The Relational Link to Spiritual Growth (Part 5)
We’re talking about the relational link to spiritual growth. Our primary passage is Ephesians 4:7-16. I’ve shared a lot of truths in the previous 4 posts. I want this post to be a review.
Big Truth: God has positioned you and gifted you for growth. When growth stops, you have either rejected the position and/or abandoned the gifts.
When a person enters relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches that we undergo a positional change in the eyes of God. Just as a bride and groom undergo a positional change in the eyes of the court (from single to married), the new Christian undergoes a positional change in the eyes of God.
|In Adam (1 Cor. 15:22; Romans 5:12-14)||In Christ (Romans 5:12-14; Col. 3:1-3)|
|Under the Curse of Sin||Under the Blessing of Grace|
|In Bondage (Romans 6:17)||Set Free (Gal. 5:1)|
|Dead in Sins (Eph. 2:1)||Alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4-5)|
|Robbed by Satan (John 10:10)||Gifted by God (Eph. 1)|
To thrive and grow as a Christian, you need to understand what God did for you, what you have in Christ, what is no longer a part of who you are. As one writer put it, “Until the Christian understands their standing before God, they’re not going to do a lot of standing.”
We also spoke of a second positional change. Because of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we went…
|Outside God’s Family (Eph. 2:3)||Inside God’s Family (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:19)|
|Separated and excluded from the covenants and promises (Eph. 2:12-13)||Brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13)|
|Divided against others (Eph. 2:14)||United in Christ (Eph. 2:15-16)|
|Robbed by Satan (John 10:10)||Gifted by God (Eph. 4)|
Let’s say that two people get the same position at the same company with the same benefits. They are both professional recruiters. Their job is to attract the best and brightest executives to be a part of their firm. In order to do their job effectively, they are given a huge expense account, access to the corporate jet, multiple memberships at exclusive clubs, free vacation packages for incentives, and clearance from their bosses to do whatever is necessary to bring the right people into the firm.
However, only one recruiter was told about the benefits. If skill level, personality, and competence are the same, which will be the better recruiter? Answer: The one who knows what he has, who can access what he has, and who will utilize those resources to do the job.
Take that analogy into our position and gifts in Christ. Every Christian has the same position, is a part of the same family, and has access to the same resources. Our spiritual account has been filled. We have everything we need. But if we do not know what we have, or if we reject what we have, or if we don’t know how to use what we have—we do not reach our full potential in Christ.
God has positioned you and gifted you for growth. When growth stops, you have either rejected the position and/or abandoned the gifts.
Last week, we talked about the gifts that accompany this second positional change. What are the gifts that accompany the family of God?
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Christ’s gift is eternal life (Rom. 6:23). Just as we cannot accurately measure the value of relationship with God, we cannot accurately measure the grace that God gave the church.
We also found that this grace enables us to serve. The term refers to that which works in and shows itself through the life of a believer. Said in a different way, “This grace makes spiritual gifts function to the glory of God.” The second gift is…
“Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”
At Jesus birth, He descended from Heaven’s heights to Bethlehem’s barn. At his death, He descended from the cross of Calvary into the place known as Hades. There He preached to ‘the spirits in prison’ (1 Pet. 3:18-20). Three days later, He ascended back to heaven (leading captivity captive). After 40 days of personal interaction with people, He ascended back to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
The second part of that phrase is, “and He gave gifts to men.” There are several places in the New Testament where God speaks of giving spiritual gifts to believers (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4). God puts gifts in you and provides experiences for you and entrusts lessons to you. But all of those things were never intended to stay with you.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” A steward is someone who cares for the possessions or interest of another. We are to care for these gifts by using them to serve others.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says something very similar: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” No spiritual gift is given to develop you personally. The Holy Spirit has been given to develop you personally (Ephesians 1:13). A spiritual gift is given to you to benefit and bless the community of believers.
Let’s add this up. If God gifted you (not for your growth but for the blessing of others), what happens when we do not use the gifts? It hurts those around us.
If I’m going to be all God created me to be, I need you to be all God created you to be. If you are to become everything God created you to be, you need others to utilize the gifts God implanted in them. We are dependent upon each other.
So what are some of these gifts? How do we recognize them? What do we know about them? We will explore those truths tomorrow.