SERIES: THE HEAVENLY BLESSINGS #3 Grimsby, 01/21/10
SERMON: UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF GRACE
READING: EPHESIANS 3:1-13
INTRO: The apostle begins the material for Ephesians chapter 3 with the intention of praying for the church about the richness of their present spiritual state, and to ask God to give them even more spiritual riches. We know this from 3:1, 14ff. However, he took a few line to help them be thankful for what they presently possessed.
He writes of his ministry to them, the mystery revealed for them, and the fellowship that God had created out of two distinct groups and many individuals.
Today we wish to pick up where we left off last week. The subject was the impact of the gospel. It continues in 3:7- “of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace.” God’s people need God’s grace. Found 10 times in Ephesians and 3 times here plus other grace words like gift and given. So after looking at all the HEAVENLY BLESSINGS of this letter, I would say that we see all things under
THE UMBRELLA OF GOD’S GRACE
I. WE SEE GRACE IN GOD’S GREATNESS AND OUR SMALLNESS
A. God’s Greatness Is Seen In:
1. His Power- “The working of his power”-7. Earlier, “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”-1:19
His Wisdom-“the manifold wisdom of God”-10. Manifold= variegated, multi-faceted, with great diversity. It described the beauty of an embroidered pattern or variety in coloured flowers. Romans 11:33-“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
His Creation- “who created all things.”-9. Genesis. But not just creation in the realm of the physical. God is the creator of all good things, relationships, love, mercy, etc.
2. “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”
B. Paul Looked So Tiny Against That Backdrop
1. He said, “I am the least of all the saints.”- 9. Lit. “The less than the least”“
Also, “I am the foremost of sinners.”- I Tim. 1:15
And, ‘least of all apostles, unworthy...because I persecuted the church.”-I Cor. 15:9
C. This Is An Accurate Commentary On Us
1. Paul yelled, “O wretched man that I am.”-Rom. 7:24. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me.... lost, unclean lips”-Isa. 6:5
The people in this letter had been “dead in their trespasses and sins...”-Eph. 2:1
We read about and believe in God’s majesty, power, might, unparalleled mercy and love and we cry out, “take the spotlight off me.” He says, “I just want to expose flaws so that I can fix them.”
We know about and are encouraged to have assurance of our Christ-purchased salvation, but we sometimes doubt. “Why would God want me in heaven with Him?” The reply of Jesus is, “I died for you my brother/sister. My Father honors that.”
Without trying, we are able to think of a long list of bad things we have done or good things we have failed to do and think, “I might as well give up. This is useless.” And God says, “My son, you are under my umbrella of grace”
ILLUST: Conversation In Heaven
II. WE SEE GRACE IN GOD’S SHARING HEAVEN WITH EARTH
A. Imagine Being Privy To The World’s Top Secret!
1. This is even greater! This is heaven’s top secret!
It is God’s eternal purpose and we now know it.
a. Jesus was always in the plan; the church was forever in God’s mind.
But even God’s prophets and angels didn’t know what we know. I Peter 1:10-12
B. We Received Our Information From The Bible, Paul, And God Who Revealed It.
1. We learn why Paul received this “grace.” verse 9(read) “for everyone”
The “mystery revealed” is the “stewardship of God’s grace.” 3:2
Important: “stewardship” points to responsible management not ownership.
a. It is a heavenly blessing just to be in God’s circle of close friends,
But more, we must use what we have appropriately.
2. This “stewardship” was of God’s grace- just what everyone needs. Cf John 3:16
ILLUST: Heaven Came down
III. WE SEE GRACE IN GOD’S CHOOSING THE CHURCH TO DISPENSE HIS WISDOM
A. Hear How This Stewardship Is Realized In Us- 10
1. “...so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
These are heavenly beings, angels who now learn from us!
B. Church Membership Has A High Calling, Right?
1. This is so much more than just going somewhere on Sundays
As the church what do your life and lip say every day?
C. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”-Eph. 3:20,21
CONCLUSION: ILLUST: Paid in Advance
ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS LESSON
CONVERSATION IN HEAVEN Randy Harry said that when he gets to heaven he is going to speak to God along these lines: “God I did my best, but it’s obvious I’m a failure. I set out to plant a church that would represent the diversity that the Bible show you love. And the plain fact of the matter is, I never got it done. Never happened.”
“God, I tried to learn to pray. I went to the desert and prayed with a bunch of hermits for a while. I came back and did a lot of lecturing on prayer. But the plain fact of the matter is that I never really got where I could pray believing that you heard every word. I tried.”
“And when it comes to living out the radical call of Jesus in every word, thought and deed, I never even got close. I tried. So is there any place here for a failure like me?”
Randy says, “ I think God is going to reply like this: ‘You could never be more right! You didn’t do enough and you really didn’t do it well enough either. But fortunately, my Son did it perfectly. You want to know if there is a place here for you in Jesus Christ, the answer is “Yes.”
HEAVEN CAME DOWN “O what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I shall never forget....” John 3:16; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 14:9. This God (Immanuel) built the church. Heaven is here.
PAID IN ADVANCE A man saved his money and took an ocean voyage. To try to help himself save a few dollars, he prepared his own meals by bringing along a large supply of cheese and crackers. On the ship. While luscious meals were being enjoyed in a warm atmosphere in the main deck dining hall, he was down below eating his cheese and crackers. Finally, on the last day of his cruise, he asked about the price for one meal in that dining room. “Why, there is no extra charge, sir,” said the dining steward, the meals were all included in the price you paid in advance.”
Are we taking advantage of the price paid at Calvary for everyone in the world?