Paul often talked about “The mystery” that had been hidden through the ages but was now revealed.  In Ephesians 3:1-3 he said that by means of revelations God had made known to him the mystery and he had written it down in a few words so that when we read what he has written we can understand his knowledge in the mystery of Christ.  There are several things in these verses that are extremely important.

First, notice the means by which God gave Paul the understanding of the mystery that had been hidden down through the centuries.  It was by means of “Revelation”.  There is a big difference between revelation and inspiration.  “All Scripture is inspired of God” but not all of Scripture is a revelation.  Inspiration means that God is guiding and making certain that what is written or said is true and according to His will.  Many times in teaching something by inspiration the writer or speaker will tell of things they already know and understand.  But when something is revealed it involves making known something that the writer or speaker hadn’t known or understood before.  The plan of God to save all kinds of people in one body, known as the church had been spoken of through the centuries but had not been grasped by the people.  

When God called Abraham as his servant he told him that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).  But the Jews only picked up on the part about his decendants being blessed.  When Isaiah the prophet told to the establishment of the church in Isaiah 2:1-4 he said the church would be established in Jerusalem and “All nations would flow into it.”  When Joel foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit he declared the result that “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  In spite of such statements the Israelites had not seen the idea of all people being brought together in one body as ever happening.  Paul as a devoted Jew of the strictest sect of the Pharisees would never have dreamed that the time was coming when God would make no distinction between Jews and Gentiles but ones reaction to the gospel message would determine whether or not they were among God’s chosen people.  As the Jews had seen it the only way the Gentile could be saved was to give up his Gentile heritage and become a practicing Jew.

God’s mystery had been hidden through the years, but now that Christ had come and had tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9), had sent out his message of grace to all people (Titus 2:11-16), had challenged his apostles to preach the gospel to all ethnic groups and to every creature, it was time to make this point clear.  When the Lord was ready to tear down the racial barriers and bring all kinds of people together in the one body, called the church, it required performing a miracle to get Peter to believe it.  Peter had preached in Acts 2 that Jesus had been taken and by wicked hands  crucified and slain.  He told those who wanted to be saved to repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.  Even after Peter had preached this with such power, he had to have God send down a sheet with all kinds of animals in it and tell Peter to “Rise, kill and eat”.  Peter replied to the Lord, “Not so Lord.  Nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.”  God told him not to call those whom he had cleansed common.  Peter was puzzled by the whole thing until some Gentiles from Cornelius showed up at the gate asking for him and the voice told him to go with these men asking no questions.  He finally realized that God doesn’t respect persons but whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  The call of Paul to become the apostle to the Gentiles should have cleared up the confusion but it continued for some time in the church.

Paul said, the mystery revealed is that God will save both in one body.  But notice something else in Paul’s statement.  He received it by revelation.  He wrote it down in a few words.  When we read what he wrote we can understand it the same as he does.  We can know his knowledge of the mystery of Christ.  Think about the implications of this statement.  The person reading Scripture can understand the same thing the one writing it could understand.  I suspect that some of the things the apostles and other inspired men wrote, they too struggled to understand just as the prophets did under the Old Law.  Some Scriptures are puzzling.  But we can know by reading the same things those who penned it to begin with know.  We can understand their knowledge of Christ’s mystery.

The next time you begin to think that you are disadvantaged in some way because you don’t have revelations or inspiration today, remember that we can read what every one of these inspired writers wrote and grasp just as much as they did.  Certainly we must pray for wisdom and understanding.  But never think that we who have the word of God are disadvantaged in some way.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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