Christ is victorious–that is what God’s Word says. And it says this most clearly in the book of Ephesians. So please open to Ephesians and we will see this theme of Christ’s victory and then land in our passage for today. In Ephesians 1, Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus, that they would know “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (verse 18), which He worked in Christ, “when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23).
Christ is victorious, that is His position. He is victorious over sin, over death, over this world, and over Satan and his demons. And I just said the word “over” over and over. That means He is overhead, above, on top of–He is superior. His victory puts Him above His enemies. He is not just above, but Paul says He is far above.
That doesn’t mean far, as in space–but rather far in position. He is over and clearly over every single power. Not only in the physical realm, but in the spiritual realm. Not only some persons, but every name that is named–not only at the moment when He rose from the dead, but in every age. He is not only over all things, but all things are subject to Him. He rules all things. All things are under His feet.
The seated, victorious Savior and King sits with authority. You have nothing under your feet–shoes, layers of flooring, and then God’s Earth. He has everything–all things under His feet. What a victory! What a cosmic victory. Do you like that? I said the word cosmic–it is a word which points to all reality, the universe. What we can see and what we can’t see–His victory is beyond Earth. It is beyond this universe. It is beyond this realm.
It is what Ephesians calls “the heavenlies”. His victory extends to the physical and spiritual realms. If the universe has no end, then His victory has no end. It stretches from the empty tomb, through the cosmos–it extends up to and is celebrated in Heaven. And it extends down—and the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it. It’s also the biggest word I could think of–the victory of Christ is cosmic.
Now, I love victories that are close–close calls are addicting, with smoke, fire, explosions, screaming, BOOM! When the dust settles and the heroes look at each other and say, “That was close!” That is every single Marvel movie–they have made a thousand movies and they all end the same. And guys, I’ll watch them all, ‘cause I love close victories. I love a close call.
But better is a cosmic victory. The victory of Christ was not close—Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, look at the disciples and say, “That was close!” It was never, ever a close call. Rather, it was the cosmic plan of redemption which God has been revealing before time. The victory of Christ was always the plan–that is Ephesians 1.
The cosmic victory of Christ was certain–we just didn’t know it, and this is what Paul calls a mystery. He as the head—He has given Himself to the Church, that is, the called-out believers who have been saved. How are they saved? Ephesians 2, God who is full of mercy and love, gives every gift needed for salvation to be accomplished. He graces them with faith so every victory of Christ now is given to them.
Christ was raised up and He drags the saints up with Him–and they receive all the benefits. They are a new creation and now they are new people. But the problem is that every now and then, the people who have been saved by the victory of Christ don’t get along. The Jews and Gentiles of Ephesus, a melting pot of a pagan city, had a church with people of different backgrounds, so they had some internal problems.
Paul reminds this church in 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” Jew and Gentile, men and women, rich and poor, smart and not smart, mature and immature–you are all one family, you are all a part of Gods house. Now you have to understand, for the Jews this is mind blowing.
The children of Abraham, who are promised a nation, a land, and a blessing now have to scoot over and make room for the pagans—why? Ephesians 3:6, “The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
What a powerful Gospel–the Gospel transforms and transplants. The good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection takes all the sinful individuals, no matter their background, and makes them not only new people, but one people. And that one people is the Church. Jesus came down from Heaven, died for sinners, conquered death and sin, unleashed the Holy Spirit, and transforms all people so that the Church can exist. His victory results in the Church.
Now it’s Sunday morning–you woke up, you got ready for church, you are now sitting in the church, the gathering of Christ’s followers. Why? Why did you come to church today? Why are you here? Do you have an answer? Maybe you are here because you want to grow in your knowledge–you want to be encouraged in your faith. That’s good–but the Church is not about you.
Maybe you want to learn and hear from the Bible—that’s good, but the Church is not about you. Maybe you want to see family and friends and fellowship—that’s good, but the Church is not about you. Maybe you don’t know why you are here. Maybe you don’t have a clue—that’s not good, but again the Church is not about you.
I am a church planter and pastor. I am a missionary–why? Why plant churches? Why support church planting? Is the goal of our existence as the Church to create loving communities around the world? Is the goal of the Church to make churches? If Jesus died and rose and conquered and is victorious so that the Church can exist, then you must be able to know, understand and explain, why does the Church exist? What is the point of all of this–why does the Church exist?
And for this we have an answer from the Lord through the apostle Paul–our passage today is Ephesians 3:8 to 10, three verses. We are going to look at verses 8 and 9 rather quickly, and then slow down on verse 10–here we go.
Ephesians 3:8 to 9, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the good news of the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for all what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.”
Paul humbly expresses his ministry–it is to reveal a mystery that all now are transformed and transported into the family of God. They are the Church. This was not known–it was hidden. It was a mystery, but now it is revealed.
I see all the time a new trend. You’ve seen it, you may have done it–the gender reveal party. Basically, what happens is friends and family gather and watch this moment when a couple are going to find out the gender of their baby, and it is revealed by color–pink or blue. People used to open an envelope. Now they cut a cake or pop a balloon, throw paint, light fireworks–and it’s always pink or blue, and everyone screams and is happy and puts a video up. And then we all scream and are happy.
Yeah, the baby reveal–now we know what to buy. Before we didn’t know but now we know. But before the big reveal, someone knew the secret. Someone put blue frosting in that cake, someone put the pink smoke bomb in the box, someone put blue missiles inside the tank–someone knew the gender and set up the big reveal. It was a mystery to everyone but one person.
This mystery which Paul mentions was a secret–a divine secret. God had a secret–a divine mystery. Lots of things God has always made known. Lots of things only God knows. And there are some things that God reveals through time. And Paul had this special, amazing privilege of opening the box, popping the balloon, launching the fireworks. But rather than pink or blue, the big reveal is that the blessing promised long ago for all nations has come. Not that all nations become Jews, but that all nations and Jews now become one new person–Gentile and Jew, men and women, rich and poor, American and Albanian. Every age, race, nation can be saved by the victory of Christ.
Big reveal–unfathomable riches for Jews and Gentiles. Christ is victorious–He is the conquering victor. He is triumphant and you all get to be in His parade–His victory is your victory, and you all (plural), you all together, you all corporately are now one in Christ. Big reveal, hidden for ages in God who made all things–that is Paul’s ministry. The big reveal party of God–one new man, one new body, one Church.
Why did God make the Church? What is the purpose? Why does the Church exist? And so now let’s read verse 10–and we’re going to park here today and answer, why does the Church exist? What is its purpose? Let’s read now Ephesians 3:10, “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
And there it is, the purpose of the Church—let’s now break this down, and I believe there are three clear aspects of the Church’s ultimate and cosmic purpose. One purpose, one goal, one cosmic purpose–three facets, aspects, legs on the stool. How do we know this is a statement of purpose? It begins with “so that”–maybe you have “in order that”, or KJV has “to the intent that”. All these express purpose or intention–the purpose and intention of the Church is this verse. And here is the first aspect of the Church’s cosmic purpose.
#1 The Church REVEALS God’s SAVING PLAN
Paul states, “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church.” What was not known can now be known through the Church. The Church, by its very existence, is a testimony of what Paul says. “The manifold wisdom of God”–manifold is not a word you use. You would never use the word manifold–I dare you to use that word today, let me know how it goes.
Some of you grew up like me–eating seven-layer dip. But have you ever tried manifold dip? It is a word which means many, various, rich and colorful. Manifold is only found in this verse in the Bible. It expresses immeasurable richness of a singular thing. He doesn’t say the many wisdoms or various wisdoms of God–rather it’s the manifold wisdom, singular.
This singular thing, wisdom, has layers and layers and layers of richness and beauty. You have heard this word before, when Joseph was given one coat with many colors. It was one coat with manifold color–layers and layers of beauty. Every thread purposefully and intricately placed, creating a beautiful design. His coat of many colors was so full and rich, no wonder his brothers threw a fit.
And the manifold wisdom belongs to God–He possesses it and is the source of it. And so is the first aspect of the Church’s cosmic purpose–the church reveals God’s saving plan. Every thread woven in order to create a plan of salvation for all people. The Church’s very existence is the revelation of God’s plan.
The plan for the Church was made before creation, and He chose and predestined the Church. He redeemed and adopted the Church, and He sealed the Church. And all of those actions of God are threads of His manifold wisdom. It was hidden, but now it can be revealed. It can be displayed. It can be shown through the Church.
That means the Church exposes–shines a spotlight on the great plan of God. The Church’s very existence is proof, is evidence, is the factual and concrete and undeniable testimony of God’s rich, beautiful and layered plan. You have to look at the verse and notice, he doesn’t say, “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God is known”, or “the manifold wisdom of God was known”, or “will later be known.”
But he says, “might now be known.” What does this mean? It means God’s great saving plan can be on display right now. It can be evident right now, and that is climactic, isn’t it? In this very moment, right now, God is on display through the Church. All of God’s great manifold wisdom and plan of salvation can presently be seen.
But it can also not be seen–which is why he later calls the Church to “walk in a manner that is worthy of the calling.” It is why he calls for the Church to be unified—it’s why he calls the Church to put off evil deeds, to walk in love, walk in light, walk in wisdom, act like the adopted, redeemed, forgiven, sealed body of Christ. And if the Church walks worthy, the wisdom of God is then on display.
Now in the present moment, not later in Heaven in glory, but right now–the cosmic victory parade is marching, and the Church marches behind Christ as a testimony to all He has done. The Church is the proof that God is infinitely and manifoldly a saving, gracious, forgiving, perfectly loving good God. What a revelation–but to whom? Who needs to see this? Who is watching this parade? Who is this revealed to?
Look again at verse 10—”so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities.” Rulers and authorities–this isn’t one person. This is a revelation to many, many persons–persons who have a position and power. We have learned the Church reveals God’s saving plan. Our second aspect of the church’s cosmic purpose . . .
#2 The Church ANNOUNCES Christ’s GREAT VICTORY
We need to understand who are the rulers and authorities–this is not the first reference to these rulers and authorities. Chapter 1:20 to 21, referring to Christ, “when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
What do we learn here? These rulers and authorities have been conquered by Christ. I’ll read another reference–Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil.”
The book of Ephesians refers to the rulers and authorities three times, but Paul refers to powers and authorities many times. First Corinthians 15:24, “Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
His victory causes the rulers and authorities to drop their weapons—they are disarmed. He is triumphing and He will continue to triumph. The apostles made something very clear for us. Christ’s victory was over the rulers and authorities, and these rulers and authorities are not in this realm.
In the creation of God, He made the physical and the spiritual, and there is an order to it. A rock is physical, but not alive. A plant is physical and alive, but does not have the breath of life. An animal is physical and has the breath of life, but is not made in the image of God–they are not spiritual. Sorry, kids–that goldfish is gone forever. Man is physical and has the breath of life and is made in the image of God. He is a physical and spiritual being.
Angels are not physical and are not made in the image of God, but they are spiritual beings–they are different than us, but they are real and they are watching. That saving plan which the Church reveals is to the powers and authorities. First Peter 1:10 says, “concerning this salvation”–the saving plan. That would be the salvation of the believers who are born again by God’s great mercy.
First Peter 1:10 to 12 tells us that prophets were searching for this Savior and salvation, which then arrived. And now these things–the Savior and salvation are things things into which angels long to look. Why would angels desire to look into this salvation? They want to see–they desire to see salvation. And God wanted His people to always know they are watching–angels are looking.
God’s Law is filled with instructions. Moses was instructed to build a tabernacle–and at the center was the holy place and inside the holy place was the holy of holies, where at the center was the ark of the covenant, a box which contained the Law of God. God instructed Moses to make a cover for this box, and on it was to be two angels made of gold, or cherubim.
Exodus 25:20, “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.” Turned toward the mercy seat, as in looking down–spiritual beings who look down and are watching. They have always been watching.
People always say, “An angel was watching out for me” or, “an angel was by my side.” They are watching–but not you. Not you–but what? Rather, the unfolding of God’s manifold wisdom. Well, the Bible says there are angels who praise God. Angels who declare Him holy, the Lord Almighty–who was and is and is to come.
And one day, these angels who watch will praise and worship. All of Heaven will be filled with angels declaring the marriage of the Lamb and His bride. That is the day when the Church, the bride of Christ is fully glorified and brought into eternity with Christ. On that day, angels will praise God because His manifold wisdom is known. All His promises were true. All His choices were right. All His will fulfilled. And they watched the whole wisdom of God unfold, from the very beginning to the end–they witnessed all of it.
But the spiritual rulers and authorities of Ephesians are not just these angels–there are also angels who do not praise God. The Bible refers to them as demons, unclean spirits, evil spirits–spiritual beings who were long ago cast out of Heaven. Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Not all angels are good–not all praise God. These spiritual beings are in line with Satan. They are organized and they have rank–and they too are watching. They long to look into this salvation, but they can’t ever have it. As a sinner, you have fallen short of God’s glory. You have fallen, but if you follow Christ, He raised you up, saved you and you are part of His body. You have salvation.
The angels who fell were cast out of Heaven with no shot for return. Christ did not die for the angels. They cannot be redeemed–they cannot be saved. And while they may hate you for your salvation, at the same time they cannot look away. They must watch the unfolding of God’s manifold wisdom which leads to their eternal judgment and damnation.
But before that day, there is a battle. “We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). You have salvation, and no power or ruler can take that away. But they do want to rob the Church of every blessing.
They want to bring the Church down–but Christ’s Church will not fall. It cannot, because He has conquered. And so we are more than conquerors. We the Church are a proclamation to the rulers and authorities who have rebelled against God that they lose, they are defeated. God’s manifold wisdom wins. The Church reveals the saving plan of God. The Church announces Christ’s great victory.
Let’s read our verse one more time. Ephesians 3:10, “So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Our final objective in the purpose of the Church . . .
#3 The Church TESTIFIES in SPIRITUAL REALMS
Your Bible may say “in the heavenly places”. It may say “in the heavenlies”. It’s an interesting choice–he doesn’t say rulers and authorities in this world, but “in the heavenly places”. It is plural–it is more than one place, but it is not this world. What are the heavenly places? What are the heavenlies? Paul has been building and snowballing this idea the whole book.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3). The heavenlies is the place where you currently have every realized favor of God. “That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (1:20). The heavenlies is the place where Christ reigns.
“And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). The heavenlies is the place where you reign with Christ. “Against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (6:12). The heavenlies is the place where you currently war.
The heavenlies is the spiritual reality that you currently live in and will live in forever. We see that word Heaven and immediately think all these passages are about the future, eternal state of glory–but it’s not. The heavenlies or heavenly places are a reference to your spiritual reality.
Answer me–do you have all the blessings of God right now? Yes. Is Christ seated in authority over all spiritual realms? Yes. Are you currently seated in Christ’s victory in the spiritual realm? Yes. Are you fighting powers and authorities in the spiritual realm? Yes. And so the Church testifies in the spiritual realm. There are many realities we live in—the physical reality, psychological realities, virtual realities . . .
But do not ever get confused–do not ever forget. Your greatest and truest reality is your spiritual reality. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, and now you are made alive, seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That is your greatest reality. The spiritual realm refers to your relationship with God, your intimacy with the Creator of all things. It refers to your union with Christ, who has given you Himself spiritually. It refers to your walk in the Spirit. It refers to your communion through prayer. It refers to every part of your spiritual life, which is the main part of your life.
And you–you all, you together, you corporately as the Church testify to the spiritual realm. You corporately impact the Heavens. You corporately impact the powers in this dark realm. What this means, Church, is that every single time you meet in a worthy manner, a cosmic event happens where God puts Himself on display, and all spiritual beings, good and bad, recognize the cosmic victory of Christ.
How does the Church proclaim that Christ’s victory is real? That’s Ephesians 4, 5 and 6–by walking in a manner worthy, by putting off the deeds of darkness. It is by walking in love, walking in light, walking in wisdom. It is submitting to one another. It is wives following your husbands, who love you as Christ loves the Church.
It is children submitting to their father and mother. It is servants submitting to their masters. It is to wear your armor as we war against the realm of darkness. This is how we proclaim Christ’s cosmic victory. And when we fail to proclaim Christ’s cosmic victory, we are proclaiming something else. When we fail to walk in a worthy manner, we proclaim His victory wasn’t enough.
To continue to walk in darkness, as in practicing sin, is to declare His victory wasn’t sufficient. To hide our deeds of darkness is to declare His victory wasn’t transformative. To be drunk with wine is to declare His victory wasn’t satisfying. To divorce is to say His victory wasn’t enough for His bride. To rebel against parents and master is to say His victory didn’t give Him all authority.
But Jesus said, “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me.” And He said that because He was victorious. His victory is our victory. Church, we fail to live in the victory of Christ. We forget to live in a spiritual reality. We compartmentalize our Christian life. But every moment is a spiritual moment where you as a spiritual, regenerated saint are connected to God almighty.
When the Church gathers, the Church reveals God’s saving plan. The Church announces Christ’s victory. The Church testifies in the spiritual realm. And when we gather and are living in a worthy manner–according to how He has called us to live, the cosmic victory parade of Christ is on and the spiritual realm witnesses the manifold wisdom of God and this church is a part of that purpose.
Faith Bible Church, you are the proof and evidence of God’s great wisdom. Heaven and Hell are watching–and because of this church, the testimony of God is made known throughout all Heaven and Hell. You are a part of that great proclamation. But there are places in the world–entire towns, cities, and nations where no one is a part of that purpose, where no one knows of Jesus. No one knows the one true God. No one knows what the Church is, and that is wrong–because we have a purpose, to make disciples of all nations. That the great manifold wisdom of God is proclaimed and proven in Heaven and Hell.
The Church is the extension of God’s power and Christ’s victory, and sometimes when we hear of places where Christ is not proclaimed and where the Church is failing or about to crumble, churches and Christians who need help, do we respond with, “Wow, that’s so hard! What’s for lunch?” Or do we act? “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18 to 19).
When we do not respond to this command from the victorious Christ, we are proclaiming His victory is not worth proclaiming. God called me to plant and establish a church in a small city in a small country. Why? So that Heaven and Hell would tremble at the victory of Christ.
It’s Sunday morning–why did you come to church today? So that Heaven and Hell would tremble at the victory of Christ. His cosmic victory is on parade, and behind Him follows the Church, marching in the armor of her victor. It’s cosmic, it’s epic, and your smoky dust of a life suddenly becomes a display of Christ’s victory. As I said in the beginning, the Church is not about you. You get many blessings and benefits, but it is not about you.
The Church is proof of the cosmic victory of Christ. It is evidence of God’s glorious wisdom and plan. So when we pray, Heaven is watching and Hell is trembling. When we sing in one voice in worship, we are proclaiming Christ’s victory and they hear us. They understand–but more than anything, when we trust and obey Christ, when the Church acts like the Church, the manifold wisdom of God is known.
This week as you go, since you are a spiritual people living in a spiritual realm, my challenge is that you leave church today doing spiritual things, cosmic victory things. Pray, confess, encourage, love one another–be the Church. Make plans to do spiritual things with others this week and be a part of making Christ’s victory known in Heaven, in the heavenlies, and in places where no one knows His name.
Let’s just finish with one final thought. The apostle John got a huge glimpse into how all this ends. The angels sang in Revelation 19, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” (verses 6 to 8).
The bride of Christ will finally be presented to Christ perfected, pure and holy. John later turns to the angel and falls on his knees in worship. He says, “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God’” (Revelation 22:8 to 9).
Worship God–man will worship God because he has been redeemed. The angels worship God because they have witnessed God redeem. That’s how the parade ends–angels in worship, man in worship. God receives all the glory. So let us worship–make God great in all you do, make God worthy in all you do, walk in a worthy manner of your calling. Let’s pray.