As we prepare to close out this section of Scripture, I want to remind you that the seven verses that begin Ephesians 3 are all one long sentence. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the whole without examining each individual part. And it is equally difficult to understand the various parts, or verses, unless we first have a grasp of the entire meaning of this single sentence. It seems this sentence has at its beginning and end two bookends displaying both the humility of Paul and the grace given him by the Lord. We find these two bookends revealed in the word: given.
Paul begins with the “dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you” (Eph. 3:2) and ends with “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me” (Eph. 3:7). In both instances, Paul humbly reflects he was nothing more than the blessed recipient of something from God given to him for the sake of someone else. In this case, the Gentiles. But he ends by stating the gift given him, his calling into the ministry, was only accomplished by “the effective working of His power” and for no other reason (Eph. 3:7). So both the gift and the effectiveness of Paul’s ministry, is all according to God, and not of any inherent merit of Paul.
Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power – Ephesians 3:7.
Paul claims his calling to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gift from God. He never ceased to be amazed that God took someone like him, a murdering, vile, angry, detestable, blaspheming Pharisee, and turned him into not only a believer, but one called to minister to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).
Paul understood everything that happened in his life was because of grace. God gave him the grace of revelation to be able to tell the Gentiles about the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). But God also called him into service as a minister of Christ and a servant of others, which gave his life more meaning and purpose than anything else, ever. His old life as a Jew, “born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law” (Acts 22:3) meant nothing now. Compared to the Lord’s gift of ministry and revelation, Paul considered it, like all things, “rubbish” – save for the “excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
His Power, Not Ours
But the most profound statement Paul makes in this section of Scripture is that he became a minister of Christ for no other reason, and by no other means, than “the effective working of His power” (Eph. 3:7). The word translated “effective” (enérgeia) means “operative, active power or ability.” It’s where we get our word, energy. And the word for “power” (dúnamis) means “mighty deeds, miracles, or achieving, explosive power.” Paul clearly understood it was only because of what Christ had done and the gift he received, that he was anything at all.
As believers in Christ, sometimes we wonder how God can save the most unsavable and disinterested of our family and friends? Is it done by our proper diction, our eloquent use of our best English, or our ability to present the gospel in a way they will understand and be able to relate? Is it by the teaching in our current church culture that strives to make the gospel less offensive and bring seekers into the church to somehow, by osmosis or good works or lattes before the praise band starts, lead them to Christ? I think you know the answer.
The only way someone can come to Christ is through the new birth; through regeneration. It is not by making a decision, nor by joining a small group, nor by reading a book by Beth Moore. It is only by the Holy Spirit, or the “effective working of His power” (Eph. 3:7)
Some sermons are preached by the most learned and eloquent of men, and nothing happens. And other sermons are preached by those who have limited education or a difficult accent to understand, or maybe they have a speech impediment, and yet revival breaks out. What is the difference between these two? It is the power of the Holy Spirit, the “effective working of His power” (Eph. 3:7).
Paul spoke about this in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
And there’s no greater demonstration of the “Spirit and of power” than changed lives.
God also called you to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re not necessarily talking about a clergy position in a church. But we are talking about each of us having a ministry to serve others as we serve Him– which makes you, and every other member of His body, a minister who is to proclaim the good news. You may not be a pastor or have a seminary degree, but you are just as much a minister for Him as anyone else. And the spiritual fruit we are blessed to bear, the lives we live as light in darkness in front of our family and friends, and all those in our sphere of influence, are affected by the “effective working of His power” in us.
Time to Pray
Please know, nothing is standing between you and all God wants you to be other than your desire to yield to His Spirit. He’s given you the gift of the Holy Spirit, not in part, not miserly doling it out to you like Ebenezer Scrooge, but He’s given you all of Himself in full. So much so that Colossians 2:10 says, “you are complete in Him.” Therefore, as a minister of Christ, let our prayer be for us to move out of the way so the Holy Spirit can do His work through us by the “effective working of His power” (Eph. 3:7).
And that all begins by simply asking Him.
Lord, I thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit who has “sealed” me in You and is the “guarantee of my inheritance” as Your child (Eph. 1:13-14). I confess I have often been afraid of the Holy Spirit and, because of my fear, have relied on my strength and resources more than I have the Spirit You left in me. Please forgive me? And Holy Spirit, I ask You to forgive me for grieving You (Eph. 4:30). I believe You are equally God, the Third Person of the Trinity, and I thank You for choosing to make Your home in me. Please show me how to yield my life to You in a way that brings glory to the Father, honors the Son for His sacrifice for my sin, and allows You to change the lives of others through me. The glorious work You did in my heart in salvation, I pray You will use me to do in the lives of my family and friends. I ask You to fill me to the point of overflowing for the sake of others and for the glory of God. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.