“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory..”
— Ephesians 3:8-13 [NKJV]
We have little apparent problem with “grace” – as we learned in Bible School the alliteration, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. But “Radical” Grace? What do you think when you hear the word “radical”? Webster defines it this way: “favoring extreme change.”
How about some examples:
* Visions of Pearl Harbor, followed by the youth of the world raising their arms in obeisance to Hitler. That’s radical.
* When the Japanese emperor was on horseback riding down the streets of Tokyo, and all bowed in worship so as not to see his face. That’s radical.
* When John Carlos and Tommy Hines at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico on the champions stand raise their gloved fists in what became known as the “Black power salute”. That’s radical.
* When Patty Hearst, daughter and heir to one of the richest men in America, gets kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (“SLA”) and after becomes one with their movement. That’s radical.
But to join that same word with one of the most precious terms of the Christian faith – GRACE – you say that’s UNTHINKABLE!
Wouldn’t you like to learn how your faith can be a display of RADICAL GRACE? Our text today will teach us!
First, let’s look at the “personal view”. Did you notice the first part of verse 8: “to me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was give.” The personal view says “an unworthy subject gives endless riches to unworthy subjects.”
Throughout Scripture Paul shares his testimony which could be summarized with these words: “I am an unworthy subject.” 1 Timothy 1:15 says in part, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am CHIEF”. In Acts 26, in sharing his testimony before King Agrippa, Paul said, “I persecuted Christians…I cast my vote for their death.” Paul thought he was zealous against the Church. He learned on the road to Damascus that he was truly zealous against the Lord Jesus Himself! The Savior once said, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” The Lord told Paul personally, “I Am Jesus Whom you are persecuting.” Yet in the midst of all this, the Savior offers to Paul GRACE: “I will send you to the Gentiles, to turn their darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God…that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance with other Christians.
Paul was extended Radical GRACE, the willingness to see Jesus as others see Him. Radical GRACE extended needs RADICAL help. We need to pray for that help – for us and for others!
Secondly, let’s look at the “eternal view”, as seen in verses 9-11.
The mystery is now revealed (and, no, the butler did NOT do it), although hidden from before creation (verse 9). Just what things ARE hidden?
* The creation! “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)
* BEFORE Gen. 1:1, the Savior’s arrival was well planned!
* BEFORE Gen. 1:1, the cross was well planned!
* BEFORE Gen. 1:1, the church was well planned!
This is RADICAL GRACE – not an after thought to sin but prepared love for sinners!
Verse 10 has an astounding thought – “such wisdom was hidden from eternal beings and is revealed not through them but through the church!”. “Wow!”, heaven shouts!
Why? Because the angels were there:
At the creation!
t the creation!
At the gar
At the garden!
At the fall!
At the treatment of God’s Son Whom they always worshipped!
At the cross, and at the resurrection!
But now to see changed lives enjoy by redemption that which they enjoy by creation!
AND the church is its only messenger. “Wow” again!
The eternal view includes the reality that such an eternal purpose is accomplished thru only One object, if you will, God’s Son (verse 11).
People can object to many things: family (our consistencies or even the lack), and even the church and its frailties.
But they cannot object to Christ and the reality of salvation. He alone is the heart of salvation.
Is it possible to have an eternal view in today’s world? Let’s look at the example of a football player named Danny Wuerffel. While playing for the University of Florida, he set school and conference records as his school’s quarterback. In his senior year, he helped lead his team to win the school’s first national football championship. And to highlight his year, he won the auspicious “Heisman Trophy” as the collegiate’s best football player. He spent years as a professional football player, but even through the rigors of football he also was involved in the “Desire Street Ministries”, a non-profit group which was used, per its history, “to help impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.” But having done all those amazing things, what was his foundation in life? Listen to his words: “I’m playing to an audience of One,” he says, pointing skyward. “As long as I can look up and feel I did my best, then I won’t worry about what other people think.” Is that our testimony?
Finally, there is the “practical view”, as displayed in verses 12-13.
Now, in Christ, we have courage and a dynamic approach to Christ! AND outward circumstances should not cause us to lose heart but realize they are for our glory! What is that? That is RADICAL GRACE!!!
Let’s close with perhaps the most amazing story in the life of Corrie ten Boom, who, with her family, for Jesus sake would hide many Jews from the Nazis during World War 2. However, she and her family were eventually captured by their enemies. She would spend the rest of the war in a concentration camp – where the atrocities of war resulted in many of her family members to be executed at the camp, in particular her favorite sister.
After being released at the end of the war, Corrie continued her testimony for Christ by speaking at many conferences, giving testimony of God’s RADICAL GRACE and protection. At the end of one of her presentations, a German gentleman came up to her with tears in his eyes. These are his words: “I was a jailer responsible for the death of your family. I have come to Christ in faith. I seek your forgiveness for what I did in my unbelief. To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” He reached out his hands for a handshake of fellowship and forgiveness. There was little hesitation. Corrie told him, “Jesus gave me your forgiveness.” They were one in faith in Christ.
That is RADICAL GRACE! Is it on display in our lives?