This Week’s Passage: 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Today I will comment on three phrases in 3 different verses…
v 7. Hard for me to get past verse 7 because it pretty much sums up my life and calling. I could write a very long post about how God called me to be a “servant of the gospel by the gift of (His) grace…” . I have detailed some of this in 4 posts that I wrote back in November of 2010. If interested, just go to the archives and look for the “Defining Moments” posts. (I’ve linked to the first one). Let me just say here that Paul’s sentiment is one of gratitude and humility – which I echo. I am very very grateful that God rescued, redeemed, and reconciled me through the power of the cross and the preaching of the gospel. I am grateful for the privilege of serving Him which I would do whether it was my job or not. It just so happens that I am able to get paid to do what I love which is an incredible blessing. It is also with great humility (and hopefully not false humility) that I serve the gospel. I know that God has a calling upon my life and yet there are times when I feel so inadequate for the task and wonder how could God use me to do something as prodigious as investing in people with the glorious gospel. There are certainly people more gifted, more charismatic, more outgoing, more passionate, more compassionate, better speakers, better thinkers, better administrators, better visionaries. And yet…. Humbling indeed.
v 10. “through the church” – When Paul wrote this the idea of church was less than 30 years old. He is telling the Ephesians that it is not through apostles such as himself that the gospel will be declared and advanced but through the church. Why is this? Why would God choose to use flawed people who make up our churches rather than super saints to tackle the task of reaching the world with the gospel. A few thoughts: 1) We live in a world that is made up of flawed people – who better tho reach these people than flawed people who have experienced the life changing grace of God. 2) Scripture gives us two metaphors to describe the church – the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. Both of these, when understood and communicated clearly, give a powerfully inviting portrayal of the gospel and a bold testimony of the great love of God for harassed and helpless sinners. 3) People need community. We were not created to live isolated lives. We were created for relationship. Church provides a great place for people to gather and find friendship – both with other people and with God. 4) People are by nature worshippers – Some people worship the gods of self or success or money or beauty – all of which leave people ultimately feeling lost and empty. Church provides a place for people to worship a God who can fill their lives with joy and hope and fuel their lives with strength and purpose.
v 12. “may approach God with freedom and confidence” – Our faith offers a completely different approach to God than any other world faith. We can approach Him with freedom and confidence. This is because our faith is based on relationship not rules. We don’t have to do anything to earn His favor, He has already done it all. We don’t have to do anything to get His attention, we already have it. We don’t have to do anything to be forgiven, He has already offered forgiveness to us. Because he is the initiator in the relationship, because we come to Him at His invitation we can come with freedom and confidence. Not as slaves, but as sons and daughters. Not in trepidation but with courage knowing that he absolutely delights in our coming and that he eagerly waits for us to enjoy the relationship that we were created for.
Such a great passage. Still so much to ponder.
I’m just sayin’!
Next Week’s Passage: Ephesians 3:14-19