Share This Episode
Grace To You John MacArthur Logo

Paul's Ministry: The Mystery of Christ in You

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 23, 2022 4:00 am

Paul's Ministry: The Mystery of Christ in You

Grace To You / John MacArthur

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 640 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

March 23, 2022 4:00 am

Click the icon below to listen.

Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Encouraging Word
Don Wilton
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig

In Ephesians 3 for pulses, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.

What is the mystery that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs or takers of his promise by the gospel. The mystery is that Jew and Gentile are made fellow heirs to receive and possess God within. That's our message subject to the Hewlett happier we are know what Spurgeon said is certainly true, but many Christians may hear that and think what is union with Christ. What is this blessing that can make my life happier and happier.

John MacArthur helps answer that today as he continues his series called complete in Christ and now with today's lesson. Here's John MacArthur. Look at Colossians chapter 1 verse 24 to 29 is really what were studying at this particular point and I think if there's any one thing that continually comes through to me in the ministry that God has called me to her in the ministry that God is called any of us to it is that there is never any effective presentation of divine truth without a struggle never.

You're constantly dealing with objects that want to make it difficult if it isn't the fact that people are definitely cannot hear, and you have to train people and work until you are able to communicate in that way it is that you're dealing with false doctrine that you're dealing with heresy that you're dealing with the sinfulness or maybe it's that you're on the mission field in your dealing with a language barrier you're struggling against your own ignorance but always it seems always. It seems to present God's truth. There is going to be a struggle.

The adversary always makes it difficult and it is no less true as we look at the book of Colossians that Paul is in a struggle here even as he writes this letter to the Christians in the city of Colossae.

He is writing from prison struggle in his own life has brought them to the place where he is been put in prison in Rome because of his message. Because of his preaching because of his proclamation of the truth of Jesus Christ. In addition to that, while he was a prisoner in Rome dear man of God by the name of the past for us visits him preference is undoubtedly the founding pastor of the church in Colossae and a pacifist tells him Paul something tragic is occurring in our city. Our people are being exposed to terrible false true there are teachers that have come to Colossae and they are saying that Jesus is not God and they are saying that Jesus Christ cannot save a man that Jesus Christ is unable to bring a man to God. He is neither God nor the Savior, and they are teaching legalism ritual they are teaching mysticism their teaching asceticism their teaching all kinds of strange things including the worship of angels in all of this heresy. A pacifist tells Paul as it is attacking the church the young church in Colossae and so Paul sits down in response to a path first writes this letter and puts it back in the hand of a path for us and says take it to your people. It is the word of God, to them and so in the book of Colossians Paul is clearing out heresy.

Heresy regarding the person of Jesus Christ and his total power to save. That becomes the great heart of this letter and that becomes the major theme in the first two chapters and in the last two chapters.

The behavior of the believers that should come in response to an understanding of who Christ is and what he has accomplished in salvation. Now, it is important that the apostle Paul in sending this letter along give the Colossian Christians some reason to believe him. It's one thing to say something at something else to have people except what you say is the truth.

And Paul in writing to the Colossians wanted them to believe and to hear and obey what he said but since he was not the founding pastor of the church in Colossae as he had been in many other churches and they perhaps did not know him that well maybe some of them did not know them at all. It was important that somewhere in this letter he state his right to speak and be heard and be believed and be obeyed and that he does in 124 to 29 on these particular verses, Paul is saying because of who I am and what God has called me to do I speak the way I speak with the anticipation that you shall hear and obey me. Especially important pieces if you want to know why I'm writing the way I'm writing. If you want to know that God has called me and how he has called me and what he has called me to do you want to know the gamut of my ministry and why I am dealing with you as I am here it is. Paul gives us eight features of the ministry. Now let's begin by reviewing the first floor rather rapidly. Number one I gave you the source of the ministry. The source of the ministry.

Notice verse 23, right at the end I Paul am made a minister, so the sources outside the man. I didn't make myself a minister I was made a minister verse 25 of which I am made a minister, according to the responsibility as it were given to me by God. God made me a minister. The source of any ministry.

Beloved is God it is God who calls us it is God who grants us. His spirit is God who directs us into the ministry he wants for us it is God who, by his spirit gives us the gifts of the Spirit in order that we might minister that it is God who equips us physiologically. It is God who gives us capacities and abilities, humanly speaking, to function in areas that he designs for us it is God who calls us to a ministry. Therefore, any ministry that I have any gifts that I have any abilities that I have RA stewardship committed to me by God to be returned to him in faithfulness. Secondly, Paul not only talks about the source of the ministry, but he talked about the spirit of the ministry.

Verse 24 the spirit of the ministry, who now rejoice the spirit of the ministry is joy. This was always Paul's attitude. Paul always had the attitude of joy and I told you why. Joy is a product of humility.

Now remember that joy is a product of humility. If I really believe that I don't deserve anything anything I get makes me happy and positive way.

I was a blasphemer I was a Christian killer. I was this I was that I was the chief of sinners. I was all of these things, but God counted me faithfully put me in a ministry, blessed me gave me this and this and this and everything I've got. It is undeserved. What else can I be happy. What else could I be with joy is what else could I be, but thankful something I think.

And in studying the Scripture you will find that whenever God calls his greatest service. Whatever got picked out his choice. People he always made them face their total unworthiness so that anything they had, they would realize as a cause for joy because it was a gift of God's grace. For example, Moses at the burning bush could only see his imperfections never that he says hello what am I going to ice this day I have a eye. I have a couldn't talk. And God says to them. Look, you're right, but I made your mouth and I will make it work and I know that every time Moses got up and gave a speech he knew the source of whatever God called his choice servants. He always made them face the reality of their unworthiness and their uselessness apart from him. Take for example them. 12 God said to Moses going I'll be with you, teach you what you shall say.

Take for example Gideon in Judges chapter 6 Gideon at the threshing forces all my Lord Jesus, where with all or how will I save Israel you calling me to save Israel Gideon says my family is poor and Manasseh, in other words, I can even finance and Army pull off and I am the least in my father's house. I'm the lowest guy in the house. There were always poor as a church mouse to finance the deal. How my going to get enough credibility deleted. God said good you're just where I want you. You know your useless. So what is God say to I like it. He says go in this thy might. Your mind is in your humility and what God got an army.

You know what 300 people to have an army of three and a people knock off anybody. They didn't have the fight just got a big circle blue Hornbrook pictures and they kill each other.

The other army Isaiah. Isaiah went to the temple in Isaiah chapter 6 and he saw the glory of God and he said I am a man of what unclean lips and I dwell miss the people of unclean lips, and an angel came off the fire and took the coal and touched his tongue, the symbol of purification.

All of a sudden he heard the voice of God and he said what hear my Lord, send me. She God wanted to show him that he was nothing.

And God wants everybody that he ever calls into any ministry to make that initial recognition that is useless. Apart from what God wants to do. Peter on the shore of Galilee, got a lot of plans for Peter and he on the shore of Galilee, saw the glory of the Lord and the miracle of the fishing we saw Jesus display this divine creative power, he says, depart from me, for I am what sinful man old are Galway Lord Eileen deserve to be in your presence and Jesus looked at him and said that's good, Peter. From now on you will catch men or just the kind of person I can use you see in all of God's choice servants God has to bring them to a sense of unworthiness, a sense of sinfulness, a sense of inadequacy and a sense of undeserving this because that's at the very heart of joy and everything that happens is a cause for rejoicing.

Paul like the rest and deserve anything but everything he got from God gave them cause for joy and Octavian the ministry as long as you maintain a humility you can maintain a joy. But as soon as you get the thinking you're not getting what you deserve your better, you're a better guy than what you're getting. You're in a lot of trouble. Then you get bitter and begin complaining and he lost the joy the ministry I meet people of lost enjoy the ministry. I do Christians who are tired of serving the Lord, you know why because they think they should have better than they get the truth of the matter is that we all deserve nothing third thing we studied last time the suffering of the ministry not only the source of it in the spirit of it joy. But the suffering of it. He says in verse 24. I rejoice in my suffering for you and I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body sake, which is the church and that he says look the suffering of the ministry. It's this I'm gonna have to suffer because the world is through persecuting Christ. Since the world can't get the Christ because he is in around her to persecute me but that's all right because if I suffer getting the gospel to you. That's good. I'm willing to suffer while says I'm willing to die for the work of the Lord. That's what he wants. The fourth thing. Just reviewing the fourth thing that Paul looked at his ministry was the scope of the ministry. Verse 25. What is the scope at the end of verse 25 to fulfill what what the word of God.

What is the scope of the ministry. It's just to do what God is called you to do to maximize your efforts to fulfill the word of God. God has spoken to me. Paul said, and God has told me what to do and it is my responsibility to do it fulfill the word of God.

What is that mean it means to fulfill the word of God to me in my call. It means to preach the word of the gospel it means to teach the whole counsel of God.

It means to fulfill all to do what God wants me to do by proclaiming his truth. That's to fulfill the word of God forces the scope of my ministry is simple, I just got to do what God tells me I'm just going to obey him. I will proclaim his word to the unsaved, teaches word of the believers only in the way that he wants me and only in the place that he wants me to do it and Paul knew what his calling was because God said to him you shall go to the Gentile and be my parcel to the Gentiles, and God designed where he was to go and he went there and he obeyed God and when he died he said I can tell you right now. I fulfilled my ministry. I finished my course, the great desire of the man of God, the great desire of the servant of God, the great desire of anybody in any ministry is to fulfill God's will by proclaiming God's word in the place of God's call and Paul would let anything stop. Absolutely nothing would stop the apostle Paul from doing what he knew God wanted to do. That's the scope of the ministry fulfill it though, do a half-baked job will do a three-quarter job.

Don't slough it off to the whole job in the place that God is called you to do and that takes tremendous commitment to do it. That brings us to the next four we seen the source of the ministry is God the spirit of the ministry joy suffering of the ministry is on the behalf of Christ for the sake of the church. The scope of the ministry is to fulfill the whole word of God.

Fifth, the subject of the ministry. Now what is it that we are saying. What is it that we are proclaiming what is the subject. What is the message of the ministry. Verse 26. Even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints what is the subject of the ministry, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations. And, incidentally, ages means, times and generations means people so it's been hidden from times and people, but is now given manifestation to the saints what is the message the mystery we are teach people the mystery sale. Wait a minute, what is this mystery thing all about our let me give you a quick theology of the term mystery.

This is very interesting. First of all, God has always kept some secrets.

Did you know God is always had some things and only he knows. And you know you never know that no one ever knows what got a Deuteronomy 2929 is great verse. Don't ever forget. It's what I always use when I can answer a question. Deuteronomy 2929 the secret things belong to the Lord, the handiwork all the secret things belong to the Lord. So God has some secrets that he never tells anybody and that's where our intelligence ends and God begins. Secondly, God has some secrets that he reveals to special people all through history, not everybody knows them just special people say who are the Psalm 2514. The secret of the Lord is with them that hear him. Proverbs 332. His secret is with the righteous, listen, there are some things that only God knows there are some things he reveals only the special people who are the special people.

They are the righteous. They are the ones who believe in God. They are the ones who commit themselves to him. They're the ones in whom the Holy Spirit dwells in this age they are the children of God. And thirdly, there are some secrets which God hid from everybody in the past, and he reveals to all the saints in the New Testament. Those are the mysteries. So if you see the word mystery in the Bible.

What is it something that was never revealed in the Old Testament to anybody but is now revealed in the New Testament to everybody.

Everybody who is a Christian everybody who was a saint. Look at verse 26. Now, with that in mind.

Even the mystery that is the things hidden from the Old Testament saints, which have been hidden from times and generations but now are made manifest to his saints what is it, then John, what is it, the mystery is the New Testament. The revelation of Christ incarnate the story of God becoming man of God in human flesh.

That's the mystery sacred secret and that mystery is approached many ways. There are other mysteries in the New Testament the mystery of iniquity to read about that mystery of the rapture, the mystery Babylon in Revelation 17 some form of evil that it never been revealed earlier, the mystery of the church.

The church is not seen in the Old Testament, the mystery of the bride in Ephesians chapter 5. The Old Testament never saw a new group as the new bride of the Messiah. Any other than the nation Israel the mystery of Israel's unbelief. The Old Testament never saw time when Israel totally abandoned God mysteries of the New Testament. That's what Paul is saying what then is the subject of our ministry is the fullness of New Testament revelation say we teach the Old Testament. Of course we are. That goes without saying, but the fullness of our mists of our message is all of the mysteries of the New Testament that make the Old Testament meaningful so he doesn't use the word mystery, in the sense of some secret teaching or some rite or ceremony hidden from the masses and revealed two exclusive elite people, not some kind of thing like the Babylonian mystery religions, not a mystical thing. The mystery is simply something in the past it was hidden that is revealed in the New Testament that was first 27, to whom God would make known, this is to the saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is, here's the mystery of Christ in you the hope of glory.

There are many different things are called a mystery.

In the New Testament, but the major one major one. Paul points out, here is Christ in you, in the Old Testament. The Jews knew Messiah was coming. They were told that what they never really fully knew was that the Messiah would not only come but that he would live in the very bodies of his people. What they didn't know was that your body and my body would become the temple of the living God. They did know that I was a mystery, and listen, here's the fantastic thing that the Jews never saw in the Old Testament the riches of the glory of this mystery among the what Gentiles that's us folks they may have understood the Messiah related to Israel. They never understood the relationship of an indwelling side of the Gentile. This is the church. This is Christ dwelling in us and his church. We are rich because as Gentiles because as the church, Christ is in us, and this is the message. This is the subject of the ministry to tell people hated you know that the living God wants to come and dwell in your life. What a fantastic reality. What a thrilling concept in Ephesians 3. Four. Paul says, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of man as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. What is the mystery that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body partakers of his promise by the gospel. The mystery is that Jew and Gentile are made fellow heirs to receive and possess God within.

That's our message. This is the subject of the ministry. We were not running around the world announcing now all of you people please try to do better. You know like my old college is a ship or shape out were not saying that that's right. That's the way that's the way he always said it backwards were not saying that were not forcing on somebody some imposed ritual or some self styled alteration of life are not saying please could you make your New Year's resolutions every month saying that's not the message. What were saying is God wants to come and live in you. That's what were saying how rich we are, how rich we have become. This becomes a theme in Paul's heart as he talks again and again and again about riches in Ephesians 118 the eyes of your understanding should be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling in the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the same riches in chapter 3 of Ephesians verse 16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man we are rich we are rich because Christ is in us, and that's rich that's rich beyond imagination. Because if you look at Colossians 23 it says, in whom, and it refers to Christ in verse two in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and no listen in Christ is all wisdom and all knowledge, and Chrysler's where in water resource water resource in the Romans. Just a thought.

Verse 23 of chapter 9.

Is it and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which she's prepared junta glory. God by his mercy, made us rich now and forever.

We are rich Romans 1133 he says it again all the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God is so rich in knowledge so rich in wisdom so rich in mercy, so rich in grace so rich in love so rich in everything and he deposited all of us incredible reality Christ in you the hope of glory. That's the incredible truth. John MacArthur looked at today on grace to you as he continues his series titled complete in Christ you know John, this portion of Colossians 1 that were looking at. You've described this is a very personal passage because Paul uses a lot of first-person pronouns like you and we and what is telling the church at Colossae and of course we know Paul was above all about putting the spotlight on Christ. He had a humble view of himself.

He didn't like to talk about himself. So what should we take away from the personal nature of this book of Colossians. Yet I think that's a really wonderful insight. I think Christ was very personal to Paul and and not just in the encounter on the Damascus Road or subsequent encounters when he saw the risen Christ but what I think is. He said this, he said for me to live is Christ. Yeah, it's not I but Christ in me right it's Christ in me so II think this is the personal reality that distinguishes Christianity from every other religion in the world. It's the imminence of Christian truth.

Religions tend to postulate God's who are far off and transcendent and distant. And somehow we have to do whatever we have to do to appease that God, the truth is God for a believer is not far away. He's living in that believer's heart. This is intimacy at its most extreme level. It's not as though he is Jesus import this waste that I have been with you restricting of the spirit of God and been good that I've been with you but when I go away.

I'm going to send the Holy Spirit. And he's gonna be in you. And Paul says to the Romans that every believer has the spirit in him.

We've all been made to the drink of the same spirit so this is a stunning reality in terms of just looking at religion in general that the living and true God abides in the heart of everyone who believes in him. Paul understood that and that's what that's what dominated his life, Christ living in him and I think for all of us. You might say wallet beer, but he was an apostle right he was an apostle. So it was that was unique to him.

No, the I is in the we use in Colossians demonstrate the fact that he's saying what I've experienced as an apostle is what you all experience because it's the same Christ is taken up residence in your heart that that is the amazing wonder of true religion that God lives in the hearts of his people. Yes, that's right, John, and thank you friend if you want to dig deeper into the amazing truth about the incomparable riches of salvation in Christ or any other truth in God's word. I would encourage you to pick up the MacArthur study Bible. It's 25,000 footnotes will explain virtually every verse in Scripture to order a copy.

Contact us today. Call 855 grace or go to, along with the footnotes.

The study Bible also has introductions to all 66 books with outlines, maps, charts, and more that take you deep into God's word and help you understand and apply it better than ever. MacArthur study Bible comes in the new American Standard English standard and new King James version and in many non-English translations as well. To order your copy, call our toll-free number 855 grace or go to our website and when you visit take advantage of the thousands of free Bible study to that includes grace to use blog and past episodes of this broadcast and episodes of grace to television along with multiple devotionals from John MacArthur and much more to see all that we have to offer.

Go to for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you.

Television this Sunday to check your local listings for channel in times then be here tomorrow when John looks at how to be a bold witness for Christ. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime