Avengers Endgame Movie
The biggest opening weekend box office hit was Avengers: Endgame. The movie grossed over $350 million on April 26, 2019. Avengers: Endgame went on to make over $1 billion in just 5 days! Now, why was this movie so popular? One reason: did you know that 60% of people between the ages of 18 to 54 years old consider themselves fans of such superhero movies. To understand this you have to realize that the second biggest grossing movie was Avengers: Infinity War that made nearly $260 million the year before (April 27, 2018). That movie was a cliffhanger where the evil Thanos collected all six Infinity Stone and the fate of the planet was never more uncertain. Plus, Avengers: Endgame was the culmination of approximately twenty-five movies over ten years. And the word “Endgame” caught so many people’s attention. The word “Endgame” comes from the world of chess or backgammon. The word “Endgame” has long been used by players to describe what happens when very few pieces are left on the board. It’s simply the final stage or the last part of your strategy. The “Endgame” is desired consequence of a planned series of events. So, all these Avenger fans knew that there were some things that were coming to a close and they couldn’t wait to see what it was.
Keep your Bibles open to Ephesians 3 with me.
Hollywood and the Avengers have picked up on an important them in God’s story. From the beginning of time, God has a plan for human history. God has an “endgame” for all of us.
1. God’s Big Plan
1.1 God’s Endgame
God has a secret He wants to tell us. Because God has a plan that He wants to include us. You can best see the connection between the mystery and the plan down in verse 9: “and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things…” (Ephesians 3:9). The letter to Ephesians informs us of part of God’s plan for human history.
Note carefully the word “mystery” in also in verse 2 and again in verse 6. In fact, you’ll see this word “mystery” seven times in the book of Ephesians. God has a plan and He’s filling us in on His secrets or the mystery to His plan. Like the Avengers Endgame told the story of a fictional superhero movie, God’s Endgame tells the story of the factual life story.
1.2 Have You Pondered God’s Endgame?
You may view the nighttime sky through a telescope in order to awe and wonder, but have you pondered in detail the plan of God to save you? Have you considered in detail God’s endgame that was set before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)? Has your mind spent portions of the day daydreaming of how so many were included in the promise of Abraham and Sarah from every nation, tribe, and tongue encircling the globe? Or have your brain cells gone spinning in every direction to consider how God chooses to work through the heinous actions of King David and Bathsheba to bring us none other than Jesus Christ a millennia later? Have you considered the meticulous planning of the Trinity and how He acted “in the fulness of time” with a greater precision than even NASA launches its spacecraft through its celestial launch windows (Galatians 4:4)? Have you measured the pace of God as He seemingly moves slower than iceberg glaciers over the North Seas? Have you watched His comprehensive handiwork century upon century in order that Judas would betray Jesus with a kiss and how might Joseph betrayed by his brothers only to face and forgive them as the vice-regent of Egypt all those years later? Or have you considered the extent of how the Trinity plotted and planned every little detail before anything went wrong in the Garden of Eden so that one day Christ would return to end all the sand moving through the hourglass of time? And have you seriously contemplated how He included you in His plan? What if you studied the connecting links to God’s plan like someone might connect the “the Big Dipper” in the night sky above? How might you marvel more and worship more because you ponder how the Divine mind of God thinks of every little intricate detail? Do you not marvel at how He simultaneously sweeps you into this plan while not forgetting to spread His light over the backwater peoples of far-flung nations? Do you have any idea of how much trouble God has gone to in order that you and I might be redeemed and rescued? Do you have any idea of how much trouble God has gone to in order that you and I might eventually spend our eternities in His presence?
1.3 The Plan Included Paul
How you seriously consider the providential plan of God, His big plan? Paul did. Paul thought and marveled at the plan of God that even included Him: “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you…” (Ephesians 3:1-2).
1.3.1 For This Reason
Verse 1 says, “For this reason …,” now what is he referring to? I have to remind you chapter 2 is what he is referring to, where Christ and the gospel unite diverse kinds of people who otherwise could never get along in any other way. The gospel destroys divisions between human beings that can’t be eradicated any other way. And Christ brings them together in the case study that Paul uses, the Jews and the Gentiles. More on this in a minute.
1.3.2 God, the Ultimate Fed Chair
Key in on the word “stewardship” in verse 2 with me, will you? That original word there can also be translated as “management” or “arrangement.” The word was used to describe how someone would manage a household. We get our English word economy from word. Paul is looking over the shoulder of God and He see God’s economy management and notices that God even includes Paul in His plan. The Fed will lower the interest rate as the board of American financiers and economists plan the nation’s economy. Many of you have benefited just this year from payments from the Federal government as they stimulate our economy. Likewise, God manages His affairs with a greater precision than the Fed. Likewise, God manages His household with meticulous care to include the story of Paul.
Paul never “got over” the marvel and wonder of how the Lord met him on the Damascus Road. He had been a blasphemer and a persecutor of the believers. He hated Christ and he hated the cause of Christ. Paul actually thought he was serving God by seeking out Christ-followers to imprison.
But the grace of God met Him and turned his life around so that he served the Lord. The plan of God and the cross of Jesus includes many of you as well, my friends. Don’t you realize who you are sons and daughters of our God?
1.4 The Queen of England
The story has been told of the Queen of England attending a banquet with her daughter. Several hours into the evening, the Queen’s daughter began to get bored, and started to slump in her seat. The Queen looked at her and told her to sit up straight. So the young princess sat up straight, but after a while, she began to slump again. “Sit up, sit up,” the Queen whispered to her, and immediately the young girl sat up straight once again. After another hour, the young girl had experienced enough of the dull evening that she could stand, and her posture began to slump again. This time the Queen, frustrated with the situation, spoke to her sternly and said, “Sit up tall. Don’t you know who you are? You are a child of the Queen. You might not feel like it. You might not want to do it. But you will sit up because of who you are.” Friend, you might be slumped over today either emotionally or physically from issues you are dealing with in your life. We all get that way from time to time. But whatever it is that has you weighted down, I want to remind you to hold your head up and walk tall because of WHOSE you are by the grace of God. You are a daughter of the Most High God. You are a son of the Most High God. You are a child of the King.
Paul says, “God’s grace that was given to me.” Paul had an ability to marvel and worship because he pondered the Big Plan of God to include even his turn-around.
We Binge-watch in our day, don’t we. It’s when we marathon watches our favorite TV series on Hulu or Disney. Oh, that your worship might increase by you Binge-watching every episode in the plan of God like you followed The Crown, The Mandalorian, or Breaking Bad. Oh, that you would want to study and watch God’s plan for the world a second and third time like you have WandaVision, This is Us, or The Office. If we spent the energy doing this kind of Binge-watching, then perhaps we could say with Paul: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
Your wonder for God’s majesty would so increase if you were to consider God’s Endgame in depth.
1. God’s Big Plan
2. God’s Big Mystery
The word “mystery” appears 24 times throughout the New Testament and seven times throughout the book of Ephesians alone. Maybe you had a secret hide-way when you were a kid where the “secret club” met of your friends. You probably had a secret password that allowed people to get inside. I wonder what secrets you are keeping as you sit here today? Yet, of all of the secrets and mysteries, none has the weighty importance as the one God Himself held close to His chest for centuries.
Paul uses this word “mystery” three times in a matter of a few verses in front of us: “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ…” (Ephesians 3:4). Paul says he has an insight into the mystery of Jesus Christ. Paul refers to himself as an apostle in verse 5. Paul acted as a custodian, a guardian, or a trustee of God’s mystery. “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). Whenever you see a word repeated like the word “mystery,” you need to clue in on this word in your Bible reading.
Traci and I love watching mysteries together. When you watch a mystery, the truth is hidden from you till the end, and it’s your job to try to figure it out. Of course, you spend your time guessing whodunit. A mystery is something hidden from you that it’s your job to discover. The Greek word, especially as Paul uses it, means exactly the opposite. When you read about a mystery in the Bible, it’s not a “who did it” kind of thing. The word “mystery” in your Bibles is something revealed by God because you would never discover it. It’s so counterintuitive and you would never come to the conclusion of it by a process of reasoning. It means a truth that was hidden from human understanding but is now disclosed by God to us.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
2.2 Star Wars Secret
The actor, David Prowse died recently. I didn’t recognize the name either but you’ll easily recognize his character. He played Darth Vader in Star Wars as he wore the black suit and helmet in the original trilogy. If you are familiar with the story behind the movie, then you know there a scene where Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker is his son. Vader delivers the words, “No, I am your father” in a memorable scene. Yet, even David Prowse did not know this about this important plot twist because it was such a closely guarded secret. In fact, his script omitted the words, “No, I am your father” and only three or four people knew about the line among the cast before it was revealed. This major plot twist was a well-kept secret.
2.3 Ten Commandments
God is better at keeping and revealing His secrets than even Hollywood. The word “mystery” speaks of a secret that we couldn’t figure out on our own but God has now revealed it (Colossians 1:26). The Ten Commandments are never called a mystery in the Bible. The Golden Rule is never called a mystery. Why? The gospel is not that if you live a good life, obey the Ten Commandments, live by the Golden Rule, then God will bless you, hear your prayers, and take you to heaven. That’s not the gospel. Do you know why? Because it makes too much sense ?. What is the gospel? The gospel is that the Son of God came to earth and triumphed through weakness and suffering. He won through losing. He gained everything by giving it all away. He overcame your and my sin and guilt by taking it on himself. It is counterintuitive and it is not what you would ordinarily think. It goes against all your instincts that, in spite of how bad you are, you’re saved by sheer grace. The law of God is never called a mystery, because the idea that you’re saved by living a good life makes perfect sense. The idea that you’re saved by grace is a mystery because no human would think this up, but only the mind of God.
2.4 Three Together Terms
Paul spells out the big mystery in verse 6 for us: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). At first glance, most of us don’t really see what the big deal is. We may even look at one another awkwardly and say, “That’s the secret?” If you’re thinking Darth Vader’s plot twist is a bigger deal than God’s plot twist, you’re not understanding how big a deal this whole mystery thing really is. The Bible says that Gentiles are “fellow heirs” “members of the same body” and “partakers” of the same promise.
There are three parallel words/terms in verse 6 that you need to key in on. In Greek, these words each begin with the prefix syn, which means “together with.” All three of those verbs are compound words with a Greek prefix on the front end. In English, we know what syn- means. It means “together with.” We have the word synonymous and synthesis that uses this Greek prefix. The NET Bible reveals what’s happening with the original wording better than many other translations as it says: “namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6). Note carefully the three times fellow pop us for us: “fellow heirs,” “fellow members” and “fellow partakers.” You could say we are “equal heirs,” “equal members,” and “equal partners.”
They mystery is this: God is uniting Jew and Gentiles with each other when they are united to Jesus Christ by faith. That’s been God’s plan all along. That’s been God’s plan from the very beginning of time. Every single person and every single race are “heirs together,” “members together,” and we are “sharers together.” We are together, together, together! The Bible says this is a secret that is now being shared. This is a plot twist that is now publicly shared.
2.4 KFC Secret & Coke’s Secret
When I think of secrets, I think of KFC who still touts their “secret recipe” to this day. Then there’s Coca-Cola's secret formula. The formula has been a trade secret since 1891 and it is closely guarded to this day. The only written copy of the formula is in a vault located on company grounds. The nation of India wanted the century-old formula back in the 1970s, but Coke chooses to keep it a secret and pulled out of selling their product throughout the nation back in 1977.
2.5 Fellow Heirs
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
The Bible says God is revealing a secret, a mystery that He is now revealing the plot twist. If you’re not a Jew trust me you’re a Gentile. You may be an Anglo Gentile or an African American Gentile or Hispanic Gentile or an Asian Gentile. But if you’re not Jewish a Gentile you are.
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).
So there is no inner circle or outer circle of the saved. The Jews are not first-class Christians and the Gentiles sit in coach, or vice versa. At one time these were archenemies and arch-rivals, but God is bringing them together in His Big Plan. God is cutting through all the racism, prejudice, caste systems, snobbery, and bringing His people together under the banner of Jesus Christ. The Bible says we are fellow heirs.
2.6 Fellow Members
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). In the next chapter of Ephesians, Paul will tell us there is one body and one body only (Ephesians 4:4).
We are all equally sinners.
We are all equally helpless with God.
We have all come to one and the same Savior.
We have the same salvation.
We have the same Holy Spirit.
We have the same Father.
We even have the same trials.
And we are all marching and going together to the same eternal home.
2.7 Fellow Partners
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10)!
All who are in Christ inherit all God’s blessing.
Academy Award Secret
The people at Price Water House have tallied the votes for the Oscars for years. They even have multiple people each tally only a partial amount of the votes to ensure that no one except the two partners knows who’s won the coveted Academy Awards. Many of you will remember the famous incident where actor Warren Beatty mistakenly announced the wrong winner when he was handed the wrong envelope in 2017. There will be no “Price Water House mistakes” with God’s plan and revealing His secrets. God planned to run the world by grace before anything went catawampus at the beginning of history.
Will you receive His grace this day? Will you spend your life seeking to spread the message of His grace to all races of people?