Roger's Postings

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Ephesians 3:1-12. The great mystery of Jesus Christ!!        6/1/13

  For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
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.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

 Today being Epiphany Sunday we reflect on the wonderful revelation of Jesus Christ and the Good News that he has made possible. So again we are reminded of why Christmas is so special and why it goes on into every day of the rest of our lives. With the coming of Jesus we now have revealed to us the great mystery that surrounds his coming and his implication for all of life, for all time.

 Here we are reminded of just why Jesus Christ is so important for us and for all people. He is not here just for God’s chosen people, Israel, and a few other special people: we are all members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Just why and how he does this, is the mystery that still perplexes people the world over. It is too simple and too against what we humans would normally think is the way that God would and should do it.

Even today; and perhaps even more so today, we want to put ourselves into the centre of the picture and as a result can’t understand how God could work through Jesus, and his life, death and resurrection here on this earth. We place the importance of our life and salvation on what we do and think, is the way that it should be done.

 I am currently reading a book that was given to me for Christmas by a fellow pastor, which is written by a non-christian about the dire straits that our world is currently in and where we are heading in the future. He is painting a very bleak picture and yet he is optimistically suggesting that we human-being will get ourselves through it and come out better for it on the other side. We have evolved to the point that we are on the verge of destroying a sustainable life, but he believes that we can work our way through it and evolved into a position where we are far more in tune with nature and the world around us.

 Now unfortunately, even though in many ways I believe he has fairly accurately analysed the current situation, he has failed to consider two very important ingredients which alters everything considerably. By looking at this issue from the perspective of the current humanist, evolutionary point of view, he has doomed us all to absolute disaster, even though he would not agree.

 Unless we take the sinful nature of humanity into consideration, along with the reality of God and what he has to say, we will get nowhere but into further trouble. Human nature being selfish and ego-centric it will always fall, because it is out to get and do what I want above all else. To design any form of human government or system of living, will always fail in the long term. We will always struggle to maintain a good life and in the end fail.

 That is why it is so important for us to take seriously Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us.  As much as we think we can get by without God, and all that he has said and done for us, it is just not possible. That means that we have to accept him on his terms and take what he has to say as all important. Otherwise we will just fall back into the same old trap of us determining what is important and messing it all up.

 This is all too often the problem, even within the Church, where we want to determine what is good and right. We want to change God’s word to suit the prevailing culture of the day; we want to determine who is acceptable and who is not; we want to place the emphasis on what we have to do in order to be acceptable; and much more. So our sinful human nature is seeking to manipulate the Christian faith in order do what we think is right and good.

 Yet here again we are reminded very clearly that it is Jesus Christ who is the centre and the determiner of what is good and right. Even though his ways may seem foolish to us, they are the mysterious way that God has chosen to work for our good. They are what God himself has revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets: that is his Word – the Bible. It is there that we find all that we need to know with regard to life. There it points us to what is all-important for us – Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

 There also it clearly makes the point that it is all a gift of God’s grace. He chooses to do what he has, and continues to do, because of his charitable love for us, and nothing more. He chooses to accept all people by grace rather than position, status in society, race, goodness, or anything else. Everything good that we have is a gift of God, rather than something we have achieved by own abilities and doing. Despite the fact that we don’t deserve to have any good come our way, God has chosen to provide us with what we need in order to get through this life and finally be with him in heaven where we will have everything good and perfect.

 Like Paul who actually and openly worked against Jesus Christ and his Good News for us, God and the working of his power, makes it possible for him and us to have a whole new life and approach to life; and be enabled to do something that can be truly helpful for our world. With God’s power working in and through us we can help people to know the greatness of Jesus Christ and all that he has done to change the outlook in life for us all.

 Through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Here again we have another mysterious aspect to Jesus Christ; and that is that he uses and works through the church, as weak and fallible that it is. He works through ordinary people, like you and me, in order to reach the whole cross section of our society and our world. All so that they can come to know of the great thing that Jesus Christ has done for us so that we can have a truly good life.

 Through our gathering together week after week we are doing much more than simply strengthening ourselves for our task of making known the Good news of Jesus Christ, but we are also proclaim to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, the greatness and importance of Jesus Christ and what he has done to save the world from its own self-destruction. Here we are making a profound statement to all, that Jesus Christ is all important. He is the great Lord of all.

 This is according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Yes, already before the creation of the world this has been his great plan all along: So that all people can know Jesus Christ and be lifted beyond the realms of struggling fruitlessly to make a life for ourselves here on earth. His whole aim was to make it possible for us, despite our sinfulness, to find life and hope, outside of ourselves, in Jesus.

 That is why this passage concludes with the words: In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Because of Jesus Christ we can now be with God and take him seriously without fear of being rejected. Even though we are sinful and selfish and mess everything up, we now can be sure that God loves us, forgives us and has won eternal life for us with himself.

 This is the wonderful mystery of Jesus Christ that has been made known to us and that he would have us share with the world around us. We have every reason to now go forward confidently and boldly to live our life here as best we can in the midst of the troubles and difficulties of a life that is likely to come under ever increasing pressure. Our present way of living is not sustainable, but in Jesus there is a way through it all to something infinitely better. So let us continue to look to him alone as our one sure hope for the future; for again to alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. Amen.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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