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 reject the idea 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 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.
A Lack of Knowledge Concerning
God's Mystery Perverts Christ's
Grace-Based Redemptive Program
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 our Heavenly Father, but are mixed into the storyline by those who work for His enemy.
A dangerous misconception, which is based
on the following assumption, is easily
found within the Christian Church:
'Since the Bible exists as a single book,
it also consists of and teaches only one
spiritual program of faith.'
The various ministers who embrace this kind of theology often insist that God has always extended grace and mercy to various individuals and groups throughout the Old Testament ... and He simply 'continues' the same practice in the New Testament. As a result, they convince themselves that the New Testament teaching about a unique 'dispensation or age of Grace' is false - because God just continues to do something He has always done.
The problem with this misleading brand of Bible interpretation is its use of 'half truths' accompanied by the failure to define certain terms. This methodology has been used to defend wrong doctrine and fool spiritually inexperienced church members since the first century. It is certainly true that God extended grace and mercy at various times in the Old Testament. These acts of mercy were the result of God's love and compassion for the fallen human race. Yet, this particular expression of grace could not permanently fix the human sin problem, which remained unresolved. In the Old Testament, the kind of grace that God expressed toward those who had offended Him only lasted for a short time. But, the Grace that was later established through the sacrificial death of God's Son is vastly different - because it's permanent and eternal. This is why the believer's Grace-based salvation is often referred to as 'everlasting or eternal life', which was only made possible by the cross. Through the crucifixion of His Son, God releases a unique and superior type of Grace that didn't (and couldn't) operate under the spiritual government of the Old Testament. Jesus as 'The Lamb of God' permanently took away all human sin (John 1:29) and initiated a unique period of time referred to in the Bible as 'the dispensation of God's Grace'. However, this kind of Grace couldn't exist until Christ's blood sacrifice was complete. The Apostle Paul revealed that this dispensation of Grace is directly connected to 'The Mystery of Christ' which was previously unknown. As a result of this superior type of ‘blood-bought Grace’ - all the believer's sin that originally offended God is 'taken away' - and replaced with Divine righteousness. Paul describes God's extraordinary act in the following ways;
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 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), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power." (Ephesians 3:1-7)
"For He made Him (Jesus Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-10)
“For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man's (Jesus') righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)
"For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
"...Being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:24-26)
The erroneous practice of interpreting the Bible as 'a single book with only one program of faith' not only corrupts the definition of Grace; it also redefines the redemptive program of Christ into something that God never intended. Ministers who claim that the New Testament is just 'a continuation or extension' of the way God operated in Old Testament ... are effectively 'denying the finished work of Jesus Christ'. They are not only blind to the denial, but they also fail to realize the horrific eternal consequences that results from this brand of preaching. Most of these same ministers passionately insist that they are committed 'Bible believers'. Yet, no one seems to consider the fact that ministers often - 'believe the Bible incorrectly'.
Unfortunately, this creates a popular misconception that God treats human sin the same way after the cross - as He did before the cross. Yet, if this belief is true (and it isn't), then the work Jesus finished at the cross to 'take away our sin' becomes nonsensical - because God is just 'continuing' the same Old Testament program of faith as before. When ministers are confronted about this contradiction, they always passionately proclaim their belief in Christ's redeeming work at the cross. Yet, when preaching on the subject of sin, they deny His work by applying the previous Old Testament rules based on condemnation'; instead of Christ's New Covenant rules that are based on blood-bought Grace (Romans 4:4-8, Romans 8:1-2). This contradictory and confusing way of teaching the Bible is found in many churches that claim to be ‘Bible-believing’.
If Jesus truly 'takes away our sins', as John the Baptist stated - then God is treating sin differently after the cross. Teaching that the New Testament is just 'a continuation of the Old Testament' involves a false theology that leads us astray in our faith.
The Bible translators understood this dangerous human tendency to 'mix everything together', 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 never be mixed. But, there is also another equally important reason for this division. 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. This latter group that exists under Grace is also known as ‘the Church’. These two characteristics alert the reader that the Bible has a context that must be strictly obeyed if walking in truth is the 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' - along with 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' which is an illegal and toxic mixture of Judaism and 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) suggests that Jesus only provides a partial or conditional salvation - which is why the believer is told that they must supplement Christ's redemptive work with personal merit, godly behavior and good works. Due to its conditional Old Testament characteristics, this counterfeit faith represents 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 authentic 'faith in Christ'. But, the type of 'saving faith' they profess also requires them to satisfy certain meritorious and behavioral conditions which are contrary to Christ's New Covenant. This brand of works-based faith makes its followers more dependent on their own ability and behavior to earn (or merit) salvation ... rather than trusting only in Christ's finished work. In Romans 8:2-4, the Bible refers to this merit-based kind of faith as; 'the flesh'.
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 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 tricked into accepting the Christian counterfeit known as 'Galatian religion' discussed later in this study.
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 or 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, that 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)
Important Note: When Paul uses the phrase 'justified by law' he's referring to the Old Testament program of the Mosaic Law - which was made obsolete by the cross of Christ (Hebrews 8:13). Unfortunately, this obsolete program is the one used by a vast majority of churches today.
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the other parts of this study.