The Glory of Christ and His Church—Grace to Each One
God is moving in a fresh way in our church services at Passion. There is deep worship, prayer, confession, and freedom for the Holy Spirit to move among us. Many are being powerfully touched.
Personally, I am experiencing waves of His presence and tears for our nation… a type of intercession for God’s holy fire to burn through the Church, that society would be gripped by a reverential fear of God, for hearts to be changed, and for the lost to come to Christ.
Scripture says, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Consider Moses at the burning bush. An angel of the Lord was in the fiery bush that was not being consumed—and suddenly God spoke! This encounter changed Moses, commissioned him, and empowered him.
Revival fires are spreading around our nation. Revival broke out Wednesday morning, February 8th, at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky during a chapel service. Students, faculty, and others in KY and around our nation are going to meetings there. God is moving, and His fire is spreading across the nation! People are being renewed, empowered, and commissioned afresh by God.
First Great Awakening pastor and leader, Jonathan Edwards, said of revival, “Revival is the intensification and acceleration of the normal work of the Holy Spirit.” At this moment, there is an intensification and acceleration occurring in the body of Christ globally.
God desires to completely consume us, refine us, empower us, and commission us to reach a lost world with His fiery presence. Are you willing to be a living sacrifice, surrendered completely to the Lord? Humility is essential. Pride must go! Paul wrote,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1 NKJV)
Paul said to Timothy, “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you” (2 Tim. 1:6 NLT). The pursuit of God’s presence positions you to fan into flames God’s passion and spiritual gifts.
You must be intentional—just like the Israelites of old were—to keep the fire burning and worship according to God’s pattern. When we allow God to burn, His fire purifies and strengthens us! This is the essence of living for Christ—living revived and being a burning one in our generation.
Grace to Each One (Eph. 4:7-13)
After speaking about the necessity of unity in the first verses of Ephesians 4, Paul now begins to discuss in this section the grace gifts given to the Church body to help equip and mature her for works of service.
Paul understands that, in order to achieve the unity discussed, it will take God’s grace working through mature believers to help the Church body become what God intends.
When Jesus ascended, He gave gifts to humanity. He is giving Himself when He gives these gifts. While on earth, He exhibited every one of the gifts. We are each given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift to us.
We pursue Jesus foremost. We don’t idolize gifts, but we are also exhorted to pursue spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14). Growing in both the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit is to grow up into Christ, to abide in Him, and to become more like Him. Love is foundational and humility is required.
Here are some key points in verses 7-10. First, Christ has given specific gifts to us (ministry office gifts). Second, Paul quotes from Psalm 68:18, “When He climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and He gave gifts to people.”(NKJV)
Paul, before giving the list of gifts given, quotes this well-known passage by first-century Christians. They would have understood what Paul was alluding to in this passage—for us, it’s a bit more challenging.
To understand this passage better, let’s look at the mission of Jesus for a minute:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19 NKJV)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. “Spirit” is not emphasizing Trinity or enthusiasm, but rather it’s emphasizing revelation and power (the ministry of a “prophet mighty in deed and word”; see Luke 24:19 and Rom. 15:18-19) because He has anointed Me. Or because He has commissioned Me to be a prophet, priest, and king to preach (announce) good news (the gospel), or He has sent Me to heal the sick or to demonstrate the Kingdom of God. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives (those oppressed by the demonic realm).
The mission is to preach or announce good news to the poor. The poor tend to be more “receptive” to receiving the gospel. Why? Poor have fewer or no alternatives—they tend to be ready to listen and respond to God. Also, considering those who are poor in Spirit… those who hunger for God’s righteousness shall be filled.
Ephesians 4 describes Jesus’ “looting” and empowering captives (we Christian workers), converting them into building forces within the Church.
In Greco-Roman culture, as well as in earlier civilizations, conquering generals would take as captive the “best” of the conquered people, making them slaves, but training them in their culture and giving them positions of authority to help administrate in their kingdom. For example, see Daniel 1:1-4.
The mission of Jesus NOW is described in Ephesians 4:7-13:
“But grace [charis] was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high, he led a host of captives [taken slaves back from the kingdom of darkness – we are slaves (euphemism: sonship is more accurate) to Christ], and he gave gifts to men.” [In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended (see John 3 where Jesus ascended & descended) into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.] And his gifts [slaves captured and distributed] were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry [these slaves can be trained to work], for building up the body of Christ, [how long?] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, [qualifier that illustrates we aren’t here yet] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
- “Grace” = generous empowering via spiritual gifts
- “According to the measure of Christ’s gift” = Just as Jesus was anointed by the Spirit for ministry, it is the same for us.
- “Ascended on high” = enthronement—taking charge of His Kingdom over all the earth; by our identity with Christ, through prayer and gifts, we co-labor with Him.
- “Led a host of captives” = As a result of death and resurrection, Jesus “looted” Satan’s domain of its “slaves”.
- “Gave gifts to men” = based on tradition of a king invading and looting an enemy kingdom and giving the loot (most prized loot = workers) to the king’s supporters
- “Descended into lower parts of earth” = where Jesus found His “captives” by means of suffering and death
What were those “gifts”? The equippers and workers given to the Church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
What is OUR mission?
As Jesus freed and commissioned us, we are called to invade and loot the kingdom of Satan of people, by healing and freeing them from demonic control and then replicating ourselves in them through ministry office gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4); spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12), and motivational gifts (Rom. 12).
Paul’s “offices” and “functions” are equipping skills so that we “slaves” can train the next group of these “slaves” whom Jesus also looted out of the kingdom of Satan!
Important to realize that the term “slave” is no longer valid. Jesus said in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants (slaves), but friends…” Paul states that we have been “adopted…” (Rom. 8:14-17), and this new identity is given to us in place of the term “slave”.
For how long? Until we ALL behave like Jesus. What did he do? How was His ministry described? Recovering of sight to the blind (not a metaphor) thus healing and setting at liberty those who are oppressed (deliverance).
“…for this purpose was the son of God manifested, to destroy the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8 NKJV)
“…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (When are we to do all this? Now!) The number of references to Jesus announcing, preaching, and proclaiming indicates His “presenting” the Kingdom in power. This is what Jesus asks us to do: “Greater works than these shall you do” (John 14:12). This is a reference to the Year of Jubilee, the time when all land is returned to the original families and all slaves are freed.
“Until we ALL attain to the unity of the faith.” Tradition interprets this as “until we all believe the same creeds.” NO, this is not the intent! “Until we all learn to “hear from God and obey Him” (respond in faith) in God’s perfect will—until we ALL are as mature as Jesus!
Jesus descended—meaning He came to earth—fully God, yet fully human.
He came lowly, as a peasant, to a despised town and nation because of His love for us. Understand that, when He descended to become a man and live among us, it was so that when He prevailed and ascended, “He might fill all things.”
As Paul mentions in Ephesians 1:10, the ultimate purpose of God in creation is that all things might be summed up in His Son. The Church is His body, and instrument to reconcile all things to Christ, that “He might fill all things.” How are we being used to fill our neighborhoods, jobs, schools, cities, our nations for Him? This is our purpose and mission!
The Church is the fullness of Christ, and the goal for building the Church is so that the manifest presence of Jesus will come. The Church is a blessing to society, but it is only a shadow of the reality of Heaven–God’s Kingdom—we are called to represent.
I like what teacher and author, Rick Joyner, said years ago, “The greatest reality of Heaven is the presence of the Lord.”In God’s presence is fullness of joy, for Jesus is enough!
Jesus must be foremost. Sure, we have jobs to work, families to feed, etc. He cares about our needs and wants to bless us. However, Christ must be more important than these other things, otherwise they are idols.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face. Selah” (Psalm 24:3-6 NKJV)
The Laodicean church became lukewarm because she had everything, and Jesus was not foremost. Things can become our biggest distraction from our ultimate purpose to worship God in Spirit and truth. Surrender anything that creates an affection above Christ as supreme.
Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, fill you, and empower you daily (Rom. 8:14). Stay humble. Stay surrendered. Live in his Holiness. Holiness is Christ in you; you must let holiness have its way! The fire of His holiness burns passionately in those whose hearts and lives stay surrendered to God.
Twentieth-century Baptist preacher, Oswald Chambers, said of being a living sacrifice on God’s altar:
“Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” The altar means fire—burning and purification and insulation for one purpose only, the destruction of every affinity that God has not started and of every attachment that is not an attachment in God. You do not destroy it, God does; you bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar; and see that you do not give way to self-pity when the fire begins.” 
Surrender is foundational; Christian discipline builds upon the truth and necessity of complete surrender to God. Daily following Christ. Daily living in close communion with Him. This is true discipleship; this is the essence of revival!
Draw near to Him today and let the fire of His love ignite a flame of passion within you to impact our world!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Grace to Each One”: