What God Has Been Up To
by Jacob Hudgins
“and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things”(Eph 3:9).
When we renew acquaintances with an old friend, often we’ll ask: what have you been up to? Perhaps we know the broad details of their lives, but we are asking for what they are deeply passionate about and the goals they have been working toward. In this text, Paul is thrilled to be able to tell others what God has been hiding for centuries—what has previously been a “mystery”—just what it is God has been up to.
God has been expanding his blessings to the Gentiles. Paul writes so that the Ephesians can “perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ” even though it was hidden in past times (Eph 3:4-5). “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”(Eph 3:6). All the blessings offered to the nation of Israel—relationship with God, the promise of blessing given to Abraham, and acceptance by other believers—are now given to Gentiles. Now we all stand before God as equals, recipients of his favor regardless of race.
God has been showing his wisdom through the church. God has acted “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”(Eph 3:10). This one united group of people, saved by the grace of God, called out of all nations and people by faith, shows God’s brilliance. The weaker and more pitiful the people he uses, the greater his glory. Creating a masterpiece with poor instruments further shows the genius of the artist.
God has been allowing people access to him. Through Jesus “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him”(Eph 3:12). Having cleansed his people, God now urges them to come to him with their worship as well as their concerns. The fellowship that he has always wanted—and that we have always needed—he has achieved.
God has been entrusting this good news to people. Paul is even more amazed that God has given the responsibility for spreading this good news to him. He calls it “the stewardship of God’s grace”(Eph 3:2) and that he “was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace”(Eph 3:7) even though he considers himself “the very least of all the saints”(Eph 3:8). Paul sees his unworthiness, yet this only further illustrates God’s grace. God uses flawed people to spread the good news of his plan to save flawed people.
What has God been up to? A way of accomplishing his desire to restore mankind to relationship with him that serves to glorify him, not man. Praise God for his grace—and his genius—in revealing the mystery to us!