We are currently doing a series on the topic called ‘The Church’.
Last Sunday, we learnt ‘WHAT is church’.
We learnt that church is not a building or a structure but a family of people redeemed by the blood of Christ – Joined together in Him, Citizens of a heavenly Kingdom and a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
This Sunday our goal is to discover the WHY and the passage we will be looking at is Ephesians 3:8-10.
For a Christian it is important to know the WHY of the Church because it unlocks the WHY of our own personal lives. In a fast-paced, ambition-driven, need-based society we are often distracted and blinded from discovering the God given purposes of our lives. We often define the purpose of our lives based on our upbringing, cultural influences and selfish desires of our hearts.
I believe as we discover the WHY of the Church it will allow us to see how our own lives are woven in this beautiful relationship with God and with one another. We will learn that for a Christian, outside of this relationship, life doesn’t exist.
Instead of realising this truth on our death bed when everything we strive for in life seem to fade away, its better to realise it now so we can live a happy and satisfied life in God, also leaving back a legacy for our next generation to follow and aspire.
If you are someone who really desires this life then follow with me… in Ephesians 3:8-10 where Apostle Paul writes…
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.
I’m going to focus on five ‘key-phrases’ from this passage and use them interchangeably to explain what it reveals about the Purpose of the church.
The five phrases are:
“The very least of us”
“Preach to the gentiles”
“Unsearchable riches of Christ”
“Mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things”
“Through the Church”
The first key phrase I want to begin with is ‘through the church’.
Brothers & sisters, since the time we fell into Sin and made a mess of our lives, God’s been doing such amazing things to restore us back to Him, through generations old and new. And in the new covenant of Christ the important thing we all need to learn is that everything God has done in history post Jesus, what God is doing in the present and what God is about to do in the future is through the church.
Not through any single man or even a party, standing isolated from the world, shouting and yelling at the top of their voice – whether political or religious. It’s only through the church – the redeemed people of God – including you and me sitting right now in this small little dance rehearsal hall.
And here’s what is He is doing?
His is revealing “His manifold wisdom” to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
The very forces that are against the coming Kingdom of God, making every effort to destroy precious lives through deception and manipulations, in the name of tradition, culture, political freedom, health, wealth and prosperity. Non of which is bad by itself, bad only when its used to distract us from the truth – the ‘manifold wisdom of God’
This manifold wisdom of God is the “mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things”
Let’s take a step back and consider who we are talking about here.
We are not talking about a new movement started by a political or a business leader who wants to change the world – and we chose whether we want to go with Him or not. We are talking about God who created all things for His pleasure and none of us have a choice not to follow Him. Our choice will determine whether we will live eternity in heaven or in hell.
The mystery that was hidden for ages is ‘Christ’. Colossians 1:27 “God chose to make known how great among the gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
When God made this world, he made us in his image, he wanted us to walk humbly and obediently in his presence, honouring him, glorifying him, worshipping him – but instead we chose to disobey and rebel because of which we had to be thrown out of this beautiful relationship and also away from his joy-giving, peace-filled promises – promise of a good life which we were meant to live when he created us – to live in a peaceful world.
The mystery is that now through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, as we repent and believe in him, we can be restored back into that relationship, which also unlocking the ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ in us – the privilege of been adopted in His family, to be co-heir with Christ in heaven. – bestowed with the power to do greater things than He who sent us, to be change makers, mountain movers, pace setters, leaders of this world.
He chooses “the very least of us” as Paul points out about his own election. Not the healthy, wealthy, prosperous and wise people of this world but the sick, the poor, the needy and foolish people like us – and then joining us together, calling us church and sending us out into the world …
To do what?
“To preach to the gentiles the good news of this mystery which is Christ”, the hope of glory to each and every person who believes in Him.
In all this God is seeking His glory and the purpose of the church is to Glorify Him as we preach the gospel and see hearts been transformed.
The purpose of the church is not just gathering people every Sunday morning, singing songs and having a great fellowship. The purpose of the church, of every individual sitting here is to take this good news that which we sing about and cherish every Sunday morning, go out into the world and preach it to the dying world – in our neighbourhood, in our workplace, in our society, in our city, in our nation and the ends of the world.
Through our lifestyle, our attitude, our behaviour, our love for one another, our service – but most importantly through our WORDS.
The word ‘preach’ means public proclamation, advocating the truth of the Gospel in every way possible. A lot of people quote St Francis of Assisi who said “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”… That’s not what the scripture tells us – It tells us to go out and preach it.
In the world where humans (the image bearers of the God) are fighting against war, global warming, corruption, injustice, slavery, rape, abuse of power, religious oppression, CAA & NRC on the basis of ethics, values & human rights. God wants his church, the redeemed people of God to rise up and become channels through which he revels his manifold wisdom, the mystery hidden in Christ, the hope for all the problems – through public proclamation.
This is the ultimate purpose of the Church. And this is the ultimate purpose of every believer.
Just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness for the people to see and be saved. We, the church are called to lift up Son Jesus to this world and call them out to repent of their sins and put their faith in Him so that their souls may be saved and restored.
There is nothing to be ashamed of while preaching the Gospel because we are not selling an insurance policy, we are proclaiming the truth, the only truth that can save them. Ultimately, its their choice whether to take it or not.
And before I point finger at you and ask you whether you are doing so, I want to confess my own failure to do so, because of my fears and insecurities. I think I sometimes fool myself by thinking that I am preaching the Gospel every Sunday, to every like minded brother and sister who comes to me for counselling. But I believe there is a difference between preaching the Gospel in a safe environment like this and preaching to the gentiles as Paul writes where my life can be in danger, where I am susceptible to rejection, mockery, hatred etc.
Church, lets rise up – to our calling, to our purposes, to our destiny.
Jesus said “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is mandate given to the church, to every person sitting in this room.
This doesn’t mean that we throw off our jobs, abandon our responsibilities. But it means to recognise the context in which God has placed us, whether at work, in family, in society. And as we are participating in our daily earthly chores and fulfilling our God given responsibilities we are aware that our primary goal is to Glorify God by lifting up the name of His son Jesus, by preaching the good news to the gentiles, making disciples and teaching them to obey God.
In concluding my talk, I want to pray and plead with God for my heart this morning, to make bold and courageous, to become intentional in sharing the Gospel to my lost friends, neighbors, colleagues, and if that is what you feel convicted of this morning, I want to you to join me in praying and pleading with God.