Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ephesians 3

Read the passage from The Message: Ephesians 3
Read the passage from the New International Version: Ephesians 3

I find it absolutely amazing that Paul, once the lead persecutor of Christians, is now imprisoned for the sake of Gentiles. He tells us that he is revealing the mysteries of God to the Gentiles and Jews alike. Things that weren't known to older generations, but were actually revealed by apostles and prophets.

What is that mystery? That Gentiles and Jews alike are heirs of the Kingdom of God because of the promise of Jesus Christ. It's not something deep and dark, it's simply that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. THIS is the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ.

Paul's humility in verses 7-8 is noble, but a little bit misplaced. He was a Pharisee. He studied under one of the leading teachers of the day, Gamaliel (Acts 5:34). He was an absolutely brilliant man, as seen in his New Testament writings. Until the day that he was walking to Damascus, he was well on his way to being quite a Jewish leader. Jesus did bring him to his knees and made him realize what his worth was. In comparison with the Creator God and Savior Jesus Christ ... he was worth nothing.

God used Paul's talents when it came to preaching and teaching. He would have had a very strong grasp of the scriptures. When he taught, he knew all that he was talking about. Not only did he have knowledge of the Jewish scriptures, but he had a personal experience with the living Christ. This gave him everything that he needed to be able to talk to Jews and to Gentiles about the Messiah.

In verse 10, we find that God's intent was that through the church His wisdom would "be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." Eugene Peterson words it this way: "Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!"

Wow! That gives new meaning to gathering as a community on Sunday mornings! And to my leading worship! When we gather, we are making known the plan of God, so much so that the angels are talking about it! How amazing!

What is this plan? To make known to the world the incredible riches of Jesus, the eternal plan to draw men unto Himself for eternity, and the freedom that was given to each of us to approach God through our faith in Jesus. This is the plan that Paul is talking about. This is the reason that we meet for worship on Sunday mornings. We aren't just there to meet our friends and to make plans for the next potluck or meeting, we are there to identify ourselves with the Messiah, the Savior, the one who laid down His life so that all men could come to the Father.

Paul ends this part of His letter by telling the Ephesians about time spent on his knees for them. He doesn't want them preaching to their neighbors, or judging their co workers, or finding new ways to enforce their Christian laws on people. He very specifically states that he prays for them to be 'rooted and established in love'. To start all things, to greet all people, after being grounded in love. And one of my favorite verses (vs. 18), "... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ..."

It's all about love. Christ's sacrifice was based on love. It's all about love.

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