The Mystery of the Gospel (Part 1)
Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #134
TEXT: Ephesians 3:1-13
When I was a child, I remember trying to read the Bible on my own. I found that after reading a few verses, I could not get much further. It was hard to understand, especially for someone who did not read much in the first place. In fact, I recall only reading one book completely through in my childhood. At that time, the Bible was like a mystery to me. Many people who tried to read the Bible before they came to know Jesus Christ as Savior have also testified to similar experiences.
A mystery is something that is hidden from plain view. Proverbs 25:2 tells us, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 1:6 also speaks of “the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” One of the popular pastimes of the Oriental Middle East was the asking and answering of riddles. Perhaps, because much of what we know about the world today was not common knowledge back then, it was fun for people to make up riddles and challenge others to guess the answers.
As we see in our passage today, the Bible speaks of the “mystery of the Gospel.” Not only here in Ephesians 3, but in Ephesians 6 and Romans 16, the Bible calls the Gospel message a “mystery.” What is mysterious about the Gospel? That is what we are going to look at today.
John R.W. Stott, a British Christian leader who was once ranked by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world said, “in English, a mystery is something dark, obscure, secret, or puzzling.” Law enforcement agencies have detectives and people hire private investigators to solve mysteries surrounding criminal acts. However, Stott goes on to say, “the Greek word ‘mysterios’ is different. Although it still carries the meaning of ‘secrecy’, it is a secret that is no longer guarded, but open. More simply, a ‘mysterios’ is a truth hitherto hidden from human knowledge or understanding but is now disclosed by the revelation of God.” In other words, the mystery of the Gospel is one that was only hidden for a time. The mystery of the Gospel was always meant to be brought to the light.
So, let us put on our investigators’ hats and take a look at the mystery of the Gospel.
1. We see that the mystery was concealed. Verse 5 of our passage tells us that the mystery of the Gospel was “in other ages not made known unto the sons of men.” Down through ancient history — the period of the Old Testament — God’s ultimate plan of redemption was not fully revealed.
2. Now, let us look at the mystery revealed. As we mentioned earlier, the Gospel mystery is not meant to be concealed forever. At some point, God knew He would reveal the contents of this mystery to man. The Apostle Paul writes, “by revelation he made known unto me the mystery.” Paul goes on to say that this mystery “is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
3. Now, let us look at the mystery explained. It was not easy for everybody to understand and accept the mystery of the Gospel — especially since the majority of the first century church were Jewish. Paul says in verse 7 that he was “made a minister (of this Gospel mystery), according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” In other words, Paul was especially commissioned to preach this message of all people — Jews and Gentiles — being brought together in Christ.
+ Plus, listen to Bart Millard sings “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi singing “Jesus is a Rock”