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Mystery:  What is The Key to Understanding the Bible

Gary Googe Jan 25

What is this “mystery” spoken of in the Bible by the apostle Paul?

Romans 16:25

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [Emphasis added]

The word mystery is a transliteration of the Greek word MUSTERION which means secret, something hidden.  As is sometimes done, they turned the U into a Y and made the word mystery.  In this case, it refers to something God had hidden that He revealed through a man who came to be known as the apostle Paul.  This involves information that God now wants all to know.

Ephesians 3:7-9

Whereof I [Paul] was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

The word unsearchable means these truths cannot be traced to any source outside what God gave the apostle Paul.  In other words, you won’t find anything about it in the Bible outside Paul’s thirteen epistles.

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

So, what specifically is this mystery, this secret that had been hidden? The heart of it is described in the verses leading up to the ones you just read.

Ephesians 3:1-6

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as [as is not used in the comparative sense but to show contrast] it is now revealed [through Paul’s teaching alone] unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Next, we have a clear statement defining the heart of this mystery truth.

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [Emphasis added]

From the time of Abraham until the time of this revelation God worked exclusively through Abraham’s progeny, the regenerate people of Israel.  Gentiles were left out almost entirely.  Only rarely would a Gentile come into the blessings of God.  But even then, it always came through people of Israel.

With this new program of our time, God unites Jews and Gentiles into one body through Christ.  This happens the moment a Jew or a Gentile accepts the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the sole basis for their salvation.  Notice again verse eight of this passage.

Ephesians 3:8

Unto me [Paul], who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [Emphasis added]

Anytime anyone is saved today, God unites them into one body that’s made up of both Jews and GentilesThis happens with a DRY baptism, called the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13-14

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond [slaves] or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many. [Emphasis added]

Throughout this period of time of which we are a part, God deals with all these people on the same basis of grace, neither one having a position of priority.  The fact that God was going to do such a thing had been kept secret as a mystery.  And even today, most believers have no knowledge of it, let alone its great significance.  Beginning with the salvation of this man Saul of Tarsus, that we now know as the apostle Paul, God began a whole new program.

I Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

In the years that immediately followed, God revealed the doctrine, the teachings for this new program.  God even put some suffering in Paul’s life to keep him humble about it.

II Corinthians 12:7

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [Emphasis added]

In Paul’s thirteen epistles to individuals and the various churches he served, we have this revelation.  To gain full orientation regarding the means to salvation and the life God designed for us as believers, we must commit ourselves to the learning of the things he wrote.  It is in this manner that God equips us for our service to Him.

II Timothy 2:15

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

To rightly divide God’s Word is to understand that while the whole Bible is FOR us, it is not all TO us or ABOUT us.  Generally speaking, people divide the whole Bible into two sections—the Old Testament and the New Testament.  It may come as a surprise or even a shock to you, but such is an incorrect way to divide the Bible.  This is partly because the Old Testament law of Moses continued all the way up to and through the time of the crucifixion of Christ.  Therefore, it includes most of the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  It was on the eve of His crucifixion that our Lord made some important statements about this.

Matthew 26:27-28

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. [Emphasis added]

Up until this time and for a short time afterward, everything about the writings of Moses and the prophets continued in full force.  Even though Christ warned the apostles about following the example the “religious” crowd gave in that day, they were told to continue in their teachings regarding the observance of the writings of “the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 23:1-3

1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. [Emphasis added]

Even Peter speaks of this as late as the time of Acts 10.

Acts 10:11-16

11 And [Peter] saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

Peter states this many years after the Acts 2 day of Pentecost.  Throughout that time in between, the worship of the Jews continued as it always had.  Observance of the Mosaic Law, the demand for water baptism [Acts 2:38], having all their possessions in common [Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35] and more continued throughout that period.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. [Emphasis added]

All this happened to prepare Peter for a change God was about to make.  The change itself would begin with Paul’s salvation and later be revealed through him.  Not until that special revelation was given to the apostle Paul would these things fully change.  Even then there would be a period of transition during which these truths were given to the apostle Paul and written down for us in his letters to the churches he established.  Even what God demanded for one’s expression of faith for salvation changed.  A whole new and different program was revealed through the apostle Paul.

Galatians 1:11-12

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man [such as Peter and the other apostles].

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]

He’s speaking of direct and special revelation that Jesus Christ gave to him personally.  Up until then these things were not known, they’d been kept secret in the mind of God.

Romans 16:25

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul contrasts his gospel message with that of the apostle Peter and the other apostles.

Galatians 2:7

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

Here he speaks of two different messages, two different gospels.  It was Paul who taught the Twelve Apostles this truth.  We find the apostle Peter talking about it at the close of his ministry.  In Peter’s last letter we have his extremely important final words concerning this.

II Peter 3:15-18

15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

He even warns about deviating from this revealed truth taught in Paul’s epistles.

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]

Most of Christendom today has ignored Peter’s warning.  They’ve also attempted to blend Paul’s message with Peter’s gospel of the circumcision, resulting in mass confusion and gross distortion of the truths God would have us to know and believe.  For instance, regarding the means to salvation, the full disclosure of the significance of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ, being the sole means for our salvation, was not given.  In the days of “the Four Gospels,” salvation came by accepting Christ as the promised Messiah.  Under Paul’s gospel, salvation is only secured by accepting the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the means to our salvation.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Here and in his other writings he reveals to us the means to our salvation today.

II Corinthians 5:19-21

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word [the message] of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Without Paul’s epistles there would be no way of knowing all this.

Beside the message and means of salvation in our time and the union of Jews and Gentiles into one body, there are numerous other blessings that have been provided for us today and revealed to us through the apostle Paul.  Here are some examples.

1—The universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believersIn times past there were believers the Holy Spirit came upon for a time to perform special works.  However, today every believer is indwelt permanently with the Holy Spirit from the moment they are saved.

I Corinthians 6:19

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? [Emphasis added]

2—The baptism of the Holy Spirit puts us in union with Christ.  This is different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Peter offered.

I Corinthians 12:13

13 Forby one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added]

3—The fact that a time will come when we will suddenly be raptured [taken up] to meet the Lord in the air to be with Him.  This, of course, is a different event from the Second Coming of Christ that occurs at the end of the coming seven-year Tribulation period.

I Corinthians 15:51-53

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery [something Old Testament prophets knew nothing about]; We shall not all sleep [die physically], but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The “change” is to be one where we are transformed into having a resurrection body like the one Christ was given.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul speaks of the special revelation our Lord gave him about this.

I Thessalonians 4:15-18

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. [Emphasis added]

4—The fact that our eternal home will be in heaven, not the new Earth as it will be for believing Israel.

II Corinthians 5:1-2

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our earthly body] were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul even got a preview of what awaits us in heaven.

II Corinthians 12:1-4

1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. [Emphasis added]

We are told that even though we don’t live there yet, our citizenship is already in heaven.

Philippians 3:20-21

20 For our conversation [POLITEUO—our citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

This is by no means about a conversation as we would use the word today.  It is about every believer’s new home, new place of citizenship—heaven.

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. [Emphasis added]

No matter what we may experience here on Earth, we will ultimately live in this wonderful kingdom in Heaven He is preparing for us.  This is not the same as the promised Kingdom of heaven that has been promised to regenerate Israel.

II Timothy 4:18

18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]

It seems that one of the greatest dangers we face today is blending the prophetic things God promised Israel with the things He’s provided for us as members of the Body of Christ.  The apostle Peter preached Christ according to the Old Testament prophecies.  The apostle Paul preached Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.  It’s not that these men preached two different “Christs”—they preached two different and separate parts of Christ’s work.  Peter preached of God’s earthly work where Israel would have a kingdom on Earth.  Paul preached of God’s heavenly work, revealing something new, something that until then had been kept secret, being “a mystery.”  This means that in the Bible there are two different households, two different programs with two different leaders.  Peter is head of the earthly kingdom church and Paul the church which is Christ’s heavenly body.  Never be guilty of blending the two, as so many do.  It is because of people attempting to blend the two that we have denominations today with such a variety of beliefs.  Most of the beliefs can be said to be biblical, but they are not rightly divided dispensationally.  There lies the problem and there lies the confusion.

Knowing this one truth regarding the two distinctly different programs will be a huge help in your Bible study.  How often I’ve heard the testimony of people saying that it was this one truth that completely opened their eyes to wonderful things they’d not understood and known before.  I’m confident it can be that way for anybody.  The hurdle most people must get over is their long- held traditional views.  I highly encourage you not to let that get in your way.  Pleasing God demands your understanding of those things God has said to you and believing them.

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