Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; The Secret of the Ages, part 19 (Overcoming sin and suffering).

Class Outline:

Thursday, September 5, 2019


EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — 


EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;


EPH 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.


EPH 3:4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,


EPH 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;


EPH 3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,


Gentiles are “fellow partakers” (summetochos; EPH 5:7) with the promised inheritance, kingdom, and covenant given to Israel.


EPH 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;


The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members with whom? The Jews. They are also “fellow partakers” (summetochos; used in EPH 5:7) with whom? The Jews. Fellow partakers of the promise, but what promise was made to the Jews? A Messiah, a Deliverer, a King, His kingdom, and the life blessings of the New Covenant - in this age, Jews and Gentiles are fellow partakers in these extraordinary things.


“the promise in Christ Jesus” - possession of the King and the New Covenant in His blood.


EPH 3:7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.


EPH 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,


EPH 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;


EPH 3:10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.


EPH 3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,


EPH 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.


How marvelously blessed we all are. As we have seen, we are alive in Christ, sin and the nature of sin has been crucified, therefore, we have forgiveness of all sin, we are in the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we are alive by the Holy Spirit and we live by Him, and none of this can ever be lost or changed. The case presented to us by the NT is that since we are these things and possess these things, let us also order our lives and walk according to these things.


And a word of caution, one that we have already heard. Christian doctrines, which are man’s attempts to interpret the scripture in some systematic way, are not the Person of Jesus Christ. Doctrines are sort of like maps that help us to understand God and His purposes. They are like sign-posts that lead us along, Pilgrims that Progress through the Wilderness of the World. The sign-post is by no means without its own dangers. We may become content to rest there and not move on, like Columbus being content with a map of the Atlantic and not actually crossing it. We cannot get where we need to be without the doctrines, but the object of our faith is not them, it is He whom they speak of and reveal. When doctrines or dogma become the object of faith, then Christianity assumes the character of secular religion.


For this reason, all doctrines must be as close to the actual lines of scripture as possible, without added human reasoning or conjecture. It is better that they may be obscure at first then possess any seed or error.


A lot of other religions try to deal with the problem of sin and evil, and knowing something about it, command their people to live in a moral manner, but what they lack is the power to do it. Only in Christianity is the Son of God and the Holy Spirit within a believer to empower them on the path of righteousness. And that is an overwhelming power when it is tapped into by faith.


You will fail, but that is a matter of your still existing sin nature and your still existing foolishness, but God will never abandon you in this journey. And it is nothing to get anxious about. God is in you, clothing you, always walking with you, and His love and comfort are always given to you. It won’t always be easy, but why would God give us overwhelming power and guidance and then give us a smooth and easy path? Some of God’s creatures have made war against Him. We were all born on the side of the enemy. God has done an overwhelming thing in the cross of Christ so that whosoever may be born-again, and when we are, He has given us overwhelming power to overcome powerful opponents.


The opponents are strong enough that when God’s way, truth, and life are used with skill and determination we are surprised by their power. 


What I mean is that when you face a superior force and are unsure of the power of your own weapons and after the smoke from the battlefield clears and you find yourself victorious, you are pleasantly surprised by the power of your weapons. If you faced what you knew to be an inferior force, your victory would not surprise you and the extent of the power of your weapons would remain unknown.


And so, we return to Rom 8. We know all in Rom 6, that our old man has been crucified and that we have been resurrected with Christ, and made alive with Him. Sin is no longer our master, but grace now is as Christ is our only King.


We know all in Rom 7, that we often attempted the life of Christ through some power of the flesh and human will. We attempted the life of Christ under some law, be it the one given to Moses or some altered version of it, and we found great failure, disappointment, and constant struggle. We came to conclude, “Wretched man that I am!”


We assent to the way of Rom 6 only to find the failure of Rom 7.


But then we come to Rom 8, knowledgeable but battered and perplexed. When we come to Rom 8, we are like a storm-tossed mariner who has arrived at his home port, and has cast anchor. I think every Christian experiences this battle of feeling a wretched failure in the face of the calling of God. It is my desire as a pastor to get every member of this church to rest at anchor in his home port of Rom 8.   


The reasons that Rom 8 is our home port:


1) We find ourselves in the hands of a blessed Comforter, the indwelling Spirit, in whose almighty and loving ministry we find “life and peace.”


ROM 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,


ROM 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;


ROM 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


2) We know ourselves to be sons of God in the possession of an inheritance from God - we cry out Abba Father.


ROM 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.


ROM 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"


ROM 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,


ROM 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.