…and bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Ephesians 3.9-13
The purpose of creation was God’s fellowship with his people, the church, in Christ. Since the creation of the world, the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places have wondered what was to come of this world and the humanity that dwells within it. It must have seemed strange to heaven’s spiritual inhabitants that the invisible, eternal God would create a physical and material world and place within it physical and material image bearers. Surely God’s reasoning seemed more mysterious and perplexing upon mankind’s fall. They have watched the drama of humanity from the heavenly places unsure of what to make of creation and the fall and Israel’s persistent disobedience.
In being reconciled to God in Christ, the church now exists as a visible witness to heaven and earth of the manifold wisdom of God.
Yet the eternal purpose of God remained and found its appointed fulfillment in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom the church believes and is saved. In being reconciled to God in Christ, the church now exists as a visible witness to heaven and earth of the manifold wisdom of God. Is this not amazing? Can it really be that the church is the display of God’s manifold wisdom? It seems unthinkable. And yet Scripture proclaims this the mystery hidden for ages in now known because the church, through faith in Christ, has been granted boldness and access to commune with God forever and ever, world without end. So the church’s redemption redounds to the praise of God’s glorious grace which would otherwise remain hidden if not displayed in the church.
This lifts the church to a place of great primacy—not because of anything intrinsic to the church but because the church belongs to God and is ordained by God to display the glories of his grace. The church’s worth is given her by God. Therefore, the apostle Paul, and we with him, can endure suffering for the sake of the church because we know the church belongs to God. And the church’s belonging to God is her glory.