From “Explore the Bible” curriculum, LifeWay
Stephen V. Allen, senior pastor
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Carrollton
There is a classic television trope called a “Hidden Purpose Test.” It occurs when a character undergoes a test to prove their readiness. Think about the show Kung Fu when the sage Master Kan instructs his student: “When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.” The young boy fails, but a flash forward in time reveals that a more matured Kwai Chang Kaine can snatch the pebble, only then was he ready to venture into the world.
The good news about the Gospel is that Paul does not offer an arbitrary test to judge the spiritual readiness of his pupils. To do so would be contrary to the nature of the Christian faith. Upon receiving Christ, we are all immediately given responsibility as stewards of the Gospel. The sobering challenge of Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians is simple: You are more than ready. Your competency as a Christian is not determined by some cryptic examination, mysterious designation, or special knowledge. You have been given a keen insight as a steward of the now revealed mystery of the Gospel through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
You are steward of the revealed mystery of the Gospel
The mystery of the Gospel is at the center of Paul’s heart for evangelism. Like Paul, if we can reclaim that mystery then we can understand somewhat the intensity of our personal mission. By reclaiming the mystery, we can once again stand in awe because this is a mystery that has and is continuing to be revealed. The Greek tense used by Paul n discussing this mystery implies an open-ended revelation – one that is expansive. God’s revelation to humankind is expansive in its breadth, its depth, its scope, and its relation to individual human experience.
Likewise, the expansiveness of this mystery now revealed means that the implications of Christ’s divine appointment with death reach far beyond the hill of Calvary. This expansiveness is not for Paul’s sight alone, it is for all: “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ… 6 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. Of this Gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.” What does all of that mean? It means that you have the same opportunity, the same awareness, the same possibilities as fellow heirs to be stewards of this mystery revealed.
You are responsible to proclaim the revealed mystery of the Gospel
From Paul’s own humble admission of his own short-comings we can learn a lot: “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.”
Paul’s autobiographical confession should inspire each one of us to accept the responsibility we have been given without excuse. Every person can communicate the revealed mystery of the Gospel. The Word of God is authoritative in all things spiritual, and we have been afforded the opportunity speak the relevant, timeless message of grace in our time. We must constantly put our faith into practice.
You are purposed to show faith in action through the church
For Paul, the church is central to his faith being put in practice: “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”
The local church is a divine symbol of God’s mystery revealed. The church is a parable of God’s Kingdom. You have been called to a local body of believer so you can enhance your skills, strengthen your stewardship, and hone your calling. The church is a picture of unity and hope for a fracture world.