New revelation in Christ
Scripture: Ephesians 3:1-13
Aim: To help the pupil understand that the death and resurrection of Christ brought a new dispensation called the Church Age, or the Gospel Age.
Golden Text: “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
Paul makes reference in this passage of the “mystery of Christ” (3:4). In the Scriptures a “mystery” is not a “who done it” type of thing. A mystery is a truth, which is unknowable and unable to be known by man except God “reveals” it to man. That is, God has a truth that man cannot know until God reveals it to him. There are three such mysteries revealed in the New Testament, which are named as mysteries.
There is the “mystery of the Church” (Colossians 1:24-26). God had a dispensation, which would be known as the “Church Age.” There is the mystery of “Christ in you” the hope of Glory (Colossians 1:26-27). During the Church Age, Christ will come to live within each and every believer who has faith in God. The third mystery is that of “Christ and Father” (Colossians 2:2). Jesus Christ is the revealer of and the very essence of God to and among men.
In Ephesians three Paul discusses these mysteries, but only names the “mystery of Christ.”
I. The Dispensations of God are revealed in the Scriptures. Usually these are named as “seven,” but some commentators give either more or fewer dispensations. We only mention here the “Old Testament Dispensation” and the “New Testament Dispensation.” This covers them all.
A “dispensation” is a certain period of time in which God deals with men in a certain manner. In the New Testament we have the ending of the “Dispensation of Law and the beginning of the “Dispensation of the Gospel,” also called the “Church Age” or “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). The next dispensation will be the Tribulation period, which will take place after the Church of Jesus Christ is removed from the earth at the “rapture of the Church” when Christ returns, resurrects all the saved dead, and takes them to Heaven with Him.
II. The mystery of the church is revealed in the New Testament epistles. Paul discusses it (Ephesians 3:1-13). First, this mystery is revealed through Paul (vs. 1-5). Paul is a prisoner in Rome (vs. 1). He reminds the church that the truth he is writing about is already known by them (vs. 2-3).
The “dispensation of the grace of God” (vs. 2) is the present time. All men are saved by the grace of God through believing in Christ as the personal Savior. This is the “Church dispensation.”
The “mystery of Christ” (vs. 4) is that Christ is God. He is the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. He came into the world to die for the sins of men. All who will receive Him will be delivered from their sins and have a renewed relationship with God.
Second, this is not known by the prophets of the Old Testament dispensation (vs. 5). It is revealed through Paul that Gentiles join with the Jews in receiving Christ to become one body of believers. This body is the Church of Jesus Christ. All members are “fellow heirs” and “partakers of the promises in Christ by the Gospel” (vs. 6). Paul is given these revelations (vs. 7-9).
Third, the wisdom and eternal purpose of God to save men from sin is revealed to man by the gospel of Christ. It is given that men may have “access” to God and have “confidence by the faith of him” (vs. 12).
Fourth, these truths are designed to help the believer not to faint nor fail because of the tribulation, which come to him as a believer (vs. 13). Faith in Christ is ever the source of blessing and victory in life and living. God has revealed these truths for us to believe and enjoy.