I love a good mystery, don’t you? … you know, those nail-biting, can’t-wait-to-turn-the-page plots that are all the better on rainy afternoons with a cup of coffee, snuggled in a chair beneath a comfy quilt?
Recently, I have been reading true mysteries found in the Bible—Old-Testament-to-New-Testament page turners that disclose truths previously not revealed. The Apostle Paul used the word, mystery (mysterion), to signal something new was about to be unveiled. Although mysteries were not limited to Paul’s writings, I would like to explore with you what God revealed to Paul, and in our quest, look at future aspects related to each one.
1. The Mystery of the Gospel—Christ, God Incarnate
“He [Jesus Christ] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit, [see Romans 1:4]
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
This early church hymn was known as the “mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16)—truths of salvation that lead to righteousness in Christ.
Looking ahead: As believers, we look for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel.
2. The Mystery of Salvation for JewsandGentiles—Through Christ
To the surprise of many in the ancient Jewish world, salvation was not only given to believing Jews; the gospel was believed and embraced by Gentiles, and they too were being saved. “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).
Looking ahead: “I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). The “fullness of the Gentiles” is a divine period of time known only to God, but one in which we live today. After this time, though, “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
3. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit—Christ in You
Some fortunate, Old Testament saints had continual, experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11) while others had more brief encounters (1 Samuel 16:14). However, we learn “…this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) was something distinct in the New Testament. God the Holy Spirit resides in the life of every believer.
Looking ahead:— The Holy Spirit guarantees our eternal salvation and future inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14)
4. The Mystery of Christ and His Church—the Bride of Christ
The relationship between Christ and His church is represented here in Scripture as a marriage in which Christ is the groom and His church is the bride (Ephesians 5:25-27, 29). “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Christ is head of the church and gave Himself up for her.
Looking ahead: According to ancient Jewish practice, the groom took his bride and brought her to his home for the wedding ceremony. The church today is awaiting her Groom.
5. The Mystery of the Rapture—With Christ
Jesus said, “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3b). When Christ returns, our perishable bodies will be changed to imperishable, and we will be “caught up [raptured]together with them [the dead in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [in death], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Looking ahead: Jesus is coming again! And thereafter “…we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17b).
6. The Mystery of Lawlessness—Rebellion Against Christ
There will be lawlessness (rebellion against divine authority) before the “day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Even though “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), it is restrained compared to what it will be like during the Tribulation.
Looking ahead: In all likelihood, lawlessness will not be fully unhinged until the “son of destruction [Antichrist]” (2 Thessalonians 2:3b) claims deity and amasses worship to himself.
7. The Mystery of the Supremacy of Christ
In this mystery, God purposed all things to be united in Christ throughout the fullness of time (Ephesians 1:9-10). And the supremacy of Christ is cosmic in proportion! Everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth is under subjection to Him—an authority given to Him by God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:27).
Looking ahead: One day, all will submit to the supremacy of Christ with bowed knee, confessing that “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
There’s so much more I want to learn about these mysteries, don’t you? And if you are like me, when I open the Book, there’s always one more clue to discover, one more detail to find, one more piece of the puzzle that confirms this truth: “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Daniel 2:28).