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The Mystery

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2023 2:12 pm

The Mystery

The Verdict / John Munro

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January 30, 2023 2:12 pm

Pastor Rob Reece January 29, 2023 Ephesians 3:1-13


So when you read through the four Gospels, you're confronted with this issue.

Why was Israel not able to understand who Jesus was, who He is, or His mission? Jesus goes out into space and time and He proclaims to Israel, repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. And He tells Israel what living in this kingdom looks like. He says things like, blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of God. And He performs miracles.

He heals the sick, He turns water into wine, and He raises the dead. And Israel, God's own chosen people, rejected. And when Jesus hangs on the cross, the sheep scatter. In Luke's Gospel, when the women go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen, the disciples are reluctant to believe.

And Luke writes, these words seem like an idle tale. They didn't believe them, even though they'd been with Jesus for three years. And yet Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for sins according to Scriptures, and that He was buried, and He rose on the third day according to Scriptures. So if the crucifixion and the resurrection and this new kingdom, which includes both Jew and Gentile, is in Scriptures, then why didn't people get it? Think about the Pharisees. Weren't they the Bible scholars of their day, and yet they didn't understand these things?

Why didn't they understand these things? Well, in his letter to Ephesians, to the Ephesian church, Paul tells us that there were certain things that were hidden, and he calls these things mysteries. And now through the grace of God, Paul reveals these mysteries to us. In fact, Paul calls himself a steward of the mysteries of God. So in this passage of Scripture we're going to look at, Paul says that by the grace of God, the Spirit has revealed to him a mystery that's been hidden for ages. So let's read it. This is Ephesians 3 verses.

We'll start with 1 through 6. For this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, on behalf of you Gentiles, assuming that you've heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation as I've written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men and other generations, as it's now been revealed to His holy apostles and the prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Now when you read the Bible, it is very, very clear that Israel is God's chosen people. Deuteronomy 7, the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. God promises Israel, I will make you a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. So Paul says to Israel, to Israel, think about this, belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the worship, and the promises. All the things that God promised Abraham and the patriarchs belonged to Israel.

So what about you and me? What about the Gentiles? What about all of the other nations in the world? What about those of us who are not Jewish? Well, Paul says in Ephesians 2, Pastor Pyle preached on this this morning, that the Gentiles, that's you and me, most of us, were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world. So here's the situation, Jews and Gentiles were two entirely distinct and separate groups. Israel is God's chosen people, they're the recipients of all of God's promises, and Gentiles, on the other hand, are lawless, unholy, unclean, idolatrous, pagans, lost and totally without hope, separated from the promises of God, and apparently separated from the redemptive plan of God. And furthermore, as we heard this morning, Gentiles were separated by the Jews by the law.

You remember what Peter said in Acts, he sees this vision of the sheep coming down with all these things on the sheep. He says, you know yourselves how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or visit with anyone of another nation. They were separate. So the only way that a Gentile could partake in the promises of God is to become a Jew.

That's the only way. He had to convert to Judaism and he had to follow the law of Moses. Israelites were God's chosen people, so if you wanted the blessings of God, you had to become a Jew. But this is what Paul makes very clear in this letter to the church in Ephesus, that the Israelites are not the only chosen people of God.

If you're in Christ, then you too were chosen from before the foundation of the world. So as we heard this morning, because of the work of Christ, the law that separated Jew and Gentile is gone. Christ is the end of the law of righteousness to everyone who believes.

Paul says Christ has abolished the law of commandments expressed in ordinances. So in Christ, Jew and Gentile, this was the message this morning, has been made into one new man. And this doesn't happen through conversion to Judaism.

It happens through the gospel of Jesus Christ. So Gentiles who were once far off, without hope, alienated from God, are now brought into the family of God through Christ Jesus. Paul says in Romans we've been grafted into this family, but that's not all. Here's the mystery. Let's go again to Ephesians 3 verse 6.

Here's a mystery. The mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Union with Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free, also means union with one another.

Members of the same body. In the church, Jews and Gentiles are equal, equal terms without any distinction whatsoever. In fact, Paul says we're fellow heirs. You remember the promise to Abraham. Your offspring, in your offspring, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Well this has now been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Paul says in Galatians, if you are Christ then you are Abraham's offspring heirs according to the promise. So in the church, here's the point, Jews and Gentiles are number one members of the same body. There's neither Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.

You're one. And second thing is we are co-heirs to the eternal promises in Christ. So Paul says this, here's the point, I want you to know, church in Ephesus, and I want you to know Calvary church, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

I want you to know, I want you to know that. That Jew and Gentile, all who are in Christ, have access to the unsearchable riches in Christ. You think about what Paul has already said in Ephesians.

Think about these unsearchable riches. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He has predestined us for adoptions as sons and daughters, and we, who were once far off, are now children of the most high God. We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, and he's poured out all his grace on us. And you and I who were once lost and without hope are now heirs to infinite riches and infinite glory.

That's what Paul is saying. Yes, we will experience these blessings in full when we see the Lord face to face, but right now, and I hope you understand this, that you and I right now in this life experience the blessings of Christ, the riches of Christ. Right now, and please hear me, He will heal your marriage. He will take away your addictions. He will wipe away your hurt and your anger and your pain, and He will cast away your sins and remember them no more. You need wisdom, He gives it to you. You need help, He gives it to you. You need direction, He leads you in the path of righteousness for His name's sake.

You know what? My cup overflows. All the blessings, all the riches available in Christ come to us. He lavishes upon us grace upon grace, and there is no end to the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ. All the blessings, inexhaustible, infinite, and impossible to comprehend, all of them are available to you and me.

He's able to do far more than we can think or imagine. In Christ, this wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile is broken down, and you and I are co-heirs to this incredible eternal riches. Do you know that?

Let me ask you a question. If this is true, and it is, how in the world is it possible for any professing believer in Christ to be lukewarm? How is it possible for any follower of Christ to be less than enthusiastic, less than on fire for Christ in His Gospel? How is it possible for anybody to be bored with Jesus Christ? You know what Christ says about lukewarm Christians?

You know what He says? You think about what Paul is saying. Think about the wealth we have and the blessings and the promises we have in Christ Jesus. I count everything, everything as a loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. It's that important.

Everything else is rubbish. All the promises available in Christ are available to every single person who puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. He's the answer for absolutely everything, everything, everything. I was listening to a sermon by Billy Gray.

I'm from Billy Graham on the way to Calvary just a little bit ago. And he said, he said, science has answered many of the questions we have about this world. It's given us cures for this and for that, but it has never offered a cure for the depraved human heart.

Science has not found a cure for hate and bigotry and envy and greed and lust and none of it. The answer to all of these things is Christ Jesus. He reconciles us to God and to each other.

So when you think about Christ and all He is and all that He has done, all the riches that are found in Him, how can anybody not be on fire for Christ? I don't understand. So here's the challenge for you. Number one, check to see if you've got a spiritual pulse. Make sure you're alive in Christ.

Make sure you're connected to the true vine. Are you carried away by the things of this world? Are your eyes down here? Are you looking to Him? Make sure you're alive. Make sure you know Him. Make sure you've got a spiritual heartbeat.

That's the first thing. And the second thing is if you are alive, are you healthy? Are you healthy? Do you have an increase in love for this Holy One, for Christ Himself? Is your inner man growing, being renewed every day? Do you have a hunger and a thirst for the Word of God?

Are you bearing fruit? You know, I think a lot of times people see Christ as their ticket to heaven. Yeah, I believe, so I'm going to heaven. But I think, no, you don't see. He's infinitely more than that.

Infinitely more than that. The unsearchable riches of Christ. Turn again and see Christ. All the blessings that are available in Him. Paul says He is your very life. Apart from Him, you can do absolutely zero.

You having problems? He's the answer. You want to be blessed? He's the answer. He's the answer.

He is the answer. Let's look now at Ephesians 3, 7 through 13. Verse 7. Of this Gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me by the working of His power. To me, though I'm the very least of the saints, listen to Paul's humility, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And to bring the light for everyone, what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purposes that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him, we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

So I ask you not to lose heart over what I'm suffering for you, which is your glory. Now in this day and age, I don't know how much thought we give about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, but in the Apostle Paul's day, in the first century in Palestine, it was a big deal. And not only were Jews and Gentiles separated by the law, but the Jews were under Roman oppression, Gentile oppression. So they were expecting this Messiah to come and crush the oppressors and rule the nations with a rod of iron. They were not expecting, the Jews were not expecting this Gospel of peace, a message that not only reconciled sinners to God, but sinners to each other, Jews and Gentiles. They weren't expecting a message that said if you're Christ, then you're Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise. There's neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, you're all one. They did not expect that. No one in heaven or earth was expecting a new multicultural society made up of every tribe, nation, and tongue. Scripture says we're a chosen race, talking about the church, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own possession in the history of the world.

Now think about this, nothing has ever been seen like this before. There have been attempts at creating these empires, empires to rule the world. Think about in Scripture, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome.

Think about our day, Russia, Putin, Stalin, Hitler. They all come crumbling down. These are man-made. Now God is building one new, one new race of people who were brought forth not by the sword, but by the power of a resurrected Messiah. This new kingdom is being built through the Spirit and the proclamation of the Word of God. It's being built for the past 2,000 years.

Empires crumble and they fall, but not this one. And this was God's plan all along. This was His eternal purpose, Paul says, that He realized in Christ Jesus. So through the church, you have to see this, through the church we see before our very eyes a demonstration of God's power, His grace, His wisdom. We see a kingdom being built.

But we're not the only ones who see it. Look at Ephesians 3 10. Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. Yes, even the powers and the principalities in the heavenly places witness what is going on in this church.

Let me read this to you. This is from John Stott. So then, as the Gospel spreads throughout the world, this new and variegated Christian community develops. It was as if a great drama is being enacted. History is the theater. The world is the stage. And church members in every land are the actors. God Himself has written the play and He directs and produces it.

Act by act, scene by scene, the story continues to unfold. But who are the audience? They are the cosmic intelligence, the powers and the principalities in the heavenly places. We're to think of them as spectators in a drama of salvation. Thus, the history of the Christian church becomes a graduate school for angels, both holy and unholy. Fallen angels see it too. So imagine, Paul is going to tell us later in Ephesians 6 that we battle not the flesh, but powers and principalities in the heavenly places. Now imagine this, that these powers and principalities, the evil in the heavenly places, as they witnessed the crucifixion of Christ. Think about it. They must have thought, okay, we've killed the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel.

They knew who He was. We've tried to wipe out Israel time and time again. We can't do that, but at least now we've got them under Roman control. We've won. It's over. We've killed the Messiah.

But that's not true. It was only the beginning. So through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the authority of the powers and the principalities has been broken. And through the gospel, this new kingdom made up of every tribe, every nation, every tongue is bursting forth. And the church, this is Paul's point, the church is a beacon of light that shines out not just on this earth, but in heaven itself. And the powers and the principalities in the heavenly places are seeing the manifold wisdom of God. The forces of evil cannot stop it. They cannot stop the church of God.

They see the manifold wisdom, but they also learn from the church, but you know what? We got a place we're going to. Yes, God is indeed reconciling all things to Himself. All things will have their place. And yes, they're terrified.

All things will have their place either in glory with Christ or in the lake of fire. There is no escaping God. They see this. They see this kingdom being built of all kinds of people all over the world and they can do nothing to stop it. And they know that God in Christ is reconciling all things to Himself. There is no escaping God.

The final consummation of all things is coming and everybody sees it. Until then, we need to understand that you and I, Christians, followers of Christ, are not immune to suffering. Yes, we experience the rich blessings in Christ, but we will suffer. When Paul wrote this letter to the saints in Ephesus, he was in prison. And he says, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles. So, he's a prisoner of Christ, not Nero, not Rome. He knows his God is sovereign and God has him there for a reason. Why is he there?

On behalf of the Gentile believers. He's there for a purpose. So, he says this in verse 13, don't lose heart over what I'm suffering. I'm suffering for your glory. I'm here for a reason. Your glory. So, here's the point. Suffering precedes glory.

It will happen. On Friday, I officiated a funeral gravesite here at Calvary. And as I spoke, I watched the tears come down the faces of the friends and the family. And I reminded them, as I remind you, that this world is not our home. You and I are sojourners. We're passing through a world that is not our home. Human history has never known a time without death, disease, war, destruction, ever since the fall of man. And Paul will tell us we are, after all, involved in a spiritual warfare against the powers and principalities in the heavenly places. So, we put on this armor of God. The battle that we experience is very real. We will suffer. By trials and tribulations, we enter the kingdom of God. The battle is real. And just like the powers and principalities see the manifold wisdom of God in the building of His church, we can also see a storm gathering. Evil conspiring against His church. We know it's happening.

You don't have to look far. The hatred people have for the church, for the Word of God, Jesus warned this would happen. And yes, we will suffer. Jesus tells the Apostle John to write to the church in Smyrna, the devil is going to throw some of you in prison, but be faithful unto death, because I will give you the crown of life. The suffering is momentary. The suffering that you and I experience as followers of Christ, the trials, the tribulations, and yes, the persecutions, they're not pointless. Paul was suffering for our glory. We suffer. We suffer, but you know what? It is preparing us for an eternal way to glory beyond all comparison.

It is not pointless. Until then, until we see Christ face to face, we have to be willing to go through this suffering. Not because of sin. We don't want to suffer because of sin, but we want to suffer for His church.

Yes, it's a good thing. Be willing to suffer for the church, the church purchased by the blood of Christ. This is God's new society, male and female, slave and Greek, all of us, a new society. And it is His means to spread the good news, purchased by His own blood. The church is central to the purpose of God.

It ought to be central to us. So be willing to give everything for the church and for somebody else's glory that they might be saved. Yeah, just like Paul. That's right.

Be willing to go through it. So grace was given to Paul to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to bring the light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. The mystery is that Jews and Gentiles are fellow heirs of the blessings in Christ Jesus. In the church age, that's it. So Paul, you remember what Jesus told him? He says, I'm going to send you out to the Gentiles to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness into light.

And that's exactly what Paul was doing. He's shining the light for the Gentiles to see Christ. Yes, the salvation in Christ and then the wonderful blessings we have in Him. Understand the unsearchable riches in Christ, these infinite treasures.

It's the same light that you and I are supposed to be shining out there in this dark world. All the blessings of Christ are available to absolutely every person if they will just come. Every tribe, every nation, every tongue.

We get a picture of that here at Calvary Church, don't we? How many nations do we have here? 40 some nations coming to worship. One people, one God.

On staff, a Jamaican, a Scot, an Indian, and a couple of good old boys. Yeah, bringing all kinds of people, brothers and sisters. It's a picture of what heaven will be like. This is the power of the Gospel, and it does not come by the scheme of man. It comes by the power of the Gospel.

It's a living, breathing temple being built by God Himself with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. So, here it is. If you don't know Christ Jesus, He still says, come. All who labor and are heavy laden, come and I will give you rest. Whoever comes to me, I will never cast out. He still stands with open arms, and it doesn't matter who you are, what you've done. He says, come. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. And He says, come and experience all He has, all He is, and all He has to offer.

He is endless, limitless. And if you know Christ, and your spiritual heartbeat is weak, well, you need to set aside every weight and sin that's weighting you down, and you need to turn and relook at Jesus Christ and understand that in Him are blessings that you can't even imagine. You need to turn and look. You need to set your eyes on Christ where He is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is your very life, appears, you will appear with Him in glory.

Set your mind on Him. Feed on Christ, and don't take your eyes off of Him. And for all of us, it is very clear that the church of Jesus Christ is very dear and very precious to Him.

He purchased us with His own blood. Your brothers and your sisters in Jesus Christ are precious in His sight. Do not forsake the gathering together of the saints. Meet together, encourage one another, and do everything you can to maintain the spirit of unity and the bond of peace. We are one.

It doesn't matter the color of your skin, where you're from, language you speak, we are one, and we are all welcome here. For those who are in Christ, which I hope is all of us, yeah, we see this world falling apart, but God is in control. He said things like this would happen. And you and I have absolutely nothing to fear.

Our future is 100% certain. And we'll read to you again Ephesians, Ephesians 1-13. When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and you believed in Him, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who's the guarantee. We just talked about our inheritance. He's the guarantee of this inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of His glory. You and I are going home one day to be with our Lord. And yes, we will receive our inheritance in full. We're going to a place where we will experience all of these blessings in their fullness, a place that you and I cannot even possibly imagine. No pain, no suffering, no tears, none of the things of this world, none of the sin, none of it. We're heirs to a kingdom, to blessings without end, and a kingdom that has no end. You know that little stone that Daniel talks about that comes and crushes all the kingdoms of the world?

That's it. It will break into pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it will stand forever, and you and I will be there, and we will rule with our Lord. That is our inheritance. That is where we're going. You can taste of that today.

Taste and see that He's good. Revelation 9. Five. Let me read this to you. Worthy are you to take the scroll to open its seals. This is Christ Jesus. For you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation, and you've made them a kingdom of priests to our God. And they shall reign on the earth.

That's you and me. We will be there one day. Don't lose heart, so this is what we have to do. In the meantime, while we wait for our Lord and Savior, Paul says, have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him. You and I, you and I can go right into the throne room of God with boldness and with confidence, and here's the thing, all the powers and principalities in the heavenly places can do nothing about it.

They cannot stop it. We go right there today, right into the very throne room of God, and you know what? All they can do is marvel at the wisdom of God.

Every tribe, nation, and tongue. One people, one God. To God be the glory.

Amen. Gracious Heavenly Father, we do thank You for this Word, this eternal Word. We thank You that You're calling people from all over the world to come and to be reconciled to You through the Lord Jesus. So equip us as You do, Father. Make us bold disciples to go out and to proclaim to the world the rich blessings of Christ, Father. The door is still open. The call still goes out, Father. Boldly equip us and bless us we ask in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-30 17:46:30 / 2023-01-30 17:57:49 / 11

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