Martyrdom and the Eternal Purpose of the Church


7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made 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.” (Ephesians 3:7-11)

1.              God’s highest vision in history and eternity is to display His manifold wisdom (10-11)

2.              The audience of this display of manifold wisdom is heavenly powers and principalities – fallen and holy (10b)

“The church, composed both of Jews and Gentiles, is a mirror, in which angels behold the astonishing wisdom of God displayed in a manner unknown to them before. They see a work which is new to them, and the reason of which was hid in God. In this manner, and not by learning anything from the lips of men, do they make progress.” (John Calvin, Ephesians)

“It never would have been mentioned as one end of revealing the [plan] of redemption, that the angels might see how manifold God’s wisdom is, if all the wisdom to be seen in it was no greater than their own. It is mentioned as a wisdom such as they had never seen before, not in God, much less in themselves. That now might be known how manifold the wisdom of God is, now, four thousand years since the creation. — In all that time the angels had always beheld the face of God, and had been studying God’s works of creation. Yet they never, till that day, had seen anything like that; never knew how manifold God’s wisdom is, as now they knew it by the church.” (Jonathan Edwards, The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of Salvation)

3.              The church is the means by which and through which God displays His manifold wisdom (10a)

4.              The unsearchable riches of Christ is the means by which and through which the church is wrought and established (8b)

5.              Preaching is the means by which and through which the unsearchable riches of Christ is made known to the church gathered (8a)

6.              Divine grace and power dispensed upon a broken man is the means by which this preaching is made manifest. (7-8a)



John G. Lake:

“Beloved, we have lost the character of consecration here manifested. God is trying to restore it in our day. He has not been able to make such progress with the average preacher… All too often, it is, “Mrs. so and so said so and so, and I am just not going to take it!” That is the kind of preacher, with another kind of call; not the heavenly call; not the God call; not the death call if necessary. That is not the kind the apostle Paul was, or was called to be.
Do you know why God poured out His Spirit in South Africa like He did no where else in the world? There was a reason. This example will illustrate. We had one hundred and twenty-five men out on the field at one time. We were a very young institution and were not known in the world. South Africa is seven thousand miles from any European country. It is ten thousand miles by way of England to the United States. Our finances got so low, under the awful assault we were compelled to endure, that there came a time I could not even mail to these workers, at the end of the month, a $10 bill. It got so I could not send them $2. The situation was desperate. What was I to do? Under these circumstances I did not want to take the responsibility of leaving men and their families on the frontier without real knowledge of what the conditions were.
Some of us at headquarters sold our clothes in some cases, sold certain pieces of furniture out of the house, sold anything we could sell, to bring those hundred and twenty-five workers off the field for a conference.
One night in the progress of the conference I was invited by a committee to leave the room for a minute or two. The conference wanted to have a word by themselves. So I stepped out to a restaurant for a cup of coffee, and came back. When I came back in, I found they had rearranged the chairs in an oval, with a little table at one end, and on the table was the bread and wine. Old father Vanderwall, speaking for the company said, “Brother John, during your absence we have come to a conclusion. We have made our decision. We want you to serve the LORD’s Supper. We are going back to our fields. We are going back if our wives die. We are going back if we have to starve. We are going back if we have to walk back. We are going back if our children die. We are going back if we die ourselves. We have but one request. If we die, we want you to come and bury us.”
The next year I buried twelve of those men, along with sixteen of their wives and children.
In my judgment, not one of them, if they had a few things a white man needs to eat, could but what might have lived. Friends, when you want to find out why the power of God came down from heaven in South Africa like it never came down before, since the time of the apostles, there is your answer.
Jesus Christ put the spirit of martyrdom in the ministry. Jesus instituted His ministry with a pledge unto death. When He was with the disciples on the last night, He took the cup, “when He drank, saying.” Beloved, the “saying” was the significant thing. It was Jesus Christ’s pledge to the twelve who stood with Him, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Then He said, “Drink ye all of it!”
Friends, those who were there and drank to that pledge, of Jesus Christ, entered into the same covenant and purpose that he did. That is what all the pledges mean. Men have pledged themselves in the same cup from time immemorial. Generals have pledged their armies unto death. It has been a custom in the human race. Jesus Christ sanctified it to the Church forever, bless God!”

IV.            THE WISDOM OF GOD – 1 COR. 2:1-6