Editorial: Hid In God… Now Revealed

It has been observed that the universal church is in view in Ephesians and the local church in 1st Corinthians. And while that is true, it should not be pressed too rigidly. For we find there are complementary truths in both epistles. In particular the truths of the universal church found in Ephesians have a practical bearing on the life of the local church.

One of the driving forces of Paul’s life and ministry was the revelation given to him (and the other apostles, Eph. 3:5) that God had brought both Jew and Gentile together in one body, the church (Eph. 2:11-22). Further, the church would be the means to educate and enlighten for all to see the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ (Eph. 3:10).

Paul makes much of this truth and describes it as the ‘mystery’, that is a revelation of something that could never have been discovered apart from miraculous divine revelation. Paul writes, ‘..which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit…’(Eph. 3:5) Later in the same chapter he writes, ‘…which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,..’ (Eph. 3:9) Still further in this chapter we read, ‘according to the eternal purpose…’ (Eph. 3:11).

‘Other ages not made known….now revealed…from the beginning of the world hath been hid….the eternal purpose’ Paul’s life and ministry was focused on big things of an eternal nature. He further tells us that it is by the church that God has chosen to ‘make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,..’(Eph. 3:9) In the KJV the word ‘men’ is italicized alerting us to the fact that it does not appear in the original. In other words the real sense of the verse is that by the church God is enlightening all, not just the world of men, but principalities and powers are included. The church displays to the world of men and angels truth about God. These truths which had been hidden from view are now on full display.

From these dizzying heights of thought we come down to earth and think. Each local church has a part in this purpose. All that is involved in the work of the local assembly furthers God’s great eternal purpose. Our work may seem small and mundane. Our gift may seem unimportant, but it is anything but mundane or unimportant. We learn from Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 and 1st Corinthians 12 and 1st Peter 4 that every gift is important in the functioning of the church.
We do not really know how the Lord chooses to use our local assembly. It may be in a large centre and communicate with large numbers. On the other hand we may be small in numbers and seeming ineffective. But we must remember our functioning is to display Christ not only to the world of men, but to the world of angels. This we are taught is the eternal purpose of God.

It follows therefore that discouragement should be dismissed immediately. Faithfulness to Christ is the order of the day. It further follows that nothing is more important than the local assembly. While it is true that other things have a legitimate demand upon us, they should not crowd out our place in the local church. This means that life’s decisions about education, career, work, marriage, where we live, and extra curricular activities are all governed by how it will impact my involvement in God’s eternal purpose in the church. I need to be on guard in case lesser things begin to take over my life and circumstances so that I am spent on trivial pursuits and have nothing for the Lord. Now this does not mean that home and family and work are unimportant. On the contrary Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5 and 6 about our duties in the home and work life. They too are done unto the Lord. When done unto the Lord I will be able to keep things in proper balance.

The church has been blessed with faithful Christians who live their lives unto the Lord and are wholly committed to the work of the local assembly. However the church has also been deprived of what might have been from lives that allowed the world to set life’s agenda. Let us never forget that God has given us the privilege of being part of the eternal purpose! There is nothing more significant.

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