Ephesians 3 - August 6, 2006
Good morning. Join me in turning to the book of Ephesians, chapter 3. We have been going through this letter of Paul the Apostle, written to Christians in the town of Ephesus, the capital city of Turkey or Asia Minor as it was known back them. We mentioned that chapters 1-3 deal with doctrine, and chapters 4-6 deal with duty. 1-3 deal with who we are, and 4-6 with how we live. We look at verses 1-4 and we see the key idea: we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly realms. We see that we live on a spiritual plane, and we look beyond just the blessings of health and money and family. We see that on a spiritual, supernatural level God has given us every possible blessing.
We see that the Father chose us for salvation. The Father is the one who initiated our salvation and made it possible. We see it is Christ who has redeemed us, offering us forgiveness by dying in our place on the cross. We see the Holy Spirit seals us, identifying us as a Christian. The Holy Spirit is also our guarantee, our downpayment, our security that we WILL receive all that God has promised we will receive. And because of all of these blessings, our response is to give praise to God. To load him down with our praises.
In the end of chapter 1, Paul has seen the faith and love of these Ephesians believers put into practice, and so he prays all the harder for them. He doesn’t pray for them to GET anything new, because they have already received every spiritual blessing. Paul is praying for the believers to KNOW what they have already been given.
Paul’s prayer is that we would KNOW God on an experiential basis, more and more; that we would ANTICIPATE with hope the calling we have received to salvation; that we would understand the glorious INHERITANCE we have been given; and that we would know the incomparably great POWER of God. So powerful, that the only thing that comes close to helping us understand it is that this was the power that raised Christ from the dead after he died for our sins, in our place.
In chapter 2 and see Our Position in Christ. In verses 1-10, we see ourselves positionally. We see who we WERE - dead in sins, led astray by the world, the devil, and our flesh, our sin nature. But Paul reminds us we have been given victory by God. We have gone from being a corpse to being made alive, to becoming a masterpiece, a great work of art, showing God’s glory, and we are to do good works so that God may continue to get more and more glory as others see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven.
In verses 11-22 we see RELATIONALLY who we have been made to become. The Ephesians, as Gentiles, were without a past, without a present, without a future, without hope, and without God. But Christ has broken down the wall of separation, brought peace, and brought access to God. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles together form one people, one kingdom, one family, and one building: a holy temple.
Today we go on to chapter 3. In this chapter, we see Paul responding to this great truth he has just explained to the Ephesians. Let’s look at what he says. He will go on as we’ll see next week to apply these truths he has been teaching, but what is not properly understood cannot be properly applied. So it is important that we understand this basic teaching about the church. Let’s read chapter 3. READ 3:1-21. PRAY.
We are going to break this chapter down into 3 parts to understand it. We will look at three words - we will look at three sections - and we will look at three questions. Let’s start with the first section.
1. Paul’s Learning - and our key word here is “MYSTERY”. What do you think of when you hear the term “mystery”? Most of us think of a good book or movie we know. We think of Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan out to solve a puzzling murder. Paul talks in verse 2 about a “mystery” as well. Only the term has a different meaning in the bible. We think about a mystery as something that we can find out if we just search hard enough. In the Bible a mystery is something we can NEVER figure out. Only God can reveal it. A mystery is something that we NOW KNOW because God has given us a special revelation of his truth. Paul tells us about several of these mysteries, but here in Ephesians we are talking about Christ bringing Jew & Gentile together as one body, the church.