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Today I'm looking at this mystery referred to verse 9 (NIV):
he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
There are two main aspects to this mystery that I see.
The first aspect of the mystery is that God allows everyone to be part of His church. John Mac Arthur explains this part of the mystery this way:
"In Ephesians 3:3 Paul expresses a key thought relative to the church, "By revelation he [God] made known to me the mystery" The mystery 'in other ages was not make known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (v.5). Verse 6 identifies the mystery: "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, the partakers of his promie in Christ by the gospel." A mystery in the biblical sense is something that had been hidden in the past but is now revealed in the New Testament. the book of Ephesians presents the mystery of the church. The hidden secret of the past (v.5), revealed to Paul in the present (v.3), was that jew and Gentile alike would be one in Christ's body - the church."
Throughout the Old Testament we see the nation of Israel as God's people. In Genesis 13:1-3 we see that Abraham encountered God who promised Abraham that He would make a great nation from him. Then we read in Exodus 6:6-8 about how God considered the Israelites to be His people and delivered them from Pharaoh in Egypt. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament we see Israel turning from God, and God loving them and bringing them back to Himself. In the New Testament we have the writers revealing that this great God doesn't only love Israel, but He also loves everyone else.
Ephesians 1:10 says (JKJV):
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
These verses tell me that God is going to gather all things together in Christ. Andrew Womack presents the common Evangelical thought on this verse:
"The thought is that God is bringing everything together under the headship or Lordship of Jesus. That has always been God’s purpose and plan, and it will be accomplished. Those who do not make Jesus Christ preeminent and Lord over their lives are entirely out of focus with the eternal purpose of God."
But I question this because the text says ALL things. It does not say only those who make Jesus Lord. To me it seems that these verses are saying that God always had a plan for humanity to be His. That there will be a time to come when God will get what He wants and ALL things will be gathered to Him.
Ephesians 1:12 says (KJV):
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
A second aspect of this mystery is that the church will be to the praise and glory of God. Ephesians has this theme throughout the book. In Ephesians 2:6-7 we see it again (NIV):
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
So the church, those who first trusted in Christ, will be to His praise and glory and used to show His grace. Who will the church show God's glory and grace to?
This is such a big question that I'm going to save that as a separate study.
What does the mystery of the church mean to me?
Right away two things come to mind:
- Since Christ died for everyone, then everyone is important. If God sees everyone as important, than I need to as well.
- Since the Church is to show God's glory, grace, and kindness, then I need to live in such a way that my life shows these things.
Oh Heavenly Father, help me see people the way You do. Help me be aware of how my actions affect others. May Your Holy Spirit in me cause me to be more considerate of my husband and not think it's OK to be a little selfish or rude since we live together in daily life. Help me to notice the people at the store, or gas station, or where ever else I go and see ways I can practice Your grace and kindness. Help me to go through my day at work completing those tasks that I need to complete, but also help me to really see people and treat them as important. Holy Spirit please convict me when I'm getting it wrong. Please send people in my life to help me see when I'm not making people important or showing your glory, grace, and kindness. Please send people in my life who do this really well that I can learn from. May I show Your glory, grace, and kindness in my life.