The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 5 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #229)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 4:8-10:
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Samuel Zwemer said, “The energies of the universe, nay, of God Himself, are at the disposal of those who pray – to the man who stirreth up himself to take hold of God.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “I still believe in the majesty of that eternal court. God will say to some, ‘Come, ye blessed!’ and to the rest, ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed!’ I don’t want to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and have God say to me, ‘I left you a book of blank checks signed in the blood of Jesus and you didn’t use half of them!'”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “William Joseph Seymour had come to Los Angeles to preach, but now the church doors were locked. He’d traveled from Texas to Southern California at the invitation of the pastor, but the message he preached had caused the pastor to change her mind. The views espoused by this African-American preacher were questionable at best, at least in the pastor’s mind. There was no way she would allow that message to be preached in her church. She couldn’t stop Seymour from preaching, but she could and would stop it from being preached in her church.”
In verses 9 and 10 of this passage, Paul offers a parenthetical commentary on the previous verse. He speaks of Jesus’ ascension (His return to Heaven), pointing out that He had to first descend into the “lower parts of the earth.” This same one who descended is now raised up “far above all heavens” and ‘fills all things.’ It is He who gives gifts to men.
Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck tell us that Jesus’ descending could be taken to mean one of three things: (1) It could refer to Jesus incarnation — His initial ‘descent’ to this earth. (2) It could refer to His descent into Hell to preach to the spirits in prison there. Or, (3) It could refer to Jesus’ descent to the grave. They conclude, “The third view best fits the context because in His death Christ had victory over sin and redeemed those who would be given as ‘gifts’ to the church.”
One practical takeaway that we can apply to our own lives is this: Jesus, being God, did not think it beneath Himself to descend to lower realms in order to serve others and do God’s will. Jesus humbly descended to earth, and to the grave, and to Hell. We should not think of any form of service that God calls us to as being beneath us. We, too, should be willing to descend, to take on the form of a servant. Any service that God calls us to is the highest service in the world — not because of what we do, but because of who we are doing it for.
Walter and Ella Edmiaston wrote:
Are you working for the Master,
Are you toiling day by day?
Are you sowing seeds of kindness,
For the reapers on the way?
Hear you not the Master calling,
For glad toilers brave and true?
Will you enter now the harvest,
For the call is unto you?
There’s a work for all, my brother,
Sheaves are falling by the way,
Go you forth into the harvest,
Enter now, without delay.