Now with more than 2000 years of church history behind us, it doesn’t to us seem like much of a mystery. But if you look backward in history and time, you can begin to see what Paul is talking about.
What is more, you can also begin to understand God’s global plan in a much clearer way.
This week, we started a new study with a few people that we have been discipling over the last several months. The long-term plan is that we will do a survey of the Bible so that everyone can understand the story of the scriptures. The entire story, not just a few snippets here and there.
But this week, we started with the big picture: What is the story that God is telling? What is God’s plan, his mission? And how can we know?
We looked at Genesis 1 and saw how God is working to spread his image all across the earth. And then we saw from Matthew 28 that God’s plan remained the same through Christ. And finally, we looked in Revelation 5 and saw that God will complete his plan. If you want to see the whole study, you can read through it – better yet, teach it to someone else! – using this link.
In today’s reading in Ephesians 3, we see a direct reflection of this same idea. Paul says that there is a mystery that God has revealed, and that mystery is that the Gentiles are now co-heirs with the Jews to be God’s people through Jesus Christ:
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 3:6
You see, God has, from the beginning, been working to reach all people, working to have every tongue, tribe, and nation know him and reflect his glory. This has been God’s true plan. We might say, “of course” to this statement, but there was a time when that wasn’t understood. And probably isn’t even as well understood, nor practiced, as it should be today.
At the time that Paul wrote these words, he was writing to first generation believers in Ephesus. Gentiles who had received and believed the Gospel. By faith had understood that this God of the Jews wanted them, and that he had accepted them through the sacrifice of Jesus. God had forgiven their sins and had adopted them into his family, just as he had the Jews.
This week, I had a conversation with a friend and talked about how their church was planting other churches and reaching people in their communities. Thankfully, his report was that there were many new believers, not simply generational baptisms from families within the church. So he asked me my opinion…is this good enough?
Not really knowing the church, I didn’t think that I could give a good perspective or insight, but I tried to simply offer my perspective. And that is this:
If we understand God’s mission and plan to reach all nations… If we understand that the Gospel is intended to unite people from every tribe, tongue, and nation… If we call ourselves Christians and believers in Christ… Are we living, both individually and as a community to participate in the plan of the One that we call Lord? Are we acting and taking part in His plan? Or are we primarily doing our own thing? Are we primarily building our own kingdoms?
I think those are important questions regardless of where we are. Regardless of what size of church we are a part of. Small or large, we should insert ourselves into God’s plan to unite his people and usher people into the Kingdom of God, both locally and globally.
This is the mystery that had been revealed through the law and the prophets, that God was using Israel to bring all nations to Him. And now we are part of the true Israel, the spiritual Israel not the nation of Israel, and he wants to use us. Let’s recognize God’s plan and be part of it with Him!