Ephesians 3: 1-12
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 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.
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 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, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
In these opening verses of Ephesians 3, Paul uses words like 'mystery', 'revelation' and 'insight'. If I had been one of the original recipients of this letter, I'd have been on the edge of my seat reading this, waiting to hear what great spiritual epiphany Paul was about to reveal. Here it is:
"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." (v. 6)
Really? That's it? Two thousand years on we have no idea just how earth shattering this news was for first century Jews who believed that they alone were the members of God's family, they were the sole recipients of His blessings and they exclusively were the inheritors of His promises. Now the borders and boundaries have been removed, the door has been opened, and the former outsider is welcomed in as a complete equal with those already in covenant relationship with God.
How could this happen? Only through the life, death and resurrection of God's son:
"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (v. 12)
We no longer need to attend a temple to encounter God; we are the temple in which He dwells. We aren't restricted by religious rules and regulations; we have complete freedom in Christ. We don't approach Him with fear of judgement; we have total confidence in the finished work of Jesus.
So that's the great mystery - we are all one family. It might not excite us as much as it did the Apostle Paul. However, imagine life outside of Christ; consider what it would be like to be excluded from God's family; think about the absence of His grace and goodness. I know it makes me deeply grateful and profoundly thankful for all that Jesus has accomplished.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am, 11.30 am and 7.00 pm.