Summary: A sermon on what a privilege it is for us as Gentiles to be called Christians and included in God’s plan of salvation.
January 9, 2005 Ephesians 3:2-12
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. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Fellow Believers Living in the Light,
It saddens me greatly to know that about half of our congregation is missing from worship - often despising the Third Commandment - on a regular basis. Jesus was so saddened at the fact that His fellow Jews were not coming to Him that he cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Mt 23:37) When people didn’t respond to His offer, Jesus wept. But He also told His disciples in Luke 9:5, “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” The message God wanted to send was clear. “I want you, but I don’t need you.”
Think about that message in your own life. Does that offend you? Do you regard your being here as something you should be patted on the back for, as a wonderful sacrifice you are making for God? When you serve as a teacher or bring your kids to Sunday School, do you think to yourself, “I hope they appreciate me,” or do you say, “it’s a good thing I came to church today”? This goes well beyond church. The children you have, the house you own, the job you work - do you look at these as things that you have earned, burdens you must bear? All too often we look at life from OUR side of the coin. We think about the sacrifice WE are making to come here - we are taking to raise our children - WE are having to remain faithful to our spouse. Because of that, we live life with an attitude that God somehow owes us some gratitude for all of our hard work.
Here’s news for you. God doesn’t owe you a thing - not one ounce of gratitude for being here. I want you here and God wants you here, but God doesn’t need you here. Don’t think that God owes you some thanks for having gotten up to worship Him on a Sunday morning when you were so tired. What kind of arrogance is that? God owes YOU - the same person that has sinned against Him every day of your life - thanks? The very fact that you have come here to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should fill you with a sense of awe and privilege - that God would allow you to even come here.
That’s what Paul is emphasizing to the Ephesians - to get them to understand and appreciate the very fact that they were even called Christians. Epiphany is about the coming of the Gospel to the Gentiles - the Wise Men from the East. This was an awesome and wonderful privilege for them and for us. I pray that this portion of Paul’s letter will give open your mind to what a privilege we have to call ourselves Christians and enable you to say -
It’s Good Lord to Be Here
I. Better than the old days
Imagine if you came here this morning and we said at the door, “I’m sorry, you’re not a Jew, you can’t come in here. You need to be from the chosen race. You’re just a Gentile dog. But we will let you sit outside and have someone else come in and pray for you. How’s that?” I would imagine that most of us would leave in a huff and tell everyone around, “don’t go to THAT church. They only allow Jews inside!” This was NOT God’s attitude toward the Gentiles in the Old or the New Testament. Yet God looked at the Gentiles as a danger to His chosen people. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land - he wanted the Gentiles living there to be COMPLETELY driven out or killed. He warned His people not to intermarry with them, so they wouldn’t be led astray by their religions. More often than not, the Jewish people often referred to as “goyim” or “uncircumcised fellows,” probably something like when we say, “a bunch of heathens.”