Central Theme: Our Privileged Position
Objective sentence: We can understand our privileged and previously unknown position in Christ by seeing three implications of being in Christ.
Key Word: Implications
- What is your favorite mystery story?
- Bad ones? (Scooby Doo- “And I would have done it too if it wasn’t for you pescky teenagers…”)
- “I see dead people”…
- I love a good mystery!
- Many of us love a good mystery.
- Some stories touted as a mystery are not really mysteries but rather entertaining stories with hints along the way. The story is interesting, but the mystery was never shrouded in doubt.
- Yet other stories designated as mysteries take us on twists and turns that we are unable to solve until it is revealed in the end.
- What keeps us engaged is the lack of any hints.
- In Ephesians 3, Paul revealed a mystery hidden but made known.
- And in a sense, the mystery that Paul refers to in this passage reveals something about you that you may not have previously seen before.
- You and I are privileged.
- That’s right. We are rich.
- What do you mean?
- If you know Christ as your Savior, you are privileged.
- If you are a gentile believer living today in the church age, you are privileged.
- We’ve been talking about who we are in Christ for the last four weeks.
- Outside of Christ we are
- Separated from God
- Without the promises of God
- By nature the children of wrath
- Strangers and Foreigners
- Without hope and without God in the world.
- In Christ we are…
- Chosen and Adopted
- And Reconciled.
- If you don’t know Christ today, it is my desire that you would come to know him. You don’t have to be outside of Christ. You can be saved.
- You can know for sure that heaven is your home and that Christ is Your savior!
- And in knowing Christ and being in Christ there are privileges that are available to you that were previously not known. They were a mystery.
- Outside of Christ we are
We can understand our privileged and previously unknown position in Christ by seeing three implications of being in Christ.
Implication #1– We are partakers of God’s promise. V.1-6
(1) For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
- “For this cause”- Paul links what he’s about to say back to the last paragraph.
- Paul is essentially saying that
- Because you are no longer a stranger, and foreigner, but now you’re family…
- Because Jesus has made peace…
- Because Jesus has proclaimed peace to us…
- Because Jesus has brought Jews and gentiles together in the church…
- It’s because of all these things that I bow my knee (see verse 14).
- But it’s almost like he realizes – wait I haven’t told you why this is such a privilege.
- There’s even more to this than just all of those things.
- I want you to know how privileged you and I are.
- Sure I am in prison, but I’m here because of the privilege God has given to me.
(2) If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
- Paul believes that he is privileged and that the Ephesians are privileged because of the “dispensation of the grace of God” that had been given to him.
- Dispensation- means administration or steward ship.
- Paul’s view of his calling was not that everything would be circumstantially perfect.
- He had a message that was controversial to religious Jews, pagan gentiles, and even among jewish believers.
- This had lead him to prison.
- His faithful service to God had lead to difficult outcomes.
- His fulfilling this task had led him to prison.
- Serving God faithfully often leads to difficult circumstances in the short term.
- Eternally the outcomes are always good. The suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- But serving God faithfully doesn’t always lead to perfect outcomes. Often it leads to suffering.
- In spite of this Paul states that he is privileged because of a special stewardship.
- Now what was this special stewardship?
(3) How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, (4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)(5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;(6) That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
- Paul explained that his special stewardship was to be the receiver and then the proclaimer of revelation that had previously been unknown and not yet fully revealed to mankind.
- This is what he calls the “mystery of Christ”.
- What was this mystery?
- It was that God’s revelation and dealing with Israel was leading to the church age, where Jew and gentile alike would be heirs of the promise of God, and partakers of the rich inheritance of Christ through the gospel.
- Essentially he is telling them that His privileged stewardship was to be the first to tell them of their privileged position in Christ- that they (gentiles) would be partakers of the promise of eternal life in Christ by the Gospel.
- This privileged position came about because of what God had not before revealed, but had now revealed through him and the other apostles and prophets.
- What an incredible privilege! Not only do we get to be a part of God’s family in Christ, Not only do I get to be a part of the ekklessia- the assembly of God. But I like Paul am called to be a proclaimer of this truth.
Implication #2– We are proclaimers of God’s promise. V.7-9
(7) Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
- Paul explains his ministry as a person that gets to explain what had previously been unknown, but is so monumental.
- It was through God’s power that He was given this privilege- he was saved by God’s power, and even now ministers through God’s power…
(8) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
- He describes this monumental task here- “that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
- He was able to be a pioneer proclaiming to people who were afar off, and strangers, and without hope, and spiritually destitute that there is so much available to them in Christ.
- This is what he had been doing for the last couple of chapters.
- He wanted them to know the riches of their inheritance, the hope of their calling, and the incredible power available to them in Christ.
(9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
- Paul was gifted to be able to show what is the fellowship of the mystery: This is the idea that there is inter-connectedness because of this truth. Jew and Gentile etc al partake in Christ.
- And according to Paul, even though many did not see it or understand it to this extent before, God had been working on it all along- “from the beginning of the world.”
- What an incredible role to be asked to share what God had been planning since the world began.
- What an incredible stewardship to proclaim the message that impacts peoples eternities.
- You know this was given to us as well.
- Is this how you and I see our role in the Gospel proclamation?
- This means I should be faithful to proclaim it.
- This means I should be responsible to believe it.
- This means I should live a life that adorns the Truth of it.
- This means I should live it out!
Implication #3– We are purposed by God’s promise. V.10-13
(10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
(11) According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
- Paul explains that this mystery which is now revealed- that God is bringing together both Jew and gentile in the church- is showing the wisdom of God to the spiritual world.
- Both obedient and fallen angels see the manifold wisdom of God.
- The demons “believe and tremble”.
- Heaven rejoices over what God has done through Jesus.
- If angels rejoice and devils tremble at the work that God has done and is doing through Christ in the local NT assembly, I should take this work quite seriously.
- I should take the praise of God seriously.
- I should put my whole self into making disciples and praising God in my local church.
(12) In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
(13) Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
- In Christ now we have boldness and access.
- Christ has made us right with God, therefore we can go to God without fear of our unworthiness.
- We can actually go to God.
- Jesus said in John 14:6
(6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
- Because this is true, Paul’s desire was that the Ephesians would see his circumstance as the result of a great privilege to reveal this mystery to them, and in that they could be “proud” in a sense.
- This was God’s grace both for Paul and for them.
- 4 Terms in this last point:
- Boldness- Because of being redeemed and part of what God is doing, I can pray big prayers according to His Will boldly.
- Access- Because of Jesus, I have access to God and through the indwelling Holy Spirit. I should take advantage of this privilege.
- Circumstance- Because of Jesus, if I am persecuted or mistreated for the gospel’s sake, it is my privilege and glory.
- Purpose- Because of who I am in Christ, I have purpose for living on this earth. I’m his ambassador of this incredible good news.
- In the text and in the lesson we talked about the privilege we have in being partakers of the promise of the Gospel. What is a proper response to that truth?
- God revealed that the gospel is for all people. Since this is true, what practical ways should it effect my thinking and behavior?
- What in today’s lesson or text stood out to you as something you need to remember, do, or share with someone else?
- Share prayer requests