“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:4-6
Grace has always amazed me. Not only are we unable to do anything to deserve it, but it is lavished on us abundantly. While there is an aspect of grace that I can understand, much of its essence will remain a mystery to me because I simply cannot grasp the “why” of it. Why would God grant me His grace? Why would I be chosen to be an heir and partaker of the promise in Christ Jesus? This is the mystery of the Gospel. This is grace.
It is upon this platform of grace that we will build a deeper understanding today. For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel knew and understood that they were God’s chosen people. Then came Jesus Christ and His fulfillment of the Law. His life, death, and resurrection secured the promise given to us in Isaiah 49:6, which foretold that salvation would be made available to people of all races. Still, even with this Old Testament promise, the idea of Gentiles being welcomed into God’s family was so difficult for many Jews to embrace. It was so counter-cultural.
Paul understood the importance of addressing this mystery that Jew and Gentile were brought together in Christ, especially because his ministry was primarily to the Gentiles. This was a dividing issue within the first church, so Paul not only talked about it, but he explained and clarified this truth. He knew that in order for spiritual truth to be applied properly, it must be accurately explained. You can’t just tell people what to do without explaining why. Lists of dos and don’ts are nothing more than a heavy weight of legalism and religion.
How do you think this applies to our lives today? For those of us who grew up in the church, we were given many don’ts. Much of my adolescent years were marked by teaching of all of the bad things that I shouldn’t do, and a much lesser emphasis was placed on the good that I should be doing. This leaves one entering into adulthood with a warped understanding of who God is – a God who only says no and then waits to strike you with lightning when you mess up. It’s nothing more than another brand of religion. If we go back to the truths of Scripture, we find that God gives us good reason for the boundaries that He sets up for us in His Word, and the good that He does call us to do, He also grants explanation for.
The mystery of the Gospel in Ephesians 3 is all about illuminating the grace of God. What was once closed off has now been made open. What once was limited in its reaches is now limitless. To ALL who have received Him and to ALL who have believed in His name, He chooses to call His children. (John 1:12) Jew and Gentile have become one in God’s family. There is no longer any distinction. We all stand equal in His sight.
This truth puts so much into perspective. If we are in Christ, we are all equal in His sight. And if the Gentile is equally welcomed into the fold along with the Jew, then the principle we can take from this is that there is no one too far for the reaches of God’s grace. There is no one who is beyond hope. If there is breath in their lungs, there is hope for their soul. Never stop being full of the blend of grace and truth. Never stop praying for those who do not yet believe. Because we hold fast to the hope that is found within the mystery of the Gospel – though we don’t deserve it, grace is freely given.