Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ascension: The Gifts of Christ

But to each one of us grace was give according of the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended” — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:7-16)
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor and teachers — these are known as the “ascension gifts” of Christ to His Church. He Himself is the embodiment of all these things, and because He has ascended to heaven, He is able to multiply these things in His body, the Church, through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ loves the Church. At the ascension, when God exalted the Lord Jesus, “He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The Church is the fullness of Christ — it is all about Him, and He fills it with every good thing. These ascension gifts are given to equip the body to do the work of the ministry, to bring the body of Christ to unity and maturity, operating in love and truth. For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), and the purpose of God is to conform us to the likeness of Christ in these things (Romans 8:29).

All who receive the Lord Jesus Christ are part of His body, and He takes very good care of His body. Every believer is joined to each other. Each one has a part to play and a contribution to make, that the whole body may be built up in love.