An Eternal Display of Grace (Ephesians Sermon 10 of 54)
September 06, 2015 | Andy Davis
Grace, Glory of God, Heaven
Well, I've been looking forward to preaching this sermon for a long time. I'm preaching effectively on one verse, Ephesians 2:7. And it's not the kind of verse that maybe many people would focus on, but for a long time I have been meditating on what will be our occupation in Heaven, what will we spend eternity in Heaven doing? Randy Alcorn recently wrote a book called "Heaven." It's an interesting book, almost 500 pages long on that one topic, and I think it's a great book. He does a lot of Heavenly speculation. I think John Calvin would have been struggling with all that speculation, but I actually enjoyed it. I think we came to the conclusion that if Randy Alcorn likes something on Earth, it's going to be in Heaven. Just go to him and find out what we're going to be doing in Heaven and he will know, but one thing he's writing against, and that is the idea of a static, boring Heaven, the kind of thing that you could kind of shrink back from. You think about floating on fluffy clouds and strumming a harp and you're like, “who wants to do that?: I don't know anyone that would be excited about looking forward to doing that. And so he just unfolds how ridiculous that is, if you understand the creativity and the power and the glory of God, it is unthinkable that we would be for even a moment, bored in Heaven. And so, for me, the idea of what will we be doing and what will be our occupation, how will we spend eternity? Like it says in Amazing Grace, “When we've been there 10,000 years…” It's hard to even imagine that span of time, “bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise, than when we’d first begun,” but then we start thinking, “Okay, 10,000 years, what will we do?” I don't think there's anything that I do on earth now that I'd want to do every day for 10,000 years. I don't think there's any food that I like here on Earth, that I'd want to eat every day for 10,000 years, even pepperoni pizza, which I love, and you never got fat and nothing bad ever happened, I still wouldn't want to do it for 10,000 years, and so we might struggle with it.
But the more you meditate on the immense creativity of God displayed in this present created order. Just go to an aquarium and look at all the different species of tropical fish. You look at all the different colors, their shapes, their sizes, what they do, how they behave. Or you look at just the different types of birds there are, some different ones that fly and soar in thermals like birds of prey, like eagles and falcons and hawks. And the peregrine Falcon, that in a hunting dive can get to 250 miles an hour, all the way down to more simple sparrows that are two sparrows sold for a penny, and they're not incredibly consequential, but part of the world that God made, same thing with all the things that grow on the earth, the different range of plants and vegetation and bushes and trees and flowers. Our God is an amazingly creative God, isn't He? It's just incredible how He has woven all of this in.
The Past: God’s Grace Displayed in Us
And so what I'm going to say to you today is that Heaven is going to be a very exciting, thrilling place and I believe based on Ephesians 2:7, we're going to spend at least part of eternity celebrating the grace of God that He's already shown us in Christ, and that He has yet more to show to us of His grace for all eternity. Look at verses 6 and 7, it says that God, “raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages, He might show or display or demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” In other words, He has more to show us in the future and the coming ages about what He has already been doing in the church in Christ Jesus.
Understanding God’s Power at Work in Our Lives
Now, last week, we had a chance to hear from Walter Lee some of what God had done in his life. I shared some of the things that happened in my life. I think we are going to have unfolded before us, church history as we have never seen it or heard it before. We're going to find out, from brothers and sisters in Christ, in every era of history, all the ages of church history just what God did to save them. And I don't mean just bring them to initial saving faith, I mean to guard them and protect them from the world, the flesh, and the devil and how God used each individual brother and sister in Christ, and how He wove together their lives and their works and all that in this magnificent Tapestry of Grace. And we're going to see it and we won't for a moment be selfish or bored, but we will be delighted in everything that God has done.
God’s Character in Our Salvation
So, we stand here in the middle of one of the great sections of Scripture that you heard Joel read, Ephesians 2:1-10, and it comes after another incredible portion of Scripture in Ephesians 1, and so we have a chance to see the grace of God. And so what I want to do is just kind of stand here in the middle of verses 6 and 7 and say, "We're going to look back what God has already done by grace in our lives, and then look ahead for the rest of our lives here on Earth, how God has yet more grace to show us, and how we should rely on that future grace that is still going to come to us more and more, and He's going to show us how gracious He will be from now until the day we leave this Earth. But then unfolded into the eternity future, the ages yet to come, and how God is going to put His grace on display."
Kyle was talking about trophies of grace. And so we're going to see them all and we're going to celebrate them all, and we're going to do it in such a selfless way. All we'll want to see is how each individual saved person glorified God, and we'll be eager for that story. So let's look at it, and let's begin looking at the past. What has God already done? How has He shown grace in us already? And this is just by way of review, Paul's goal here is that the Ephesian Christians will know God better, that God would give them, “a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” And not only that, he says, but that, “the eyes of their heart would be enlightened.” And so as I was explaining that, that's your faith. By faith, based on the word of God, you would have revelation or illumination, of the grace of God shown us in Christ, so the “eyes of your heart would be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.”
Now, the "in the Saints" phrase is very interesting, but the idea here, at least in part, with some of the themes I'm bringing up, is that we would celebrate what God did in the saints and the other believers in Christ and we would see the greatness and the riches that are going to be in Heaven of all that God's done with our brothers and sisters, and we're going to realize that the grace He showed us is just a small portion of all the grace He showed to the family of God and we're going to realize it's every bit as much worthy of our celebration of someone else's grace as ours. It's the same God that gives all. So He wants the “eyes of our heart enlightened, so we would know the hope of our calling the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power.” Power at work in us who believe. God has grabbed hold of us by His sovereign power, by His sovereign grace, by omnipotence, and He will never let us go, until His purposes of grace are finished. And so Paul picks up on the third of those three and goes off and talks about that power, that power is like the working of His mighty strength which “He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, physically, and seated Him at His right hand in the Heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that could be given, not only in the present age, but what? In the age to come.” “And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” So in other words, just keeping it simple.
Our Origins: Spiritually Dead
God wants us to know that the same power of Almighty God, God the Father, that raised Jesus up from the dead, physically has already been at work in us spiritually, if we're Christians. Why is that? Chapter 2, because we were dead spiritually, like Jesus was dead, physically. That's the analogy that he is making. “You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live, when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit that is now at work in those who are disobedient, all of us also lived among them at one time. Gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
Like Kyle was saying, we already have a sense from Ephesians 2:1-3 of what we were apart from Christ. Actually, we have an inadequate sense of how bad it was. We underestimate how bad it was, and I said, at that time, a couple of weeks ago, your joy and celebration, and sense of gratitude toward God in the good news will be in direct proportion to your sense of the bad news. The more you just know how bad it was apart from Christ, the more joyful you're going to be in your Christian life. And so Ephesians 2:1-3 paradoxically, though very dark and sad verses, actually is a launching pad for great joy in Christ because we were dead. And there was nothing we could have done to save ourselves. Nothing at all. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, God made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions - It is by grace you have been saved,” just can't, can't go even a moment without saying “Grace! Grace! Grace!” Next week, we're going to talk about Ephesians 2:8-9, “It is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Miracles Already Worked in God’s People
Now all of this, God has done in the past, it's already happened. If you're a Christian, this has already happened to you. God's already displayed incredible power in your life, if you only know what to look for. That you love Jesus right now, it's supernatural power put on display. You were dead. How did you come to love Jesus? How did you come to follow Him and believe in Him against all odds, against the world, the flesh and the devil? How came you out of that dark, cold grip of Satan, and of your sin and your rebellion? It's by the sovereign grace of God, by His power. So, we're looking back, this is something that's already happened to you, celebrate it. Be amazed at it, Never lose your sense of wonder that you're a Christian. It doesn't matter if you were raised in a good Christian home. That's fantastic, that's wonderful. God used that to protect you from corruption and wickedness. It's a good thing to grow up in a Christian home. It doesn't matter that you don't have a dramatic conversion story like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. It doesn't make a difference. You're a miracle of God's grace, if today you love Jesus and you're following Him. But if on the other hand, you do have an amazing story like in the song, All I Have is Christ, “I was wandering in darkness and rebellion and sin, and did so many evil things, but God reached down and He drew me out of those deep waters,” celebrate God's grace. It doesn't make a difference. What matters is if you're a Christian, you're already a trophy of grace, God's already shown His power at work in your life, and He's doing it still, and He does all of this to put His own glory on display. He's putting Himself on display, He wants us to see His greatness. And so we've seen this again and again in Ephesians chapter 1. Look at verses 4-6, there, “in love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace.” In other words, He did this, He predestined us, elected us and predestined us so that we might be for the praise of His glorious grace. That's why he did it. Again, verse 12, "In order that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be for the praise of His glory". In other words, that we might exist to put God on display to glorify God, that's why He did it.
And then again in verses 13-14, "Having believed you, you Ephesians, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession to the praise of His glory.” By the way, in Verse 14, until the redemption of those who are God's possession, God has a whole bunch of elect people that haven't been converted yet, and so, this history is just unfolding, history of evangelism and missions and the growth of the church is unfolding. There are more glorious stories yet to be told. They're going on right now today. Today is somebody's glorious day of conversion. That's awesome, isn't it? But until all that's done, you who have already been saved in Christ, you have been “marked with a seal,” and you're held with the sovereign power of God, He is holding on to you, and He'll never lose you. So that you might be for, “the praise of His glory.”
God’s Glory Rightly Displayed
It is Right for God to Show Off
Now, all of this is the idea of a public display. God's putting this thing on display. He wants to show Himself. He wants to display Himself. And so, that's why Ephesians 2:7, I'm zeroing in on this, this word “show” or “display,” that God has a “show” or “display” to put on in the coming ages, we'll get to that in a minute, but the idea of display that God's putting Himself on display. Well, does God do that kind of thing? Is God a showoff? Oh yes. He's a bigger showoff than we can possibly imagine, but not in any bad way. God wants us to see His greatness. He wants to give us gifts, and the greatest gift He can give us is Himself and the emanations of His creativity and power and who He is and so, oh yes, God shows off. He's done it in physical creation, hasn't He? Don't we see the glory of God in the world around us? Psalm 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech, and night after night, they display knowledge.” I went out last night, I was putting the cars back, they were out in the street and I had to put them away. I don't know why I was going out, it wasn't for taking out the garbage, anyway, so I was going out just looking up at the night sky. There weren't many stars out last night, I don't know what was going on, but I just looked at the silhouettes of the black trees, felt the breeze on my face, just looked around, just... I'm glad no one saw me. It would've been weird. But anyway just looking at what God's made and there wasn't much light, but it's still amazing to me. There's trees and the breeze and everything. God does that, He puts himself on display, the power and the existence of God is on display, all the time.
More Glory Displayed in the Gospel
But then even more in the Gospel, Amen. Even more has God shown Himself in Christ in the Gospel. He put Jesus up on a cross in order, Romans chapter 3, that He might display His justice, “because in His forbearance, He left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” David was never punished for what he did with Bathsheba, and with Uriah the Hittite. He wasn't put to death. Why not? Because God looked ahead to Christ. But He had to display His justice in saving us, to show that He was vindicating His law, and vindicating His justice. He showed His justice in the cross. Not just justice, He showed His love at the cross, didn't He? In Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He's putting His love on display. This is the kind of thing that God does, He displayed His power, didn't He, in Pharaoh? Didn't He say, "I raised you up?," this is Romans 9, "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show My power in you," what's the word "show" mean? "That I might put My power on display, that all the nations would see how powerful I am, and what I can do, And that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth as a powerful, mighty, delivering God."
And so we have that great Exodus story. The Ten Plagues, the Red Sea crossing, the water walling up on the right and the left, that's an awesomely powerful display of salvation, isn't it, but God raised Pharaoh up to display His power. God does this. And He does it in conversions, He puts himself on display in converting people. Paul is a great example of this, doesn't God show His nature in converting someone like Saul of Tarsus? He wakes up that morning, breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples, hating the church, hating Jesus, hating everything he stood for, went to bed a Christian. How in the world do you explain that? "Oh, the psychological pressure was on Paul." No, listen. Sovereign grace! He plucked him out of Satan's dark kingdom and He transferred him into the kingdom of light, and Paul says that's what happened in 1 Timothy 1:16, he says, "But I received mercy for this reason, that in me as the foremost of all sinners, Jesus Christ might... " What's the next word? "Display." “Display, show His perfect patience, as an example to those who are to believe in Him for eternal life.” God puts up with rebellious wicked, elect people for a long time and then converts them. And He just puts on display His patience. Paul's humble apparently weak preaching of the Gospel, he said, was a demonstration or display of the Spirit's power. I mean, God's doing this all the time, but He has yet more to show you. You don't even know the millionth part of what God has done to save the elect, the church, in every era of churches. He has more to show you. He's just doing this all the time, He's putting Himself on display.
God Displaying Himself in Our Lives
And He's doing it in your life. He says, "You are the light of the world." Jesus said that in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl, instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." Right, but who lit you up? Who lit you like a lamp? Did you light yourself? No. God lit you and God puts you up on a lampstand and makes you give light to everyone in the house. Well, that's going on right now, but it's going to go on for eternity in Heaven, He's going to put you up on a stand and say, Look what I did in this person's life. This is My son, this is My daughter. What's the point in telling a great story if it never gets told? If God's going to craft an incredible story that goes on for decades in someone's life, hey let's tell the story, I want to hear it, don't you?
It's like, “Well,” You will then, okay? God is going to transform you and you'll be so ready to hear your brothers and sisters' stories, so He doesn't light a lamp and hide it, instead He puts it out so everyone will see the work of God going on in their lives. And this is an immeasurable display. It talks about the incomparable riches of His grace, this is lavish language of how incredibly rich has been God's grace to us in Christ. He wants us to know how much He spent on us.
The Cost of Gospel Glory
Have you ever spent a lot of time like scraping a price tag off a gift? I don't know what it is with these price tag manufacturers, they need to study their adhesive better. They are just amazingly strong, and the paper amazingly weak. Have you ever been like, How do I get this gummy stuff off without ruining the paint? You probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but you're just scraping it off. Why? You don't want the person to know how much you spent because you don't want it to be a guilt thing, or whatever, and this goes on. God's the other way, He wants you to know exactly how much He spent on you, He wants you to know how costly it all was, He wants you to know that He gave what was most precious to Him in the entire universe, His only begotten Son, dead on the cross for you. And that, “if He's going to give you that, how much more would He also along with Him, graciously give you all things.” That means Jesus, what He's already given you, is more valuable than the entire universe to God the Father, and He wants you to know that. He wants you to know how much He spent on you and is spending and will spend. It's immeasurable. To some degree, He wants us measuring the immeasurable.
The immeasurable riches of His grace, just how much He has spent. He wants you to take your little three yard long piece of string and go to the base of Mount Everest and start going around the circumference of it and start measuring it, get a sense of it, of the “immeasurable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Just measure it, we got eternity friends, let's see how much He loved us in Christ and notice what it says, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ. Oh, that word has worked in my heart this week. Kindness! God has shown us kindness in Christ, immeasurable riches of His grace expressed in kindness. You could imagine a stingy person wanting you to know how much he spent on you. Somebody who's doing the guilt manipulation thing. “I hope you realize how much that cost, I mean you know that, don't you? And that's just not just any such and such. That's the best, you do know that, don't you?” “Alright, alright how much did you spend? I mean since you want to tell me, tell me.” It says in Proverbs 23:6-8, I love this, “Do not eat the food of a stingy man. Do not crave his delicacies, for he's the kind of man who's always thinking about the cost. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says, but his heart's not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.” Don't you love the Book of Proverbs? Just says it straight. But God isn't like that, God isn't stingy, He's kind. He loves saving us. I mean He really enjoys giving us a kingdom. “Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” that's Luke 12. Fear not, He enjoys lavishly blessing you with grace, He just enjoys that. You think about the father of the prodigal son, he says, "Quick, bring a ring for his finger and a robe and sandals and let's kill the fattened calf and let's celebrate!" He's just so filled with joy at saving sinners. He loves doing this. There's kindness here.
God’s Kindness Toward Us in Salvation
And one verse, it's been much in my heart this week, and over the last few weeks, as I'm doing some Scripture memory in the minor prophets, Micah 7:18. Listen to this verse Micah 7:18, "Who is a God like You who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance. You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy." I mean, just, wow. God delights in showing mercy, that's His kindness. He will greet you kindly, when at last you see Him, don't fear Him, He will greet you kindly. He is the father of the prodigal son, He will welcome you to Heaven, so we're so afraid of that, but He delights in showing kindness. He's so kind to us in His Son, He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls," that's the kindness of God speaking through His Son. He's so kind in saving us, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light," And so this is an immeasurable display of kindness. And it's going to go on for eternity. So that, “in the coming ages, He might show.” “In the coming ages,” so God was looking ahead to the coming ages.
Grace Displayed for the Rest of Your Life
Faith in Future Grace
Now, I want to take that and expand it from this moment now to the end of your life, and talk about that briefly, and then I'm going to go from the end of your life on Earth on into the coming ages of eternity and say that God has something to show you in both of those ages, the age of your life here on earth this present age and then the rest of all eternity, in the future, age in Heaven. He wants to show you something in both. So let's talk first about the rest of your life. God has more grace to show you from now until the day you die. He's going to continue lavishing grace on you, He's going to continue showing you kindness. You're not done being saved, and neither am I. So we've got more grace to receive from God, yet more grace is going to come our way. James 4:6 says, "but He gives us more grace."
So just think about that one expression more, grace. Do you need more grace? Yes, you do, you need a lot more grace, and it needs to just keep coming and coming. But God, having already begun this good work of grace, He will not stop showing you grace until at last you are done being saved. And so, you can count as you look to the future and you look ahead and you say, "You know, this is an uncertain future. I don't know where I'm going to be, I don't know what I'm going to do, I don't know what's going to happen to me. I don't know what combination of temptations and assaults, and trials and afflictions Satan's going to bring my way, I don't know. And I could be afraid of that. How am I going to make it? How am I going to run this race with endurance, right to the end? It's a long way to go."
God Stays with Us Throughout the Race
I'm really impressed with those people that have the 26.2 (which is the amount of miles in a marathon race) things on the back of their cars, or the 13.1. I saw one this week, 0.0. I don't know what that's about. Have you seen that before? 0.0. Boasting about not running a marathon, but anyway. But you know, I used to be a distance runner. And there comes a point in a long race, where you wonder if you're going to make it. It's like that's right around the time they say, of hitting the wall. You got another seven, eight miles to go and you're like, "I'm done, I don't have any more to give". And it's a moment of desperation. How do you know you're going to make it, brother, sister? How do you know you're going to finish this race with endurance? So you have to lay aside every weight and run with endurance. Well, you know how you know? Faith in future grace. Confidence that God has more grace to show you and what you need you will get. That's your confidence, that's how you know you're going to make it. He who began a good work in you, He will most certainly continue to pour out grace in you and work in you until you're done being saved. You can count on that. And so you're going to have constant attacks from the world, the flesh and the devil, it's going to keep coming, that you can bank on. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I will show you all the grace you need to get you through this world, you're going to run your race, you're going to finish it. I'm never going to let you go, I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.”
You know how Ananias was sent to baptize Saul of Tarsus after his conversion. “No, no, it's real. It really is real. Go baptize him.” Now, “I've heard reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.” “Go! for this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel,” and what's he say? "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Yeah, but that's not all He was going to show Paul, “I will show him how much grace I have for him, how ‘my strength is made perfect in weakness,’ and how my grace is sufficient for you, Paul, I'm going to show you that too.” And so He's got something. I will show you how much grace I will give you, so that you will finish this race. That's going to happen. So there's your assurance, there's your security, that's how you know you're going to make it. If somebody ever asks, "How do you know you're going to finish your life still believing in Jesus?" Answer, "God's going to show me future grace, He's going to show me grace every day, the rest of my life".
Grace Eternally Displayed in Heaven
Gifts of Grace in Heaven
Thirdly, Grace displayed for eternity in Heaven. So we've got ages to come, we're in a present age now, and then we've got an age to come. Now, I don't know for sure that that's what Paul meant when he says, "In order that in the coming ages, He might show," but maybe this age, and the age to come, or ages of church history could be. And then the age to come. But I think it must include Heaven. So God is going to give us a perpetual heavenly education. Now, for the longest time, I thought that you know how it says, "When we see Him, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is, in a flash in the twinkling of an eye we'll be transformed and we'll be changed." And so I thought at that moment, we would get a kind of an instant upload of a bunch of information and we'd be done learning, right? But then that would make us omniscient, and friends, we will never be omniscient. We'll never be God. So actually the more I started thinking about it I was like, “No, it's not that, is that we'll lose our sin nature that's what's going to happen, we'll be glorified and done sinning, and I think we'll be done forgetting too,” amen. No more forgetting.
So ever expanding learning, there's always more to learn. What will we learn? Well, we learn the greatness of God in Christ in saving us at least, I think we'll also have a New Heaven, New Earth, and New Jerusalem to explore, we'll learn what He's made there. That'll be awesome. But just focusing on the grace He's shown us and kindness in Christ Jesus, that will be a study for us and so we will be forever growing, forever learning, Heaven will be a very dynamic place. You're going to study church history in Heaven. Amen, Hallelujah. You're going to study church history in Heaven, you're going to be excited about it, you really will, you'll like it, I promise. You will enjoy it.
An Ever-Increasing Kingdom
I remember some time ago, I was meditating on those verses, a very famous verse, Isaiah 9:6 and 7, that we focus on at Christmas time, "For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:7, "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end." Take it literally. An eternal increase. Well, how can that be, if there's no procreation? “Neither marrying or giving in marriage like the angels in Heaven.” We're done with babies being born all that, set number of people. How will His kingdom eternally increase? We'll just keep learning. We'll just keep on magnifying the Lord, more and more than ever before, we're going to just say, "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together. Let's find out some more things about what God has done in redemptive history and in the New Heaven and New Earth," that's what we're going to do. We're just going to keep learning and learning. Like God said to Satan. "Have you considered my servant Job?" Not sufficiently. Hey, let's meet Job. Let's get to know him, you know a lot about him. Let's find out more. I want to know about that widow that put in those two copper coins. Remember her? I want to know all about her. Jesus exalted her to just about the highest place of Christian giving, she gave more than anyone else. I want to meet her, I want to know her. How did she get to that point where she was willing to give all she had to live on? Don't you want to know her? I want to know her. Have you considered my servant Job?
You know how it says at the end of John's Gospel, in John 21:25, "Jesus did many other things as well, which are not recorded in this book. I suppose if every one of them were written down, even the whole world would not have room enough to contain the books that would be written." Alright, well, how about Heaven? Is Heaven a big enough container? I want all those books, well, forget the books. That's seeing through a glass darkly. I want to hear the story, I want to see it happen. I feel like we're going to be living it again. Like in a hologram or something. No, not like that, but we're going to just be there and live through it, and see it, and God will display it and we'll learn what He did in the Middle Ages, or what He did to spread the Gospel in this place or how He reached this valley of people in here. Some elect people, and some missionaries went and they suffered in some of those people came to Christ and what they did to the glory of God. I want to know, “have you considered my servant Job?” I want to find out who all his servants are and consider them all, and celebrate God's grace in all of their lives. I just want to do that.
The Glory of God in Believers’ Lives
I love going over the stories of people's conversions. Don't you love reading? How was Augustine converted? I love that story. How Augustine was burning with lust, and he couldn't shake his sexual immorality. But he knew the Gospel, and his mother was praying for him to become a Christian, but he's just stubbornly holding on to his sins, and he was there in a garden one day and he heard children playing, singing in Latin "Take up and read, take up and read", this little thing and it's like a little children's diddy and there happened to be a scroll of Romans or something like that, there in the garden, opened up to Romans 13, and he happened to read. You ever do that? It's like, "Alright Lord, lead me, bring me to a good verse that will help me". It's not a good way to Bible study, but that seemed appropriate then. It just happened to be open at Romans 13. And then he realized there was a command against the very sins that he was committing. I know that I know, but something happened, and he realized that the very thing God commanded He would give grace to obey. And so he said in his confessions, give what you command, and command what you will, Lord, and at once, he understood the Gospel, that's the very thing, God will give you perfection as a gift, if you just trust in Jesus, and he was saved. I love those stories, I want to know more about it. I want to know how the Gospel was spread.
I want to know about how Celtic missionaries went under the tutelage of Columba, and they went across Northern Europe to all these barbarian tribes and set up these enclaves and then courageously went out and shared the Gospel and how they were persecuted and how they were successful. I want those stories, I love the story of Boniface. I was just there in the Northern part of Germany just a little while ago and where he was chopping down the Thor tree, you know, these pagans, and chopping it down. What a bold guy! Give me an axe, I'm going to chop down that sacred oak. And then suddenly a wind comes and finishes the job. People are amazed. He gets up on the stump and preaches the Gospel. Uses the wood to build a chapel for Jesus, Amen. I love a guy like that, I want to meet him. Tell me your story, I've heard that story. Are there any other good ones? I want to know more of the stories. Let's hear them all. I want to know what Thomas did apparently went to India, what Thomas did in the first century to establish the Gospel in India. I want to know the story of that. I want to know who the historians were and how they brought the Gospel early on into China and what happened there. I want to know some things that history hasn't even recorded. People getting on boats and going to South Pacific islands, and bringing the Gospel to some people who have long since died and gone to Heaven. And there's no record of it, but I want to know those stories, don't you? I want to see what God's done. I want to know the things He's doing right now, in the Muslim world. I have all these accounts in here. I don't have time to read them, they're all awesome.
God Glorified Through Abouna’s Ministry
Let me just tell this one, there's good stories, a wind in the house of Islam, stories of how God is working to bring Muslims to faith in Christ and there's this one guy named Abouna Zakaria Botros, he's a 79-year-old exiled Egyptian Coptic priest who infuriates Muslim fundamentalists by telling the truth about Islam. And this man courageously preaching the truth about Islam and about Christianity, is amazingly effective. Sixty million people listening to his internet webcast every day, in the Muslim world, and many, many people being converted. He said, "I don't hate Muslims, I love them, I hate Islam", and he's telling the truth. Apparently there's a $60 million price on his head. What's it like to live like that? Someone actually was joking, an Egyptian Christian was joking saying, "I think the $60 million is offered to any Muslim who can answer what he says." "If somebody could just refute him, we'd be happy with that." But he's winning people to Christ, and one of the men he led in Christ is a 64-year-old Arab man named Nassir. He'd been wooed by the Gospel all his life, finally came to Christ when he pondered this guy's attacks, gave his life to Christ, soon after that met an American missionary named Tim who was in the city who had been praying, zero fruit for two or three years, finally met Nassir, began to disciple this guy, Nassir, Nassir starts leading dozens and dozens of to other Muslims to Christ. I love those stories, don't you? I want to know him, the trophies of God's grace. One of them, one of the men he led to Christ, was another man named Sabri, he was 50 years old, influential in his village. He first led his own wife and children to Christ by showing them the falseness of Islam and the truth of Christ, and he eventually worked his way through the town and is now responsible for leading 400 to faith in Christ. Divides them into small groups to escape the attention of the police.
So many stories. How many will there be? Well, listen to this, Revelation 7, "After this, I looked in there before me was a multitude greater than anyone could count." Take one of those from every tribe, language, people and nation standing around the throne, dressed in white robes, holding palm branches in their hands, and saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb". Each one of that countless multitude has a countless number of stories to tell. It's true. Of all that God did in decades of their lives to bring them to faith in Christ. And then to use them afterwards. Alright, and as a matter of fact, in the text, it asks the question, maybe you didn't notice this before. I never had. Listen to this. It continues. "Then one of the elders asked me, these in white robes, Who are they and where did they come from?" That's my whole point.
Who are they? All of these people? And where did they come from? We've got stories to tell, amen. “In order that in the coming ages, He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, express in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” So, He's going to show it, and all of us, it's going to be put on display. And why is that? So that all of us may boast in the Lord as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
So, what applications can we take from this? Well, begin by meditating again on the richness of God's grace to you expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus, meditate on each word, “the immeasurable riches.” Say, "I am immeasurably rich." Just say that. "I, as a Christian, I'm immeasurably rich." In what? In grace, and mercy, and kindness from God. Ponder the word kindness that God has shown kindness to you. Let it melt your heart, let it just work on you and then say "Oh God, make me merciful and gracious and kind to others". It has that impact on you. It's like, as you've been kind to me, I want to be kind to others. And look forward to the displays. There are many verses that say, This is going to happen, says "Those who live in darkness, do not come into the light" John 3, "for fear that their deeds will be exposed, but everyone who lives by the truth comes into the light," why? “So that it may be seen plainly, that what He has done has been done through God.” What does that mean? We're going to come in and put on display what God did in and through us. That's what's going to happen. And we're going to celebrate. So look forward to that. And so let's do it now, what do you say? Let's talk. Say, how is God at work in your life? How can I celebrate God's grace in your life? Tell me your story, tell me your testimony, and learn to celebrate God's grace in other people's lives, you're going to spend eternity doing it. Let's do it now, it'll bind us together, it'll make us less self-focused. So, celebrate that. CJ Mahaney in his book "Humility" said, one of the best things you can do to somebody, it’s humble too. You say, I see God at work in your life, brother, sister. I see God working in you. That's very encouraging, isn't it? Meditate on salvation by grace through faith apart from works. We're going to talk more about that, God willing, next week, but just celebrate that.
And finally, if I can just address you if you're here as a lost person, you came in here in darkness on the outside, I would love for your story to be consummated by faith in Christ. I would love you to come out of darkness right now into the light. You've heard the Gospel several times already today. How God sent His Son, for sinners like you and me, and all you need to do is trust in Him by faith, by grace through faith apart from works, trust in Jesus for the salvation of your souls. Close with me in prayer, please.
Lord, thank you for the time we've had to celebrate your grace. I can't wait, Lord, to get to Heaven and to meet all of my brothers and sisters. “A multitude greater than anyone could count, from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation,” who have been saved by your sovereign grace, each of them individually and in special and separate in different ways. And Lord, I want to know these dressed in white. “Who are they? And where did they come from?” And I want to know how they came out of the tribulation and their robes were washed in the blood of the Lamb and how the Shepherd will forever protect them and bless them, I want to meet them, oh Lord. Help us to love the brothers and sisters now and help us to be energetically active in evangelism and missions leading other people to Christ. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.