STUDY | Spend the week studying Ephesians 4:1-11. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Using your spiritual gift blesses others and gives God glory.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
FINDING YOUR SWEET SPOT
Sarah was about to begin her junior year. Up to this point, she had already changed majors three times. She entered college having thought little about what to do after graduation. Sarah liked so many things, and she saw so many opportunities, but the thought of having to decide on one career path was almost paralyzing. She wasn’t sure what she was good at or what she wanted to do with her life.
As a sophomore, she took a communications class. It was just an elective, and most of the class could have cared less about the course. They just wanted to get a passing grade and move on, but Sarah came alive in the class. Reading, assignments, and everything about communications thrilled her. Sarah discovered gifts she never realized were there, and everyone affirmed that she looked like a natural speaking in front of people.
Sarah found her sweet spot – that perfect balance between her passions and her abilities. She graduated with a degree in public relations and now works in a successful P.R. firm in Dallas.
Q: What does it feel like to find your sweet spot? Have you found a way to connect your passions and your abilities?
GIFTED FOR MORE
In the last session, your group discussed the idea that you were made for more and that God has created you to play a significant role in His story. This week, you will go deeper with this idea and see how God has given every believer certain spiritual gifts. These gifts help you understand your role in the story and what God has shaped you to do. Spiritual gifts aren’t for you to make your name great, but for others and for God’s glory. When we use our gifts, we keep the Body of Christ healthy and growing.
Q: How can using our spiritual gifts help keep the Body of Christ healthy and growing?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul points his readers to God’s call on each of their lives. Ultimately, we are called to be unified in the Body of Christ. God’s design for us, as a body, is to fulfill God’s purposes and join in with His story of Christ’s triumph over His enemies. This is what Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:8-10. He gives us a picture of Christ ascending into heaven after His resurrection, having defeated the enemies of sin, death and Satan.
READ: Read Ephesians 4:1-11. Regarding verses 7-11, what stands out to you in this passage?
Q: How does Christ’s triumph over His enemies relate to unity in the Church?
Before He ascended, Jesus commissioned His followers to be His mouth, hands and feet to take His story, the Gospel, to the world. For this task, Jesus gave certain spiritual gifts to each of His followers. Paul lists five spiritual gifts (or roles) in verse 11: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (or pastors) and teachers.
These gifts make us more effective and fruitful when we use them to serve others in the Church and bring God glory. But these are spiritual gifts, which means they have Holy Spirit power behind them.
Q: How can you tell when someone understands their specific gifting? How do they act differently?
Q: What difference does it make that the Holy Spirit gives our spiritual gifts power?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
UNPACKING SPIRITUAL GIFTS
A simple definition of ‘spiritual gift’ is something empowered by the Holy Spirit that God gives believers so they can do His work in the church.1 Spiritual gifts are synonymous with service. God calls us to use them to serve others. Like Jesus, we use our spiritual gifts to meet peoples’ needs and point them to the Father.
Q: Which spiritual gift(s) do you see present in your life? (See list in commentary for reference)
Q: What happens when you use your gifting to serve yourself and not others?
Today, Jesus still gives spiritual gifts and Holy Spirit power to His followers. Our gift is a light we shine before others that points them to God, and the Spirit makes our light shine brightly.
It’s essential that we stay plugged into the power source of our gift(s): the Holy Spirit. Imagine a power drill. If it’s not plugged into a power source, the drill is ineffective as a tool. But, when you plug in the drill, you’re able to build something great and use the drill as it was intended, to its fullest capacity. It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. God wants to use us, but only if we stay connected to the Spirit as our power source.
Q: What is one thing you can start doing to stay plugged into the power source of the Holy Spirit?
USING YOUR GIFTS
When God’s people are united, they work together and create synergy, which makes our service more effective and fruitful. Each of us serves a different purpose in the Body of Christ, but our purpose must be understood in light of God’s story. The Holy Spirit empowers us to use our gift(s) for God’s purposes, and brings us alongside others who are also using their gifts to God’s glory.
Q: How can your group work together using your gifts and create more synergy?
DISCOVERING YOUR GIFT(S)
What are the things that you enjoy doing? Where is your sweet spot? Perhaps the answers will help lead you to your spiritual gift. If you aren’t sure what your spiritual gift is, you can take a spiritual gifts test (many are available online), ask those in your community who know you well or jump in and start serving to see where God gives you opportunity and fulfillment in a role.
Q: Where could you start serving now to see if that role or service opportunity is your gift?
Q: What would change about your life if you understood which gift(s) you have?
Give glory to God for Christ’s triumph over all our enemies. He is the One that makes unity in the Body of Christ possible and it’s through Him that we have the gifts and power to live for something more. Pray for wisdom to recognize the spiritual gifting present in your group and ways that your group can uniquely serve and bless your church and community.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Romans 12 and reflect on how this passage relates to spiritual gifts and how they should be used.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
HOW MANY GIFTS EXACTLY?
There are three primary lists given of gifts (the phrase “spiritual gifts” isn’t used in the NT) with some miscellaneous references: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. The gifts in these lists are not comprehensive of all spiritual gifts, but they include:
• Administration (1 Cor. 12:28)
• Apostle (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28)
• Celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7-8)
• Discernment (1 Cor. 12:10)
• Evangelism (Eph. 4:11)
• Exhortation (Rom. 12:8)
• Faith (1 Cor. 12:8-10)
• Giving (Rom. 12:8)
• Healings (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30)
• Helper (1 Cor. 12:28)
• Hospitality (1 Pet. 4:9-10)
• Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)
• Leadership (Rom. 12:8)
• Martyrdom (1 Cor. 13:3)
• Mercy (Rom. 12:8)
• Miracles (1 Cor. 12:10,28)
• Missionary (Eph. 3:6-8)
• Pastor (Eph. 4:11)
• Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11)
• Service (Rom. 12:7)
• Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)
• Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28)
• Interpretation of Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10; 14:27-28)
• Voluntary Poverty (1 Cor. 13:3)
• Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8)
Division of Spiritual Gifts
James D.G. Dunn distinguishes gifts by activities (miracles, healing, faith), manifestations (revelation of Christ, visions, knowledge and wisdom, guidance), inspired utterance (prophecy, discernment, teaching, prayer, tongues, interpretation of tongues) and service (giving, helping and hospitality). Bridge and Phypers divide the gifts into two categories: those for recognized church officers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, service, administrators, helpers) and those given throughout the whole church (wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues, voluntary poverty, martyrdom, celibacy, giving, mercy).2
Christ’s Triumph in Ephesians 4:8-10
In Ephesians 4:8-10, Paul quotes a section of Psalm 68:18 and applies the psalmist’s words to Christ’s triumphal ascension, which is referred to in Ephesians 1:20-22. The “captives” in verse 8 might refer to demons or the spiritual powers Christ defeated at the cross. Paul argues that, if Christ ascended, that means He also descended into “the lower regions.” This could refer to the Incarnation or to Christ’s suffering, death and burial.3
1. Chad Brand, “Spiritual Gifts,” ed. Charles Draper et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1529.
2. Chad Brand, “Spiritual Gifts,” ed. Charles Draper et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1529.
3. Douglas J. Moo, “The Letters and Revelation,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 2405.