the mystery of God revealed

Have you ever been a part of a really good mystery or very important secret? People love mysteries and secrets. We watch shows like CSI, NCIS, NYPD Blue, Unsolved Mysteries, Fringe and X-files on the edge of our seats. My wife can figure it out in a matter of minutes, while I am still scratching my head for hours afterwards. Today is a mysteriously unique day. It is the 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the millennium. Never will this day happen again. Some think today could be the end of the world, as we know it. Spooky, isn’t it?

In Ephesians 3, Paul takes part in the greatest mystery unveiling known to mankind. In fact, you have a part to play in the global scale mystery too. God has been waiting to reveal His divine plan and this passage shows us the main point of God’s purposes in history, which has already been revealed.

The Mystery Hidden for Ages has been Revealed to You [Ephesians 3:1-6]

Like a lid opening on a treasure chest hidden for centuries, Paul shares the secret news of God that has been hidden for many generations [Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:24-28]. Paul came to know this mystery through the revelation of God [v.3-5; cf. 1:8-10], and it had to do with Jesus [v.4].

The mystery hidden for ages in a nutshell [v.6], “is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The mystery hidden in God is that the gospel is for the Gentiles too. This news is huge. According to the Ephesians 2:11-12, Gentiles were once outside the redemptive purposes of God. The gospel was first promised to the Jews only, but in God’s plan for history it included all nations [Romans 1:16; 2:29; 4:16; 8:17]. Prior to the cross, Gentiles were welcomed into God’s plan only by becoming a circumcised Jews, but in Christ, Gentiles can inherit the same promises given to Abraham [Galatians 3:29; Genesis 12:2-3], become members of the same body [cf. 2:13-16], and be partakers of the promise [1:13; 2:12].

The Mystery is Spreads Globally through His People [Ephesians 3:7-12]

If we are to mimic Paul in spreading the good news it is important to observe how he was motivated to his core by the gospel. First, he refers to himself as “a prisoner for Christ on behalf of the Gentiles.” [v.1; cf. Philippians 1:12-17] We are certain Paul is in Rome, which would mean he was a prisoner of Nero and the Empire, but he only acknowledges being a prisoner of Christ. The reason for his imprisonment is preaching about Christ. You would think the gospel would be on pause while Paul was in prison rather it was spreading rapidly.

Second, he realizes he is a steward of the gospel [v.2]. Paul is entrusted with the mystery as an apostle [1 Corinthians 4:1; 9:17];[1] and is committed completely to the cause of the gospel of Christ.Third, he is humbled by the gospel, “I am the very least of all the saints.” [v.8]. Paul regarded the stewardship of the gospel to the Gentiles as the highest honor. He was humbled that God would use sinful people to display His glorious message. Throughout his life and ministry the gospel never became an old-hat, but it was a vital part of his message and relationship with God.

Paul had a hard time keeping the gospel a secret. Paul says, “Of this gospel I was made a minister.” [v.7] There are two ways that Paul spreads the gospel message: First, Paul spread the gospel by preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ [v.8-9; cf. 2:7]. Paul is passionate up about telling everyone [Gentiles] the gospel.[2] Can you hear him? “You are included in the promises of God. Come to Christ. Turn from your sin and embrace Him.” It is as if he is Publishers Clearing House telling everyone they have won the richest prize known to man and they don’t have to gamble their lives away anymore on silly rubbish.

Second, Paul spread the gospel by making known the manifold wisdom of God through the church [v.10]. Manifold [πολυποίκιλος] means “many colorful layers” and it specifically is used to describe God’s wisdom [cf. Romans 11:33]. In other words, God’s wisdom is not like a color-by-number painting, but a priceless masterpiece of magnificent detail, texture, colors, and layers. It is a portrait that has been worked on for eternity and through the church it continues to display more and more of the wisdom of God.

People are not the only ones who take note of the gospel message. Angels and spiritual powers also marvel at the church and see the wisdom of God [v.11]. You are a participant in God’s divine drama displaying His rich glory to a celestial audience. Angels learn about grace, redemption, the character and purposes of God through men. Therefore a promise is given: you can boldly share the gospel without being hindered by evil spiritual powers [v.12; cf. 6:19-20]. This is quite encouraging since a normal response to the gospel is rejection and ridicule.

For the Sake of Christ, it is worth being spent for Mystery to be Spread [Ephesians 3:13]

The ridicule and rejection that is a response to the gospel is the reason why Paul writes in chains, “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” [v.13] Suffering is a normal part of being a committed follower of Christ. Does that surprise you? Paul was forewarned of his suffering even before coming a follower [cf. Acts 9:16]. The New Testament is full of promises that suffering comes when you share the gospel,[3] and Paul also shares specifically how he has suffered for the sake of the gospel,

I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.[4]

Paul certainly had been through the ringer for following Christ. For the gospel, Paul says, “I will gladly spend and be spent,” [2 Corinthians 12:15] be “poured out as a drink offering” [2 Timothy 4:6], and “Whether I live or die it is gain for the sake of Christ,” [Philippians 1:21] Paul was committed in life or death for the cause of Christ and making the gospel known. The questions stands: are you?

[1] Thomas Schreiner. Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL. 2001. 57-60.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:7; Galatians 1:11, 23; Romans 10:15; 2 Timothy 1:10

[3] Matthew 13:21; 24:9; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 1:4; Philippians 1:29; 3:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 2:10; 3:12; Hebrews 10:32-33; 1 Peter 2:19-21

[4] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), 2 Corinthians 11:23–29.


Your Blessed Life Now

  • “We are a blessed.”
  • “We live in a blessed nation.”
  • “Count your blessings.”
  • “God bless you.”

These are a few of the praises we hear as anthems in our personal arenas. I am so blessed that I don’t even know what being blessed means anymore. Blessed has become as shallow as the word love. As we enter the book of Ephesians we see blessing defined.

EPH 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Paul begins his letter by blessing God for pouring down on His people every spiritual blessing in Christ. The word blessed [Εὐλογητὸς, eulogy] simply means praise. “Blessed” in the NT always refers to God as Creator and Father [Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31]. Ephesians 1:3–14 is one long sentence, but in one breath Paul empties rich praises from the caverns of his soul praise for God’s grace. It should be noted that there are no commands in this passage telling us how to live only a praise song showing us how to lift up Christ.

Eulogy to Praise a Living God

This sentence is a eulogy for what God has done and giving Him the glory He is due. Normally a eulogy is for someone who is dead, but God is not dead. This eulogy is an enormous and extremely humbling list of all “spiritual blessings” God has blessed His followers “in Christ” [x11 in 1:3-14]. I am the beneficiary of a blessed inheritance now and later that is literally: out of this world.

One can also observe how the Trinity works together in our salvation, as seen in this chart:

Who gives the spiritual blesses? What is the spiritual blessing? How is this a spiritual blessing?
FATHER [vs.3-6] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” [v.4] Before we were created God chose us to be His children. Blessed are those who respond to His grace.
“predestined us for adoption” [v.5] God invites us to become His sons and daughters. We become children of the King with all the benefits of the kingdom. God lovingly rules and reigns as our Abba Father. He willed it.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glorious grace” [v.6]
SON [vs.7-12] redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” [v.7] Christ purchased our salvation through His blood—the perfect sacrifice for sin [cf. 1 Cor.6:20; Gal.3:13; 4:5].  My sin had a debt I could not pay and Christ paid the ransom with His life.
makes known to us the mystery of His will” [vs.8-9] Through Christ we have the capacity to understand and know the will of God. Jesus made God’s plan visible to the entire world.
“we have obtained an inheritance” [vs.10-11] Through Christ I am an heir of all that God owns. What does God own? Everything. You cannot put a price on everlasting life—it’s priceless.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.12]
HOLY SPIRIT [vs.13-14] sealed” [v.13] At salvation the Holy Spirit declares that we are beneficiaries of all the above, right now. We do not have to wait for it. He has given us His stamp of approval as a guarantee.
inheritance” [v.14] There are some things we cannot have just yet, but the Holy Spirit let us know we can bank on Him [cf. 1 Peter 2:9].
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.14]

Think about the lengthy list of blessings we have in Christ. It is infinitely better than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet dumping their wills in my lap. How do you respond to God’s grace? Are you amazed?Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God is revealed and summed up “in Christ.” Jesus gives meaning to the mystery because He is the mystery [cf. Colossians 1:20-22]. Therefore, the crescendo of this eulogy trumpets glory to God because He is:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Blessed Predestination

Paul reaches back before creation, before time began, and into eternity-past when only God Himself existed. Election is described with different facets of God’s gracious, saving purposes: “will” [1:5, 9, 11], “mystery” [1:9], “purpose” [1:9, 11], “appointment” [1:11], and “plan” [1:11].

What does it really mean that God has predestined and elected man? Does this mean man has no responsibility before God? What did He choose us to be? He chose “us” [i.e. saints, believers] to “be holy and blameless before Him,” [1:4] “predestined us for adoption as sons,” [1:5] and “be to the praise of His glory.”

Predestination is to a relationship with God the Father through his Son Christ. Election is always and only in Christ. God chose “us” in connection with Christ and our response to His work of redemption. God chose the believer for His glory and redemption is only accomplished though Christ. Being adopted into God’s family as sons [and daughters] is an incredible privilege, since we were at once “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” [cf. 2:2, 3].

Think of election and predestination like being given a special assignment at school or work. What does it feel like to be chosen for a special assignment? Election and predestination do not take away man’s responsibility in fact they enhance man’s responsibility. Election does bring privilege, but it also carries with it weighty responsibility. The divine purpose in our election was not simply to repair the damage done by sin but also to fulfill God’s original intention for humankind—to be conformed to the likeness of Christ [Rom. 8:29–30]. Therefore, I am responsible to respond to God’s gracious redemptive plan and praise Him for His glorious grace [1:13].

Marvelous Mystery Revealed

Think about the list of blessings we have in Christ. How do you respond? Are you amazed? Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God has revealed in Christ is the crescendo:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The mystery of life, everything and the meaning of our existence are solved in Christ. Through Christ I can be a child of the King, live eternally with Him, and have the hope to live holy and blameless before Him. This plan of God revealed in Christ put into poetry makes me what to shout with Paul, “To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace.” [1:6, 12, 14]

3 amazing and mysterious truths about the Trinity

I remember when I first started talking with my wife in the early days of our relationship. I wanted to know everything about her: what she loved, desired, disliked, favorite foods, most inspirational books, greatest memories, fears, and more. Our phone conversations would go on for hours, as we would learn new things about one another. I really got to know a lot about Sarah and loved it. Now that we have been together over 3 years and have know each other more than 10 years we are still learning new things about each other, but not quite at the pace we did in the early years. We are familiar with one another. Imagine one day I woke up and said to Sarah, “I don’t want to know more about you.” Something is very wrong when the learning about my loved one stops.

There is a difference between knowing about someone and really knowing them. Likewise you can know more than just know something about God. You can know Him. He speaks to you and you can speak to Him. You can actually have a growing relationship with God. Like a marriage or family this relationship is a lifelong endeavor, if not an eternal adventure. Forever you will be learning something new about God.

God is a mystery, but there are things you can know for certain about God. You will never be able to solve the mystery about God or know everything about Him. It is impossible to know all about God. People often think that the Trinity mystery is contradictory. A contradiction is when two truth statements exist that cannot logically coexist. For example: “God exists” and “God does not exist.” Both of these statements cannot be truth at the same time. One must be true and the other false. The Bible declares 3 amazing and mysterious truths about the Trinity of God [John 1:1-14]:

1. God is 3 Persons.

How does John 1:14 define what the “Word” is in 1:1? The Word is defined as God who “became flesh and dwelt among us.” We would know the Word as referring to Jesus Christ. What is the significance of calling Jesus “the Word”? To a Jewish person the Word of God was spoken, not necessarily seen. God spoke the universe into being, God spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden, God spoke to Moses in the bush and Wilderness, and God spoke to the prophets. When God spoke, man listened. John says that Jesus is the Word—the Word in visible flesh. When people look at Jesus and hear from Him they see God with skin on. He is just as God as God the Father; in fact Jesus displays the “glory” of God the Father.

According to John 1:1 notice “the Word was with God.” Why is that statement important? It means that Jesus and the Father are distinct. God is distinct in persons. The Bible clearly shows that the persons of God—Father [1 Cor.8:6; Rom.15:6; Mt.11:27], Son [John 1:3; 5:27-30; 8:58], and Holy Spirit [Acts 5:3-4]—are indeed God, yet distinct from one another [Mt.3:13-17; 12:32]. In fact, the persons are subordinate to one another [John 14-16]; the Father planned salvation [John 3:16], the Son submits to the Father [1 Cor.11:3; 15:28], and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son [John 16:14].

How is the distinctness and oneness of God reflected in our human relationships? Marriage relationships are considered one flesh, but with two persons [Hutts / Justin & Sarah]. A family is considered a unit with many members [Hutts / Justin Hutts]. A team is typified as one with 5 or 11 players [Colts / Peyton Manny]. So it is with God—He is 3 persons.

2. All 3 Persons are Fully God.

According to John 1:1 Jesus was with God in the beginning. Jesus took part in the creation of all things. Do you notice that John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 have a lot of similarities? “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth.” Jesus is equal with God at creation. Jesus is fully God. John 1:14 tells us that He became flesh, which means that He was once not flesh. Jesus is God who became a man. [Note: The whole Trinity is involved in Jesus’ incarnation—God send Him and the Holy Spirit caused the womb to be; John 3:16; Luke 1:35]

The 3 persons of the Godhood are distinct in person, but one in essence. The 3 Persons have eternally existed as One God. Jesus is not merely with God, not merely like God, He is God.

3. All 3 Persons are 1 God.

All Jews from the time they little children learn about God—One God. Even the disciples believe in One God [monotheist] and believed that Jesus was God too [not one of many god, polytheist]. Hebrew children much like children today attended “Saturday” School at the synagogue and learned important lessons from the Old Testament. By heart a Hebrew would know the Shema: “Hear, O Israel the LORD our God, the LORD is One.” [Deut.6:4] The three-ness and oneness of God do not exist in the same respect—God has one essence and plurality of persons.

How has your view of God been too limited? How have you been reminded in your life of your limitations? When I think about the Trinity I come to a realization of my own limitations. We are the creation and God is the Creator [Isaiah 55:8-9]. Thinking about God puts Him in His place and me in mine. He is God and I am not. I am not, but I know I AM!

In my relationship with Sarah there are things I will learn about her the rest of our marriage. She is a woman—she thinks differently and is wired differently by God. She is so complex. So it is with God. He is infinitely more complex and there is an endless vat to know about our beautiful God and Savior. What a joy it is to search the mysteries of our God and get a glimpse of Him in His Word and in the world.