- Sermon Notes
Freely You Received…
April 3, 2022
Imagine that you have a son who is turning 18. He is the eldest child, and you decided it would be a good idea to give him a car. In your mind you think this gift would be a great bonding experience for all the kids. He could take the rest of them to school, take them out for ice cream, drive them to the beach, and just have a wonderful time together with all the brothers and sisters.
Imagine then this kid telling you that he now loves his independence and do not want to share the experience with them. This car is his alone. He has no interest in spending time with his siblings or driving them around. The gift that you gave with the idea of bringing everyone closer together, becomes divisive and a point of bickering. Your aim was to bless the child, but also that he would use this blessing to be a blessing to others as well.
In the same way, God has given us many blessings, not only to bless us, but to be a blessing to others. Freely we received, so freely we should give.
In the first few chapters of Ephesians, Paul says God blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, focuses on the greatness of God’s riches that we have in Christ, and who we are in Christ.
Now in chapter 4, he uses the word ‘therefore’. This word means that because of what we have read and what we have learned, there is now an action that should follow. Many people get stuck at this point. They take hold of the unfathomable riches of Christ and behave like a child that has gotten everything they ever wanted for Christmas, but now they want to play with all their presents alone and no one else is allowed to touch it.
God gives many gifts. In fact, God has given you gifts which you might have discovered or may still be in the process of discovering. We are going to delve into what manner we should use it, and why it is important.
I. Walk in a Manner that is Worthy
- Verse 1 – ‘therefore’… Paul challenges them on a few important principles and encourages them not to live a self-focused life, but to use these riches in Christ for greater good.
- He calls them to recognize the character that should be shown flowing from these unfathomable riches. People can easily become puffed up in the revelation of the riches in Christ. Paul reminds us that it is all by grace, and as such the Spirit of Christ should be operating in our hearts.
- It is possible that people might’ve attained the revelation of the riches of Christ, but their old behavior and mindset is still at work and evident in their lives. The use of the gifts is then distorted because of the wrong foundation.
- They, and we, are called to live a life worthy of the riches we have received. With great power, comes great responsibility.
Luke 6:45, The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good… for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
- In verse two, Paul highlights a few of the new behaviors and principles they should walk in.
A. Walk in humility towards others
- Being humble is an interesting concept. We have a word in Afrikaans for being humble, and it is “nederig.” It can have the application of being insignificant or having an inferior position. For example, he will never forget his humble upbringing. This can paint a picture of Christians having an inferior position.
- It is good to remember though, that the Bible was not originally written in Afrikaans, or for that matter, English, but in Greek.
- The humility Paul refers to here has a different perspective. It implies not to be overly confident of oneself. It also allows one to recognize their shortcomings. Thus, humility is a good quality.
- Humility is a strength, not a weakness, because you understand that there is One stronger than you from whom you draw your strength. You are not self-reliant. Self-reliance is not strong, because you rely on your own strength which is fallible.
- We are humble towards God because we understand that He is our source of strength.
- However, Paul takes this even further. Verse 2 says we should walk in humility, the implication being that it should be towards one another. Christ gives a great example of what this humility looks like.
Philippians 2:3-7, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.
- We should also walk in this same spirit towards each other as Christ did towards us.
- Humility allows you to bless others, regarding others as more important than yourself. Not because you are not important, but because your identity is so grounded in love that you can focus on others because of the strength you draw out of the knowledge of your worth.
- Verse 2, – From this flows a few things. We give as we have received, for example, gentleness.
- Jesus is gentle and kind to us. From this example He gives us, Christ calls us to be gentle with one another.
- Harsh words never attract; in fact, it has exactly the opposite effect. Think of your own life. What has more impact, hard words showing your faults, or exhorting words of upliftment from a loving source?
- The golden rule, which by the way is in the Bible, of “do unto others as you want done to you” really captures the essence of this.
- Verse 2 – Another example is patience and tolerance for others in love – There’s a saying ‘Patience is a virtue’. And this is so true. In this world people are so driven, that patience is not common anymore. They don’t have patience with other people, and I suggest to you a reason is that we don’t have patience with ourselves.
- I believe that one of the reasons for this is because the world has become a cutthroat place. It used to be three strikes and you’re out. Now it is down to one strike. Zero tolerance for mistakes. We also see it in the cancel-culture that is prevalent now. You have a very limited time to get something right otherwise the world will spit you out.
- If we don’t have patience with ourselves, we won’t have patience with other people.
- People tend to carry that through into their Christian walk as well. They don’t have patience with themselves. They think they need to master the Christian walk very quickly, and do not have patience with themselves or other people.
- We need to understand that our Christian walk is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It is a lifelong journey, enjoy the ride.
Illus. – We have been in this church for just over 6 weeks now, and there is so much to learn. Even though I have been in ministry for over 20 years, each church does certain things different. Not only that but in America everything else is different. The supermarkets are different, the pharmacies are different, healthcare works different, schools are different, safety is different, and just every experience is like a new adventure. Now that is wonderful, I love adventure. Even just going to find tomato sauce is different because in South Africa we don’t call it ketchup. We call it tomato sauce. Tomato sauce in America something totally different. You don’t put it on your chips. But then you don’t even call it chips, you call it fries. There are so many things that are different, and I want to get a handle on it very quickly. So, I found myself getting very impatient with this process. I just thank and honor God for this wonderful church that he has placed us in. Pastor Rich just says to me, “Don’t worry, be patient, this is a marathon. Don’t get stressed. We are patient with the process. We’re in it for the long haul.” This has been such an example to me of patience and having patience toward other brothers.
- Jesus does not give up on you. He is patient and he is kind, and he as at work in you working out your salvation until the end.
Hebrews 12:2, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…
Philippians 1: 6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
- This should help us surrender to Him and to His process. If we grasp this, it will help us have patience with others as well.
- This doesn’t give us license for laziness. We actively walk with Christ knowing He is patient with us.
- We will then have patience with the struggling and hurting people around us.
B. Treasure the unity of the Spirit
- Unity in Spirit is Christ’s aim, because we are the body of Christ.
- Verse 4-6, There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
- Verse 6 shows us this unity is established by the Father who is over all, through all, and in all. He is like a canopy and protection over us, He flows through us all, and He inhabits us all.
Illus.- In a forest, trees look like independent organisms. What we don’t see is what is happening underground. Trees are linked to neighboring trees by an underground network of fungi that resembles the neural networks in the brain. In one study, they observed a Douglas fir that had been injured by insects appeared to send chemical warning signals to a ponderosa pine growing nearby. The pine tree then produced defense enzymes to protect against the insect. This was a breakthrough, as it showed that the trees were sharing information that was important to the health of the whole forest. The whole forest can react together against a threat.
- This is the picture I get from this Scripture. We are not disconnected. No man is island, and certainly no Christian is an island. We are connected by one Spirit covering us moving through us and filling all of us. We are one body even though we are many members.
- God’s goal is that there would be unity in Spirit in the church. Church is not just an abstract organization. Church is made up of people, families, kids, parents, grandparents, friends. Church is a relational organism.
- Imagine if all Christians had unity of the Spirit? It would affect family life, marriages, kids towards parents, parents toward kids, friendships, etc.
- This will transform people. This will transform church. This will transform communities, schools, districts, states, and nations. That is revival, because revival is true transformation and change.
II. God gives Specific Gifts of Grace
The reason Paul emphasizes these character traits, is because he is setting it as a foundation which the gifts should be built on.
We are all part of one body, but now He gives SPECIFIC gifts of grace to each of us as He chooses.
A. Walk in your gift of grace
- Verse 7 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
- Now all of us receive the gift of salvation if we choose to accept it. But then we also have gifts in which we function. Some are gifted to be apostles or prophets or evangelists or pastors or teachers. These are examples of gifts God gives.
- It is interesting to note that God doesn’t give one person all these gifts or functions. The reason is so that we will need each other. God want us to be interconnected with one another and work together to build up the body of Christ. We are better together than we are apart.
Illus. – A good illustration would be if I wanted our family to spend some time together and fellowship. I would take a puzzle and give each 200 random pieces. They would not be able to finish the puzzle without each other.
- It is the same with the church. We need each other to make it an effective organism. The church should be built up to reflect the full stature of Christ.
- God didn’t intend for us to keep the gifts to ourselves. He gave them for the purpose to edify each other for the benefit of all.
B. Measure the fullness of Christ
- Verse 13 – until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- This is the whole point Paul is trying to make, which is: the grace of the gifts of God are given for the building up of the body of Christ.
- In other words, God’s intent is the maturity and the transformation of the church. But to what measure? What do we measure against?
- The fullness of Christ. Could you imagine what that could mean? The maturity of the faith to such a measure as this? This is not a mediocre measure. This is amazing. Growing into the fullness of Christ.
- It is impossible without Christ’s Spirit. It happens through your relationship with the Son of God. Growing in the knowledge of Christ. This is how God achieves this. In fact, God is doing this right here, right now.
- We are growing in the knowledge of the Son of God, which matures us, until the fullness of Christ is attained.
C. Build up one another in love
- Verse 15-16 – but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all into Him who is the head, Christ…which causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- In the human body, it is the head that sends the commands. It gives direction, it activates functions, it even instructs to heal wound in the body, but it is the cells, nerves, bones, and organs that brings forth the result.
- In the same way, the body, which is the church, builds and grows and restores under the direction and guidance of the head, Jesus Christ. Not only in quantity, but also in quality.
- Now if one individual would measure oneself against the full stature of Christ, you might feel that you are falling short. But that is why we function together as a body. That is why each function in our unique gifts.
- Verse 15 – Building up of itself in love. As individuals, we might fall short because of our past hurts or struggles we still have and cannot overcome. Many times, healing comes from hearing the truth about a situation.
Illus. – Imagine you have tooth ache but are scared to go to the dentist fearing what he might say. What if he has the pull the tooth? What if the injections are painful? You treat it with pain medication for a long time, until the pain becomes unbearable. When you eventually go to the dentist, the cavity had progressed to such an extent that it had formed an abscess. It must be treated with antibiotics and needs to be extracted. The dentist says with compassion that if you had come earlier, the tooth could have been saved. The truth is that there is a cavity, but the truth is also that it would’ve been much less painful and less traumatic if the problem had been dealt with in time.
- Sometimes love is hearing the truth even though it might not be easy to hear. The word will reveal truth to you, like looking in a mirror, whether good or bad. But it will always be done with love, kindness, and hope. That is what happens as we teach through the word.
- Christ always spoke the truth, but there was something in who He was that made people want to be with him, even though he spoke the truth. He gave them love and hope.
Illus. – A great example of this is a woman by the well. Jesus revealed to her that he knew of the things that were wrong in her life, but it didn’t chase her away. I believe there was something that she saw in his eyes; a love for her in her circumstances, a compassion for her amid her hurt. Even though He spoke the truth, she found hope because of what she saw in him and experienced. He was not just sharing truth about her current situation, but also gave her hope for the future.
This is the Spirit God wants to operate in and through us and the church. Building each other up in love.
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore [a]it says,
“When He ascended on high,
He led captive the captives,
And He gave gifts to people.”
9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what [b]does it mean except that He also [c]had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as [d]pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [e]saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the [f]knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature [g]which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 [h]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness [i]in deceitful scheming; 15 but [j]speaking the truth in love, [k]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together [l]by what every joint supplies, according to the [m]proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.