From Death to Life: The Mystery of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-10)
The Mystery of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-10)
Three times in this passage, the Apostle Paul writes concerning a mystery: made known by revelation (3:3), you are able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ (3:4), and the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things (3:9).
In English, a mystery is something obscure or even dark. However, In Paul’s day, a mystery was a truthinto which someone had been initiated. This is the glorious hope of the Gospel. In Christ, eternal truth is not the secret of the spiritual elite but profound wisdom understood by all who believe. Christian mysteries are open secrets that belong publicly to the church.
Take-Home: There are no “spiritual elites” in Christ. You don’t have to have the intellect or pedigree of Paul to know God. All you have to have is the same faith.
Forged by Grace (3:6-7) The mystery of Christ was not made known to previous generations, but now, through the apostles and prophets, something fundamentally changed. Listen to how Paul describes this community: the Gentiles are coheirs, members, and partners in Christ Jesus.
The community of Christ is forged by grace. When something is forged, it's made new or created into a unique shape by the blacksmith. This is what Jesus does to His people through faith in the gospel – the Messiah makes you new.
All human beings share the common ground of sin and total depravity. There is no part of you untouched by sin: mind, body, and soul. But, the grace of Christ forges you into something new. So that now, there is no part of you untouched by the forging fire of the Lord’s mercy: mind, body, and spirit.
Take-Home: Christian community is forged by grace so that you become a coheir, member, and partner in the promise in Christ through the Gospel.
Fueled by Grace (3:8-9) Let’s not stop here. In God’s eternal plan, grace comes to you because it always goes to someone else. So grace was given to proclaim (3:8) and to shed (3:9) light.
The grace that forges you is the same grace that fuels you. Fuel is any material consumed to produce heat, power, or energy. You go to the petrol station to power the rest of your journey. Some refuel on ¼ of a tank, and the most masochistic among us coast in on fumes.
In the same way, God’s amazing grace was fuel for Paul’s soul to proclaim the good news. The NLT translated it this way, “he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endlesstreasures available to them in Christ.”
The grace and mercy of our Savior is endless – endless grace to save, endless grace to sanctify, endless grace to restore relationships, endless grace to meet your every need, endless grace for eternity. This is the mystery of Grace.
Take-Home: If you by faith have received the grace of the Messiah, where is it going next? You are fueled by grace to go, and you will never empty again.
Grace Made Familiar (3:10) Now we see the complete unfolding of the mystery of the gospel. Grace which forges and fuels, is made familiar through the church. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens.
One of the church’s primary roles is to make grace known in a world unfamiliar with the goodness of Christ.
In the words of John Stott, no other human community resembles the church; it is God’s new society.
What does the church make familiar? The multi-faceted wisdom of Jesus. This rare word describes something that is many-colored and diversified. It’s the same word that the LXX uses to describe Joseph’s beautiful coat of colors. God’s redemptive plan is not monolithic.
God doesn’t save you to make you look like each other; the Lord saves you to make you look like Jesus. Through the church, the radiant multi-faceted wisdom of Jesus is made familiar.
How does the church make grace familiar? The local, visible church makes grace known by living out the Gospel. Paul is not referring to the mere existence of the institution; instead, he is calling the people of Christ to radical active obedience to live out its holy calling in a common world.
We must never be a community that says, “well, people know where we are, and our doors are always open.” Instead, we have a glorious mandate to go.
Who is the church? Sadly, many in our society have constructed a spirituality that consists entirely of a personal relationship with Jesus that has nothing to do with His church. This flavor of the Christian experience is wholly alienated from biblical truth.
We may safely say that God has not abandoned his church, and if God has not abandoned it, how can we? – John Stott
Take-Home: The church is not an option for Christians; it is who you are!
The beauty of this multi-faced wisdom of the Messiah is that grace calls all of us. All Christians, not just clergy or pastors, are managers of grace made familiar.
The rare Stradivarius violin represents a beautiful mystery. How often would you look at this rare instrument of you owned the Stradivarius?
When was the last time you stood in overwhelming amazement at the mystery of grace in your life?
As a teenager, Jonathan Edwards sat down and wrote 70 resolutions that he would read every week for the rest of his life.
#30 read this way, Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion and to a higher exercise of grace than I was the week before.
When was the last time you made the grace of Jesus known to others?
No other human community resembles the church. The church, you, are God’s plan A to make his gospel known. How will a world unfamiliar with the Father’s love ever know if we don’t live, tell, and go?
Is the grace of Jesus familiar to you?
If you want to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can do so using words like this:
My life is broken—I recognize it's because of my sin. I need You.
I believe Christ came to live, die, and was raised from the dead to rescue me from my sin.
Forgive me. I turn from my selfish ways and put my trust in You.
I know that Jesus is Lord of all, and I will follow Him.