Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 25
MYSTERIES GIVEN PAUL
Now let’s go right back to where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in Romans Chapter 11, and verse 25. This chapter is where Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is making it so plain that God is not through with the Nation of Israel. The little nation has been set aside for the past 1900 + years, without their temple, priesthood, sacrifice, and without a homeland until our generation, but God is not through with His Covenant people. We saw that so vividly in the grafting process where Israel was removed, her branches were broken off, and the Gentiles grafted in. Gentiledom has now been placed over the root of the father Abraham, and so Gentiles have been under that blessing of having The Gospel, the opportunity for Salvation. But their day is fast coming to a close because they too have been walking it underfoot, and God’s grace and patience is one day soon, we think, going to run out, and then He will go back and pick up where He left off with Israel. Now here in verse 25 Paul writes to the believers:
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant…”
Ignorance is not a lack of brain cells, but rather a lack of having been taught. And I think that’s where the church, if I may use the term generally speaking, has failed so miserably because they have not taught their people. And it doesn’t matter what group it is. I maintain you ask the average Roman Catholic, “What do you believe?” you will find that most of them can’t tell you. You can ask the average Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist, or any other group and most of them cannot tell you what they really believe. Why? Because nobody teaches them, and so this is what Paul is driving home, that the believers are to be a well-taught people. We should be well-read in the Scriptures, so this is his statement here.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery,…”
And I’ve stressed the word “mystery” over the years that this word is one Paul uses so often, and in the Greek, the word is musterion, and it simply means, “secret.” The word can be translated either way, A mystery or a secret. So what Paul is saying then is, “That he doesn’t want the Gentile believers to be ignorant of a secret that God had kept in His own mind until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul.” Now I’m going to stop at this word for just a few moments because it’s been quite a while since we stressed it. But I’ve told my classes here in Oklahoma over and over, if you want to do a good Bible study some evening, take a good concordance and just simply look up the word “mystery” as it appears in Paul’s epistles and you can just make a two or three hour Bible study and it will be so interesting. Then put together all of the concepts that Paul associates with this revelation of a mystery. We constantly remind folks that all of these things that we refer to as coming from the epistles of Paul were never revealed previously in any of God’s dealing with mankind. So many of Paul’s doctrines you can’t find in the Old Testament. You can’t find them in Christ’s earthly ministry. You don’t find them in the early parts of Acts. They were revelations that God had kept secret since the beginning of human history or even before. Now the verse I always like to start out with in that regard, of course, is back to Deuteronomy 29:29. We’ve looked at it more than once even on the program before. Let’s look at it again. Way back there in the beginning of the Bible. And it’s something you can sink your teeth in even today.
“The secret things…” (see, there’s that word) belong unto the Lord our God:…”
Why? Because He’s Sovereign. He’s the Creator of everything. He can do whatever He wants to do. He’s Sovereign. Too many people today have gotten the idea that God is just some big, what shall I say, easygoing grandfather type that they can just sort of manipulate and tweak His nose and get whatever you want. That’s not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is Sovereign. He is absolute. He is holy. He is righteous. And yet He is a God that is loving and kind and merciful and patient. But, in His sovereignty He has every right in the world to keep things secret as long as He wants to and He will reveal it when He’s good and ready and not until. Let’s read on.
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed (are no longer secret) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
This of course was written by Moses. But as I explained to someone in a conversation last night, you want to remember the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New, even though we’re under a whole different set of responsibilities and everything. Yet God hasn’t changed. The things that God hated back in the Old Testament economy, God still hates them today. The very things that God forbade Israel back there in the Levitical system, God still does not condone today. And so even though this was spoken by Moses to the Nation of Israel, yet it’s the same God and the same secret holder that we deal with today. Now then if you’ll come back to Romans a moment we’ll look just quickly at a few of these secrets that God has held all the way up through human history, and revealed only when He called the apostle Paul to be the apostle of the Gentiles. One of the first ones of course, if we’ll go through chronologically, so you won’t have such a hard time looking for it, is right here in Romans the last chapter – Chapter 16 and verse 25. And don’t just shrug these off as unimportant. They are basic to all of the Pauline doctrines. They are different concepts but they are all part of that revelation of the mystery. Now in Romans 16:25:
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery,…”
Do you see that? In other words, Paul says “The Gospel that I preach is going to be that Gospel which is part and parcel of these revelations of secret things that had never been revealed before.” That’s The Gospel according to the revelation of the mystery. Now let’s continue on and finish the verse.
“…which was kept secret (how long?) since the world began.”
And that’s exactly what Deuteronomy 29:29 is talking about, that God can see fit to keep things secret as long as He wants. But once He reveals it, then it becomes the human responsibility to believe it. Now then, your next one is Corinthians and so you might just want to go on there for a moment. I Corinthians Chapter 4. Now he puts a responsibility on believers of this age. And I know that he’s talking here in the first person, but whatever Paul applies to himself, he applies to all of his listeners. And now he says in verse 1:
I Corinthians 4:1
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the (what?) mysteries of God.”
Now what’s a steward? He’s a caretaker, he’s a manager, he’s an overseer. How in the world can you oversee or manage, something that you don’t know anything about? So if you’re going to be what the Bible expects you to be, you’d better be studying. You’d better be learning. What are you to be ready to administer? What should you be looking to be a manager of? The mysteries! Well how can you manage them or share them with somebody if you don’t know what they are. Let’s read on.
I Corinthians 4:2
“Moreover it is required in stewards, (or a manager) that a man be found faithful.”
What we have to do is that once we get a hold on these mysteries that we are faithful in passing them on to those who have probably never heard or those who know nothing of it. Now let’s just keep turning on through and come to Ephesians Chapter 3. I’m not going to touch on all of them. I’m just hitting a few of the plainer ones, the easier ones to understand. Let’s look at Ephesians Chapter 3 and verse 1. Paul again is establishing the fact that he is dealing primarily with Gentiles.
“For this cause (in other words, all the things that took place in these first two chapters) I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Now let’s look at verse 3.
“How that by revelation (in other words he revealed these things from the ascended Lord in Heaven) he made known unto me the mystery;…”
That revealed body of truth that no one ever before had any concept of. It was of course, back in the Old Testament, in latent form, much of these things that Paul is proclaiming to the Gentiles. Now that we understand this we can go back to the Old Testament and can see that God had it on His mind, but He had not revealed it as it was kept secret. Verse 4.
“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ”
People have often asked, “After Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, and God led him down to Mt. Sinai in Arabia for three years, why would it take so long?” Well, I’ve got several reasons but one of which of course, you want to remember, is that Saul of Tarsus was steeped in Judaism. Saul of Tarsus was just as human as the rest of us and so it probably took a little while to cleanse his thinking and his behavior under Judaism. But on the other hand, to give the man such a clear-cut understanding of things that had never been revealed before, would naturally take some time. And he had to be so prepared that when he came back from that Arabian experience ready to go out among the Gentile world, going out among abject pagan idolaters, he had to be skilled in what he was proclaiming. And I think that’s part and parcel of that three-year training time down in Arabia. But he makes it so plain that all of this was revealed to him and he takes the responsibility of now passing it on to the whole world. Now then, come on and read verse 4 and following:
“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge (his complete understanding) in the mystery of Christ.” (or the secrets) Which in other ages (in other past generations. In other words that takes you all the way back to the Old Testament) was not made known (see how plain the language is? These things that Paul is now revealing were never made known before. And he makes double sure we understand that.) unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed…”
Always go back to Deuteronomy and what does it say? And once it’s revealed they belong to us, which means we had better believe it. Now then verse 6. This is this part of the mystery that Paul is dealing with in Ephesians 3. There are all kinds of segments to the mysteries. This is the one he is talking about now.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ (not by Judaism, not by the Mosaic Law, but how?) by the gospel. (His finished work)
Have you ever read anything like this back in the Old Testament, that Gentiles would become one with Christ or with God? They didn’t understand Christ as much back there, but that Gentiles would become one with the God of Abraham? Well, whoever heard of such a thing. Jews would have thrown up their hands in horror if anybody would have approached such a subject. But they didn’t. They had no concept. Now God had the Gentiles on His mind – don’t ever lose sight of that. But it was under a whole different set of circumstances that what we’re seeing here. Now let’s read on.
“Whereof (of this message of revealing this mystery) I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”
“And to make all men see (not just Israel or the Gentiles, but the whole human race) what is the fellowship of the mystery, (secret) which from the beginning of the world (age) hath been hid (where?) in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
The Sovereign God. It’s His prerogative to keep things secret if He wants to. And that’s where it was. It was hidden in God, the same God who created all things by Jesus Christ. Now let’s move on quickly to another little book of Paul’s and that’s Colossians, that we might get an understanding that one of the aspects of the mysteries is, yes, Israel is going to be spiritually blinded for almost 2000 years. Another revelation is that the Gentiles are going to come into a privileged position with Israel’s God in the form of the Body of Christ. Here is another aspect of the mystery, and here he speaks of the Body in which all Gentiles who are now believers are now part of.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, (do you see the order?) to fulfil the word of God; (and here it is in verse 26) Even the mystery (secret) which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”
Do you see how plain that is? All these Pauline truths were held in the mind of God. Israel never had a concept of them, the Twelve had no concept of them, but here comes this renegade, this Saul of Tarsus that God saves by Grace, and to him God now reveals the secrets, the mysteries. And that’s why he now has been given the authority to pen these epistles that become the essential part of our Scripture. Paul is the one to whom God has revealed the mysteries. Now to Chapter 2, beginning at verse 2.
“That their hearts (and Paul is speaking of the believers up there in Laodicea in Asia Minor) might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment (or the acceptance) of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
So we see that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the mysteries of God. What is the revelation here that the Old Testament is vague about? The Trinity! Now we know that the Old Testament has evidences of the Triune God, but you see this is why the Hebrews, and the Rabbi’s even of our own present day, call Christians almost pagan because we worship three Gods. They don’t recognize the Trinity back there in the Old Testament, and they still don’t. But here is a revelation that God is a Triune God, and it’s a revelation that Paul brings out that God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Turn to I Corinthians 15, and again we have Paul talking about a mystery. Something totally different again. First he talks about the Gentiles becoming one with God. Then he talks about God, and the revelation about Who He really is as the Triune God, and now we come to a revelation of something totally different, but yet all part of that same complex revelation. Something that is never referred to anywhere else in Scripture, and that’s why people have such a hard time contemplating it even today and that is what we call, “The Rapture.” That’s a Pauline doctrine that you won’t find anywhere else in your Bible. But now look what Paul calls it.
I Corinthians 15:51a
“Behold, I shew you a mystery;…”
Something that has never before been revealed. Now what’s this mystery or secret? Oh, that there’s going to be one group of believers who are not going to die physically. They’re going to be alive when everything comes to a culmination, and you can’t find that anywhere else in Scripture, and so it’s part of the mystery. There is going to be a group of believers at the end of the Church Age that are going to be suddenly changed, and be from here to there in a split second. I was mulling it over again just the other day and it’s hard to comprehend. No wonder the unbeliever scoffs at it. I can understand why he would because it takes some faith to believe that all of a sudden Christ will leave Glory, will come to the atmosphere, the trumpet’s going to sound, the archangel is going to shout and all of a sudden, all the dead believers of the Church Age are going to be raised from wherever they are. They’re going to be resurrected, gone up to meet The Lord in the air and then a split second right behind them, here we come that are still alive and remain. This is hard to comprehend. I can’t envision millions of people suddenly congregating up there someplace in the atmosphere and then going back with Christ to Heaven. But what does The Book say? Exactly that. And so I believe it even though I can’t comprehend it. This is a mystery, a secret, revealed to the Apostle Paul and now it’s no longer a secret and we’re to believe it.
I Corinthians 15:51b
“We shall not all sleep, (die physically) but we shall all be changed.”
And then of course he goes on to say how it will happen. Let’s go to I Thessalonians Chapter 4. He doesn’t use the word “mystery” in this portion, but nevertheless, he’s talking about the same thing, so it too is part of the mystery. And that is what we call the outcalling or the Rapture of the Church. And again he uses the same word he uses in I Corinthians 15, “I would not have you to be ignorant.”
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (your loved ones who were believers and have died) that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
I always call this the qualifications for the Rapture. This is all you need to be in that great company that one day soon is going to be called out of here.
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,…”
Do you believe it? The Gospel. (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4) I had a gentleman here and he will never know what his testimony meant to me. He’d always had trouble with the resurrection. He could believe all the rest of it, but he couldn’t believe the resurrection. A highly educated man, a brilliant man, he said, “All of a sudden one day, The Lord opened my eyes somehow or another and I believed it. And everything changed.”
I Thessalonians 4:16,17
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be (what) caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:….”
Those are the words that we have coined the word “Rapture” – caught up to meet The Lord in the air.