Power In The Mystery of the Gospel

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Ephesus

(Ephesians 6:19)  “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,”

Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel of the grace of God as he wrote these words to the Ephesians. This was part of the prayer request he began in verse 18.  Paul’s persecution, rooted in the principalities and powers aligned under Satan, came mainly from two groups. First, he was under attack by pagan Gentiles who were going to lose their income or power that came from those who were lost.. We see an example of this in Acts 16 and 19. Second, he was continually attacked by religious Jews who were fervent against Christ. They followed Paul in his travels looking for any opportunity to shut him down. We see numerous examples in Acts 14, 17 and 18.

The “mystery of the gospel” is defined for us in Ephesians 3:6 – “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” The thought that both Jew and Gentile would be reconciled to God in one Body was a direct threat against “spiritual wickedness in high places” that sought to keep both of these groups in continual spiritual darkness. No wonder Paul was constantly attacked! The gospel threatened to tear down worldly powers and strongholds, set people free from captivity and provide victory in daily life over sin. The gospel was and is powerful enough to shift the entire structure of society.

It’s important to notice that Paul did not pray for his own safety or comfort. Rather his mind was entirely on the gospel and those who needed it. He was asking for his mental state to be as effective as possible under the extreme stress of imprisonment and threat of death. Because Paul focused on the mission God gave him, his focus was on the need for courage in the face of all the danger around him. Another thing comes to mind as we look at this verse – even though Paul is praying for his own benefit, ultimately his prayer was a result of keeping his mind on the needs of others. This is an advancement of the prayer request in verse 18. As we see society crumble around us, we need to be aware what those in society truly need. They need a Church that will stand for the truth of the “mystery of the gospel” – a Church fully aware of what transformation is needed and committed to the message that can accomplish it regardless of the cost.

Renewed Thought – The Mystery of the Gospel shows us the power of God in the gospel to transform an entire culture. It also helps us see our own need to depend on the Lord for courage to stand for the gospel in the face of spiritual conflict.

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Progressive Humility

(Ephesians 3:8)  “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” 

Ministry should make us more humble. I see the progression of it in Paul’s ministry. In 1 Corinthians, written much earlier, he states “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle,…” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Now in the later Ephesian letter written from prison he declares himself to be lower than the lowliest of all saints. He moved from viewing himself as the least amongst the apostles to the lower than all believers! In spite of all the miracles and revelations, in spite of all the traveling he does to establish churches, in spite of all the invitations he receives to speak in faraway places, I see a progression of humility in the life of Paul.

The last phrase in 1 Cor 15:9 gives a clue to why he saw himself in such lowliness: “…because I persecuted the church of God.” Paul never let forgiveness erase the memory of the life he was saved out of to become the man of God. I should never let forgiveness obscure the memory of my personal needs in my past identity. Although I live according to who I now am in Christ, I cannot pretend that I was never in need of a Savior. The flaw in modern ministry, especially in Western culture, is that sometimes the accolades of ministry can lift up the self-image to the point where we act and even believe we are better than someone who needed redemption. This is a lie I cannot afford to believe if I want to be an effective minister of the gospel.

God did not allow Paul to forget he was merely a man called to preach about a Savior. That’s all I am – just another human being who was given something undeserved and called to share that gift with others. I once was religious. I once was ignorant. I once was lost. I walk in this identity I have now because I am in Christ. He was a humble servant and so I’ve become a servant. This means I am a servant both of the lost and saved. Acceptance, applause, and accolades do not define who I am. As I grow in this walk I have in Christ, my self-image should become conformed to His image, and my humility should progress to conform to His humility.

Renewed Thought – Remember where you came from but live like who you are.

Captured And Captivated

(Ephesians 3:1)  “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,”

There is always a price to pay when God wants to take His people to a new spiritual realm. Usually, it’s the messenger who bears the burden. Paul was in prison because he carried the message to the world that the Gentiles were “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” (Ephesians 2:19). This shook up the religious crowd for the following five reasons:

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