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Being God’s Billboard

• Greg Boyd

There is a cosmic war transpiring, one where Satan is in rebellion against God. We are caught up in a battle zone, and we, as parts of the church, have roles to play. This sermon explores how we influence the heavenly realms by being faithful witnesses to God’s character. Through the church, the wisdom of God is made known in mysterious ways that we cannot fully understand.

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There is far more to this world than what we can experience with our senses. For instance, we can only see 0.0035% of the electromagnetic light spectrum. Or consider that there are radio waves being broadcast and we cannot directly hear them. We can actually see or sense very little of reality. The spiritual world operates along the same lines. There is much to the spirit realm that we cannot fully know or experience with our senses.

Ancient people thought of the spiritual realm as being up in the heavens. Now that we understand the way that space works and the fact that there actually is no “up,” it is more accurate to think of the spiritual realm as an invisible domain that operates as another dimension of reality. In this dimension there are vast numbers of spirit agents, and there is an overlapping of this spirit dimension with the physical dimension. The two dimensions influence each other.

As discussed in the previous sermon, there was a rebellion in the spirit realm by Satan, which resulted in a war that is being played out within the physical domain of Earth. We also have a role to play in this cosmic battle, one that actually influences the spiritual war that is transpiring. We fight with the love we show to others as we realize that no person is our enemy.

There is another role that the church plays in this. We read about this in Ephesians 3:8-11:

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 …

To understand what Paul was saying in this passage, Greg introduces three scenes that occur in the biblical narrative. The first is found in the book of Job, where Satan comes before God in a heavenly counsel. Satan is lobbing accusations against God that he is a controlling deity who is manipulating Job to be righteous because he is living within God’s blessings. This leads to Job being put to a test, which he passes, but the book presents a litany of lies about the character of God, which is ultimately revealed as such when God shows himself at the end of the book. The story of Job offers a testimony to the heavenly counsel about the character of God and what it means to be faithful to him.

In scene two, we see the cross. The purpose of Jesus’ crucifixion was to bring an end to the reign of Satan and the powers. We read about this in John 12:27, 31-33:

Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour….Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

The cross is the display of God’s character before the accusing enemy who wants to portray God as a controlling, manipulative deity. The love of God revealed when Jesus was crucified is the judgment of the world, and it demonstrates how lost the world is, along with how he drives “the ruler of the world” out. We were spiritually dead, but God made us alive by “erasing the record” as it was all nailed to cross. In doing so, he disarmed rulers and authorities as he made a public example of them. It was a comical defeat (See Colossians 2:12-15).

In scene three, there is the Church, which bring us back to the passage from Ephesians 3 quoted above. The Church’s job is to declare God’s wisdom to the “rulers and authorities.” Paul was given grace to help everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for eons in God. The Church displays a previously hidden wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. The Church demonstrates the truth to the heavenly counsel about the nature of who God is, that his divine nature is love and not an all-controlling power. This vindicates his character as the Church manifests the “weakness” of being a faithful witness.

God uses the weak and foolish to confound the strong and wise and to refute Satan’s accusation. What goes on in the “heavenlies” affects us, but also what goes on in church affects the heavenlies. We are God’s billboard to the heavenly powers, exposing their lies. There is much more going on in being the Church than what can be seen with our eyes. Our lives, even in our weakness, are a testimony to God’s ultimate cruciform nature, and as such, we change the course of cosmic history.

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Topics: Faithfulness, Non-Violence, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Dear Church

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The MuseCast: February 13

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 2:7-11

    And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: ‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.

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