The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 6 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #230)
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 4:11-12:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Norman Grubb said, “Revival, as contrasted with a Holy Ghost atmosphere is a clean-cut breakthrough of the Spirit, a sweep of Holy Ghost power, bending the hearts of hardened sinners as the wheat before the wind, breaking up the fountains of the great deep, sweeping the whole range of the emotions, as the master hand moves across the harp strings, from the tears and cries of the penitent to the holy laughter and triumphant joy of the cleansed.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “I can think of one thing when I get to the Judgment and that is that Jesus might look down and say, ‘I had many things to tell you but you couldn’t bear them.’ We’re too busy running our own lives: praying when we want to pray, eating what we want to eat, going where we want to go, spending what we want to spend, reading what we want to read. Do you call that a spiritual life? No, it is carnal as carnality!'”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “William J. Seymour was well acquainted with rejection. He began life as the son of recently freed slaves in Centreville, Louisiana. The South was in transition following the Civil War, but despite the liberation of slaves, in 1870 it was a society still steeped in class distinctions. In those days, receiving a good education was nearly out of the question for an African American. If Seymour was going to learn how to read and write, he would have to teach himself. The fact that he did so is a commentary on his strength of will and determination.”
In this verse, we see the specific roles that Jesus Christ has gifted to His church. These roles are to be filled by people whom God has called for these positions. Defining these roles — seeing what they meant to Paul as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write about them — is important because there are many people who seek a title or a role that they are neither qualified for nor called to.
We should note that this verse is not an exhaustive list of the gifts in the church. Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “There are three lists of spiritual gifts given in the New Testament: this one, one in First Corinthians 12, and one in Romans 12. Since these lists are not identical, it may be that Paul has not named all the gifts that are available. Paul wrote that some gifts are more important than others, but that all believers are needed if the body is to function normally. Here, Paul names not so much ‘gifts’, but the gifted men God has placed in the church.”
The first of these gifted persons named by Paul is the apostle. “And he gave some, apostles…” The word “apostle” means “a delegate, a messenger, one sent forth with orders.” The apostle is one who is sent forth by another with a special mission and a special message.
We often refer to the 12 apostles and the 12 disciples interchangeably. But Jesus had many disciples, however, He only commissioned 12 apostles. We learn from First Corinthians 9 that the apostles were to give witness of the resurrection, thus they had to have seen with their own eyes the living Christ. (The Bible tells us that the largest group of people to have seen Jesus after He rose from the dead numbered at around 500.) The church was built on the firm foundation of irrefutable eyewitness testimony that Jesus Christ was alive. The apostles facilitated the construction of that firm foundation.
In the strictest sense of the word, there are no apostles today. They had a special mission that they faithfully fulfilled. They did what was required of them and passed the torch to the next generation of believers. However, we could say that ALL believers have an apostolic job description. It is our job to tell the world that Jesus is risen.
Alfred Henry Ackley wrote:
I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.