Summary: The mystery (secret) of the Gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the heart of God to love and redeem his people. This is a secret we must tell others about.
Have you ever been entrusted with a secret that you had a hard time keeping to yourself? Sometimes it is hard to keep a secret. I have found that young children have a particularly hard time keeping a secret. That reminds me of two incidents in our family.
The first one happened about two years ago. It was my birthday and I was working in the church office. It was about 12 noon and Babette called and asked if I was coming over for lunch. I knew something was up because I was greeted right at the door by Christopher and his friend Bailey. As I was walking up the porch, I could hear them saying, "He’s coming!" Chris had a big grin on his face. He said, "Dad, we have a secret that we can’t tell you about." I figured I would have a little fun with him, so I said, "Oh, what’s the secret?" Then, without any further delay, my son went on to explain. "And don’t go in the dining room, because we made a cake for you and it’s there. Remember, it’s a secret." Chris was so excited about knowing the secret he had a hard time keeping it to himself.
Then again, just this past Mother’s Day, I learned that same lesson that children have a hard time keeping secrets. The day before Mother’s Day we all went to Walmart. I took Chris and Cassie and we went shopping for Mom. We went to the jewelry section and picked out a real nice watch for Babette. I told the kids to keep what we got Mom a secret so she would be surprised for Mother’s Day. Cassie could barely contain the excitement of the secret. When she saw my wife, without any prompting, she said, "We got a present...it’s a secret...it’s a watch. Wanna see?"
Yes, sometimes it is hard to keep a secret.
In our text, Paul describes the Gospel as “the mystery of Christ… (that has) been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets….” (3:6)
The Gospel is a SECRET that reveals the very heart and mind of God. But rather than keep the secret to Himself, in the Gospel, the reality of God’s plan is laid out for everyone to hear. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a secret that God wants all believers to openly share with others! (BIG IDEA)
I. The Secret of God Must Be REVEALED by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 3:1-5; cf. 1:9-10)
A. In Paul’s day, there were many "mystery religions" that claimed to have secrets to unlock the key to life and happiness. Christianity is not like that at all!
1. In the mystery religions of Paul’s day, in order to discover these mysteries, the adherents of these religions had to undergo elaborate initiation rites in order to find out the secret knowledge of the universe.
2. Paul believed that Christianity too held the key to unlock life. But, John Stott is right when he points out that, "In Christianity there are no esoteric ‘mysteries’ reserved for a spiritual elite. On the contrary, the Christian ‘mysteries’ are truths which although beyond human discovery, have been revealed by God and so now belong openly to the whole church." (John Stott, The Message of Ephesians, IVP, 1986, p. 116) Another noted commentator, Markus Barth declares, "The whole true God is no longer hidden and unknown. His very heart is opened." (Markus Barth, The Anchor Bible: Ephesians 1-3, p. 127)
B. Although the secret plan of God is intended to be open for all, the Bible reminds us repeatedly that we can only come to know the mystery of God as God reveals it to our heart.
1. Notice, how we are reminded that the mystery of God must be revealed. In Ephesians 3:3, Paul says "the mystery made known to me by revelation..."
2. He also states in Ephesians 3:5 that the Gospel message was "not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets."
C. In the Gospel, God’s plan of salvation is revealed to the human heart. Sometime we can get all confused about the intricacies of the Bible’s message. Because of this, it is helpful to keep it simple enough to get right to the heart of the matter.
1. One day a theologian who wrote volumes of books on the Bible was at a lecture at Princeton University. He was addressing theology graduate students. He was asked by one of those students to tell about his greatest insight of the Bible. Without even the slightest hesitation, the eminent theologian Karl Barth said, "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."
2. Folks, let’s not get confused. The Gospel is a wonderful story which combines the best elements of life. One author sums it up well when he said, "There are two kinds of books that always sell well: mysteries and love stories. The gospel is both. It is a mystery, long hidden, at last revealed. It is a love story in the finest sense of that word. It unveils God’s love for the world and for us." (Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).