We are examining the great mystery that began at Bethlehem with the song of the angels to the shepherds, the beauty of a huge star shedding its light the men of wisdom followed, and all the marvels of that first Christmas Day. The wonder which had been a secret for ages began to unfold — the glory of what God had in mind for man.
It is almost as if Paul wants us to have a sense of overwhelmedness, of truth pouring on our soul, where we realize God is so much bigger, so much more holy, so much more loving, so much wiser. He wants us feeling like, we are only getting a little thimble dip into the character and love of God when there are buckets available. There are vats available to know Him.
In his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” A.W. Tozer wrote:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”
Well, in the third chapter of Ephesians, we read Paul’s explanation of what he calls in Chapter 6, “the mystery of the gospel.” This great gospel which has done so much to change human lives continues to grow and spread as the Church increases. As we saw in the last few messages, this great mystery is the answer to all of the struggles we face in our lives.
Paul showed us how Jews and Gentiles have become joint heirs of God and allowed us to enter all the physical possessions that the Creator had in mind when He put His man on this earth. It is also the answer to our fallen character. In Jesus Christ, we have become joint members of one body, and have removed all the middle walls that separate them. It is as if the Holy Spirit has wrapped around our human spirit like two DNA strands joining to form a new baby. This fusion of Holy Spirit and our human spirit have produced Christ in me!
We see this again and again when people of different backgrounds and cultures and classes, different outlooks, different races, come together in Christ. We discover that all the differences which once seemed to be so tremendous have become reduced to nothing, and can overlap them and be healed in their fellowship together.
And then we saw that the mystery of the gospel is the answer to our impotence of man — the fact that we are unable, often, to fulfill our ideals and to realize our dreams. We are failures in doing what we know we ought to do — to love, to forgive, to restore. But in the mystery of the Gospel, Jews and Gentiles alike are made joint partakers of the promise of the Spirit of God. The power of God is given to us to do what we otherwise could never do. Those who have learned to reckon upon this power find they can love and forgive when they could never have otherwise. So this gospel touches the heart of humanity’s problems.
I was made a minister of that Gospel by the grace he gave me, and by the power with which he equipped me. Yes, to me, less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to make plain to all men the meaning of that secret which he who created everything in Christ has kept hidden from the creation until now (Ephesians 3:7-8)
We see the personal note with which he begins this section explained in Verse 13, where he says,
I beg you not to lose heart because I am now suffering for my part in bringing you the Gospel. Indeed, you should be honoured (Ephesians 3:13)
Paul wrote this section of the letter because the Ephesian Christians were concerned with his suffering — not so much because they felt sorry for him, I mean, they of course did, but because their faith was threatened by it. They were worried that a great apostle — the very fountainhead of truth, as far as they were concerned — would appear to be a helpless victim of Caesar’s cruelty, chained to a Roman soldier day and night. His perceived weakness seriously threatened their faith. Paul writes back, saying, “Folks, you’ve got it all wrong. You see, you don’t understand what suffering is. Suffering for the cause of Christ is the sure way to victory.”
In our modern churches, many believers are convinced that they are faithful Bible believers but, in fact, worship a feel-good, self-help, motivational, and manageable Jesus — one which Paul referred to as “another Jesus” (I Corinthians 11:4). This counterfeit Jesus never makes any demands on their time, money, words, social life or sexuality. But this is not true! Yahweh is looking for believers who are uncompromising and real disciples who are wholeheartedly committed to proclaiming the real Jesus.
Amazingly, in this letter, Paul shows us that the cross is always the way to a crown; that there is no way to guarantee that the victory is assured unless there is an element of the sufferings of Christ in the heart of a disciple of Jesus Christ. So Paul is writing to convince them that everything is alright. There is nothing at all wrong about his position. It is precisely right, and he glories in this fact.
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