“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 Maturity: 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)
Paul now explains how the Lord blessed His children with spiritual maturity…
(Ephesians 4:11-12) 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:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Paul gives us a listing of the different spiritual leaders that the Lord has given to us throughout history to produce spiritual maturity and strength within the local assembly and believers in general…
- apostles – one that is sent out with authority, an ambassador
- the office of Apostle– made up of 14 men (Matthew 10:1-4; Acts 1:26, 1 Timothy 1:1) who were sent out with special authority to work great acts which accredited the New Testament scriptures as a part of God’s Word and the local assembly as God’s place of worship. This office no longer exists since the Word and the Local Assembly have been fully accredited and we now have a record of that accreditation in the Word of God.
- Any believer that fulfills a ministry that is authorized by the Lord, acting as His representative, doing His will among men, can be described as an apostle in this sense.
- prophets – one who speaks forth the mind of God
- the office of Prophet – one who was inspired by God to reveal His Word to mankind. In many cases, this included the ability to foretell future events. This office no longer exists since the Word of God has been revealed to mankind completely.
- Any believer that proclaims the Word of God can be described as a prophet in the general sense.
- evangelists – one who declares the gospel message
- the office of Evangelist – commonly referred to as a Missionary. This office centers upon proclaiming the gospel message to the lost, as well as being instrumental in the forming of local assemblies around the world.
- Any believer who shares the gospel message with the lost can be described as an evangelist in the general sense.
- Pastors and Teachers – In the original language, this is describing one office (there is no “and”). The Pastor/Teacher is describing shepherds that instruct or indoctrinate
- the office of Pastor/Teacher – This office involves being shepherd over the local assembly. This includes leading, feeding and protecting the church. This is done primarily through the teaching of all the counsel of God as found in His Word.
- Any believer who takes oversight of a weaker brother while teaching them the truths of the Word can be described as doing the work of pastor/teacher.
As you can see, each of these titles refer to specific Offices within the local assembly. However, they can also describe basic types of ministries that are performed by Christians in general.
These different positions are leadership positions that were formed by the Lord to accomplish 3 different goals…
For the perfecting of the saints,
1. to fully equip those who are separated from sin to service for the Lord… in other words, to bring the saints to spiritual maturity.
(The word translated “perfecting” is a word that means “to thoroughly repair” or “to completely furnish”.)
for the work of the ministry,
2. to serve others by meeting their needs
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
3. to build up and reinforce the local assembly as a body, through the strengthening of its individual members.
The Lord has graciously given to us spiritual leaders to aid us in our service to Him. It is through these spiritual leaders that we are equipped for the Lord’s service, our spiritual needs are met,and the local assembly is strengthened.
May we all appreciate these spiritual leaders that are given to us by God and appreciate the Lord’s grace shown to us by raising up these men for our benefit.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, [be] glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)
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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