ENRAPTURED BY GOD'S GRACE
There are some amazing words we read in this chapter penned by Paul.
When you hear these words and in the context of this portion of Paul’s letter what does your heart reveal about your relationship with Christ? If you struggle to answer that question then please pay close attention with the hearts that yearn for Christ this morning.
Here is a challenge for all of us, myself included! For your discipline and growing…..go home and study these words in the scriptures and see what you come up with. I can guarantee that you will be blessed doing this individually, as a couple or as a group. The Gospel revealed is the unsearchable riches of God’s grace. What does that mean when Paul expresses the truth of the gospel this way? The unfathomable riches of Christ include all of God’s truth, all of God’s blessings and all that He is and has. This is the preachers blessing to share and remind God’s children. This is why it’s important that we understand our beautiful position in Christ. It’s because of this unfathomable riches we have in Christ through the gospel that saves. The obedient, productive and happy Christian life cannot be lived apart from understanding that position.
Our riches in Christ are beyond earthly riches and earthy wisdom….. “……the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col 2:2-3. Peter said “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
Our calling is so much more than eternal life which is amazing, don’t get me wrong!
But this gospel that was once a mystery is now been revealed; not to our brains for information but into our hearts, to see and taste, the blessing that flow from Calvary’s veins through Christ Jesus our Lord. What does this look like when the gospel surrounds a sinner? It’s like an explosion or putting the D-Fib on a dead corpse and bringing it back to life. It’s not just a moment of change, but life eternal changing. "Unsearchable" in these passages does not mean "unable to be examined." Rather it is in the sense of mapping out a territory.
God is so infinite and the things that He does are so vast that we are unable to completely map out all that He has done and plans to accomplish. In the Greek “unsearchable” means unable to track or unable to map. God has revealed through the church and the teachings of Paul and the other apostles His eternal purpose of saving man through Jesus Christ. Yet who among us can say that we fully and completely grasp the extent of God's plans or all the things He did to accomplish this goal according to the scriptures? This is the mystery revealed to us through the Word to the Church. We admire and are humbled daily that Jesus should come and save us, but still we realize that what He did for us is beyond human understanding.
Isaiah penned these words "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD." For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it"" Isa 55:6-11.
See as we continue to examine a genuine call of God on one’s life (you and me). Paul continues to reaffirm what he knows by telling us through the Spirit.
A genuine call is enraptured by God’s grace. (v7-v9)
“Enraptured” expresses the idea that the child of God is captivated or fascinated. This is evidence to a child of God as you reflect upon this mystery that has been hidden from and for you, for so long. But now….. it has been revealed to us in His electing grace. We needs God’s grace to empower and being enraptures with grace is the nature of Christian calling. Such awe of God and His grace certifies our calling as genuine. The Apostle is particularly concerned that the Ephesian Christians should realize that all the benefits which they were now are enjoying as fellow-heirs with the Jews had come to them through the gospel which Paul had preached. Paul reminds us that he became a servant of this good news by the grace of God and the working of the Holy Spirit. (v7). This should make us stop and ponder this amazing God we love and serve. He took a vile and zealous man, and turned him from his wicked ways to be used to spread the gospel through the preaching of God’s Word. It’s an amazing thing to save a wicked and evil man like Saul and make him humble Paul.
Remember what Ananias said to God when he was instructed to go to Paul? We read in Act 9:11-17 “And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." 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. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
This testimony of Paul reaffirms for us, that if God can save a wretched vile man like Paul there is hope for me and you. But not only us, but others…I mean everyone! This is what the gospel does, it takes a sinner and makes him or her, a new creations. Paul humbly says (v8) “I am the very least of all the saints.”
What is Paul saying? I know who I was and what I did before I was blinded on the road to Damascus. I know what I was doing and planned to do on that day when Jesus appeared to me. We read in Acts 9:1-2 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And on that road he was confronted with the sovereign God of the universe who spoke to a sinfilled man the gospel of His grace. A God who knows everything and everyone’s heart “ "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:4-5. But Jesus had other plans! A gospel that was veiled to Saul was now being removed so that Paul could see the truth of this mystery. This is a humbling statement for a sinner to reveal to the church.
Martin Lloyd Jones said this about this statement that Paul made to the church. “Paul’s amazement that this call to the ministry should ever have come to him. Note the way in which he does so. ‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given’. This is not ‘mock modesty’ or affectation or hypocrisy. At the same time it is in no sense a contradiction of what he says elsewhere about himself when he claims that ‘Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.” 2 Cor 11:5. How do we reconcile such statements? The answer is that he never ceased to be amazed at the fact that the blaspheming and injurious Saul of Tarsus had ever been called, not only into the Christian life, but also to be an apostle, and given the unique privilege of being in a very special manner ‘the Apostle to the Gentiles’. It is a bad day in the life of any Christian when he forgets his origin, when he forgets ‘the hole of the pit out of which he has been digged’.
A genuine called child of God knows their position in Christ…this doesn’t mean we are immune from trials and temptations and that this is going to be your best life now! This means that you and I, have been placed in God’s house and knowing that I’m still a sinner in need of change. God’s truth enraptures my heart as I reflect upon my life and the life He saved for His glory. Whether you an apostle like Paul, preacher like myself or a lay person in the church, it is a beautiful thing to ponder this wonderful truth about the mystery that saved your wretched life.
A church is enraptured by the grace of God (v10-v13)
The true called church is a beautiful witness to the glory of God. The words “manifold wisdom” reflects the idea of something that is multicoloured or diverse. The word “manifold” was used to describe Joseph’s coat in the Old Testament (Gen 37:23) translation of Paul’s time. The Greek word translated as "manifold," or sometimes as "diverse," is actually a more colorful term, literally. The word in (v10) is based on the literally means "many-colored, spotted, speckled."
See this is an important statement that the church is declaring to the Heavenly Realm.
In this one phrase Paul is describing the church that divine wisdom working to meld into the church sinners made perfect from every tribe, people, and nations.
This is what the church consists off universally fallen people groups bringing together into one redeemed body for the glory of God. When you sit back and reflect upon the church and its purpose you cannot but be enraptured by the eternal purposes of God and divine plan He has set forth according to His word.
Think about it! God uses the church of the redeemed to display His wisdom to the Heavenly beings and a light to lost. Remember, Christ is seated at God’s right hand above all what? (Eph 1:20) “Heavenly places” And we are seated with him where? (Eph 2:6) “in Heavenly places” And we have access too? (Eph 2:18) “the Father through the Spirit”. We have access to this glory through Christ alone and whether we gather before the angels, we also learn that, regardless of our differences and backgrounds, circumstances of life…… we all may approach God with “freedom and confidence” This freedom is a boldness that we have in Christ as we approach the Throne room in Hebrews. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:13-16
Confident “access” is trusting that knows no fear of rejection, because we belong to the King.
Our calling as we hear Paul’s heart for the gospel and the church reminds us of God’s goodness in our lives and the plan He has for each and every one of us and the church as He carries His people into glory. A genuine call is a person who is dying to self, living for others with the gospel despite what may or may not happen in the process.
The church is an institution that bringing together otherwise divided individuals in Christ. The period of alienation is over for the Gentiles and they are one, Jew and Gentile in Christ. The gospel united people together; this is what makes up the church. Why does this matter Because we are enraptured, captivated by God’s goodness and the divine purposes that He has set forth for the church. And we as God’s children vow to share with others everything that we have in Christ. We do this not knowing the circumstances of the culture and what they might/will do to us….but we this because we have been captivated by the gospel and we are committing our own lives to saving others (sharing the gospel), even if it costs us our lives. We wrap our arms around those who may by their own selfishness take our earthly life from us. Why would we do such things for lost people? We are aware of the watching world, and the Heavenly hosts give glory to God when they observe the church exhibiting such grace. Because when a child of God is enraptured by God’s grace they want to share and exemplify that same grace to others. For the purpose that they too will find freedom and access to the God who revealed the mystery of the gospel to our hearts.
As James Boice said “So God let history unfold like a great drama upon a cosmic stage. The angels are the audience. We are the actors. Satan is there to do everything he can to resist and thwart God’s purposes……So now you and I are players in this drama. Satan is attacking, and the angels are straining forward to look on. Are they seeing the “manifold wisdom” of God in you as you go through your part and speak your lines?”
That’s a good question to close our Sunday service! This question can be asked to us individually and corporately.
Is the Heavenly Realm seeing the “manifold wisdom” of God in you as you go through your part and speak your lines?