Ephesians X: The Gospel Ministry - Ephesians 3:7-13

The Church puts the wisdom of God on display. The mystery of the gospel in Ephesians 3:1-7 is that God was making one Church out of Jew and Gentile through the cross of Jesus, and in Ephesians 3:7-13, we see the ministry of the gospel carried out as God raises up the most Jewish of Jews to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles.

It’s all so wonderful that Paul can barely believe it, especially his own role in God’s purposes. His ministry came to him by God’s grace, the “leastest” of all the saints being entrusted with the greatest of all messages. His commission is twofold: to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, and to enlighten everyone about the Creator God’s mysterious plan. The result of Paul’s ministry is that the Church becomes the place where the manifold wisdom of God is made known.

Paul’s work has both a verbal aspect, and a visual aspect. He speaks the gospel by preaching, and he shows the gospel by establishing and strengthening churches where the gospel is lived out. The verbal leads into the visual so that what God has done in Christ is progressively revealed in a way that overawes rebellious heavenly powers but emboldens the saints.

Paul’s central point is found in v. 10: God did all this to magnify His manifold wisdom through the church. All of history has been leading up to this; the Church has always been God’s plan to make His wisdom known, specifically in four ways.

First, the Church preaches the Word. Paul himself is sent by the Church to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the verbal proclamation of the gospel is one of the main ways that God glorifies Himself through the Church.

Second, through the ministry of preaching, all things in heaven and on earth are united with Christ through His body, the Church. Why does v.9 mention that God is the one who created all things? To connect with the thread that’s been running through the whole book: God’s plan is not for a scattered redemption of a few people here and there; God is saving the world! He does this in Christ, and as it comes to pass, the rulers and authorities take notice. God is making known to them His wisdom, His plan, His victory, through the Church, as she gathers for worship, and as she spreads out throughout the week in the lives of her people.

The third aspect of God’s display in the Church is seen in v.12 – although the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, we still have access to God through the Church! Not as a mediator, but as a minister – Paul doesn’t mean that you have to be in a church building to have access to God, but that we have access to God as church members – if you are part of Christ’s body, then you have access to God!

And not just access, but boldness and confidence through faith. Because faith connects us to Christ, we don’t come to God in our own name, but in His name, as part of His body. We come boldly before God because Jesus comes boldly before God! It doesn’t matter if you walked into this building with a load of sin on your back; when you come into God’s presence in Christ’s name, God looks at you and sees you in Christ. So come boldly!

Finally, God’s wisdom is put on display in the Church when she doesn’t lose heart on account of suffering (v.13), but counts it as glory. Paul’s imprisonment means that the Church is more important than all gods and kings, and that God’s highest purpose is building His Church through the gospel. This means that carrying out the gospel ministry is more important than freedom or even life itself. “What I have for you Ephesians is too valuable for me to give up,” Paul says, “even if they throw me in jail! My sufferings for you are the measure of the importance of my message: the gospel is worth everything!”

And so, people of God, look at the wisdom of God on display in His Church, and out of your love for Christ and His Church, live your life in a way that adorns God’s wisdom. Don’t get caught up chasing worldly riches; rejoice in the unsearchable riches that are yours in Christ. Don’t be intimidated by the earthly counterparts of the rulers and authorities who hate God; be bold, because God has fulfilled His eternal purpose in Christ. And don’t be dismayed by suffering and hardship; remember that suffering is the Church’s glory, because it is through a suffering yet steadfast Church that the grace and power and wisdom of God are made known to everyone.

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2019 by CJ Bowen