After explaining the gospel, Paul explains the church, the community of people that the gospel brings together. We’ll come back to the end of chapter 2 later; today, we will look at Ephesians 3.
Paul begins chapter 3 saying that God has given Him grace and has revealed the mystery to him, “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men…” (v. 5). Paul did not get it through reason, but through revelation by the Holy Spirit. Old Testament saints had no clue about the church, all the saved in one family. They could not see the complete picture from their limited perspective.
We have no clue all that God has planned for our lives. The handful of people who met over 100 years ago to start Liberty could not see campuses at Big Bethel Road, Harbour View, Greenbrier, York River, and LibertyLive.Online. It was all a “mystery” that has been made known in our day. Likewise, we cannot begin to fathom what God is going to do in the next 100 years if He tarries His coming.
God’s comprehensive plan was to bring all people groups together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head, the church is the body, and we are members of that body. Look at verse 6: “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” Both Jews and Gentiles would be members of God’s family. Not just Jew and Gentile live in peace, but Gentiles be adopted into the same family, sharing the same promises of the covenant and the same inheritance.
The Church is a place for racial unity and ethnic diversity. Trusting in Jesus does not remove our cultural distinctions, it just shows us that we are not ultimately defined by our cultures, but by who we are in Christ. A group of people all sharing one culture, getting together over what they have in common, is not miraculous. When you have a group of people who have little to nothing in common except love for Jesus, that points to the power of the cross and the resurrection. Racial division is not a skin problem, but a SIN problem! The God who unites us is greater than anything that divides us!
Paul goes on to say, “…I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (v. 7). Every member is a minister. Every one of you has a gift. The God who called Paul to the ministry also gifted Paul to carry out the ministry. Whatever God calls us to do, He will gift and equip us to do. It is not that we are more talented, it is God’s grace. When we all work together it is powerful. When you get out of church and away from God you are disconnected from God’s power. If you sit on the sidelines you will never experience all that God has for you.
In the final verses of this passage, Paul says that grace was given to him so that he might preach Christ. He says the intent is that God might be made known by the church, and that Jesus provides the boldness, access, and confidence to do so (v. 8-12). Paul was moved to true humility that God would use him to spread this message. He was a persecutor of the church who became a preacher of the church. He knew his past, the shame, the guilt. He was unworthy. You can preach the “unsearchable riches in Christ” if you have experienced it. God’s purpose is that you have boldness, you have direct access to Him and His power, and that you have personal confidence to not lose heart. Have you experienced His riches? Are you sharing the good news that Jesus died for ALL people and that those who are in Christ are all members of the same family?