We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians, learning to identify ourselves according to God’s definitions and not those of the world or the enemy. Today we’re learning about our calling and gifting. The identity God has given us is not meant simply to benefit our own lives. It is such a wonderful, mighty identity that it is meant to spill out of us and pour onto the entire body of Christ. We’ve each been called by God and uniquely gifted to serve the greater whole, and when it all works together, it is the most beautiful thing the world will ever see, for it is Christ Himself revealed through us! But before we dive into that, let’s remember what we’ve already learned about who we are in Christ.
So far in this series we’ve IDENTIFIED ourselves as:
God’s Holy People;
Chosen, Purchased, and Adopted by God;
Alive in Christ, a New and Beautiful Masterpiece;
A Covenant Citizen with God’s Holy People;
Part of the Body of Christ, God’s Holy Temple;
A Recipient of the Revelation of God’s Plan;
Strong, Deeply Loved, and Complete in Christ
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.
I Am Called by God
Do you ever feel like your life is without purpose? Isn’t it so easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and begin to feel useless, and then from that insecurity become so frozen that we actually do become unproductive? It is a favorite trap of the enemy to keep us stuck in that place! But in reality, it is all based in a terrible lie!
If we have accepted God’s free gift of salvation, and experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God, then we have also been called by Him to a very specific and unique purpose. One He designed just for us from before the beginning of time!Every believer has been called by God to a very specific and unique purpose. One He designed just for us from before the beginning of time! Click To Tweet
2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV) – [God] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
In our focus passage, Paul implores us to live a life worthy of this calling, because it is no small thing to be called by God! Recognizing this truth about who we are is humbling! It should lead us to act with gentleness, and to be patient with our brothers and sisters in Christ, understanding they too have been called by God to something wonderful and unique and designed especially for them since before the beginning of time.
We should be motivated not only to discover and live out our own calling, but to be a part of that discovery for each other! We should be so united in the power of the same Holy Spirit who has given each of us the power to accomplish our purpose (as we learned last time) that we function as one body. For that is what we are!
I Have Been Uniquely Gifted
However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights, He led a crowd of captives, and gave gifts to his people.”
Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
The Bible tells us again and again that as part of the New Testament Church, as members of the New Covenant, we have each been given special gifts from the Holy Spirit designed to help us fulfill our calling. There are several places in Scripture which offer lists of some of these spiritual gifts: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 & 13, 1 Peter 4, and this one we’re studying in Ephesians 4. Since none of these lists are exactly the same, I have to conclude that none of the lists are exhaustive, and so I have no reason to believe the combined lists are exhaustive either. I don’t believe the point is for us to examine these lists in order to find our own. Rather, I believe these lists are to demonstrate to us the kinds of things the Spirit might impart upon an individual. They help show us the great variety of giftings, and open our minds to what might be our own.
The fact is, we shouldn’t have to take a test, or do some deep study to discover our gifts. They should be obvious. Just as the tangible gifts we’re given on our birthday are not a mystery or something we have to guess about. We open the box, and the gift is there.
So let’s ask ourselves, what is there? What has God plainly placed right in front of us? What are we good at? What makes our heart quicken or ignites our passion? What breaks our heart or calls us to action? What do we find ourselves naturally doing most of the time? What Bible passages jump out at us every time we read them? The answers to these questions will likely lead us to our spiritual gifts – those things God has made us good at and passionate about which can serve a purpose within the body.
I Am Called and Gifted for the Benefit of the Church
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Once again, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the specific gifts listed here, but rather, on the imperative which follows. We’ve all been gifted, that has been made clear. It is part of our identity, but it is for a very specific purpose.
The responsibility that comes with our gifting is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church. As we learn to function under our head – the Lord Jesus Christ, we will begin to fit together perfectly with all the other members. Our gifts will complement their gifts, and as we all use our gifts together, we will grow.
This will make the whole body healthy, confident, strong, and full of love!The responsibility that comes with our gifting is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church. As we learn to function under our head – the Lord Jesus Christ, we will begin to fit together perfectly with all the… Click To Tweet
A huge key here is that we learn to function “under our head.” Just as our physical bodies can only function if the brain is coordinating the efforts and telling each part what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, so it is with Christ. He is our head. Our brain. He’s not going to lead us to tear down other parts of the body or to function in disunity. If that’s what’s happening, it’s not coming from Him!
I ask you friends, is that what you see in the church? I’m not talking about your church. I’m talking about THE church. All of us. Do you see us working well together as a global unit? Do you see us growing in love, being steadfast and immovable in our faith, and making Jesus tangible to those who are lost?
I hope you do, but if you don’t, then it has to start with you. We are each responsible only for our own obedience. Part of our identity is our unique purpose within the body, but we will only be held accountable for THAT purpose. May we each – every single one of us, resolve today to spend the rest of our lives living out our calling, using our gifts, submitting to our Head, and fulfilling our own unique purposes for the benefit of the church!
*How about you? What gift has God given you, and how are you using it for the benefit of the church?
***Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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