Paul’s writings are frequently like an over-packed suitcase. He crams a tremendous amount of thought into a short space.
I have divided Paul’s thoughts into bite-sized portions, so we won’t miss the importance of his message.
Grace to Serve
Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” It is tempting to see grace as God’s gift that we keep under wraps until it’s time to go to heaven.
Paul saw God’s grace as the motivating factor of his service.
Ephesians 3.7-9 – Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.
Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ
And to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things.
We do well to imitate Paul and see service and grace connected together.
I am thinking of a very slender middle-aged woman, who has spent the last several years in Africa.
The gift of God’s grace has inspired her to creatively bring the gospel to a people group that is resistant to the Christian message. If she read Paul’s words, I’m sure they would resonate with her.
What about us? How has God’s grace motivated our service? This lady who must remain somewhat anonymous for security concerns should inspire us to imitate Paul’s attitudes and actions.
Opportunity and Responsibility
The next two verses illuminate the church’s opportunity and serious responsibility. How we conduct ourselves affects the world order.
Ephesians 3.10-11 – So that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nations that oppress the church are quite aware of the church’s power over society. The message and ministry of the church declare God’s wisdom to rulers and authorities and they see it as a threat to their power.
The Old Testament prophets are a good example of people who confronted the rulers and authorities with God’s wisdom.
The false prophets, on the other hand, allowed the rulers to determine the content of their message. They chose the status and benefits of a close relationship with the rulers over obedience to God.
I told Rudy Ross, my friend, who produces YouTube videos with me, that our study of Paul’s letters has reminded me of the absolute necessity of dependence on the Holy Spirit.
It is only when the church is dependent on the Spirit that we will be able to proclaim God’s revealed wisdom to the rulers and authorities.
Paul was bold in the face of conflict between the churches and the authorities. He relentlessly proclaimed what the Spirit revealed to him no matter who was his audience.
Paul met daily with God, the Greatest Authority of All. Why should he fear humans?
He wrote the church in Rome, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8.31).
This is how he wrote to the churches of Ephesus.
Ephesians 3.12-13 – We have access in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray, therefore, that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.
Our status comes from God, who “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2.6).
This is the standing that allows us to be bold and confident in the face of rulers and authorities.
We are able to proclaim God’s wisdom with boldness to the powers of this age because God’s plan from the beginning was to use people like us.
Paul’s message in these power-packed verses should encourage us to allow the Spirit to use us in whatever way he desires.
YouTube Video and Prayer
Please join Rudy Ross and me on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.
If you have a prayer request, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.