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Gospel Power Mysteriously at Work - Ephesians 3:1-13

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:03:54
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Ephesians 3:1-13 The christian is aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in them for the glory of the Christ’s Church. INTRO The opening of chapter 3, as we are nearing our halfway mark through this great epistle…opens with “For this reason…”. Which is an indicator to look back and consider what we’ve covered before we move forward in what Paul is laying out for these believers in Ephesus and also us who look to God’s timeless Word to be instructed in Truth to live out by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. So, to recap some. Paul opened this epistle by taking us to the immeasurable heights of the gospel. With unparalleled description, he speaks of what God accomplished through Jesus Christ by the Power of The Holy Spirit. Wonderful realities of the grace of God towards un-worthy-sinners. Things of which a lifetime of contemplation would not satisfy the wonder of it all. The overwhelming grace of God in making a people for His own possession, holy and blameless before Him. We-get-God and God-gets-us all through the work of Jesus Christ our conquering-risen-King,…who fulfilled the Father’s eternal plan. The gospel of the grace of God. And then once Paul brought us to the heights of this glorious gospel,…He then grounds us to who we once were before we were powerfully transformed by this gospel. LEVELS the playing field if you will and puts everyone (Jew and Gentile alike)..everyone on common ground. Ensures that no one thinks too highly of themselves….. whether Jew, or Gentile, free or slave..it doesn’t matter Paul argues. We are all one in Christ. By the grace of God through faith in CHRIST we have become one. CHRIST Jesus,…centralizes all on him regardless of distinct differences you bear no matter how strong they are. All races, all nations, all people types…beautiful variety…great diversity….who are ALL under GRACE (Romans 4:16)…period. This brings us up to chapter 3,….where transition is happening towards the implications of it…towards living out the realities of this in the here and now. Application of it all in the christian’s life in every respect. AS men and women both in the world and in the CHURCH, and also as husbands and wives and as parents and children. Paul kicks us off in chapter 4 with this saying “I therefore…..urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience,…..” SO, transitioning to that, chapter 3 here, in which Paul rounds it out with a prayer before going into his instruction on Christian living in light of the gospel of the grace of God that has powerfully transformed us…..What is he drawing emphasis to - in verses (1-13)…prior to his prayer? The passage in consideration this morning. Transitioning from the gospel revealed to the implications thereof? WELL,…let’s stand now and read the passage together to move in to God’s living Word and discover just that. Read 3:1-13 - Pray - Be seated… NOW, what Paul, I believe, is emphasizing here as he is pivoting towards living out the implications of the gospel of the grace of God…is this: “For this reason” says Paul….here it is: The christian is aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in them - and that it’s for the glory of Christ’s church. Paul makes this known by giving his readers awareness of 3 things to reach this conclusion….the conclusion that The christian is aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in them and that it’s for the glory of Christ’s church. BODY 1) FIRST POINT - (Ephesians 3:1-6). Awareness of this power of God at work in you The first thing given awareness to in (verses 1-6) is the Awareness of this power of God at work in you. The ‘awareness of it’ OR, in other words, the mysterious working of this power of God is evident in your life both to yourself and to others. We’ll find this revealed in (verses 1-6). Note with me how Paul assumes here. “Assuming” Assuming is something I aim not to do. It’s resulted in many bad outcomes by experience and above all, …scripture warns against such attitude referenced chiefly by warning us to not be presuming. (Psalm 19:13) “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” Innocent of GREAT transgression. (Romans 2:4) “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” An assuming or presumptuous attitude is one that thinks blindly that all is well because no immediate consequences have occurred…DANGEROUS… dangerous attitude to carry with you in this life and when it’s in the context of your standing before God……the DANGER of HELL type of attitude that sadly so many are guilty of. Presuming upon God’s grace, “His kindness, forbearance and patience.” Not to be done. OR…it’s having a lofty attitude of self that is grossly misguided by the blindness to your own limitations and faults. Allow me to say that again. A presumptuous attitude is also having a lofty attitude of self that is grossly misguided by the blindness to your own limitations and faults. Both of these presumptuous sins - are ‘GREAT’ transgressions and God’s Word rightly warns against such harmful outlook which we are wise to heed that we may keep ourselves innocent from this fault. On one hand though, we have Paul here,…saying…looking at (verse 2) “assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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.” He sounds pretty confident……as-he-should-be. That which he has written briefly about…(namely chapter’s 1 and 2)…but certainly elsewhere in scripture… is staggering in his insight into the mystery of Christ. I could only imagine what would be made known of his insight if he wrote at length regarding his insight into the mystery of Christ. INDEED, the revelations were so great that God saw it necessary, in His kindness towards Paul to keep him from becoming conceited as a result of the revelations given him, GOD wisely saw it necessary to give Paul a thorn in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 12:7) “So to keep me (Paul speaking) to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” Do you see how that was kindness of God to do so? SO Paul, being kept by God’s grace from becoming conceited, is very much aware of this power at work in him and knows that it is evident to others as well. And before we move on from here… A question begs to be asked. Are you aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in you? NOW, before we expound on that question a bit, allow me to provide you with an example from my own testimony. Growing up I had a number of passions I gave myself to in full measure. Soccer was certainly one for many years but the one that I found myself bewildered by a mysterious change within was snowboarding. YOU SEE, I loved snowboarding. If I wasn’t on the mountain, I’d be watching snowboard videos over and over again dreaming of my next opportunity to be on the mountain. If we had enough snow locally, I’d hike a hill side as much as I had strength to do so just to get some turns in. I loved the sport. But then it happened. It was a blue bird day on Bachelor back in the early years of 2000. Deep fresh powder fell the night before, a canopy of Crystal Clear blue skies was above us on this calm, crisp, perfect day. Grace was a baby…Matthew yet to be born and I had the whoooole day to myself to go and do whatever my pleasure on this stellar day. And pretty early on in the day this unfamiliar emptiness about the day was welling up in me for the first time. I recall thinking, “What is your deal Seth? It doesn’t get better than this. You should be reveling in your element right now. Wake up man!” And in my mind I’m thinking “YEAH!!" While in my heart there was this undeniable outlook of “this is not what it’s all about Seth”. And as I looked upon others in line or on the slopes who were reveling in the moment, (hoots and hollers reveling) I couldn’t sound out what was circulating in my head and upon my heart. “This is not what it’s all about. This moment is brief. These premier conditions are fleeting…they will be gone soon.” It was such a mystery to me for this to be taking place within. …but deep down inside I knew,…I knew, even in that moment there was an awareness of it though I was resistant to embrace it…I knew, God was at work in me. As one seeking Him daily in His Word and through prayer,…I became aware of this power of God at work in me and am to this day and am therefore, all the more seeking to yield myself to it. The enjoyment of snowboarding has a completely different outlook now. So I ask again Are you aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in you? And, I’ll add, would others affirm it? I believe your answer will fall in one of three categories 1). If your response is a resounding “‘YES!’. I am very much aware of this mysterious power at work in me.” Then Praise God and Hallelujah! I say yes and amen to conviction of sin, to seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, to practicing repentance, to having desires that are not your own, to not loving this world..indeed your own life but living and giving all for the glory of God, to loving God, loving His Word and loving His people who…affirm to you this gospel power mysteriously at work in you. Yes and amen to that 1,000 times over and keep seeking Him that more of it may abound. 2). Perhaps though, your response is that of not being keenly aware of it…….and having concern about that being the case. To this also I would say Praise God and Hallelujah! THE FACT that you are concerned about not having a strong awareness of it is evidence itself that the power of the Spirit of God is indeed at work in you. So yes and amen to that and I encourage you with all my being to seek God that it may be abundantly clear to you and to others each and every day of your life. Don’t be satisfied where you are at but hunger and thirst for “His presence in your life continually.” (Psalm 105:4). Seek Him with your whole heart and He will be found by you and the awareness of His power, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you, will become sharply clear. “Taste and see His goodness.” Desire more and pursue more of Him and He will assuredly not disappoint…for HE promises to do deliver. 3). And now, thirdly, if your response is that you are unaware of it altogether and are okay with that. Then to this I would say, “take warning dear friend.” For my heart is heavy over the condition of your soul. This is NOT a place to affirm you in,…for you are in danger of hell and fire. It’s not about how many times you’ve heard the gospel preached or even your ability to articulate it, rather the powerful workings of it, of the gospel are felt in your gut. WAR has begun for the affections of your heart The HOLY SPIRIT has set foot on the battlefield for your soul and GOD who wages war on your behalf is working to claim the victory CHRIST already won for your soul. That’s the christian! (Romans 8:9) “If the Spirit of Christ is not in you then you are none of his” and if you are not HIS then God’s wrath remains on you and eternity in hell awaits. So PLEASE HEAR ME! I plead to you with all my heart…BE CONCERNED. Wake up! and Seek to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior that such grace may be given to become aware of the Spirit of Christ…the power from on High at work in you. And in doing so, in doing so, a first if not the first indicator of the power of God mysteriously at work in you will be your eyes opened to see the gospel of the—- grace of God through Jesus Christ…GRACE, eyes of your heart enlightened to see GOD’S GRACE…will be a first if not the first indicator of the power of God mysteriously at work in you. FOR—- an awareness of your unworthiness will be at the forefront of your mind and upon your heart. Which is the second thing being made known to the recipients of this letter, along with us here and now, in regards to The christian being aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in them and that it’s for the glory of Christ’s church. 2) SECOND POINT (Ephesians 3:7-8) - Awareness of your Unworthiness The second thing given awareness to in (verses 7-8) is the Awareness of your Unworthiness. OR, in other words, trembling conviction over your sin and wretchedness and the overwhelming sweetness of God’s grace towards you through His Son Jesus. The gospel. We hear this come through the penned words of Paul. Let’s read (verses 7-8) - read To me! Do you hear the undertone there? To me! LIKE,… “how is this possible? It shouldn’t be but it is and I am making abundantly clear that it is all grace.” “Gift of God’s grace…which was given to me…the very least of all the saints.” Unworthiness! This is the posture of a healthy Christian. Unworthy….Unworthy…Unworthy! YET….by faith, a member of, a part of, in the life of Him who alone is worthy. CHRIST JESUS. Worthy….Worthy…Worthy of all praise glory and honor…WORTHY is the Lamb who was slain. Slain that I may be set free and forgiven my sin. The gospel. The power of God at work in you makes you aware of this and it should never be forgotten. This awareness ought to never depart from your mind and heart. And this carries immediately over to your giftedness…your abilities…things you are able to do. Are you an intellect? - it’s grace! Are you skilled with your hands to fix things or make things? - it’s grace! Are you artistic in any form of the Arts? - it’s grace! Are you trained with the skill to operate sophisticated equipment? - it’s grace! Are you able to expound the Word of God with great insight and clarity? - it’s grace! And the list could keep going with the same resounding answer…it’s all GRACE! We have no boasting to offer. How can we boast in something that is given to us? Your very heart beat and the breath in your nostrils are a gift from God and there is nothing you have or are able to do that falls outside of grace. It is GOD who has gifted and entrusted you with everything you are and everything you possess. (1 Corinthians 4:7) “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (Romans 12:3) “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” It’s all grace!….as made abundantly clear by Paul here and elsewhere in Scripture and it all exists for a purpose. A purpose that involves you but is not about you. What do I mean by that? NOW, you likely have noticed a few verses yet touched on yet, that we have already gone by. This is okay, for we now take what Paul has made aware to us of this power mysteriously at work in the believer, in the christian and we’ll see how it’s driving purpose is for the glory of Christ’s church. PAUL weaves this third climactic point from start to finish. 3) THIRD POINT (Ephesians 3:9-13) - Awareness of this Power at work in you is for the glory of the Church The the third and final thing given awareness to that is woven through (verses 1-13) and weighted most heavily in (verses 9-13) is the Awareness of this Power at work in you - being for - the glory of Christ’s Church. OR, in other words, The working of this power in you is driven and motivated to build up the church, to serve the body of Christ of which you yourself are a member of and therefore are also being built up both by serving and in being served by others. Every member ministry is a term we’ve used here before at Pillar that speaks exactly of this. Each christian, as individual members of the body of Christ, are each equipped with giftings by Christ to be used in the power of His Spirit of to serve Him by serving one another, his body, the body of Christ…the CHURCH. Every member ministry. Something we affirm to one another is happening here and also encourage one another that it only grows and multiplies over time to the praise and glory of God. LET’S look at the passage now and see how Paul saturates all that he is saying as he pivots towards living out the implications of the gospel of the grace of God unpacked in the opening of this letter. Starting with (verse 1) “……I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—on behalf of… the purpose for which I am a prisoner…in essence…it’s all for the service of Christ’s Church. What is Paul entrusted with, equipped by God to do? What is the gift of God’s grace given Paul to be a steward of? Picking up in the middle of (verse 2) …..the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me— for you,…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, (verse 4) “…When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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 - the gospel ‘power’ mysteriously at work in Paul for the glory of Christ’s Church. What is the mystery you say? (Verse 6-7) “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. 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”… there it is again ‘Holy Spirit’ …the gospel ‘power’ mysteriously at work in Paul for the glory of Christ’s Church.. CHURCH, what does Paul, by the power of the Spirit of Christ mysteriously at work in him, what does Paul give his life to? (Philippians 2:17) “Even if I (Paul says in Philippians 2:17) Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of - your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” (Colossians 1:24-29). “Now I (Paul speaking hear) Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for…for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the - mystery - hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints, (that includes you and me christian.…saints). To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this - mystery, - which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all (watch this) with all his energy that he powerfully works within-me.” POW! Is this not what we’ve been talking about this morning and what he says right here again in the closing as to why this grace was given…(verses 9-13) read..not and Church - hear me please. The CHURCH, purchased by the blood of Christ to be made holy and blameless before Him was always GOD’S plan. There was never and will never be a plan B. God’s “plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Christ Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Eph 1:10)…has always been plan A. The plan Christ Jesus executed with precision and perfection. The plan “according to the eternal purposes of God that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Plan A…the CHURCH, who may “have boldness and access with confidence to the Father though our faith in Jesus.” That which (1Peter 1:12) “….angels long to look..”..into. The mystery of a people, purchased by the blood of Christ, filled by His Spirit, Sanctified by His Word, being brought into glory, grafted into the body of Christ to be fellow heirs with Him and partakers of His holiness,….this glorious mystical union of Jesus Christ and His bride the CHURCH…that through which “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” The CHRUCH..This has always been the plan. God’s plan A from eternity passed. The promise to Abraham was that through his seed “all nations of the earth would be blessed.” His seed,…that would be a descendant of his..of Abraham’s….whom JESUS is and through whom “all nations of the earth would be blessed.” (Genesis 18:18, 22:18) This covenant promise that came to Abraham who believed and obeyed God’s voice though he and his wife were childless and far beyond child bearing age… nevertheless Abraham believed God, had faith in His promises, that God was fully able to do what He said He would do…By FAITH, Abraham believed GOD at His Word and it was counted to Abraham by God… counted to Abraham as righteousness…a righteousness that depends upon FAITH. And this came when? BEFORE or AFTER he was circumcised? It came before…(Romans 4:9-12). Get ready! “Is this blessing then only for the circumcised (the Jew), or also for the uncircumcised (the Gentile)? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. “How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, he was circumcised, as a seal (a mark/ a stamp if you will) of the righteousness that he ‘had' by faith while he was ‘still’ uncircumcised. You following? The purpose (God’s eternal purpose) was to make him (make Abraham) the father of A-L-L who ‘believe’ without being circumcised (Gentiles..Abraham is father to the believing Gentiles), so that righteousness would be counted to them (Gentiles) as well…that which Paul preaches to the Gentiles about…these unsearchable riches of Christ that they (the Gentiles) are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise (this promise to Abraham) in Christ Jesus who is the seed -the offspring- of Abraham through whom the blessing comes…, And So also, was God’s eternal purpose… to make him (Abraham) the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised (that is in the flesh) but who also, ….now listen, who also walk in the footsteps of the faith—that our father Abraham had before he was cir-cum-cis-ed.” The footsteps of faith that expresses itself in obedience to GOD’S voice….His Word. This has always been the plan. The CHURCH, the manifold wisdom of God in uniting all things in Christ and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” In pivoting from these realities towards living them out in the here and now… PAUL places strong emphases that this gospel power that has given you new life, transformed who you are, made you a new creation is something you and others are not only aware of and humbled by but also that the driving force behind it all is to build up the body of Christ. EVERY God given faculty of your being is available in God’s hands in your area of influence to be empowered by His Spirit to serve Christ’s Church at all cost. PAUL is drawing his readers attention to this before he works out the implications of it in daily christian living. CONCLUSION In closing, what does this look like in the day to day, year to year happenings in our lives? WELL, whether there is a multitude coming to Christ from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and boldly living it out in your lives in all gentleness and respect OR if persecution comes as a result of it, it’s the same power at work by His Spirit who is either making new life, bringing others into the family of God who were once far off….OR, He supplies the power “to share in the sufferings of Christ for the gospel.” It’s a WIN WIN…this is how Paul can say the things he says about suffering. Take the last verse in today’s passage for instance..(Verse 13). “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” Suffering exposes true colors does it not? Who one really is comes through when suffering, when adversity befalls them. And suffering on behalf of that which “….the angels long to look”..into…this mystery…the CHURCH…which “the manifold wisdom of God is being made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”…when suffering for the gospel of this mystery, for being a member of and service to Christ’s Church…when suffering for this reason….you share in the sufferings of Christ and all eyes, in heaven and earth…ALL EYES marvel at such patience, such endurance and joy in suffering for it is brought about by a power not of this world. It magnifies the worth of Christ and exalts His name to the glory of the Father. It is a power not of this world that cannot be witnessed without impact. The powerful gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. “For this reason” The christian is aware of this gospel power mysteriously at work in them and that it’s for the glory of Christ’s church. You don’t take up christianity - ‘it’ takes a hold of you. ‘It’ picks you up and puts you on a new course. It is a power mysteriously at work in you…GOD'S power…the Power of the Holy Spirit making a sinner a saint who is living for the glory of Christ’s Church. For living for the glory of Christ’s church glorifies HIM who is the head of the church. As His body “the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Let’s seek to know our Head, seek to know our risen King…the Lord Jesus Christ more and more that His power in us would have greater effectiveness in our lives for His glory and the glory of His body, the Church. - PRAY Awareness Humility Giftedness Service to the Church COMMUNION Benediction (2 Timothy 1:8-10)
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