Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Lead Pipe. I have always loved playing mystery games, reading a good mystery book or watching a good mystery movie; there’s something luring about them that would draw me to want more, even today!
And I guess that’s one of the things that draws me to the bible, because it contains one of the greatest mysteries. From the very beginning to the very end, a mystery unfolds; where it end with you deciding what the evidence all means!
If one could have looked down from above and had seen the children of Israel as they camped in the wilderness; you would have seen a great number of people. (We are not told how many people came out of Egypt; many have suggested a people of about 3,000,000 or more.)
Twelve tribes and each of these tribes were assembled in their own order around the camp and in the center would be this one tent or tabernacle. (Some say it was purple others say it was more of a blue color); in any case one would have to wonder, why is this great number of people encamped around this one object?
What makes this tent so special or what is the importance of this small tent, (it was not particularly attractive on the outside); and just what is on the inside of this tent and who are these people who seem to just wander from place to place? (And what is that great pillar of fire?)
Yep! To an outsider it would be a mystery! As the story moves forward, there’s are men who are being persecuted and executed for their persistence in telling the story of a man who went about doing unbelievable deeds. How they tell of him being crucified and that he raised from the dead three days later.
The mystery of Christ and how such a great number of people have come to join in and camp around this one man named Jesus is just as mystifying as looking down at the tabernacle of Moses.
Today people are trying to figure out, what’s so appealing about Christianity and why are so many people falling for such an unbelievable story.
Unfortunately, like the tabernacle of Moses; the beauty is mostly on the inside. An observer from the outside will never be able to understand or experience the beauty; it will always be an unbelievable mystery to the outsider.
Using Strong’s Concordance;
The word “mystery”, in the Greek is:
G3466 = mustērion–From a derivative of muō (to shut the mouth); a secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites): – mystery.
This word has the idea of knowledge that can only be revealed when one has entered into or gone through an initiation into a new or secret society and once learned it is not to be shared with anyone on the outside of this society.
Jesus and Paul both used this word, when speaking of the mystery of the kingdom or the mystery of Christ.
Paul writes in 1Cor. 4:1: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
When it comes to knowledge of the grace of God or any principles of the kingdom of God; one must be in Christ before one can truly know or understand them as a reality.
Most principles will not work or make sense to the outsider; they are designed to be operated by and be understood through the Spirit of God, for those who are in Christ. Simply put; without the Spirit of God’s help or revelation, everything appears as nonsense or foolishness to the outsider.
Even for the Christian that does not walk uprightly or he who does not live according to the scriptures, they may find that most of the principles will not work or they may be limited in their effectiveness in their lives.
Since one needs to be in Christ in order to see or comprehend the things of God and his kingdom; likewise ,the person watching Israel from a distance, they are left to wonder and not understand what’s the big deal about Christianity.
The word mystery also gives the idea that there can be different degrees or levels of knowledge that can be obtained, as one progresses after they enter into this new society.
Paul said he could not speak to the Corinthian church as spiritual, but as carnal; not as one who is of full age, but as babes; they were not able to take the meat of the word, only the milk. (1Cor. 3:1-2)
It appears from Paul’s writings that if one remains carnal in their thoughts or actions; then, there are certain parts or aspects of the word of God that one can not receive, so a mature or spiritually mature person must make their approach to the carnal person a different way when it comes to the principles of God and his Kingdom.
Also, if one remains immature, then the word is limited in its ability to nourish; in other words one is limited to the very basic understanding of the word, while the deeper understanding will be withheld until they grow up and are able to chew the meat of the word.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillfull in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:11-15)”
Think about what Paul is saying to the whole church; leadership and all (nearly thirty years after Christ’s resurrection.). Compared to Paul’s understanding of the Grace and the things of God, these churches were operating as babes and many were carnal in their understanding and actions.
In 1Cor.3:1 the word Paul uses for babes is “nepios”, which means: one who can not speak; so not only does the word imply that they can not understand, but they are not spiritually mature enough to even speak within the framework that Paul would like to converse with them.
” However, brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it], For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men? (1Corn. 3:1-3)”
Paul didn’t challenge the fact that they were Christians, but he did say they were acting as if they were not, nor could he even talk to them as if they were; and they were still not ready to hear even after he had fed them the milk of the word.
If we fast forward to chap.11:30 we will read: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. Now you may think at first that I’m taking this verse out of context, but if you could understand; their immature and carnal state did not allow them to see that they were doing something that was the very cause of many being sick and weak, also many had died.
( Even today, many still do not see a connection; that they are doing something that is contrary to grace’s nature.) In doing so they removed themselves from grace’s sustaining power in such a way, that not only was many now weak or sick, but some had died as a result.
With this in mind; if one operates within the character or nature of grace, then health and healing should be the results, as well as long life and spiritual growth.
As Christians we should understand that there is always a consequence in following or not following the principles of God; many consequences come into our lives whether we know of these principles or not.
Gravity is a principle that God placed in the earth, even if a person claims not to believe in this principle, if that person was on top of a very high building; it makes no difference whether he jumps off or is pushed off or if he slipped and fell off, the results of gravity will be the same on this persons body when it hits the ground.
Some principles require an acknowledgement of the principle or an act of faith to activate it, while others only require an action. In some cases the principles come into action by our own non-action (or because we tried to be neutral.)
In the case of the Corinthian Church, they didn’t know they had violated a principle, yet they still received the consequence of their actions. Most of God’s (or kingdom) principles were place in the earth long ago in such a way, that they are activated by what we do or say; in other words God’s will is automatically carried out by the principle itself. If we do what is good, then we are judged through the principle and it brings blessings (life); if we do what is wrong, then we are judged through the principle and it brings the curse (death).
As the Lord said to Israel, “I set before you life and death; choose life (Dut.30:19). God does not have to pronounce life or death over us after our decision to act; he has already placed his judgment in the earth before we acted by the laws and principles he placed in the earth long ago. (In a sense, God could walk away from his creation and do nothing else and the principles would govern for him.)
However, the immaturity of the Corinthian church prevented them in understanding this mystery, they should have seen that something was wrong; since, within the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) is a promise of life, but many were receiving judgment (sickness or death) instead.
The letter to the Corinthian church was also written to us; so are we just as blind to the mystery as they were? If so why?
In 1Cor.2:7-16, Paul speaks of this wisdom (or mystery), that was ordained of God before the foundation of the world was formed or from eternity before the beginning; yes it was hidden, but now it had been revealed by the Spirit, (v.12) that we might know what God has freely given.
” But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1Cor. 2:7-16)”
Can you see it (v.13-14), these things are only discerned spiritually; therefore, even though the wisdom has been revealed by the Spirit of God; our immaturity or our carnality can even blind us, and prevent us from receiving what God has freely given.
Many people complain to God that his grace isn’t working in their lives, but in all reality it is; in our blindness, we are just not applying it in a way to get the desired results. If we are not getting the promises of God in our lives or if it appears that God’s grace isn’t working for us, then we should seek out the problem within ourselves through his word and Spirit; knowing that in part this could be God’s chastisement (a way of bring correction) for remaining carnal or immature and failing to follow after his word and Spirit.
God’s correction is not designed to destroy us, but rather to bring us back to the right path, so that we will not be judged with the world (1Cor.11:32). Since we are sons (huios) of God, then as Paul writes, we should expect correction from time to time from God as a father would correct a son or child. (Heb.12:9-15)
However in our blinded state, it is easier to blame God than to own up to our own faults; so for many, they will turn back to a worldly view for answers, claiming that the things of God don’t work; or they will teach that the promises (graces) of God and/or the gifts of the Spirit are not for today, that they passed away or they are not for everyone. (Have you ever heard anyone make one of these remarks?)
It is easier for the carnal person to claim that they are not for everyone in the Church, than to make the adjustments needed. Both the carnal and the immature Christian can not do or focus on the things of God long enough to see the positive results of God’s grace; (have you ever observed the attention span of a small child?)
Because of this flaw in their character, many will not see or experience the goodness of God in many areas of their lives through their own faith, but they will be continuously dependant on the faith of others to receive even the most rudimentary of God’s grace; that is, if they receive anything at all!
Therefore, they will continuously be looking elsewhere for answers (quick fixes) to their problems; where the (outside) world is ready and willing to provide an alterative answer/ (god). At the very least, many will turn to other carnal/immature Christians, but will never find the answers they are looking for; except they turn to the mature and be willing themselves to mature in the word of God.
Many because they remain carnal and immature, will be caught up and remain in a revolving system that leads only to frustration towards God.
Christianity is much like a secret society, in the sense that we operate under a different set of principles than the world does; and only once you have entered in can you really understand or operate in them, since most are spiritually discerned or energized.
No! We don’t have a secret hand shake, but we do have a wisdom that is hidden or unobtainable to the outside world. (It will remain a mystery to them!)
Unfortunately for many Christians, their carnality or immaturity can hinder them also in this knowledge; to the point that the wisdom of God even seems hidden or unobtainable to them, which leaves them looking for alterative solutions to their problems; and they avoid any change within themselves that would point to the true solutions that are found in Christ.
Even many of our teachers in the body of Christ; they have become professional authors of a multitude of books; where many people are just waiting for the next Christian self-help book; promising some kind of form or solution to their problems, yet they are never delivered from their problem.
Just look at the multitude of books in our Christian book stores; it should be obvious that something is not right in the overall message being preached in the church and by the lack of results most are receiving, when compared to what is promised in the bible or there would be no necessity for so many other books!
So maybe we need another reformation in the Church to bring us back on course; or maybe we just need our eyes opened to the truth of the scriptures, so grace can again be pour out freely and/or obtained so the people of God may be set free from their bondage. Paul had to deal with many of these problems or something similar in his day, so what were his solutions and how did he get it to the people? Paul would not have pointed to the problems within the church, if there were no solutions to them. So it is my prayer that those who want the truth, will find the truth; for it’s the truth that you know that will set you free (John 8:31-32)
Yes, it’s a Mystery and I love a great mystery; it is still captivating me as it continues to unfolds in my life! I am in awe with each piece of evidence and how God has it on open display, yet many can’t see it or understand it!