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Sermon #42 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: The Manifold Wisdom of God
Text: Ephesians 3:10
Subject: The Wisdom of God Displayed
In Accomplishing Redemption by Christ
Date: Tuesday Evening — June 28, 2016
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Larry Brown
If God will enable me to do so, I want to preach to you about The Manifold Wisdom of God in Redemption. In this message, I want to set forth, as well as I can, the wisdom of God in devising and accomplishing the redemption and salvation of sinners by Christ. Our text is Ephesians 3:10. — LetŐs begin by reading the 3rd chapter of Ephesians together.
(Ephesians 3:1) 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 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 Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, 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: — (12) In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
(13) Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. (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.
(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.
In the first three chapters of Ephesians the Apostle Paul is talking about the glorious Gospel revelation of redemption by Christ, the salvation of sinners by Christ. This glorious work of redemption and grace now revealed and brought to light by the Gospel was hidden in ages past (vv. 3-9).
á It was hidden from eternity in the secret counsels of God.
á It was hidden, that is to say, it was not fully revealed, in the Old Testament, under the types and shadows of the law (v. 5; 1 Peter 1:10-11). — (ŇAsÓ — the key word)
(1 Peter 1:10-11) ŇOf which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (11) Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.Ó
á It is hidden from all men by nature, by reason of their spiritual blindness.
á In particular the mystery of the Gospel was hidden from the Gentile world.
But now, since the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ, the mystery of redemption has been made known to all men, Jews and Gentiles, by the preaching of the Gospel. And by the church, that is, by the salvation of the church and by the ministry of the church in proclaiming the Gospel, God shows the heavenly angels his manifold wisdom displayed in the redemption of sinners by Christ.
GodŐs reason for revealing his secret counsels concerning the work of redemption by the Gospel, according to our text, is that he might make known his own great wisdom.
(Ephesians 3:10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
Paul calls it Ňthe manifold wisdom of God,Ó because of the many facets of divine wisdom revealed in the redemption of sinners by Christ. GodŐs wisdom is infinite. I know that my subject is too big for me. We shall spend eternity discovering the wisdom and glory of God in redemption. But I believe it will be profitable for us to begin now contemplating that which shall be the theme of heavenly meditation and song for eternity. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher.
Proposition: I want to show you that — GodŐs eternal purpose of grace to redeem sinners by Christ displays great, infinite wisdom.
Divisions: We see the manifold wisdom of God in hisÉ
1. Choice of his Son to be our Redeemer.
2. Determination to accomplish redemption by substitution.
3. The glorious incarnation of Christ.
4. The life of Christ in this world.
5. The sacrificial, sin-atoning death of Christ.
6. The glorious exaltation of Christ.
Choice of Christ
First, GodŐs choice of his Son to be our Redeemer displays his great, infinite wisdom. —— I do not pretend to understand the deep, hidden mysteries of the covenant of grace, the proposals, and agreements, and oaths of the triune Godhead. I know that God does not need to plan, devise, or work out anything in his great mind. He knows everything. But I do know that a covenant was made (Jeremiah 31:31-34), that God the Father made proposals to his Son for the accomplishment of our redemption (Psalm 2:8; John 10:16-18), which our Savior voluntarily accepted (Isaiah 50:5-7), and that these transactions of grace between God the Father and God the Son were sworn to by the Triune Jehovah, and secured the salvation of an elect multitude before the world was made (Hebrews 6:17-19; 8:10-12). In the covenant of grace, as it is revealed to us in the ScripturesÉ
á God the Father proposed the conditions upon which redemption could be accomplished.
á God the Son pledged himself to satisfy all the demands and conditions required by the holy character of God.
á And God the Holy Spirit promised to effectually apply all the blessings of grace, earned by ChristŐs obedience, to the elect.
Remember, I am talking to you about things that took place before the world began, when no one and nothing existed but the eternal God (Ephesians 3:11; 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:9).
In those great, eternal counsels of grace, God set his heart upon his dear Son, and chose him to be the Person who would perform the great work of redemption (Romans 3:25 —– ŇSet forthÓ is ŇforeordainedÓ – 1 Peter 1:20).
Christ is the Redeemer of GodŐs own choosing. Therefore, the Lord God called him, ŇMine ElectÓ (Isaiah 42:1). When God set his eye upon his Son, choosing him to save his elect, he said, with regard to all his elect, — ŇDeliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom (an atonement)Ó (Job 33:24). — ŇI have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the peopleÓ (Psalm 89:19). Joseph Caryl wroteÉ
ŇAll the inventions of the most refined wits in the world are dull pieces of vanity compared to this invention — the redemption of chosen sinners by the precious blood of Jesus Christ! And as there is the stamp of an infinite, unchangeable wisdom upon it, so the profit which comes in by it to needy sinners is as infinite as it is glorious. How then should we honor God, both for bringing this wonderful invention to light, and giving us the benefit of it freely! It had been a great mercy if God had delivered us upon our finding out and proposing a way to him; but he has not only designed and invented the method of delivery himself, but redeemed us to himself with the ransom he himself has found. — What glorious mercy is this!Ó
The wisdom of God in choosing Christ to be our Redeemer is evident in many ways. — We rejoice in the love, mercy, and grace of God. But it was the wisdom of God which found a way for a holy God to embrace fallen, sinful men and women in love, mercy, and grace. How we ought to admire the wisdom of God in providing such a Redeemer as our great Savior is!
The Lord Jesus Christ is in every way the fit and proper Person to be our Redeemer. He who undertakes to redeem sinners, satisfy justice, make reconciliation for transgressors, and atone for sin must beÉ
á A Divine Person ¾ None but God could be equal to the great work of redemption.
á One Who is Infinitely Holy ¾ None could take away the infinite evil of sin, but One who is infinitely pure. None can make satisfaction, except him who is of infinite worth and merit.
á A Person of Infinite Ability ¾ The work of redemption is a great and mighty work, requiring both wisdom and power belonging only to God.
á A Person Infinitely Dear to God ¾ In order for God to place infinite value upon the RedeemerŐs work, the Redeemer himself must be infinitely dear to God, the Beloved One of his heart, the Apple of his eye, the Darling of his affection (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10).
Our Redeemer must also be a person who has an absolute right to redeem. — He must be one who is free of all personal obligation and responsibility. If he is a servant, or a subject, he has no right to redeem. He cannot merit anything. A servant has nothing of his own, no price to offer, and no merit before his Master. —— Though our blessed Christ freely became JehovahŐs Servant to do his will in redeeming us, he is not in any way GodŐs subject. He is GodŐs equal, for Christ is God! He has the right to redeem!
And the Redeemer had to be a person of infinite love and grace! — No one else would undertake a work so costly for a creature so worthless as man. Behold, how he loved us!
Once more, the one chosen to be our Redeemer must be a person of infinite truth and faithfulness. — He must be immutably true and unalterably faithful. Otherwise, he could not be trusted to carry on the great work to the horrible, ignominious death of the cross.
God the Father found in his Son a fit person to be our Redeemer and trusted the whole affair of redemption to him (Ephesians 1:12-13).
(Ephesians 1:12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The Triune God trusted our Surety, his darling Son, the Lord Jesus withÉ
á The Honor of His Law!
á The Salvation of His Elect!
á The Glory of His Being!
This is great wisdom. God found a Redeemer for sinners in the Person of his dear Son! But there is moreÉ.
The only fit person to be our Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is not only a fit redeemer, he is the only one who could be a fit redeemer. Not only was there no other way for a holy God to save fallen man, but by the redemption that is in Christ, there is no other person who could be our Redeemer but Christ. The whole work must be on his shoulders alone!
á No man could make atonement, because all are guilty.
á No angel could redeem, because all are finite.
á God the Father could not redeem us, because in the divine economy he is the One whose justice must be satisfied.
á God the Spirit could not redeem us, because he is the One, by whom the blessings of redemption are conveyed to us pleading the merits of the Redeemer.
Who but God, infinitely wise, could have thought to make Christ our Redeemer? Had God asked the heavenly angels or the sons of Adam, whom he would create, where can a ransom be found? None could ever have found the Redeemer we must have. But, thank God, he found a Ransom! And the Ransom, the Redeemer he found is his own darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Redemption by Substitution
Second, GodŐs wisdom is revealed in his determination to accomplish redemption by substitution. — Having chosen Christ to be our Redeemer, God contrived the way in which he would accomplish redemption; and the way he devised, indeed, the only way in which he could accomplish redemption is substitution. The Son of God was made to be, and voluntarily became, our Representative, Surety, and Substitute for the accomplishment of redemption (Romans 3:24-26; Hebrews 7:22; Genesis 43:8-9).
Before the world began, GodŐs own dear Son became our Substitute. He stood in our room and stead. And God determined that his Son Christ JesusÉ
á Must have the sins of his people made his own.
á Must take our guilt upon himself.
á Must suffer the utter extremity of the lawŐs penalty to the full satisfaction of justice.
Not only did God determine to make Christ our Substitute, he made him our Substitute from eternity, accepted as the Substitute slain for the salvation of his people from eternity, and accepted his sacrifice and accepted us because of his sacrifice as redeemed sinners, saved by grace as one with Christ before the world began (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:9-11).
Third, the incarnation of Christ certainly reveals the manifold wisdom of God (Isaiah 7:14; Philippians 2:5-8; 2 Corinthians 8:9). No mind, but the infinite mind of the infinite God could conceive and accomplish such a thing as this: ¾ The great, eternal, incomprehensible God assumed our nature and came into this world!
á God became a man!
á He who is the eternal Jehovah became JehovahŐs Servant.
á He who is the eternal Spirit was born of a woman.
á The immortal God became flesh and blood!
á God, who is independent, self-sufficient, and all sufficient, stood in need of food, clothing, and shelter.
á God, who owns all things, became a man who owned nothing.
á He, who upholds all things by the word of his power, lived upon the charity of men.
á God, who knows all things, as a man, had to learn how to walk, talk, read, and write (2 Corinthians 8:9).
á He who wrote the law and gave it to Moses in the Mount became subject to the law, and performed obedience to the law as a Man.
á The holy Son of God came under the obligation and sentence of the law as a guilty sinner.
á He who is life was made to die.
á God who is infinitely, immutably, unchangeably happy was made to suffer sorrow, pain, torment, and death.
á He who is the object of GodŐs perfect love became the object of GodŐs unmitigated wrath.
á The infinite, omnipotent God became a finite, feeble man!
á The great sovereign of heaven and earth became a worm (Psalm 22:6).
á The Holy One was made sin!
á The Innocent Lamb of God was made guilty!
á The Darling of Heaven was made the cursed thing, made a curse for us!
No man can even grasp the reality of the incarnation, much less understand it. But God, in infinite wisdom, purposed it before the world was and brought it to pass for the accomplishment of our redemption (Galatians 4:4-6).
(Galatians 4:4) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Fourth, the life of our Lord Jesus Christ in this world reveals the manifold wisdom of God. — If this Gospel that I preach to you were the invention of men, the Savior would have been born in a palace, raised in royalty, trained with dignity, surrounded by riches, and presented with all the pageantry of one of the devilŐs popes. But this thing is not of man. This is GodŐs work! When GodŐs Son came into the world to redeem man, he was born in a stable, raised in poverty, and lived in obscurity. When he came to announce his Messiahship and the inauguration of his kingdom, he rode into Jerusalem upon an assŐs colt. He died as a common malefactor. And he was buried in a borrowed tomb. But what is the purpose, meaning, and significance of ChristŐs earthly life?
The Lord Jesus lived in this world in perfect submission to and by faith in God as a man (Hebrews 2:10-11, 17-18).
(Hebrews 2:10) For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (11) For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
(Hebrews 2:17) Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (18) For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Our Savior endured all the trials, temptations, and sorrows of manhood in this world, so that he might be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows all the emotions of manhood. The only difference between him and us is that he knew no sin. He is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
á He lived in this world.
á He lived by faith in God.
á He lived in submission to our FatherŐs will.
Our Savior lived a life of representative obedience to God (Romans 5:19). By his obedience to God he worked out and brought in a perfect righteousness for us, which God imputes to all who believe. Under more severe temptations and conflicts than any of us can ever know (In the wilderness ¾ in Gethsemane ¾ On the cross) our Mediator was perfectly obedient.
á He fulfilled and obeyed the ceremonial law.
á He fulfilled and obeyed the moral law.
á He even submitted to and obeyed the civil laws of human governments.
Fifth, the sacrificial, sin-atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ is a display of the manifold wisdom of God (Galatians 1:3-5).
(Galatians 1:3) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, (4) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (5) To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the means, the only means, the only possible means, by which the great and holy God could redeem, justify, and save guilty sinners. — Nothing but Divine wisdom could have devised such a scheme. When it was announced in heaven, the angels must have been paralyzed with astonishment. Nothing in all the world is more astonishing and wonderful.
á Christ who is over all, God blessed forever, infinitely and essentially happy, endured the greatest sorrow, suffering, and agony of the universe.
á The supreme Lord and Judge of the world was arrested, tried, and condemned by maggots.
á He who is the living God and the Fountain of life was put to death.
á The Creator of the world was crucified by his own creatures.
á The God of Glory was beaten, spit upon, and mocked by vile men.
á He, who is infinite good, died by indescribable cruelty.
á He who alone did no sin and could never sin, was made sin!
á He who is JehovahŐs own Fellow was forsaken by his Father, forsaken at the apex of his obedience!
á The King of heaven was buried in the earth.
á And this ignominious death was the means of ChristŐs greatest honor and glory, for by his death he both glorified God and saved his people.
Now, be sure you understand what happened at Calvary. Be sure you know the meaning of ChristŐs death.
á The Lord Jesus Christ died by his own voluntary will — Sovereignly (John 10:17-18).
á Our Savior died as the Substitute for his people (Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 10:11, 15).
á The Son of God died under the penalty of sin for the satisfaction of Divine justice (Isaiah 53:9-10).
á He died by Divine justice, because when he was made sin for us he fully deserved to die!
á Our Redeemer effectually accomplished redemption for his people when he died (Hebrews. 9:12). — Justice was satisfied! — Sin was put away! — Salvation was purchased!
The blood of Christ left nothing to chance. When he cried, ŇIt is finished!Ó all the hosts of GodŐs elect were forever redeemed, justified, and sanctified!
And, sixth, the wisdom of God is evident in the glorious exaltation of Christ (Philippians 2:9-11). — Divine wisdom saw that it was needful and expedient that he who died for us upon the cross should be raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the majesty on high as the Supreme Governor of the universe. The exaltation of ChristÉ
á Assures us of the salvation of GodŐs elect (John 17:2).
á Comforts us with the knowledge of his good providence (Romans 8:28-39).
á Gives us assurance of perpetual pardon and acceptance at the throne of God (1 John 2:1-2).
á Promises exaltation and glory to every believer (Revelation 3:21).
á Is the pledge of his final triumph ¾ Every knee shall bow!
This great Redeemer and the great redemption he has accomplished is the revelation of Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ. And he who is the Wisdom of God is also the Power of God unto salvation to every believer. God help you to trust him!
By means of this great scheme of redemption and grace God has achieved the highest goal and ambition of his own great heart. ¾ He has given Christ all pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18).
á Trust him!
á Adore him!
á Proclaim him!
 ŇIn the two first chapters of this epistle, which are a compendium of the mystery of the Gospel, in its several parts; as predestination, election, redemption, regeneration, and salvation by free grace.Ó — John Gill