Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. It's important for us to consider what gifts and resources God has given us.
How are we using them to invest in others for God's glory? Today we will look into Ephesians 3, 1-7, in a message titled, The Gift of God's Grace, preached on July 23, 2017. Let's consider how Paul stewarded the gift God gave him for the building up of the church.
We're picking up on part two of this message. And so what Paul has is a foundation. This foundation that he refers to back up in verse 20 of chapter 2, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
What is this foundation? Two things. Number one, revelation. God makes known what otherwise could not be known. That's what revelation is, to reveal something. In verse 5, he says it was not made known in times in ages past. In the Old Testament, they did have hints of non-Jewish people having faith in Jehovah.
And in fact, Israel was called to that ministry. But now it is clearly revealed. Now it is clearly revealed. And Paul has received specific revelation from God, as he says in verse 3.
Specific revelation from God. God has specifically made known to Paul, these are the truth. And not just Paul alone. Paul wasn't alone in this. This revelation was made to Paul in the context of the church and the other apostles. And there was nothing that it was contrary to priorly given revelation. And those are truths that set Paul apart from others in history who have claimed to receive ostensibly revelation from God.
It was all done in a vacuum, but not for the apostle Paul. Not only did he receive revelation, but he with the other apostles and the prophets received a commission. A commission. It is the stewardship of dispensing. Here, I've given you this revelation. Now, give it to the people. Spread it to the people. That's what we have before us right now.
It's what we are studying this morning. This is the revelation of God. God has made himself known.
And it's done through human agency. So he gives that revelation and then he commissions them to dispense this information. As he says in verse 2, it was given to me for you. And that then becomes the foundation of the church, the doctrine of the apostles and the prophets, the foundation of the church.
That is his gift. Now he is speaking of the mystery of the church. This was a huge puzzle back then, right? The Jews and the Gentiles, they did not get along very well. The Jewish perception of a Gentile was very disdainful and vice versa. And so what is this mystery to which he refers? Verse 6, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, partakers of his promise in Christ through the gospel.
So the mystery looks something like this. In the Old Testament there was Jew and there was Gentile and even during this time there was Jew. You had the Jewish temple and the Gentiles were not allowed into the temple. And if you were going to worship Jehovah God, you had become a Jew, pretty much. So here is the mystery and this is what was entrusted to the apostle Paul. As God had revealed and made known to them, we know these people can have faith in God. So it's like Paul, a Jew, and the apostles, the disciples who followed Jesus, he called them to the Gentiles as well, not just the Jews. He says, we know these people can have faith in God, but it's like their tendency to think was, well, you have your faith and you do it over there and we'll have our faith and we'll do it over here. Now that sounds a lot like what's going on in some places today, isn't it? But what they didn't realize, I mean, you can just hear them saying, okay, it's okay for them to have faith in God, but we didn't know we'd be in this whole thing together, you know, all in the same boat, in the same household, in the same family.
We didn't realize that was part of the package, but it is. It's like you go back to 1947, Jackie Robinson was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and the stir that that created, you know, it was okay for the blacks to have their baseball league, but we're over here and we'll have our baseball league, but who the funk that we could all do baseball together. You see, you look at that today and it almost seems silly to talk about, doesn't it? But that's what was going on at that time ethnically between Jews and Gentiles. And this is why Paul is emphasizing reconciliation happens when people are reconciled to God, so that human labels and dividers are not the issue anymore.
Grace is the great equalizer. And so what is this mystery? He outlines it here beginning at verse six. They are fellow heirs. An heir is one who receives. It is the inheritance of God. And they now, the Gentiles now, share equally in the riches of God's grace.
Not only are they fellow heirs, but they're members of the same body. They have equal belonging and function all together under the headship of Jesus Christ. And then thirdly, they are partakers of the promise in Christ. What was it that Christ promised his followers? It was the Holy Spirit.
He said, it's better for me. It is better for you that I leave and the Holy Spirit comes because the Holy Spirit in you is better than me walking beside you. And everybody who is in Christ, regardless of their ethnic background, everybody shares in that together. An example of this is in in Acts chapter 10, verses 44 to 46. Well, Peter, this is the story of Peter goes and talks to Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman centurion.
It's as Gentile as you can get there, okay? Peter was still saying these things. The Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word and the believers from among the circumcised, that's the Jews, who had come with Peter, were amazed because why? The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles and they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.
Now, why is that important? Because the Jews needed to see that God was in the business of reconciling people. All those who were reconciled to him were reconciled to himself. They were all in the same boat. Now, the Gentiles had now received, those who believed in Christ had received the Holy Spirit and it had the same effect on them as it did the Jews at Pentecost. Same spirit, same work of God, same church, same mission, all in one. And that's an amazing account in history.
And this is what Paul is referring to here in Ephesians 3, verses 1 through 7 in this autobiographical parentheses. Now, here's a so what about this, okay? Let's bring this to today.
Let's bring this to you and me because it's not a Jew-Gentile thing anymore, is it? I want to ask you four questions in conclusion today and I want you to think seriously about these. Remember Paul's circumstance and here's a question I want you to ask yourself. What holds me captive? What holds me captive? Could it possibly be the circumstances of your life, whether prosperous or a time of adversity?
What holds me captive? Are you one who might be tending to say, if only X, then I could really serve and follow Christ. If only this were true, then I could really serve and follow Christ. Let me tell you something, that's not true.
Not a bit of it is true. Regardless of your circumstances, you are called to follow Christ. Your state in life is not outside God's sovereign purpose.
So as the saying goes, bloom where you're planted. So I want you to think about that question very seriously. What holds me captive? Paul was a prisoner, but he didn't consider himself a victim of being in prison.
No, he was a prisoner of Christ. Second question, Paul knew that it was a stewardship that was his and this good news of reconciliation that God has come and has poured himself into us, this good news of reconciliation of the gospel of grace. I want you to ask yourself this question, am I a dispenser or am I a hoarder of the good news?
Do I keep it to myself? Am I a dispenser or am I a hoarder? I call you to apply the perfume or the cologne of Jesus Christ, that as you are satisfied in him, you share with others, you invite others to this goodness and you do so. And as you're doing it, you need to be real.
You need to be winsome and you need to be boldly compassionate. Am I a hoarder or am I a dispenser? Thirdly, third question. Please ask yourself this question. What is my gift? What is my gift? You have a gift. If you are in Christ, you have been equipped by the Holy Spirit to do two things, to be a help to the church and a light to the lost. You have, in Christ, you have been equipped.
How do I know what my gift is? Two things I want you to think about. What are your deep desires?
What is it you love to do? And then secondly, is there something about what you can do that is affirmed by other people in the body of Christ? An ability that the Holy Spirit has given you to be a help to the church and a light to the lost. Question 3b. Question 3 is, what is my gift?
3b is this, am I using it? Am I using my gift? Am I investing in people? Am I coming alongside another for their God-ward movement?
Ask yourself that question. And then fourthly, the fourth question I want you to consider this morning is a bit of a challenging one and it requires some searching because I know this is still present in many, many corners of the evangelical church today. How much, us versus them, is there still in my walk of faith? Any person, listen, any prayer, this is what we learn from the text, any person, no matter how different they are from you, how disdainful they might be to you, or how distant you think they are from God, reconciliation is on the table for them. And you need to know that.
That's what the issue is. Is there anything about Grace Bible Church that inhibits others from feeling welcome here? And am I contributing to that? I want you to contemplate these questions. I want you to think through these questions. Let God work in your heart. Let His Spirit challenge you. Let God challenge you with these questions this morning. You've been listening to Delighting Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Visit our church website to see upcoming events or to listen to more messages at www.gbcwinston.com. To discover how to live by grace, tune in on weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-10 09:59:57 / 2022-12-10 10:04:48 / 5