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The Believer's Stewardship

Ephesians: Foundations for Christian Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The scope of God’s eternal plan is for all humanity—for Jews and Gentiles alike.

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The Big Idea of Ephesians

scope of God’s eternal plan for all humanity—for Jews and Gentiles alike.

The apostle Paul wrote Ephesians (A.D. 60) to the churches around Ephesus () to display the scope of God’s eternal plan for all humanity—for Jews and Gentiles alike. This is the mystery of God, hidden for ages but now made known in Jesus Christ.
The first three chapters focus on what Christians should believe, unfolding the glorious riches of God’s grace in Christ. Dead sinners are made alive and gain eternal salvation “by grace … through faith” (2:8).
The last three chapters explain the implications of God’s grace for the church, for individuals, and for families.
This second section comes to a climax with a command to stand with the armor of God against the devil. Paul wrote this letter while in prison, probably in Rome about A.D. 60.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

The Mystery of Christ Revealed

Ephesians 3:1 ESV
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—
“For this reason” refers back to what Paul explained in 2:11-22, His proclamation that the scope of God’s eternal plan includes Jews and Gentiles.
Paul’s perspective
“a prisoner of Jesus Christ” - Paul’s perspective of his persecution is spiritual.
He doesn’t acknowledge man’s authority or control ( i.e. His Jewish persecutors or the rule of the Romans) over his circumstances or life, but only Christ sovereign control.
How often do we have that spiritual perspective over the spiritual warfare that face?
Ephesians 2
Ephesians 3:2 ESV
2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
“Stewardship” [Grk - oikonomia]; from oikos = house; home; household; and nomos = law. Where we get the English word economy & economics.
Economy defined - an area of the production, distribution, or trade, and consumption of goods and services by different agents in a given geographical location. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy
Spiritually - God’s plan for salvation accomplished through the Church
Economics defined - (i.e. the science of household management).
The church/ you are the household of God (cf. ).
As a believer you are called to manage/steward God’s household/economy/grace extended to you through Jesus’ sacrifice and his plan for salvation.
Ephesians 3:6 ESV
6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Eph 3:3
Ephesians 3:3 ESV
3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.
The Beginning of His Stewardship
This stewardship of “the mystery was made known…by revelation”
This stewardship was revealed to Paul at his conversion (Cf. )
Acts 9:15 ESV
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
Ephesians 3:4–5 ESV
4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Eph 3:4
This mystery had not been fully known by the OT saints/prophets but was revealed to the apostles and NT prophets (preachers/proclaimers of the gospel) by the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 3:6 ESV
6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
“fellow heirs”
Gal 3:29
Galatians 3:29 ESV
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
The Gospel is for everyone - this was affirmed by the other Apostles (cf. Peters vision - ; Peter at the Jerusalem Council ; James at the Jerusalem Council - he cites , ).
“members of the same body”
cf.
“partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus”
Christ made it possible for us (people from every tongue and nation) to be partakers in the promise - to be his people and He our God.
The Gospel is for everyone - this was affirmed by the other Apostles
Cf. Peters vision - ; Peter at the Jerusalem Council ; James at the Jerusalem Council - he cites , ).
Peter’s Vision & Conversion of Cornelius’ Household
Acts 10:34–35 ESV
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts 19
Peter speaks in support of Paul & Barnabas & the gospel to the Gentiles at the Jerusalem Council.
Acts 15:7–9 ESV
7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
James also speaks at the Council
Acts 15:13–18 ESV
13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’

The Ministry of Christ Through Paul Revealed

The Nature of Paul’s Ministry
Ephesians 3:7 ESV
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

“a minister according to the gift of God’s grace”
Paul’s see’s the need to reiterate not only the authority of his ministry as coming from God, but to stress that his sufficiency is from God.
2 Corinthians 3:4–5 ESV
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,
2 Cor 3:4-
Ephesians 3:8 ESV
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Eph 3:8
"I am the very least of all the saints”
10:34
Acts 10:34 ESV
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,
Paul’s humility & confidence
Despite possessing no sufficiency ( as a former persecutor of the church) to be a minister of Christ, he was called by God to preach to the Gentiles. ()
The Content of Paul’s Ministry
“unsearchable riches of Christ”
- Eliphaz speaks of God as one
Job 5:9 ESV
9 who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:
Romans 11:33 ESV
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Rom
The riches of God’s grace, knowledge, wisdom and judgments are marvelous, without number, unsearchable, and inscrutable!
Don’t you think explaining and sharing the riches of God is going to takes time, investment, faithfulness, steadfastness!?
The riches of God should continually be on our lips! Every circumstance should remind us of the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of our God!
When you’re talking with your F.R.A.N.K.’s, whatever you/ or they are going through, it aught to bring your attention and conversation to the the depth of God’s riches!
Ephesians 3:9 ESV
9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,
"bring to light for everyone”
by proclamation reveal to everyone (lost/ saved) God’s redemptive plan to unite all things to himself ().
Why? For What Purpose?
The Purpose of Pauls Ministry
Ephesians 3:10 ESV
10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 3:9
“Manifold” [Grk polypoikilos (poly = many + poikilos = various) = many various, many and diverse] wisdom of God.
The manifold wisdom of God is exemplified in the story of Job.
Manifold [Grk polypoikilos (poly = many + poikilos = various) = many various, many and diverse] wisdom of God.
“rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”
refers to angels- including the fallen.
The holy angels are fascinated with the workings of God’s redemptive plan and rejoice at his glory
Luke 15:10 ESV
10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
1 Peter 1:12 ESV
12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
1 Pet
Although the fallen angels (Satan, demons) have no desire or capacity to praise God, the recognize his power and sovereignty (Cf. Satan’s accountability to God ; Legion’s fear of Jesus ).
Matthew 8:28 ESV
28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way.
Job 1:6-
Job 1:6–7 ESV
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Luke 8:28 ESV
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”
Luke 8
Isn’t that amazing! That God chose to use you (his church) to reveal His infinitely diverse wisdom to the angelic beings.
Ephesians 3:11 ESV
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
And this was according to his eternal purpose realized in Christ Jesus our Lord
All things work according to the counsel of His will! This is the 5th time this truth is emphasized in Ephesians.
As the angelic beings (who don’t have the same direct & intimate relationship with God as we do) observe the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan, they are in awe that God actively engages his greatest creation that won’t even acknowledge his creative power, let alone his sovereign and sustaining work in the world, and He chooses before the foundations of the world to call some to himself, to adopt us, redeem us, to give us an imperishable inheritance, to give us a spirit of wisdom of revelation in the knowledge of him, to give us an active, living, experiential knowledge of our spiritual blessings, to break down the dividing wall of hostility that separates us from Christ, and unites us into one body, the body of Christ,
The angels who have more supernatural faculties than we see this and are mind blown by the manifold wisdom of God, how he works out all the rebellion, chaos, and evil in the world according to his eternal purpose, for our good, and His glory!
And they are amazed at the boldness and access God’s redemptive plan through Christ Jesus has created for us!
Ephesians 3:12 ESV
12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
“Boldness…access with confidence...” We looked at this reality last week in vs 18
Ephesians 2:18 ESV
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Hebrews 4:16 ESV
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb
Whereas:
Moses - Could only view the glory of God from the back side
Israelites had to annually atone for their sins
priest- fearfully entered the holy place
Israelite priest- fearfully entered the holy place
The gentiles once were separated and estranged wall of the court of the gentiles
All mankind was separated from Christ because of sin
Now in Christ
We look forward to beholding the glory of God face to face
No more separation, no more hostility
No more separation, no more hostility
We can approach the throne of grace boldly because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
The Encouragement of Pauls Ministry
Ephesians 3:13 ESV
13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
He was reminding and encouraging them not to lose heart over what he was suffering for them, that his imprisonment was a part of his stewardship of God’s grace.
That he was not a prisoner of man, but a prisoner of Christ as a minister to reveal the mystery of the great gospel, that the gospel of Jesus Christ extends to all people!
Application Thoughts
Application Thoughts
As this responsibility of stewarding of God’s grace began for Paul at his conversion and commissioning to the gentiles (), so did it for you and I.
Our stewardship is communicated in the great commission ().
Do you have Pauls Stewardship perspective?
Do you see your life as a stewardship of God’s grace?
What kind of steward are you of Gods economy?
Where do you get your confidence to be a minister of the New Covenant?
Is it in a sense of your own sufficiency? I can do this because I have a degree in bible/theology; communication; organizational leadership; Ive been a Christian for years and Ive learned all there is to know; Ive studied under/ or followed the ministry Gamaliel, Billy Graham, John MacArthur, John Piper!
Or is your sufficiency to minister only according to the gift of Gods grace, in Christ, and the working of his power, in what he has done in your life - regeneration, sanctification, hope of glorification.
Do you consider the persecution, suffering, and alienation that you experience as you minister as a part of stewarding the grace of God and for the glory of those to whom you minister?
Prayer:
Thank you for revealing this mystery of the gospel to us through your written word
Thank you that according to your eternal purpose, realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, we have boldness, and access with confidence through faith in him!
Give us Pauls Stewardship Perspective
May we see ourselves as ministers of this precious message of salvation to all who would believe.
May we see our lives, and any persecution or suffering we may face as an opportunity to faithfully steward the grace you have extended to us and to exhibit your manifold wisdom, for your glory and those whom we minister to!
Benediction:
Ephesians 3:20–21 ESV
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20 ESV
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
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