Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . Our love for God's glory vs His love for us

. Our love for God's glory vs His love for us


The unfolding of His Divine Tapestry

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/63/04/72/63047207eda9213c01dd647852dae1e2.jpgEphesians 3:8-11 (NIV) 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.”


Two weeks ago I did a sermon where we spoke about the love of God for His own glory, vs the love of God for sinners like me. We ended the sermon by quoting Ephesians 3:10 where we are seen as the ones with the responsibility now to put God’s glory on display. In actual fact it is not simply a responsibility, you are putting God’s glory on display. The question is, ‘to what extent does your life display God’s glory, or is your life all about you?’ The text we have just read is one of the most glorious texts as far as the eternal purpose of the church is concerned and it should fill us all with awe as we consider our place in the church.


Now, we can look at the text in two ways. One way is to approach it in its logical order which starts with man and ends with God or we can look at the text in reverse gear and start with our glorious, holy, omnipotent, sovereign God and to end with man.


From verse 8 -11 you will see that God through His grace uses ordinary people like Paul and like you and I, to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, so that the glorious church of Jesus Christ can be gathered from all nations to fulfil God’s eternal purpose, which is to display His manifold wisdom or His manifold glory to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm.

This section is one of many in Scripture that remind me of a tapestry. When you look at the underside of the tapestry the chords seem to go into all directions, there seems to be chaos, no clear picture emerges, but when you turn the tapestry around you see the clear picture of what all those strands of string meant to be.


When we look at life we realise that the back of the tapestry is always our experience of things. Many times nothing seems to make sense, like the sicknesses and trials that so many of us have and are going through but praise God, there is a front end or upper side which is God’s side, and when you see life from God’s perspective, it always makes sense does it not?  Think of Job’s life and from his perspective it will look like the back end of a tapestry, right? Nothing seems to make sense, but for Job and all of us we need to rest in confidence that the final picture, the glorious picture is known to God.


Life for us is often like building a puzzle, and seeing thousands of pieces on the table, but we do not have the box with the picture, only God does. So together we have to build and make pieces fit and only on that day when we stand in glory we will see the final picture as God saw it from the beginning. For now, we do not understand where our cancer, our accident, our robbery, our job frustrations and our financial difficulties etc. fit in with the grand scheme of things. At times we think it is all simply Satan attacking us, but my friend, if only you could see the picture on the box, you will realise that all of it in the end serves to the glory of God. Life without trials, is a life in which God is not needed.


Let’s look at this tapestry together, starting at the front end.

Point 1. The front end of this most glorious picture

1.1 The manifold wisdom of God on display.

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.

Church family, do you realise just how significant a role you are playing in the grand scheme of things? You and I have not just slipped into some kind of club called Logos, and Logos is also not a playground where we get some form of spiritual exercise or a retirement village where we can retire spiritually.


No you and I are part of the church of Christ and part of God’s original intention in Christ Jesus which is that ‘now through the church, His manifold wisdom will be made known….” Tell, me, when your friends find out that you are a believer, do you feel embarrassed. Let’s immediately kill any embarrassment you may have for belonging to the church. Do you realise that the children of God are more significant in world history than any other group, organization or nation? Why can I say that? It is because we are the assembly of the redeemed. We are a company of saints.  We are not here to play games. No we have been caught up in something major. When you became a born again believer you did not convert from your previous life to simple solemn duties of gathering, praising an unseen God and giving for some mediocre purpose. No you were converted into the original plan for your life and that is to glorify Him by fearing Him and keeping His commandments.


Friends, we are a peculiar people, a Holy nation, a Royal Priesthood. If that is what we all are, why do we ever look at supposed super Christians and wish we were like them? There are those who parade their knowledge, there holiness, their self-righteousness and we look at them and wish we were like them. Lift up your eyes, church family! You belong to a society that will never cease, to the apple of God's eye, to the eternal and cosmic church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as long as you are born again, no matter how big or how small you are in your own righteousness.


Just how good do you have to be to be considered a good person? I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God and apart from Christ – my best works are like what? Filthy rags. The world has no clue what the main drama of history is all about? Look how the nations are fixated with Israel. They either want to fight against or protect this little piece of property no bigger than the Kruger National Park.  But realise this, they have no clue what it is all about. They do not understand that history is HIS story. You and I however are not fooled, we understand it, and we are involved in it, we know that there is a greater purpose, and that is the revelation of the glory of God, they don’t understand it, they think it is all about now, but we are not fooled, we know it is all about eternity.


So my friend, it is through us that God is making known His glorious manifold wisdom.  The word manifold by the way in the Greek literally means the ‘multi-coloured or multifaceted’. I wish I had the words to make this truth sink so deep down into your being that it will do something in your life like nothing else had done before. I pray that it will carry you in your responsibility in the church, that it will protect your character when temptation comes and that it will keep you standing when the trials and hardship comes. Why, because someone is looking in on you. Who is it? God, yes, but more than that, the angels – both the fallen angels and the Holy angels. Our lives, whether it be in our failings or victory are on display to the angels and demons.


Do we realise that our significance is cosmic and it is eternal. No wonder Paul followed this section with a prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 which asked for God's help in comprehending the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of Christ. Do you realise that we are not just the salt and light of the world, but we are the light of the universe, we are the light of all of God’s creation.


Now, think carefully. Is this fact not a tremendous incentive for being the church Christ intends us to be? Why did the gospel come to you, why are you born again? Just so that you can ride on the coattail of spiritual and material benefits. No my friend, there is an eternal purpose, and in verse 10 we see it starting with what we call in the Greek a ‘hina’ clause with a subjunctive verb, translated in English ‘so that’.


Why are you saved? Very simple so that the fallen and holy angels can check you out and stand in awe as they see the manifold wisdom of God. What do they see? The holy ones look in and they see a glimpse of what they will never know personally and that is the grace of God. Did you know that no angel will ever be able to sing amazing grace? It is our song; they are simply observing this tapestry. 1st Peter says they stoop to see what we know. Look at 1 Peter 1:10-12 "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things."

But then there are also the fallen angels who look at God’s tapestry. It is those guys that we read about in Ephesians 6 where we are told to put on the full armour of God. Our struggle is against some tough guys. They are called “the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Now these principalities also look in and what do they see? Here they stand and see the infinite wisdom of God, His redeeming power, His supreme authority by which they are defeated the very moment they thought they have succeeded through the cross of Calvary.


Just imagine the anguish of the fallen angels as they see this most glorious picture being formed. They see God taking Jew and Gentile, slave and free - those who murdered Jesus on the cross and who are worthy of nothing but hell, -  they see God making them by that very cross of murder, one spiritual body, the glorious bride of Christ. They see Him breaking down every barrier, every wall that divides and making all believers one in an invisible intimate union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and so they see every other believer from every age and circumstances, and they shriek as they behold God’s divine tapestry as it reveals His glory which is an awesome reminder of just who they are dealing with, namely the one who holds their final destiny in His hands.


That is what the final picture is all about. Because the big picture is made up of smaller pictures which is you and I and every church amongst all people that are on display for His glory.


All the pictures on the tapestry represent all the nations that God in His wisdom and grace, through the preaching of the mysteries of God is gathering in for that final day. According to verses 8 and 9 Paul saw his task like this: "to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery." The astounding mystery and gospel proclamation is that we gentiles can have all these riches through faith in Christ, and that alone gives us the privilege of calling ourselves children of God. No wonder “the angels in heaven rejoice when one lost sinner is saved” according to Luke 15:10. I believe that the fallen angels shudder when they see another sinner saved.


Church family, do we realise that we were once part of that realm. We saw this last week. Paul writes to the Ephesians in chapter 2:1-3: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 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. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” So we were part of it, but God, in His manifold wisdom pulled us out and made us part of His glorious picture.


Every thread adds to the intricate display of Gods manifold wisdom and you and I with the heavens declare the Glory of God. When you study Ephesians 2 you realize that we have nothing to offer, we are sinners, who cannot find our salvation in ourselves. Do you realize that your life is just like an onion? You tear one layer of onion off, and what do you see? More onion. Layer for layer there is more onion, and so with us layer for layer we are sinners, but saved because of His riches being poured out over us. According to Ephesians 2:7 the reason God rescued us from death and made us alive with Christ is "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."


The astonishing secret of God is that he sent His Messiah to die for sins and to rise again in order to create a church of Jews and gentiles on whom he could spend an eternity lavishing every possible blessing with all his infinite might. What is the wisdom of God according to verse 10? I believe that the wisdom of God is primarily the wisdom it took to devise a plan of redemption as great as this: a plan to unite and glorify Jew and gentile, contrary to all human expectation, by the horrible death of the mighty Messiah.

The wisdom of God is virtually the same as the mystery of Christ revealed to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 2:7 Paul says, "No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."


In 1 Corinthians 1:23,24 Paul says, "but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Christ crucified for the unification and glorification of Jews and gentiles in the church is the mystery of God and the wisdom of God. God is gathering His people and let’s stop for one moment and join the angels as they stand in awe at the perfect picture of what God is doing in this world. So as the heavenly host look in they see parts of the picture unfolding, and one part of that glorious picture is us here at Logos.


Point 2. The back end of this most glorious picture

2.1  Preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. V 8 – 9

Ephesians 3:8-9 (NIV) 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.” Preaching is the needle being used to string the divine tapestry. This is the means by which God is doing this gathering of the saints from among the nations. That is why we as a church are committed to expository preaching. That is why we are committed to preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.

In spite of inflation the wages of sin is still death and faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:14 says: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" That is why Paul can say to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

Our purpose is to make Christ known in word and in deed so that both Jews and Gentiles can come in and become part of this glorious picture. Paul says in Ephesians 2:12-14 "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.  That is what we preach, Christ the only answer for the world today for both Jew and Gentile.

There is a second part to the back end of the glorious picture of this tapestry.

2.2  The service of ordinary people like us.

"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, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things." (Ephesians 3:8-9, NIV)

Who is it that has been given the task to weave the tapestry? It is you and I and men like Paul who have been called to exercise our gifts according to the measure of grace we have received. Most of us live our lives with far too little awareness of the astonishing realities around us that are completing this tapestry. Most of us go through day after day and seldom feel the impact of the magnitude of what we are caught up in by belonging to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the ruler of the universe. And we don't take enough time to meditate on how our jobs, our home life, our leisure, our church involvement—how each of these fits into the cosmic significance of the church. And consequently our lives often lack the flavour of eternity and the aroma of something ultimate. Oh, that there might be more people among us whose manner of life mirrors something mysterious and wonderful and whose words have a cosmic significance.

Jesus was like that. You could not be around Him long until you felt: "There is something peculiar about this man; I've never heard anybody speak like this man." He had the aroma of God about Him. Every part of His life was part of a cosmic plan, and He knew it and it made Him earnest.

Paul was like this, too, as we see him here in this text. He saw his own little ministry as part of a cosmic plan and it filled him with seriousness and passion. And I pray that God will open our eyes today so that we can see that all of us believers, each with our peculiar gift, are part of a cosmic mission given to the church by the Creator.

You might see your role as insignificant, just involved in worship, just doing tea duty, just setting up the place before the time, just doing the mixing desk, just shaking a hand at the door, just …….. No it is not just, all of this together is a display of the glorious riches of Christ which leads to worship, which leads to those little children being exposed to God’s grace, which leads to a fellow saint being ministered to and feeling ministered to. Church family, we have an incomparable calling. It stretches our imagination to the limit.

Like Paul we feel we are the very least. Why did Paul feel this way? He was not trying to show false humility. He had a very clear understanding of the righteousness of Christ and the lack of his own righteousness. He persecuted the church, how could Christ choose him. Humanly speaking, Paul should never have been chosen. Paul wants to remind us that Christ will use His church as insignificant as we feel.

What is your aim as a believer? Your aim should be to demonstrate to the evil powers of the cosmos that God has been wise in sending his Son to die that we might have hope and be unified in one body, the church. Therefore, when we fail to live in hope and to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace we send this signal through the galaxies: God's purpose is failing; he was not wise, he was foolish. Your gift, your God-given ability to dispense grace and strengthen faith, may seem small to you, but as a part of God's eternal revelation of his glory it takes on stupendous proportions.

Does God make a mistake in whom he calls? No my friend His glory will shine through earthen vessels, through weakness, through hardship, through persecution, through trials, through poverty, through sickness, through death, but there is no mistake in whom God uses. Paul says that he is less than the least, but by grace God is using him. I have often said that If Paul is the chief of sinners, I must be the chief of chiefs, and if Paul is less than the least I must be the leastestest, to coin a new word, and you might feel that you are the leastestestestestestest, but yet, God chooses you to be the light of the cosmos.

My prayer this morning for all of us is that we might keep before ourselves a new incentive for walking worthily of our calling, in all lowliness and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Our incentive is this: all the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are watching to see if we, the church, will live as if God is wise or as if He is foolish. Let's show them by the way we live and the word we proclaim that God's mysterious plan is not failing, but that the glorious tapestry, His divine tapestry is being completed and the picture is perfect in every way in spite of you and I who feel less than the least with Paul! And also in spite of all the trials we go through that on the underside of the tapestry looks like nothing but chaos.


Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 3 May 2015