“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Grace Of Maturity: Ephesians 4:7-16
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, 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 is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
With this devotional, we are beginning the second division of the book of Ephesians. Previously, we have looked at “Reflections Of His Grace Revealed” (chaps 1-3). It that section, Paul revealed to us the gracious works of the Lord in the lives of His chosen people.
In this new section “Reflections Of His Grace Applied” (chaps 4-6) Paul will be explaining to us the practical effects of God’s grace in the lives of His people.
- The Grace Of Unity (4:1-6)
- The Grace Of Maturity (4:7-16)
- The Grace Of Renewal (4:17-32)
- The Grace Of Imitation (5:1-14)
- The Grace Of Wisdom (5:15-21)
- The Grace Of Relationships (5:22-33)
- The Grace Of Authority/Submission (6:1-9)
- The Grace Of Preparedness (6:10-21)
The next effect of God’s grace we will be looking at is the grace of MATURITY (4:7-16). This is a very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. The Gift Of Christ… The Origin Of God’s Gifts (including Spiritual Maturity) (vs 7-10)
II. Spiritual Gifts Given To Aid Spiritual Maturity (vs 11-12)
III. Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity (vs 13-16)
The next section of Scripture that we will be looking at is found in Eph 4:8-10. To properly understand these verses they need to be looked at as one unit. However, due to the limited length of our devotionals we will be looking at each of these verses in separate devotions. Please keep in mind, it is EXTREMELY important to keep these verses in their proper context to properly understand their meaning…
Vs 8 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Vs 9 – (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Vs 10 – He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
A very brief explanation of these verses:
Vs 8 – Christ, at the completion of His redemptive work, led His people from the captivity of sin into His service, and bestowed many spiritual blessings upon them.
Vs 9 – Christ had to physically die (by partaking of death on the cross and have His body buried in the tomb) for Him to ascend into His Father’s presence victorious over sin, Satan and death. When He died on the cross His body was buried in the tomb and His spirit ascended into the presence of God Himself.
Vs 10 – The person who we saw die on the cross and be buried in the tomb, was the same person that accomplished the redemption of His people as the obedient Son of God. Based upon His obedience, He was later exalted to the right and of God as both Lord and Savior following His resurrection from the tomb and His ascension in Acts 1:.
Over the next two lessons, we will complete a detailed look at these verses…
Paul explains to us the origin of these wonderful gifts of grace by explaining the need for Christ to die on the cross to ascend victoriously to the Father…
(Eph 4:9) (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
Now that he ascended,
For Christ to ascend to the Father victoriously (having released sin captives and finishing the channel from which all blessings flow to His people – vs 8)…. He had to physically die first.
what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
His physical death was displayed to all men through the placing of His body into the tomb. This was the physical proclamation Christ gave His life on the cross.
The phrase “lower parts of the earth” is used to describe “being underneath something, being covered and hidden from view by the earth”. Note how this phrase is used throughout the Bible:
1. Psalms 63:9 – bodies buried (hidden from view) in the ground following the physical death of David’s enemies
2. Psalms 139:15 – the unborn baby hidden from view in the womb, by dust (the physical body is made of dust)
3. Isaiah 44:23 – all the parts of the earth hidden from view beneath its crust (wells, fountains, rocks, lava etc)
4. Ezekiel 26:20 – “the Pit” (hell) is located beneath the earth’s crust and is hidden from view
5. Ephesians 4:9 – Christ’s body hidden from view when it was buried in the tomb
What great grace!
Before our Lord could deliver us from sins bondage and grant us His gifts of grace, He had to come to the earth and die on the cross for our sins. May we all praise His glorious name for this, His greatest act of grace!
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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