Mystery and Ministry
Eph. 3:1 – 13
Our God is a mysterious God, and so the Bible, the Word of God is also full of mysteries. There are so many things that our finite mind cannot explain and cannot imagine. Despite of the modern technologies and the advancement of science and computers, still so many things are hidden. So many things remain unknown. The thoughts of God are not our thoughts that even angels which is far wiser that all humans are also left wondering what is going to unfold in the next turn of the events. Today we will talk a bit of a mystery written in our Bible and the ministry of Paul regarding this mystery.
I. Mystery defined:
1. The term mystery in common usage refers to something secret; something difficult to understand; something mystical and out of the ordinary. The Bible does use the term this way in certain instances (Eph. 5:32; Rev. 17:5).
2. Most references to mystery in the N.T., though, refer to truths which God hid from men in O.T. times, but which He has revealed in the N.T. It speaks of N.T. revelation.
II. What this mystery is: (Eph. 3:1-6)
A. It particularly refers to church truth regarding Gentiles and Jews being brought into a new spiritual body through Christ (Mt. 13:11; 1Cor. 2:7-12; Rom. 11:25; 16:25-26; Eph. 1:9; 3:1-12; 6:19; Col 1:25-27; 2:2; 4:3).
B. It is explained in the sense that Gentiles are:
1. Dead in trespasses and sins
2. Under the influence of Satan and cannot even resist
3. Aliens to the commonwealth of Israel
4. Without promise
5. Having no hope and without God in this world.
C. The mystery now revealed is that these Gentiles can be:
1. “fellow heirs”
2. “of the same body”
3. “partakers of His (God’s) promise in Christ”
D. This mystery was hidden from the Old Testament prophets
1. It was a mystery that Jews and Gentiles will be united as one “new man”
2. The equality of the Jews and the Gentiles were never imagined, seen or expected.
3. The birth of the New Testament church were never foreseen or expected.
4. It was never known that the racial discrimination between the Jews and the Gentiles will be annulled in the church.
E. The mystery was revealed by the Holy Spirit
1. It is made possible by the gospel
2. Now the Jews and the gentiles knew that salvation can be found only in our Lord Jesus Christ
Illustration: Mysteries in the bible
The calling of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, so designated (Eph. 1:9, 10; Eph. 3:8-11; Col. 1:25-27); a truth undiscoverable except by revelation, long hid, now made manifest. The resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:51), and other doctrines which need to be explained but which cannot be fully understood by finite intelligence (Mat. 13:11; Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 13:2); the union between Christ and his people symbolized by the marriage union (Eph. 5:31, 32; Eph. 6:19); the seven stars and the seven candlesticks (Rev. 1:20); and the woman clothed in scarlet (Rev. 17:7), are also in this sense mysteries. The anti-Christian power working in his day is called by the apostle (2Thess. 2:7) the “mystery of iniquity.” Illustrated Bible Dictionary
III. Paul’s ministry regarding this mystery. (Eph. 3:7-13)
A. He was made a minister. The Greek word here is diakonos which is translated in English as deacon.
B. The role is not to be subjected as a slave but as servant serving.
C. This service has its basis in the gifts of God’s grace given through the working of God Himself specifically the Holy Spirit.
D. Ministering this grace, by God’s strength, not his own – was Paul’s responsibility though he considered himself less than the least of all God’s people.
E. This denotes Paul’s deep humility.
F. The main role actually is to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
G. To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery. (Eph. 3:8)
H. Though Paul ministered to both Jews and Gentiles, he was especially designated as the apostle “to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 1:16; 2:7-8).
I. Through the ministry of Paul the manifold wisdom God will be known
1. Not only by the Gentiles
2. By means of the church the angelic hosts or spiritual beings will also know about the salvation being offered feely in Christ. The manifold wisdom of God. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
J. The truth about the church is a part of God’s eternal purpose in Christ (Eph. 3:11).
K. Understanding of God’s program in this present age not only gives the believer confidence toward God. It also gives him courage in the difficult circumstances of life.’
Illustration 1: Ministry: Trade Or Profession
The Christian ministry is the worst of all trades, but the best of all professions. – John Newton
Illustration 2: “Ministers” of 1 Corinthians 4:1-3
This word “ministers” has been rendered “under-rowers”, men who tug at the oars on the lowest bench on a galley.
In ancient times, there were three banks of galley-rowers: those on the upper bank had the advantage of fresh air; those beneath were more shut in; but the lowest rowers would faint with the heat. Their rapid strokes consumed the life forces of the slaves. Chained to the oars and in the worst position—that was their lot.
Like Paul, let us be willing to be servants, slaves in the Lord’s house, doormats in the Master’s entrance hall. Encyclopaedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
The church is a mystery in the sense that the Old Testament prophets don’t know about it and it was not revealed to them. Now it was revealed and Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ. The thing is will you come to Christ? Will the join the church?