God's Mystery Revealed
In Jesus Christ
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the other parts of this study.
Did you know that God was the world's first mystery writer? His story was written long before it was a popular literary style. The focus of God's "mystery" masterpiece is the cross of Jesus Christ and "the way of faith". The Apostle Paul called the crucifixion of Jesus "a mystery", which explains why it's so easily distorted by religion. Concerning this topic the apostle Paul made the following statements...
"Now to Him who is able to establish 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 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for the obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)
The "mystery" theme is repeated
throughout the New Testament,
predominantly in the epistles
of Saint Paul where he said:
"...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery" (1 Cor. 2:7)..."having made known to us the mystery of his will" (Eph. 1:9)..."how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery" (Eph. 3:3)..."you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4)..."And to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God" (Eph. 3:9)..."This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:32)..."to make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19)..."the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints" (Col. 1:26)..."what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27)..."to the knowledge of the mystery of God" (Col. 2:2)..."to speak the mystery of Christ" (Col. 4:3)..."holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9)..."great is the mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3:16).
The Scriptural support for Paul's position is extensive ... yet a serious problem continues to exist. Religion distorts the meaning of God's mystery and the effects are disastrous. Good people in church leadership roles and with noble intentions either refuses to recognize that they are dealing with a Divine mystery - or they interpret the mystery incorrectly. This practice claims many victims as we approach the last days. If you think that religion and Christianity is the same - or if you assume that everyone who claims to be a 'Bible-believer' ... believes the Bible correctly - you're in for a rude awakening.
Why do we call our ministry "Rock of Offence"? When Biblical truth collide with the religious traditions and philosophies of men, offense is always the result. Jesus is referred to as "The Rock of Offence" (1 Peter 2:7-8, Romans 9:33). Our choice of names may not represent a good marketing strategy, but it does convey a Biblical warning. If you're new to our website don't misinterpret our 'straight talk' as a cavalier attitude. We avoid religious and denominational bias and oppose popular 'conventional wisdom' when it conflicts with the Bible - God's Word. For these reasons the tone of our discussions may appear abrasive to those who are unaware that God calls His people to 'fight the good fight of faith' (1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
The Crisis Of Truth And
We address some "controversial" subjects but not for the sole purpose of stirring up controversy. These topics impact our eternal destiny and relationship with God. They are serious issues. We don't promote any particular denomination or church organization. We aren't building "a following" or starting a movement. The last days (Today--right now!) before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is characterized by the rejection of sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Jesus never dishonored Biblical truth by allowing the success of a ministry or program to be more important - so we follow His example (balanced with love, of course!). This truth honoring attitude angered the first century religious establishment, caused Jesus to be convicted as a criminal and executed on a cross. A commitment to Biblical truth still gets a similar response today. The anger of the religious leaders 'boiled over' when Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple and over-turned their tables (Mark 11:15-18). They plotted together to kill Jesus from that time on. Try to imagine that scene! The Jesus of the Bible never promised world peace but plainly stated something different. Yet, many in the modern church falsely portray him as a type of 'world peace and love activist' (Matthew 10:34-42). We're not against peace, love, and unity - only the kind that compromises truth and redefines the Jesus of the Bible.
The Present Darkness
Jesus made an interesting statement..."I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). Lately, it seems to be getting very dark. Anyone who takes a stand on the teachings of Jesus Christ is now assaulted; not only from "the church" but also from the intellectuals of the world who believe His teachings are intolerant and socially irrelevant. Speaking the truth (as Jesus taught it) in public - or worse - in the news media gets you verbally assaulted from countless different directions. In the Bible, 'darkness' is used as symbolism for the scarcity of truth and society's acceptance of wickedness. Today, good is evil and evil is good. Everyone's beliefs are accepted as truth - it's just considered a different truth. Many believe the occult, homosexuality, the "free sex culture", hedonism and the loss of religious freedom to be among the greatest threats to Biblical truth. Yet, these issues pale in comparison to the real danger ... a danger no one wants to address. The greatest threat is the anti-christian and anti-grace church. This is a covert influence within "Christian Orthodoxy" that looks and sounds like real Christianity, but isn't. It's a counterfeit that ensnares millions of unsuspecting professing Christians.
One example of this influence is the many church organizations that sacrifice their Godly calling to entice people into their services. The truths of the Bible are redefined to the lowest level that appeals to the largest segment of the public. Yet, we wonder why God's power isn't around any more. Many will be astonished when Jesus returns in righteousness to set things straight. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late.
Spiritual freedom is one of the central characteristics of authentic Christianity. Jesus said...
"And ye shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free."
However, distorting God's Word to further the cause of a religious organization does not produce freedom - it creates spiritual bondage. Christianity is commonly practiced in this manner...and it grieves the Holy Spirit and dishonors the ministry of God's Word. Today, we see a growing number of Christians leave institutional churches to escape spiritual abuse and unbiblical teaching. Across America, they number in the millions. Church leaders suggest that these people are in rebellion against God and His appointed authority. Religious leaders tell us that 'committed Christians' belong in church and that it is a sin to 'forsake the assembling of ourselves together'. We agree that Christians should not forsake assembling - but disagree with the way the word 'assembling' is redefined to advance (and grow) an organization. We call these people 'Un-churched Christians' - and most are not rebelling against God at all because it's God's voice (the voice of the Good Shepherd) that they're following! We desire to accomplish several things related to this unique move of God. First, we want to relieve condemnation and guilt by validating what many "Un-churched" Christians already know to be true. Secondly, we seek to expose spiritual abuse and doctrinal distortions in order to return the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its original state as Good News! Currently, we are far from these goals. But, we hope to do a better job as more material is added in the future. We share some of the experiences of this movement. We understand the condemnation, guilt and loneliness that is oftentimes felt--and the healing that is needed.
The world's eternal destiny hangs in the balance - which is something the Lord Jesus gave his life to secure. He treats the truth and those who exploit it for personal advantage with great seriousness. Authentic salvation depends on following simple, but specific conditions based on the Bible which is God's legal authority. Because of His great love, our heavenly Father made eternal life simple to obtain so that as many as possible could receive it. Yet, religion has confused the way so that few actually find it. Many in the modern church world are convinced they are heaven bound. Yet, they fail to accept eternal life (heaven's prerequisite) as God's free gift through faith in Jesus Christ apart from merit and works. Many believe there is "a way" that is more right. They believe their way of church affiliation, spiritual dedication and commitment to obey religious law ... is a 'better way'. This belief is similar to the error of Cain (Genesis 4:1-16) who killed his brother Abel in anger because God rejected his sacrifice of "good works". The Bible warns about "the way that seems right" but ends in death (Proverbs 14:12). The "better way" that many follow is not God's way. Yet, it appears as authentic Christianity to uninformed casual observers.
Biblical Clues That
Provide Insight Into
Those of us who are familiar with mystery novels and stories are painfully aware of how incorrect and often disastrous conclusions are often made before all the facts are known. When we begin to study the many truths and principles of God’s mystery – the outcome tends to be the same.
The apostle Paul referred to Christ’s New Covenant as “The Mystery of Christ” ... and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths and principles 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, ascension - and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Here’s a small part of what Jesus
had to say about the revealing of
“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, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important? These things had to happen first before the New Covenant could start to govern. Important Note: As we constantly repeat throughout our varius studies - the New Covenant is also referred to as;
- The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2-4)
- The ministry of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:4-11)
- The new and living way of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-23)
THE OLD COVENANT BASED ON THE
LAW OF MOSES REMAINS IN FORCE
ONLY UNTIL THE NEW COVENANT OF
CHRIST BEGINS TO GOVERN.
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 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 reason for the 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’. These demonic ‘ruling spirits’ were the ones manipulating and controlling the earthy human authorities, who actually performed the act. 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 called 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.
A vast majority of Christendom thinks that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - that record His earthly ministry. Yet, both Jesus our Lord and the apostle Paul said that this was not the case.
Incorrect Knowledge of God's
Mystery Produces Dangerous
A well-written mystery novel wouldn't be complete without the existence of imposters, counterfeits and various forms of deception. Unfortunately, this is also true for God's mystery. Yet, these unethical characteristics do not come from God, but are mixed into the storyline by those who work for His enemy.
A popular misconception found throughout the Christian Church involves the idea that ... since the Bible exists as a single book, it also consists of (and teaches) only one spiritual program. The Bible translators understood this danger, which is why they included special title pages that separated the Scriptures into its two primary parts; the Old and New Testaments. Respecting this division is imperative because each program operates by vastly different rules and principles that must not be mixed together. But, there is also another equally important characteristic. Each program is directed at a different group of people. The Old Testament program of the Law is designed exclusively for the Israelites (the Jews), while the New Testament program of Grace is designed for all races of people (also known as the Gentiles) who have placed their faith and trust in Christ. These two characteristics alert the reader that the Bible has a context that must be strictly followed if walking in truth is our goal. Paul refers to this context when he uses the phrase, 'rightly dividing the Word'.
Saint Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament instructed his disciple Timothy that the Scriptures must be 'rightly divided' to properly understand its truths and obtain the approval of God (2 Timothy 2:15). When the Bible is 'rightly (or correctly) divided' the common practice of intermingling - or 'mixing everything together' is carefully avoided.
But, starting in the first century, a popular theology operating within Christendom (sometimes referred to as 'Historical or Biblical Christianity' - and various other names) has successfully invalidated this ‘rightly dividing’ command. As a result, in a majority of denominations and churches, Christ's New Covenant (or what the Bible translators referred to as 'the New Testament') is now viewed as a continuation or extension of the Old Testament program. It effectively combines or intermingles these two vastly different Biblical programs which contradicts Paul's command to keep them; 'separated and divided'. As a result, a counterfeit 'faith in Christ' is created ... which is then accepted as authentic Christian faith - and is often referred to as; 'Judeo-Christianity'.
At the cross, the 'finished work of Christ' provides everything needed to possess salvation - without any additional merit or works (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). This is the Grace-based gospel message taught by authentic Christianity. But, the counterfeit type of 'faith in Christ' (existing as countless variants and denominational offshoots) claims that Jesus only provides a partial or conditional salvation - which is why the believer must supplement Christ's redemptive work with personal merit, godly behavior and good works. Due to its conditional Old Testament characteristics, this counterfeit faith creates a confusing and dangerous 'spiritual gray zone' that makes it impossible to know whether its followers truly possess eternal life. All of these well-meaning individuals will insist that they are saved and have 'faith in Christ'. But, the type of faith they profess also requires them to satisfy certain meritorious and behavioral conditions. It's a works-based faith that is more dependent on their own ability and behavior to earn or achieve (or merit) salvation (the Bible calls it 'the flesh' in Romans 8:2-4) ... rather than trusting only in the finished work of Christ. Here is the problem: If you embrace this kind of theology - it's impossible to know that you've satisfied all of God's conditions 'well enough' to obtain salvation. This also includes the conditions you may have missed and don't know about. Until this assurance is obtained - you can't know if you're truly saved. This is why the symptom of 'doubting salvation' always follows those who are fooled into accepting the counterfeit of Galatian religion.
Yet, the finished work of Christ fully satisfies all of these conditions and gives the believer total assurance of salvation - even if they are severely deficient in good works and godly behavior. Total assurance is guaranteed because it's based only on faith in Christ's righteousness - and not on their own righteous works (behavior and merit).
Concerning this special unmerited
assurance; both the Apostle John
and the Apostle Paul made the
"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:13-15)
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man TO WHOM GOD IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN." (Romans 4:4-8)
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
"...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
Due to the existence of both authentic
faith in Christ and its counterfeit,
Paul gave this warning to the Church;
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Spiritual counterfeits, similar to
counterfeit money, are especially
dangerous because they are designed
to be indistinguishable from the
God responded to this threat against the truth of the Gospel by placing warnings and examples in Scripture. One such example involved an entire church congregation, who was fooled into accepting the counterfeit. Saint Paul wrote his 'Epistle to the Galatians' in an attempt to correct the damage and warn future generations of Christian believers. He summarizes their error in two frightening statements:
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-8)
"You have become estranged (separated or cut-off) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the other parts of this study.