Warning: Spoiler Alert

By Mark D. Roberts

September 11, 2018

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…

Ephesians 3:8-10


My friend John is a fine pastor. He teaches God’s Word accurately and applicably. He shepherds his flock with wisdom and compassion. He seeks to live his faith each day and does so with consistency. I admire John greatly. But I have one major complaint about him. He uses way too many spoilers in his sermons.

People at an outdoor gathering.For example, several years ago, John saw the final movie of The Lord of the Rings trilogy on opening weekend. He loved The Return of the King so much that he managed to work it into his sermon for that very Sunday. That was just fine. But what was not so fine, in my opinion, was the fact that John told his congregation exactly what happened with Frodo at the Cracks of Doom. For most of John’s congregation, who had not seen the movie yet or read the book, this was a giant spoiler. Of course, John heard about it plenty on the patio after the service. But, to this day, he continues to include spoilers in his sermons, without alerts that invite people to cover their ears.

Ephesians 3:9 is Paul’s spoiler alert. He has already spoken in this chapter of the “mystery” that was entrusted to him (3:3-4). In verse 6, he revealed a core strand of this mystery: “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel.” Another strand will soon be uncovered in verse 10, or, better yet, a new twist in the strand.

This new twist had been “hidden in God” in the past (3:9). God knew it but kept it to himself for ages. God has a finely-tuned sense of timing. He does not reveal everything to us all at once. But, like an expert mystery writer, he discloses in just the right time that which ought to be made known. Sometimes God’s timing can feel frustrating to us. But God is the master storyteller who avoids spoilers, unlike my friend John. God wants to engage us, to draw us into his story, not just as listeners or observers, but also as key characters in the narrative. God reveals to us as much as we need to know at any given time, so that we might live into his story with creativity, energy, longing, and hope.

Something to Think About:

What part of God’s story engages you? Intrigues you? Scares you?

Do you see your life as a part of God’s grand story of redemption and restoration?

How might you live into God’s story as you work today?

Something to Do:

Thank God for his exquisite timing as a storyteller. Thank him also for including you as a participant in his story.


Gracious God, thank you for the grand story of salvation, the story you have written and revealed in Christ. Thank you for writing me into your story. Thank you for revealing to me all I need to know to live my life fully for you. May I live today, trusting you fully, living my life for your purposes and glory. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Who Can Comprehend the Wisdom of God? (Job 38:4-42:6)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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