“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Grace Of Unity: Ephesians 4:7-16
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
With this devotional, we are beginning the second division of the book of Ephesians. Previously, we have looked at “Reflections Of His Grace Revealed” (chaps 1-3). It that section, Paul revealed to us the gracious works of the Lord in the lives of His chosen people.
In this new section “Reflections Of His Grace Applied” (chaps 4-6) Paul will be explaining to us the practical effects of God’s grace in the lives of His people.
- The Grace Of Unity (4:1-6)
- The Grace Of Maturity (4:7-16)
- The Grace Of Renewal (4:17-32)
- The Grace Of Imitation (5:1-14)
- The Grace Of Wisdom (5:15-21)
- The Grace Of Relationships (5:22-33)
- The Grace Of Authority/Submission (6:1-9)
- The Grace Of Preparedness (6:10-21)
The next effect of God’s grace we will be looking at is the grace of MATURITY (4:7-16). This is a very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. The Gift Of Christ… The Origin Of God’s Gifts (including Spiritual Maturity) (vs 7-10)
II. Spiritual Gifts Given To Aid Spiritual Maturity (vs 11-12)
III. Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity (vs 13-16)
The next section of Scripture that we will be looking at is found in Eph 4:8-10. To properly understand these verses they need to be looked at as one unit. However, due to the limited length of our devotionals we will be looking at each of these verses in separate devotions. Please keep in mind, it is EXTREMELY important to keep these verses in their proper context to properly understand their meaning…
Vs 8 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Vs 9 – (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Vs 10 – He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
A very brief explanation of these verses:
Vs 8 – Christ, at the completion of His redemptive work, led His people from the captivity of sin into His service, and bestowed many spiritual blessings upon them.
Vs 9 – Christ had to physically die (by partaking of death on the cross and have His body buried in the tomb) for Him to ascend into His Father’s presence. When He died on the cross His body was buried in the tomb and His spirit ascended into the presence of God Himself.
Vs 10 – The person who we saw die on the cross and be buried in the tomb, was the same person that accomplished the redemption of His people as the obedient Son of God. Based upon His obedience, He was later exalted to the right and of God as both Lord and Savior following His resurrection from the tomb and His ascension in Acts 1:.
Over the next three lessons, let’s look at these verses in detail…
Paul explains to us the origin of these wonderful gifts of grace by explaining the work of Christ and His position as faithful servant of the Father, Savior of His people and Lord over all…
(Eph 4:8) Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Wherefore he saith,
Paul now will be referring to a prophecy spoken by David, which is found in Psalm 68:18…
When he ascended up on high,
Following Christ’s work on the cross His body was buried in the tomb and His spirit immediately ascended to be with God the Father. The ascension of His spirit marked the instant of His death and the completion of the full payment that was made by Christ for the redemption of His people. His body had suffered, His blood had been shed, and the sin payment had been completed. This is what He meant when He made the statement “It is finished” on the cross, immediately prior to His death.
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)
If Christ’s “ghost” (or spirit) immediately left His body and ascended to the Father following His death, why did Christ say that “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father” in John 20:17? He was simply telling Mary…
“Do not cling to me, (in fear that I will leave you immediately, I will continue on earth for a time before) I am permanently ascended to my Father (speaking of His ascension in Acts 1:)
he led captivity captive,
“Captivity” here is describing those who are the “captives” of Satan (2 Tim 2:26, Luke 4:18). Christ removes His people from Satan’s grasp and then brings them into submission to Himself making them His “captives” (servants, ministers, stewards) (I Corinthians 4:1-2, Rev 1:1, Phil 1:1 etc)
and gave gifts unto men.
Along with removing His people from the captivity of Satan through His death on the cross, Christ also bestows many “gifts of grace” upon His people.
A few of these include:
1. forgiveness of sins (allowing escape from the punishment of those sins)
2. adoption into His family (making them eternal heirs of glory)
3. indwelling Spirit that (enables them for service and secures their salvation)
4. the list goes on and on
All of these graces flow through the completed work of Christ on the cross. That is why we are told in this verse that it is following His ascension (at the completion of His work on the cross) that He gives His people these gracious gifts.
With the completion of Christ’s work on the cross, the channel for our spiritual liberty and receipt of His blessings to His people are made complete. His work, our liberty and the many other blessings are all given to us through grace alone. May we all come to recognize more fully that every aspect of His blessings are not owed to us but are given entirely based upon His love and mercy that He has towards His people.
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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