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Sermon #43 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: Angelic Lessons
Text: Ephesians 3:10
Subject: Things Angels Learn from the Church
Date: Tuesday Evening — July 12, 2016
Readings: Merle Hart and Allen Kibby
The title of my message is — ANGELIC LESSONS. My text is Ephesians 3:10 — ANGELIC LESSONS (Ephesians 3:10). LetŐs read verses 8-12 together — Ephesians 3:8-12.
(Ephesians 3:8-12) ŇUnto 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.Ó
Now, letŐs look at this statement in verse 10 for a few minutes.
Proposition: The Apostle Paul, writing by Divine inspiration, tells us that Ňthe principalities and powers in heavenly places,Ó the angels of God, attend the worship of GodŐs saints and listen intently to the faithful preaching of the gospel by the lips of a redeemed sinner, that they might learn from saved sinners the wonders of Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ in redeeming his elect by the precious blood of his darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 3:10) ŇTo the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.Ó
Remember that, compared with us, the angels are the elder-born creatures of God. They have been with our Triune Jehovah since before this material universe was created by him. These angels kept their first estate when Satan led one-third of the heavenly hosts in rebellion against their Creator. They have never displeased him, sinned against him, or refused his will and pleasure.
Yet, we are never told that the angels learned the manifold wisdom of God by any means other than this. The wonders of redemption are Ňthings the angels desire to look intoÓ (1 Peter 1:12). Therefore, they gather with GodŐs saints in public worship, listen to our songs, and prayers, and praises, and attentively hear the preaching of the gospel, that they might learn from us Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ displayed in our redemption by Christ! — I find that astonishing. DonŐt you?
Illustration: ŇThe Cherubims of Glory Shadowing the Mercy-seatÓ (Hebrews 9:5)
These holy angels were with God when he made the heavens and the earth. ŇIn the beginningÓ the angels beheld those strange shapes of mystery we now dig up in fossils from the earth. — In that day when the earth became Ňwithout form and void,Ó the angels knew her hidden treasures. — When God said, ŇLet there be light and there was light,Ó when the first ray of light blazed through the heavens like a living finger to touch the earth and awaken its beauty, the angels were there. — ŇThe morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy!Ó
Yet, though they were with the Great Creator during the seven days of creation, though they saw Ňthe cattle after their kind, and the fowls of the air after their kind,Ó and the fish of the sea, and all the plants, in all the holy angels learned not Ňthe manifold wisdom of God.Ó
Even when man, the CreatorŐs last great creature, walked through Eden with his fair bride by his side, when they stood up to praise their Creator, though they were Ňfearfully and wonderfully made,Ó though in the minds and bodies of our first parents (Adam and Eve) there was a display of wisdom unrivalled in the creation, still, Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ was unknown known to the angels of God.
Lift your eyes to the worlds above. When the stars were kindled like glowing flames by him who is Light, still, to these celestial creatures Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ was a secret mystery hidden. Even in all the dispensations of divine providence, apart from the church, there Ňthe manifold wisdom of GodÓ has been hidden from these heavenly creatures look upon Christ our Glory-man Mediator who has accomplished eternal redemption for us. They, seeing him sitting yonder upon his throne with undimmed eye, veil their faces at his footstool, and cry, ŇHoly, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.Ó Yet, standing as they do nearest to the eternal throne, they do not learn Ňthe manifold wisdom of God,Ó except, as they come to church with saved sinners, like Sunday School children, to learn their lesson.
By the Church
Only by the church do the angels of God learn the manifold wisdom of God! Here the Apostle Paul shows us that the angelic hosts are instructed in Divine wisdom, as they behold GodŐs work for and in his church. There is more of GodŐs wisdom displayed in the church than in all of creation.
á Universal Church
á Local Church
á More of the wisdom of God is displayed in the saving of our souls than in building the arches of the skies.
á More of GodŐs wisdom is revealed in the church which he purchased with his own blood than even heaven with all its splendors could otherwise reveal.
There is an ingenious toy called the kaleidoscope. Each time you turn it, you see some new form of beauty. So it is with the church of Christ. Look at her from any angle and you will behold the beauty of divine wisdom displayed in her. The word ŇmanifoldÓ is used as if to compare GodŐs salvation (redemption and grace) to a precious treasure wrapped up in many folds. First this, then the next, then the next must be unfolded; and as you unwrap fold after fold, you find something precious each time. LetŐs open the folds and find the treasure God has hidden for us in this text. —— The manifold wisdom of God is displayed in his eternal counsel and conduct forming and perfecting his church. This wisdom is the study of angels and should be the study of saints as well.
Divisions: The manifold wisdom of God is made known unto the angelic beings by –
1. GodŐs Purpose for the Church.
2. GodŐs Purchase of the Church.
3. GodŐs Power in the Church.
4. GodŐs Preservation of the Church.
5. GodŐs Perfection of the Church.
First, let me show you that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the angels by — GodŐs Purpose for the Church. — I have no doubt that the great object the angels desire to look into is GodŐs purpose and plan to save the church by Christ. To those holy, heavenly creatures, this is something before which they bow with admiration and wonder.
It the Triune God had taken counsel with all the creatures of heaven and earth, and it had been the responsibility of that counsel to devise a plan whereby God might be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly, they all would have failed. — I am sure that it is a great question with the angels, as it is with men, — ŇHow then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man, that is a worm? And the son of man, which is a worm?Ó (Job 25:4-6).
Without doubt, the celestial spirits consider with delight the fact that in GodŐs way of saving his church, all the divine attributes are clearly displayed. Above all of GodŐs creatures, the angels know that God is Just.
á They saw Lucifer when God cast him out of his habitation because of sin, falling like lightening.
á God is just. But that fact is nowhere displayed as it is upon Calvary, where his Son hangs and bleeds, Ňthe just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.Ó
The angels see in our salvation the great wonder of justice and peace embracing each other. God as sternly just as if there were no mercy in his being, smiting his Son for the sins of his people with all the fulness of his wrath. God is as merciful as if he were not just, embracing his people as though they had never sinned, and loving us with a love that could not have been greater if we had never transgressed.
á I say that the angels behold with wonder that God so hates sin that he slew his only begotten Son, when he was made sin for us. Yet, ŇGod so loved the world that he agave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.Ó
All the infinite attributes of God shine out at once in all their combined glory and splendor around the cross. This is the wonder of men and angels.
á In the cross we see GodŐs anger and his love.
á We see GodŐs power and his tenderness.
á We see GodŐs greatness and his goodness.
á We see GodŐs immutability and his wisdom.
But further, when the angels see that by this great scheme of grace, all the ruin that sin brought upon mankind is removed, they wonder at the wisdom of God. — ŇI restored that which I took not away.Ó
á Did we lose Eden in Adam? The Lord Jesus Christ has given us a better Paradise.
á Did we lose the dignity of our manhood by the fall? Christ has raised us to a higher dignity. In him the angels are subject to us.
á Did we lose our spotless purity by sin? In Christ we are justified, righteous, and sanctified through his blood.
á Did we lose our communion with God? In Christ Ňwe have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.Ó
á Did we lose heaven in Adam? In Christ we have an eternal inheritance in heaven.
God in infinite wisdom made this mischief of sin to destroy itself. The dragon is stung with his own sting. Goliath is slain with his own sword. Death is slain by the death of the man Christ Jesus. Sin is put away by the great sin-offering, who Ňbore our sins in his own body on the tree.Ó — Sin was slain by sin, when Christ was made sin for us! We rise by man, as by man we fell, Ňas in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.Ó donaldsfortner
Moreover, this great plan and purpose of grace and salvation, by the atonement of Christ, God is more glorified than he would have been if there had been no fall. In this the angels behold the manifold wisdom of God (Psalm 76:10). God could have made a race that would not have sinned; but he did not. He ordained that his chosen go astray for a season, because he would have us attached to him by bonds of love, grace, and gratitude. Suppose for a moment we had not fallen. —–
á We could never have sung of redeeming grace and dying love.
á We could never have been made one with Christ. — ŇHe took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of AbrahamÓ (Hebrews 2:16).
á We could never have loved him as we now love him.
á We might have had reason to boast.
á We could never have known God as we now know him.
Thus in GodŐs purpose and plan for the church the angels behold the manifold wisdom of God. — Me, too!
Second, I want us to see that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the angels by — GodŐs purchase of the church.
The Lord Jesus did not purchase his church out of the hands of Satan!
á Satan had us in his power; but we were never his property.
á God our Savior purchased us out from under the bondage, curse, and condemnation of his own holy law.
á The church is a treasure hidden in a field.
á The church is a pearl of great price.
The manifold wisdom of God is displayed to the angels in this great fact — that Christ was made the Covenant Head and Representative of his church that he might purchase it with his own blood; and we are one with him. —— It is GodŐs eternal purpose to redeem his church by the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son; and we are one with him!
á We are one with Christ in his heart from all eternity.
á We were one with Christ while he was upon the earth.
á We were one with him at Calvary.
á We were one with him in the resurrection.
á We are one with him upon the eternal throne.
What does this mean?
á If Christ is our Redeemer, then we are redeemed.
á If Christ is our Surety, then we are safe.
á If Christ is our Representative, then we are accepted in him.
Look again, and see that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the angels by — GodŐs Power in the Church.
The conversion of every child of God is a display of infinite power and wisdom. It is the greatest miracle that can ever be imagined. Are we not living proof of this? Remember, my brothers and sisters, what you were and what you still are by nature (Galatians 5:19-21).
(Galatians 5:19-21) ŇNow the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.Ó
Always remember what you were, what you were, and what you are by nature. But ever hold in precious, thankful memory what God has done for you in Christ by his grace (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1:30-31).
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) ŇKnow ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.Ó
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.Ó
The angels behold the manifold wisdom of God by the church in the work of God the Holy Ghost through the gospel (John 16:7-11). Behold the wisdom of God in the calling of sinners to Christ by the gospel.
á He convicts you by the law.
á He breaks your heart by the gospel.
á He heals your heart by the gospel.
á He brings you to Christ.
See the wisdom of God in conforming sinners to the image of Christ in sanctification, not by works but by grace.
á The New Birth
á Growing in Grace (Philippians 3:10)
á Heavenly Discipline
á Full Manhood in Glory
In the fourth place, I want to show you that the manifold wisdom of God is made known unto the angels by — GodŐs preservation of the church. — The angels have seen GodŐs wisdom in preserving the church through every dispensation of time and providence.
á At first, the church was indeed small. God called only a man, or a family here and there — Adam and Eve — Abel — Enoch — Noah — Abraham.
á Then God called twelve tribes, and then a nation.
á God preserved his church in Egypt.
á God preserved his church in the wilderness.
á God revealed more of his wisdom little by little under the types and shadows of the Mosaic dispensation, until, finally, the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing under his wings.
The angels have seen GodŐs wisdom in preserving the church through all of her persecutions and heresies by which Satan has sought to destroy her.
á No harm has been done.
á The earth always opens to help the woman, even when it appears that the world is devouring her!
á GodŐs church has prevailed, is prevailing, shall prevail, always prevails!
Certainly, the angels have beheld GodŐs manifold wisdom in preserving his church in all the trials and experiences of her members.
á In wisdom he has kept us from temptation when we were weak.
á In wisdom he has given us strength.
á In wisdom he brings us in the valley that we may learn to call upon him.
á In wisdom he brings us to the mountain tops that we may rejoice in him.
á In wisdom he strips us of all earthly comfort that we may learn to trust in him, saying, ŇThough he slay me, yet will I trust him.Ó
á In wisdom he takes our most darling relations that we may learn to love him.
á It is the wisdom of God that works all things together for our good; and it is the faithfulness of God that preserves us in all our trials (Malachi 3:6).
Finally, and just briefly, observe that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the angels by — GodŐs perfection of the church. Beyond all controversy, when the last of GodŐs people shall be brought in, and the angels shall wander through the heavenly streets and talk with the redeemed, they will know by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
á God, our God, the Triune Jehovah will have a people out of every kindred, nation, tribe, tongue, culture, rank, and class of society.
á And they shall all be one. My brethren, we shall sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
á In that day all things shall be reconciled to God.
á In that day the saints shall enjoy the perfection of glory; and God alone shall receive all praise and honor (Ephesians 5:25-27).
(Ephesians 5:25-30) ŇHusbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.Ó
(Ephesians 5:31-32) ŇFor this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.Ó
1. See how much interest the angels have in the gospel. — Let us make it our life long study.
2. We walk in the company of angels. They serve us; they protect us; and they care for us; but they desire to learn from us.
3. Sinner, in the last day, the angels who have never had the opportunity that you spurn will sit in judgment over you.
4. Imagine the joy of the heavenly host, created and sent forth by the Triune God to be ministering spirits to his elect, when our Lord Jesus Christ presents us in his own perfection before his FatherŐs throne!
(Jude 1:24-25) ŇNow unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.Ó