These days, important communications between embassy staff and government officials travel in diplomatic pouches or bags. The contents are legally immune from search and delay. They remain secret to foreign countries. Sometime around 33 AD, a long-awaited “diplomatic bag” arrived in a hostile kingdom. It contained the mystery of the gospel, and Paul became one of the most articulate early communicators of the mystery. However, the message was not meant to be a secret; the contents were for sharing.
Some communiqués from home countries to their embassies contain information that would be damaging to the host nation if word ever got out. That was the case with the mystery of the gospel; it had huge potential to destabilize the dark, oppressive kingdom of the world. Consequently, Paul was opposed, arrested, and imprisoned. Chained to a Roman soldier, he wrote a letter to the Ephesians. He ended it with an appeal for personal prayer. He did not ask for freedom or comfort; Paul wanted boldness in proclaiming the mystery of the gospel as an ambassador of the kingdom of God. Chains would not stop him.
Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
The spiritual geography of the universe is simple. A kingdom of darkness opposes the kingdom of God. Sin traps humans in the kingdom of darkness and separates us from God. To complicate things, Satan lies about God, convincing his captives that God is distant, uncaring, or powerless to intervene. From the perspective of Satan’s prison camp, any message about God ransoming His people amounted to little more than a mysterious rumor—until Jesus came.
Paul summarized the gospel message in an earlier letter: news about the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, in fulfillment of Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-5). Jesus brought the gospel in person, explaining and demonstrating the love of God for sinners, and His power to break bondages. Through Christ’s crucifixion, captives were freed from a life and death of sin to an eternal and abundant life. People found peace with God.1
Anyone who has experienced life on both sides of the border feels compelled to share the good news. The gospel is meant for sharing. It is only a mystery in the sense that Satan hushed it up and that human wisdom cannot grasp it. Receiving the message takes the wisdom of God and faith.
But how will anyone hear the message without a preacher? You and I are heaven’s ambassadors. We have grasped the contents of God’s communiqué. Let’s pray for ourselves and each other to have boldness and clarity as we proclaim the message.
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- Eph. 1:13; 6:15; Col. 1:23 [↩]