Isabella Thoburn was a pioneering missionary to India from 1870 until her death from cholera in 1901. She shared the gospel, opened a school for girls, and started a Hindi-language newspaper called Women’s Friend—all in a society in which women were powerless and unvalued.
Isabella Thoburn shared Paul’s passion to serve and proclaim the gospel. This was the cause to which he had given his life, yet at the same time his ministry, like salvation itself, was a gift of God’s grace (v. 7). He didn’t assert any kind of superiority or even intrinsic worthiness. He wasn’t looking for personal fame or influence. He didn’t think God was lucky that Paul had joined His team. Instead, he understood the tremendous privilege and responsibility he had been given as the apostle to the Gentiles (vv. 8–9). The message of God’s grace is the most important one ever preached! Even so, the focal point was not himself as messenger but rather God’s plan of salvation, the good news of the gospel, the “boundless riches of Christ.”
The revelation of the mystery of God’s plan is intended not only for people but also for Satan and his fallen angels (vv. 10–11). The Lord’s sovereignty includes not only what happens but also who, when, and why. To at last perceive the incredible wisdom and power of God’s plan, and the absolute superiority of the Son (1:20–21), must have been a severe blow to the rebel spirits. And notice how they recognize this truth: “through the church” (v. 10).
In our everyday personal spiritual lives, these cosmic truths mean that we can “approach God with freedom and confidence” (v. 12). Jesus has opened the way to the throne of grace (see Heb. 4:14–16). Suffering for Him should not make us discouraged but give us hope in which to glory (v. 13).
APPLY THE WORD
Do you think God can’t save you? That you’ve said too much, done too much, been His enemy for too long? Then your view of His love and forgiveness is far too small! Paul himself started out a rabid anti-Christian. He pursued the early Christians in order to imprison and persecute them. If God can save a person like that, He can save you!