How much do you owe God for all He’s done for you? It all comes down to how much you want to please Him by going out of your way for others. Here we will recognize that God does not expect us to do it all ourselves. In fact, all He wants is for us to allow Him to do it through us.
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you nations, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the nations should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
At this point, the great Apostle could have legitimately claimed a lot of credit for himself. Yet he gloried only in that he “was made a minister” by God. Formerly, Saul of Tarsus had made himself into a Pharisee of Pharisees, who was being praised by his peers for killing Christians. Without a doubt, one day, he would have become high priest. Yet the Divine Potter took the great Saul and made him into a loving and considerate minister.
Many of us were raised being told to make something out of ourselves. What we should be teaching our children and encouraging one another to do is let God make us “according to the gift of the grace of God”. Whatever role He predestinated you to fill, “the effectual working of his power” will guide you to become what God created you to be. The best way to approach God’s will is to make the most of every opportunity to express your concern for others.
“For this cause” of convincing the lost sheep of the House of Israel that they’re not “strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints… built upon… Christ”, we are called like Paul to do God’s will, that we all together might “groweth unto an holy temple… through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Note how the Apostle continues to emphasize the “grace of God” in specific measure towards them as he says, “given me to you-ward”. Paul saw himself as a thoroughfare of God’s divine favor, bound to those he was ministering to.
The irony of calling himself “the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you nations” is compelling, him being a former leader of the Circumcision and expert of the law of Moses. Little did he know but he was predestinated by God to be the Apostle to the nations. With none of the other Apostles having quite that much to overcome, some might assume Christ chose the last man He should have to reach the uncircumcised nations. Yet Paul was bound to prove Christ had made the perfect choice, being fully dependent on God’s grace to enable him to bring God ultimate glory. Paul also knew better than anyone that “the mystery of Christ”, was initially revealed for the benefit of the “nations”. For Paul understood “the dispensation” or the way God wanted to administer His favor to His people. Concerning the mystery, he also knew it “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men” but had since been “revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”, he himself being the one God personally revealed it to (Colossians 1:24-26).
Furthermore, it clearly wasn’t because of keeping traditions or outward observances of the law that “the nations should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel”. For Paul “was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given… by the effectual working of his power” toward those who knew little or nothing of those things. In other words, to those whom God intended to receive these blessings, He would dispense them through the love and compassion of Paul as he went about preaching the Gospel of Christ. In order for Paul to be an effective servant of God, he had to be a man who had a heartfelt concern for God’s people.
In the midst of so much religion, the greatest thing Paul could do was reveal “the mystery of Christ” to the “the nations” – that they were “fellowheirs” with Jesus “and of the same body” as the genetic Israelites in Judaea. This all traces back to God’s election and predestination of Israelites unto Sonship. Helping our genetic brethren become more acquainted with this great mystery is the best thing we can do for them and it is pleasing to God. For it has everything to do with accepting that we are “partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” alone – there’s no other way. Ignorance of this mystery is a huge part of what’s led to our brethren being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine even in our day. Therefore, it is essential for us to not be off on the Gospel, since it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it, regardless of where you are geographically or religiously as an Israelite (Romans 1:16).
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Stop fighting it – we are the sons of God. We “have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” – that’s all we need. No matter how long we believe we’ve been Christians or whatever our accomplishments, our attitude is to always be that of humility, especially once we understand “the mystery” (Philippians 2:5-8). According to Peter, who walked with Christ and was the unofficial leader of the Disciples, Paul had been given wisdom beyond any of the other Apostles (II Peter 3:15-16). However we see Paul did not allow it to ‘go to his head’, stating that he was “less than the least of” not just the other Apostles, but “all saints”. For he knew the key to having a balance in maintaining how great he had become for Christ, was to view himself as a servant to his brethren. Absent this same attitude, our concern for others will wane and not be genuine.
How can we best show our appreciation for salvation and our relationship with Christ? By putting to practice “the manifold wisdom of God”, through personally fulfilling “the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” just for you. Paul states exactly what God predestinated for him to do, “that I should preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ”. Can you state what it is God wants you to do? We shouldn’t be satisfied until we know and are expressing what it is we know God has sent each of us to do. Follow Paul as he followed Christ by becoming what God wants you to be.
“Unto me” he says, to perform God’s will “is this grace given”. Paul knew full well as long as he stayed on course with what God wanted him to do, he was right with God in his life. This is where our certainty and confidence comes from – by believing God hears what we have to say, when we know it has to do with being about His business. Otherwise, all we are left with in prayer is whether or not it’s God’s will at all.
The “unsearchable riches of Christ” describe the incomparable value of understanding “the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:26-27). To know that God has instilled within you “the manifold wisdom of God” to become what He wants you to be is the greatest incentive to do His perfect will and to reach those with whom you are concerned.
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
“Wherefore” Paul was so sure he was God’s man that he was willing to put it all on the line for those he loved. How could such a “desire” not be in alignment with God’s perfect will?! We see Paul’s sacrifice met with the saints at Ephesus’ deep appreciation and concern. In this, Paul is also persuading them not to worry, showing them how his sufferings actually brought them “glory” because it displayed their mutual love for one another.
Generally, this is about being receivers and givers within God’s work and blessings. Paul was a sacrificial giver and the Ephesian believers, who’d received many blessings through Paul, were very concerned since it is believed at this time he was a prisoner in Rome. The way to feel better about someone else risking everything is to help them get the Gospel out in whatever way possible. Seeing someone else giving their all should convince us that we’ve been mere receivers long enough. It’s time to return their concern for us by showing our concern for someone else.
Paul was so against wanting any “glory” himself that he viewed his “tribulations for” others as glorifying them. Possibly his justification would be that they were worth the trouble and sacrifice because of their value to God. The possibility of this meaning is reflected as he continues:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Is there a “cause” that’s taken hold of your life? The way to know if it’s the right cause is if it has you in pursuit of God’s perfect will. To become what God wants you to be, you must “bow” to “the Father” as His servant, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”. What God wants you to be is already inside of you. The way to discover your cause and bring the inner man to life is “by faith”.
In spite of what some may think, our Christianity isn’t measured by how much we know about the Bible, but by how much we put the Word of God to practice through “love” (John 13:34-35; I John 4:18; Hebrews 5:8). You cannot become spiritually mature without first becoming concerned about God’s people and doing something about it. When Christ possesses your heart, you will “know the love of Christ” as it flows through you to others. The Gospel isn’t just some one dimensional doctrine that’s just about race, but was given so that God’s people “May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge”.
This is why “the whole family in heaven and earth is named” Israel or issue of El – prevailing offspring of God, to reflect the power of His love. To know that God is in you through Christ is “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”. The Source of your confidence and the goal is “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” on a continual basis. We should not be satisfied until there is no more hesitancy that this is who you are from within. Christianity isn’t what we think about but who we are.
As you become focused on God’s will and usable in His work, you can’t help but grow in concern for your people. When you are becoming what God wants you to be, you can “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” by reaching out to others. We more fully comprehend what the love of Christ has accomplished for us, by showing love to God’s people every chance we get.
Remember, I John tells us that “God is love”. When you begin to really become conscious of this, it humbles you to the point that all you can do is fall on your “knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” when you see others are being touched by the ministry you are doing. You cannot help but become even more “rooted and grounded in love” as relationships with other faithful Christians develop. Only through your love and by your faith will you fulfill God’s predestinated plan for your life to the fullest extent “that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
We conclude with this closing exhortation which could affect our daily lives profoundly. If God expects us to do His will (which He does) and if our main purpose in being here is for His glory (which it is) then we should expect Him to provide the resources necessary to get the job done. Where does this process begin? The Psalmist agrees with Paul here that it occurs “in us” when God is the delight of our hearts (Psalm 37:4-5). Accept that the Ever-Present I AM wants what’s best for you “according to” His Omnipotent power. “Now unto him” it is time for you to submit your all. This is the greatest thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us.
We become more convinced God will do what we end up asking Him for after we “think” about it enough and develop expectations we are at peace with. Paul is informing us that if our faith is real, God will exceed those expectations. An important aspect of this is being convinced that this is the way God is (Hebrews 11:6). Having expectations about what God can do begins by no longer dwelling on your own weaknesses and failures, wanting to live based on His supernatural “power”. Therefore, this isn’t about making demands and then just sitting back, waiting for Him to respond like some genie in a bottle. This is about “the church” or an assembly of called out believers, who are agreed upon His will, that are actively serving our Head “Christ Jesus”, wanting to see His Gospel perpetuated “throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Matthew 18:18-20).
If you see this, then the time has come for you to concentrate on how to change the way you view everyday life. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and recognize how every circumstance is an opportunity to see how much God can do in your life. As Israelites we are to go about things His way, which is entirely different from how we have grown accustom to dealing with day-to-day challenges. What Paul says here should convince us to stop worrying about circumstances and start viewing everything we face with the attitude of “Unto him be glory”. Become who God wants you to be by living “according to the power that worketh in” you every day, with the expectation that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”.
Give full attention at all times to how you must change the way you handle life’s situations. Before we even think about it, we let our negative, emotional reactions keep us from seeking God’s hand in our daily lives. When something seems to not go our way, most of us never even give God a chance, when we allow doubt, worry, fear, and even anger to automatically mount unchecked within us. But rather than allowing all this to rise up and take control of you, according to God’s power – refuse to get upset. For how can we claim to be Christians or that we are becoming more spiritually mature, if we keep handling everything the same way we always have, or like those who have no faith in God at all.
One who is spiritually mature does not dwell on how ‘bad’ things seem to be nor does he believe God is always out to get him. Stop falling into that same old defeatist trap by simply relaxing – just take a deep breath and allow God’s Spirit full control by remembering Who your Father is – Almighty God Who can do all things. Settle your mind by remembering that God has a purpose in everything we go through, for His glory. This is a main reason why “the power that worketh in us” is there – to change our daily lives. You must walk in the expectation that, indeed, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” in and through you – that is the key. It will only be within those moments, when you’ve deliberately chosen to trust God like this, that your heart and mind will be peaceful enough to “ask” God for help with the expectation that He will. Nothing happens by accident and those that love God should always expect something from God for their good (Romans 8:28).
Finally, we would be wrong to assume this is just for when things seem to be going wrong. Even when nothing seems to be going on, take the time to be still and consider how things might be better in your life or even how problems might be avoided or resolved simply by asking and trusting God to work it out – this is prayer. Those who are becoming something for God keep it simple by proactively believing that God is able to do great things in their lives and for those to whom they are ministering. Besides, our All-Wise God doesn’t expect us to figure it all out on our own. He just wants us to learn to be calm so that no matter what we face, we are walking in this expectation. For God would have never chosen, predestinated, redeemed, quickened, and be equipping us now if He did not intend on supplying us with all we need to do His perfect will.
“Now unto him… be glory” as Almighty God works in and through us, making the impossible occur right before our eyes. Why is it so difficult to believe God is fully capable of doing what is best for us – especially those who are surrendered to Him and are reaching others? That should be all the incentive we need to trust Him. His power does all the work, our part is to just be available with the right attitude, letting Him have full control.
Paul gives us some important things to consider if we intend to progress in our spiritual maturity. There should be no doubt that God deserves to be glorified through our lives – that’s the primary reason He set it up this way. Refuse to settle for going on in some powerless existence by becoming who God wants you to be. You will begin to recognize a difference in your life as well as those around you.