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And He Gave Gifts To People

"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

When He ascended on high,
He led captive the captives,
And He gave gifts to people.”

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers,

Good Morning Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad you're here.

Christianity is not just what we can do for God, it is our response to what God in Christ has done for us.
I believe this is one of the greatest problems within the modern church. There are so many "servants of God," who come to church to see what God is going to do for them. I'd like to make something clear, the core of Christianity is not what God is going to do for you, it is what God has already done for you. The core of Christianity is grace! He has given you His grace. Not because of anything you did, but because of who He is. Because it is God’s nature to give. 
In fact, the Bibles teaches far more about giving than receiving. In Acts 20:35, Paul said, "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Now, there is much speculation among some scholars, because nowhere in the New Testament, is it recorded in the gospel accounts. Some had said, Paul was out of line, quoting something that Jesus didn't say. First, there is no indication that the apostle Paul even possessed the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John during his ministry, nor did he need them in order to know what Jesus taught. Paul received supernatural revelation directly from God. Jesus spoke directly to Paul on the road to Damascus.
Secondly, I'd like to point out, that in John 20:30-31, it tells us "So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name."
And in John 21:25, he says "But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written."
In Luke 23:43, Luke records Jesus during His crucifixion, told the thief "Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Which the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John clearly omit. Does this somehow discredit the other three gospels? Or Luke's? Of course not. All four accounts are independent witnesses to the life of Christ, and some contain more or less details and information on a particular subject than the others. It in no way invalidates the other accounts.

I have often wondered if the church, much like public school, shouldn’t offer summer school; you know basic education in the essentials of faith. Courses like "worship for dummies," and "Jesus 101." A refresher course of what we already know, but seemingly have forgotten somewhere along the way.

Grace is an act of giving, and when we give something to someone, what is that called? A gift. Grace is a gift.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Father, thank You for this great truth You have prepared for us today. Thank You for it's clarity that speaks to our hearts. Thank You for our fellowship, for all the precious people You have gathered together. Lord, help us to not only give thanks, but to live in such a way, that we might demonstrate that gratitude so that others in the world might take notice. Lord, You have given us so much. You have given us Yourself. You have given us Your grace. Which I must say, I am surprised that You haven't taken it away from us. We haven't earned it and we certainly do not deserve it. We're not worthy of it. Yet, You freely give it to those who will accept it.

Help us to walk worthy of Your calling, to live lives of humility, and gratitude. And may we love others, offering grace and mercy, as we ourselves have received.
We pray this in Christ's name

Today's Message: And He Gave Gifts To People

Later, in verse 15, Paul says "Speak the truth in love." I believe that to be a dying art in our contemporary culture and the modern church. We either speak the truth harshly in judgment or we simply lie. When it comes to speaking to people regarding their performance or their behavior, we either crucify them, for every short coming, or we are dishonest, telling what a wonderful job they have done. Then sadly, speak badly of their performance behind their backs.
As Christians, we had ought to know better! Speaking the truth in love means, that we are honest about what a person has done or said, because we care about them. The purpose is not trying to tear them down, to the contrary, we’re trying to build them up! We’re not trying to hurt them, we’re trying to help them; and if that’s not your motive when you confront someone, then don’t confront them. Because you are not speaking the truth in love.

I have been privileged in my lifetime and ministry, to have had people around me who have spoken the truth in love to me. When I have done well, they have been generous with their praise; when I could have done better, they were in love, honest and direct with me, and so it didn’t feel like criticism.

As we continue in our study of the wonderful epistle, we come to a practical portion of Scripture.
It contains such rich profound and foundational truths for our Christian living. At first reading, this passage tends to be somewhat confusing to a number of Christians, verse 7, is pretty straight forward and easy to understand. Then, 8 leaves a bit of a gap, that is filled only by a diligent study, portions of Psalm 68, which is quoted here and a lot of help in the original languages. Nevertheless, I believe that God has a very special message for us in these verses. Especially verses 9 and 10.
As a footnote, as I was studying and researching this passage, I was particularly amazed at just how many pastors avoid dealing with verses 8-10 altogether or who quickly gloss over those verses. And many commentaries on Ephesians 4 barely mentions verse 8 and doesn’t really deal with verses 9 and 10 at all. So, let's see what we can unpack from these magnificent verses in the Word of God

Open with me your Bibles to the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 4:7-11. I'd like to invite you to follow along with me as I read, to set it in our minds, as we continue to study this marvelous, marvelous passage in the Word of God.

"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

When He ascended on high,
He led captive the captives,
And He gave gifts to people.”

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, "
As chapter 4 begins, Paul's emphasis on unity within the body of Christ. Particularly in verses 4-6, he stressed those things in that we have in common that allow us to be unified as followers of Jesus Christ. Then, as we come to verse 7, while Paul is still dealing with unity, he is going to change his focus. In our journey through Paul’s letter to Ephesus, is the importance of connecting words and phrases such as "then," "therefore," "for," "for this reason," and the one he uses here is "but." That little three letter word indicates that Paul is about to make some kind of contrast.
Paul has already hinted at the idea that unity does not mean uniformity. He acknowledges the uniqueness of each of his readers. However, Paul's emphasis up to this point, has been on what they share in common.
All the spiritual blessings he has written about in Chapter 1, the fact that God has brought them all together in the church in Chapters 2 and 3, and the seven "ones" that they have in common at the beginning of Chapter 4. Then, in verse 7, his emphasis changes. Not only does Paul use the word "but" to introduce this contrast, but for the very first time, he also uses the phrase "each one of us." So there is a shift from the corporate to the individual, from our privileges to our responsibilities, from what God has already done for us to what He is doing through us.
Beginning with verse 7, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift." Grace is the free act of giving. Grace is not dependent upon the receiver. It is dependent only upon the giver. It is giving of ones self. When God extends His grace to us, it's not the what that is significant, it's the giving of Himself that makes grace so significant. It is not so much giving what I have as it is giving myself that is real grace. That's what God's grace is, giving of Himself to us, an undeserving sinner.

When we give a gift, an object, that's something, when we give the gift, of ourselves, that's everything.
And that's what God has done for us, God has given Himself to every undeserving sinner! That's astounding! Let me put it another way, when you choose someone to marry, you're selective, you're picky. You don't just give yourself to anyone. You look for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. But God, looked down upon us, He saw was an ugly sinner, so what in the world ever made Him want to give Himself to us? To be in a lasting relationship with us? Grace! That's the definition of amazing grace. To each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Jesus distributes gifts according to His sovereignty. Notice that Paul writes that each gift is given “as Christ apportioned it.” In other words, we don’t decide which gifts we get. Jesus determines what gifts each of us need in order to carry out God’s plans through the church. Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 25:15, in the principle in the parable of the talents. In this parable, the master, obviously a picture of God, determines what gifts He is going to entrust to each of His servants. 
And you’ll notice that He apportions those gifts based on the individual ability of each servant. But it’s interesting to me that there is no evidence that any of the three servants had any knowledge of what his true abilities or aptitudes were. But the master, who knows his servants intimately, is in a position to determine how to apportion the talents in a way that will facilitate the accomplishment of His purposes
As we come to verses 8-10, it is crucial that we view them in the context that Paul has just expressed. If we don’t do that, it’s easy to come up with all kinds of wrong conclusions that will actually draw us away from what Paul is teaching us rather than help us to understand it.
That is why it says in verse 8 "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." He's quoting Psalm 68:18, where is says "You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among people.." Paul quotes from Psalm 68 in order to confirm the deity of Jesus and to show why He is the one who is qualified to apportion His grace as He sees fit.
If you were to study Psalm 68, you would see a picture of God, who is a conquering hero. God sets out in verse 1 to make a war with His enemies, and God is victorious, just in case you were wondering how it ends. God always wins. Then, in verse 18 God ascends to the hill of victory. And He has all of the spoils and all of the captives with Him. That's the picture of Psalm 68. Paul use of it here indicates to us that it is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. It was a picture of the great victory of Jesus over Satan, sin, death, and hell. In fact, that is exactly what the Psalmist was really looking forward to.
So, what does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until 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. 
Then, 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. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From 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.
If you're feeling a bit confused it's okay, just hold on. In I Peter 3:18, Peter is making application to the event prophesied in Psalm 68. "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all time, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death.." Who is Peter talking about here? He's talking about Christ. And where is this? At the cross. He was suffering for sin, while He was the just for the unjust, while He was "put to death He was dead in the flesh, but He was alive in the spirit." 
Small "s." Why? Because His outer man had died, but His inner man was alive.
Now, I have had many people question where Christ was for those 3 days. Well, we know where His body was right? It was on the cross for a while, then it was in the grave. In verse 9, Paul says "(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?"
Now, back to I Peter 3, let's look at verse 19. "in which He also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison," 
Now this seems to cause some confusion among many Christians. Saying " What? He went where?"  
In the Old Testament time, the place of the dead, the place of the dead was known as Hades or Sheol. 
Hell? That's not exactly the proper word. Hell is a New Testament term. Allow me to illustrate it this way. Hades had two parts. The upper part was the part where the righteous dead were, their spirits; the lower part, however, is where the unrighteous and the bound demons were. 
Hades, or the grave it’s sometimes called, or Sheol. By the way, it’s not really defined in the Old Testament any more than that. Is where dead people’s spirits go. The righteous to the upper half which is good. It’s blissful, it’s happiness, and it’s all the righteous people, the people who believe God. Then, the bottom part, the unrighteous, the evil, and the bound demons. Remember, there are really two kinds of demons. There are the loose ones and the bound ones. The loose ones, are running around, doing whatever demons do, and the bound demons are in the pit.
The lower part of Sheol, called Tartarus, which is the pit, the place of the dead ungodly, the place of the demons. Not the final hell yet. However, it is a place of torment, a place of unrighteousness, a place of evil.
Christ descended then into that place, verse 19, in the prison He went. And to the spirits, who by the way are fallen angels. It even tells you in verse 22, "Angels, authorities, powers being made subject to Him." And there it tells us clearly that they were angels.
Because it is a widely circulated view, let me just mention an interpretation of verses 9-10 that you may have an encounter with at some point. Based on a passage from I Peter 3, there are some who believe that these verses describe Jesus descending into Hades between His death and resurrection and proclaiming or preaching to the souls who were in captivity there. 
This view was quite popular in the early church and is reflected in the Apostles’ Creed in the phrase "he descended into hell." However, as we’ve seen, what he has clearly described is the ascension of Jesus to a place that is above all.
As a footnote, in the Greek, it's not the word "euaggelízō," which stresses the victory of God's Gospel message in the totality of His Good News. It is the Greek word "kērussō," which means to make a proclamation. He went there and He proclaimed something. What did He proclaim? I'll tell you what He proclaimed, He went down there and proclaimed that what looked like defeat was victory.
To show you, listen to Colossians 2:15, "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him."
In other words, while His body was in the grave, His spirit descended into the lower part of Hades, and there He made a proclamation of triumph over death.. So in spite of what it looked like, He was victorious over Satan. 
Now, another area of confusion for a number of Christians, I'd like to clear up. And that's why were the righteous, those believing in God, the Old Testament saints in the upper part of Hades? The answer is really pretty simple. They couldn't be taken to glory until Christ had purchased their redemption on the cross. They had to wait for the triumph of Calvary. They had to wait for the victory that He would win that day. After He proclaimed victory over death, Christ opened up the upper part of Hades and all the saints of the Old Testament were released and it was at that point that they ascended to be with God. He led captivity captive. Can you just picture that in your mind? What an incredibly beautiful image. All the righteous of God, from before the crucifixion, now ascending to be with God, because Christ released them from captivity by His victory. 
And so in verse eleven, "And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers."
That brings me to another point, I'm sure that you are already aware of, it is because of what Christ did on the cross that allows Him to give each of us the spiritual gifts He gave us. Beloved, you just cannot take the spiritual gift that you have lightly when you contemplate the price that Christ paid in order to grant you that privilege.
I'd like to point out that in verse, Paul says "He ascended." Verse 9, "He ascended." And in verse 10, "He ascended." 
Since they are sovereignly given, no gifts should be sought. This is not the only place where Paul has made it clear that God determines how to apportion His gifts among His people. 
Listen to I Corinthians 12:18, "But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired."
If God knows his purposes and plans perfectly and if He knows each one of us intimately, far better that we know ourselves, then why wouldn’t he be the one who should determine how to apportion His gifts among His people? When we seek out specific gifts, or probably even more commonly, get envious or jealous of the gifts that others have been given, what we’re really doing is questioning God’s wisdom.
And in Isaiah 29:16, "You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay,
That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?"
Since they come from Jesus, no gifts should be exalted. Since they are Jesus’ gifts, we need to be very careful about trying to exalt ourselves as we use His gifts. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to look at some of the gifts that are more visible and give them more weight or more value. But God certainly never intended for us to do that. Again, in I Corinthians 12, verses 22-25, Paul makes clear that all the gifts have equal value in God’s sight.
Just listen, "On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another."
So the purpose of the gifts of Jesus is not to exalt ourselves or even the gifts themselves. Those gifts are not given for our personal benefit, but for the overall good of the body of Christ. And when they are used in that way, we don’t exalt ourselves or the gifts, but rather we exalt Jesus, the one who has given His gifts. 
Since they are essential elements in God’s plan, no gifts should go unused. All these gifts functions best when all the members are using their gifts together.
Paul again makes this same point, in Romans 12:4-5. "For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another."
Now, just in case you need a bit more convincing. here's I Peter 4:10, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God.  
Allow me to put it another way, how many of you have ever been given a gift that you’ve never used? Instead, you put that gift in a closet, in the basement or garage. Or maybe you’ve "re-gifted" it. If that’s the case, then that gift is absolutely of no value to you, because you’ve never put it to use.

But since Jesus has given us exactly the gifts He wants us to have, there is no excuse for stashing those gifts away and not using them. And as Paul and Peter both make clear, when we do that, we not only cheat ourselves, but we also rob others of the benefits of our exercise of those gifts.

Jesus brings together unique and diverse people to whom He has given unique and diverse gifts in the church. And He perfectly blends all that diversity together in order to create a unity that is beautiful. However, if we’re going to preserve that beautiful harmony, then each one of us must exercise the gifts that Jesus has bestowed upon us in His great sovereignty. And in doing that, God receives all the glory.

Sadly, the modern church has become much like a football game. The team, consisting of eleven people doing all the work, and there's 50,000 spectators yelling and screaming at them.
Verses 7-10 when taken together, show how Jesus has apportioned His grace among His people as He determines and confirm that He has the right to do that because He is God. From the bottom of Sheol to the top of heaven, He fills it all. He fills it all.

In Closing..

I don't want to just leave all of this there, we need to take it a step further. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you become saved, it isn't just that you accept salvation at His hand because He died for it, you also accept that spiritual gifts, the spiritual enabling to serve Him at His hand because He died to gain the right to give you that. That’s how important it is to Him. 
Yes, Jesus Christ died on the cross for you to save you. But He also died on the cross to enable you to serve Him. And then He gives you a gift of His love, that was purchased at the same price of your redemption. 
Wait, there's more. Let's look at verse 8 again, "When He ascended on high, He led captive the captives, And He gave gifts to people." And He gave gifts to all people. Do you see it?

When Christ went to the cross, he captured a whole lot of people, delivered them from Satan's domain and here's the beauty of it, not only did he win all the old testament saints, but he won you and I, even before we were saved. 

Now, do you remember when they would go out and make war with a nation, and when they conquered that nation, they take the spoils? What did He do with the spoils? He gave gifts to all people. and what were those gifts? look at verse 11, "And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers,"
There's one last point and then I'm done.. at least with this point. Jesus, is the perfect illustration of every single one of those gifts. A preacher, a teacher, a ruler, a servant, a giver, a helper, and a man of faith. He perfected them all. 
If it weren't for the apostles, who were the foundation of the church, you and I would not have the New Testament today. So are we are indebted them? Yes we sure areAnd to the prophets of God, who spoke for God, the Word of God. beloved, how we are indebted to those men of God who were led by the Holy Spirit of God? For giving us the treasure of God.
And while all believers are commanded by Jesus to be witnesses for Him, He also gifts certain people with the special gift of being able to communicate the gospel effectively to unbelievers. 
This is Jesus Christ's legacy to his church..

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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