Introduction: The World of Ulterior Motives
As a person gets older, he begins to recognize that the reasons people give for what they do are not always so easily observed. People might advertise the effectiveness of some medicine or treatment, but it really is not as good as they state it. People can be a bit deceptive. Sometimes they don’t even realize it. Many people are willing to exaggerate and even make false claims just to get your sales. I tell my wife. If they sell the product that they are advertising, don’t trust them. Confirm the product’s real value from a non-partial source. Nor does it always have to do with money.
Sometimes people want a little more attention and a little more control. Politics and their smooth or smear ads are a perfect example. How could a person gong for an office suddenly change his position on some important issue like abortion? Is it possible that they change positions to get the most votes? I think so. With religion, it unfortunately is very similar. There are those who seek to improperly profit themselves.
Christianity claims to be different here. Yes, we admit right off that there are those sectors of Christianity that are no different than other religions. We would also sadly state that there are those individuals who say they are following Jesus Christ but have made compromises with Jesus’ instructions for their own lives. Judas Iscariot was the leader of this pack. These are versions of the world in religious garb call it Christian or not. Every age will have them. God will judge each person.
We should not, however, conclude that those who really follow Jesus are not different from the world or that Christ and His message is false or man-generated. In the minimum, we should explore the claims of what we call Christianity as something goes beyond the imagination or touch of man. God has revealed His truths to the world and shown His powerful love at work. This has been the message of the Exodus for thousands of years. God makes things different.
With Christ’s entrance into the world many a person has experienced radical changes. Christ has died, risen and gone above, but His Holy Spirit has been actively working in people all around the world. This has happened with the Ephesians followers of Christ. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). They had discovered God’s love and are no longer the same (see Ephesians 5:1-8).
The Apostle Paul, however, does not focus on them. He turns our attention to himself here in Ephesians 3. Paul uses his own life to challenge us to increase in our love, devotion and commitment to Christ Jesus. He claims to have been living beyond the snare of the world and with the Spirit of God fueling his life. Fortunately, we have a few places in scripture where we can get a greater glimpse of Paul’s life and purpose. The different perspectives corroborate with each other. Something radically changed Paul’s life from being a persecutor or Christians to a believer in Christ.
Paul, I believe, slows down and introduces his ministry in the middle of the Book of Ephesians in order to help us further grasp an understanding of God’s great grace in Christ. Our trust in the revelation of God’s Word in every way relates to how we live out our commitment to Christ in our daily lives. If we think that this Christian message is only one message out of many, then we will have little true changing trust in God’s Word. Paul breaks from his most astonishing opening to focus on the reliability of his message. He provides God’s people four reasons not only to trust in God’s revelation in Christ called the mystery so that we, like him, will be all out committed to Christ.
A. The Value of the Gospel (Ephesians 3:1)
B. The Reliability of the Gospel (Ephesians 3:2-5)
C. The Glory of the Gospel (Ephesians 3:6-7)
D. The Calling of the Gospel (Ephesians 3:8-10)
As we go through this passage, perhaps we can ask ourselves about our commitment to Christ and His cause. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being very committed, what would you rate yourself? What holds you back from going one notch higher? The apostle calls us to further devotion by further establishing our knowledge and trust in God’s work through Christ.
Let's now look at the first of four reasons in Ephesians 3:1 where we see the value of the Gospel.