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Phone: (888) 602-3456
“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. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
In these two verses the Psalmist David gives a summary of God’s mighty work of grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. He led captivity captive! A captive is a prisoner. If you visit a federal penitentiary, you will find residing within its walls many captives of the state. They’re surrounded by guards, fences, walls and bars. They cannot escape the will and dominion of their captor. This is how God saves sinners by His grace. The Apostle Paul described salvation well with this phrase: “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:1).
The Resurrection of Christ
The first thing mentioned about this blessed captivity of grace is the resurrection and exaltation of Christ our Surety. Our Savior’s resurrection from the dead justified all of God’s elect (Rom 4:25). This is how He led captivity captive. God’s people by nature are captives of sin through the fall of our father Adam. But before the fall occurred, even before the world began, the blessed Son of God voluntarily stood as the Surety of the covenant of grace. In that covenant the Father gave the Son a people for whom He took full responsibility by the divine will and oath of God Almighty. For this cause, Christ came into the world as Jehovah’s faithful Servant. He was bound by a voluntary oath of love and grace to redeem and save God’s elect. Then, as the spotless Lamb of God, He was taken captive and delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God to die as our Substitute. He was held to the cross fully liable under divine justice to suffer God’s unmitigated wrath against sin. Grace took the prisoners of sin captive when Christ took the sinners’ place! When our Lord rose victorious from the dead, having fully satisfied justice by one all-sufficient sacrifice, the captive Substitute became the conquering Captor. All for whom Christ died were raised together with Him, exalted and seated together in Him at the right hand of God. By doing the will of God our Father, He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:10, 14).
Gifts Received by Christ
Having fully accomplished all that was entrusted to Him as the Surety of God’s everlasting covenant, Christ our Savior received all spiritual blessings and glory as our King, the same glory that was given Him before the world began (Jn 17:5). He received gifts for men! Salvation is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 6:23). What gifts specifically did He receive? Peter tells us that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Christ (2 Pt 1:2-3). But Paul gives a specific list of gifts directly referring to David’s prophecy in Psalms 68. – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Eph 4:11-12).
Read Ephesians 4 and learn these three divine points of truth:
For Whom Did Christ Receive Gifts?
Our precious Savior received all the gifts of eternal life and blessedness for rebels against God. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). David’s phrase “the rebellious also” is not to convey that some of God’s people were not rebels when God called us, or less rebellious in our walk of faith. All sin is rebellion and every child of God in this world is a sinner still, depicted by Paul’s description of himself. – “I am carnal, sold under sin. O wretched man that I am!” (Rom 7:14-25). We remain captive to sin by the law of sin working in our members. But we are freed from sin by the captivity of grace! “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9). “The rebellious also” refers to all of God’s elect. Christ alone is the only begotten Son of God who was never rebellious but faithful unto death, even the death of the cross. He received gifts as the God-man our Surety, and then for the rebellious also, “that the LORD God might dwell among them.” And when Christ comes in the power of His Spirit by regenerating grace, He arrests the chosen prisoners of grace by almighty love, revealing the glory of His cross in us by faith, and He daily loads us with benefits of blood redemption, heaping upon us piles unmerited favor, in spite of what we are or what we do as rebels against God. “By grace ye are saved” (Eph 2:5). And He has promised, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). O to grace how great a debtor!