What Is The Mystery Of Christ?
Rock of Offence Commentary
Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus made
an extraordinary statement to his disciples
concerning our future redemption:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:7-14)
The Mystery of Christ involves the "many things" that Jesus could not tell His disciples. This information is not recorded in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus warned that up to the time of his crucifixion he did not reveal the entire redemptive plan made possible by His blood. This future knowledge revealed the specific details and principles of the New Covenant that was not in operation at the time. Jesus clearly said that the New Covenant could not begin until His bood was shed at the crucifixion - and until after he had sent the “Comforter” (Holy Spirit). Christians today either ignore or redefine these words of Christ because it contradicts some of their most cherished religious traditions and beliefs. It is extremely rare to find a preacher who properly discerns these issues. Saint Paul later said that the revelation given to him about the "Mystery of Christ" was not revealed to anyone until Jesus Christ personally entrusted it to him (Eph. 3:4-6). That means, except for some vague types and shadows, you won't find it discussed in the Old Testament Scriptures or in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that covered Christ's earthly ministry before his crucifixion. How can we make this statement? Jesus clearly said that the truths concerning his blood-bought redemption is withheld until "the Spirit of truth comes who will guide you into all truth" - and that event did not occur until the day of Pentecost following his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
Various prophetic scriptures exist in the Old Testament that provide a preview (or what theologians often call 'types and shadows') concerning the future salvation of Christ. One of these prophecies comes from Isaiah who declares ...
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Some Bible teachers believe (as we do) that Psalm 91, which is not officially included in the Messianic prophecies, is subtly connected to this list ... and reveals the powerful grace-based benefits found in 'the Mystery of Christ'. These powerful - and clearly unmerited benefits could not exist without the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy where ... "The Lord has laid on Him (Jesus Christ) the iniquity of us all".
Here is Psalm 91 in its entirety:
"He who dwells in the secret place of the
Most High shall abide under the shadow of
the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He
is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in
Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver
you from the snare of the fowler and from
the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you
with His feathers, and under His wings you
shall take refuge; His truth shall be your
shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of
the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor
of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten
thousand at your right hand; but it shall not
come near you. Only with your eyes shall you
look, and see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my
refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling
place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall
any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
to keep you in all your ways. In their hands
they shall bear you up, lest you dash your
foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the
lion and the cobra, the young lion and the
serpent you shall trample underfoot.
(God is now speaking directly)
“Because he has set his love upon Me,
therefore I will deliver him; I will set
him on high, because he has known My
name. He shall call upon Me, and I will
answer him; I will be with him in
trouble; I will deliver him and honor
With long life I will satisfy him, and show
him My salvation.”
Notice that these incredible benefits are
connected to something 'mysterious'
known as ...
"The secret place of the Most High."
Also notice that God promised to set the
individual He was describing 'On High';
...Not because they kept His laws
...Not because they obeyed His commandments
... BUT BECAUSE THEY KNEW HIS NAME.
This happens to be one of the characteristics
of Grace-based New Covenant salvation initiated
by Jesus Christ at the cross where ...
"whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)
Centuries ago, men such as Martin Luther rediscovered the New Testament truth of "free justification through faith in Christ" (Romans 3:24-26) revealed by what Bible scholars refer to as, "The Pauline Revelation". Luther began his quest as a Catholic priest. Yet, his discovery not only turned his “Christian world view” upside down, but it caused the powerful religious system he previously served, to hate and despise him. Catholic leaders accused Luther of heresy and demanded his execution. This is strangely similar to the accusations and death threats the Pharisees made against Christ - and successfully carried out. Some of us in evangelical circles today take Luther's work during the Protestant Reformation for granted. However, studies show an overwhelming majority of those who profess to be “Christian” continue to distort and redefine the revelation of Saint Paul, despite the fact that it represents the foundation for New Testament salvation. Luther's central theme of "free justification through faith in Christ" (Romans 3:24-26) is connected to what Paul refers to as "The Mystery of Christ". Yet, Christ's Mystery involves far more than justification by faith.
Nearly half of the New Testament
section of God's Word is written by
Saint Paul and is based on the
revelation Jesus Christ personally
entrusted to him for the Church Age.
Contrary to popular opinion, the
Pauline Revelation carries equal
authority in the Scriptures with
John's 'Revelation' - which is
generally directed at the Israelites
and the Tribulation judgments taking
place on earth.
So, why do church leaders give more
attention to John's Revelation, while
generally avoiding the grace-based
principles of the Pauline Revelation
designed for the Church?
The answer to this question angers many well-intentioned religious people. The Grace Gospel based exclusively on the Pauline Revelation exposes the error behind a lot of Old Testament law-based Bible teaching (often referred to as 'Legalism'). If allowed to succeed in its mission ... Paul's writings would disprove many trusted denominational doctrines and traditions found within Christendom. As a result, when church leaders avoid or redefine the principles of the Pauline Revelation - they're often doing it to protect their agenda, doctrine and ministry. For this reason alone we should pay close attention to what Paul has to say.
God does something totally new and
different from anything he did in the
past when he releases the Mystery of
Christ through the apostolic ministry
of Saint Paul. Jesus called it,
"the New Covenant in my blood."
The New Covenant is also called "the new
and living way of Christ" established
on His blood in Heb. 10:19-23 - also see
Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, 1 Cor. 11:25,
2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 7:11-22, Heb. 8:6-13,
Heb. 9:15, Heb. 12:24.
If you want to learn more about the
core truth of Christ’s Mystery, read
about the believers position
"in Christ" at the following link.
Welcome to the most exciting area of our website. The Bible contains the greatest message the world has ever known. However, the most monumental event in Biblical history is about to happen, catching most Christians off guard. As a teenager, I had several encounters with God that sparked my curiosity about religious issues. Yet, the world of religion is incredibly complex and confusing. It involves thousands of different doctrines, beliefs, ideas and "theories" about God and how he interacts with the human race. I quickly learned that church-going people (and the churches they attend) hold many unscriptural and inconsistent beliefs, even though they all read from the same Bible. It's no mystery as to why the world continues to reject and mock our message. Somehow, I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind when he endured the sufferings that provided our "great salvation". Jesus went to the cross for us. He didn't go there for Himself. When you consider Christ's wondrous cross, it's truly an act of love and "Amazing Grace". The apostle Paul, as the primary writer of the New Testament, taught that the "inner workings" of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross is found in his epistles to the Church that reveal "The Mystery of Christ". However, Paul's preaching is often compromised and redefined by the religious world. Amazingly, some church leaders and their followers claim to teach the Bible, but refuse to acknowledge his message. Paul warned in Col. 2:8, "Beware lest any man spoil (cheat) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Things that Block Our
Understanding of the
Mystery Of Christ
In order to begin our journey, it's necessary to look at the things that not only cheat us out of the blessings of our redemption, but also blind us to the Mystery of Christ. If being cheated out of the spiritual benefits Jesus provided was unimportant ... then Paul wasted his time writing about them. He instructs us to continually evaluate ourselves and how we believe the Bible. Why? Because there are many popular beliefs that exist among Christians today that actually oppose and threaten the truth of the Gospel (Phil 3:17-20, Rom 16:17-18). Our Heavenly Father included these "spiritual alerts" in His Word for a very good reason. Yet, the average professing Christian finds it upsetting to consider the true implications of these Divine warnings. Many of us ignore them and pretend they either don't exist, or that they hold no meaning for us today. The source of all these offenses comes from God's Word, which compels us (like it does this writer) to evaluate our own beliefs in order to learn if they are truly in line with what the New Testament teaches. The Mystery of Christ reveals supernatural abundant blessings that most of us fail to recognize.
There are many inconsistencies taught in the modern church that are the result of using different methods of Bible interpretation that contain flaws. The reader should never think that we are suggesting that the Bible contains inconsistencies and contradictions. The problem always comes from how we interpret and understand the Bible. If we fail to practice the 'interpretation basics' correctly (like many do), our understanding of God's Word will contain serious flaws ... and there is no way to avoid this unfortunate outcome. The problem has existed too long and is too complex to be corrected until Jesus Christ returns. Many professing Christians have simply 'made up their mind' and refuse to consider that their beliefs might be wrong. Yet, this will not hinder us from attempting to shed some light on the crisis. There's simply too much at stake.
It is very distressing to hear popular sermons about New Testament salvation that instructs us to live our "new life in Christ" based on the tenants of Old Testament religion. I began to prayerfully ask my Heavenly Father some hard questions about this problem. God answered nearly all of these questions - and it literally turned my entire Christian world-view upside down. One preacher commented that he couldn't preach many things from the New Testament because people can't receive them. That always bothered me. As Godly ministers, we should preach all of the New Testament ... even if people are offended. Unfortunately, I discovered that this preacher's statement is correct. Getting most church-going people to see real New Testament salvation is the hardest thing in the world. Isn't that strange? Maybe this is why the Bible refers to it as "the secret place of the Most High" (Psalms 91). However, since we are rapidly approaching the end of the Church Age, this effort must be made even if we fail.
The Rock of Offence ministry is not introducing new doctrine. It only seems that way because the subject of our redemption is rarely taught from the same perspective that Jesus and Paul presented it. I discovered truths that's been literally shouting at us from the pages of the Bible for a long time. Yet, they seem to be only visible to those who are willing to look deep beneath the surface of popular teaching and preaching and ask some hard questions. The Bible instructs us that wisdom is like silver and hidden treasure. You only find this "treasure" by digging for it, and the task is often difficult. You have to dig because it's buried under mountains of wrong beliefs and religious unbelief that are centuries old. It's not sitting on the surface where it can be easily found. Discovering what Saint Paul called the "hidden wisdom" of the Mystery of Christ is no different than looking for buried treasure. This is the first condition that must be met: You have to be a committed "truth seeker". You have to desire the knowledge of God with all your heart ... and that desire must supercede any personal desire to be a "people-pleaser". You will lose Christian friends and even the church you attend may "withdraw the welcome mat" when you decide to be a truth seeker. Our Lord Jesus was cast out of the synagogue by the religious system of his day and had to teach in the fields. Consider the cost.
"So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:2-5)
"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter." (Proverbs 25:2 NKJV)
Understanding “The Mystery”
The Apostle Paul referred to Christ’s New Covenant as “The Mystery of Christ” - and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths through what Bible scholars call, “The Pauline Revelation” (Read Ephesians 3;1-12, 2 Corinthians 12;1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12). Contrary to popular beliefs, Paul was the only apostle to receive this revelation about the mystery of the New Covenant, which was also the source of the Gospel of Christ that he preached. This mystery was not fully revealed for several years (some theologians think 7-10 years, but nobody actually knows how long) after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Here’s a small part of what Jesus Christ had to say about the revealing of this truth. We quoted Christ's words earlier, but let's look at them again.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I HAVE YET MANY THINGS TO SAY UNTO YOU, BUT YE CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW. HOWBEIT WHEN HE, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS COME, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:7-14)
Notice the timeframe in Christ’s words. The truth He wanted his disciples to know wasn’t going to be fully revealed, except for some vague “types and shadows”, until after His death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? The crucifixion (death) and resurrection of Christ, the spilling of His blood and the coming of the Holy Spirit had to happen first before the New Covenant could begin. UNTIL THE NEW COVENANT STARTED; THE OLD COVENANT REMAINED IN AUTHORITY. The New Covenant that Jesus Christ came to initiate was “the many things” that He couldn’t tell His disciples while He was still alive during His earthly ministry on earth. The phrase “many things” also means “a lot of things”. Any way you look at it, Jesus alerts His audience to another major story that’s hidden in a mystery that He said couldn’t be revealed before the cross.
Christ had a good reason to withhold the revelation about His New Covenant. Years later, the apostle Paul gives us the main reason for our Lord's action.
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)
The "rulers of this age" that Paul speaks of here are "high order" demonic spirits, which were responsible for planning and orchestrating Christ's crucifixion "behind the scene". If Jesus and His disciples (during His earthly ministry) went around preaching the details of the yet future New Covenant, Paul said that these demonic spirits would have never crucified Christ. Why? The New Covenant in Christ's blood (Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25) was God's secret plan (Paul calls it "hidden wisdom") to utterly destroy Satan's dominion over the human race. Christ's crucifixion was the centerpiece of God's plan. The New Covenant couldn't become reality without the crucifixion of our Lord. As a result of Christ's "information blackout" Satan and his demonic world didn't learn about their mistake until it was too late.
The vast majority of Christian believers think that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that records His earthly ministry. Yet, both Jesus our Lord and the apostle Paul said that this was not the case.
The Two Administrations of
The author of the book of Hebrews gives us a glimpse into a truth that continues to allude many of us today.
"And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]. So see to it that you do not reject Him or refuse to listen to and heed Him Who is speaking [to you now]. For if they [the Israelites] did not escape when they refused to listen and heed Him Who warned and divinely instructed them [here] on earth [revealing with heavenly warnings His will], how much less shall we escape if we reject and turn our backs on Him WHO CAUTIONS AND ADMONISHES [US] FROM HEAVEN?" ( Heb 12:24-25 Amplified Bible )
I use the amplified translation in this instance because it expands upon important facts that most of us who reverence the Bible commonly miss. I am aware that some of our readers already know these things.
The first "coming" of Jesus Christ had two separate, yet different administrations connected to it. The word "administration" is defined as, "The activity of a government or state in the exercise of its powers and duties". When we use the term "administration" we're talking about the government of Jesus Christ and the exercise of His power. We could use the Biblical word "Ministry" to describe these administrations. We could say that Jesus had "two ministries". These two ministries are aimed at two different target audiences with two different sets of spiritual principles (known as "covenants") connected to them. The first was Christ's physical earthly ministry that was focused entirely upon the Israelites as the Jewish Messiah. Jesus stated this fact when he said, "I am sent ONLY to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." ( Matt 15:24 Amplified Bible ). I’ve actually had Christians tell me to my face that Jesus didn’t really mean what he said here. Yet, Jesus meant exactly what he said.
The second administration didn't begin until after the crucifixion and is known as Christ's heavenly ministry as Lord of the New Testament Church. It's called "heavenly" because He rules from his present-day position in heaven. Notice that the author of Hebrews emphatically states that Jesus continued to speak to us from heaven. He warned us not to ignore these "Heavenly words of Christ" that were spoken following his resurrection and ascension - and primarily revealed through the Pauline Revelation. The New Covenant in Christ's blood represents His present-day heavenly ministry to the New Testament believer. Most preaching today almost never draws a distinction between these two ministries, or administrations, of Jesus Christ. Rather, they mix them together assuming they are the same and carry the same message. Many of us have heard how the early Christian believers under Paul's ministry had to deal with a group known as the "Judaizers". These were highly trained Jewish evangelists who taught an Old Testament-style obedience to the Mosaic Law as a requirement for eternal life (also described as a law-based 'conditional' salvation). Yet, Paul's message is that eternal life is the free gift of God through faith in Christ alone. The Judaizers contstantly troubled the apostle Paul - and the churches he established - with this counterfeit gospel message. I was surprised to discover that the Judaizers took nearly the same theological approach that we see in modern-day evangelistic efforts. They took principles meant only for Israel and applied them to New Testament believers. Saint Paul rebuked them using what I consider very harsh terms. For this reason, if we truly respect Biblical context we must understand that the earthly ministry of Christ to Israel as their Messiah - and the heavenly ministry of Christ to the Church are not the same. Major distortions in God's Word occur when we fail to differentiate between these two important "governments" of Jesus Christ.
We might better understand this complex topic by using a worldly "political" example. Let's say a man by the name of Robert Browne runs for president of the United States and is elected. President Browne is now the head of the American government and serves two full terms. Following his service to the United States he leaves office, but puts in his application to be Secretary General of the United Nations and is later elected by the General Assembly. While President of the United States he is head of a unique group of people known as Americans. Yet, as the UN Secretary General some would view him as head of the world government -- meaning everyone. It’s the same man, but two different administrations that operate by different “constitutional laws”. It is clear that this example will not settle any arguments. Yet, the issue here is that the "Jewish government" and its Old Testament “constitution” that Jesus ruled over as the Messiah on earth is different than the "Church-Age gentile government" and its New Covenant “constitution” that Jesus rules over as “The Lord from heaven”. Again, it is spiritually illegal to mix these two administrations together and teach them as being the same. Christians ask me all the time, “Why isn’t the power of God around today?” The mixing together of Christ’s earthly and heavenly ministries is one important reason. In my opinion, the most disastrous assumption we make in the ministry is taking commandments, promises and Scriptural directives that God gives only to Israel and attempt to make them binding upon the New Testament believer. Pastors and ministers who do this thing are not in a minority. It's practiced by the overwhelming majority of Christian ministers.
Biblical Context Is Crucial to
Our Understanding of Christ's
There is a disturbing truth contained
in the following statement:
"The most dangerous people in the Christian
church are those who passionately claim to
love God, tirelessly pray and study the Bible,
yet refuse to respect the context of God's
words and instructions."
To properly understand the importance of the Mystery of Christ we must look at the subject of Biblical context, which is an area many Christians avoid like the plague. This topic is not just a minor “side issue”. It can mean the difference between life and death. It can threaten not only our physical lives, but also our spiritual life and destiny.
The religious leaders who demanded Christ's crucifixion claimed to love God. They insisted that they always obeyed the Holy Scriptures. They were fervently devoted to God and his commandments. Yet, they crucified the very one who authored the Bible. Think about that. In a similar way, it's amazing that some pastors, teachers, theologians and other students of the Bible can spend hours every day reading and studying its message and come away with wrong beliefs. Many defend their words by saying, "I'm preaching God's Word - this is God speaking - so you must obey what I'm teaching". Statements similar to this are often made from the pulpit on Sunday morning - to validate a sermon. But, it takes unfair advantage of the average church-member who may not be practicing any kind of discernment. Are some preachers really giving us "God's Word" because they use Scripture in their sermons - or are they giving us something else that only appears to be God's Word.
This is a very uncomfortable question every
church member must ask themselves.
Many well-meaning Christian people say, "We just need to get back to preaching the Bible - that will solve all our problems." Yet, some of the most abusive and harmful religious error you can find is taught from the pages of the Bible by religious groups, church organizations, denominations and cults.
Here is one historical example:
In 1978 the "forced suicide" of 914 people occurred under the ministry of cult leader Jim Jones - a man who recklessly distorted the Holy Scriptures for a prideful and self-serving purpose. In the years before this incident Rev. Jones was a popular guest on various Christian television programs and talk shows. But, these conditions quickly changed after ‘Jonestown’ was established. By studying the historical details - you find that the victims (in their own twisted way) loved God and were seeking to more fervently follow his will. Yet, the evidence in this tragedy points to only one thing. The people under Rev. Jone's ministry refused to take personal responsibility - to discern the context of his religious message. They believed everything he said was God speaking to them because he quoted from the pages of the Bible - which is a popular fundamentalist belief. This failure cost them their lives. While many contextual problems in the institutional church are not this extreme ... this example sounds a clear and sober warning. It's a warning not only for all believers in Christ, but for those who practice such things.
Does this mean the Bible is false and should be avoided? Of course not. We should never avoid truth because some religious people distort, or pervert God's writings. Yet, the difference between error and truth rests upon respecting and obeying the rules of Biblical context. There’s an old church revival saying, “Scripture taken out of context is a pretext”. The dictionary defines pretext as, “An effort or strategy intended to hide or conceal something”. Our Heavenly Father says things within a specific "framework" or context. Yet, when we remove His words from this Divinely intended framework ... and transplant it into a framework of our own design ... what was originally God's words, subtly become the words and doctrine of men. Yet, a vast majority of professing Christians fail to notice the change. The danger of this practice is that these 'doctrines and words of men' continue to sound like God's Word to those who fail to understand the importance of context. Our preparation for this kind of discernment requires hard and sometimes frustrating research. It means studying (not just reading) God's Word. It demands a desire to know and seek out truth, rather than being satisfied with a sermon on Sunday morning.
The reason we have over 25 major Christian denominations with literally hundreds of confusing and even "fear-invoking" doctrines is a testimony to this failure. Interestingly, every group passionately believes that their doctrine is the truth because it is taken from the pages of Scripture. Even worse - the 'unity at any cost' mindset forces us to agree that everyone is right, so that we can 'all get along'. Some refer to this kind of unity as being "seeker sensitive" - but this popular mindset doesn't originate with God. It not only distorts the gospel of Christ, but also frustrates God's Grace concerning the free gift of eternal life provided by the New Covenant. When we throw Biblical context out the window, we make the popular assumption that Old Testament theology must be mixed into the message of the New Covenant because they are both essentially part of 'a single Biblical program'. Some think both are the same simply because they are found in the pages of 'God's Word'. Yet, these two faith-based programs are radically different. This is why the apostle Paul sternly warned the New Testament Church - that when teaching God's Word, you must "rightly divide it" (2 Timothy 2:15). On the same subject, the author of Hebrews writes the following:
"But now hath he (Jesus) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second." (Heb 8:6-7)
Once again, the author of Hebrews (believed to be Paul) shows us an important truth. If Jesus has "obtained a more excellent ministry" as the mediator of "a better covenant established upon better promises", then the previous Old Testament ministry (or administration) and the promises it was based on - has been replaced by the second one.
At this point the reader may want to review some comments from Dr. Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary on this topic. I repetitiously use his quotes throughout this website in order to challenge some of our religous misconceptions concerning the Bible. His brief words give us an invaluable glimpse into Bible context that most modern-day believers often ignore.
Dwight Pentecost Comments On The New Testament
Christ's Mystery is Hidden
in the Principles of the
The words that Jesus Christ spoke to his disciples at the Last Supper is the starting point for this new spiritual journey. Following his crucifixion and resurrection - Jesus Christ commissioned the Apostle Paul, during a miraculous appearance on the road to Damascus, to preach the full revelation concerning what Christ's crucifixion provides the New Covenant believer. Saint Paul later said that this revelation was kept secret and was never preached in times past. That means you won't find it in the Old Testament except in some illustrations that Bible theologians refer to as "types and shadows". These illustrations and examples are designed by God to be vague during the administration of the Old Testament in order to keep his enemy from learning the intimate details of his redemptive plan for the human race. If the devil discovered the real purpose of the New Covenant, the Bible says that he would have never crucified Christ. A vast majority of professing Christians fail to see the truth behind Paul's words, which can change our entire view of the New Testament Scriptures.
Christ's covenant is far more than just forgiveness of sins. Paul called this Divine revelation "The Mystery of Christ". Bible theologians call it, "The Pauline Revelation". I've found that it largely remains a mystery to most Christians today because its secrets are locked away in the ancient practice of a “blood covenant”. The specific details of Christ's mystery are found in Paul's epistles to the New Testament Church. At the Last Supper Jesus called His salvation "The new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). Upon hearing these words it's common sense to ask, "If Christ's blood represents a NEW covenant - then things had to change from the way it was previously before the crucifixion under the Old Testament (or Old Covenant). Furthermore, if Christ provided a NEW covenant -- what did his new blood covenant do for us? If you have the courage to dig for the facts you will discover the liberating truth. The mystery of Christ is about freedom and liberty through the New Covenant gift of eternal life for the believer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some readers may think that our comments demonstrate a rejection of the Old Testament Scriptures. This is not true. Gaining an understanding of the Old Testament is invaluable for the modern-day believer who lives in various western cultures. However, the writings in God's Word were penned from the perspective and context of Middle-Eastern Jewish culture. Here's one example: Our Lord Jesus Christ was Jewish - and originaly came as 'The Messiah of Israel'.
God has placed examples and illustrations in the Old Testament that reveals things that are yet future. These events, like the harvest Jesus spoke of at the end of the age, is couched in Jewish tradition and practices - and can only be properly understood from that context. The story of Noah and the ark - and Lot's escape from Sodom with angelic help are both illustrations that point to the soon to occur 'rapture' at the end of the Church Age. Abraham's imputed righteousness through a faith without works points to our "free justification by faith in Christ alone" and the "free gift of eternal life" provided by the New Covenant. (Note: We should remember that Abraham was the Father of the Jewish race.) Bible Prophecy from the Old Testament cover things yet future and there are many examples. However, the Bible warns us about a major change took place following Christ's crucifixion.
The religion of the Old Testament established on the Mosaic Law (also known as the Old Covenant) was fulfilled by Christ at the cross ... and replaced with the New Covenant. We should certainly keep the things from the Old Testament that helps us better understand our redemption - along with its recorded future prophetic events. But, at the same time we must also discern the religious tenants of Old Testament Law that are no longer binding and should never be applied to New Covenant believers. Most Christians today do not properly discern these things and attempt to live their new life in Christ using an Old Testament brand of faith based on a mixture of Grace and the Law of Moses. These God-loving people profess to have authentic faith in Christ, when, in reality, God considers their faith to be counterfeit. The danger that exists in this brand of theology is what motivated the apostle Paul to give stern warnings throughout his writings. His entire 'Epistle to the Galatian Church' was primarily written to address this error of mixing Old Testament religious tenants into our "new life in Christ". We would be negligent if we didn't issue these same unpopular - and offensive warnings from God's Word ... since the practice continues unabated today.
Major theological forces within the Christian church attack Christ's Gospel of Grace (and its foundation in the New Covenant) in an effort to discredit its truths. The ministers and theologians behind this threat are actually modern-day "Judaizers" who operate under various religious titles and names. These attacks have been going on since the days of the first century church. Be forewarned. The effort to discredit Christ's New Covenant is mainstream within the Christian church. It's important to understand these negative influences because they cheat us out of discovering the incredible spiritual benefits of "The Mystery of Christ."
At this point some Christians will object by saying, "Well, this 'Mystery of Christ' subject sounds very interesting - but you've forgotten what the Bible says in Malachi 3:6, "I am the Lord, I change not" ... and you're also forgetting the verse from Hebrews 13:8 that says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Based on these Scriptures they now feel bold enough to say; "You're claiming that God has changed, but the Bible says he doesn't change ... and for that reason your comments are wrong."
Our response: No, we haven't forgotten anything about the eternal and unchanging nature of Jesus Christ. Yet, over many years of study we've discovered that these Scriptures about "God and Jesus not changing" are found in the “Top Ten” list of the Bible's most abused passages. These verses are commonly used by those who defend their beliefs by "spiritualizing" rather than using a "literal interpretation" in their study of God's Word. Spiritualizing Scripture has evolved into a popular, yet dangerous debate “methodology” because it's difficult to defend against. As a result, it gives an opponent the ability to 'twist God's Word' - which creates the illusion that it supports their doctrine or position. For this reason, its wise to avoid any Bible discussion with those who practice these dishonest methods of interpretation ... which eventually decays into a sharp and confusing disagreement over someone's opinion. Personal opinions can be anything since they are rarely based on Biblical facts - but on feelings or false religious traditions. A Christian should be interested only in Biblical truth - and not in personal opinions about God.
As discussed earlier, these two administrations or “ministries” of Jesus Christ can be compared to governments. The Bible calls our Heavenly Father, "the Judge of all the earth". The position of "judge" is found in the judicial branch of a government. In our worldly society laws constantly change through the action of bureaucrats. In a court of law, a judge may make a decision based on the current rule of law in one case, and then make a totally different decision in the same type of case next year because the law changed. A good example in the United States is the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion enacted in January of 1973. In 1972 a judge would rule that it was illegal to have an abortion because it was viewed as the murder of an unborn child. The offender would be sent to jail or face other penalties. Yet, beginning early in 1973 that same judge would rule that an abortion is now legal regardless of how he personally feels about the law. The offender is now free from any punishment.
At this point, an important question to ask is this: Did the judge in this case change, or did the law on which he based his decision change?
The Old Covenant and the New Covenant of Christ represent different sets of laws known as "covenant laws." Neither God the Father or Jesus Christ his Son has changed ... as far as their eternal nature and character is concerned.
Yet, following the shedding of Christ's
blood at the cross, the covenant principles
and rules by which they now base their
interaction with the human race did
change. Considering the Grace-based New
Covenant established on the blood of
Christ the changes were revolutionary in
the way our Heavenly Father now treats the
sinner - compared with the way He
previously treated the sinner under the
Law of the Old Testament.
These changes represent tremendous blessings for the believer. Saint Paul called these blessings; "the unsearchable riches of Christ."
Rather than repeating information already included in articles on this website, links are provided on this page that provides additional insight into "The Mystery of Christ". The first link takes you to an index page entitled, "The New Covenant". This reference area will give you general information to what Jesus called, "The New Covenant In My Blood". Some often refer to the "New Covenant" by other names like "The Gospel of Grace". Yet, those who correctly teach about God's Grace may leave out a lot of crucial information about Christ's New Covenant. The Gospel of Grace gives us the basic tenants of New Testament salvation and can be viewed as an important subset of Christ's covenant in blood. Therefore, you should read and understand both.
This introduction to the “Mystery of Christ” may appear to be detailed and even offensive. We encourage our visitors not to be discouraged over the complexity of some issues. The New Testament Gospel of Christ is actually very simple to understand when you learn how to navigate around all the confusion we see in religious institutions today. We take great care to get things right. Yet, no matter how hard we try - we also understand that no one is perfect. However, the extent that God’s power operates in your life is directly tied to correctly understanding the New Testament Gospel, which is based on Christ’s Mystery. That makes it probably one of the most important topics we can cover. May God bless and prosper your spiritual journey into the unsearchable riches of Christ.
"For the preaching of the cross is
to them that perish foolishness but
unto us which are saved it is the
power of God."
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
Understanding The New Covenant
Israel and the Church
The Battle For God's Grace
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