Summary: We are the mystery! The church, all people, different people, coming to a place of being one in Christ. Gathering together to form the body of Christ, the church.
`Date: March 30th, 2003
Title: The Mysteria of the Church
Text: Eph. 3:1-13
Intro: Secrets fascinate us. All of us want to be privy to secrets. Secrets are fascinating. Someone says, “Hey, you want to know a secret?” and our natural response is not to say, “Oh no thanks, I don’t like to be in on secrets.” No, it’s just the opposite! We all like to be let in on a secret.
Did you know that God has a secret which He kept for thousands of years? It’s true. In the passage of Scripture under consideration for this morning, Paul calls this secret a mystery. It was a mystery which was once hidden but is now revealed. In other words, the secret which God kept hidden for thousands of years has now been fully communicated. Simply put, the secret which has now been revealed is the centrality of the Church in God’s plan.
Do you really know what Church is? Do you understand the place of Church in the plan of God? Do you know what place Church ought to have in your life? These are important questions for which every Christian ought to have answers. The way we answer these questions will determine the extent to which we fully enter into God’s plan for our lives. It is possible to come to know Christ as your Savior and miss the plan of God for your life. And the Church is central to that plan. If you do not understand the role of the Church in the plan of God, you will never understand what God is up to.
Sadly, we seem to have come to a place of biblical illiteracy in our world today. There is very little understanding of the great doctrines of the Bible. And, unfortunately, this is even true in our churches. It is somewhat ironic to have to say that in the Church there is little understanding of Church.
I’m not talking about the elementary things like understanding that the Church is not merely buildings and holy furniture. Most of us understand that. We understand that the Church is not the structure located at 1822 South Market Street. We have come far enough to know, as recently as last Sunday’s message on 2:11-22 that the Church is people. But too often that is the extent of our understanding. And this lack of understanding spans all denominations and non-denominations alike.
Among many people the Church is viewed as an organization like a small business or large corporation depending upon it’s size. You see, to say the Church is people is to say too little. Some people therefore assume the Church is to be run like a business where everyone is a general partner. They reduce the Church to a democratic deliberation where the least offensive course of action is pursued --- assuring the lowest common denominator of spirituality to prevail. The Church is reduced to a social institution where the needs and preferences of the members are its focus.
But truly, that is not Church!
The Church is a living organism of God’s people --- placed together by God’s wisdom --- led by spiritual leaders of God’s choosing --- committed to doing God’s will --- living out its life together in community --- submitting to one another and God’s authority in its midst --- and revealing God’s grace and wisdom to all around.
Back ground: Last week we learned about the barriers and walls of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles being removed. God has done an amazing thing in bringing together all people to be his Holy Temple! To be a beautiful temple made up, not of brick and mortar and normal building materials, but of God’s most precious resource, people! Souls!
Well, because of this new holy temple, Paul explains that he has been chosen, by God, through His grace and mercy, because if anyone knows Paul, they know he doesn’t deserve anything from God… he tracked down Christians and had them killed because they followed Jesus!
But, in God’s Grace He has chosen Paul to make this mystery known at this moment in time!
The mystery revealed is the church!
So, the Church is central to what God is doing in the earth today. It is true that God deals with individuals, but generally God chooses to deal with them through the Church. And unless we come to this understanding of the Church as central to what God is doing in the earth today and in our own individual lives, then we will never understand why God does things the way He does. So let’s look together at the mystery of Christ which is His Church.
I. The Progressive Presentation of the Mystery. (3:1-6)
A. There is a progressive presentation of this mystery.