Ephesians 3:1-13 – The mystery of God (part 1)

Is God a racist?

When God called Abraham, he worked through him, and he worked through his sons (Isaac, Jacob and the whole tribes of Israel)….

Was God being a racist? God was not just interested in one small tiny people……

God had and has a bigger plan / bigger purpose for the rest of mankind….

So as we can see, when God first calls Abraham……

Read: Genesis 12:1

We see him calling Abraham, but we see that tucked in that promise is God’s plan for all the families of the earth……

I want to boldly say that God calls Abraham not just to bless him….but significantly so that the true God of Abraham may bless all the families of the earth.

Rarely would God call someone without having a bigger picture, without a purpose to bless many people…..

So the Jews were called, or Abraham was called and then the Jews who descend from him were called…

But this action was meant to touch all the families of the earth……

In fact we must emphasize that such a calling, “I will bless you. Anyone who blesses will be blessed, anyone who curses you will be cursed”.

That promise was meant for you and I. We are the possessors and recipients of that promise…..

If we have come under Christ, thus spiritual children of Abraham, we are not under any curse, we are under a blessing…..

Look at this – from all the corners of the earth……God wants to bless his people…..

The sad part of this is that the people of the world are slowly withdrawing from God’s hand of blessings…..

They want to live their lives without God in the world…..

This is the mystery that Paul refers to here in Ephesus – let’s have a look at this:

  1. The Mystery of God

Let me explain the term ‘mystery’ – In English this word has a meaning of something dark and secret, but to Paul in his Greek thinking, mystery refers to the truth hidden from human knowledge or understanding but only revealed by the revelation of God….

In other words it’s a ‘specially concealed and revealed truth’.

We note therefore few points about this mystery:

  1. Mystery was made known to the apostle by revelation (vs.2-3 & 7-8)

In Ephesus 1:17,

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better”

This revelation from God which he prays for is something that Paul himself has experienced, as he states in vs.3.

Here, Paul by revelation, he is referring to his experience which is outlined by Luke in Acts 9. You might remember Paul (known as Saul at that time) was the enemy strongly fighting against Christianity and we are told a lightning / light flashed, and then he was addressed by Jesus himself vs.5 “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”

Paul went for three days blind and lead by another to a place where he received this message from a man called Ananias. This message comes from God and states this about Paul:

But the Lord said to Ananias, Go this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”

That is the revelation, and thus we can conclude that this mystery does not come from a self-proclaimed man.

But this comes from a man who has been given a special revelation towards his task at hand……thus you can trust his interpretation of this mystery…..

May I say that as Paul prayed in chapter 1 for a Spirit of revelation for the church in Ephesus…..that prayer should be ours….so that we can point to a time and times when God took our path and turned upside down…….when God took a normal, perhaps a religious day and turned everything in your life upside down…..

In such a way that if you were fighting against God but instead you bowed the knee and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

In such a way that even as a Christian that you can tell of God’s wonders in revealing his purpose for your life……

Maybe you were about to kill yourself, but somehow God showed you something in his word and your life was saved……

Do you have something like that in your life?

Those are people that the church of God needs, people who are continually being shaped by God’s revelation……

Those are people that God uses….

Have you had a revelation about Jesus Christ? is there a day when you were headed in another direction and God turned everything around and thus you bowed the knee and confessed Jesus Christ is King? Without that experience, you cannot have any claim with Christianity and Jesus (you are not a child of God).

The message for you, is as it was for the Jews who turned a blind eye to Jesus, Luke 13:34-35

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing. Look, your house is left desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Will you be left desolate or will you bow and declare, “Blessed is Jesus who has come in the name of the Lord”?

  1. This mystery is the mystery of Christ

Look at vs.4

It’s a mystery (of) Christ – that is, it belongs to him, he concealed and he revealed at the time of fulfillment…..

Yes, it is about him, but Paul is raising the fact that this mystery is of Jesus Christ.

He concealed it – he revealed it to Paul…….

He was there in the beginning and he revealed this plan in part with the Jews….but now he makes known. See vs.5 & 9

Paul says that it was revealed in part (somehow concealed). Vs.9 says, “was kept hidden in God, who created all things”.

How can this be of Christ and at the same vs.9 points out that it was “hidden in God who created all things?” Unless Paul wants to point out that Jesus and God are one, in such a way that it can be said that this belongs to Jesus and yet hidden in God…..

May I say then, Jesus is the one who was there in the beginning, is the one who ushered the new era of the revelation of the mystery…..

He is the author and the perfect-er of life……

At the time of concealing, he was right there, when it’s time to reveal things in your life (he is right there)

The whole calendar of God is in his hands…..the whole plan of God is his hands…..

Many people miss the direction and the plan of God for their lives because they ignore Jesus Christ.

You cannot know God’s timing for your life – if you ignore Jesus Christ.

I appeal to you today – if you want to walk in God’s plan for your life (draw closer to Jesus, listen to Jesus’s words, walk in Jesus’ words)

We come now to what this mystery is:

Read Vs.6: Gentiles and Jews are heirs together

Heirs of the kingdom –

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you his kingdom.”

God reigned and ruled for Israel (they were his kingdom).

But now God in Jesus Christ, all people have a privilege of having God ruling and reigning over their lives…..

You know what that means – that we don’t have to fear a thing for we know that as we live in this world:

God rules and overrules

God closes and opens doors

God guides and shields us

God rules over our lives, just as he did to the Jews, so he does to us……

Members together of one Body (In the OT, phrases like “my people” were exclusively referring to Israel i.e. Isaiah 40:1 says

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem….”

There was only one people of God then, but today God has revealed that he refers to even Gentiles as we saw in Isaiah 56:1-8,

“God’s house will be known as the house of prayer for all nations”.

This was revealed in part, but now in Jesus…….both Jew and Gentile can claim to be “God’s people”.

God himself calls them “my people” and sharers together in the promise in Christ.

In Genesis 12, the promise was that God wanted to bless Abraham, and that some day all the families of the earth will be blessed through him…..

That promise for the blessings of God is now fulfilled and it’s for all people.

Just as the angel said to the shepherds who were keeping their flock, Luke 2:10

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

The promise of Abraham and Israel is now shared together by all people (not second class or first class).

All are equal and all are sharing in God’s blessing in Jesus Christ.

What this means is that if in Christ, we are on the blessed side……

Whoever curses you – God will deal with.

Whoever blesses, God will bless.

For we are the families of the earth who are blessed in the Son of Abraham……

Conclusion:

We plead with you – praise the Lord for his many blessings that are ours in Jesus Christ.

Let your life tell a story of people who are blessed by God.

All this has been made possible through Jesus Christ.

 

  1. The mystery and the church
  1. The church is the instrument of God in revealing the mystery Vs.10
  2. The church can now approach God with freedom and confidence Vs.12