We Are Adopted, 23 March 2014

Big Idea: We are adopted

Ephesians 5:1-21

Today’s passage reminds us that we are adopted.

The first professional musical I ever saw was Annie. My mom had an opportunity to see it when I was a child and took our family to see it when it came to town. I was very excited many years later to watch our kids perform the show. It’s a great story of a poor orphan who moves from the horrible conditions of an orphanage to becoming the adopted child of a very rich man. Her life is radically transformed by a loving father and she instantly receives the wealth and privileges of being in his family.

There’s a great story about an adopted boy who was teased on the playground for being adopted. He confidently said, “My parents chose me. Yours are stuck with you!”

Adoption is our story, too. We have been adopted into God’s family. Our identity as followers of Jesus is no longer that of hopeless, hell-bound enemy of God living in the slime of sin but adopted children of the King of kings.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (1-2)

Kids love to imitate their parents.

We are to imitate our heavenly Dad. That is a life of love.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. (3-7)

This is quite a list! These are common sins in the world. They have no place in the Church. Not even a hint!

“If you can get into sin and it doesn’t bother you, you are not a child of God.”
- J. Vernon McGee.

We all sin. What is your attitude toward sin? Pride or repentance?

“Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, it's pleasures, and it's pains, to a dear friend. Tell him your troubles, that he may comfort you; tell him your joys, that he may sober them; tell him your longings, that he may purify them; tell him your dislikes, that he may help you conquer them; talk to him of your temptations, that he may shield you from them; show him the wounds of your heart, that he may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. If you thus pour out your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back, neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of their heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.”

Francois Fenelon

We need to tell God what is in our heart.

sexual immorality (porn, adultery, fornication)
any kind of impurity
greed (advertising and marketing tempt us)
foolish talk or coarse joking (what if all of your words were posted online?)

What is left to do?!

but rather thanksgiving.

God judges His children. Judging and disciplining the children of others is generally considered inappropriate. Loving parents discipline.

We need to love people and be with them, but sometimes we can’t do what they’re doing.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (8-14)

Notice the contrast. We were not in darkness; we were darkness! Now we are light. God’s children are filled with kindness, goodness, and righteousness, truth, sincerity.

“Character is what you are in the dark.” - D.L. Moody

We are not only to avoid the darkness, we are to expose it, to shine a light on it. This doesn’t mean we are supposed to be a tattle-tale but we are to shine the light of Jesus. Your actions truly speak louder than your words.

We are not to judge or lecture people outside the church. We are just to shine the light.

An engaged woman gives great attention to her fiancé. Do we give great attention to Jesus?

Wake up! How can we wake from the dead? This is for believers who have wandered from Jesus.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (15-17)

It’s all about the Lord’s will, God’s glory. If you are God’s child, you submit to God. You seek God’s will. It’s not about what you want but what God wants.
Does your use of your time bring glory to God?
Does your use of your money bring glory to God?
Does your use of your energy bring glory to God?

What is God saying to you?
What are you doing about it?

It’s easy to rationalize, excuse, and hide. If you have any relationship with God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit will usually alert you to those things that please and displease God.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (18-20)

God’s children are filled with God, with the Holy Spirit. This is not a text concerning alcohol, though alcohol has destroyed many lives. Paul tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you filled with the world or the Holy Spirit?

God’s children should not be controlled by any substance—alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, caffeine, food, etc.

God’s children should not be controlled by anything—Facebook, peer pressure, the boss, video games, …

We are to imitate God. We are to look and think and act like Jesus. How? By trying hard? No! By surrendering to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. He empowered Jesus and He is available to empower us today.

A drunk is possessed by alcohol. A true believer is possessed by the Holy Spirit. They look like Jesus!

The image is one of sailing. Is your sail up? If not, it’s difficult to catch the wind of the Spirit.

We are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. It truly is like drinking. You may have had a cup of coffee yesterday but it won’t sustain you today.

You may be so full today and yet hungry tomorrow.

How do you know if you are filled with the Spirit?

Speaking psalms (from the book of Psalms), hymns and spiritual songs (less formal).

Give thanks right now!

As a musician, of course I love this text!

Best-selling author, John Maxwell, has three questions to determine passion:

What do you cry about?
What do you dream about?
What do you sing about?

I realize some enjoy singing more than others, but the point is not about notes so much as it’s about what’s inside. As we saw last week, Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Here Paul takes it a step further to talk about singing.

What is the number one subject of pop songs? Love. When people are in love, they sing about it. Words alone often are inadequate.

When we sing at Scio, it’s not choir practice or glee club. It’s a way to express our love for God in ways that go beyond mere words.

Worship happens everywhere. In sports arenas, people yell and cheer for their team. On Wall Street, investors enthusiastically make money! In concerts, people sing along with rock stars. Where did we get the idea that it’s inappropriate to worship in church?!?!?

Have you ever been praying and you simply run out of words? I do all the time. Sometimes I resort to praying in Spanish, a language I studied in college. At times I wish I was given the spiritual gift of tongues just to express things I cannot express in my own vocabulary.

God has blessed me with a love language that often expresses that which I cannot do with mere words—music. I feel closest to God when I am in nature and when I have a nice piano to play. If I could get a cabin near water that had a grand piano, I’d be as close to God as possible on the earth, a perfect environment in which to compose music, sing, and worship the LORD. If you have one you’d like to let me borrow, let me know!

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (21)

This does not mean to blindly obey what everyone says not does it say to do what you want, but submitting ourselves to one another in the fear of God.

Submit means respond to one another as unto the LORD. We love Him because He first loved us.


I thought about this for a sermon:

don’t commit adultery
don’t be greedy
don’t swear
don’t do anything bad

The problem, of course, is that you can’t just be good and try harder. Don’t think about a purple elephant!

How, then, shall we live? How do we obey God?

Going back to verse one,

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children…(Ephesians 5:1)

Religion says if we hear the words of Jesus, we can do the works of Jesus. It’s not that simple. Most of the time we know the right thing to do, we are just tempted to do otherwise. I know working out is good for my heart, but I’d rather watch basketball and eat ice cream!

Pasted Graphic

The secret to obedience and following Jesus is to begin with the words of Jesus and the ways of Jesus.

If we imitate the ways of Jesus—they rhythms, the disciplines, the lifestyle—the works of Jesus will eventually emerge as fruit. We are to be imitators of God first. Jesus did not just naturally live a godly life. He spent time alone with the Father. He disciplines His body and mind.

Pasted Graphic 1

What Now?

Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Consider how you can participate in adoption.

Today there are thousands of orphans around the world, including here in the USA. Many are abandoned or abused.

In the early church, Christians adopted unwanted kids. We’re adopted into God’s family and we should be eager to adopt, whether through foster care, overseas adoption, or even child sponsorship.

For the first time in history, 40% of children in our nation will go to bed without a father tonight. The majority of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock.

We’ve been adopted by our heavenly Father. He set a great example for us to follow. Become a foster parent. Adopt a child. Help a family in the adoption process through prayer, time, or finances.

Michigan Foster Care and Adoption Faith-Based Summit 

Thousands of Michigan children need a home....some just need love and support temporarily while their parents make the changes necessary to provide the home these children deserve while others are waiting for a "forever" family.  Finding a family for each and every one of these children is at the heart of the important journey that will begin at the Faith-Based Foster Care and Adoption Summit on
April 29, 2014.
There is no cost to attend this event.  Advanced registration is required. Please
click here for detailed flyer and registration information.


Some ideas from

Mike Breen, 3DMovements.com
J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

We Are Forgiven, 16 March 2014

Big Idea: We are forgiven.

Ephesians 4:25-32

The prohibitions from last week continue.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (4:25)

What’s therefore there for? Paul said we are made new, no longer children of Adam, but the new Adam, Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, Sanctified, Healer, and Coming King. He is our big brother, a perfect example for us to follow.

Paul says first not to lie. Speak the truth. Nothing destroys trust like lying. Nothing destroys unity like distrust.

This might sound obvious. Don’t lie. It’s one of the Ten Commandments. Everyone knows it’s wrong. How many do it, though?

Years ago a friend told me how he lied to his daughter. I was shocked! “How could you lie to your sweet child?” I thought. My friend said, “I told her I would play a game with her. I got busy, she went to bed, and I did not do what I said and, therefore, lied. I have since apologized.”

Wow! I challenged him on his assessment and he said sin is like layers of an onion. Just when we think we are righteous, we sin in our pride and have to repent of our godlessness.

I find I’m most prone to lie in what has been called the final 10%. Perhaps you are asked to recount a story and you share most of it, but there’s a little bit missing. Maybe you are asked to share your feelings and you reveal the majority of it, but you skip one or two details.

Brothers and sisters, we are all members of one body, and for the body to be healthy it must work together, it must speak the truth in love—even when it is difficult.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (4:26-27)

Notice this does not say do not get angry. Not all anger is sin. Jesus got angry. Don’t sin in anger. Resolve disputes. Don’t hold a grudge which would give the devil a foothold. God is angry with the wicked. He hates sin. He hates injustice. How do you deal with anger? Do you bottle it up? Ignore it? Express it violently? Rage on Facebook? Pray about it?

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (4:28)

Here’s another one of God’s Top Ten. Don’t steal. Further, if you want something, work. Notice the ending. Share. Don’t hoard. Be generous. Generosity is one of the most compelling signs of a child of the King of Kings who owns it all. We are to work, earn and share. Many are unable to do so and need our help. That’s what family does. Family helps family.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (4:29)

Oh dang! Oops! Keep your talk pure. The Bible is filled with instructions regarding our speech. Why? Out of the heart the mouth speaks.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (Proverbs 4:23-24)

This includes profanity, dirty jokes, sharp sarcasm (“anger in a clown suit”), and gossip (also known as confessing the sins of others!).

Words are very powerful. That line about sticks and stones is a big lie. Words have the power to kill and destroy, yet they can also encourage, edify, and bless.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (4:30)

What does this mean? The day of redemption is when the Holy Spirit presents us to Jesus. What grieves God? Sin. We can grieve God but we are sealed. We are forgiven, but that doesn’t give us a license to sin. God’s forgiveness does not negate human consequences of our words and actions.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (4:31-32)

Paul really lays it on here. Look at the list of prohibitions:

bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice

This is a common sequence. We are wronged and become bitter. Over time, the bitterness in our heart can grow into rage, anger, and outward actions of brawling, slander, and malice. This is not always the process, but Paul offers a compelling—if not radical—alternative. He says to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. Easy for him to say, right?! He’s probably writing from a mountaintop cottage overlooking the ocean, living the high life as an early Christian celebrity, surrounded by assistants and caretakers. Except that he’s writing from prison!

Why forgive?

…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (4:32b)

We forgive because we’ve been forgiven. Paul understood this. He was forgiven for persecuting the church, including his support of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 (Acts 8:1). Perhaps you have skeletons in your closet, but killing Christians is unlikely among them. Even if it were, you have been forgiven. We don’t deserve it. Nobody deserves to be forgiven—by definition.

We’ve all been wronged and we have two possible responses: bitterness and forgiveness. We know intellectually that bitterness only harms us—and Paul forbids it— but it’s so attractive. It’s easy to hold grudges, judge another, blame others, and hold their offenses against them. Forgiveness is obviously a superior response, but it can be so difficult. Perhaps part of the challenge is in our misunderstanding of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is…

canceling a debt owed to you
removing the control your offender has over you
giving a gift to your offender…and yourself
leaving ultimate justice in God’s hands
often an ongoing process
wanting good for your offender
forsaking revenge
moving forward
dropping resentment and grudge
a choice, a decision (not an emotion)
a step toward healing
an opportunity to display grace

An ancient Chinese proverbs says, “He who seeks revenge should dig two graves.”

Forgiveness is not…

denying the sin occurred or diminishing its evil
instant emotional healing
enabling sin
necessarily a response to a repentant apology
covering up sin committed against us
removing the consequences of the offense (legal action may even be required)
trust (forgiveness takes a moment; trust takes time to build and longer to rebuild)
reconciliation (it takes one to forgive and two to reconcile)

My Story

I was apprehensive about preaching this message. It seems often when I speak on a subject, God gives me real-life experiences that correspond. This is why I love to preach on success, freedom, and prosperity and I’m sometimes nervous about speaking on trials! I had a sense that this week I would need to forgive someone and I actually imagined a scenario in which I would be in a car accident and need to forgive someone.

I was in a car accident this past week! Fortunately, it was relatively minor. During Wednesday’s snow storm I was stopped at a red light and a car slid into mine. There were no bodily injuries and just some dents in the vehicles. I thanked God all morning that I didn’t have to forgive someone more reckless and ruthless.


On May 20, 2012, 18 year-old Takunda Mavima was driving home from a party when he lost control and crashed his car into an off-ramp near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Riding in the car were 17 year-old, Tim See, and 15 year-old, Krysta Howell. Both were killed in the accident.

Takunda Mavima lived.

Mavima pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to between 30 months and 15 years in prison.

Despite their unimaginable grief and anger, both the sister and the father of victim, Tim See, gave a moving address to the court on behalf of Mavima, urging the judge to give him a light sentence.

“I am begging you to let Takunda Mavima make something of himself in the real world — don’t send him to prison and get hard and bitter, that boy has learned his lesson a thousand times over and he’ll never make the same mistake again.”

And when the hearing ended, the victim’s family made their way across the courtroom to embrace, console, and publicly forgive Mavima.

Make sure this image sticks with you forever.

There will be a time in your life when someone will wrong you. God forbid they take the life of your child. But it will happen. And what matters most isn’t how it happened, but how you respond to it.

And if you’re a person of faith, the calling is even greater. The gospel of forgiveness isn’t a high calling for the heroic individual, or a counter-cultural description of heavenly perfection. It is a principle central to the gospel itself – the very heart of our faith in which we are called to embody.

In the swelling sea of human destruction, the little story of Takunda Mavima and a family from Michigan is a lighthouse on a hill, a beacon of hope, guiding the way for all our ships to pass through.

Right now, how can you prepare yourself with a clear plan of action to forgive in the darkest of times? (from Storyline Blog, March 8, 2013)

We are forgiven by God who gives us the power to forgive.

Who do you need to forgive?


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

We Are New, 9 March 2014

Big Idea: We are made new in Christ.

Ephesians 4:17-24

Do you like you? Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror? I meet a lot of people who are not satisfied with who they are. They want to be someone else. They want to be different. They want to change. They want to become someone new.

Several weeks ago we talked about the contrast between Adam and the new Adam, Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve’s sin blew it for all of us, ushering an array of consequences so great we have little memory of the Garden of Eden.

Do you want to become someone new? If we’re honest, there’s plenty of junk in all of our lives that we want to change—habits, insecurities, addictions, fears…

This morning I want to encourage you to be painfully honest with yourself and with God about where you are—about who you are.

Paul pens from prison words that may or may not describe your present reality.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (17-19)

Here’s the text from The Message.

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. (Ephesians 4:17-19, The Message)

This is the life of an unbeliever. Tragically, this also describes many believers who have wandered from the faith.

Somewhere in recent history a myth spread that if you pray and prayer and believe the historical events of holy week—Jesus’ death and resurrection—that you have a free ticket to heaven and then you can live like everyone else until you die. That’s part of it.

The founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson, described Jesus in the Fourfold Gospel.

We all like the idea of Jesus as our
Healer, providing divine life and physical healing (Isaiah 53:4-5).

We are grateful for Jesus being our
Savior. He died on the cross for our sins and to make us right with God (John 3:16).

We want Jesus to be our
Sanctifier, cleansing us from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

We are generally ok with the idea of Jesus as a
Coming King. We look forward to His return to fix the world we have broken (Acts 1:11).

However, He wants to be Lord and King now, which means we surrender everything to Him.

Friends, it’s not that God is on a power trip. It’s that you wand I were meant to live for so much more than destroying ourselves and our world with sin. Here’s why: Your Daddy loves you! Yes, I’m saying it again because it’s so essential to living the life God wants for us. He wants to do life with us. He wants to be with us, encourage us, guide us, and love us. Because He loves us, He wants us to experience abundant life, joy, peace, contentment, purpose, and meaning. When our lives are filled with sin, it’s impossible to experience all He desires since sin ultimately leads to death.

Many want Jesus to be Savior, but He also wants to be LORD. Mike Breen calls this “Invitation and Challenge.” He invited people into relationship with Him, but He also challenged them to pick up their cross daily and follow Him. It is wonderful that we have been adopted as children of God, but we must live into our true identity and sons and daughters of the King.

The truth is, none of us has truly made Jesus LORD. Every day we battle with our ego, our will, our reputation, our comfort, our security, and our pleasure. As we will see in the coming weeks we are in the midst of a war between good and evil. Like all relationships, we cannot simply rest on past investments, telling God how obedient we were years ago, how righteous we acted in the past, how we sacrificed in days gone by.

If you feel exempt from this discussion because you have lived a flawless life, you’re guilty of pride and self-righteousness. BAM!

Paul was religious. He was devout. He had perfect attendance in Sunday—er, Saturday—School! Outwardly, he was as religious as they come. What did he later call his righteousness?

Rubbish, filth, trash, …literally dog dung! That was Paul’s old religious life.

I want to invite you to join me in a time of confession. Many church traditions make confession a part of each worship gathering, and perhaps we should, too. Before we spend any more time in worship or study or fellowship, let’s have a time of confession.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)


Pause now to confess your sins.

How did that feel? Sometimes there’s nothing like a good bath, rinsing off the dirt and being cleansed. That’s what Jesus does, He cleanses us, forgives us, and loves us.

He makes all things new!

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)

That’s what we have to look forward to in the future, but as the Kingdom of God crashes into our world now, we can experience newness now, here, today!

This issue of identity really matters. Your identity may be divorcee, failure, geek, athlete, winner, loser, engineer, mom, alcoholic, victim, artist, or sinner. Paul tells us that whatever is in your past can stay there. You are now in Christ, and that identity trumps all others.

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (20-24)

Paul gives us three commands:

- put off your old self, your former manner of life
- be made new in the attitude of your minds
- put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness

Confession is essential, but more is required—repentance. Repentance means to turn away, to change directions, to do a U-turn. In Paul’s language, it is to put off the old self and be made new. Baptism is a beautiful picture of this, entering a water grave, dying to our old self, and resurrecting with Christ, possessing a new attitude, a new self.

The NIV uses this phrase “new self,” but the more accurate translation would be “new man,” not to be sexist, but to recognize how we are born with a sin nature from Adam that must be put to death so we can live for the new Adam, Jesus.

You can use whatever metaphor you wish:

- taking off old clothes and putting on new garments
- caterpillar to a butterfly
- ugly duckling to a beautiful swan
- frog and prince

The question is, can people change? Yes, but it requires more than just the kiss of a princess. We must daily choose to make Jesus our LORD. We must accept HIs challenge to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. We must live into our identity as children of the King. It begins by surrendering to God, dying to ourselves, and being made alive in Christ.

Where do you need to more fully surrender to God? Finances? Time with Him? Relationships? Future plans?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)



Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

We Are Gifted, 2 March 2014

Big Idea: We are gifted.

Ephesians 4:1-16


Do you like gifts? When do you usually receive a gift? When we get a gift, we usually think about how it can benefit us. Have you ever received a gift that you wanted to use to bless someone else? I’m not talking about regifting! I mean sharing a gift.

Two weeks ago I attended my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. There was a huge pile of gifts. There were children there, too, that were interested in these gifts. Can you guess what happened?!

Today we continue our series on the book of Ephesians, Who Do You Think You Are? As we begin chapter four, a huge shift occurs, from doctrine to clear directives. Paul spent the first three chapters talking about who we are—and Whose we are. We are in Christ.

Ephesians parallels the book of Joshua. Joshua entered the land of Promised Land, leading the children of Israel over the Jordan speaking of the death, burial and resurrection to the Promised Land where we (should be) living today. Joshua had to take possession (the great word in Joshua).

Ephesians 1-3 is all about position, we are in Christ. Are we walking in possession? Now we enter the Promised Land to be a blessing to others.

We will see a shift from declarations to commands, from propositions to practical stuff for those in Christ.

Our culture often says if you do something, you can be somebody. God says be somebody and then you can do something as a result. Be in Christ. Becoming a child of God. Follow Jesus. Transformation follows.

I believe one of the great tragedies contributing to the decline of the movement of Jesus in our culture is the message we have sent to the world. Many churches communicate the need to
behave, believe, and then belong. The order must be reversed. We must welcome the stranger and invite them into relationship with us and God. After they are loved and feel they belong it is likely they will believe, and once they believe and receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then and only then do they have the ability to behave.

As we begin Ephesians 4, these words are instructions to believers who are in Christ. Without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit this text will be nothing more than futile, guilt-inducing moralizing. May it never be!

Paul the prisoner begins to instruct his readers, believers in the early Church.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (1-3)

We could camp out on these three verses for weeks!

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. J. Vernon McGee said people may not be telling you but they’re smelling you to see if your faith is genuine. It’s not only how we walk but where we walk, walking in the light (1 John 1:7). Is your life worthy of being called “Christian,” a “little Christ?”

Be completely humble. Humility has been a challenge for me…ever since I was eight years old, played a piano solo in our small church, and responded to a kind old lady who said, “You play very nice, young man” with the fateful words, “I know!” Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. Few things make loving relationships challenging more than pride. We will in a culture where so many are creating platforms, establishing their own personal brand identity, and seeking as many likes, friends and followers as possible. Those endeavors are not necessarily sinful, but the attitude behind them can be evil. Pride got Lucifer the angel kicked out of heaven where he then became satan. Are you seeking God’s fame or your own.

…and gentle. Gentleness—or meekness—is not weakness. Moses (shattering the stone tablets) and Jesus (turning over the tables in the Temple) were both meek. Meekness is bowing to God’s will.

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Patience is a virtue, but patience with people is especially challenging. They don’t usually change as quickly as a traffic light!

- Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

This is one of Paul’s core messages—

Perhaps the most significant verse for the people of Israel speaks to this idea of unity.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (4-6)

One body (the Church)
One Spirit (the Holy Spirit)
One hope (blessed hope)
One Lord (Jesus)
One faith (Acts 2:42)
One baptism (baptism in the Holy Spirit)
One God and Father (the Father of believers)

God is transcendent, above His creation.
God is through and in all, too.

Unity is one of my four prayers for Scio: unity, passion, protection and direction. LORD, make us one. That was Jesus’ prayer for us (John 17).

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) (7-10)

This is an interesting segue from unity to gifts. There are a few possible meanings behind this reference to Psalm 68:18. We know Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). Some see “descended” as a reference to the Incarnation when Jesus came to earth as a baby. Others think it refers to when Jesus descended into Hell.

What is clear is God gives gifts to individuals to use not for themselves but for the Church, the Body of believers. It’s to bless others.

If you are a believer you have been given at least one gift to serve others. You are vital part of the body. With the possible exception of a haircut, no surgery is painless!

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (11-13)

Jesus gave the gifts.
He has the authority.
Every believer has at least one gift.
Nobody has all of the gifts.
It’s not that you have or don’t have a gift. There can be degrees.
Gifts may be lifelong or possibly temporary, like healing.
There is no comprehensive list of spiritual gifts.

There are four sections on spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, 1 Peter 4, Ephesians 4).

We are all called to be ministers.

As a pastor, I’m called to equip you to do the ministry, works of service.

Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8)
Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)
Faith (1 Cor. 12:9)
Healing (1 Cor. 12:9)
Miracles (1 Cor. 12:9)
Discernment (1 Cor. 12:10)
Apostleship (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
Helps and Service (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Peter 4:11)
Administration (1 Cor. 12:28)
Evangelism (Eph. 4:11)
Pastoring/Counseling (Eph. 4:11)
Encouragement (Rom. 12:8)
Giving (Rom. 12:8)
Leadership (Rom. 12:8)
Mercy (Rom. 12:8)
Hospitality (Rom. 12:13)
Tongues (1 Cor. 12:8–10, 29
Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28; Eph. 4:11)

Do you know your spiritual gift or gifts? These questions from Mark Driscoll may help you identify them:

Whom/where do you have a passion to serve?
What do you have a burden to do?
needs do you see in the church?
What do you find joy in doing for others?
What opportunities has God already provided for you to serve others?
What things are you best at and have the most success in?
What have godly people commended you for doing?
What acts of service have given you the deepest sense of satisfaction and joy?

What is the purpose of gifts? The maturity of the Church.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (14-16)

Grow up! We’re not supposed to remain as spiritual babies but we are to grow up. How do you know if someone is a mature person? How do you know if someone is a mature believer?


Where does your church need to grow towards maturity?
What gifts has God given to enable this to take place?
What challenges, what cunning tricks and false teaching, do you need to watch out for, and how can you combat it?

Not every Christian is called to full-time vocational ministry, but every Christian is called to the “work of ministry.”


You can take a free spiritual gifts inventory and experience other valuable tools at http://www.chazown.com.


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible
Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
J. Vernon McGee
, Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.