Beyond the Ordinary

“But grace was given to each one of us…” (Ephesians 4:7)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:7-10

In emphasising our unity in Christ, Paul doesn’t want to suggest that Christians should be monotonously alike. There is a rich, God-intended variety among us that shows itself in such things as our appearance, character and abilities.

But more than that, there is a diversity within the body of Christ that arises from the grace the Lord Jesus gives to each member. “But grace is given to each one of us,” writes Paul, “according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (v. 7).

It is worth noting that every Christian receives grace from Christ – there are no exceptions. Our Lord Jesus has a purpose for every member of his body, a purpose that can only be achieved through the grace he gives.

Furthermore, he gives this grace, “according to the measure” of his purpose and will. It is not something we can extract from him through effort or merit – that is counter to the idea of grace as something entirely undeserved. What he gives, he gives freely, and entirely according to the measure of his choice.

Once more, we should note that this grace is said to come from Christ. While it comes to us through the Holy Spirit and is typically manifested in what we call “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” it is nevertheless to be seen as coming from the risen Lord. While it is proper to speak of the gifts of the Spirit, it is wrong to think of such gifts as coming only from the Spirit. Upon his return to heaven, Christ asked the Father for the Spirit whom he then poured out upon his church to enrich it with his gifts and grace (John 14:16; Acts 2:33).  

In doing this, Jesus was fulfilling events and images found in Israel’s history and Scripture. Paul alludes to this by quoting Psalm 68:18, a psalm celebrating Yahweh’s triumph over his foes, and subsequently receiving spoils for distribution to the people. While there are difficulties in the way Paul applies this citation to Christ, the idea is plain. The Lord Jesus, upon his ascension (after having first descended from heaven to the lowest state of humiliation on earth), received and distributed gifts in the manner of a victorious king. That’s the point he wants to make. The ascended Christ is the grace-giver.

How we ought to celebrate this truth. For one thing, it highlights the fact that the bond between us and the Lord Jesus is a real, spiritual one. Our connection with him is not limited to believing in him as our sin-bearer, as important as that is. There is also a “vital union” between us through the Spirit. Christ, out of his fullness, imparts “grace upon grace” to those who are his (John 1:16).

This grace should give our lives a quality of extra-ordinariness. However it manifests itself in us, grace bears the character of God’s own life. And that should set us apart from that which is just ordinary.

Closing Thoughts:

  • Are you conscious of Christ’s grace in your life?
  • Do you know how this manifests itself as a distinct “gift of the Spirit”?

– Andrew Young