The world is full of mysteries. Some have piqued our interest and baffled our imaginations for generations. They are fascinating, yet remain elusive and unexplainable. For example, we wonder at the origin of Stonehenge. Or how an ancient culture had the technology to build the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Or how to explain the Loch Ness Monster. Is there life on other planets? What happened to the city of Atlantis? For the more practical and political student of current mysteries, who was the shooter on the grassy knoll? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? And the list of mysteries is endless, and the answers few. But that is the nature of a mystery.
But in the New Testament, the word mystery is not something unknowable, but something always known but only revealed to certain people at a pre-determined time, all decided by our Sovereign God.
The verse we will use to focus our prayer time is Ephesians 3:3-4, which reads:
How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).
Take a moment and reflect on the word, mystery. Let your mind explore all the images the word conjures up for you. We know the mystery spoken in this passage is that Gentiles, along with God’s chosen people, the Jews, are both now citizens in the Kingdom of God. This truth, ordained by God from the foundation of time, was hidden from the Jews and Gentiles until revealed to Paul— which is precisely what this verse says. That “by revelation He (God) made known to me (Paul) the mystery” which reveals the Kingdom of God to be inclusive of both Jews and Gentiles who have been chosen and redeemed by the blood of Christ. It’s a picture of God sovereignly choosing out of two ethnic groups, Jews and Gentiles, those who belong to Him, and creating a new race, a new family, a new people, all redeemed by Christ.
Elementary, My Dear Watson
There are quite a few occurrences of the word mystery in the New Testament. We have, for example, the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way” (2 Tim. 2:7). This passage reveals to us the restraining power of the Holy Spirit and the future of the antichrist, yet hidden until now. Also, we find the word used in 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the coming of the Lord and our gathering to meet Him. It says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). Again, this is speaking of a truth God has always known and has always been true, but hidden for a time until it was revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
But regarding the mystery of Jew and Gentile becoming one in His Kingdom, no passage better explains that than Colossians, chapter one. In fact, we find the word dispensation translated as a stewardship given to Paul for the Gentiles. Let’s look at Colossians 1:24-27, which reads:
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:24-27.
Paul became a minister to the Gentiles according to the stewardship he received from God for them, which is exactly what Ephesians 3:2-3 says. He then describes the nature of the mystery which “has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Col. 1:26). With great anticipation, like children on Christmas morning, we sit on the edge of our seats waiting to know and understand the full implications of this mystery. And we are not disappointed. He says, “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” Note the descriptive terms used: riches, and glory.
So what exactly is the “riches of the glory of this mystery”? It is nothing less than, “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27).
It is a profound mystery God would call unto Himself those from among unfaithful, unbelieving, and unrepentant Jews. But He did. It is even more of a mystery He would allow us, as profane, arrogant, lawbreaking Gentiles entrance and acceptance into His Kingdom. But He did. And He did so by this amazing, supernatural act of regeneration where our sins are imputed to a sinless Christ, and His righteousness is imputed to us, who are anything but righteous (Isa. 64:6).
It was all done, by grace, through Christ. This means everything we are, everything we hoped to be, any good we do in this life, any legacy we leave behind, is all because of Christ. Stop now and meditate on this phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27). Or, Christ in you, the hope, or confident expectation and divine assurance, of Glory.
So what are we to do now since we know what this mystery is all about? How are we to live, knowing God has revealed this great mystery to us and given us Christ, our hope and guarantee of glory? What is our dispensation, or stewardship, our ministry, our responsibility and calling He has given each of us to do? It is simply this:
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus – Colossians 1:28.
This is a most worthy calling. It is the greatest cause in which to devote our lives. Why? Because it brings our Lord God glory.
Time to Pray
As we spoke about yesterday, God reveals His plan for your life in His Word. And the needed empowerment to fulfill His plan is also found in His Word. Prayer is of vital importance, especially if directed by Scripture. Remember, it’s the object of our prayers, and the object of our faith, that determines whether they honor Christ and will be answered. And the content of prayer and faith is best directed by our focus on Scripture. Hence, the reason you are receiving these emails.
We know God will never answer a prayer contrary to His Word. Why? Because God is not divided, nor two-faced, fickle, or changes His mind on a whim based on opinion polls. God is always true to His Word. And if every answer to every prayer must agree with His Word, then every answer to every question we have for God is also found in His Word.
That’s why His Word is “living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12) and not out of date, irrelevant, or boring. It is inspired, “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), and of immense value in this life and the next. Therefore, as we’re still in the first week of January 2020, let’s commit to Him to become a lover of His Word. To read it, understand it, obey it, and proclaim it to others.
As we talked about yesterday, only in His Word can you find the source of the “abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). It’s ours for the asking. Join with me in making this quest for the “abundant life” in Him our passion for 2020.