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Alive In Christ

The Wonder Of The Gospel

Rev. Philip Miller | May 21, 2023

Scripture Reference: Acts 9:15—16, Romans 15:8—9, Romans 15:16, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 1:13—16, Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 3:1—13, Ephesians 6:12, Philippians 2:5—11, Colossians 1:25—27, Colossians 2:15, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Peter 1:12

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Scripture Reference: Acts 9:15—16, Romans 15:8—9, Romans 15:16, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Galatians 1:13—16, Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 3:1—13, Ephesians 6:12, Philippians 2:5—11, Colossians 1:25—27, Colossians 2:15, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Peter 1:12

Selected highlights from this sermon

The apostle Paul wrote Ephesians while imprisoned in Rome. Why was he there? The Jews in Jerusalem were accusing him of fraternizing with Gentiles. In the third chapter of this epistle, he speaks of the “mystery of Christ” and “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” If the Gospel of Christ is God’s surprising plot twist, then all the hardship, pain, loss, and imprisonment is worthwhile.

In this message, Pastor Miller unpacks what Paul meant by the mystery of Christ and His unsearchable riches. We who believe in Christ are enacting God’s wondrous Gospel story.

The apostle Paul has been expounding for us in his letter to the Ephesians just how wonderful the Gospel is. By grace through faith in Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, not only has God made us alive in Christ, brought us from death to life, He has brought us now into a new multi-ethnic family, this Body of Christ, the church, where, as Paul says, “Jews and Gentiles have been brought together as one new humanity, reconciled with God, and reconciled with one another.” And I think we underestimate just how radical this incorporation of the Gentiles into the covenant people of God was in the first century.

After all, in the Old Testament, in the Old Covenant, the one that God made through Moses with the people of God, the Jews had an exclusive covenant relationship with God. And the only way that Gentiles were able to enter into that covenant relationship was by leaving their Gentileness behind and becoming Jews in order to have access to God, which meant if you were a male you had to be circumcised. Everybody had to eat Kosher. You had to observe all the religious feasts, the holiness codes, the cleanliness laws. All of that had to be adopted if you were to have access to God.

But now in the New Covenant, the New Covenant that is ours in Jesus Christ, through His death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf, all people now, Jews and Gentiles alike, have been welcomed into this new family by grace through faith in Christ. The Jews are welcomed in as Jews. The Gentiles are welcomed in as Gentiles. You don’t have to get circumcised or eat Kosher, or observe the feasts or the holiness codes, or follow the clean laws. It’s all by grace through faith in Christ, and that’s it.

And for many of the Jewish people, this inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant people of God was a stumbling block. They just couldn’t get over the idea. They couldn’t fathom that God would open wide the door to those uncircumcised, unclean, irreligious Gentile pigs. Why would He?

In fact, the reason Paul is writing this letter to Ephesus from jail, from a Roman prison, is because the Jews in Jerusalem had accused him of being overly friendly with Gentiles, go figure. And Paul had played his Roman citizenship card. To get a fair trial, he appealed to Caesar, and now he’s in Rome awaiting trial. You can read all about this in Acts, chapter 21 and following.

But here now in Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul wants to tell us it’s worth it. It’s worth it. All his sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, for the good news that all peoples, Jew and Gentile alike, are welcome before God by grace through faith in Christ. All the hardship, all the pain, all the loss, all the imprisonment, he wants to say, “Every bit of it is worthwhile because of the wonder of the Gospel, the wonder of the Gospel. This Gospel story is worth it all. That’s what he’s going to say.

So, grab your Bibles. We’re going to be in Ephesians, chapter 3. We’re going to look at the first thirteen verses this morning. If you want to use the pew Bible you can grab it. You’ll find today’s reading on page 977. Nine-seven-seven, Ephesians 3, verses 1 down to 13.

If you’ll listen as I read, this is the Word of the Lord.

“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 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, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So, I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

Thanks be to the Lord for the reading of His Word.

Now you’ll notice that verses 2 down to 13 are a bit of a sidebar, or the technical word is an excurses, in Paul’s writing. He does this on occasion. He just kind of goes off on what looks like a tangent but turns out to be absolutely essential. And Paul begins his sentence in verse 1 that he doesn’t actually finish until all the way down in verse 14.

So, he starts in verse 1: “For this reason, I Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, on behalf of you Gentiles...” and then the sentence breaks off and he doesn’t pick it up again until verse 14 if you look down there. We’ll look at it next week. He says, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father.” That’s where he’s picking this sentence back up. So, Paul is headed now toward this magnificent prayer that he wants to pray on behalf of the Ephesian church, and he’s praying this from his Roman cell. But then he realizes he’s got to make sure the Ephesians understand that his imprisonment... They need to know why he’s in prison, and they need to know that it’s absolutely worth it. He has no regrets. Which is why Paul adds his little sidebar in verses 2 to 13. You can see that he’s coming back to this idea of imprisonment in verse 13 when he says, “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

So, verse 1 and verse 13 are brackets. They are talking about his Roman imprisonment, his sufferings on behalf of the Gentiles, and then verses 2 down to 12, the “meat in the sandwich,” if you will, is about the wonder of the Gospel that makes all his sufferings worthwhile. Okay? And that’s the meat of our discussion this morning.

We’re going to see the Spirit’s Mysterious Revelation, Christ’s Unsearchable Riches, and God’s Cosmic Purpose this morning, so I hope you brought your theology hats. This is going to be rich. This is the big Gospel story that we—you and I—get to be a part of.

So, let’s pray and ask the Lord to be our teacher, and we’ll jump in.

Heavenly Father, would you show us the wonder of the Gospel this morning, the wonder of the Gospel that makes all the hard things we suffer for the sake of following you worthwhile. Teach us to say yes to all of what the Gospel means in and through our lives. We pray this for Jesus’ sake, Amen. Amen.

So, first of all, the Spirit’s Mysterious Revelation, the Spirit’s Mysterious Revelation. Let’s read the first three verses here. “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.”

Just pause there for a moment.

You say, “Wait a minute, I thought Paul was a prisoner of Rome.” He says here, “I’m a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” That’s odd isn’t it? And Paul would say, “Ah yes, yes, yes, Rome has arrested me, but that’s only because Christ Jesus has first captured my heart by grace. The love of Christ has taken me prisoner, and it is in His service that I am truly bound.” And as a prisoner he says, “On behalf of you Gentiles. It’s because of you Gentiles I am in jail.”

Now that sounds like it might be a guilt trip. Right? He doesn’t want you to feel that way, so he needs to clarify. That’s where the following statements unfold. So here he goes. He says, “I assume you understand what I’m talking about. I’m assuming you’ve heard. You’ve heard two things (he highlights): Number one, you’ve heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you. The stewardship of God’s grace given to me for you.”

“God has entrusted me,” Paul says, “with the stewardship of grace, a stewardship of grace, a special assignment, a special responsibility, and it is for you, for the Gentiles.” Paul says, “God gave me a unique burden to carry on behalf of the Gentiles.” And he says, “the second thing that I’m assuming you’ve heard is how the mystery was made known to me by revelation as I’ve written briefly.”

Now, you don’t have to guess what this mystery is because he tells us down in verse 6. He defines it for us. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel which, as you will recall from last time, is exactly what Paul was talking about at the end of chapter 2. Right? He says, “I wrote briefly about it.” Yes, you did. We just read it. Okay?

Now Paul says, “Look, I’m in prison on behalf of you Gentiles because God gave me a special stewardship regarding you Gentiles, a special assignment, and He gave me special revelation, knowledge about God’s plan concerning the inclusion of you Gentiles, and I’m on mission with the thing that God gave me to do regarding you Gentiles. That’s why I’m in prison.”

Now, if you’re not familiar with the story of the apostle Paul, he used to be called Saul, and he was a sold-out follower of Judaism. He was a passionate Jew. He was as passionate as anyone ever was, and he was not a fan of Jesus. He felt like Jesus and His followers were derailing the Jewish faith, and so he decided... He made it his business to hunt down and kill anybody who followed Jesus. And then one day, on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared in a vision with a blinding light, and appeared to Saul, and Saul radically changed. His life was radically changed. He was confronted with the risen Christ and from that day on he was converted to be a follower of Jesus. His name was changed to Paul, and you can read that story in Acts, chapter 9.

And even though Paul had become a follower of Jesus Christ, no one, none of the Christians, none of the followers of Jesus, trusted him. They were all very wary of contact with him. And so Jesus appeared in a vision to a guy named Ananias, who was a follower of Jesus and said, “I need you to go to Paul. This new guy, Paul. I’m vouching for him. He’s a good guy.”

This is what Jesus said about Paul in Acts, chapter 9, verses 15 to 16, when he was vouching for him with Ananias. “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel, for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

So, this is where it all begins for Paul, and Jesus is telling Ananias, “This guy, Paul... He’s okay, number one; and number two, He’s special. He’s my chosen instrument. I’ve hand-picked him. He’s going to carry my name (and who’s the first on the list?) before the Gentiles, and kings, Roman kings, and the children of Israel, too, And he’s going to suffer much for the sake of My name.”

Paul describes his conversion and calling in Galatians, chapter 1, verses 13 to 16 this way: “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it...But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles...”

Romans 15:16. This is how Paul again describes this. He says… He describes himself as “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Paul’s saying, “Look, I was especially chosen by Jesus and sent on mission to the Gentiles in particular. I’ve been especially entrusted with the good news that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, partakers of the promises in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” That’s what I just told you about in chapter 2, and now I’m bringing it up again.

Verse 4: “When you read this, (When you read chapter 2, what I just wrote,) you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men and other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” “As a minister of the Gospel of Christ sent to you Gentiles,” Paul says, “I have a unique insight into the mystery of the Gentile inclusion into the family of God that has now been brought to light in Christ Jesus.”

Previous generations had no idea… They never saw this; they didn’t know it was coming. Oh, oh, the Jews always had a glimmer of the heart of God for the Gentiles, even in the Abrahamic Covenant. It ends with “In you all the families of earth will be blessed.” But the Jews always assumed that those blessings of God that would extend to the nations would come through Israel. The Jewish people would shine, and the nations would see, and they would come, and they would become Jewish in order to enter into the covenant blessings of God. But what was hidden, what is surprising, what was undisclosed, but has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit is that the Gentiles would be included directly in God’s covenant people by grace through faith in Christ. And that’s it.

“This mystery (verse 6) is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Now, he says these Gentiles... He gives them three descriptive phrases here. Let’s sure we make sure we understand each one. The first thing he says is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs. Fellow heirs. Heirs are inheritors, right? So, the Gentiles are fellow heirs. They are fellow inheritors in the inheritance of Israel. The Gentiles inherit all that Israel inherits.

Secondly, they are members of the same body. They have become incorporated as members of the Body of Christ. They are one in Christ, Jews and Gentiles together. And the Gentiles are partakers of the promise. They are equal partners in the promises of God. Now, how is that possible? How is that possible? He says, “In Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” In Christ Jesus through the Gospel.

So how do you put all this together? Well, friends, in... You see there’s only one faithful Israelite. Of all the Jewish people in all of history there’s only one without sin. There’s only one who has been faithful to all the covenants, all the promises. There’s only one true inheritor of the blessings of God. There’s only one who is worthy, and His name is Jesus Christ. And in Jesus “all of God’s promises are yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). So that all who are united to Christ by grace through faith, Jews and Gentiles alike, are those who share in the inheritance of Jesus. Do you see that?

To be connected to Messiah Jesus, the faithful Israelite, the inheritor of all the promises of God is to be included in all the inheritance that God ever promised His people. Paul puts it this way in Galatians 3, verse 14, “In Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham comes to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Or Romans 15, verses 8 and 9, “For Christ became a servant to the circumcised (the Jews) in order to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs (In other words, the Jews still inherit in Messiah all that God promised the Jewish people.) and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy (at being included in the promises that were made to the Jewish people). Or as Paul writes in Colossians 1, verses 25 down to 27, a very similar passage but was written at almost the same time as Ephesians. He writes this, “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the Word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

And so, friends, do you see the Gospel is God’s plot twist. The Gospel is God’s plot-twist. It was the mystery hidden in plain sight down through the ages that one day Jesus Christ would come, the true Son of Abraham, and that through Him, in Him, all the families of Earth would be blessed—Jews and Gentiles together as one new family in Christ, by grace, through faith. What an amazing plot twist. Nobody saw that coming. Nobody. It’s brilliant. It’s astounding. It’s marvelous. It’s epic (Right?) what God has done. This is the Spirit’s mysterious revelation given to Paul.

Now, let’s look at Christ’s Unsearchable Riches, Christ’s unsearchable riches. Verse 7: “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things.”

Paul says, “Look, Jesus met me on the Damascus Road. He radically changed my life and in that moment He made me a minister of the Gospel. He gave me His grace and His power that would work in and through my life. Me. Me, of all people. Can you believe it? Though I’m the very least of all the saints. In 1 Timothy, 1:15, he calls himself “the chief of all sinners.”

Why does Paul self-deprecate like this? Why does he say these things? I think for two reasons. One, it’s because he never got over God’s grace in his life. He never got over the fact that God would take somebody with his past and give him this grace of being used to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. He’d been a terrorist, hunting down God’s people, spitting in the face of Jesus, and now he’s been entrusted with the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Are you kidding me? I don’t think he ever got over that.

The second reason I think he brings it up is to remind us that God can use anybody to bring His Gospel of grace to the ends of the earth. He can use you and me. If He can use Paul, He can use you. No matter what you’ve done, no matter who you’ve become, no matter what’s been done to you, our God can use you by grace to make His glory known to the nations. There’s always hope. Paul says, “To me this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

He goes, “I can’t believe it. I get to proclaim the infinite glories of what God has done in Jesus Christ for the Gentiles. This is what I get to do. I get to proclaim this with my life. In Christ, you Gentiles, listen, you are chosen. You are called. You are beloved. You are redeemed. You’re rescued. You’re saved. You’ve been raised with Christ. You’re seated with Christ. You’re exalted with Christ. You’ve been sealed by the Spirit, and filled with His power, and you’ve been empowered for life. You are heirs. You are a bride. You are God’s inheritance. I get to share that good news with everybody, Jews and Gentiles, the nations, the peoples everywhere, to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery of God that was kept hidden for ages, the God who created everything. What God planned in secret before the dawn of time but kept hidden until just the right moment when Jesus Christ appeared and God brought all the loose ends of history together, and tied them up in a bow in Jesus Christ, the greatest ‘Aha moment’ in all of human history. I get to preach that message. It’s what the French call the “denouement,” the denouement of a story or a film, the part of the story where all the loose ends are tied together, where the plot finally turns and makes sense, and everything comes to resolution. And friends...the Gospel is God’s denouement. Do you see that? The Gospel is God’s denouement.

All the mystery, all the questions, all the loose ends come together in perfect resolution as Jesus Christ takes center stage, and the good news is proclaimed to the nations. Finally, it all makes sense. The Seed of Adam who would crush the serpent’s head, the Son of Abraham in whom all the families of Earth would be blessed, the Prophet like Moses who would show us the way to God, the King like David who would rule with peace and justice and equity, the Priest like Aaron who would mediate on behalf of the people, the sacrificial Lamb who would take away the sins of the world, the Hope of Israel, the Light to the Gentiles, it was always Jesus all along.

The Gospel, friends, is God’s denouement. It is His capstone, His magnum opus, his crowning achievement. And it is all in keeping with His cosmic purpose, His cosmic purpose. We’ve seen the Spirit’s mysterious revelation, Christ’s unsearchable riches, and now God’s cosmic purpose.

Verse 10: “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” There’s a cascade of revelation going on in this passage. First, the Spirit reveals to Paul the good news of the Gospel, that the Gentiles are included in the covenant promises of God. Then Paul reveals that good news to the Ephesian church. He preaches the unsearchable riches of Christ, and Jews and Gentiles respond, and you start having the church, this new family of God. And now through the church, God is revealing, making known, His manifold wisdom to whom? To, Paul says, “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

Now, who on Earth are these guys? Who are these folks? Well, fortunately Paul tells us if you keep reading in Ephesians. He tells us in Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 12, where he says, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood (That would be humans, right?) but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So, you get all these three key phrases: rulers, authorities, heavenly places. They are all co-located here.

So, the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places that Paul is referring to here in chapter 3 are the same rulers and authorities he’s talking about in chapter 6. These are what we would call today angels and demons. These are the supernatural cosmic powers. And it is to these angels and demons now that God is revealing His manifold wisdom through this multi-ethnic church that He has formed—Jews and Gentiles together, so that the good angels, the ones that didn’t fall (Okay?—which was most of them) are looking down on the church and they are marveling at the mercy and grace and the manifold wisdom of God that they see.

Do you realize angels had never sinned, so they don’t ever get to experience grace. The only way they can think about grace is when they look at you. They have to see grace from the outside. So, the angels are looking at your life, this Body of Christ, this church. The angels are looking and going, “Wow. I had no idea there was so much grace in our God, that He could forgive miserable rotten sinners, that He would make them the bride of Jesus Christ, that He would seat them in the heavenly places with His Son and crown them with glory for all of eternity. I can’t believe it, that God would do this. Who does that?”

1 Peter 1, verse 12 says, “Even angels long to look into these things.” You are a showcase of the grace of God to the angelic hosts. Did you know that?

And the demons, the fallen angels, the ones that joined up with Satan in the rebellion, who hijacked this world for themselves, who held us hostage in our days of darkness, they too are discovering the manifold wisdom of God, but just in a very different way.

Have you ever been in like a sporting competition or something where you got trounced by the other team, just so beaten like it was embarrassing? Right? And you felt bad about losing but you had to respect your opponents because they did such a great job running circles around you? Have you ever had that kind of a moment? That’s how Satan and his minions feel.

How did God outmaneuver us like this? How did Jesus pull that one off? I mean, we had Him. We had Him in our power. We had shamed Him with sin. We’d swallowed Him up by death. Satan had his fangs right in Him. And then He blew the doors off His grave. He triumphed in resurrection power over sin and death and Satan. And He led all of our captives to freedom. How did He do that? He broke everybody out. He let us capture Him, and then He took us captive when He took everybody out.”

“Who does that? And it wasn’t just the Jews, ‘God’s chosen people.’ We didn’t have a chance with them.” You know, the demons would say, “But He busted out the Gentiles too. The Gentiles? That was our dominion. Those were our hostages, and He took them too? Are you kidding me? Right out from under our nose. I’m telling you, we got trounced. We got trounced.”

Friends, you see, God is making His manifold wisdom known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, and He’s doing it through His church.

Verse 11, “This was according to the eternal purposes that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (We’ve been brought all the way in, friends.) So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

This was God’s cosmic purpose all along. From before time began, God purposed in Christ Jesus to save you, Jews and Gentiles together, with Christ as our King, that we might have bold, confident access to our Father by grace through faith in Christ, and that God’s glory might be displayed to the cosmic powers as He triumphs over this universe and sets it all to rights under the crucified, risen, and exalted feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friends, the Gospel is God’s triumph. The Gospel is God’s triumph. This is His victory. It is His conquest. It is His glory.

Colossians 2, verse 15, says, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Christ.”

“For Jesus Christ... though he was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That’s Philippians 2, verses 5 to 11.

Friends, this Gospel, this plot twist, this denouement, this triumph is worth it all. Paul says, “It’s worth it all.” It’s worth prison. It’s worth suffering. It’s worth sacrifice.

Paul says, “I will gladly sit here in prison for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it’s God’s glory and it’s your glory too.”

Now, here’s what’s amazing. This passage reads like a giant crescendo, doesn’t it? It ends with the cosmic triumph of God before the heavenly hosts. Right? Where does it begin? Where does it start, this domino effect, this cascade? It starts with the Spirit revealing the Gospel to the very least of the saints. That’s where it starts. God’s cosmic triumph through the very least of the saints.

Friends, God took an ordinary sinner, saved by His grace, gave him the message of the Gospel to proclaim it to the nations for the building of His church so that all the angels and demons couldn’t look away for the glory of God. Isn’t that amazing? God uses ordinary sinners, saved by grace, to narrate His cosmic triumph to the universe. That’s an amazing story. And friends, we are enacting God’s wondrous Gospel story. Do you realize that? We are enacting God’s wondrous Gospel story. You’ve been invited into the greatest story this world has ever known. You get to be a part of the greatest news on planet Earth, or in the cosmos, the Gospel that gives you life as it sweeps you off your feet by grace through faith in Christ, this Gospel that becomes your life and makes you alive by the power of the Spirit as you walk with Him, this Gospel that is shining through you, that the angels are looking in on and going “Wow”—this Gospel that you’ve been entrusted with to bring hope to the ends of the earth, to the nations, when you get to say to them that if you will admit you are a sinner and believe that Jesus has done everything to make you right with God, and commit your life to Him, death and sin and destruction and separation from God does not need to be the end of your story, it can be glory and life forevermore in Jesus Christ, if you will just say yes to Him.

Friends, we are enacting the greatest story the cosmos has ever known. This is an amazing privilege. You’re an ordinary sinner (applause) saved by grace. You’re a child of the King, crowned with glory, and you’ve been entrusted with the good news of the Gospel that will change the world. What greater story could you ever want? What greater story could you ever want? And here’s the thing. We all go out and try to write our own story. We’ve got graduates today and they’re dreaming about writing their own story. Let me tell you. There’s no better story than the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Do you realize how shabby your story looks compared to this? Look at my GPA. Look at my reference letters. Look at my résumé. Look at my professional accomplishments. Look at my bank accounts and my 401(k), and my vacation home, and my long retirement. Look...What kind of...? That’s a terrible story compared to the cosmic redemption of the universe. And you get to be a part of this. Won’t you embrace this story as your very own? Won’t you embody this story all of your days? Won’t you extend this story to a world that needs to hear it?

Friends, God wrote Himself into your story so that you might be written into His story forever. It’s amazing. This Gospel story is worth it all. Whatever it costs, even if it puts you in prison, it is worth it because the Gospel is God’s wondrous story Amen? Amen.

Let’s pray.

Oh Father, it’s amazing to us not only that you would save us in Christ, not only that you would make us alive by your Holy Spirit indwelling us, not only that you would change us and bring us to glory, but that you would use us to be a part of this story as it goes to the ends of the earth. Father, our lives are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price. The love of Christ compels us. We’ve been reconciled to you. We’ve been reconciled with one another, and now we get the good news of the Gospel that is reconciling all things to Jesus Christ. We get to go and proclaim all that you have done. Let our light shine, Father, so that all the world might see. Let our voices ring out so that all the world may know that our worship, and our praise, and our Gospel proclamation be the hallmarks of our lives. We are part of your story, the greatest story of all, the story of the Gospel. And so, we embrace this with all that we are. We give ourselves to it in Jesus’ precious name. And all of God’s people said, Amen.

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