The Responsibility of the Church

All Scripture references are taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

”I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan—the mystery that has been hidden for ages in God who has created all things. 10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 3:7-10.

For What Purpose

Verses 7-10 continue the thought of the unknown mystery of God through the ministry of Paul to the Church. As Paul writes this ministry comes through the Gospel “according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” There is an obvious question, “To what purpose is a ministry given?” The Apostle continues, “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.”

We must be careful not to assign ideas where none is given, but this is my thought; Paul was given the ministry of proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles in order that some might be saved. “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” Within 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 The Apostle describes his position as to become all things to all men and “I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.” v. 19. He understands that not everyone will choose to become a Follower of the Christ and He message, but it is from those who choose to follow who will, along with the Apostle, proclaim the mystery now made known. These few became the Church, the Body of Christ and this is the same ministry given to Paul that we now have. We call it “The Great Commission” which comes from Matthew 28:18-20.

There are at least 5 subjects Paul addresses in Ephesians 3:7-10:

The gift of God’s grace

‘According to that gift of the grace of God which was given me.’ This means that the gift comes from the grace of God. It was given to him as the act of God’s grace, “ But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles. Galatians 1:15-16a. God’s power is described as the measure of the gift of His grace. In fact, what is a “gift” in its source, is “effectual working” in its actual nature. In this verse, we see the emphasis is God’s gift to the Apostle of preaching the mystery of the gospel. However, there is something for us now. We often overlook the gifts of the Holy Spirit found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and also in Ephesians 4. No room here, but perhaps later.

The unfathomable riches of Christ

From the 1928 Merriam Webster Dictionary, we find, “So deep or remote that the limit or extent cannot be found. The designs of Providence are often unfathomable.” The meaning in the Greek text is that there was a “sufficiency” in Christ which could not be traced out or explored. His presence is incomprehensible. The fullness of the riches in Him cannot be appreciated by us. However, this New Testament expression concerning the Christ contains more meaning than can be written in a book. The Holy Spirit demonstrates here that, indeed, the Apostle writes by His inspiration for on He is able to tell the world that there are such riches in the Redeemer.

The proclamation of the mystery

Of course, this mystery is Christ Jesus and from 1 Timothy 3:16 we find that “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” This is the mystery which must be proclaimed among the nations and we must do it well.

The manifold wisdom of God

odGod’s design is to save a lost world by His grace and through faith in Jesus Christ. His wisdom is such that it cannot be defeated by the futility of man or the schemes of the Devil. There have been and continue to be diversions for defeating the Gospel Message. However, the wisdom of God always removes obstacles because He is Sovereign and His infinite grace produced in the Risen Christ overcomes evil intent at every turn.

Who are the rulers and authorities in heavenly places?

The same phrase is found in. Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” and Paul refers to evil angels in 6:12 because the power of God is against them. However, in Ephesians 3:10 Paul seems to be writing about the angels who surround the throne of God. There is much discussion among commentators about this phrase which leads me to think that no one can give a conclusive answer. However, because the context of these 10 verses seems to suggest an angelic presence surrounding the throne of God.

With these things in mind, the responsibility of the Church is to faithfully proclaim the Message of the Gospel in vast darkness and to administer the wisdom and grace of God within the Body of Christ. This is what it means to fulfill the Great Commission; to disciple the nations.

Jesus is Lord.

 

About Bob Williford

Conservative Southern Baptist pastor, missionary, and personal evangelist. An avid supporter of Texas Tech Athletics. Enjoy oil painting, writing and woodworking. My wife, children, and grandchildren are my joy. Reading and writing are great for relaxing......
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