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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 41
Colossians 1:17-29 – Part 2
Now let’s get back to where we left off in Colossians chapter 1, and verse 26. To fulfill the Word of God coming out of verse 25, and this is all part of fulfilling.
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,…”
Does that mean what it says? Yes it means what it says. This whole body of truth that’s coming out of Romans through, especially the little letter of Philemon, is truth that was never ever revealed before to the human race. Oh the background for it had been, of course. Paul says that himself, “that all of this was built on the prophets and the apostles, but so far as the doctrinal truths that we find in Romans through Philemon, this was hidden from human understanding until it was revealed to this apostle of Grace. That’s why so many times when people write or call with questions especially concerning the Book of Acts. Well the first thing that I will tell them is look, there is no Pauline doctrine of such in the Book of Acts, because Acts is the in between Book that moves from the Judaism system into the Church Age or into the Age of Grace. But when it comes to Church doctrine you have to go by what Paul says. And it was to him that these mysteries were given.
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations…”
Now some of you are going to say, “Oh no not again.” But let’s go to Deuteronomy chapter 29 and look at it. Now this is for the benefit of new listeners who are probably just catching us in the last few days for the first time. This is Moses writing to the nation of Israel, but like I showed you in the closing moments of the last half hour, God has always been the God of the whole human race, not just Israel and not just Gentiles, but each in their own segmented period of time. First He dealt with Israel, and now He’s been dealing primarily with the Gentiles. And this portion of Scripture just falls right in with what Paul says.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God:…”
Why? Because He’s Sovereign. Now listen, most of you that I can see here in the class room have been parents, and when those kids were little were there things that you didn’t want your kids to know? Well of course there were, you were the parent. I can remember when I was little my folks, if they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about, would talk in German. You’d sit there and cock your ear and thought you had lost your hearing, but they were keeping some things secret from us kids. Well God can and has done the same thing, He’s Sovereign, He doesn’t have to tell everything, and He didn’t. Now for the next part of the verse.
“…but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we (as far as Israel is concerned) may do all the words of this law.”
God is dealing on that same basis with the Gentile world. He has kept all these revelations that come through the apostle Paul a secret. Jesus never betrayed any of these secrets in His earthly ministry. Jesus never made mention of anything about the Body of Christ, and the saving of Gentiles outside of Judaism. He never did any of that. Why? It was not time to reveal it, and He was not about to betray that Sovereign attribute until He wanted it revealed. I personally think that the secret of understanding Scripture, is that God didn’t not reveal everything all at one time. As He came up through Scripture, even dealing with the nation of Israel, He didn’t tell them everything from start to finish, it was a progressive revelation.
Then you come to the ministry of Christ and again even that’s a progressive revelation. But when we come finally to Acts chapter 9 and the appearance of the apostle Paul, out comes these revelations of secret things. Paul is always referring to them as the mysteries. And remember the word mystery in the Greek is “musterion.” It is the word translated usually asmystery, but also at times is translated secret. So the two words are synonymous. If it’s been a mystery kept in the mind of God, it was a secret, and that’s what Paul is constantly referring to then as this body of truth that he calls the mysteries. Let’s come back to I Corinthians chapter 4, and these are all verses that we’ve looked at in days gone by but let’s look at least some of these reference.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards (or overseers, or managers) of the mysteries (or secrets) of God.” What secrets? The things that He has kept secret until now are being revealed. Now verse 2.
I Corinthians 4:2
“Moreover it is required in stewards, (managers, or overseers) that a man be found faithful.”
Now when you go all the way back to Genesis when Abraham was being promised a son and none was forthcoming and he was almost getting frustrated.
“And Abram said, Lord GOD what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”
Well, what did he mean? Eliezer was the manager of Abraham’s possessions. It was more than what Abraham could handle himself, so he had this hired manager or steward. Now, it stands to reason, if you’re going to be faithful to the owner of the estate and you are now at the second tier of management, if you’re going to be all that you should be, you will be what? FAITHFUL! Because the name of the game is to do all that you can to enhance your master’s estate. Now Paul is bringing this same idea down to the revelation of the mysteries, this revelation of secrets that you and I as believers are put in a place of responsibility as a manager over a business. We are to be faithful in passing these things on to those who have never heard. It’s our responsibility. And you’d better know what you’re talking about because this is what the world is hung up on. Confusion and deception, and we have to come with that which is pure truth. The revelation of things that had been kept secret. And the Apostle Paul is the only one who is over and over referring to that very same concept.
Alright, you’re still in I Corinthians, aren’t you? Come on over to chapter 15, and dropping down to verse 51. And here again, I’ve made it very plain on the programs, as long as I’ve been on the air, that I am a proponent of a Pre-tribulation out calling of the Church, the Body of Christ, which is the Rapture. And a lot of people are all shook up by it and can’t understand it. Well, it’s because they don’t understand the mysteries that were revealed to Paul. Granted, there is never anything else in Scripture, in the Old Testament or the Gospels, or Acts, or Revelation or any of these others, that even alludes to what we call the Rapture. Why? Because it’s a Pauline revelation. Now, when I say Pauline, I mean Paul in the other extent. It’s a Pauline revelation and here he calls it what it is. But all the other writers when they speak of the Lord’s return, they’re speaking about His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation and not the Rapture of the Church just before the Tribulation begins.
I Corinthians 15:51
“Behold, I shew you a (what?) mystery: (a secret) We shall not all sleep, (die) but we shall all be changed.”
Paul says he’s going to reveal a secret. This is something that’s never been revealed before. Never! And what is it? That there’s coming a day, and Paul thought it was a lot closer than it was, and maybe we think it’s closer than it will be, and I think it’s getting close, but there’s coming a day when all of a sudden there’s going to be a great resurrection of the believers who have died and at the same time we who are alive shall be changed into a new body. We’re not going to die if we as believers are alive when this event happens. Now verse 52.
I Corinthians 15:52a
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:…” Not one of the angelic trumpets in Revelations. This is a singular trumpet in God’s hands.
I Corinthians 15:52b
“…for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
That’s a revelation of a secret. It’s never been revealed before. The Lord never talked like this. The Lord talked of resurrection, but He never talked of a group of people who would be alive at the time. And so here we have a revelation of a mystery. Now, I’m not going to have time for all of them, but if you’ll come on over with me to Ephesians chapter 3 where this whole period of grace was unknown to the whole human race. Jesus never referred to it. Peter couldn’t have referred to it. But Paul is the one that God, by grace, used to reveal these secrets to the whole human race. And what is it?
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation (or administration. Just as Eliezer was the administrator of Abraham’s estate. And it was a viable thing, so also is this administration) of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”
Listen that’s never been held before the human race before. If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward and here it comes.
How that by revelation (what’s the other word for revelation? A revealing) he made known unto me the mystery….” (secret.)”
And what’s the secret? This whole body of Pauline truths, how that the work of the cross completed every thing that the human race needed for salvation. We don’t have to do a thing. God has done it all. But you don’t find that until you get to Paul. And this is the whole revelation of that which was kept secret. Now reading on in chapter 3 of Ephesians. We looked at this a few weeks ago when we were in the book, but now verse 4 & 5.
“Whereby, when ye read (Paul’s epistles) ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. (a secret) 5. Which in other ages (generations) was not made known (see how plain that language is when you understand what we’re talking about. Don’t forget Deuteronomy 29:29 which says, “The secret things belong to God.” He’s Sovereign. And He doesn’t have to reveal it until He’s good and ready. And that was when the Apostle Paul was sent to the Gentiles) to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
And remember Paul had others that followed in his footsteps. I think Barnabas could be considered one and maybe Timothy and some of those. But here was the whole concept that was never revealed before. Now verse 6.
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs (not just subjects of Christ’s kingship like Israel will be, but Gentiles are to be brought into that position of joint heirs of Christ. You can’t find that anywhere else in Scripture except Paul’s epistles. It’s just not in there. You can look, but here it is.) and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”Now let’s go on down to verse 9, which we used a couple of programs back.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (secret) which from the beginning of the world hath been (what’s the next word?) hid (see how plain that is?) in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.”
All the way through Paul’s epistles you have this word popping up – “the mysteries.” That it was revealed only to Paul. Now a verse just comes to mind. Poor Peter, bless his heart. And I don’t put him down one iota but let’s come back to his second epistle, chapter 3 and we’re going to start at verse 15. We haven’t used these two verses in a long, long time. But now, remember, Peter didn’t have the mysteries revealed to him. Only Paul did. But as Paul began to preach these mysteries and the Gospel that was Paul’s Gospel and the appearing of the Body of Christ, Peter just stood there, I think, from the outside looking in. Let’s read the verses first and then I’ll comment. And remember Peter writes these little epistles about the same time Paul is writing the prison epistles. It think the two men were probably martyred within a year of each other. And so this is at the end of Peter’s ministry. Shortly before he’s martyred.
II Peter 3:15
“And account (understand) that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; (of course. That’s the main theme of the whole Bible) even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him (by the revelation of the secrets) hath written unto you. 16. As also in all his epistles, (from Romans through Philemon) speaking in them of those things(the things that pertain to salvation) in which are some things hard to be understood, (That’s Peter writing by inspiration.) which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Do you see what the man is saying? That when Paul reveals these mysteries that had been kept secret it was such revelation, such breaking of new ground, that even good old Peter couldn’t grasp it all. It was beyond him. And I can see why. Because Peter was steeped in Judaism. He was steeped in legalism. He was steeped in the Christ of His earthly ministry. And so when the Apostle Paul comes along and presents all this to the Gentile world, like I showed you in the last program, who did Peter address in Acts chapter 2 & 3? “Ye men of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers”, and then all of a sudden have these things promoted among the Gentile world. I can see why Peter couldn’t comprehend it. And I don’t believe he had a full understanding of it right up until the time he was martyred. It was just something totally beyond him.
And so when Paul speaks of these mysteries, for goodness sake don’t just shove it off and say you just can’t understand what he’s talking about. He’s merely telling us that he is being used of the same God that called Abraham, that called the twelve disciples up there in Galilee, but the same God is now revealing to this apostle a whole new concept of things that had never been heard of before. One of which is that we are joint heirs with Christ. Another one is that one day the trumpet will sound and we’re going to be gone. Now I know that’s hard for a lot of people to swallow, because it’s not in the rest of the Scriptures, but it’s only in Paul’s writings. It is part of the revelation of the mysteries, and then it’s not hard to comprehend. So now coming back to verse 26.
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages (thousands of years God kept it secret) and from generations, (all the generations of Israel) but now is made manifest to his saints:
The world doesn’t know what we’re talking about, and a good percentage of Christendom don’t know what we’re talking about. Do you know why? Because they avoid Paul’s writings like the plague, they won’t come into Paul’s writings if they can possibly avoid it. I had a gentlemen tell me the other day, “Les I’ve been keeping track, every Sunday morning for the last three months, our sermon has been out of the Book of Matthew.” Why would this be? Now I have nothing against Matthew, it’s the Word of God, but when you spend 100% of your time in Matthew, you’re missing the revelations of the mysteries.
You’re missing justification by faith alone, you’re missing this whole concept of the Body of Christ, as it’s not in Matthew or the four gospels. You’re missing this whole concept of the Grace of God, it’s not in Matthew. You’re missing the whole concept that you’re sins are already forgiven. You’re missing the whole concept about the blessed hope as Paul writes to Titus that one day the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ will appear for us in the air. See that’s not in Matthew. And there are just countless others that you’re missing including Paul’s Gospel by which is the way we have eternal life. That was only given to Paul. So when you leave Paul’s writing out of your study you’re missing out on all the good things that God wants us to have.
I’ll never forget years ago, I hadn’t been in Oklahoma very long and I had a doctor come to my class. He would sit right in front of me. And oh he would almost sit there like a starved bird and would say every so often, “Les why haven’t we been taught these things before? Fifty years I’ve been going to Church and now I can see they’ve been cheating me.” Well I’m afraid that’s too often the case, and you know why? Because they will not study the mysteries, and this is where it’s at for us Gentiles. And I say this kindly. You have to understand the revelation of the mysteries to understand God’s dealing with Gentile world. Now moving on.
“To whom (the saints, the believers of the Church Age) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;…”
Now I’m not leaving the Jewish people out of this, but I’m going to say what the Scriptures says, that this is directed primarily to the Gentiles. I know I have many Jewish believers in the listening audience, I know I do. We stay with a Jewish Christian couple when we go up to Minnesota, and we can revel in these things, but for the most part the Jew can’t except the fact that Jesus has already come the first time. So this secret in particular that’s he’s talking about here is for the Gentiles.
“…God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, (by the person of the Holy Spirit) the hope of glory:“
That’s what we’re living for. We’re not living for this world. Oh we all have our ambitions and I’m just as ambitious as anyone. I love my cattle herds and my ranching as much as anybody, but hey this isn’t the end. Glory is the end, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these things in this earthly sojourn.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect (or spiritually mature) in Christ Jesus: 29. Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”