A true confession: Over the years, I have had a love/hate relationship with some of the teams, committees, groups, and professional societies with which I have been a member. When the goals and objectives of the organization were clear and I saw the leaders actively pursuing them, I was often an enthusiastic participant. Conversely, when the objectives were sidetracked or ill-defined and the leaders were absent, my energy and support waned and I retreated to the sideline.
- What causes have inspired you to action in a communal sense?
READ THE WORD: EPHESIANS 3:1-13 (ESV)
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Previously, Paul wrote that Jesus’ death and resurrection had brought reconciliation between God and humanity, as well as uniting Jews and Gentiles in a common bond of belief. In verses 1-6, he elaborated on the “mystery of Christ,” which had been made known to him through divine revelation. List all the things we can know about this mystery (vss. 2-6).
- In verses 7-9, Paul described himself as a minister (servant) empowered by God for what two purposes?
- Through what new entity did Paul say God’s wisdom would be made known (vs. 10)? How does this give us purpose and motivation?
- How are we toapproach Jesus? What difference does this make in living out his purposes for us?
- What next step can you take to invest inGod’s plan?
RESPOND TO GOD
Paul once held great enmity and had proudly enforced barriers against the unclean Gentiles and the blasphemous followers of Jesus. But in these verses, he humbly described his purpose as sharing the riches of Christ and enlightening everyone that God’s plan provides that Gentile and Jewish believers are fellow heirs and members of the same body. Paul knew the purpose of his work exceeded sharing the facts about Jesus. Instead, his goal was to establish and strengthen churches, the body of believers, in Jesus Christ’s life and atonement for sins. With great confidence and boldness, this new entity, the church, would make God’s wisdom known to all. Now that is a purpose statement to get behind!
- Praise God for the ways the church, the body of believers in Christ, has shared and made God’s wisdom real to you.