In approximately 62 AD, about 8 years after the Apostle Paul had made his first visit to Ephesus, he took the time, while under house arrest in Rome, to write a letter to the young believers in the church at Ephesus. He wanted to explain, in depth, the extent of the impact that the Gospel had, and should have continued to have, upon their individual and corporate life.
The content of his letter seems to indicate the church in Ephesus was probably just beginning to understand the exact nature of the spiritual transaction, the “mystery” (Eph. 1:9), that had taken place in their hearts many years earlier. They would now understand better, the significance of that initial, and all-important mustard-seed-size faith experience after they had heard and believed (v.13) the Gospel. Paul reminded them that it was at that initial point in history, during his third missionary journey, that they were “included in Christ”. They were “marked in Him with a seal… guaranteeing” their “inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…” (v.14). The “mystery” was the transaction that had taken place in the individual hearts of the Ephesian believers by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was completed! They were now Christians – “marked”, “sealed”, and their “inheritance” guaranteed!
In other words, to be “included in Christ”, one must first be “marked in Him with a seal”. The seal by the Holy Spirit is the only sign that guarantees inclusion.
Nonetheless, even with the transaction eternally guaranteed, the Ephesian Christians would not realize their inheritance “until the redemption of those (others) who are (also) God’s possession…” When would the end of that “until” period come? And who are “those” who, like the Ephesians, would also need to hear and believe, be included and marked in Christ, and sealed by the Holy Spirit?
As a Jew himself, Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, understood clearly what Christ’s response to His Jewish disciples a few decades earlier meant when they inquired of Jesus regarding the end time: “Tell us, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). Jesus’ response: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (v. 14). Paul understood “the whole world” to include Gentiles like those in Ephesus when he wrote “…the Gospel… is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16). The “end of the age” will not happen until the redemption of those (primarily Gentiles) who are (also) God’s possession…”; until all people-groups have heard the Gospel!
Like the Apostle Paul in his time, unless the living, believing, born-again Christians of subsequent generations are “compelled” (1 Cor. 9:16) and “not ashamed” (Rom. 1:16; 10:17) to share the Gospel with those that are still waiting to be “God’s possession”, Christ’s imminent return may take a little longer!
“God’s possession” is among people-groups (Gk. Ethne -“gentile peoples”). The Gospel must be shared one people-group at-a-time.
The Share International ministry has been doing exactly that by seeking and reaching “God’s possession” among the 1M drought- and famine-stricken Turkana people-group of northwestern Kenya since 1997! Share has reached over 280,000 of them and planted 258 churches among them. We are currently supporting 60 trained Turkana missionaries that are getting the job done. But we need more Turkana missionaries in order to reach the remaining population.
In January this year, we started training another 40 missionaries in a 1½-years program at our SEND Center in Turkanaland. With God’s help and your prayers and support, we will train 120 altogether by 2020.
I invite you to join us as we endeavor to share the Gospel with the 307 villages in Turkanaland that we have now identified and documented as yet to be evangelized. Join us as we go all out for “God’s possession” in Turkanaland – just like someone went all out for you and I so we could be “included”, “marked” and be guaranteed eternal “inheritance” through the blood of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for standing with us the past 20 years. We hope you will continue to do so by donating toward our 2016 goal of $410,000 before the year’s end. Please make your donation at www.shareint.net with memo “2016 Goal”, or mail your check to Share International, Inc., P.O. Box 1011, Wolfforth, TX 79382.
Our pledge to you stands – “sharing the Gospel and our very lives” (1 Thess. 2:8) until all the Turkana people have heard the Gospel by 2020! They are waiting to be included!