I want to preface what he has said with this, that I see things some what different than how he has laid this out, but that does not stand in the way of being enriched!
The Relation of Grace and Gifts
With that we will draw to a close. We will just refer to two passages of Scripture: Ephes. 4:7: "But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ".
Note what that means, "the gift of Christ"! "When he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men". The gift of Christ! Grace according to the gift!
Romans 12:6: "And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us..." Grace according to the gift! Gifts according to the grace! Grace given by the gift, that is one side. The other side is the gift given by grace. There is a Divine gift in sovereignty through the members. It may be one of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12, or it may be some other gift for helping, for administration. God has made you a gift to the Church. If He has gifted you to the Church (in office that is) as an apostle, the office is that of an apostle; if as a prophet, your office is that of a prophet. If God has given you to the Church as a gift, you cannot fulfil your office except in so far as the grace comes up to the measure of the gift. That is to say, the vital force must be according to the vital function. It may be, and it should be. But so often when men have thought they were apostles, or evangelists, pastors or teachers, they have viewed the matter in this way: I am an evangelist, I am a pastor, I am a teacher; God has made me that, that is my gift! and they have tried to fulfil their function simply because it was the gift, and were resting upon the gift rather than upon the grace. It is a very dangerous thing to become an official, and not to keep the vital force, the grace, in proportion to the office. That is what has made professional ministry. To express it again the other way, the gift is according to grace.
How can we best illustrate the point? The import of the matter is that the two things have to be kept together in equal measure, gift and grace, or gift and function. If you divorce them, or if you over-rate one of them, there is either a complete nullifying of any fruitful result, or else the loss of balance, and the whole thing becomes lopsided. For instance, supposing you build an electrical station, and you put in your dynamos, your generating plant, and set it going close by a city. You generate tremendous electrical power, capable of lighting the whole of that city and driving all its machinery, supplying that whole city with lighting, and yet you have no wires, and no lamps, and no switches. What is the good of it? You have vital force without vital function; a tremendous amount of power, but unrelated power. Or suppose you go round the city, wiring, with splendid insulated wire, and fixing switches, and yet have no generating station, and you attempt to switch on. What happens? There is no result. This is the opposite case; you have the office without the power. To make good you must needs have both. And if you overload your wiring and your lamps with power you are going to meet with disaster. The gift has to be adjusted to the grace, to be according to the grace. If you divorce the two you have nothing at all.
That may be a poor illustration, and it may only serve to help us a little, but we must remember that God's resource is according to the purpose to which He has called us. We shall not receive more than that. If we stretch ourselves beyond our measure the vital force will not come through. If we try to step into something for which God has never chosen us we shall lack in resource. If we try to take on something more than the apportioned gift that is particularly ours it will be disastrous. It is God who has appointed, adjusted, and arranged the Body. We can never take it upon ourselves to say what work we shall do for the Lord. It is a most disastrous thing when people decide for themselves how they are going to work for the Lord, and what kind of work they will do. It is a terrible thing for a man to try to fulfil a teaching ministry when God has appointed him to be an evangelist. It is a disastrous thing. We use that by way of illustration. God has sovereignly decided what our work shall be, what our gift is to the Church, and we have to function in that position and keep there, and not stretch ourselves beyond our measure. If we do, the power will not follow. Many take up more than the Lord intended them to, and they break down. To express it in the other way, if the Lord has called us to a work, then His resources are available right up to the fulness of that calling. The supply is there according to the gift, the grace according to the gift, the vital force according to the vital function. It is all there. Blessed be God, that is true. If the Lord calls, then His resources are available for that calling right up to the hilt. But we must be careful that we do not of ourselves manufacture the calling or the appointing.
That is where our union with the risen Lord is of such account. We are to be governed by life, through union with the risen Lord. It may be that some things are not quite clear to you, and you cannot follow. Well, ask the Lord to enable you to understand. Our point is that these resources, these heavenly resources, are related to a Divine purpose. The resources will be forthcoming as we enter into the purpose, keep within our measure, and draw upon them. They are there for the purpose of God. There is strength to be derived from the resources for the purpose, and there is strength to be derived from the fact of the purpose itself.
The Lord instruct us, and teach us still further in the way of life.