Peninsula Community Church
November 2, 2014
Ephesians – The Stewardship of God’s Grace
Ephesians 3:1-13 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 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. 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. 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. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
As we read this verse, one of the first things that hits us is this idea of the stewardship of God’s grace. This call to stewardship was a critical calling for Paul. It is also a critical calling for us as well. We have been given the stewardship of grace. We are saved by grace and we must minister the gospel by grace.
One of the things that is missing in so many churches to today is an attitude of grace. God is a forgiving God who releases us from our past sin and recklessness. We must be reminded that the context through which we share the gospel is always grace. Grace is how it is received and it is how we are to disperse the gospel to those around us. Through grace we are reminded that we have been redeemed from a life destined for failure. Through grace we have been redeemed from the power of sin.
We read earlier in Ephesians 2:8 that it is by grace that we have been saved. By grace we have been given the gospel. By grace we must preach it and live it. The gospel is a message of grace, therefore the church must be a place of grace. It must be a place that allows for people to fail, but also to be there to lift them up and continue to disciple them as long as it takes. When we are a place of grace, we will encourage all to come to the cross.
Pastor Robert Morris, the senior pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas, related a story about a young lady who decided to attend a large church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area one Sunday. She had rushed to get to the service. She had rushed to get her kids into the children’s program that morning. But when she arrived at the doors to the sanctuary, she found them closed with an usher standing guard. As she tried to enter the sanctuary, the usher told her that she could not enter the sanctuary because the service had already started. She replied “but sir I have been running around trying to get my kids in the children’s program.” The usher replied “no you are not allowed in.” And then as she appealed to him one more time the usher became very rough and told her that if she did not stop, she would be asked to leave the building. Let me ask you where is the grace? Where is God’s love in all of that?
Phillip Yancey in His book “What’s so Amazing About Grace?” tells the story of a prostitute who had come to a friend of Phillip Yancey. She was in a wretched state. She was homeless. She was sick and unable to buy food for her two year old daughter. Through her sobs she told him that she was renting out her daughter to men that were interested in having sex with her. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could on her own for a whole night. After talking with her, his friend said to her, “Have you ever thought of going to church for help. Her answer shocked him. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I already feel terrible about myself. They would just make me feel worse.”
He then poses the question What does the world learn about God by watching His followers on earth? Do they see God as a mean, uncontrollable, judging God or do they see a holy God who is full of grace and forgiveness? What would someone learn about God from your life? Are you honest in your business dealings? Do you require others to do what you are not willing to do yourself? Do you profess to be a Christian and yet live as a pagan or one who has no knowledge of God? What would people think if they found you to be a Christian? Would they be surprised? When we live and minister in grace, we recognize that we have been given a precious gift and we must steward that gift with purity and reverence.
This brings us to the second point in this passage. This stewardship is not to a select a few but to the multitudes. When we are good stewards of the ministry of God, we cannot be selective about who hears because the gospel is not selective. It is for whosoever. Paul states that the gospel is shrouded in mystery but that we have been given the stewardship and the calling to make the mystery known to those who are at a distance from God. You see, it is the proclamation of the gospel to those who have not heard; and the proclamation to those who may have heard but have a distorted view of God’s purpose and plan for their life, that we are called to. That is grace. The gospel is for those who in human terms do not deserve it or may even want it. The Gospel is to be directed to those who are lost or outside the knowledge of Christ. We have a message of hope and life that must be spread to those who do not know the gospel.
But there is a third idea in this passage as well. This stewardship has the power and authority to minister a redemptive message to the powers that are at work in our culture and in our communities. The Gospel of grace not only impacts humanity but it impacts the spiritual forces around us. Think about this for a moment. This may be foreign to you but think about it. What happens in our society is either God-driven or it is not God-driven which means that there are forces at work against God’s plan. These forces want to keep people in bondage to emotions, desires, and ways of living that in fact destroy them more than give them life.
As believers who recognize that we have an incredible gift of grace, we can begin to change the tide of evil in our world by how we live, by our prayers, and by our testimony. We live as the redeemed of the Lord. We pray with the power and authority that has been given to us as believers in Christ. We share our testimony because we are made overcomes by the words of our testimony as it is a reminder of the grace of God at work in us. The goal of the gospel is redemption and transformation and not just information. Think about that for a moment? We have been called for redemptive transformative works in our communities.
With that in mind, let me ask you, what are some of the powers and strongholds at work in our community? How many would say drugs are a force to be contended with? How many would say divorce and the brokenness of families is a prevalent enemy that destroys the wholeness that God intended? How about the voice of entitlement and laziness in our land? What about pride and arrogance? Have these strongholds and powers invaded our land? So what do we do about these strongholds?
First, we must realize that greater is He that is in us than He that is the world. We as the church have the power to thwart the enemy and not be thwarted by the enemy. Remember what Jesus said to Peter. He stated that “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” We have the keys, it is the redemptive power of Christ to change lives.”
I don’t know about you but I am tired of drugs taking the lives of people in our community. I am tired of families being destroyed by alcoholism, divorce, anger, and selfishness. What about you? So many of the issues in society are considered to be “diseases” but a disease excuses and medicates our actions rather than calling for us to respond to bad choices and sinful ways. The issues noted above are strongholds that the enemy establishes in us so that we are prevented from living as we have been created. Let’s say for a moment that these are diseases. If that is so, then God sent Christ to be the healer of every disease and He has been given power over every stronghold that has been raised up.
We have a choice this morning. We can get angry and throw up the white flag or we can be called into action to battle the enemy that seeks to rob, steal kill, and destroy. Listen to the words of John 10:10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. We need to choose to build strong marriages. We need choose to assist those who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol. We need choose to minister to those who are wayward. We need to choose to allow God to heal the brokenness in our own lives so we can touch others with our healing and not our brokenness. We need to be aggressive in sharing our faith with those who do not know Christ. We must be proactive and not reactive? Are you with me?
For an audio of this message go to http://www.pccministry.org
Copyright © All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom