“An Amazing Display” 2-21-13
In 1976 the Olympics were held in Montreal Canada. The supposed crown jewel of that Olympics was to be Olympic Stadium which was supposed to have a retractable roof that opened and closed (like a big umbrella) from a huge 574 foot tower. But what looked good in theory didn’t work out in practicality. The stadium which originally was nicknamed “The Big O” was changed sometime later to “The Big Owe”, in reference to the astronomical cost of building the stadium. When the retractable roof was finally finished in 1987 (11 years later) it still didn’t work right. When the Montreal Expos played their home games in the rain and it was also windy (which often accompanies rain), it was not unusual to have rain delays in a roofed stadium because the roof leaked so badly. Aren’t you glad that God can be trusted to finish the good work He’s begun in each of us? In fact, in the 1st chapter of Philippians we read Paul’s words where he says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (v.6 NASB).
One of the reasons that God will perfect the work He’s doing in us is because in eternity future all believers in Jesus Christ will be object lessons in the grace of our heavenly Father. We read Paul’s words in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians where he writes, “in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (v.7 NASB). The words “in order that”, connect this verse with the preceding verses that tell us that we have been saved by grace and are seated (past tense) in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. God has done this “in order that” He might exhibit His grace to the saints for His own glory throughout all of eternity. The word “show” in verse 7 means to display, demonstrate or exhibit.
I believe when Paul was writing this letter to the church in Ephesus he is writing it from Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea where he spent 3 years under house arrest. I’ve been to the ruins of Caesarea; even today its ruins are very impressive. Herod had built his seaport and palace out into the Mediterranean Sea. In Paul’s day the city had running water provided from an aqueduct in the mountains and piped down to the city and palace. It was a city that many came to visit just to see the amazing architecture and design of this amazing place. Every five years the city hosted major sports competitions, gladiator games and theatrical productions. Its theatre overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is still stands remarkable in its appearance even 2000 years later. It’s still used today for plays. I watched the sunset from there on the first night of our pilgrimage to Israel in November 2011.
Paul understood what it’s like for a city to be on display. But in this second chapter of Ephesians he’s teaching us that in the eternal ages to come, you and I (followers of Christ) will be an exhibition for the angelic host of the amazing grace of our great God. As John MacArthur states, “God’s glory, grace, love and mercy are seen nowhere as great as in the lives of those He has redeemed.” That God would choose us to be object lessons to manifest the riches of His grace, provided for us through Christ, to all creation for all eternity is truly remarkable. What an amazing thought. Let’s start living today as object lessons in the grace of God so others will see Jesus in us and will join us for all of eternity in displaying God’s amazing grace. None are beyond His redemptive power.
Pastor Rich Sivo