Summary: how God reveals the mystery of his love and his plan for the Gentiles through Paul
January 6, 2002 Ephesians 3:2-12
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
How many of you enjoy a good mystery? I have always been one who has been intrigued by a good mystery. The assassination of JFK, for instance, has always been a story that has fascinated me. After watching movies and documentaries on it, as well as visiting the sight, I am convinced that there had to be more than one gunman - that Lee Harvey Oswald may have just been as they called him, “a patsy,” or at least an associate at best. The best explanation I have heard is that a gunman was sitting in the sewer and shot him through there. But what is really intriguing about this mystery is that any number of people could have killed Kennedy. It could have been the Russians, the FBI, the vice-president, the mafia - anyone. And that’s what makes it a good mystery.
The entertainment industry has made a living on “mysteries”. They will make documentaries on unsolved crimes, the building of the pyramids, and every other “mystery” under the sun. In order for it to be a mystery, there needs to be a seemingly unexplainable situation - something that you can’t figure out without help. If it involves murder, hatred, politics, or romance - it’s all the better. When the mystery is revealed by clear an indisputable evidence - it makes it perfect. Today’s text talks about a mystery. I hope that it grabs your attention. I hope that it satisfies you like none other as Paul shows us -
The Mystery is Made Known
What is the mystery? This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. At first sight this “mystery” doesn’t seem to have the ingredients for a good mystery - murder, love, hate, politics or romance! It might seem dry to you who are listening. But the background of the mystery shows a much different story - a love story that goes back centuries - of a seemingly unexplainable situation that needed an unlikely twist for a solution.
Paul said that this mystery. . . for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. In order to understand this, you need to know your Old Testament. It basically is a book about how God would keep his promise of the Savior alive through the Jews - God’s chosen people. So the book is a history of how God’s people were carried from this country to the next, torn down and raised up - surviving to have Jesus be born through them. Never in the Old Testament do non-Jewish people like you and me take a major part. They 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’s people. More often than not they were wiped out by God’s people or wiping out God’s people. They were described as people walking in darkness - on the way to hell. Right here you can see the elements for a mystery when you see two sworn enemies - God and the Gentiles. The Jews and the Gentiles. You would expect a murder mystery, then, to take place. For God - the holy God - you would expect to wipe out the opposition.