This Time It’s Personal!
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 people 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 the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless 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 that 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.
- Paul Knows the Mystery of Christ
- Mystery: something hidden, now revealed
Not something unknowable, but something revealed that was previously not understood.
- Jesus’ work in salvation
In what way is Jesus’ work a mystery?
How does He save the Jews? Is this what they want? Expect? How are we to respond when God does not work in the ways that we expect? Does God exceed expectations or fail to meet them?
- Jesus conquers the power of sin
What is the power of sin? It separates us from God, His blessing/life.
Jesus inaugurates the death and resurrection life model. Different from avoiding or eliminating all sin and trouble, sin and trouble are robbed of their power.
- Jew and Gentile impact
Is what is good for the Gentiles bad for the Jews? Is reconciliation better than revenge? Is brotherhood better than being able to Lord it over others? The real question is whether or not we want what God wants.
Look ahead to v. 10. There is more to life than you know. There is more to God’s wisdom than you know.
- Christ’s Mystery is Paul’s Purpose
- His salvation experience
Before, salvation Paul’s life: Phil 3: If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
The event: Paul is traveling to Damascus with an open warrant to arrest Christians. He is an original persecutor of the followers of Christ. Jesus strikes him blind, lets him know that it is Jesus that is doing it and leaves him that way for three days. (Don’t let the number of days slide by. God is Resurrecting Paul. He is giving him new life, new purpose, a new calling and a new message.)
- His specific calling
Then God sends Ananias to Paul: “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Paul can see, but is blinded by Christ because he does not see what God is doing and is in opposition to God. He is blinded so that he might “see.”
Paul is blind but now has had a vision.
The blind man is given the ability to see what God wants of him
Without purpose or with the wrong purpose we are blind. Paul has experienced this blindness and now he sees!
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 the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery,
It is inappropriate to go to the Gentiles apart from a specific calling.
Paul understands the mystery of Christ. God has called the Gentiles to be His people in Christ.
Paul understands the power of Resurrection life. The only thing that matters is that people are invested in the kingdom of God. And God’s kingdom is one of Resurrection life. The blind see, those who see can be blind. It is not the outward things that count, but what God is working on. This is true in my life, in our life corporately and in the entire world as a whole.
The kingdom of God has come and it is focused on all the peoples of the earth coming to know and submit to Jesus as the Son of God. It is not a matter of the Jewish nation gaining ultimate sovereignty.
III. In Your Life: Resurrection Power
In Ephesians 8 times Paul uses the word power. Three times up to this point. Three times in Paul’s prayer next week. In fact, And in each instance, the issue is Resurrection power. Five of these six instances Paul is praying that people would know God’s power.
One more is Eph 6:10 relative to Spiritual warfare: Be strong in God’s power! It is a reference to trust and waiting. Stand firm therefore!
- Expectations will die
Marital trouble, things aren’t what you expected. Give up your expectations to God. Ask Him to work and wait on Him faithfully in obedience. He will work. You may feel like you are dying. You are dying. But, you cannot have Resurrection life without death. And you won’t see Resurrection life without trust. And by trust I mean you will have to give up some desires and some outcomes. You will have to let them die. But God has the last word. God is wiser than you know. God is more powerful than you know. God has the ability to change your desires, to harness your will to His kingdom purposes. You will have greater purpose, greater meaning, more life!
- Resurrection life is better
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 that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I worked 16 years at a Job, giving my time, talent and desire to the business. I was fired. I was extremely angry. It is no small thing to fire a man who has a wife and three children. I believe it is an act of evil. That is how it felt to me. But, my anger was the result of my fear. God has cared for me and mine all along the way. Without that experience my ability to speak seriously to people would be diminished. I was prepared for the experience by people warning us. I was prepared financially by winning a pickup truck, which has been a blessing in my life now for 18 years, longer than I worked at that job!
I was apologized to for being fired. I was asked on two separate occasions if I were willing to go back to work there. Every issue of fear and anger that I had was cared for by God. And I get to do a job that I love now instead of one that just cares for my family.
- Freedom and confidence are the result
Ultimately God will set us free from having to have the desired outcomes before we are full of life.
We have a choice. We can work for outcomes, we will get some of them and be happy for a time when we get them, or we can have Resurrection of every circumstance and God will enliven all of our lives and we can be full of confidence in God and freedom to Him and from all else!
This is how Paul sees his own life, it is what he wants you to have for your life. So, Paul says, don’t be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, they are purposeful. They are meaningful. They are for your glory! They will show you the way to God’s Resurrection power.
Resurrection power and pattern
If you are surprised by your life circumstances, things will turn out better than you expect. This will require you to have faith.
This will demonstrate the wisdom of God.
This will demonstrate the power of God to resurrect things.
God is working on levels and in ways that you don’t know and can’t see. He will not always explain Himself.
Confidence and freedom in Christ
Faith will make you wait. This calls for the patient endurance of the saints!
Don’t be discouraged by suffering. Seek God’s purposes in it. He will resurrect everything that dies for our good and His glory!
God is at work!! Will we submit to His plans and purposes for us or will we require all of the outcomes to be without difficulty and suffering? God wants you to be full of freedom and confidence. And you would do well to avoid judging Him in the negative when difficulties come. Jesus says that they will:
John 16: 33 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 15: 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
John 14: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I Peter 4: 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.