The church is God’s chosen instrument to proclaim His glorious wisdom to the spiritual realm. (Ephesians 3:10)
Ephesians 3:10–11: “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…”
The word Manifold can be understood as multifaceted. To paraphrase Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “the church is the prism that splits the light of God’s glory into rainbow glory.”
The Church displays the greatness and glory of God to the universe by its very existence and what God did to create the church. The glory of God in the church is magnified when you consider that the chief problem of every human in all of human history has been sin. God sent His Son, Jesus the Messiah to save sinners. He came to establish His Kingdom, restore broken creation, and put His enemies under His feet—all human and demonic enemies.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is how Jesus came and did this: through His death. In the movies, typically the one who dies loses. But in God’s infinite wisdom, the death of Christ is what solved the world’s greatest problem. God’s Son became the atoning sacrifice for sin.
A crucified Messiah is a contradiction in terms for many, but for believers it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
It’s not His beautiful creation or stars and planets or the natural wonders of the world that proclaim His manifold wisdom—it is God’s people, His bride, His new creation—people filled with His Spirit like you and me.
When Paul says God’s wisdom is proclaimed to the ‘rulers and authorities in the heavenly places’ in v10, he is likely referring to both angels and the demons.
Although angels have been in God’s presence and worshipping Him since their creation, they didn’t know how God would work in the world. 1 Peter 1 says that the angels longed to look into the salvation that would come through Christ, and now this verse is saying that the church leads the angels into greater awe for what God has done in bringing together Jew and Gentile together by the blood of Christ.
And to the demons, the church is evidence that Christ is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion as Ephesians 1 says. The church is a visible reminder to the demonic powers that Christ will build His church and the gates of hell won’t prevail.
The main application of this truth is to worship God for His infinite and manifold wisdom as displayed in the church.
The most important figures in all of human history are not the kings and queens and presidents and military commanders—it is seemingly little people who follow Jesus and continue Jesus’ work in the world.
Do you realize that the act of attending church and proclaiming God’s Word makes the demons shudder? Attending church is an act of Spiritual Warfare and a powerful testimony to the watching world.
We hear the phrase a lot in our society that we need to be on the right side of history. I agree, but not with the way most of the culture uses it. The right side of history is believing in Jesus Christ and being a part of His church, proclaiming to the universe the manifold wisdom of God.
There’s a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman called “See the Glory” that is several years old now, but there’s a line that describes how many Christians miss out on the glorious things God is doing in the world through the church:
I’m playing GameBoy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon
So often we are so focused on things in our lives (that might be good) that we lose the glorious sight of the riches available to us in Christ and the glorious things He’s doing in and through His church across all of human history.
Our culture places so much emphasis on advancing in our careers, entertainment, sports, social status, and other things that we can so easily get distracted and bogged down by lesser things. It’s like we’re playing Game Boy (or are on our smartphones) in the middle of the Grand Canyon—one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on the planet.
Brothers and sisters, don’t let anything distract you from the glorious things God is doing through the church. Don’t let anything hinder your understanding of the ways God wants you to advance the gospel and help build His church.
God is looking for laborers for the abundant harvest that is out there. God is looking for faithful church members who deny themselves in service, who share the gospel with others, who are dedicated in prayer—fighting spiritual battles on their knees for the advance of the kingdom and building of the church.
Maybe God is speaking to a few readers of this series and encouraging you to join a small group, to invite friends or coworkers to church, or even to serve in full-time ministry here or on the mission field.
There may be sacrifice and risk involved: but it’s worth it. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:29:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
There is great reward and satisfaction in giving your life in service to Christ and His church. Yes, we are promised trouble and difficulty, but we are also promised God’s continual presence and ultimate victory.
God is using people who proclaim the glorious message of Christ and the church and as a result, His manifold wisdom is being proclaimed as a testimony to the universe.
Part Four will share how these amazing truths should shape our daily lives.