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God’s Mystery Revealed: United in Christ (Ephesians 3:1-13)

Ephesians 3:1–13 - 1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 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. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. 

 

What does today’s passage say?

In today’s passage, Paul begins by identifying himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus (v. 1v). He explains that God gave him grace to proclaim the mystery of Christ (vv. 2-4). This mystery is that Gentiles can inherit God's promises too through faith in Jesus and that the Jews and the Gentiles become united in the body of Christ (vv. 5-6). By God’s power, Paul was appointed as a minister to preach this Good News (vv. 7-8). He felt undeserving, yet still proclaimed Christ’s unsearchable riches (vv. 8-9). God used Paul to lead many unbelieving Gentiles into becoming obedient followers of Jesus (vv. 9-12). Paul concludes by mentioning his anguish for the Ephesians, so they won't lose heart over his imprisonment. Rather, they should see his trials as opportunities for Christ's message to spread more boldly and widely (v. 13).

 

How can I apply Ephesians 3:1-13 to my life?

Paul unpacks the wonderful mystery that Jews and Gentiles alike share the same spiritual riches and blessings through faith in Jesus that is available to all believers in God’s amazing grace. Though once far off with no claim to God’s covenants, now, in Christ, both groups have been brought near and reconciled into one united body. What an incredible, almost incomprehensible reality! Even while enduring hardship as a prisoner for boldly preaching this good news of unity, Paul overflowed with awe at the privileges God had given him. Through God’s power working within him, Paul led many unbelievers into becoming obedient followers of Jesus. Despite his suffering, nothing dampened his passion for making known the unlimited riches of Christ. As believers today, we need the same perspective, resilience and wholehearted commitment modeled by Paul in this passage. Here are some basic principles from this passage we must apply to our lives:

1.     Serve God Faithfully Even in Difficult Circumstances (v. 1): Paul starts off by calling himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Though jailed for preaching the gospel, he still served God passionately. His commitment never wavered, despite the challenging situation. Like Paul, we too might face trials or oppression for our faith. But these circumstances must not become excuses for a lapse in spiritual diligence. God can use adversity to sanctify us or create opportunities to display His power. When affliction comes, we would do well to emulate Paul's tenacity in ministry. Serving others and evangelism should continue, unaffected by our level of comfort. In fact, hardship can open uncommon doors that ease and freedom may not. As God told Paul, His power finds full expression in human weakness. The key is keeping an eternal mindset, relying on the Spirit's empowerment, and considering our trials joyful privileges. So, even in life's troubles, we should press on in good works and spreading the gospel. We can view difficulties as Christ-appointed assignments - parts of God's wise plan to spiritually strengthen us and make us better equipped and reach more people. Our steadfast service in hardship glorifies God by giving evidence of genuine, hopeful faith (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-7).


Food for Thought: What trials might God be allowing to stretch my faith or unlock ministry opportunities? How can I serve Him more devotedly in my current circumstance?


2.     Share the Mystery of Christ with All People (vv. 2-6): Paul explains God gave him grace to proclaim Christ's mystery, once unknown but now revealed. This mystery - that Jews and Gentiles alike inherit God's promises through faith - was hidden for ages. But the Spirit uncovered it so all nations might know. We too should see it as an honor to share Jesus persistently in our communities, tearing down walls between cultures. His love spans all barriers. Like Paul enlightening the Gentiles about this age-old mystery, we must radiate Christ's light to all those still in darkness. God yearns for everyone everywhere to know the endless riches of His grace. So, let's share the wonder of the cross creatively and sensitively with diverse peoples, using cultural savvy, unpacking the mystery against local worldviews, making use of each moment (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 13:47; 26:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).


Food for Thought: Who around me most needs to hear of Christ's love? How can I connect more cross-culturally to share this mystery relationally?


3.     Use Your Spiritual Gifts to Spread the Gospel (vv. 7-12): Paul sees his calling to the Gentiles as a gift of grace. Christ appointed him a minister to carry the gospel abroad. Despite feeling inadequate for such a monumental task, by God's power Paul effectively discipled droves of converts. Like Paul, when we believe in Jesus, we receive spiritual gifts to help build up the body of Christ. As we yield to God's Spirit daily, He'll utilize us to further His redemptive plan if we are faithful. Our unique blend of talents and traits were tailor-made for this purpose. There are many creative avenues beyond public preaching that can spread the Good News to those in dire need of a Savior. Let's ask God to open doors and embolden us to share Jesus with the lost. It is truly a humbling privilege to be used by Him. His power in our weakness can turn tides of unbelief into transformed living. May God make us just like Paul - from least likely minister to exemplary steward of Christ's infinite riches (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 3:7).


Food for Thought: How has God distinctively talented me to advance His Kingdom? What practical steps can I take to cultivate and leverage my spiritual gifts more intentionally for the gospel?


4.     Stay Strong in Your Faith During Trials (v. 13): Paul concludes today’s passage by encouraging the Ephesians, so they won't lose heart just because he has been thrown in prison. Like Paul, as followers of Jesus, we too face adversity that could deflate our faith - persecution, criticism, grief, financial strain, broken relationships. These crushing burdens might entice us to retreat spiritually. Yet, as Paul models, by God's empowering grace, we can weather storms without wilting inwardly. When torrents come, we must lift our gaze to eternity, fortify our spirit through prayer, find refuge among caring believers, and recall that Christ himself endured extreme brutality on our behalf. We can even exult, knowing that trials build Christlike character. By conquering calamity in the Spirit's power, we gain spiritual muscle and nerve to persist serving God amidst resistance. Our unbreakable faith under fire ignites inspiration for fellow Christians. It also spotlights the unshakable hope and victory we have in Jesus, despite anguish, disrespect, and turmoil (Matthew 5:11-12; John 16:33; Romans 8:35-39; James 1:2-4).


Food for Thought: What spiritual disciplines or support systems will empower me to remain stalwart when facing adversity for my faith? How can I develop grit and stamina to flourish when the fury of trials strikes?


Only by God’s glorious grace are we adopted into His family and given every spiritual blessing as dearly loved children! This free gift was once veiled but is now unveiled through Christ for all people - whether Jew or Gentile. As one unified body in Jesus, we share access to the same astounding riches and divine empowerment from the Holy Spirit. No language on earth could fully describe this splendor! Like Paul, may our lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for these privileges. And may we commit with fresh passion to broadcast far and wide this wonderful mystery of boundless hope and acceptance for all found in Jesus alone.

 

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that You would give me the strength and perspective to serve You faithfully like Paul, no matter my circumstances. When difficulties come my way for being vocal about my faith, help me to see them as platforms for Your power. Guard my heart from growing discouraged or shrinking back when faced with adversity. Fill me with Your Spirit’s power to spread the wonderful message of salvation and oneness in Christ to unlikely people. Keep me in awe daily of the profound mystery that by Your grace, I have inherited all Your glorious riches as a beloved child. Strengthen me to stand firm when trials strike so that other believers will be inspired to press on joyfully.

I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

 

Ephesians 3:8 – “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”

 

 

With His Blessings,

Pastor Corby

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