Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sermon Notes- Ephesians 3:7-13

Ephesians 3:7-13
Faint Not
September 28, 2014
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Faith- in Christ
Confidence- of Forgiveness
Access- to the Father
Boldness- in His Presence
Obedience- motivated by love
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 
This sentence seems to stand in contrast to the next one. This is why we need to understand both of these sentences together. In the first, verse 7, Paul is claiming special revelation, God’s particular kindness to him, and God’s power given expressly to him. In our modern world, such claims are often accused of being boastful and full of pride. Who gives you the right to claim some special knowledge? Why did God speak to you and not to me?
Some of this accusation is the result of envy. People have a hard time admitting that God’s favor should fall in one place and not another.
But there is another reason as well. We have been schooled to believe that claims to absolute truth are suspect. It is not simply that Paul claims some special working of God towards him. It is that he claims that this special working revealed that there is truth in Jesus Christ and no other. The modern wants to say that as long as you say the truth is good for you, I am with you. But if you say that your truth also applies to me, then I am not with you. My truth is different than your truth. You see, this is a rejection of truth as an absolute standard.

8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 
But Paul is not boasting, except in God’s kindness and mercy. He is not making the claim that he has figured things out of his own accord. Nor, is he making the claim that he is someone super special or super spiritual, so God’s favor rested on him.
He is saying quite clearly that he does NOT deserve God’s favor. He takes the lowest place of the holy, and reiterates that it is grace. In fact, the phrase here means that he is less than the least. So, Paul saying that he is not even in the same category as the saints. When God called him to apostleship, the weekest little saint was better than Paul. He means it. He here exalts both God’s plan and God’s people. That is, God’s gift is what he is bragging about.
This is the way to glorify God. We are tempted to show forth our own glory when it comes to our knowledge, or our natural gifts, or even our good works, our children, our advances at our jobs, our good marriages. But if we see things correctly, we know that we are receiving manifold blessings because God has smiled on us.
Left to ourselves, we would not have fared any better than sinful men gone astray. But God did not leave us in such a state. He sent us His Spirit. He brought us to repentance and faith in Jesus and made us citizens of His Kingdom and adopted us as children in His family. To God be the glory. Amen.
Cross Reference- 1 Cor. 15:8 Paul saw Jesus last because he is the least of the Apostles, 2 Cor. 3:13 bold access.
Paul is an interesting case study. He had been the most zealous of the zealous for the Jewish nation. He persecuted Christ and His people because he thought God’s plans were limited to distribution through the Jews. We see, in Paul, God’s great irony. God took one of the most formidable enemies of the gospel and made him the gospel’s greatest champion.
Paul was the one least likely to be the champion of the gospel to the Gentiles. He was not part of the revelation on the day of Pentecost where the nations were gathered to hear the gospel. It was to Peter that the vision appeared making all foods clean. It was during Peter’s sermon that the Spirit fell upon the household of Cornelius. Peter was the likely minister to the Gentiles.
But for God, Peter was too obvious of a choice. In fact, Peter, himself, must needs be rebuked by Paul for his lack of clarity on his message and behavior among the Gentiles.
No, Paul was the one that God chose. God must take a man and turn him inside out and then he is useful in the kingdom of God. When Paul says that he is the least of all saints, he is not kidding. He is referring to his own leaning, upbringing and zeal. The fact that he is turned around, upside down, inside out, can only be attributed to God’s intervention. Thus, Paul gets no glory. God remade him.
Unsearchable Riches of Christ- This does mean that riches of Christ had not yet been searched, unsearched riches. It means that the riches of Christ cannot be fully discovered. We hear His riches declared and we see them in great glory but the depths of them cannot be sounded. This is why we get the Apostles great prayer for the Ephesians and for us in verse 3:18 to know the breadth and length and depth and height.
The glories that are in Christ are broad and long and deep and high. There is always something more we can learn and say about Jesus. It is not boring task to study Him.

9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 
See- photidzo- the sudden seeing as if a light switch had gone on. It is not just seeing the gospel but seeing how the gospel makes all men fellowship together in Jesus Christ. It is how the gospel restores fellowship to God and man.
This was hidden in ages past but is now revealed in Jesus Christ. In ages past, men were befuddled as to how the peace of mankind was ever going to be restored. There was at least a call to peace for Old Testament Jews. They were supposed to get along within the Covenant. But they could not even do that.
There were distant promises that the swords would be beat into plowshares and they would war no mar. But how to get there was hidden.
Even the Apostles of Jesus had the expectation that He would ascend the throne and mandate a peace through power. Instead of Pax Romana, there would be Pax Messiana. Peace by the iron fist of Messiah. But we do not get this. We get this by the iron sword proceeding from the mouth of Messiah. This is peace by the gospel. Unthinkable. Absurd.
In retrospect, Paul was the perfect choice. The mystery long hidden is that the recreation would be in Jesus Christ. Paul resisted this, even seeking to imprison and kill Christians. He was a Jew of Jews, a Pharisee among Pharisees. How different than the Paul we know in Scripture. But the murderers of St. Stephen did lay down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.

10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 
The church’s existence reveals the to the powers the manifold wisdom of God. Who are these powers? Those angels that rule over men. Their rule has been despoiled in Christ.

11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 
This was God’s plan all along.

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
We have boldness in the holy place. We have access with confidence. Some read this the faith of Jesus. That is, Jesus’s faith. But it the context implies our faith in Jesus. But our faith in Jesus is to partake of His faith in the Father, so it is all one.

13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Paul’s tribulations advanced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some might be ashamed that their great leader was in jail undergoing persecution. After all, is not the life in Jesus supposed to be full of blessing? How can we say that Paul’s constant opposition and then incarceration was blessing? But Paul says that it is blessing. He says that his tribulations are the Ephesians glory.
Paul intimates that since he is the Apostle to the Gentiles, he gets to go all the way. His plan was that the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the ends of the Earth. He was going to do just that, preach all the way to and in Rome. He preached from the ends of the world to the center of it.

         John Calvin Quote- There are three stages in our progress. First, we believe the promises of God; next, by relying on them, we obtain that confidence, which is accompanied by holiness and peace of mind; and, last of all, comes boldness, which enables us to banish fear, and to come with firmness and steadiness into the presence of God.”
“To separate faith from confidence would be an attempt to take away heat and light from the sun. I acknowledge, indeed, that, in proportion to the measure of faith, confidence is small in some and greater in others; but faith will never be found unaccompanied by these effects or fruits.”
Different measures of faith, provide different measures of confidence and boldness.

“A trembling, hesitating, doubting conscience, will always be a sure evidence of unbelief; but a firm, steady faith, will prove to be invincible against the gates of hell. To trust in Christ as Mediator, and to entertain a firm conviction of our heavenly Father’s love, — to venture boldly to promise to ourselves eternal life, and not to tremble at death or hell, is, to use a common phrase, a holy presumption.”

Faith- in Christ
Confidence- of Forgiveness
Access- to the Father
Boldness- in His Presence
Obedience- motivated by love


The catechism sets glory before us in the very first question and answer. What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
       And here we are, in this place of glory, seated at the mercy seat, reveling in the glory cloud. We are created to give God glory and yet we find that He continually showers us with glory. We want to make God weighty but He makes us weighty. And like Moses who needed to veil his face, we come to realize that the only way we can truly give Him glory is to simply reflect back to Him the glory that He has already shone on us.

       As we are seated at His Table, this is the place of glory. God’s glory in Jesus rests on each one of you. Rejoice in this. Be at peace. Be thankful.

Communion Prayer

Our Father, You have brought us near by the blood of Jesus. We are not ashamed to show His death, for it is the power and wisdom of God for those who believe. He was delivered for our offenses and He was raised again for our justification. Bless us, we pray, and transform us into Christlikeness, as we eat and drink of Christ by faith. Amen.


Our Father, we give You thanks, acknowledging that our manifold good and perfect gifts have come from Your gracious and generous hand. We pray for Your continued provision and blessing upon the work of our hands, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Our Father, we confess the sin of thinking too highly of ourselves. Forgive us, O Lord, and teach us to be humble, like the Apostle Paul, who saw himself as less than the least of all saints. Grant us Your grace and mercy through Christ, our Lord. Amen.