Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory |
of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13)
Mysteries of The Bible |
The Greek word used in the New Testament for mystery is "mysterion" and represents the hidden council of God and is compared to a general's strategy, hidden until put into operation. In Scripture a "mystery" is a hidden truth now divinely revealed. Here are some of the greater mysteries God has revealed to us in the New Testament:
(1) Mysteries Of The Kingdom Of Heaven (Matt. 13:3-50; see Lk. 19:11,14,27).
In Matthew 2:2 we read where the Magi from the east were seeking to find the One who, unlike Herod, was "born" King of the Jews. They saw His star in the east and sought to present Him with gifts and to worship Him. According to the prophecies Jesus was born the Son of David who would sit upon His father David's Throne to rule and shepherd over God's people Israel (see, Matt. 2:6; Lk. 1:32-33). This Son of David who, in fact, is the Son of God, was to set up on earth a mediatorial Messianic Kingdom which would begin in Israel and reach out to the ends of the whole earth (Dan. 2:34-35;44).
In respect to this earthly, Davidic/Messianic Kingdom John the Baptist was sent before HaMashiach (the Messiah) to prepare the people (Israel) for its King and the message he preached was that the "Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). Jesus, when He began His earthly ministry, continued that message (Matt. 4:17) and instructed His disciples to do the same (Matt. 10:7). However, throughout His earthly ministry He encountered resistance which ended in national rejection. This national rejection is portrayed in Christ's parable regarding a nobleman who was to receive a kingdom but the citizens of that kingdom responded, "We do not want this man to reign over us" (Lk. 19:14).
We read in Matthew 12:14-15 that the Pharisees counciled together against Jesus as to how they might destroy Him and He, aware of their intentions, withdrew. From that point on He no longer preached that the Kingdom is "at hand" but instead presented in the parables of Matthew, chapter thirteen, what is called the "mystery form of the Kingdom." That is, the Kingdom during this age with the King absent.
In the parables of Matthew thirteen Jesus outlines the program of the theocratic kingdom during this period of the King's absence and announces the inception of an entirely new, unheralded, and unexpected program, the CHURCH (Matt. 16:13-20). The promised earthly, Messianic kingdom, as it relates to national Israel, is delayed and does not resume until His second Advent (Matt. 24:27-31).
Although the anticipated Davidic, Messianic Kingdom was postponed (Matt. 21:43) because of national Israel's rejection of her Messiah, it must be clearly understood that Israel did not reject the message of Jesus as Savior and Lord since that gospel message did not begin until AFTER His death, burial and resurrection.
"Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things"" (Lk. 24:45-47).The following parables of Matthew, chapter thirteen, represent the general characteristics of the "mystery form" of the kingdom during this present Church age.
The Sower And The Soils (Matt. 13:3-9; 18-23). This age is marked by the opposition of the Word, the gospel message of Jesus Christ, by THE WORLD (vs. 22), THE FLESH (vs. 21) and THE DEVIL (vs. 19). However, when a man hears the Word and understands it he bears fruit, "some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."(2) Mystery Of Israel's Blindness During This Age (Rom. 11:25).
Paul, writing to the Church at Rome, addresses all the Gentile believers during this Church age informing them of this mystery for the specific reason that they "not be wise in their OWN ESTIMATION." This mystery reveals that during this Church age a partial hardening (unbelief) has happened to Israel until the "fulness of the Gentiles has come in;" and then "all Israel will be saved." Christ is calling His Church out from both individual Jews and Gentiles today, but when it is complete and she (the Church) is taken up to be with the Lord, God will again turn to National Israel to fulfill His prophetic program with her (Rom. 11:26-31).
Theological camps such as Catholic Augustianism and followed by Protestant Amillennialism and Postmillennialism have ignored this revealed mystery and as Paul warned, they became "wise in their OWN ESTIMATION" and presumptiously concluded that God is finished with national Israel.
(3) Mystery Of The Translation Of The Living Saints At The End Of This Age (1Cor. 15:51-52; 1Thess. 4:13-17).
This mystery pertains to the Rapture of the Church when the "fulness of the Gentiles" has come in. That is, when the last of the Gentiles have been brought into the Church. The last generation to make up this "fulness" will not see death but will, instead, be translated from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye and together with the resurrected saints (those who died in Christ) meet the Lord in the air, ever to be with Him.
(4) Mystery Of The Church As One Body Composed As Jews And Gentiles (Eph. 3:1-12; Rom. 16:25; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3).
The Body of Christ (the Church), which is being called out through the preaching of the gospel, comprised of not only Jews but Gentiles, as well, during this age is called a "mystery" because this Grace/Church administration was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets but "for ages has been hidden with God, who created all things" (Eph. 3:9). It is in the New Testament Epistles that we learn of the purpose and plan of God for the Church during this age.
(5) The Mystery Of The Church As The Bride Of Christ (Eph. 5:23-32).
Paul, in the context of describing the attitude a man should possess regarding his relationship to his wife, reveals a "greater mystery" which is the union between Christ (the Bridgroom) and the Church (His Bride). "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-32).
(6) Mystery Of The In-living Christ (Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:26-27).
In Colossians 1:26 Paul refers to this mystery as being hidden from past ages and generations but now has been manifested to the saints. This mystery, in regards to the Gentiles, is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Formerly the Gentiles walked in darkness, dead in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience and were by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). But God, rich in mercy and full of grace, has given to the believing Gentiles of this age, through the indwelling Christ, a pledge of final glory.
(7) Mystery Of God, Namely Christ...(1Cor. 2:7; Col. 2:2-9)
God's wisdom is not "mysterious" but a hidden wisdom now revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom being the comprehensive view of the truth of God given by the Spirit of God and knowledge being the apprehension of particular truths, i.e., who Christ is and who we are IN HIM. Truths undiscovered apart from divine revelation...to the glory of Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:25-30).
(8) The Mystery of God-likeness Restored To Man (1Tim. 3:16).
Fallen man in all his sin-fulness is restored to Godliness, or "God-likeness," through faith in the one God who was revealed in the flesh (Jesus Christ), vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the Gentile nations and (who could imagine) believed on in the world and taken up in glory where "He abides now as our High Priest who is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25; 1Jo. 2:1; Heb. 9:24).
(9) The Mystery Of Iniquity or Lawlessness (2Thess. 2:1-12; cp Matt. 13:33). The "Lie," which is the substitution of self for God and the assumption of a self-designed plan of life for that purposed by the Creator, began in the Garden when Satan deceived our first parents. It has been manifesting itself these many centuries throughout the history of fallen man. Its course of evil is being allowed by God to move on to its determined end when it is finally terminated at the zenith of its wickedness (the "man of lawlessness") by the One (Jesus Christ) into whose hands all judgment has been committed and in the program of His second advent. Scripture reveals the truth that nothing is outside the sovereignty of God.
(10) The Mystery Of The Seven Stars (Rev. 1:20).
Revelation 1:19 gives us the outline for the Book of Revelation. Christ tells John to write: (1) "The things which you have seen," referring to the glory and power of judgment of the resurrected, glorified Chirst in chapter one; (2) "the things which are," referring to His (Christ's) messages to the seven churches situated in Asia Minor, and (3) "the things which must take place AFTER these things," which are: The wrath of God which is to come upon the world AFTER the Church age (Rev. 6-18), the 2nd Advent of Christ in triumph, the Millennium, the final judgment, the New Heaven and New Earth and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 19-22).
The messages to the seven churches are fourfold: (1) DIRECT, to the ones actually addressed; (2) ADMONITORY, used to test the true spirituality of all local assemblies throughout this age; (3) PERSONAL, in that rewards are given to individuals who make up the church throughout this age; (4) PROPHETIC, disclosing its spiritual pattern which is repeated down through the centuries and the progress of its spiritual state until the end of the Church Age.
Note: The Church is not mentioned after Rev. 3:22. "The things that must take place AFTER these things" is repeated again in Rev. 4:1 and the following chapters reveal what must take place after the Church age and she (the Church) is taken up to be with the Lord.
(11) The Mystery of Babylon (Rev. 17:5-6).
Revelation seventeen reveals a harlot, richly adorned, sitting on a blasphemous beast having seven heads and ten horns. In her hand she holds a cup full of abominations and of unclean things of her immorality. Upon her forehead is the name: a mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Babylon is mentioned throughout the Scriptures, starting in Genesis 10 with the city of Babel and climaxing in the Book of Revelation. It is revealed as a great system of religious error displayed throughout Gentile paganism creeping not only into early apostate Judaism but into the early Church, as well. For example, it is seen in the many extra-Biblical, Christ averting traditions of Romanism. It will have its full manifestation at the end of this age when the true Church is taken up. However, Divine judgment is sovereignly executed upon this abominable system by one even more corrupt than she...the Beast itself!
Written by Gary Nystrom