This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Living Invitations”.
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Today we are going to start a new series we are calling Living Invitations. We are going to start this series by talking about the church. The church of Jesus is the most important institution in the world. The gates of Hades, the powers of death, will prevail against every institution but one, the church. As a follower of Jesus you are a part of this amazing institution known as the church. Today we will look at what the church is and in the weeks ahead we will look at what the church does.
Ephesians 3:1-11 (NIV)
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 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, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 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, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I want to dig into verses 10-11:
10 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,
11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is the church? What is the manifold wisdom? Who are the rulers and authorities? How do we make it known?
1. What is the church?
The word “church” does not refer to a building or a facility or a place. It refers to people. It either refers to the group of all Christians who have ever lived, or it refers to a group of believers in a specific place. So, if you are a follower of Christ, you are a part of the body of Christ, the church.
Ephesians 1:22-23 (NIV)
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Being a part of the church is such an amazing blessing and yet most people never really take in the magnitude of what it really means.
2. What is the manifold wisdom?
1 Corinthians 1:18-24 (NIV)
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
So the mystery of God and the wisdom of God is that on the cross, Jesus made a way not just for eternal life for people who believe in Him, He also purchased and a formed a new people, the church, who are the recipients of God’s promises and grace.
3. Who are the rulers and authorities?
The phrase rulers and authorities shows up in two other places in Ephesians.
Ephesians 6:11-12 (NIV)
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
The rulers and authorities are the enemy and his kingdom of darkness. They are intent on the destruction of man by keeping people blinded to the truth of Jesus Christ that would set them free. The church is to understand this cosmic battle so that we understand how vitally important the mission of the church to make the manifold wisdom of God known so that lost people can find life.
4. How do we make this wisdom known?
By living by doing the next right thing and doing the good deeds that we were created to do.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Titus 2:14 (NIV)
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
The church’s mission is to live so that people can see and know that God is real. That is our mission and we will be talking more about our mission in the weeks ahead.