Summary: God withheld a great mystery until Pentecost. The mission and purpose of the church is to pick up where the nation of Israel failed in being God’s people and accomplishing God’s mission. Only the church is not a gatering of people, but aa assembling of
Live Out Loud – Our MYSTERY May 6, 2007
Ephesians 3:1-13 Sunday AM
Insert: I love a great mystery. Whether it’s a John Grisham novel or an episode of NCIS, I’ve always been intrigued by a good mystery. Even as a child, one of my favorite board games was Clue – I enjoyed trying to figure out if it was Col. Mustard in the library w/ a wrench. I have a mystery for you.
Insert: In 1941, Col. Montgomery of Scotland Yard stood before the members of the London Mystery Book Club. Only he wasn’t there to discuss Sherlock Holmes. He was there b/c he needed help in solving a mystery. He explained that a stranger had arrived in London from South America who was a suspected Nazi agent tasked w/ the mission of smuggling currency into the U.K. to finance espionage. He shared that upon arriving Scotland Yard had arranged an accident sending the man to the hospital w/ a broken arm. While being treated, his staff searched his luggage, which consisted of a briefcase containing only some letters from friends in British Guiana. Either this man wasn’t an agent or he was a very clever one. Scotland Yard had considered a number of other ploys like mailing counterfeit currency or surgically implanting diamonds, but those ideas were proven unfounded. The Colonel explained that if they couldn’t find anything that they’d have to let the man go into the population – so he asked for their insights.
Trans: Could you have solved this mystery? When I first read it, I turned my brain inside out but couldn’t crack it. Then, after hearing the solution, I thought, “Of course! It’s so simple. Why didn’t I think of that?”
Trans: In Ephesians 3:1-13, Paul talks about a marvelous mystery that was hidden from the prophets, but has now been revealed – that in Christ, there is no distinction b/w Jewish and Gentiles believers, but that we’re one in Christ – His Church – joined together for a unique privilege and calling.
Intro: We introduced this idea last Sunday when we discussed Ephesians 2:11-22. Paul stated that once a person puts their faith in Christ alone for salvation, they are included into a new and living body – the church. Now this is a very simple concept to state, but for many people, it is an extremely difficult truth to accept. How can people so different, with different religious heritages and convictions become one? B/c Jesus spans not just the gap of sin, but also the gap of indifference.
Note: Now when we speak of the church, we’re not specifically speaking of the local church like we’re in today, but the church at-large consisting of all people who’ve genuinely placed their faith in Christ alone for salvation and who are seeking first His kingdom and righteousness.
Recap: When Paul wrote these words sharing this big mystery, they were a huge spiritual horse pill for those who heard them b/c the Jews believed that they had cornered the market on God and they weren’t letting anyone else in.
Note: The O.T. is clear that God initially chose Israel from all the peoples on the earth for His own possession and purpose. It started when God decided to make a covenant w/ Abraham b/c he believe in God and his faith was recognized as righteousness. As a result of His promise, God sovereignly chose Israel to be His people that they might receive His blessings and be the vessel through which the revelation and redemptive message of God would be spread. Unfortunately, Israel never fulfilled her calling b/c instead of being humbled and honored to be God’s people, they were arrogant and judgmental holding an – “I’m better than you” attitude.
Trans: Enter Paul in Eph. 2. In vs. 1-10 he explains that God’s people aren’t identified by their religious heritage but by a faith transaction. Every person shares the same problem – they’re sinners. This sin serves as a barrier b/w us and God. At the cross, Jesus tore down the barrier through His blood and has given every person access to Him by grace through faith.
Note: B/c of God’s unconditional love for His creation, He offered Himself to bridge the gap sin so that all who’d believe and receive Him would live. This reality was foreshadowed when God instructed Moses to raise his staff when snakes had entered into the Israelite camp. So long as the people looked to the staff in faith, God would heal them from the poison; but if they refused to trust in God, then they’d suffer the consequences.
Note: We’ve been poisoned by sin and Jesus was lifted up on a cross for our spiritual healing. If we look solely to Him, we will live, but if we refuse, we condemn ourselves b/c God has done everything for all men to find healing and salvation, except make them turn to Him and believe.