God has placed different people in the Church with various abilities, various gifts. And you and I are never to ignore them nor indeed try to change them.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Well I’m fine, thank you. Happy to be with you. The miles drop away, and it’s just as though I were sitting by your kitchen table with a cup of coffee, or driving with you to work, or whatever the situation may be. Nice to be friends, isn’t it? I appreciate that.
We were looking at Ephesians Chapter 4, and I was pausing momentarily to talk with you about verse seven: “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Do remember that it’s an accomplished fact. You don’t have to ask God for more grace, it’s yours already, just cash in on it. Then you have 8, 9, and 10, “Wherefore he said, when he ascended up on high” … he’s quoting now from an Old Testament passage … “he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the Earth? He that descended” … Jesus … “is the same also that ascended” … that’s our Lord, risen Christ … up far, above all heavens that he might fill all things.)”
Now, what’s the purpose of all that? Why does he say that? The key to experiencing God’s grace is the risen Christ who knows all about you… because he’s been where you are. He sat where we sat. He is a high priest, the writer to the Hebrew says, “who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” He knows how I feel.
How many times people have said to me, when I called on them… 18 years in the pastorate, I made three calls a day, thousand calls a year …go talk with someone about the Lord Jesus. And how many of the times people have said to me, “Pastor, you don’t know how I feel”.
Well, of course, they’re right. How can I tell exactly how the other person feels, because I don’t live inside their skin. But there have been some times, there have been some times when I could say, “I know how you feel.” What was that, when I had been through it? Huh? So that makes the difference. Dear friend of mine wrote me just the other day and said that he was writing this letter to his closest friends so that they would know what had happened to him; he had been diagnosed as having a disease for which there seems to be no cure. And so progressively, he’s feeling the weakening of muscles and nerves and so on. Well, it just struck me a blow, a physical blow almost, to hear that news. But then I sat down and wrote to him and I said, “You know, maybe I can empathize a little bit with how you feel because I remember the day when the doctor came in and said, to me that there was some things wrong with me that needed radiation, [chuckle] and I thought, ‘Oh boy, now this. What am I gonna do?'”
Well, you can empathize a little. You can empathize a little with people if you’ve been there. You don’t ever, as another human being, fully experience all of the other person is experiencing because you can’t, because you’re human.
But here we have a Savior. Here we have a Savior that knows exactly how we feel. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities because He was in all points tested like as we are. Are we tired? So was He. Are we hurt? So was He. Are we discouraged? So was He. Does sadness fill our hearts and the tears flow? So it was with Him. Do people misunderstand us? So it happened with our Savior. Are we subject to unjust criticism and even hatred? So it was with Him.
He experienced all of the feelings, beloved, that you have this minute. That’s why these three verses are put in here in Ephesians 4.
Paul is trying to tell you, you got a Savior who came to this Earth. He experienced everything you experienced. He died – “He tasted death for every man,” the Bible said. And He rose again and He’s alive today, and His presence now through the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit fills all of your life. You can trust Him then, can’t you?… for the outpouring of His wonderful grace. That’s what that’s there for.
He came down the stairways of the stars. He tasted all of the experiences of human nature. All the tests and trials and temptations and woes — right straight up to the cross where He tasted death for every man. He himself also, likewise, took part of the same that through death He might deliver them, who all their lifetime were in bondage through fear of death. Jesus did it. Hallelujah!
Because He did it, he knows how you feel today. I take great comfort in that. I don’t always feel like a Christian, do you? Do you wake up shouting, “Hallelujah, glory to God”? Huh? You wake up singing, “Holy, holy, holy,” early in the morning, “our songs will rise to thee”? I would guess that some of you wake up with a groan and then say, “Oh, Lord, do I have to get up today?” [chuckle]
You don’t always feel holy, you don’t always feel like a Christian, but you know it so because you’re trusting an Almighty Savior, and the blessed Holy Spirit dwells within you to reveal Christ to you and through you and through His Holy Word. [chuckle] The grace of God is yours, every moment of every day, because there’s a Savior who knows how you feel, He’s been there, He’s tasted every experience, including physical death, and He rose again, and today, He lives to name your name before a holy God. Bible says, “He ever liveth to make intercession for them that come unto God by Him.” Now that’s the background of Paul’s statement to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. “He knows how I feel. He loves me. He knows my name. He’s mentioning me before God the Father, and the blessed Holy Spirit dwells within me, to manifest Christ to my life, and through my life.”
And so, maybe I face a difficult day today. Maybe I don’t feel so hot today. Maybe the world seems to be falling in on me today. Have you ever had days like that when everything seemed to be falling in on you? The rent is due, the mortgage is due, the bills are due. You don’t feel too well physically. You got aches and pains, you wonder what is going on in your body, and the what-if syndrome suddenly rises up. “What if I’ve got this or that or the other?” Huh? And you’ve got problems with family members or in-laws or neighbors or co-workers or whatever it is, and all of it wrapped together seems to be just too much. The world is falling in on you. Right then you just look up and say, “Lord Jesus, you know how I feel, ’cause you’ve been there. See me through this one. Give me Thy victory, give me Thy grace.”
See, “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” What measure? He came here, he tasted every experience I will ever have to meet, including death. He rose again, and He’s alive today to be my living victorious Savior, and He knows my name, and He’s mentioning me to God the Father, and He’s going to see to it that I get safe home to Heaven. “Hallelujah anyway,” is the phrase that you can use when you’re right up against it, if the world seems to fall in on you. It’s a good truth, isn’t it?
Now Paul goes on in the 11th verse and he says, “This gift of Christ eventuates in different kinds of ministry. He gave gifts unto men. He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. And the reason for their work is for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, so we all come in the unity, the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Now you got the gift of Christ, verse seven, and now in-between he talks about the body of Christ, that’s the church, but now you talk about the fullness of Christ. See?
The gift of Christ is accomplished. Growing up into a perfect or mature or grown-up person unto the measure of this stature, the fullness of Christ, that’s something that you are still achieving, and He goes on to show you how that goes.
Now, what about these different gifts? Well, God has placed different people in the church with various abilities, various gifts, and you and I ought never to ignore them, nor indeed try to change them. What God has given to one person is his or her special gift, and to take a person like that and put them in another area oftentimes doesn’t really succeed.
I’ve taken some business courses, and on one occasion the prof mentioned that the top salesman doesn’t often make a top sales manager. And he told the story of someone in a corporation who had been the star salesman. He outranked everybody else. He could sell a glass of water to a drowning man, they say. He was a star salesman.
And so it was that when the sales manager of that particular group either moved on or whatever it was, they said, “Well, let’s put so-and-so in there, boy, can he sell.” And they put him in his manager and he proceeded, over a period of time, to be very unsuccessful. He couldn’t manage people. He couldn’t motivate them. He didn’t run his department properly and he soon found himself back on the street selling, and someone else was sales manager. It just didn’t work.
The reason I’m raising this point at all is just to emphasize that you and I do well to use the gifts God has given us without trying to change what he has put into the mix, you may say, of our lives, prophets, apostles. Now we don’t have apostles in the sense of the 12 apostles that Jesus chose, but that word “apostle” is a compound of two words, “apo” and “stello”; apo means out from, and stello means to send forth. There are people who are especially sent forth in the leadership of God’s work that have a special touch on them, and you know that that is so.
Prophets, and this has to do not only with foretelling, F-O-R-E-telling, but forthtelling, F-O-R-T-H-telling. That means people who speak as indeed right from the heart of God. They were saying of an old Swedish preacher some years ago, the minute he opened his mouth, you knew that God was talking to your conscience. Now that’s prophetic, see. That’s the way a prophetic utterance hits you, you know that it’s God talking to your heart. Well, we come to this 11th verse once again the next time we get together. Alright?
Father God, have your way with us today and help us to use the gifts you’ve given us to the glory of Jesus, I pray in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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