Friday, March 28, 2014

Ascension Gifts - Part 3

In our last post, we undertook a further examination of Ephesians 4:1-16. On that occasion we continued to explore the concept of 'unity'; [the primary theme or 'focus' of the passage] in more detail.

In this post, I want to consider the term: 'Ascension Gifts' and its [many] implications. For example:

(1) If the term implies that the gifts which Christ bestowed upon the Church only occured at the time of his 'Ascension' then what must we conclude from that?

(2) If however the term 'Ascension Gifts' is meant to be inclusive of the period bounded by the 'resurrection' and the 'ascension', as Paul seems to argue when quoting Psalm 68:19 and expanding upon its implications; then we are forced to view the intent of this term quite differently.

(3) Another possible interpretation exists. Christ's 'Ascension' could refer to the culmination of his ascension - his arrival in Heaven. A possibility that Christ himself perhaps alluded to in John 16:7.

'... But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you.

This particular interpretation would open a whole new panorama of possibilities.

Possible Interpretations

(1) If we accept the first possible intertpretation, it would seem that the 'ascension gifts' were distributed [directly] only upon those gathered with Christ at the time of his ascension. Some would argue that this group would include only the 'eleven'.

However, this interpretation seems to be negated in Ephesians 4:7; which clearly states:

"But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

(2) If on the other hand, we accept the second interpretation, then we would seem to be limiting the 'gifting', to the period between the resurrection and the ascension of Christ. One immediate question arises in my mind.

"Where would this leave one, Saul of Tarsus"?

(3) Perhaps then the last interpration is the correct one? That is, the 'gifting' was:

"... unto each one of us ...
[referring to the] ... 'the grace given' ... according to the 'measure of the gift of Christ' ... [being the Holy Spirit himself]. This interpretation would seem to support with Ephesians 4:7 ...

7 'But to every one of us is given grace (charis) according to the measure of the gift (dōrea - Holy Spirit) of Christ'. Note, the word 'dōrea' (translated as 'gift') is not accompanied by an article as would be expected.

This is important: ... the [one] grace of God, i.e. 'the Holy Spirit' is implied and seen as manifesting himself in the various gifts.

Therefore the text should be understood to mean:

7 'But to every one of us is given 'charis' [or various gifts] according to the measure of the 'dōrea' [the Holy Spirit], who manifests Himself in the various gifts of Christ' - [as He sees fit].

Cf: 1 Corinthians 12:4; For a similar meaning:

4 'But there are differences of gifts [charis], but the same Spirit'.

Note: It is not my intention to give definitive answers to the above at this stage, rather I want to invite our readers to explore the possibilities themselves before finally reaching a conclusion on the correct understanding of this difficult and complex passage of Scripture.

So much attention, in the contemporary Church has [wrongly] been placed upon the 'Ascension Gifts' themselves; as though certain 'gifted' individuals are elevated above the 'mere rank and file members' of the body of Christ. Clearly this is contrary to the explicit teachings of Christ himself.

Not satisfied with this modern-day emphasis, I have deliberately sought to investigate the context in which the 'gifts' are mentioned and the implication of the 'correct rendering' of the entire passage before considering the gifts themselves.

However, in trying to determine the 'correct rendering' of the passage in question [thus far]; I have [in my opinion] only managed to raise more questions then I feel I have answered!

I am however, satisfied that the passage under review speaks emphatically to the following'

The 'one-ness' of the body.

The 'character' of those who serve ... regardless of the nature of their particular gift. [It is here, where many modern-day 'self-professed' ascension gift ministers fail miserably]!

The scope of the gifts ... 'until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The purpose of the gifts ... 'for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ ... that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error ... but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ ...'

In our next post we will begin to examine the 'gifts' of Ephesians 4:11 in greater detail.

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