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Summary: There are many mysteries in the New Testament; this is one of the biggest reveal by Paul. Soak it up and set yourself free.

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Summary: There are many mysteries in the New Testament; this is one of the biggest reveal by Paul. Soak it up and set yourself free.

Isaiah 60:1-6 Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew 2:1-12 Psalm 72:1-7,10-14

This sermon was delivered to the congregation of St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 6th January 2013: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Prayer: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit let these words bring you honour, and help us understand your great plan of salvation. Amen.

Introduction.

Today is Epiphany Sunday, so I will begin by asking a rhetorical question, what exactly does “epiphany” mean? An epiphany is a revelation; a deep awareness of something; it is that point in time when you suddenly realise a higher truth about something.

For example, somebody could phone you, and although the person seems to know all about you, you have absolutely no idea of who they are, or what they are talking about; then a keyword or phase is said, and then suddenly everything fits into place. You suddenly know exactly who they are, and possible what they are calling for; the “Ah Ha moment”.

(1st Mystery is Pauls convertion)

In today’s text in Ephesians, Paul talks about the mystery revealed to him. In fact there were many mysteries revealed to Paul, not just the big one, his conversion on the road to Damascus, when he had his encounter with God; and which resulted in him, radically changing his ways.'

In the first three verses of chapter three, Paul is defending himself as an apostle. Paul, originally called Saul, was one of the most vicious persecutors of the Church; he was a murderer and fanatic, who sought to stamp out Christianity with brutality, so can forgive those who where sceptic at his conversion.

In fact, the conversion of Paul has been compared to converting Osama Bin Laden to Christianity, as this would be no less of a miracle. Saul was a zealot for his religion, willing to murder for his cause, and yet, God chose HIM of all people to be his spokesman.

After Paul’s conversion, many did not believe him and sought to cast him away, so you can see where Paul is coming from when he says that he is now in prison for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ; reminding them of the work he did by God’s Grace in Ephesus; to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews.

Paul’s first mystery was in finding why God chose him, a gentile, to preach the Gospel of Grace, instead of choosing one of God Jewish believers and followers. God chose an absolute enemy of Christ, the murderer of Christians, to carry out his will.

2nd mystery gospel is to be preached to all nations.

The second mystery I want to talk about is preaching the Gospel to all nations and not just the Jews, thereby making Gentiles co-heirs together with Israel.

At first sight this doesn’t sound intriguing, but it is. Paul said that this mystery was kept hidden by God, but it was revealed in the Old Testament, which as we all know is a book about how God would keep his promise of the Saviour alive through the Jews, the Jews being God’s chosen people.

So where do we, the Gentiles fit in, because the Old testament is basically a history of God’s chosen people, the Jews; who were basically encouraged into Egypt, then re-established in Canaan, defeated and carted of to Babylon, and then reinstated to Israel; to whom Jesus himself was finally born.

Never in the Old Testament do the non-Jewish people, like us take a major part. We are part of the Canaanites and the Assyrians and the Babylonians and the Egyptians who were all actually referred to as the enemies of God, or the enemies of God’s people, the Jews.

In fact, when the gentiles were mentioned, they were normally defeated and wiped out by the Jews; being described as people walking in darkness, or as people on their way to hell.

So our mystery here is that if God loved the Jews so much, and hated the Gentiles, why are we here today worshipping Jesus, with and the Jews in their synagogues denying him? There has been a drastic transformation somewhere!

Yet, in the Old Testament, God made it clear that he wanted non-Jews to be saved as well as the Jews.

1. God promised Abraham that all nations on earth will be blessed through his offspring;

2. when the Jews entered the Promised Land, the Gibeonites were allowed to be a part of the Jewish community and,

3. Isaiah 42:6 says ”I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles”.

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