1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 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 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 Gentiles 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. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles 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… Eph. 3:1-11
Just like any normal home, the church is a house of order. And the apostle is the father of this particular house called the Church. The apostle brings order to the church. Paul tells the Corinthians:
“What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1 Cor. 4:21)
It is incredible what Paul was capable of. He could carry the rod in Church; and at the same time he could show forth the love and meekness of Christ in himself. Because of the work of the cross in his life, Paul had the authority in the Spirit to bring Godly hard discipline in the Church. He could confront those who tried to do their own thing in the Church.
On the other hand, on account of this same cross working in his life, Paul could bring the best things that God has for His Church: love and meekness. Paul preferred to do the latter (2 Corinthians 10:8).
It is incredible what a true servant of God is capable of. When we lack the work of the cross in our lives, we use authority in the flesh. At the same time, we are unable to demonstrate the love and meekness of Christ in our lives. But Paul, who followed in the footsteps of Christ, was capable of doing both.
What does the Bible say about our Lord Jesus Christ? In Ephesians 4:10, we read thus:
“He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
Descending talks of humility; ascending talks of authority, the authority of God. A true servant of God is one who can demonstrate both aspects of God’s grace. He can humble himself to the lowest levels; and he also can demonstrate God’s authority. Christ demonstrated His capacity to do both; the Apostle Paul followed hard after Him.
For this reason, therefore, the apostle births the true church. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians,
“For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus have I begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Cor. 4:15)
Nearly every congregation calls their pastor “Father”. Unbeknown to most, that is just a ceremonial title. The pastor is not a father in the Biblical sense of the word. The true father of the church is the apostle. Consequently, there is no church without the ministry of the apostle. It is like saying there is a family without a father.
As I said afore, the apostle is a rare gift indeed. He is Christ’s sharp vessel. The apostle is the man who introduces the message of the cross. Through the preaching of the gospel of the cross, he, together with the other ministries that God has placed in the church, molds and shapes the church to become like Christ.
Paul made clear the gospel that he preached:
“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified…”
So many gospels were being preached. But Paul had one unique gospel, the gospel of the cross. This was the singular gospel that would mold the church to become like Christ.
To what end? Why become like Christ?
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…” (Eph. 3:10-11)
Right now, right at this present time, God wants to show off His might and wisdom to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church, which is Christ’s Body. This revelation of His wisdom in us was what God
“purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…”
As we grow and mature in Christ, the character of Christ is formed in us; and this transformation amazes the principalities and powers in heaven.
Imagine that. The more we accept the work of the cross in our lives, the more we accept to be humbled and humiliated, and to lose everything for the gospel’s sake, the more the character of Christ is formed in us; and to this end, the more we awe heaven, to the glory of God.
If we descend, we shall ascend with Him. If we humble ourselves and accept to lose all, we shall reign with Him in the heavenly places.
[The cross is central to achieving God’s purpose in the Spirit]