This week, I got to preach about Jesus & His Mission from Ephesians 3:1-13. I have been stunned by verse 10 for about 2 weeks now and its effect is still not lost on me.
Ephesians 3:8-10: To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
The mystery hidden for ages was that through Jesus and His Gospel, God would incorporate the Gentiles so that they might become His people (Eph. 3:6). They who had existed outside of His covenant and promises have been brought in. They who were far have been brought near. God has kept His promise to Abraham, so that through Jesus, all the families of the earth are blessed. And this new community of God’s people is no longer known as Jews or Gentiles, but as the Church.
But here’s the part that has caught my breath.
It is through this new community, through the Church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. That means, that the Church is on display to the cosmos, to the heavenly realms so that the angelic realm might know the wisdom of God in salvation. The Church is for the exhibition of God’s manifold wisdom to the realm of angels and demons.
Sort of like angels in heaven doing backflips, stunned open wide mouths, praising – whatever it is they do – when they see that sinful, rebellious, spiritually dead human beings have been reconciled with God through Christ. “He did it!” they must shout. “He kept His promise. He did what He told Abraham he would do. Even when Abraham’s descendants failed to be a light to the Gentiles, He kept His word through Jesus. The Gentiles are in. All the families of the earth are blessed!”
And sort of like demons gnashing their teeth, weeping – whatever it is they do – over their defeat. Every new sinner grafted into the Church, every new local church planted, all as a display of God’s wisdom and their defeat. “He did it!” they must scream with clenched fists. “He kept His promise. His plan worked!”
Think of that, every local church which makes up the Church causes angels to celebrate again the wisdom of God and causes demons to anguish again over their shame and defeat. The Church is like a trophy on display to the cosmos of the manifold wisdom of God.
In one sense that humbles us. God is planting a church in Northeast Philadelphia called Seven Mile Road. Seven Mile Road is swept up into the global, cosmic work that God is doing through the Gospel. With other believers from every country, tribe, and language, we are on display to the heavenly realms. To borrow an image from John Piper, the church is like a painting that God is displaying on a cosmic canvas showing off His incredible wisdom. Seven Mile Road is just a brushstroke on that canvas. That should humble us.
Seven Mile Road is on the canvas! That should thrill us! Our tiny church is displaying the manifold wisdom of God to the heavenly realms. What God is doing at Seven Mile Road is eliciting a response from angels and demons. What a thought!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways…For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36