Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 3:1-13

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that he gave me for you. 3 The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. 4 By reading this you are able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. 5 This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power.

8 This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, 9 and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. 10 This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. 11 This is according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him. 13 So, then, I ask you not to be discouraged over my afflictions on your behalf, for they are your glory.

The Original Intent

1) Why did God wait to reveal his secret, mysterious plan of salvation? (verse 9)

God instructed Paul to share the Gospel with Gentiles, offering them salvation alongside Jewish believers. God chose Paul’s generation to “shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.” (Ephesians 3:9)

God’s salvation plan was a revelation to Paul, but William Barclay reminds us the “salvation of the Gentiles is not an afterthought of God; the bringing of all men into His love was part of God’s eternal design.” God knew from the beginning of time He would send His Son, Jesus, to reconcile all people, Jews and everyone else, to Himself. (John 1:1-5) With such good news, why did He wait so long to share the secret?

Like clues intending to grow faith, God revealed His plan in part throughout Old Testament Scripture, waiting for the “fullness of time” for a full revelation. (Galatians 4:4-5) He made known to the Jews there would be a Savior (Isaiah 7:14) and He provided signs to validate the true Messiah (Isaiah 9:6). The Israelites waited 400 years on the promised Messiah, eagerly and desperately praying through wars and captivity for their Deliverer.

At the proper time, God revealed Jesus as the Savior of the world. (John 3:16) God knew the exact moment to uncover the hidden mystery and enact His plan for salvation. F.B. Meyer reminds us “God has many secrets, which unfold as the ages are ripe for them, but not before.” Because God is Sovereign (Psalm 115:3) and Omniscient (Psalm 147:5), we can trust His timing even when we don’t understand.

We know God does not view time like we do (2 Peter 3:8), and we know He has a time and a purpose for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It is not for us to know and understand God’s timing (Acts 1:7), but we can trust His timing is always perfect.

The Everyday Application

1) Why did God wait to reveal his secret, mysterious plan of salvation? (verse 9)

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, young Dorothy is deposited by a tornado in the land of Oz and struggles to get home to Kansas. When she finally completes her quest to find the wizard who can take her home, she discovers her ruby red slippers could have transported her home at any time.

That part of the story frustrates me! Why didn’t anyone mention this when she landed in Oz and received the slippers? Instead of following a yellow brick road all over Oz, she could have clicked her heels 3 times and returned to Kansas instantly. Of course, everything Dorothy learned about love and friendship was only discoverable on her journey.

We can say the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) did the same for us when He revealed His “mystery hidden for ages in God”, which was His plan of salvation for all people. (Ephesians 3:9) God could have sent Jesus to the earth at any time in history to reconcile all people to God, but He knew the perfect time. Only God, the Alpha (Beginning) and Omega (End) (Revelation 22:12) knew that 2,000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem, the perfect time and place for Jesus to come would arrive on history’s timeline.

Jesus, the All-Powerful deity would come wrapped in the humility of newborn skin and laid in a feeding trough in order to bring the gift of salvation to everyone on earth who would accept it. (Ephesians 2:8)

We don’t need to understand God’s reasons or His ways to acknowledge that they are infinitely wise and above our own. (Isaiah 55:8-9) We can trust that the God who was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8), the One who holds the past, present and future (Psalm 31:15) can be trusted to orchestrate everything in the proper time. Even our daily circumstances are held in His hand and used to teach us to trust His good heart.

The Original Intent

2) How does God’s plan to allow Gentiles to be God’s heirs connect with revealing His wisdom to unseen rulers and principalities? (verse 10)

In Ephesians 3:10, Paul explained that God’s plan of salvation for everyone, Jew and Gentile, was meant to reveal His wisdom to the unseen spiritual realm. God’s strategy was to use His Body, the Church (Ephesians 1:23), to do His will and complete the works He laid out. (Acts 14:21-23)

His main avenue of teaching about His love, both in the natural and the spiritual realms, is through the actions of the Church (Ephesians 2:10). John Piper suggests, “We show the wisdom of God to the cosmic powers by. . . being the church Christ died to create.” What better way to explain the gift of grace God offers than to open up the doors of Heaven to everyone, both Jews and non-Jews?

Gentiles didn’t know or follow Jewish laws, so everyone understood that it was only by God’s grace, not anything they had done, that they could become His children. (John 1:12) An invitation to be restored to a right relationship with God, including complete forgiveness and life everlasting, offered to the Jew who failed to keep the Law and to the Gentile who didn’t know the Law, is radical grace. This is a picture of Christ’s love for the world who can’t earn His salvation but can only receive it as a gift. (Romans 6:23)

God’s plan was for His Church to follow Him and draw others to Him, demonstrating His love in the way they loved each other and the rest of the world. (John 13:35) Handley Moule suggests that angels and demons look at Christians and “see a nature which, wrecked by itself, was yet made in the image of their God and ours. And they see this God at work upon that wreck to produce results not only wonderful in themselves but doubly wonderful because of the conditions.”

When believers in the Church live and love like Jesus, not only does the world take note, but so do angels and principalities in the unseen realm!

The Everyday Application

2) How does God’s plan to allow Gentiles to be God’s heirs connect with revealing His wisdom to unseen rulers and principalities? (verse 10)

If integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching, it is difficult to demonstrate integrity in this age of cameras everywhere you turn! Many social media influencers do altruistic things, but they care more about getting likes and views than about showing kindness.

It is refreshing to hear about people who don’t expect recognition for doing good things like returning a lost wallet or showing kindness to a stranger. It can be easy to forget that as Christians we have both an earthly and a heavenly audience for our actions, even though the Apostle Paul tells us plainly in Ephesians 3:10 that God uses us to make His multi-faceted wisdom known to principalities in the heavens.

Whether we are mindful of it or not, God is using us, His Church, to demonstrate the Wisdom of His Word to both angels and demons. David Guzik explains that God will use “the saints to reveal His wisdom to the angelic beings, both faithful and fallen angels . . . We are called to be the means by which God teaches the universe a lesson, and a beautiful lesson.”

When we carry out the will of the Lord, it brings glory to God here on earth and also in the heavenly places. The Scriptures even tell us that angels longed to catch a glimpse of the Gospel message freely shared with us. (1 Peter 1:12)

We demonstrate God’s power to everyone watching when we allow Him to be our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9) and change us into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18). May God make us ever-mindful of the fact that He uses us to declare His glory to both the physical and the spiritual realm.

The Original Intent

3) What kind of boldness and confidence do believers have through Christ? (verse 12)

In Ephesians 3:12, Paul states that in Jesus, believers “have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” Donald Spence Jones explains that the Greek word for boldness literally means freedom of speech, but is used here in a wider sense to describe “lacking restraint, ease of feeling, comfortable self-possession, in our access to God.” Paul instructs Christians that their faith in Christ gives them full access to God. Because the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness (Hebrews 9:14) we have no shame to keep us from approaching God.

Sin separates us from God, but Jesus bridged that gap when he took our sins upon Himself on the cross. (1 Peter 2:24) Because God sees us as righteous through Christ, we have the boldness and confidence of sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Andrew Murray wants Christians to “Understand how the Father’s heart longs that His children draw near to Him boldly. He gave the blood of His Son to secure it. Let us honour God, and honour the blood, by entering the Holiest with great boldness.”

God wants us to approach Him bold and confident without shame holding us back. Prayer is the great privilege of direct communication with the Most High God, and not only does He allow it, but He invites it! God desires relationship with His people. Author Susie Larson reminds us that “Jesus invites us into His presence without shame, without our past baggage, without the need to cover ourselves or to be someone we’re not, without the enemy’s constant taunts.”

The next time you feel like you don’t have the right to talk to God or seek His presence, remember it is His precious blood that gives you the boldness and confidence to approach the God who longs for communion with you.

The Everyday Application

3) What kind of boldness and confidence do believers have through Christ? (verse 12)

I never tire of seeing the viral video of a live BBC interview with a professor from his home that gets interrupted by his 2 young children who happily wander into the interview room. He tries to move them out of camera view while the mother swoops in and escorts them out. The kids are not deterred by the fact that Daddy is on TV. They just happily approach him like they would any other day at home.

I think of this kind of confidence before God when I read Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:12. He writes that in Christ “we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” This confident access to the Father comes from Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross, where His shed blood covered our sins and erased the division between God and His children. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus came so we could approach Him with boldness and confidence, unhindered by sins that formerly held us back. (Romans 6:6) With nothing to hinder us, God longs for us to worship Him, pray to Him, and learn from Him. Andrew Murray suggests, “the measure of our boldness is the worth God attaches to the blood of Jesus.” Because we know that God is well-pleased with His Son’s sacrifice, we know He encourages us to come to Him boldly and confidently (Hebrews 4:16) like children who trust they will be welcomed lovingly by their Father.

Jennie Allen explains, “We have prayer so we know the heart of God. It’s how we walk with him. Prayer is the heart of our relationship with God. It is the expression of our faith.” God wants us to always be in communication with Him through prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and He wants us to come to Him boldly and confidently.

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