Ascended and Gift-giving
Lord Jesus, You were born into our world. You lived, died, and rose again. You reign as ascended King over all! Hallelujah!
Read Ephesians 4:7-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The ascension of Christ means not a Christ-deserted world but a Christ-filled world” (William Barclay).
We celebrate Ascension Day forty days after the resurrection. Jesus returned to heaven and entered the presence of the Father (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:51; Acts1:9). This ended his earthly, visible ministry and prepared the way for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-7).
Paul connects the ascension (7-10) to Psalm 68:18. This psalm is generally regarded as Messianic and compares Christ to an ancient king (presumably David) returning victorious from battle and giving gifts to his people. When David’s greater Son, Jesus, the victorious king of a different battle (sin, death, Satan), rose from the dead and 40 days later ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit then came giving spiritual gifts to God’s people. In the same way, when we become Christians, we receive spiritual gifts from the risen and exalted Christ through the Holy Spirit.
This passage on spiritual gifts is set in the context of unity among God’s people (1-6), but the unity is not a bland uniformity. The unity is enriched by diversity (7-12) and demands the maturity of growth (13-16). Here, the spiritual gifts mentioned are associated with leadership roles in the church: apostle, evangelist, and pastor-teacher. Other passages show different gifts of the Spirit. When we know our spiritual gifts and use them in the ministry of our Lord, the church is built up; the Gospel is proclaimed and demonstrated.
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of vs. 14,15 shows in a vivid way the end result, “No prolonged infancies among us please…God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and to tell it in love—like Christ in everything.” In a healthy church there is growing unity, displaying a concerted witness in the variety of the ways the Spirit directs.
Read and pray over the lists of gifts of the Spirit; Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and 1 Peter 4:10-11. Ask God to reveal your particular gifts.
Father, help me to identify my spiritual gifts and use them to contribute to Your ministry in the church and world.
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