Through the Church
Lisa Cooke

Through the Church by Lisa CookeChurch. The word by itself evokes a powerful image in the mind of most Americans. We imagine a building with a steeple, a gathering of like-minded people, the place people go to worship on Sunday or Saturday, at least on Easter or Christmas. Love it or hate it, church has been a part of our culture, and the culture of many parts of the rest of the world, for a long time.

We are admonished in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake or neglect to meet together for the purpose of encouraging one another, to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” as verse 24 says. Whether we realize it or not, the Body of Christ needs to assemble on a regular basis for its own health’s sake. We face a constant temptation toward lethargy and sluggishness in our Christian walk, and the weekly reminding of who we are in Christ, what He desires to accomplish through us, and His heart for the world is vital for our wellbeing. Church (assembling with the saints) is a place where our vision and purpose can be refreshed and energized so that we are able to work the harvest field of our lives with renewed strength. Church reminds us that Jesus is Lord and that we are His workmanship, created for good works.

But in Ephesians 3:10 we see another reason why church is so important.

“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

What an incredible opportunity we have! When I read this the other day, it changed how I looked at the gathering of saints that we call church. When the gospel is preached, not only are the people seated there listening, but also the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” are listening. Our praise and worship, our prayers, our expectant hearts all testify to the power of the unsearchable riches of Christ at work in our lives.

Our being in church isn’t just for us to be blessed, or even to hopefully bless the person next to us, but it has a far-reaching effect into the heavenly places. If we really understood this Bible verse, wouldn’t it change the way we approach church?

Angels are listening. Commentaries disagree on whether this verse means the holy angels or the fallen angels, but I’m thinking both groups are listening. We know from 1 Peter 1:12 that the gospel is something “which angels desire to look into.” The manifold wisdom of God is displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we can understand that the holy angels would be interested knowing these things. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, commenting on Isaiah 8:18, says that “they (God’s people) are a wonder to angels, that they should be chosen, redeemed and called.”

The phrase “rulers and authorities in heavenly places” however, in other scripture verses, tend to refer to fallen angels. Ephesians 6:12 tells us we wrestle against “the rulers, the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” If we have to wrestle with these foes, why not take every opportunity to make known the manifold wisdom of God to them? The armor of God as defined in Ephesians 6:13-17 is surely descriptive of the wisdom of the gospel of Christ, so when we “put on” the armor, we are testifying to the fallen angels of our inheritance of that wisdom.

Our local churches are a microcosm of the worldwide church of Christ, His Body. Our church services are an opportunity as a portion of the Body of Christ to witness of all that God has given to His Bride. Alexander MacLaren said “All spiritual creatures, be they ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ can only know God by the observation of His acts.” John Piper called the church “the cosmic showcase of God’s mercy.” Let us engage ourselves with this mission of being a testimony to all who may be listening, that Christ is the “power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). May God be honored and glorified through us, His church.