Sunday, March 15, 2015 pm                            Ephesians Index


The Manifold Wisdom of God Revealed
Ephesians 3:8-12

             Tonight we continue our study of Ephesians.  The past few lessons we have examined Ephesians 3 as Paul addresses the revelation of the mystery that we revealed to him and that he wrote down (1-4) – that the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the body of Christ and partakers of His promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (5-6).  Beginning in vs. 7 we find Paul was humbled as he was entrusted with presenting this part of God’s plan.  He called it “the gift of the grace of God”.  In the first part of vs. 8, where Paul continues to acknowledge his place before God, he calls himself, “the least of all the saints” (not just of the apostles).  Though he was an apostle, yet he felt himself undeserving (not inferior).  He felt blessed by God to have the privileges he had.  For more on this, see our last lesson. 

In our lesson tonight we want to notice some things the grace of God extended to Paul caused him to preach about this mystery.  

 I.                    The Unsearchable riches of Christ

a.        The word “unsearchable” is a word that means something incomprehensible to man.  Left to himself, he fails to understand it on his own.  He needs help – like a treasure map, or instructions to help him find what he is looking for.  CONSIDER this in light of who God is.  How do we know how to please Him?  How do we know what He has done for us?  How do we know how to properly worship Him?  Either we don’t have guidance and we are left to guess (hence confusion and uncertainty – it existed back then and it still exists for much of the religious world) OR He tells us.  Paul’s point is that God has told us.  That why he speaks of the mystery being REVEALED. 

b.       His riches certainly are unsearchable – even with what God has revealed to us, we have only touched the “hem of the garment” about who He is.  Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

But He has revealed what we need.  In Colossians 2:2-3, Paul desires that the brethren there be knit together in love and reach “the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
We cannot fully fathom the grace, mercy, love, compassion, longsuffering, holiness, etc. of God.  We can begin to understand them but to fully understand such we will fall short.  The illustration is given of a man who seeking to measure the boundaries of a lake, as he enters a cave, he comes out the other side only to discover the lake was actually a small extension of an ocean. 

c.        They are preached among the Gentiles (but not exclusive to them) – the gospel is for all.   In context, Paul’s point is that the gospel is to be preached among the Gentiles – that is to all mankind. 

d.       The ultimate gift of God is salvation – Ephesians 2:1-10 – we are saved by the grace of God, through an obedient faith.  Galatians 3:26-29 – baptized into Christ!


 II.                  He made all see “the fellowship of the mystery”

a.        The KJV & NKJV reads, “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery,…” (Ephesians 3:9a)
The NASB95 reads, “and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery …; 
The ESV reads, “and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery…,
The word for “to make see” is φωτίσαι, (phōtisai) means to illuminate or to cause one to know.      Paul’s goal was to make known this mystery or to reveal it. 
- It is for ALL to see.    What Paul is revealing is comprehendible. 

b.       Fellowship” κοινωνία (koinōnia) – a word that means close association, sharing, communion.  In the New Testament the word has reference to a spiritual relationship.  Phil. 2:1, 1 John 1:3, 6-7, 1 Cor. 1:9, etc.
Tie this to Paul’s message in this letter – there is ONE body sharing together (rather than enmity) – both Jew and Gentile alike!  This is what Paul wants them to understand. 
NOTE: The NASB speaks of the “administration of the mystery”.  Some other versions use the word, “dispensation” instead of fellowship.  In Greek, the word is slightly different (ο
κονομία) and the idea is a stewardship and has to do with Paul revealing this “mystery”

c.        Hidden since the beginning of the ages – as we have noted in vs. 5, God had not fully revealed His plan until the time of Jesus and the church.  1 Cor. 2:6-7,  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,
We are also again reminded of 1 Peter 1:10-12 where prophets did not fully understand all their prophecies.  For example: Psalm 110:4, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  Did David fully understand that???  The Hebrew writer explains it in great detail.

d.       Hidden “in God who created all things through Christ Jesus” – The point here is that it was no mistake!  We will visit this again in a moment (vs. 10).
2 Peer 1:2-3 says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,


 III.                The Manifold wisdom of God

a.        The manifold wisdom of God – the word “manifold” means many and varied.  When we consider God’s wisdom, it truly is greater than ours. 
Again we note in Heb. 11:33 that His judgments and ways are “past finding out.”    When God acts, we may not understand why or how, but know that He always knows exactly what He is doing.  That is why we dare not question Him! (cf. Rom. 9:20-21 – we are clay in the potter’s hand)

b.       His wisdom has now been made  known (revealed) by the church

                                                   i.      At this point we want to notice that Paul’s point is not that the church is to preach “the manifold wisdom of God.”  We certainly should do that (such as this sermon).  The church has a responsibility to preach and support the preaching of the word – consider 1 Tim. 3:15, 1 Thess. 1:8, etc. 

                                                  ii.      But the point here is that the church itself reveals His manifold wisdom. In other words, when we see the church – we see a manifestation (an example) of God’s wisdom.  The church is a part of His plan.  Much in the same way that Israel was part of His plan, Jesus dying on a cross was part of His plan, etc. 

                                                iii.      Consider this in light of “the mystery” – as we have noted, the mystery is Salvation is available to all – Jew and Gentile alike.  The New Testament church is a place for all mankind – ethnicity, nationality, gender, social status does not matter.   We are His body and we are to function in unity!  And that is Paul’s point!

                                                iv.      NOTE: IF the church is God’s pattern, who are we to change it?  What do we say about His plan if we manipulate the worship, work, name, organization and teaching of the church?   When we seek to “improve” His pattern what are we saying?  The durability of His pattern is seen as the church is still here some 2000 years later.  Incidentally – why is the religious world divided?  It is not because of God’s pattern, but man’s innovations and modifications to His pattern!

c.        To principalities and powers – this expression is a reference to beings in heaven – we don’t know much about them.  We know that angels are heavenly beings and we know that we (man) are made in the image of God who is in heaven (so we possess heavenly qualities). 
But the point here is that God knew what He was doing all along.  Angels may not have fully understood it, the prophets may not have fully understood it – but God did!  See again 1 Peter 1:10-12  - “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

a.        According to His eternal purpose – again Paul emphasizes that it happened exactly as God planned it.  Prophecy is an incredible testimony that validates the Bible and YHWH, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  The more I study God’s plans as He revealed them a little bit at a time, I stand amazed!  Paul in revealing “the mystery” can share how God fulfilled His promise by appealing to the Old Law, which he does in other letters (cf. Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews, etc.).
In this we learn that the church, and salvation for all mankind, was in God’s plans even before the foundation of the world – 1 Peter 1:14 speaks of Jesus as our sacrifice being “foreordained before the foundation of the world”;  Eph. 1:4 speaks of us being “chosen” before the foundation of the world, etc.
Why did God give Moses such specific instructions about building the tabernacle?  Why did He stress that they follow the pattern (Heb. 8:5, Exo. 25:40)?  Why did He keep telling the patriarchs that something better awaited them in the future?  Why did Melchizedek appear “out of nowhere” in the text of Genesis and later in Psalm 110:4? Why does Isaiah in Isa. 53 describe how and why Jesus suffered on the cross?  Why does David in Psalm 22 foretell Jesus being pierced (the cross)?
 There are many things under the Old Law and prophecies that were made that didn’t make sense back then – but they have now been explained.  The plan has come together JUST AS GOD PLANNED IT – ACCORDING TO HIS ETERNAL PURPOSE!

b.       Which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord – Jesus purchased the church with His blood – Acts 20:28.  Jesus broke down the wall of enmity, He accomplished the bringing together of Jew and Gentile at the cross– Eph. 2:13-17, etc.; He gave an acceptable solution for the problem of our sins!  What an incredible plan this was!


 IV.                In whom we have boldness (12)

a.        This verse describes the practical results we have because of what God has done for us.

b.       “In whom we” – the “in whom” is Jesus – John 14:6 – He is the Way!
The “we” includes Paul, the Ephesians – both Jew and Gentile alike – and us! 

c.        Because of what God accomplished we can be bold in coming to Him and telling others about Him –Heb. 4:14-16 – we can boldly come before His throne of grace.
1 John 4:17 speaks of loving having been perfect  so “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment

d.       We have access  - we have direct access to God.  It comes through Jesus and prayers. 
Jesus is our mediator - John 14:6 – we come to the Father through Him.  Also 1 Tim. 2:5
God hears our prayers - 1 John 5:14.   Eph. 2:18, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

e.       We have confidence – we can trust Him.  Friends, I again appeal to you to consider the power of prophecy in showing what God is capable of doing. 
He is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4, Rom. 8:37 – more than conquerors, etc.)
Heb. 3:6 “but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Heb. 10:35 – do not cast that confidence away!
1John 3:21-23,  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

f.         All of these qualities are available “through faith in Him” – see Eph. 2:8.  And as we have emphasized continually, that faith is not mere belief, but an obedient, trusting belief that obeys.  The word has reference to doing what He tells us to do.  In the case of salvation that involves – belief (John 3:16, Rom. 10:10), repentance (Acts 17:30, 2:38, 3:19, etc.), confession (Rom. 10:9-10)  AND baptism (Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Mark 16:16, etc.). 


And there you have the mystery revealed – SALVATION IS FOR ALL, both Jew and Gentile alike!  
Consider this text in light of what we have discussed up to this point.  Paul has noted we are all sinners and Christ died to reconcile us into one body.  In our text, he is explaining how that includes the Gentiles.  As we continue to study we will see his conclusion – God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and neither should we be.  Let us remember this as we seek to expand the borders of His kingdom where we have opportunity. 

While salvation is available to all, it must be received.  Have you obeyed the gospel?