Classic Christianity Radio (02-25-19) – The Mystery of God Part 1
Bob teaches from Ephesians about how the Jews and Gentiles are to be united under one body through the mystery revealed to the apostles and prophets by revelation from Jesus Christ. That in Christ, you, even a Gentile, and the Jew too, can be made holy and blameless in His sight, a message of God’s redemption and grace through Jesus Christ!
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was named an apostle by direct revelation from God, confirmed later by the rest of the apostles.
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 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.
11 “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ”
Paul himself saw Jesus via revelation on his encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 22, 26) in which Christ revealed Himself to Paul. He was an eyewitness, having seen Jesus after His death (1 Cor. 9:1). Therefore, Paul certainly had the authority to teach and preach the Gospel.
The other apostles affirmed that Paul indeed was preaching the gospel, and commended him in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. In a second visit, Paul mentions that he explicitly brought his gospel before the Jerusalem apostles (Peter, James, and John), and they recognized the grace given to Paul.
“Then after an interval of fourteen years [47-50 A.D.?] I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.”
“And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised [the Jews]
Before teaching from Ephesians 1, the main message that Bob will be teaching from, he provides some background information on the city of Ephesus and its people in those days during the time period of Paul’s ministry to Ephesus.
Ephesus is a city of great wealth, fame, and power and also of incredible superstition and flagrant sin. It was the largest city in the Asian empire with over 250,000 people. It had a shipping port, and the main point for a commercial hub of activity. The first site you see coming into the port is a temple of Artemis also known as Dianna, a structure of marble columns, 100 of them, 55 feet high, seven the times the size of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, one of the seven wonders of the world. The attraction of the temple is like the Eiffel tower in Paris. The temple worship ties into the superstition of the people that lived in that Gentile world. Gentiles in those days enmeshed in nothingness, worshipers of false gods, and very much heathen in every way. The statue of Diana is prominently displayed in the temple. Diana is a fertility goddess, an image said to have fallen down from Jupiter. Mark Anthony occupied Ephesus in 41 B.C. and later joined by Cleopatra. Even though the temple was built for the worship of Diana, it did not stop the Ephesians from worshiping their emperors as well. Emperor worship was just as prevalent. So when Paul came to Ephesus around 53 A.D., he came to a culture steeped in superstition, immorality and idolatry.
With this backdrop, Bob then provides further historical background surrounding Ephesus from an account in Acts 19. Bob essentially read all of Acts chapter 19. In Acts 19, Paul arrived in Ephesus and found some disciples of John. Paul asked them, ““Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through Turkey and arrived in Ephesus, where he found several disciples. 2 “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we don’t know what you mean. What is the Holy Spirit?” 3 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?” he asked. And they replied, “What John the Baptist taught.”
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. John told people to believe in the one coming after him, which is Jesus. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is where someone is placed in the person of Jesus Christ. John’s Baptism knew nothing of the resurrection of Christ. John’s baptism was merely a baptism of repentance. These people did not receive the Holy Spirit and so had not been born again, and were at that moment unsaved. They just believed in the one coming but never knew came into the relationship to the one who had come. At the preaching of Paul, they were baptized, identified with Jesus Christ, and began to speak in tongues, as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
5 As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 Then, when Paul laid his hands upon their heads, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other languages and prophesied. 7 The men involved were about twelve in number.
The baptism of the Spirit has nothing to do with the importance of speaking in tongues, as incorrectly taught in some churches today. In those early days, when someone received the Holy Spirit, there were incidents where an accompanied sign of speaking in tongues occurred. Another notable time this occurred was at Pentecost. But this did not happen in every situation as one reads the entire book of Acts. The speaking in tongues, as an accompanied sign, was to confirm, at that point in time, that they received the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the gospel.
8 Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly each Sabbath day for three months, telling what he believed and why, and persuading many to believe in Jesus. 9 But some rejected his message and publicly spoke against Christ, so he left, refusing to preach to them again. Pulling out the believers, he began a separate meeting at the lecture hall of Tyrannus and preached there daily. 10 This went on for the next two years, so that everyone in the Turkish province of Asia Minor—both Jews and Greeks—heard the Lord’s message.
Some refused to believe the message and maligned the people of the way, as it reads in some translations, referring to those who were born again. Because of the rejection of the message, Paul left them. Paul spoke in the lecture halls of Tyrannus and preached there daily. All those in the province of Asia, about a 1/4 million people, heard the gospel. That is a lot of sharing and public speaking going on, and no mass media or internet in those days.
11 And God gave Paul the power to do unusual miracles, 12 so that even when his handkerchiefs or parts of his clothing were placed upon sick people, they were healed, and any demons within them came out.
When touching a handkerchief, people were healed. Such was the power given by God to Paul. Miracles were performed through the apostles, and also Paul, confirming his message was from God, giving credibility as an apostle of God.
13 A team of itinerant Jews who were traveling from town to town casting out demons planned to experiment by using the name of the Lord Jesus. The incantation they decided on was this: “I adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, were doing this. 15 But when they tried it on a man possessed by a demon, the demon replied, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 And he leaped on two of them and beat them up, so that they fled out of his house naked and badly injured.
Seven sons of Sceva were invoking the name of Paul, and were not believers. but a man possessed by a demon turned on them, so they ran away bleeding and naked. When this became known, all were seized with fear, and so the name of Jesus was held in high honor.
17 The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike; and a solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. 18-19 Many of the believers who had been practicing black magic confessed their deeds and brought their incantation books and charms and burned them at a public bonfire. (Someone estimated the value of the books at $10,000, approximately £3,500.) 20 This indicates how deeply the whole area was stirred by God’s message.
There were those who became born again upon hearing the message preached by Paul and they publicly burned scrolls. About $10,000 worth was burned. These people came into a new life and so those old heretical scrolls were a detriment to their growth, so they burned them.
21 Afterwards Paul felt impelled by the Holy Spirit to go across to Greece before returning to Jerusalem. “And after that,” he said, “I must go on to Rome!” 22 He sent his two assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on ahead to Greece while he stayed awhile longer in Asia Minor.
Timothy and Erastus went on, while Paul stayed in Ephesus.
23 But about that time, a big blowup developed in Ephesus concerning the Christians. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who employed many craftsmen to manufacture silver shrines of the Greek goddess Diana. 25 He called a meeting of his men, together with others employed in related trades, and addressed them as follows:
Demetrius made shrines to Artemis and made quite a business doing so. If this was a fraud, which it is, then he would lose his business if Paul keeps speaking what he does. For Paul had been saying that these man-made gods are no gods at all.
“Gentlemen, this business is our income. 26 As you know so well from what you’ve seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many, many people that handmade gods aren’t gods at all. As a result, our sales volume is going down! And this trend is evident not only here in Ephesus, but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I am not only talking about the business aspects of this situation and our loss of income, but also of the possibility that the temple of the great goddess Diana will lose its influence, and that Diana—this magnificent goddess worshiped not only throughout this part of Turkey but all around the world—will be forgotten!”
A danger that our trade lose its “good” name. Demetrius says, “I make a statue of no gods” and says the goddess who is worshiped through the world will be robbed of its divine majesty. That is how people talk when it effects their business. They really do not believe in these false gods themselves but pretend to believe for the sake of profit. People get all religious when threatened about losing their business.
28 At this their anger boiled and they began shouting, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” 29 A crowd began to gather, and soon the city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions, for trial. 30 Paul wanted to go in, but the disciples wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the Roman officers of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering.
Men from Macedonia rushed as one man to the theater, a great amphitheater, seating 25,000 people.
32 Inside the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another—everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.
Most people do not even know why they are there. Such is the crowd psychology, where people follow the crowd and do not even know where the crowd is going. If asked, “Why are you there?” They don’t know and say that they are just following the crowd.
33 Alexander was spotted among the crowd by some of the Jews and dragged forward. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. 34 But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for two hours: “Great is Diana of the Ephesians! Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
A mere presence of being a Jew is an enemy of those trying to drive the crowd to a frenzy. The more they saw these people the more they chanted to cause a stir.
35 At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Men of Ephesus,” he said, “everyone knows that Ephesus is the center of the religion of the great Diana, whose image fell down to us from heaven. 36 Since this is an indisputable fact, you shouldn’t be disturbed no matter what is said, and should do nothing rash. 37 Yet you have brought these men here who have stolen nothing from her temple and have not defamed her. 38 If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are currently in session and the judges can take the case at once. Let them go through legal channels. 39 And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled at the regular City Council meetings; 40 for we are in danger of being called to account by the Roman government for today’s riot, since there is no cause for it. And if Rome demands an explanation, I won’t know what to say.” 41 Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.
And he spoke up, saying that as much as these “facts” are undeniable, do not be disturbed over such matters, do nothing rash, for no one has stolen anything from the temple, and if you have any charges to bring, the courts are open. If anything else needs to be brought up let it be done in a legal assembly. There is no reason for this commotion and the uproar ended. Then Paul set out for Macedonia and arrived in Greece, where he stayed for three months.
So all this is background information as to the climate in Ephesus, as to what the thinking was in Ephesus. These people were ingrained in incredible superstition, yet had some law and order with a civilized court system. All this, things that seem great, a great court system with law and order, yet worshiping Diana.
Now Bob starts teaching from Ephesians 1.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Who has blessed us? Jesus Christ
Where? in the heavenly realm Was Jesus Christ raised from the dead? Yes, and is seated at the right hand of God!
With what blessing? every spiritual blessing
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Where did he chose us? in him
In whom do you have to be in to have every spiritual blessing? in Christ!
Jesus, sitting with God in heaven, is interceding for us! His Holy Spirit is also resident in us who put our faith in Christ!
When did he chose? before the creation of world! It was in the heart of God before even the garden of Eden, before Adam even sinned and sin entered the world! God had a plan ready to be unfolded so man could be redeemed and restored back to new life. In the event man sins, which he did, the choice is for man to come to Christ for life!
To do what? to be something, to be holy and blameless
In whose presence? in his sight
Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you stepped out of Adam into Christ? Have you stepped out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light?
In the world of reformed theology, they teach predestination and election that “I choose you but I do not choose you”. That is the most ridiculous theology! Men of great intellect have come up with these ideas, and of great reputation before men. The bible has proven true once again that knowledge puffs up. Predestination has to do with man who comes to Christ, that all who are in him, have been chosen to be holy and blameless.
All those who come to Christ by faith are to be made holy and blameless. Many say they believe in Christ Jesus. But belief and faith are not the same. Belief can lead to faith or can just stay in belief. I believe a chair will hold me so you ask someone else, “Why don’t you sit in it?” I believe so strongly that it will hold you up so you sit in it. But if you really had faith then you yourself would sit in it. Faith is not an intellectual assent to something, but a complete trust, a personal faith in Christ that you come to Christ for life.
5 In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
What did he predestine us for? adoption That is the Gentile, for the Jews are the natural sons!
Through whom are we adopted? Jesus
For what purpose? for his pleasure and will, to his praise
And what is due him? praise
For what? his glorious grace! We were sinners and he provided a way for us to have new life!
What did it cost us? to us it was freely given
What did it cost him? he died, was buried, and rose again
Where is redemption to be found? in him
What were redeemed from? forgiveness of sin, the cause of death
What accomplished our redemption (to buy back)? What was the cost? his shed blood
What was the nature of God to do this? riches of His grace, to lavish on us new life
What wisdom and understanding did God show?
Bob elaborated in answering the last question on God’s wisdom and understanding. Men think in terms of what they do. By their confession, did they confess enough? Were they sincere enough? Did they do enough good things to outweigh their “little” sins. Did they confess enough to deal with their “big” sins?
Was this in accordance to your confession, your deeds, your religion, your best efforts, your philosophy?
Or was it simply in accordance with his grace? his grace alone
Do you think God had wisdom and understanding when he made known to us the mystery of his will? It’s as if God is making these statement: “Unless I want to deal with little or big sins, some confession or real confession with tears, unless deal with that garbage, I will deal with man once and for all, for everybody.” All have sinned, no one is righteous. So the triune God speaks like this. “Let us just neutralize the entire world and take care of the sin of the entire world. The sin issue has been dealt with and judged and now let us go about this business of giving life to man. Let us appoint Paul, show him, the worst of sinners, our grace, and lavish our grace on him, appointing him to bring the message that the Gentile too, in Christ, just like the Jew, can be made holy and blameless before us.” Man does not like that wisdom. Man likes to deal with sin, little ones and big ones, confession and was it sincere or not sincere and did I see a tear in that confession. Jesus said, “I took that sin away, all sins, 2000 years ago. That issue has already been dealt with. Now let’s focus on new life in me!” It is like God asking you, “Why don’t you be finished with it for I am? Now consider yourself dead to sin, the cause of death, for it has already been paid 2000 years ago. Now, just come to me for life!”