The Ascension Gifts

The Time of Their Giving

When He ascended up on high, He … gave gifts unto men (Ephesians 4:8).

This was an historic time; a place in the past when these gifts were given. The passage does not say that “he began to give gifts unto men.” It was not an ongoing process. It was during the time covered by the book of Acts … “until.”

The Time of Their Expiration

These ascension gifts were in affect until “the unity of the faith” occurred (:13).

“The Faith is that body of doctrine which Paul taught.

“Unity” is that which is complete, that which has all its parts.

The Purpose of their Existence

The purpose of these special ascension-gifts were “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12) – all in lieu of the fact that they did not yet have the full, complete revelation of God in written form.

Now, all these things – “the perfecting of the saints,” “the work of the ministry” and “the edifying of the body of Christ” – take place by the application of the full (i.e., complete), written Word of God, finished by the hand of Paul. No “gifts” are now needed. There are no divine-supernatural gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher today.

Someone may carry out certain aspects of these – such as evangelist or teacher – but they do so not by theses special gifts, but by dedication to the written Word of God. If a man will teach, for example, he must labor in the study of the Word – learning, adjusting, growing – so that he may teach others. It is not a “gift” in any sense of the ascension gifts.

This is why in the last letter written by Paul – which completed the Scriptures – he told Timothy,

But watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry (II Timothy 4:5).

Paul does not tell Timothy that he has the “gift” of “evangelist.” Nor does he say that he is “an evangelist.” He only tells him to do an evangelist’s work – “do the work of an evangelist.” He could now do so – without the divine “gifts” of the ascension – because he had in his possession the full, complete Scripture which was able to enable him to “do the work of an evangelist” thus making “full proof” of his ministry.

Notice what Paul wrote in his final letter, concerning the Word of God:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (II Timothy 3:16-17).

“Gifts” were no longer needed. The Scriptures themselves – now full and complete – were “profitable” for “doctrine [i.e., teaching],” etc. … “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Paul’s term “man of God” is in no way clerical. It is in contrast to immaturity; in contrast to a “babe.” There is a significant difference between simply being a “child of God,” and becoming a “man of God.” What is it that changes one from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood? The Word of God.

Notice again the results: “that the man of God may be …” – what? – “perfect, thoroughly furnished.” That’s what the full, complete Scriptures can do! For what purpose? “Unto all good works.” This is why Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.”

Do not trust church history, religious tradition, or ecclesiastical edicts. Avoid turning to “church counsels” – for they are “profane and vain babblings.” Study the Bible diligently for yourself.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness (II Timothy 2:15-16).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2004, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

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One Comment on “The Ascension Gifts”

  1. Thomas Ferguson Says:

    “Do not trust church history, religious tradition, or ecclesiastical edicts. Avoid turning to “church counsels” – for they are “profane and vain babblings.” Study the Bible diligently for yourself.” Just yesterday I was interested in reading of the schism that occurred between the Roman and Orthodox communions. It is a sad and frustrating account. What is most obvious is that there is no hint of any ‘Christian’ unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and love. There is neither the humble servant of the gospels portrayed, nor the unity of the body as revealed to St. Paul. What is observed, is the play for power and rule: that is, a factious conflict, about who will lord it over the church. Ethnicity, politics and ecclasiastical assertions combine to fan the flames of hatred and even open warfare at times; that has been held and passed on to generation after generation, and that is now over 1500 years long. What is strikingly obvious is the complete disregard for The word of God as a foundation in these ugly affairs. We can see that these ‘factions’ had never gotten past the mistakes that are reproved in I Corinthians. We can also observe why St. Paul has shifted from the general in his church epistles, to the individual in his pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus and Philemon. And such is the case in this hour. As the ‘Church’ left it’s heavenly sphere ( much as the angels in the days of Noah) in pursuit of earthly glory, and has morphed from being the ‘body of Christ’ mystical and heavenly to being a “world religion” and power, the call of Christ is again one of individuals being ‘called out’; and not only from the world, but from the world’s ‘churches’ as well.


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