Faithlife Sermons

Untitled Sermon (5)

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 3 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

test

If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do please turn to .
Before we begin to read our text, I think it would be good to review.
In chapter 1, we see Paul after introduces himself to the Ephesian church. He speaks of God’s great work of redemption in man.
He speaks about this in terms of the work of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
And at the end of chapter 1, he prays that God would give them incredible insight to be able to understand the truths of these things and apply them in the life of the believer.
Then in chapter 2, Paul speaks about God’s great work of reconciliation, not only on an individual basis, dealing with Salvation individually.
But in reconciling two groups of divided people together - the Jews and the Gentiles. God had an amazing plan to merge together Jew & Gentile into one group.
He concludes in chapter 2 with the idea of God building a great building… with Christ being the cornerstone, the foundation being the apostles & the prophets,.
And being built upon it, You and I, God’s people together - Jews & Gentiles from every economic background and every tongue, tribe, and nation.
So after explaining how God is reconciling people not only to Himself through Christ but by bringing Jews and Gentiles together… we pick up in chapter 3.
Let’s pray and look at God’s word together.
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
Paul starts off in verse one by saying “for this reason,” or in other words…in light of this work of reconciliation…
I, Paul, the prisoner of… Watch this… Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.
Now let’s think about this for second…we need to see something here that is really crazy!
My wife Nancy is writing a book, it is called “crown,” it is a book written to wives.
She has been working on this book for a few years now, and it came to the point where the rubber needed to meet the road.
She was either going to write this book and be obedient to what Christ was calling her to do or she wasn’t.
So for months, she would ask me if she could go away for a day, or two, or a week, or weekend so that she can find a peaceful place to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and write.
She needed to put her mind in the right place, she needed a cup of coffee, she needed a beautiful view, a peaceful place… To be energized to write.
Paul is… in fact a prisoner, a prisoner in a Roman jail and during that time he writes the prison epistles - Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
You would think that he was spending time in the alpine mountains or in Yosemite or Yellowstone, a place with beautiful waterfalls and birds singing…like my wife does.
But this wasn’t the case, you see… Paul, was not focused on his circumstances, he was focused on Christ.
CLICK - Let me say that again, in fact, let me put it on the screen for you.
Paul was not focused on his circumstances, he was focused on Christ.”
A story was told of Scottish minister Alexander Whyte.
He was always able to look at the bleakest situations and find something to be thankful for.
On a dark Sunday morning when the weather was freezing, it was wet, and stormy… One of the deacons whispered,
“I am sure the preacher won’t be able to thank God for anything on a day like this. It’s absolutely horrible outside.”
The pastor began the service by praying,
“We think thee, O God, that the weather is not always like this.”
This really should convict us, because we often have it the other way around - we focus on our circumstances and blame our circumstances for the temperament and attitude that we have each day.
We wake up on perfectly sunny days and allow our dread to make them gloomy.
You would think that Paul, at this moment in his life would be more concerned with what was going on in his own life.
You would think he would be worried about the stocks rubbing on his ankles, the bruises, the infections that probably were taking place throughout his body from being beaten so many times.
The hunger, the loneliness, his court case…his imminent death?
He could’ve been saying, “woe is me,” “God this is brutal, why would you allow this to happen,” depressed, discouraged, and downhearted.
But instead, what does he do? He calls himself a prisoner of Christ… I think there is much to learn from these opening words in Ephesians chapter 3.
Paul was not focused on his circumstances, he was focused on Christ.
Can you imagine how our lives would be impacted if we simply came to the conclusion that Christ is sovereign over everything that happens in our life.
You know our brother Fred, he could come in here every week moping, angry, self focused, looking at his circumstance.
He was born with spinal bifida and hydrocephalic… or fluid in his brain… His mother was told he would never live past the age of five.
The man can’t walk, he goes to bed many nights hurting so badly that he can’t sleep, sometimes his head feeling like it is going to explode.
He is dependent upon people to help him… Every day, this is his world… every day!
If anyone had the right to feel these things, it would be Fred
But do you ever see him come in like that?
You know what I see,
I see a man that comes in joyful in the midst of trials, praising in the midst of circumstances,
never even focusing on his own issues or problems, rarely even asking for prayer.
Fred is focused on Christ not his circumstance, and one day my brothers, he will be healed, and he will be rewarded for his faithfulness.
Fred is not focused on his circumstances, he was focused on Christ.
What are your circumstances? With your job, with your marriage, with your health, with your finances, with your addictions, with your struggles, your trials?
What holds us captive or in prison? Sin, fear, worry, lack of joy?
Are we prisoners to these things or are we prisoners of Christ?
Paul was a prisoner of Christ, not self focused, but others focused, not focused on circumstance, but focused on his Savior.
Paul was a prisoner for sake of the Gentiles, we know that this was a special call for Paul, one for which he suffered much, he was the apostle to the Gentiles.
As their apostle, he felt a strong responsibility not only to proclaim the gospel to them, but to nurture them in their faith. So he is praying this sweet prayer for them.
Verse two says, if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you.
If you are reading the King James or new King James it may say “if you have heard of the dispensation.”
Dispensation is an interesting word, it means a portion of something, it carries the idea of a dispenser dispensing a portion of something like a soda fountain machine.
So the basic idea of the English word dispensation - would be a portion of something… Paul was given a portion of God’s grace so that he could are it with others.
But the original Greek word for stewardship or dispensation carries the idea of - an implemented strategy.
See this statement sums up Paul’s entire calling, he was given a portion of God’s grace with an implemented strategy… to be able to share it with the Gentiles.
CLICK - you will remember
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Note the red writing, this was Christ speaking to Ananias telling him what Paul’s calling was.
In our text, Paul was, suffering, In prison because of the fact that he was obedient to that calling to proclaim God’s grace to the Gentiles.
Paul didn’t care about circumstances… pretty much because God predicted he would suffer… and obedience was more important than comfort.
Now let’s look at this mystery of God:
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
The first thing we need to see about this revelation is that it was something that was revealed or given to Paul.
Paul is assuring the Ephesians that he didn’t make this up, Paul is saying, “hey, I’m not clever enough… this is not of me, it was given to me by God Himself.
This is clarified even in the word that Paul uses here in the original Greek Moos-tay-ree-on it is not necessarily like our word mystery today.
For us we think of a mystery being solved by clues.
For Easter, at home we don’t do the candy and eggs things for our children, my wife does a box of cereal for them…their favorite… special box of cereal, every year.
Nancy hides the box somewhere on our property, sometimes inside, sometimes outside, and then gives the kids little written clues…
These clues then lead them to another note or clue as they continued to follow the path eventually they find the box… this would define our word for mystery… In that the mystery is solved when the box of cereal is found.
But the word mystery in the Greek in our text carries the idea of us knowing that there is a box of cereal on the property but we would never find it unless somebody told us exactly where it was.
Taking it even further, you may know there was a box of cereal hidden, somebody may have told you were the box of cereal was… but the mystery is that you wouldn’t have known this unless it was revealed to you.
You know there’s a box of cereal on the property, you now know where it is…but it is still a mystery in the original Greek because you never would have known it was there until it was revealed to you.
So what is this mystery? Look at verse 4 and I want to begin reading again from verse 1, so you see the flow and the anticipation of what’s happening here.
Paul’s next words would further enhance their understanding of the mystery.
His insight was not his own discovery; it was revealed by God. Watch this…
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
You will notice, up until verse five, Paul still does not give them the specifics of what this mystery is.
What he does say, is that this mystery was not made known to other generations.
Abraham, David, and the other prophets may have known of Christ and the blessings that would come through Him.
But they did not know the full extent of God’s grace that was going to be given to the Gentiles.
The word insight in verse four means - to comprehend the word can also we used to describe two rivers coming together as one.
Paul wanted to emphasize what he was about to say - he wanted them to comprehend it, to understand it, and to discern… This mystery of Christ….
Like two rivers coming together as one.
CLICK - in , one of the other prison epistles, we see the joy that Paul had in this mystery that he is about to reveal:
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,
27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
By this point these guys had to be about falling out of the chair, sliding forward… listening intently to every word… what is this mystery?
Everybody wanted to know what this great mystery is… that nobody would know unless it was revealed to Paul by God
Paul finally gets specific in verse six.
6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
So this describes the great mystery itself, that both believing Gentiles and believing Jews are to be joined together to form one body of Christ… and they are no longer separated.
So when God created the church, He doesn’t say “I’m going to take the Gentiles and make them Jewish nor does he say… I am going to take the Jews and make them Gentiles.”
God says, “no, I’m going to make a brand-new body, I’m going to gather in some of the Jews and some of the Gentiles… and bring them together, to make the church.”
Now looking back at verse five we see that it says:
“That this was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles in profits in the Spirit.”
You can scour the pages of the Old Testament and you will not find that this was God’s plan… He did not prophesy that He would bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.
This was something new, a new revelation, that He revealed in the time of the apostles.
So the mystery is, look at verse six with me, the mystery is…
That the Gentiles are to be fellow partaker’s of the promise… In Christ…
how? Through the gospel.
The word partakers here means - to share in the possession of something or to have an intimate union with.
This was no longer a promise for the believing Jewish person only, but now… the Gentile could also participate in possessing the same gift of life… Through the gospel.
CLICK - you may remember what Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 3 about this promise through faith.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Every person on the planet can have an equal standing in Jesus…through the Gospel.
It’s not about where you were born, it’s not about whether you were circumcised, it’s not about whether you keep the law or not, it’s not about whether your Jew or Gentile or black or white or if you do your rituals and ceremonies…
This really is the answer to the whole debate in … the Jerusalem Council, these are the very types of things they were discussing.
When Gentiles were coming to Christ, Jewish believers were saying, “don’t they have to become Jewish first.”
And the Council after searching the Scriptures, and being in tune with the Holy Spirit came to the same conclusion…
The mystery is… that God did something new with the church, inviting both Jews and Gentiles to be partakers in the gift of life that is found in Christ Jesus.
You know perhaps you’re like me and you’ve been wondering why the apostle Paul keeps beating this dying horse?
Why is Paul talking so much about the Gentiles, about their before and after picture, and emphasizing their equality with the Jews in the body of Christ?
I believe the apostle Paul wanted to make sure that Gentile believers appreciate their newfound salvation and that they don’t take it for granted.
Like many have in the American church today, some not even knowing that Jesus was a Jew.
If we have the proper appreciation and sense of gratitude for our salvation, hopefully, it will radically affect our conduct as believers.
Hopefully, we will be motivated to walk in a manner that is worthy of this new calling that we have in Christ.
Our section of Scripture wraps up by putting an emphasis on the fact that when God calls us… He Himself empowers us.
CLICK - Marvin Vincent talks about the gifts of God that can be bestowed upon those who have been transformed.
Relating this quote to Saul the persecutor being transformed to Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.
“If God's gift of transforming grace (which equates with His power) was sufficient to transform a hater and persecutor of the Gospel
into a lover and proclaimer of that same Gospel, is anything in my life (test, trial, temptation, circumstance, problem, person) too difficult for Jehovah?
A rhetorical question expecting a resounding “No!”
It is God that transforms us, it is God that gives us victory over temptation, and trial, and in circumstance and it is God that gifts us with gifts according to the working of his power.
CLICK - I want to close with a quote and a question?
A quote by Wayne Barber. This quote encourages us to get out of ourselves and do something for others.
“God revealed something to him, not just for him, but for others to eternally benefit. God wants to do the same thing in your life. What He reveals in our hearts is never for just ourselves. It is always to be shared with someone else.
Gentlemen, we are all called to something more, we are all called to be prisoners… not of this world held captive by it…
We are called to be prisoners of Christ, useful for our master.
So who is holding you captive?
Is it Christ and if it is then… you and I should feel the weight of the responsibility of the burden of revealing the mysteries of Christ.
To both Jews and Gentiles because through it, people can be partakers of the promise that is in Christ through the gospel.
Let’s pray.
Related Media
Related Sermons