So That through the Church
So we spoke yesterday of the triumph and mercy of our God in the revelation of the mystery of the coming to saving faith of the Gentiles as fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, and we shall return to that in a moment.
But now about Paul: Paul is amazed that he was chosen to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ” to the Gentiles—he, Paul, “the very least of all the saints.” In another place, he calls himself the “least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9), and in another, the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). I do not believe that these are rhetorical devices where Paul simply assumes a posture of humility; such an accusation would be to lay the charge of hypocrisy at the Apostle’s feet. No. I believe Paul understood what every Christian should understand about himself: that he is a sinful wretch saved by grace. Above all people, the Christian understands how great his sin is and how offensive his sin is to the Almighty. He hates his own sin worse than the sin of anyone else, and sees himself as worse than others, as a greater sinner than others. And he does this not out of a false sense of humility but as someone who examines himself daily and has honestly come face to face with his own ugliness. It is only such a person who rightly understands the manifold grace of God, which then allows him to magnify that grace. I worry that Christians today are too nonchalant about their sin; after all, they’re forgiven. The Christian measures the heinousness of his sin by the cost of that forgiveness—and I need not explain to a believer that cost.
And this grace that was bought at the cost of the Son’s crucifixion—this message of salvation—now belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ to proclaim. And Paul calls this message of salvation the “manifold wisdom of God.” It is the task of the Church to proclaim before the world this message of salvation and to live it out in godly lives. 1 Peter 2:9 says it best: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The Church proclaims this message not only before the world but even unto those occupying the heavens—angelic beings of perdition and of glory. Armed with this message, heaven and earth bow before Christ’s Church, for only we have access to the throne of grace through his blood. Armed with this message, even the chains Paul wore when he wrote this letter were a reason for rejoicing.