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Studies in Ephesians

Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches of Christ (See 3:8)

Chapter 3:1-14


Secret societies were already popular in the Apostle’s time. Today there are still numerous lodge-like organizations that claim they have certain great truths or wisdom that can only be had by being initiated into the club. Some initiates put a terrible curse upon themselves if they should ever reveal those secrets. Many Christians find that they cannot in good conscience make such a blind promise “never to reveal and always conceal” some yet unknown secret.

What if the secret is something subversive, conspiratorial, or dangerous? Could you stay mum about it? What if the secret is a great truth that could be helpful to the world at large? Could you stay mum about it and still love your neighbor as yourself?

It’s a cruddy business, this secrecy thing. Even if it is only some neighborhood children in a tree-house club. Some see it as a tool for excluding unwanted people. Agree?

Our Secret

Aren’t you surprised that Paul would make so much of our secret? He calls it a mystery. Twice. “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” (3:6).

It was long known that believing Gentiles would one day share hope in Christ (Isaiah 11:10). The secret was that they would have equal footing with the believing Jews.* Who would ever have expected that?! Human thinking would certainly give greater privilege to the blood-line descendants of Abraham!

The other ‘secret’ is nothing less than Christ–His “unsearchable riches,” and what God “accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,” namely, that “in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (3:8,12).

This even more glorious, saving truth is a secret, a mystery. Even though we have known it so long. Even though children can gain this wisdom from the Scriptures. It is a secret because “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (Isaiah 64:4 and 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Just think of it a moment. We’ve got a secret that everyone needs to know about. This mystery “for ages past was kept hidden in God . . . His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be known” even to “the rulers and authorities (think angels) in the heavenly realms” (3:9-10). These things are such that “even angels long to look into” them (1 Peter 1:12).

What a Privilege!

What a Trust!

Even though the work made him a suffering prisoner, Paul considered his mission of preaching the mystery a grace given to him.

What if we had come to know the secret of a cancer-cure? Wouldn’t we have a burning desire to ‘tell it on the mountain,’ even though a drug company might wish to keep it tight under a patent?

We have actually been entrusted with the secret of life eternal! It must be told, for no one will ever find that life from other sources than the Word.

We’ve got the most significant secret of all time. The Apostle would surely approve a pledge never to conceal and forever reveal this great mystery!

–Pastor Rollin A. Reim

*See the Ephesians study in the November 1999 issue.