't the demons treat them like they treated the sons of Sceva and give them a whooping?

I believe that there is a difference in preaching Christ and operating in the gifts of the Spirit. For example I can tell people about Christ all day long and the work He did on the cross and hopefully win some to the Lord, but it doesn't mean that i am going to be able to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Maybe this is why Paul said leave them alone because if they are preaching the Gospel bringing the message of Christ Jesus as to try and stir up Jealousy well at least the Gospel is being preached.

Sounds to me like these men in Mt.7were all about bringing glory to themselves and not Jesus, which i believe we have concluded.

In Lk.9:49-50 The disciple (John) comes to Jesus to tell Him that they witnessed someone casting out demons in His name and was insinuating that he must be stopped because this person was not a part of their company. Jesus replied and said, forbid him not for he that is not against us is for us. This is why i must conclude that these guys in Mt. 7 were lying in the face of Christ Jesus because if they were truly doing these things in "HIS NAME" then they had to be for "HIM" and not against "HIM"! thusly Jesus would not of said depart from me for i "NEVER" knew you! So to have "NEVER" known them tells me that they were "NEVER" righteous to begin with and they were lying about doing these things in HIS NAME!

Maybe they were getting "their" own names confused with JESUS name!

God bless you :)

jeleasure said...

Hi T.
Thanks for getting back to me on this subject of Matthew 7:15-23.

What we should notice first, is Jesus is speaking of a hypothetical scenerio. He is speaking as if He is giving examples of what people will say to Him on the day of Judgement. But, none the less, Jesus is telling us that we must seek a relationship with Him, foremost.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives us a picture of that day of judgement. And, you will notice, that there are people being rewarded who call Jesus Lord. There are also people being eternaly condemned who call Jesus Lord. What Jesus says creates the distinction between those two groups, is that they did or did not do works.

So, what we have, is one group of people who call Jesus Lord. The scripture says, "anyone who confesses with his mouth and believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord, will be saved".

This one group of people calling Jesus Lord, was saved from falling under judgement according to the Law. I Peter 1:7 tells us that we (who call on the Father) will be judged according to our works.

Also, let's keep in mind, that what is obvious to the writer of any part of scripture is not always obvious to those who read what was written. This is my way of saying, I'm doing the best I can to interpret scripture. And, if I interpret it to mean that we who are saved will be judged according to our works, there is a lot of scripture to support this fullfilment of the Royal Law, as James puts it.

Thanks for helping again, T.
Jim

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Jim,

I understand that Jesus is giving examples here, but if He says this is what is going to happen with some than indeed it will without doubt happen!

I don't think that we are seeing these scriptures in the same light of understanding so i will just leave it at that.

God bless you and thanks for the dialogoue. Larry and I at tamela's place have had some good dialogue going as well as a few others that have commented. I am still looking for answers myself. Any ways God bless and take care :)

the_thinking_frog said...

Greetings Jim,
I insert this quote from your post to keep these thoughts in a train.

"'What did Christ mean by judging on behalf of those who did works and against those who did not do works? Why was it important to Jesus that works were done? Why was it so important that He condemned those who did not do works to the least of the brothers of Jesus? There can only be one answer. I skip down a few lines incase you don't want my thougts on the answer.

God created all of man to be the human family of God. As a household loves under the rule of leadership, so must the human family love one another under the rule of the leadership of Christ."

MY RESPONSE TO YOUR QUESTION:

I view that there are two groups of people in this world and the nomenclature that I use are these: "saints" for believers in Christ and "neighbors" for all others (the normal tag of unbelievers seems to build walls between others and myself as I would witness to them--this is not a hard and fast rule but a principle to which I hold).

Paul states that, "We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works." In my simplicity, I only attempt to do two works, 'Love God with all of my heart and love my neighbors as myself' (a paraphrase). If a person is a saint (beleivers as they are called by Paul no matter what their maturity level might be) they are a part of the body of Christ and thus I am compelled to love those who are a part of the body to which I belong.

For me every deed that I do is an extension of these two commands. I do not think I am saying anything significanly different than you but I enter these thoughts for discussion and growth.

Joyfully Serving,

Kermit

jeleasure said...

Kermit,
Thank you for your generous spirit. I have longed to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the manner of living and speaking as you. I praise the Lord that there are still people who know how to love the Lord and love others.

Your reply has inspired me. Not so much the content as much as the spirit you exude. I'll be writing a new post this evening after I visit you and Tamela's Place.

Jim