Boldness in Christ

Boldness in Christ

Home Church Service 10/16/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if 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. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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; 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, 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. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 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. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

                                                                          Ephesians 3:1–12 (NASB95)

We have now come to the fifth message on the position of the Christ follower in Christ Jesus. Thus far we have learned that we are called, sealed, filled and alive in and with Christ. We have all the spiritual blessings available in Christ, we have the same power that raised Him from the dead working in us and we have been made alive with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places.

The past four messages have been building to this point, the fifth message on our position in Christ. Here we find our Boldness in Christ, for we need this boldness to battle against the forces of evil at work in this world. This boldness is not a cockiness or arrogance, it is a confidence in the One who has called you, sealed you, filled you and made you alive in Christ!

As a prisoner of Christ, the mystery of Christ has been revealed to Paul. He has been given grace to preach Christ to the Gentiles who are now members of the body and fellow heirs through the gospel. Paul has Boldness in Christ to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, with confident access through faith in Christ Jesus.

As Christ followers, we have heard of Christ through the preaching of the gospel. We have been made members of His body and share in the inheritance and promises of God through Christ Jesus. Through our faith in Christ, we have access to the Father and Boldness in Christ to proclaim His name and make known the wisdom of God to the spiritual forces at work in this world.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is it important for the Christ follower to have Boldness in Christ?”

As Christ followers we are given Boldness in Christ to make known the mystery of Christ and the wisdom of God.

1). As Christ followers, we need Boldness in Christ to proclaim the good news found only in Christ.

We can now all become members of the body and share in the promises of God.

Three times in this passage Paul uses the word mystery. Even though Paul is using a word that is familiar to us in the English language, we need to understand that the English and Greek words do not have the same meaning. In English a mystery is something dark, obscure, secret and puzzling. So, we understand something mysterious to be inexplicable and even incomprehensible. However, the Greek word mysterion is different. Although the mystery may still be secret it is no longer closely guarded but open.  In the original Greek it referred to a truth someone had to be initiated into. But in Christianity there are no mysteries reserved for the spiritual elite alone.

Christian mysteries are truths which are beyond human discovery but have been revealed by God and now belong openly to the entire church. So, mysterion is a truth that has been hidden from human knowledge or understanding but has now been revealed by God. Specifically, Paul mentions the Gentiles now being fellow heirs, members of the body and partakers in the promises – all of this coming through the gospel message! Paul is declaring that Jewish Christ followers and Gentile Christ followers have come together as part of the new creation God has begun in Christ Jesus. The far away and the near are both joined together to form a new body.

There is a second element of this “mystery” we must understand. Paul links the word mystery with the gospel. This is significant because the mystery was a truth that has been revealed TO Paul, this happened on the road to Damascus. The gospel, however, is a truth that is revealed BY Paul. Paul makes this connection because he fully believes the good news has been revealed to him only in order that he too could communicate or reveal this truth to others. God’s grace first gave Paul the gift of revealing the mystery and secondly gave him the ministry of revealing the good news to others.

This same principle applies to all Christ followers. We are first given God’s grace to hear the good news of the gospel message. This could come from any number of sources – a parent or grandparent; an aunt or uncle; a traveling evangelist; a pastor or friend; or even a personal encounter with Jesus. The second part of God’s grace comes in the empowerment of the Christ follower to share the good news found in Christ. Far too many Christ followers fear “witnessing” to others, but there is a very simple solution to defeat this fear. Do not think about “witnessing” to others. Simply be yourself. Have a conversation and tell YOUR story in Christ – no need for those fancy “Christianese” words – just be you.

Jesus never told us to go out and “save” anyone. What He said was to go out and make disciples. How do we make disciples? By teaching them all that He has commanded us. And where do we find all that He has commanded us? In the gospel message!! How do we share the gospel message? By living our lives BEFORE others in obedience to Christ, by sharing our story of living for Christ and by being “real” before others – by this I mean admitting when we are wrong or have slipped up and admitting we DO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, but we know the One who does.

The final part of disciple making is in bringing them into the family of God – baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now, some will try and say this is the same thing as “saving” someone, but it is not! Our job is not to “save” anyone, that can only be done under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and by the blood of Christ. We make disciples by living before people, walking beside them and on occasion carrying them when they cannot walk alone. Our job is to share – reveal – the good news found only in Christ, then the Spirit begins the work of softening a person’s heart, leading them to repentance, baptism and becoming a member of God’s family, sharing in the promises of God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you or how have you revealed the good news found in Jesus Christ to others?

What are you doing, intentionally or perhaps unintentionally, to make disciples?

How can you share your story in Christ without using “Christianese” terms that simply cause confusion? (Salvation, justification, sanctification, etc.)

As Christ followers we are given Boldness in Christ to make known the mystery of Christ and the wisdom of God.

2). As Christ followers we need Boldness in Christ to reveal the wisdom of God to the spiritual forces at work in the world.

This wisdom includes the riches of Christ and the mystery hidden in God.

If the first reason – to share the good news found in Jesus Christ – that we need Boldness in Christ seems a little unsettling and intimidating, then the second reason will seem absolutely impossible! The second reason is to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Wait. What?! To the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places?! Who, exactly, is Paul talking about? The first thing we know is these rulers and authorities are not all-knowing for the church has something to make known to them. Secondly, this must be the angelic realm, both good and evil, for Paul’s concern is with evil forces.

What, then, is the manifold wisdom of God? The Greek word Paul uses describes an intricately embroidered pattern, think cross-stitch patterns, but is also used to describe a multi-colored cloak or garland of colorful flowers.  In our context it speaks of the richly diversified nature of God’s divine wisdom. Thus far we have seen this wisdom of God in bringing together the church as a community of reconciled people, a public demonstration of God’s power, grace and wisdom; we have seen it in the resurrection power of God; and we have seen it in the immeasurable grace and kindness of God. This is the inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God, peace is given to those near and those far away; this is the new creation God has begun in Christ – the forming of a new body; peace with God for both the Jews and Gentiles; and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead working in those who are members of the new creation in Christ.

In this passage the manifold wisdom of God refers to God’s richly diverse way of working in creating a new body in Christ – a multiracial, multi-cultural community united to create the body of Christ. God’s wisdom is related intimately to the mystery, the mystery is shaped by God’s wisdom – it is a product of God’s wisdom. Yet at the same time God’s wisdom is reflected and revealed in the mystery. Not only is this multi-colored wisdom God’s wisdom, but it is also God who discloses this wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Yes, we have an active part in revealing this wisdom but in the end, it is God Himself that makes it known.

In particular, we are to reveal the riches of Christ and the mystery hidden in God. We have already seen some of the unfathomable riches of Christ. We have seen how God has called each of us to Himself through Christ. In Christ we have been raised and seated with Him in the heavenly places. We have come to know and understand the will of God through Christ. And here we are learning of His divine grace and glory that Christ gives to others.

The mystery that has been hidden in God is again revealed by the church through Christ. This mystery was explained earlier as bringing all things together into subjection under Christ. Paul tells us that this is all things in heaven and on earth. The first step was to reconcile His fallen creation – humanity – by sending His Son. Jesus came preaching peace to those near and those far away. The death of Jesus on the cross brought peace between a holy God and sinful people. The next step was to bring together those near and those far away. This is the bringing together of the Jewish people and Gentile nations under one headship – Jesus. This is the new creation in Christ, His body – the church. In addition, the death of Jesus brought reconciliation to creation, which now groans awaiting its redemption. All things on earth are under subjection to Christ.

That leaves all things in heaven left to bring under subjection to Christ. With the creation of a new body – the body of Christ – the power of the prince of the power of the air has been broken. No longer are we under the rule and influence of Satan and his evil forces. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father giving Him the full authority of the Father. It is Christ alone who fills all things, including His church, empowering His people with strength and grace, breaking the power of evil forces at work in this world. Thus, we are under the rule and reign of Christ. The mystery hidden in God, now revealed to the church and being revealed by the church, is the subjection of all things under Christ’s headship. He is above all rule, authority, dominion and name!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you experienced the multi-colored wisdom of God this week?

How can you reveal the riches of Christ you have already experienced in your life?

The power of the evil forces at work in the world have been broken, yet it seems as if evil grows stronger every day. How can you explain that?

As Christ followers we are given Boldness in Christ to make known the mystery of Christ and the wisdom of God.

This is the fifth message in Ephesians on the position of the Christ follower. Thus far we have been called, sealed, filled and made alive in and with Christ.

These have been building to this message and our Boldness in Christ, a boldness that is not cockiness or arrogance but a confidence in the One who has called, sealed, filled and made us alive.

What does all of this mean for the Christ follower in today’s world? First, the church, that is, the body of Christ, is central to the gospel message. The church is the place where the gospel is to be lived out as a body as well as individually. The church is to be a place of mercy, grace and love unlike anything else seen in the world. Jesus told His disciples that it would be by their love for one another that the world would know they belonged to Him. The gospel has been revealed TO the church and now the gospel is to be revealed to others BY the church. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. Does your love for other Christ followers say you belong to Jesus?

Secondly, sharing the gospel is nothing more than sharing your story in Christ. You have experienced first-hand the mercy, grace and unconditional love of God. In a world where hate seems to be gaining ground daily, people need some unconditional love. Who better to show them this kind of love than someone who has experienced it first-hand? Sharing your story should be a natural extension of your everyday conversations. There is no need for “Christianese” terms that only confuse people. You are loved, God showed His love for you while you were His enemy. God showed you grace to experience His love and now He has called you to Himself, He has marked you as His own, He has given you new life and made you a part of His family. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that! The rest comes in discipleship.

Thirdly, the church is central to the mystery. Again, the church is the place where the mystery is to be lived out before others. The mystery is all things in subjection to Christ. The church must remember that Christ is the head of the church and gives it the strength and grace to BE the church. If the church is not subject to the authority of Christ, how can it ask others to be subject to His authority? The same is true for the individual members, you must live your life before others in obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Let others see your obedience and faithfulness to Christ, not just in word but by your actions as well. Does your life say you are living in obedience to Christ?

Finally, YOU are the church. The church was never meant to be a building, stationary and stagnant. God started a new creation in Christ – a new body. This body is to be living and active, working as the hands and feet of Jesus. Where He goes, we go. Where He stays, we stay. Yes, we need to meet together with other Christ followers for worship and fellowship but that cannot be where we stop moving. Our time of meeting together should be a time of refreshment and encouragement for those divine appointments coming our way throughout the week. Be prepared to love unconditionally; be prepared to share your story freely; be prepared to live in obedience; and be prepared to move where Christ moves – for YOU are the church.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

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