Live By the Word (Ephesians 3:11-13)

As we have seen, Ephesians 3 deals with the grand purposes of God. In His sovereign time, God chosen to reveal the “mystery of Christ” to His holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. This “mystery” is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the covenant promise. God chose Paul to be a minister of this message, and Paul’s task was to bring to light the mystery for as many people as possible since it was the purpose of God to show His wisdom even to the angels in heaven by means of His work in the church. God’s grand plan is – and always has been – to reveal Jesus and save sinners through Him. As verse 11 says, “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has brought this great “mystery” to pass by sending Jesus to make it so.

But that still leaves this question: why do we care? Does this have any relevance for our day-to-day life? It certainly does – as verses 12 and 13 of chapter 3 make clear.

According to verse 11, God not only purposed to display His wisdom, He also purposed to do it through Jesus. This means that Jesus is the supreme demonstration of God’s wisdom in all of the universe – the apex and culmination of it, if you will. But how is that so? How is it that Jesus demonstrates the perfect wisdom of God? The explanation is found in verse 12 – Paul says that in Christ “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” God’s wisdom is supremely displayed in making a way for sinners to come into his presence.

Notice the words Paul uses. First, we have boldness. In His great wisdom, God has made a way for sinners to have boldness as they come before Him because they have a great high priest who can sympathize with their weakness and has made a way into God’s presence for them (Heb. 4:14-16). Second, we have access. In His great wisdom, God has made a way for sinners to have access because Jesus has abolished hostility by reconciling us to God (Eph. 2:14-18). Finally, we have access with confidence. In His great wisdom, God has made a way for sinners to have confidence as they come to Him because a new and living way has been opened into His presence through the veil of Christ’s body (Heb. 10:19-20). In His great wisdom, God has made a way to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

This is glorious news, and it is absolutely relevant for our day-to-day lives. In His wisdom, God has made a way for sinners to have access into His presence. And He has made a way for them to come in with boldness and confidence. We no longer need to be afraid of God’s judgment and wrath because of our faith in Christ. Now, we are beloved children who are accepted and received and loved. So we should take advantage of this privilege. We should come into His presence with boldness and confidence because we can come into His presence with boldness and confidence. And we should want to come into His presence because in His presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11).

And in light of all of this, we should not be discouraged by suffering and affliction. As Paul says in verse 13: “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory” (3:13). Basically, in light of the things that he has been telling them (“so…”), Paul’s readers should be encouraged rather than losing heart over the suffering he has been enduring. In light of the fact that he has been given the grace to proclaim the mystery of Christ and make known the glorious plan of God, Paul does not want his readers to lose heart because of His suffering.

Paul understood that suffering was a part of the ministry and labor that God had given him (Acts 9:16; 1 Thess. 3:3b-4). But he also understood that he was suffering because of His God-given mission, and this radically affected his perspective with regard to the suffering. And, in turn, he urged his readers not to be discouraged or lose heart over his suffering either because his suffering had come about because of the very thing that had brought them salvation.

But, again, how is this relevant for us? It is relevant because that which was true for Paul is true for us as well. We have seen, throughout these verses, the plan of God on display. We have also seen, throughout these verses, that – like Paul – we are entrusted with the task of taking the good news of Christ to the world. This means that, like Paul, we will endure suffering for the sake of the cause, if we are being faithful (John 15:20; 16:33; 2 Tim. 2:12). But this suffering and persecution should not cause us to lose heart because we understand the grander purpose of God. If we understand the reality of what is taking place as we go and make disciples of all nations, we will have the strength to endure anything because we will understand the cause and the plan and the mission. We will be willing to suffer because we will understand what is at stake – not only the souls of men (as precious as those are) but the very glory of God. This is a glorious reality, and it should motivate us to action.

So, brothers and sisters, do not lose heart in the midst of struggle. The plan of God that was hidden for ages has been revealed, and He is making known His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places as we proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ to a lost world. This is our task, and God is using us to carry out an incredibly glorious purpose. When suffering and difficulty comes, take advantage of the access you have been given and come boldly into His presence in order to find mercy and grace to help you in your time of need.