Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This is the Mystery (Ephesians 3:9-10)

“[To me … this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,] and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:9–10, NASB95)

In the last post we focused on the grace of God given to Paul to preach Christ to the Gentiles. In these next verses we read that he also saw his call to include the unveiling of God’s wise through the church. We read here that Paul was graced by God with the privilege of bringing to light what had previously been unknown. God had spoken in the past that He would bless all nations through Abraham and his seed. He had spoken through the prophets of a coming Messiah, and looking back into the Old Testament we can see evidence of His intention from beginning to end. But for those living during those days before the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ they walked through life under the shroud of mystery. Though they knew God would work, how He was going to do work was yet to be revealed in such a way that they heard and understood. Even Jesus’ disciples walking with Him every day did not comprehend what God was doing. Even after Jesus’ resurrection and return to the Father the apostles did not grasp how salvation that they proclaimed would be extended to the Gentiles. It was not until Jesus had stopped Saul in his tracks, opened his eyes, and charged him to ministry that these pieces slowly began to come into place.

And, from the devil’s side of the picture, imagine seeing man separated from God and not seeing that God was doing anything to bring his rule to an end. This is what Jesus did. Through his death, burial, and resurrection man’s separation from God was restore. What was brought to pass through the deception of Eve in the garden was now remedied. Through faith those that God had called from before the foundation of the earth were coming to salvation and being made spiritually alive and eternally separated from the reign of Satan and his cohorts. The prince of the power of the air was defeated by the Prince of Peace—the Son of God who would reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. What had appeared as an enduring hay day for the devil was shown really to be God moving all along toward the fulfillment of His perfect plan in His Son. And even now the evil continues as if the battle were still his, though we know otherwise. Where once he was free, now through the church he has again been made subject as the Spirit of God works mightily in those who are His—His church.

God had a plan, and in the church His plan was being revealed such that all the nations would hear of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, and those on heaven and earth are seeing His wisdom revealed in His unfolded plan. Sure, there are mysteries that remain, but the revelation of this mystery of God is sufficient to demonstrate to all created beings here or in the heavens that He is indeed the all wise God.
Through Paul, God proved His love for all mankind by calling even those who were once far away to be His own, and the church around the world testifies even today of how powerful He is. Even in the face of persecution and the loss of life people today are continuing to respond to His perfectly effective call.

““He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness into light.” (Job 12:22, NASB95)

“…there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries….” (Daniel 2:28, NASB95)

Just as Jesus gave understanding to His disciples, God continues today to open the eyes and hearts of people so that they might know Him and the good news of salvation in His Son. “His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (Luke 8:9–10, NASB95)

And the apostle Paul saw himself and even us as people entrusted by God to be faithful stewards of this great news. “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 4:1–2, NASB95)

And even Israel who has experienced a partial hardening will one day be shown the mysteries of God. “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in….” (Romans 11:25–26, NASB95)

But for us I love the words with which Paul closed his letter to the Romans: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25–27, NASB95)

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