Summary: We can each recognize the revelation of the church’s mysterious nature and passionately minister its gospel.
1. The first clue that reveals the mystery of the
church is the steward of the mystery (3:1-5)
2. The second clue that reveals the mystery of the
church is the content of the mystery (3:6)
3. The third clue that reveals the mystery of the
church is the minister of the mystery (3:7-9)
4. The fourth clue that reveals the mystery of the
church is the wisdom of the mystery (3:10-11)
5. The fifth clue that reveals the mystery of the
church is the heart of the mystery (3:12-13)
I don’t know about you, but my life is full of mysteries. I don’t know what it is, but there are just some things in this world I can’t explain. I can’t explain why I have several single socks. They come off my feet in pairs. They go into the clothes hamper in pairs. I’m fairly sure they go into the washer in pairs. But something happens when they go in the dryer. You remember Rod Serling from the old Twilight Zone shows? I fully expect someday to hear his voice as we open the dryer. Life is full of mysteries. Why does the car only break down when the weather is bad? Notice that your battery never dies when it’s 80 degrees and sunny. It’s always rainy, cold or snowy. Or why is it that when you drop your toast in the morning, why does it always land jelly side down? Those kinds of mysteries are frustrating, but they’re a part of life. In our passage this morning, Paul talks about another kind of mystery. Except, even though this mystery is a part of life, it’s certainly not frustrating. It’s a mystery that’s a blessing that was revealed to him by God. A mystery that he was severely persecuted for and eventually died for. During the past several weeks as we’ve looked at the first two chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians, we first saw the person and work of Jesus Christ. Who He is and what He’s done for us. We then saw who we as believers are because of who He is and what He’s done. We who were once dead in our sins have been made alive with Christ. Most recently, we started to see who we as the body of believers are because of who He is. The middle wall of partition is broken down and we are made one. We are built together for an habitation of God. Here in our passage today, Paul continues by talking about the mystery of the church as revealed to him by God. God revealed the mystery to Paul. Paul revealed it to us in his letter. We, in turn, are to reveal it to others. As we look at this passage this morning, I want each of us to recognize the revelation of the church’s mysterious nature. And, like Paul, may that recognition drive us to passionately minister its gospel. In order to do that, we’re going to discover five clues that reveal the mystery of the church. The first clue that reveals the mystery of the church is the steward of the mystery.
The steward of the mystery. A steward is a person whom God entrusts with something. A steward is a trustee. Because God is the creator of everything, He owns it all. But even though He owns it all, He entrusts us with certain things. He calls us to be faithful stewards. God entrusted Paul with a mystery. In verse 2, he calls that mystery “the dispensation of the grace of God.” Don’t get hung up on the word dispensation. If you’ve ever used the Old Scofield Reference Bible, it lays out a theological system called dispensationalism. That’s not what Paul is talking about here. The word dispensation comes from the same word we get the word economy from. It means managing a task or job. It’s the same word that’s used to describe managing a household. So when Paul talks about the dispensation of the grace of God in verse 2, he’s talking about this new, unique way that God has managed or administered His grace. Paul is telling them that this new, unique way God has chosen to administer His grace is the mystery. The mystery of the church. And God has entrusted him with that mystery. Up until Paul, the church was a mystery. All throughout the Old Testament, God dealt almost exclusively with His chosen people, the Jews. Even when we get to the Gospels, they show that Jesus’ ministry on earth was primarily directed at the Jews. But then they rejected Him. John 1:10 says of Jesus, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” He came as a Jew to Jews, but the Jews rejected Him. Jesus told a parable about this very thing to the Pharisees who were rejecting Him. Keep your place in Ephesians and turn back to Matthew 22: