|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 23
Meditation Title: Wisdom made Known
Eph 3:8-10 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
I recently read an atheistic philosopher appealing to Christians to explain their beliefs. “But,” he said, “there's one card you cannot play, the faith card. The faith card is when you say, well, no, we don't talk about that, it's a matter of faith… You are saying… I am not willing to give you reasons.” Somehow many of us have given this man cause to believe we can't share our beliefs reasonably and rationally. If that is so we do not follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul. In this letter he has been giving us immense detail about what has happened and the consequences of it!
He has, in this chapter, done a sidestep from the main doctrinal flow, to speak about his own ministry which has been about revealing the mystery of God's will. Here he continues that: “Although I am less than the least of all God's people”. In displaying himself he reveals a genuine humility. Humility is about knowing who you are – without God, nothing; with the Lord wonderful! Are Paul's opening words false humility? Definitely not! This man was very much aware of where he had come from, a Pharisaical background of self-achievement in the guise of godliness that had caused him to persecute true believers. Oh no, the more you know about yourself the more you put yourself down the social scale. The proud person is the most deceived because they highly esteem themselves and really don't have a clue of what they are really like!
Anyway he says, “Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me.” When we truly know ourselves, we marvel at the wonder of what God has done with us. I am amazed, is what Paul is saying, when I think about this incredible revelation that God has given me – me, being the minor figure that I am!!! Note that it was nothing to do with him being a clever guy (which he was) but it was a pure gift of God, this revelation.
So then he goes on to describe ‘this grace', which comes in the form of his ministry: “to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Grace comes in lots of forms. For Paul it was the ability to ‘see' that wonder of what God had achieved through sending His Son to die for us, and then share it! Do you see the incredible words used here: “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”? Who Christ is and what he has done, is of such staggering value that we'll never be able to understand (this side of heaven) the extent of it. We really can't grasp the wonder of this being who came from heaven and took human form and who now sits at his Father's right hand ruling over EVERYTHING. We really struggle to grasp the wonder of what he has achieved for us, the incredible transformation that he has wrought in us because of his work on the Cross and the things that are now ours because of that.
He continues to describe ‘this grace' that he has received from God: “and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” We've already touched on some of this language which he has already used earlier in the chapter. His ministry (his grace from God) is to unpack and apply (administer) that which had previously been a mystery – the will of God, formulated in heaven from before the creation of the world, that was about the Son of God coming to earth to redeem sinful mankind – or at least all those who would receive his redemption. Those atheists who claim that religions have evolved, misunderstand the Christian faith for all that has happened is that God's plan, which was being referred to prophetically in the Old Testament, had actually been formulated before the world came into being. Thus it was only the revealing of it that was coming about two thousand years ago. This ‘revealing' was first of all the implementing of it by the coming of Christ, and then the explaining of it after he had gone back to heaven.
But here is some more profound revelation: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” Now that is amazing. Paul's statement is that what Christ has done, and which is now being seen worked out through the church, is so amazing, that it is clear and visible to all the angelic and demonic beings in the spiritual world. They look on and watch you and me and, as they see the wonder of God's grace through Christ being worked out in us, they realise the wonder of the wisdom of God, and we become a source of praise for God from all the angelic beings. How we live out our lives becomes a cause of praise in heaven. Isn't that amazing!
So here we have Paul logically and systematically explaining our faith in ways that can be easily understood. All it needs is a little thought, but this ‘mystery' is not something that is beyond ordinary people; it was simply a mystery in as far as it had not been revealed until Christ came. Now it has, and we can explain our faith more clearly perhaps than the atheist can his!