I. "BUT TO EVERYONE OF US IS GIVEN GRACE."
A. Paul told the Romans,
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
1. So God has given to every man a measure of faith, and to every man the gift of grace.
B. He exhorted the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain.
C. Peter said,
As every man hath received the gift, [even so] minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1. That is that since you have received this gift of grace, minister the same to one another.
2. All of the gifts of God to us are to be shared with others.
a. Having received love, love others.
b. Having received forgiveness, forgive others.
c. Having received mercy, show mercy to others.
d. Having received His grace, show grace to others.
D. This gift of grace is according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
1. So often Christ is used as the standard of measurement.
a. Love even as He loved us.
b. We are to be pure even as He is pure.
c. We are to be righteous, even as He is righteous.
d. We husbands are to love our wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
e. John tells us that we are to walk even as He walked.
f. Paul told the Colossians, "If any many have a quarrel with another, even as Christ has forgiven you, so do ye.
g. For if God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how much more then shall He not freely give us all things.
2. Think of the great grace of God that He should give His own Son to ransom us from our sin.
E. So the gift of grace to us is measured by the gift of Christ.
II. WHEREFORE HE SAITH, "WHEN HE ASCENDETH UP ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN."
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, [for] the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell [among them].
B. What is meant by leading captivity captive?
1. In the prophecy of Jesus given by Isaiah in chapter 61.
The spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;
C. Paul tells us that before He ascended, He first descended into the lower parts of the earth.
1. When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, He told them the only sign that would be given to them was the sign of the prophet Jonah, for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
2. On the day of Pentecost as Peter was preaching Jesus to the people, he declared that
For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
3. In his first epistle Peter said,
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
4. Prior to the death of Christ hell was divided into two compartments, as is told by Jesus in Luke 16
a. There was a fixed gulf between the two that was uncrossable.
b. One side was a place of torment, while the other was a place of comfort, overseen by Abraham.
5. The Old Testament sacrifices could not put away sins, only cover them and look forward to better things to come.
6. It took the sacrifice of Jesus to put away sin, thus those who believed in the promise of God to send the Messiah were saved by their faith, but could not be brought into the heavenly scene until the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.
a. Hebrews tells us that
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. and again,
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
7. When Jesus went into hades to preach to the spirits in prison, He went to the side occupied by Abraham and those others who died in faith.
8. The promise was of entrance into the kingdom of God, but that was only possible through the atonement made by Jesus Christ.
III. HE ASCENDED FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS, THAT HE MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS.
A. Paul spoke of being caught up into the third heaven.
1. I understand the first heaven to be the atmosphere surrounding the earth. As the birds fly in the heavens.
2. The second heaven to be the celestial heaven. As He placed the stars in the heavens.
3. And the third heaven to be the dwelling place of God.
a. Where is that? I do not know, it could be beyond space, but my personal opinion is that it is much closer than we can imagine, that it is outside of our time and space dimension, and actually surrounds us.
b. Far above all heavens could refer to that dimension beyond space and time.
B. The purpose is that He might fill all things. This could only be done if He indeed did dwell in the eternal timeless spaceless state.
1. He would thus fill all and be in all. Paul refers to this in 1:23 as he speaks of the church as being the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
2. When Jesus took the limitations of human body, he became subject to time and space.
3. He was limited to where His body was. In that state, He was not omnipresent.
4. To be omnipresent you must be outside the limitations of the human body, and thus outside time and space.