Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unity In The Body Of Christ

Ephesians 4:1-16 (New International Version)

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it[a] says:
"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."

9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until 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.
14Then 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 men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From 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.

At first glance for the casual reader, this may not be apparent; However, Paul is telling the people of Ephesus, ‘God has given gifts to men’! Each of us has abilities that are performed as spiritual duties.

We should not be concerned for our lacking in gifts and abilities that others have. God declares he knew us before we were formed in the womb. Do you suppose those gifts were given, then? Some would say the gifts are not gifts but a product of the environment a person is raised in. I disagree as I have siblings with very different interest and temperaments.

I’m further inclined to believe that when we enjoy participation in certain wholesome activities our enjoyment is an indication of where our gifts are. I remember a saying said to me years ago; “It’s not ministry if we don’t enjoy it”. God loves a cheerful giver.

Here, in Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul writes using various nouns in reference to specific gifts. And, he writes with various adverbs and nouns with intent to identify attributes of the Christian belief structure.

Paul is declaring these things listed as being very different from one another. However, they are all a must for the Body of Believers. Used together, the Body of Believers is healthy and functional.

In verse 7, Paul actually says an account has been provided for us. This ‘account’ is translated from the Greek word for Grace; it is (Karin) – an account. With that word, ‘account’, Paul declares, “it was Christ who apportioned it”.

Grace, or the account came from Christ’s account!

I have not written a fresh blog for over two weeks. To those who regularly read my blog, thank you for repeat visits, only to find I have written nothing new. In the next post, I am considering writing more on the idea of what Christ’s gift giving is about.


Gigi said...

Glad you're back Jim...

jeleasure said...

Thanks Gigi,
It is difficult to want to concentrate on a blog when I am not feeling at peace. The job thing is getting weird.
I'm employed, but spend a lot of time away from home earning very little.

nutuba said...

Hi Jim,

I agree totally that God has given these as gifts. Whether he gives it while we're still in the womb, or perhaps later when he knows we're ready for it, I don't know. But he does bestow us with these gifts.

That being said, I think we can separate gifts from duties. Well, clearly there is some overlap -- maybe a lot of overlap -- but I think sometimes we are given duties that we'd rather not have. He calls us to do the uncomfortable sometimes. Or to paraphrase Bonhoeffer, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

I guess my point is that we may not always enjoy the duty. Hmmm, it's possible we may not always even enjoy the gift. But if we stay in tune with God through Bible study and prayer -- and listening -- the Spirit does nudge us in the direction he wants us to go.

Anyway, hope you're doing well! Things are busy on this end -- trying to keep a job during daytime and doing writing at night time and still being the father and husband I need to be. I just wish there were more than 24 hours in a day!


Great Googly Moogly! said...

Nice to see you back, Jim.

"However, they are all a must for the Body of Believers. Used together, the Body of Believers is healthy and functional."

Very true! By the working of the Spirit in us through our gifts as given by God, the Body causes the growth of the Body (as your text shows us)through our mutual ministry one to another.

Very encouraging, Jim! Thanks.


Jody said...

Hi Jim,
I read this late last night at a different computer, when I went to comment, it wouldn't post so here I am back at my own computer. I studied Ephesians last fall in a precept course(Kay Arthur). What a thrill to study about unity in the body of Christ and why it is important. I too believe that God gave our gifts before the foundation of the world. Praying for peace in your life.

jeleasure said...

I believe you are correct when you say we are given duties we sometimes do not like. For example, I am ashamed of myself very often for being a lot like Peter.

I open my mouth because I feel it is my duty. And, it may very well be. A minister told me emphatically that it is not my duty to approach pastoral staff and teachers on issues. He told me, even if I am right, I was not qualified. That really urked me. But, the Bible encourages us to speak the truth in love. The problem with that is perception. People don't like to hear the truth when it applies to them. So many times, I have had good intent to say what needs to be said. When it comes to abortion or homosexuality in the church I can hardly sit and keep my mouth shut. This, I think is one of those duties I do not wish to have because I am the person everyone will say has a big mouth or preaches "Love One Another" but has no love due to the words that have convicted them.

jeleasure said...

Thanks for being encouraging, as well.

jeleasure said...

Hi Jody,
My blog is experiencing some difficulty. You apparently were not able to post a comment. Today, Vicki wanted to read my post and it was not there.

Gifts are for the edification of the church. Next week, I will write concerning our status with Christ as He has given us gifts.

If you have come to know me as always being willing to write an opinion that is going to be controversial, next week's post will not disappoint expectations.

Thanks for being encouraging.

Vicki said...

I was able to read your comment today, Dearest. Just now I started to write a response that may be part of your next blog, so I will be careful.
Gifts are for the most part a joy to offer. Many times God sends a message for us to do something and our natural response is, "Who me? I can't do that!" Then we step forward in faith and find the grace that is involved in gift and the peace and joy grow.
Then there are the things that just seem natural to our being. I love teaching the piano, teaching Bible truths, and, believe it or not, selling insurance.
You have so many gifts, such as caring for animals, truth seeker, writer, fantastic plumber.
We are uniquely and wonderfully made.

Arlene Kasselman said...

Our gifts are given for the benefit of the body - the unity of the body. When we use them to puff ourselves up or try to earn personal merit or acclaim, we are not following the heart of God. Our gifts are to the glory of God and for the mutual edification of our Christian community.

Great reminder, thanks!

Tamela's Place said...

Hello JIm,

I hope to be around a little more real soon. Now that our daughter is married and living in Las Vegas My husband and i have decided to take a leap of faith,, so i will be quitting my job so as i can be available more for my family. I don't want a job to interfere if my daughter and her husband decide to come for a visit or if we decide to go and visit with them.

With that said. I totally agree that our gifts were instilled in us at the time we were created by God. In Him we live and move and have our being :)

jeleasure said...

Thanks for your encouragement and williness to look past all of the bad in me.
You are always finding something to be complimentary about.

jeleasure said...

Hi Arlene,
I appreciate your comments.
You are exactly right when you say "Gifts are for the edification of the church". I intend to expound on that a little more in my next post. There is a kind of interesting twist to God's grace, as you will see next week.
Thanks. I'll be by to visit your page soon. I am actually on call tonight, tomorrow and through the weekend. I just stopped in for a shower and some 're-creation'. I'm taking time to do things I enjoy while I'm not being called out for a plumbing 'emergency'.
Plumbing 'emergencies' are always subject to scrutiny. What may be an emergency to one person is not always what I call an emergency.

jeleasure said...

Thanks for stopping in.
Congratulations to you and your family for the recent union.
Vicki and I will be praying for you on your recent decission. I can see the conflict there is in wanting to be available for family and the possible need to work.
I'll be posting an interesting twist to the idea of gift giving, next week.

thekingpin68 said...

Hi Jim,

At Bible school a professor had the theory that our spiritual gifts were natural abilities that through regeneration the Holy Spirit used in the service of God, in Christ.

It is a good point but I am sure it can be very much legitimately debated.

A theology professor at seminary, Earl Radmacher, would specialize on teaching spiritual gifts.

Concerning unity:

I have been thinking that we are basically dealing with five groups of Christians, which need to unite on the essential core doctrines and issues at this time where Christianity is not all that popular in the West. We need to unite in order that gifts be shared.

Roman Catholics
Those that do not attend, perhaps 'closet Christians'.


jeleasure said...

Thanks Russ,
at first opportunity, today, I want to read your post concerning evil. Me and Vicki are attending the Truth Project. The next session is on the topic of 'evil'.
I have had a little time, here and there to visit some blogs. Yours is next on my list.

It may be that we do develop these gifts. Because, I do not see many gifts such as interpretation or prophecy. However, my next post will focus on who receives gifts and for what purpose (according to scripture), regardless of the individual's spiritual life.