God’s Wisdom Revealed Through the Church

By Mark D. Roberts

May 26, 2024

The Gift of Wisdom

Scripture — Ephesians 3:8-11 (NRSV)

Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.


According to Ephesians 3:10, God’s wisdom will be demonstrated to the entire universe through the church. Through the church! Now that is a high and holy calling, not to mention a great challenge.

Today’s devotion is part of the series The Gift of Wisdom.


I am still stunned by what I read in Ephesians 3:10. My “stunning” began way back in 1977, when I audited a course on Ephesians at Fuller Seminary. The professor, who was also my uncle, Don Williams, emphasized the fact that God’s rich wisdom would be revealed to the whole cosmos “through the church” (3:10). What an extraordinary statement! What an extraordinary responsibility!

Before I consider the implications of this calling to the church, I should explain a bit more about what Paul means. In Ephesians 3:8 he speaks of God’s grace that gave him the mission to “bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ.” In this way he would “make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (3:9). This plan has to do with God overcoming the divisive power of sin and bringing all things to unity in Christ (see Ephesians 1:10, 2:11-22).

But God’s mysterious plan would be revealed, not only through Paul’s preaching, but also “through the church” (3:10). To be more specific, “through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety [will] now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (3:10). As I explained in my commentary on Ephesians, “the rulers and authorities are spiritual forces of evil who dwell in ‘the heavenlies,’ but which, nevertheless, affect earthly reality and thus are the true enemies of the church. These cosmic powers are closely associated with and, in some way, work through human institutions” (p. 97). As verses 9 and 10 make clear, what God is doing through Paul and the church is making everyone and everything in the entire cosmos see the wisdom of God.

How, we wonder, will the church fulfill this crucial calling? How will the church demonstrate God’s wisdom to the whole universe? I answered these questions this way in my commentary: “As the church proclaims the good news of God’s salvation in Christ, and as the church lives out this good news in a unified community, all of heaven and earth will grasp the wonder and truth of God’s plan for the cosmos” (p. 98). This answer depends on what we see in Ephesians 1:10, where God’s big plan for the whole creation is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (NIV). It also depends on Ephesians 2:11-22, where God works through Christ to bring unity to divided humanity as a first step in the unifying of all things. Thus, the church demonstrates the wisdom of God to the whole cosmos by proclaiming the gospel and by embodying the gospel as the unified body of Christ.

Now, I know what you might be thinking at this point. I’m thinking about it myself. If the church is to make known the wisdom of God through our unity, we’re not doing a very good job of it. Divisions in the church can be found everywhere. There are the big ones, like denominational splits, and also the medium ones, where a particular church divides over some issue or other. Then there are the smaller ones, involving individual church members who aren’t getting along with each other. It’s sad but true that often disunity is the mark of the church more than unity. And this means we’re doing a rather poor job showing the world the wisdom of God revealed through Jesus.

What I’ve just said about the church is a common and fair criticism. But in my life as a pastor and a congregant, I’ve also seen how the church can demonstrate God’s wisdom faithfully and effectively. I think, for example, of two elders in my church in Irvine who were deeply at odds over politics. But for the sake of unity, they worked hard to understand each other and embrace each other in love, despite their differences. On a larger scale, I’ve watched churches struggle faithfully to maintain unity even when their members reflect the divisions so common in our culture. Counter-cultural unity can indeed demonstrate the good news of God unifying all things in Christ.

To be sure, we have a long way to go when it comes to embodying the vision of Ephesians 3:10. A few of us will have the opportunity to lead the greater church into deeper unity. Most of us will not. But we can strive to foster unity in our relationships with our sisters and brothers in Christ. We can learn to celebrate our diversities even as we strengthen our unity. We can begin to listen more empathetically. We can ask the Lord to free us from the divisions of our culture that so often invade the church. We can celebrate our oneness in Christ as we share together in communion. We can, with God’s help, follow the divine directive in Micah 6:8, doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God.


Why do you think the unity of the church matters so much to God?


Have you ever experienced gospel-based unity in a Christian community? If so, when? What was it like?

In what ways are you contributing to the unity of the church?

Can you think of something you might do beyond what you’re already doing to help your church community be more unified?


Gracious God, I am amazed by your plan to show your wisdom to the whole universe through the church. It astounds me to think that you have given such authority and responsibility to us. And I’m rather embarrassed by how poorly we have followed through. I say “we,” Lord, but I’m aware that sometimes I fail to contribute to the unity of your church. Forgive me, Lord.

I pray today for my church, that we would reflect the love and grace of the gospel. May our unity as a people – unity in the midst of diversity – be a sign to the world of your wisdom at work in us.

To you be all the glory! Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Who Are the Rulers and Authorities in the Heavenly Places and Why Do They Matter?.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

More on Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (2)

  1. Larry Link

    May 30, 2024

    5:42 am

    I’m wondering if something is wrong. This is the only Life for Leaders email I’ve received this week. I start each day w/this email and have missed it the past several days…

    • Meryl Herr

      May 30, 2024

      5:55 am

      I’m sorry about this, Larry. Following the launch of our new website, we’ve had a few glitches with the system that delivers the daily Life for Leaders email. I’ll be in touch with our web team today, and we hope to get this issue resolved soon. Thank you for your patience, and we appreciate your engagement with Life for Leaders devotions!

Learn Learn Learn Learn

the Life for Leaders newsletter

Learn Learn Learn Learn