Ephesians– overview of 3:9; The unworthy messenger servant, part 2.
length: 69:19 - taught on Dec, 10 2019
Tuesday December 10, 2019
In his booklet The Mark of the Christian, Francis Schaeffer writes of Christian love and unity. In one section he writes about how love can be costly at times, meaning sacrificial. In that section he writes about our love for those who of us, our brethren, who have made mistakes. “A [fourth] way we can show and exhibit love without sharing in our brother’s mistake is to approach the problem with a desire to solve it, rather than with a desire to win. We all love to win. In fact, there is nobody who loves to win more than the theologian. The history of theology is all too often a long exhibition of a desire to win.” He makes a very good point that holiness and love must always accompany one another. Holiness without love is harshness, and love without holiness is compromise.
God created the universe for the purpose of making men and women who would be in the image of Christ.
ROM 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
ROM 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
ROM 8:30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —
EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;
EPH 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
EPH 3:4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
EPH 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
EPH 3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
EPH 3:7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
EPH 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
EPH 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;
The mystery is Christ and the men and women like Him in this age who are unified in love in one perfect brotherhood of priests.
We are unworthy, bringing no assets to the table, yet we go fearlessly knowing that the grace of God goes with us.
Paul is very aware of his personal unworthiness, yet he fearlessly serves God, knowing that the grace of God goes with him.
Philip Schaff in his History of the Christian Church, in the introduction, writes: “From Jesus Christ, sin His manifestation in the flesh, an unbroken stream of divine light and life has been and is still flowing, and will continue to flow, in ever-growing volume, through the waste of our fallen race; and all that is truly great and good and holy in the annals of church history is due, ultimately, to the impulse of His spirit. He is the fly-wheel in the world’s progress. But He works upon the world through sinful and fallible men, who, while as self-conscious and free agents they are accountable for all their actions, must still, willing or unwilling, serve the great purpose of God. … The church militant [demonstrator] must, from its very nature, be at perpetual warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil, both without and within. For as Judas sat among the apostles, so the “man of sin” sits in the temple of God.”
The war and the spreading flame or light of Christ will continue through human history, and that, with or without us. Throw away all excuses, they are meaningless and fit to be burned, and follow Christ with all your heart, mind, spirit, and strength.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
“By the grace of God I am what I am,” is usually heard with the idea of personal weakness, but let’s look at it from the point of personal strength. “By the grace of God I am like Christ.” And also, “By the grace of God I go, not using anything of myself before salvation.” Fallen, weak, depraved sinners were changed and empowered by God through the death of Christ to be the humanity He desired and commissioned to go and do His perfect will. It is a display of God’s ultimate greatness and love.
Every believer must understand his personal unworthiness. So, how can we understand that and still be secure?
Though unworthy, without anything to offer to God, we must be fully secure. Our security comes from God’s gifts and calling.
If God has called me and sent me, then I must go with confidence. If I don’t, then I doubt God’s call, promise, and perfection. If I don’t go according to His purpose then I am saying that God must have made an error in judgment. Now, if He can do that fine, evaluate yourself as unable.
Isaiah had the same thought: God can make mistakes when calling people.
ISA 6:1 In the year of King, Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
ISA 6:2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
ISA 6:3 And one called out to another and said,
"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,,
The whole earth is full of His glory."
ISA 6:4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
ISA 6:5 Then I said,
"Woe is me, for I am ruined!,
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;,
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
Last time we saw the disciples at the last supper contending with one another concerning which of them was the greatest, and this came after they had heard that there was a betrayer among them. This happened after they had been handed the bread, signifying that the Messiah was going to have His body broken for them; and after they had been handed the wine, signifying that the Messiah would be judged for their sins so that they could be inducted into the New Covenant in His blood.
Hearing that one of them was the least and then arguing about who was the best reveals their confusion concerning the fact that all of them are totally unworthy. All of them should have said, “Well, I don’t know who the betrayer is, perhaps it is me, but woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of impure lips, and in a people, a gathering of impure lips do I dwell.”
Something is done to Isaiah that is similar to what has been done the disciples in the upper room.
ISA 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
ISA 6:7 And he touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven."
ISA 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
The burning coal from the altar represented to Isaiah that judgment for his unclean heart would not fall upon him but upon Another. “Your iniquity is taken away.”
“Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
If God has cleansed a man of all his sin and then told the man, “I am God who cannot change and cannot err, and I have called you so that you will be holy and blameless before Me, and I have sent you with all power to do My will in your short life upon earth. I am the Lord God and My word and sovereignty are final,” and that man thinks that God has erred in some fashion, he has blasphemed God’s name. Our Lord taught us to pray, “Sanctified be Your name.”