Title: "Healthy Growth"
Text: Ephesians 4:7-13
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The sermon was focused primarily on the early section of the passage, Ephesians 4:7-10. We explored the place of the ascension of Christ in the growth of the church.
1. As you skim Ephesians 4:7-16, what ideas in this passage lead us to believe that it is about the spiritual growth of the church?
2. What do we learn from Ephesians 4:7 about the part that each believer plays in the growth of the church?
3. Grace is often used of "saving grace," but Ephesians 4:7 is about "serving grace." Where does this grace (or power) come from, according to Ephesians 4:8?
4. Ephesians 4:8 is about the ascension of Christ, and Paul quotes Psalm 68:18. Take a moment to look up Psalm 68:18. What is happening in that Psalm? How is the Psalm a foreshadowing of the ascension of Christ?
5. Ephesians 4:9-10 refers to the descent of Christ. While many views have been suggested, most trustworthy commentators see this as referring to the incarnation and death of Christ, the humiliation that preceded his exaltation. What is Paul seeking to convey here?
6. Back to the ascension in Ephesians 4:8, who were the "captives?" See Colossians 2:15. The ascension is often seen as Christ's victory procession after his defeat of the prince of darkness.
7. In his ascension, Christ gave things to the church. What did he give, according to Ephesians 4:8? What does Acts 2:33 add to what Christ has given to his church?
8. If Christ is indeed our victorious, ascended king, go gave gifts to his church, then what are some of the implications of the ascension of Christ for us today?
9. We need the ascension of the victorious Christ, because we often feel defeated. Where are you feeling defeated today? How does this part of the gospel (the ascension) shape how you will approach life in the coming week?