Tuesday, July 12, 2016

To the Gentiles - Ephesians 3:8-9

"To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things" (Ephesians 3:8-9)
Paul was not only given a ministry, but a sphere of ministry. Upon his conversion, God spoke concerning Paul, "he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15-16) While Paul was more than willing to preach the Gospel to the Jews, he understood that his primary ministry was to the gentiles. Speaking of himself and Peter, Paul readily acknowledges the differing spheres of ministry given to each of them, "for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles." (Galatians 2:8) For Paul and Peter, it wasn't a competition between the two of them. They each had their own calling and they each had their own sphere of ministry where they each labored according to the grace of God given to them.

It is important not only to be called, but to understand to where we are called. We must always remember that we are not "the whole enchilada," but we are only a part of the greater body and ministry of Christ. Our job is not to do it all, but simply to do our part. In doing so, we must be content with the part God has called us to play and not strive to be like someone else or to press into areas and spheres of ministry to where God has not called us. Our focus must always be on what God had called us to do and not to boast or try to infringe on what God has called others to do. Paul wrote, "But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord." (2 Corinthians 10:13-18) Contentment is a powerful virtue in Christ; to be content in what God has allotted to us, whether in blessings, possessions, or callings.

The phrase, "the administration of the mystery" is a bit difficult to understand in its translation into English. The word "administration" is sometimes translated steward, stewardship, or dispensation. The idea is that the revelation, and distribution, of the mystery is entrusted to a steward to be delivered to those for whom it is intended in its proper time. For a long time, God kept this mystery a secret, but now God has announced the administration of this mystery when He commanded his disciples, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The mystery was that all mankind was to be reconciled and invited into right relationship with Christ. Salvation was to come to all, not just the Jews, but all mankind. The administration of this salvation was first to the Jews, but subsequently also to the gentiles. Paul was called as a steward to deliver and proclaim this mystery among the gentiles; that they too were invited into the salvation of God. Salvation is not  the private possession of a few. It is not for a select few who are chosen while the rest are rejected. It is for all, for as many who are near and for as many who are far off. All who will receive Him, He will save. This includes and most certainly extend even unto us!

David Robison

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