Sermon title: "A Greater Story"
Text: Ephesians 3:1-13
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
1. Based on Ephesians 3:1, we know that Paul is writing from a Roman prison. Why would he say that he is a "prisoner of Christ Jesus?" What does this say about how Paul sees his circumstances in light of God's larger story?
2. The word "mystery" is used three times in Ephesians 3:1-7. What does Paul mean by mystery?
3. Paul explains the mystery in Ephesians 3:6. What has God revealed? What does this teach us about the nature of the church (the body of Christ)?
4. According to Ephesians 3:7-8, what makes Paul an unlikely servant? Are there some things that might make you an unlikely servant?
5. What do you think Paul means when he talks about the "unsearchable riches of Christ" in Ephesians 3:8?
6. What is the significance of the church in God's plan, according to Ephesians 3:10?
7. What are some ways that we, as a church, can display the manifold wisdom of God to the spiritual beings in the heavenly realms?
8. The Christian life is a paradox. For example, Paul is suffering, yet his sufferings are for the glory of the Gentiles in the Ephesians church. Paul is a prisoner, yet he is seated in the heavenly places. He is the least of all the Lord's people, yet he offers riches through the gospel. Does this remind us of someone? How do we see this paradox in our own lives?
9. As you reflect on this passage, you might think of ways that God has called you to a purpose that is greater than yourself. Can you take a moment and share how you see your life fitting into God's larger story?