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Walking in Understanding

Published: 4 months ago- 18 February 2024
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Big Idea: God’s community of Grace exists for His glory in the world and in the church.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Have you heard that saying?

I know it’s good advice. But I find it very hard to follow. Overwhelmingly, I will judge a book by its cover. That’s the thing I see as it sits on the shelf. And the publishers have employed clever people to make the cover very appealing. So, inevitably I will judge a book by its cover.

But the truth remains. There is more to a book than first meets the eye.

Same as icebergs. There is more to icebergs than meets the eye. You only see 10% of the iceberg. The largest iceberg ever recorded was 168m tall. That’s 55 storeys high above the water! Imagine what lay beneath!?! There is more to icebergs than meets the eye.

There is more to church than meets the eye. I hope that is true.

No offence … you know it’s going to be offensive but if I was going to gather a group of people to change the world and to overthrow the kingdom of Satan I wouldn’t choose to use a group of people who decided that I should be their pastor!

All jokes aside, I hope that there is more to church than meets the eye.

Quite apart from that what were your thoughts about church as you came along today? Big things are afoot this morning/evening. Satan is trembling, the world is taking notice … The church is gathering!

More likely ahh! Is that the time? I’m going to be late.

I hope that there is more to church than meets the eye.

In our passage today Paul assures us that there is more to church than meets the eye.

What we will see is that we are the community of grace.

As a community of grace we are Revealers. As a community of grace we are Rejoicers. You see …

There is more to the church than meets the eye.

As a community of grace we are Revealers (v1-13) The church reveals a mystery. Sounds intriguing… revealers of a mystery

Paul mentions this mystery a few times in v1-13. v3 the mystery was made known to Paul by revelation God revealed this mystery to Paul. v4 it is the mystery of Christ v8-9 Paul’s job was to tell everyone, to preach about the mystery that had been hidden for ages in God …

There is more to church than meets the eye because we, the church reveal something that was previously hidden.

Then Paul tells us what this God-revealed mystery is. Look at v6

6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

This is the mystery. God’s people now extend beyond the nation of Israel. Paul invented three words to express this revelation. Co-heirs; co-body; co-sharer. We who once had no part in the 3000-year Abrahamic history or Covenant promises given through Moses are now a key part of God’s plan.

Notice too. There are no economy-seats in the family of God. Gentiles haven’t been shuffled in down the back of the plane with bad food and no legroom.

Gentiles, you and I – previously outsiders; without God and without hope in the world are now insiders with all the benefits. Heirs of the kingdom. Legit people of God. Recipients of the promises.

Insiders by grace.

v6b in Christ Jesus through the gospel. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – through the death of Christ we have: Justification – forgiveness and right standing with God, and Adoption – we are now a part of God’s family with all the benefits, privileges and inheritance that standing offers. We are more than insiders, we are family.

MPC has heaps of hidden family connections. I keep learning of new ones. Don’t say anything about anyone.

But in the economy of God, we are all family. In fact there are stronger, longer lasting family ties with one another through Christ than through birth or marriage.

Read v11-12

11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Christ is our confidence and our guarantee. Heb 4:16 in Christ we have the confidence to approach the throne of grace.

There is more to church than meets the eye. We look like a mixed bag of people gathering in a building while everyone else is out living life. In fact, we are the eternal community of grace, the very family of God.

Our eldest son is getting married in April. That means that someone who isn’t part of our family will become a fully-fledged member of our family through her being united with our son.

In Christ, we are fully-fledged members of God’s family by grace. With all the confidence and authority before God the Father.

True for Gentiles and Jews. Paul is one of the most Jewish people on the planet; a Hebrew of Hebrews is also a recipient of this grace and by grace included in this new family of God.

Read v7-8

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 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,

The church is a community of grace, in Christ Jesus through the gospel, Jew and Gentile alike part of this new family of God.

On purpose for a purpose.

So that we might be revealers. What do we reveal? What are we revealing?

Read v10

10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

We reveal the manifold wisdom of God.

Head South toward NSW Northern Rivers and you will see billboards advertising the beauty and wonder of North Coast beaches.

Paul says (v10) the church is a billboard. Revealing God’s manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities who in 6:12 we learn are those who oppose God and his people.

Just as a diamond cut by a master craftsman will reflect light in all its wonder and beauty.

So, the church reveals to all who oppose God’s kingdom the wonder and beauty of his manifold wisdom, his complex, all-knowing, unfailing wisdom, fully and finally revealed in the gospel of Christ Jesus.

This means, as we sit here this morning/evening declaring our thanks to God in praise and worship – gathering, singing, praying, sitting under the Word together, encouraging each other on in following Jesus. We are revealing God’s glorious wisdom in breaking down the dividing barrier not only between us and God but us and each other.

There is more to church than meets the eye. As amateur and ordinary as it might feel to you what we are doing is displaying to the forces of evil and opposition the glorious truth of the gospel which has defeated their cause and delivered us to eternal life.

As you, as a follower of Jesus continue to trust Jesus amid the accusation of sin and failure in your life, as you seek God in prayer, and shape your life by his Word, as you wrestle to delight in Him, you are declaring the glory of the gospel – new lives being forged in Christ, new hearts longing to do God’s will, a hope for the future which will not be extinguished by the trials of this world (v13).

There is more to the church than meets the eye.

We are a community of grace that reveals God’s wisdom to his undeniable glory before all who stand opposed to him.

As a community of grace we are Rejoicers (v14-21) We reveal and we rejoice. Read v14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul prays to God our Father (v14-15) that we’d rejoice. That according to the riches of his glory (v16) According to God’s unlimited resources and power, we would be strengthened/enabled by the Holy Spirit (v16) ministering Christ in us (v17) to be firmly fixed in Christ’s love and given (v18) the capacity to understand the dimensions of Christ’s love, which are (v19) things beyond human understanding (the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge) and to obtain things that are beyond our attaining (being filled with the fullness of God).

There is more in these verses than meets my brain, because … There is more to church than meets the eye.

There is a lot is going on there. I have been yelling at Paul all week, just speak English would ya!

We have a status that is beyond human ability to comprehend. There is more to the church than meets the eye.

Paul is praying that God would do a work in us by his Spirit so that we could understand our place in the vast ocean of his love and that we might start to comprehend the wonder and beauty and immensity of being in a family relationship with God and all that this brings.

We are heading to Europe in just over a month for our son’s wedding. We are taking the opportunity to visit some family and take a look around. Jo has been organising our itinerary. The problem is there is so much to see and not enough time to see it all. The itinerary is constantly being tweaked, too much to see.

Paul’s prayer is that we would start the business of eternity now. There is far too much to see in the kingdom of God’s love and fullness for us to see in this life.

But he prays that we would put our minds to rejoicing in, or delighting in God’s goodness to us which is beyond our power, comprehension, or awareness to even glimpse or grasp at but which is ours by virtue of Christ through the power of God. And again, this is the business of eternity. To grow in our delight in God and all that we have in him through the Lord Jesus Christ. REJOICE.

Legend has it that they launched the Titanic it was claimed that not even God could sink it.

It soon became apparent that God didn’t need to sink it, an iceberg would suffice.

Our world rejects God. But this world will meet its iceberg.

God’s power will be displayed in full and every hint of opposition will be destroyed with the return of his King, the Risen Lord Jesus.

Until that day, God’s people declare his glory by revealing his wisdom – salvation in Christ and rejoicing in his unfathomable love.

My prayer is that as you leave here today, as you head out into the world tomorrow, that you will know that there is more to you than meets the eye.

Whatever judgements the world makes, whatever insecurities you face. Know that as a follower of Jesus there is more to you than meets the eye.

That in Christ you are a part of the family of God and that as you trust in and delight in him you are revealing his eternal glory and rejoicing in his limitless love. And that when you feel powerless or incapable of this you remember that it is not by your power or might or cleverness, but Christ at work in you.

We are not called to do anything in this passage only to understand who we are as God’s people in Christ.

And to remember that there is more to the people of God than meets the eye, even our own.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.