The Book of Ephesians Series
“Stewards of God’s Grace”
This morning we continue our series in the book of Ephesians. So far, we have gone through the first two chapters where the Apostle Paul has been describing who we are in Christ. Brothers and sisters, we are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, sealed with the Holy Spirit, saved from our transgressions and sins, and brought together as one body to God through the cross.
This morning we will look at the first thirteen verses of chapter three to discover Paul’s vision for the church as he describes to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we are stewards of God’s grace.
Hear now the Word of God.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the
mystery of Christ, 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; 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, 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. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to
preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 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; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in
accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask
you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
The Ministry of the Apostle Paul
To gain a proper understanding of today’s text I think it would be beneficial for us to review the historical background of the ministry of the Apostle Paul. We were first introduced to Paul in the book Acts as Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, who led the persecution against the early church by ravaging the church, entering the homes of Christians, and dragging them off throwing them into prison. (Acts 8.1-3) This persecution caused Christians to scatter and as they went throughout the whole region, they proclaimed Christ and preached the Word of God. (Acts 8.4-5)
Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, responded to this scattering by obtaining authority from the High Priest to bring any Christians found in the synagogues as far away as the city of Damascus back to Jerusalem for imprisonment. (Acts 9.1-2) But as Saul traveled towards Damascus, he had a dramatic encounter with the ascended Christ who the called him to be a chosen instrument and to bear His name before the Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. (Acts 9.2-15; Gal.2.7) Paul surrenders his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized. (Acts 9.18)
Paul refers to the Lord’s calling on his life in verse seven of today’s text saying, “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.3.7) It is ironic is that the only group of people that Paul hated more than Christiansprior to his conversion were Gentiles. But now, after his conversion Christ calls him to have a deep love and concern for the salvation of Gentiles. Brothers and sisters, when Christ comes into our lives, we become new creatures. Our old dispositions and attitudes pass away. We have a new love for all people.
Paul considered everything that happened in his life was for the sake of the Gentiles. Look again at verse one of chapter three, For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles. Even though Paul’s imprisonment restricted him from being with his beloved church at Ephesus, he knew that God would use his imprisonment to increase the faith of Gentile believers. You can sense this idea in verse thirteen when Paul writes, “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.” (3.13)
A Stewardship of God’s Grace
Paul was confident that a stewardship of God’s grace had been given to him for them. (Eph.3.2) A steward was someone to whom an owner would entrust the care and management of his property and possessions. In this case, the Lord had not entrusted to Paul some land or belongings but the most valuable treasure in this life, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.” (3.2-3)
I thank God for the many people who invested their knowledge of the Scripture and their maturity of ministry into my life. From my Bible College and Seminary professors to the many fathers and brothers in Christ, I have been blessed to have so many invest the treasure of God’s Word into my life. But for Paul it wasn’t professors and peers who taught him the Word of God it was the Lord Himself. Even though Paul had grown up in Judaism and was extremely zealous for his ancestral traditions, after his conversion Paul the Lord Jesus Himself taught him the mystery of God’s grace through revelation for a period of about three years.
Here’s Paul in his own words from Galatians chapter one:
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. (Gal.1.11-17)
For three years the Lord Himself made known to Paul the mystery of Christ and Paul knew that the stewardship that had been entrusted to him was for the sake of the Gentiles. Paul knew he was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to bring to light the mystery that been hidden for ages. And as you read our text this morning you will see that Paul identifies three truths that were once hidden but now have become obvious which he taught to the Ephesians.
God’s Eternal Purpose
The first truth that became obvious was that God had an eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. Verse eleven reads, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (3.11) God’s plan of redemption in Christ was not an afterthought or an add on when other methods failed. God’s plan of redemption in Christ was in accordance with the eternal purpose.
Revealed to His Apostles and Prophets
The second truth that has become obvious is that the mystery of Christ was hidden in ages past has now been fully revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. (3.5) The Lord built His church upon the foundation of the apostle and prophets, Christ Jesus being a cornerstone so that the church we all would grow in true holiness and biblical understanding. (2.20-22) What had been hidden from other generations now had been completely revealed to the holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. (3.5)
For Jews and Gentiles
And third truth that has become obvious was that the pronouncement of God’s plan of redemption in Christ was not exclusively for the Jews, but it also included Gentiles, 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. (3.6)
Jesus told His disciples, “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Jn.10.16) And before His ascension back to the Father Jesus told His disciples that they were to be His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth that forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations andbeginning in Jerusalem and we were to make disciples of all the nations. (Acts 1.6-8, Lk.24.47, Mt.28.19)
God’s eternal purpose was carried out in Christ. The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and the gospel was to be proclaimed to all nations.
Paul’s Vision for the Church
But the main thing I want you to see in our text today is that the reason why the Apostle Paul worked so hard to bring these glorious truths to light was so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (3.10) Paul’s vision for the church was that the church would make known to the world that God had an eternal plan of redemption which He fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul’s vision for the church was that the church would make known to the world that Christianity is not some fluke or religious experiment but was grounded upon the historical biblical doctrine of the apostles and prophets that has endured the ages. Paul’s vision for the church was that the church would make known to the world that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not restrict the gospel to any one nationality, one race, one culture, or one language The church would make know that the blood of Christ has purchased for God a people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. (Rev.5.9) Paul’s vision for the church was that the church would not put limits on the impact of the gospel of Jesus Christ and would make known the manifold wisdom of God even to the heavenly realm. Paul had a tremendous vision for the church and so should we!
We are all Stewards
Now before all of this becomes theoretical let me bring some application to our lives today. We are not as apostle or the son of an apostle. We are not a prophet of a son of a prophet. But the Bible tells us that the Lord has entrusted the stewardship of the gospel to each one of us as well. The Apostle Peter told the church, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the
utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (IPt.4.10-11)
From the preacher to the church custodian, we are all to serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. From the preacher to the church custodian, we are all to serve by the strength which God supplies. From the preacher to the church custodian, we are all to serve so that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ. You see Paul’s vision for the church was not just for the pastor but for the entire congregation of God’s people. We are one body and individually members of one another. (Rom.12.5) Therefore, we are all stewards of manifold grace of God and every one of us should have a vision for the church.
Moreover, the Bible tells us that it is required that stewards be found trustworthy. (ICor.4.2) Jesus told a parable saying that there was a rich man who had a steward, and it thiswas reported to him that this steward was squandering his possessions. So, the rich man called for the steward and said to him, “What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.” (Lk.16.1-2)
This morning let’s take the opportunity to give an accounting of our stewardship of God’s grace. Are we sharing the gospel with others the way we should or are we squandering the gospel? Are we sharing God’s Word with others the way we should or are we squandering God’s Word? Are you helping others grow in Christ or are you squandering opportunities for discipleship and spiritual mentoring? Are we serving others the way we should or are we squandering our gifts and talents? Are we supporting the church financially or are we squandering our tithes, offering and alms? Are we honoring others the way we should or are we squandering relationships?
These are very important questions for us to consider as we come to the Lord’s Table this morning. The Bible tells us that we are to examine ourselves before we come to the Table. Examine our faith in Christ. Examine our relationship with the Lord. And examine our stewardship of God’s grace.
Transition to the Table1