Ephesians Session 6
A community that communicates the wisdom of God 

Click here to listen to the audio of Tim's brief presentation on Ephesians 3; covering a small section of his notes below. 

You can also click here to see the accompanying powerpoint slides


Ephesians 3:1-13
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Introduction
If we have time today we are going to look at
  • By the way
  • Who-dunnit  &
  • Three dimensions
 

By the way…
In verse 1 of Chapter 3 Paul begins a thought… and clearly gets side-tracked, he realises that if he doesn’t make a point really clear the Ephesians could get very discouraged.  He says By the way… all the way to verse 14, when he returns to his main track. 
David explained last week that worshipping God in Ephesus was complicated.  Diana was top Goddess and all the others kind of tagged along beside her.
This crazy idea meant that the Ephesian Christians brought up in this culture of Gods in a hierarchy could easily think that Paul’s imprisonment was not a good sign- that the new life in Christ that they had found was actually now on the defensive. See verse 13.
13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
So he breaks off from explaining about his hopes and prayers for the Ephesian Church to blow their minds with the power of the revelation he was carrying. 
He did not see his captivity as something to be worried about at all.
Now I will do a by the way… at this point and point out that if it was not for Paul’s imprisonment, we would not have his letters to the Churches in Ephesus, Colossi, Philippi and to his friend Philemon. Letters that have impacted millions and changed lives.


Application
The point is this -Paul did not see his captivity as something brought about by the Romans but rather part of the amazing plan of God for his life.  He could have stared at the wall under house arrest chained to a Roman guard and said .. why why?, but rather he waited on God and praised God and called on God… and then received the astounding revelations we now benefit from
We cannot always see the reasons God seems to let stuff happen the sense of feeling trapped like Paul, a captive to circumstance, but we do have a choice.
When I was in hospital I found myself being made smaller reduced by the cubicle, the name badge and the culture, but in that situation God chose to remind me through the Lord’s prayer that I was not patient number… but Timothy a Child of God, loved by God and called to serve in His kingdom.
What about you?  What is making you feel smaller, less? Have a listen to the scale of God’s plan for you and for your world.
Let’s look at Veres 4-6
4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.


The Mystery
Marple, Lewis, Morse, Frost Sherlock Holmes, Midsomer murders, Columbo
These are mysteries we do not know and have to be found out secrets WHODUNNIT?
Maybe the butler, always the one you least expect, sometimes frustrating always on the edge of your seat.
But a mystery in the time of Paul was not the same. For the worshippers of Diana in Ephesus, There were those who were in the know, they were given secrets and told never to reveal them, because they had gone through certain rituals. Very much like the Freemasons secret handshakes and exclusive rituals. So that was what Paul knew the Ephesians would understand by mystery.
But here in Ephesians 3 v.6 A mystery has been revealed to everyone that people did not understand before.  Let’s be clear here because the Old Testament is actually full of suggestions that the Good News of Jesus would include not just Israel.
After all Abraham all the way back in Genesis 17 is called the Father of?.... Many Nations
BUT BUT  If that is the case why was it such a shock to the Jewish believers that the gentiles all the other nations were to be included Look at the shock in Acts 10
No it is a mystery to them a mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit to Paul & Peter to the early Church and let’s not kid ourselves here this is some revelation let me show you.
What we are saying here is that if it were not for the revelation of this mystery the good news of Jesus would have been confined as a sect within the Jewish people.
But the scale of this revelation is greater still.  I would remind you that a few weeks ago when Sue was sharing she talked about our place now seated with Christ in the heavenly places in Christ
But look at verse 10 
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We know that there are forces beyond our understanding spiritual powers we cannot see, but what this mystery reveals is that rather than being subject to them- even the angels and the powers of the cosmos had no understanding prior to this of God’s plan to extend His kingdom rule in this way to us who were far off.  They are not God and cannot know everything.  Satan was under the impression that everything outside the Jewish people was basically his for the taking and even they could only come through the law.  It was at the cross in that moment of complete obedience to Father that Jesus opened the way to all.
David used the image of the wall so brilliantly last week and reminded us that the wall of hostility had come down that we now have full access to the presence of God through Christ.

Application
Do you accept that you are included in the love of God extended to you and all people?  The temptation is to exclude we are not quite good enough, not the right kind of person, not the right background, Paul says it well in verses 7-9 listen to the message version.
This is my life work:helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. 8 When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. 9 My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.

The three dimensions (This is the section that is on the audio)
A foundational danger for all of us with our relationship with God is that we can see this as less than complete.  We are somehow not quite the same as them
The other equally difficult lie that we have looked at many times but I don’t apologise for – Is that we can never look at any human being as being less included in the love of God, no matter who they are or what they have done.
In verse 6 we see that God’s inclusion is not flat it is three dimensional
Our connection to God is a relational one

First we are heirs together with Israel
Have you seen those films usually murder mysteries, where the will is read out and suddenly some stranger is identified as a long lost son and is included or the family servant who has worked for years gets a big share in the estate.  They become heirs
The point here for you is that You are part of the family.  Whatever your family, you are part of this family.
This first dimension then is our legal relationship.

Second we are members together with Israel.
Let’s not be in any doubt here this is when we have to accept that we are not some extra slightly damaged part of the family of God stuck out on the edges, in danger of dropping off any moment.
They can do great things with prosthetics now but we are not a prosthetic together with Israel, We are a member together and in that we need to understand that we have God’s DNA flowing through us we have His life pumping in us.
This second dimension then is our physical relationship

Third we are sharers together in the promises.
Getting the presents at Christmas is always risky. Will cousin Bill like his socks? Will Mum like the soap?  And then that awkward moment when Joe brings his girlfriend and there isn’t a present for her and she politely says its fine and not to worry and sits whilst everyone gets their gifts.
Everyone else seems to be getting the goodies is a lie the enemy loves to put in our hearts.
What Paul is saying here is that we need to focus on the promises of God not of men and realise that in an astonishing and totally gracious way, we are receivers of the best gifts of all.
This last dimension is the personal one-  God so loved the world that he gave His son.
God’s relationship with us who were far off is thirdly personal.
His relationship with us is three dimensionally
  • Legal
  • Physical
  • Personal  


 
Tim Blake, 16/07/2015