Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chapter Seven - The Duties of the Mystery

In this final chapter we will consider some practical applications of the doctrinal and dispensational teaching that we have set forth in this booklet. When God gives revelation there is always corresponding responsibility. God has given us the scripture that we might be “perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17). As we consider our responsibilities in light of the mystery, we may sum it up with three main headings.

1. To Have a Full Assurance of Understanding

1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:1-12)

Colossians is a letter of correction. False teaching crept into the church of Colossae that denied the supremacy and all sufficiency of Christ as the Head of the Church. This teaching was a combination of mysticism and legalism (2:18-23). Paul taught these believers about the mystery (1:19-29). He had a great burden as he labored in prayer for them to have a “full assurance of understanding” of this spiritual truth. Only the Holy Spirit can give us spiritual understanding (1 Corinthians 2:10), but it is our responsibility to study the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) and let Him be our teacher. These believers were on the right track but they needed to be warned against false teaching and exhorted to grow in the faith. Understanding the mystery will cause us to be:

If we have deep roots like a tree, we will not be so easily blown over by the storms of life. We must be rooted down with a strong foundation.

“Built up”
Having a firm and deep foundation allows us to be built up in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

When we are rooted and built up then we are stablished. The mature saint will not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

“Abounding therein”
We are not to be barely living the Christian life, but ABOUNDING in it by the grace of God.

“With thanksgiving”
Understanding the spiritual riches in Christ will cause us to have gratitude in our heart.

2. To Walk Worthy of our Standing in Christ

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:9-18)

Every believer has a wonderful position in Christ. God has given us this position and has made it known through the Pauline epistles that we might walk according to it. Christian growth is about getting our state (our practical experience) to line up with our standing (unchanging position in Christ). You cannot walk in truth that you do not know or understand. God sets a high standard of living for the believer under grace (Romans 6:1-2). We can live in victory over the world, flesh, and devil because we are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power”.

After explaining the believer’s position in Christ in Ephesians 1-3, Paul ends that great doctrinal section with joyful praise (3:20-21).

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

God is more than able to perform in our lives every word of the amazing truth found in Ephesians 1-3! God performs the Christian life through us (Philippians 1:6) yet it is our responsibility to walk in faith and obedience.

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (Ephesians 4:1)

Let’s consider a few specific examples of how the knowledge of the mystery will affect our daily walk.

It will bring heavenly affections. Our standing is in heaven because it is there that we are seated with the Head of the body (Ephesians 2:6). The knowledge of the mystery will cause us to understand that our blessings are spiritual and heavenly (Ephesians 1:3) and NOT physical and earthly.

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

It will help us understand the Bible. In fact without the knowledge of the mystery we cannot understand much of the Bible.

7 Consider what I [Paul] say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 
(2 Timothy 2:7)

It will give us the right perspective about prayer. Instead of claiming prayer promises given to the twelve apostles (Matthew 21:22) and struggling with the reality of unanswered prayer we will rest in the prayer promises given to the body of Christ.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26-28)

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

You will not live in frustration and defeat as you wait for the baptism WITH the Holy Ghost and the signs of the kingdom. You will understand that we are baptized BY the Spirit upon salvation and that the signs of the kingdom have CEASED.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

You will not let false teachers bring you under the bondage of the law.

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

It will give you the right view of personal finances and giving. You will not think you have to sell all your possessions and practice communal living (Acts 2:44-45). You will understand that it is God’s will for you to WORK in order to lack nothing and so that you might provide for your OWN. You will understand that we are not required to tithe lest we get cursed as was the case under the law (Malachi 3:8-9). Giving is a grace and we are to give as we purpose in our heart and in proportion to what we have (2 Corinthians 8-9).

11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)

3. Work to Make the Mystery Known to Others

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 
4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4)

Paul had a special calling and ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles. God dispensed grace to him to make known the mystery (Ephesians 3:8-9). He strived to make it known (Colossians 1:25-29) and requested that believers strive in prayer for him to continue to boldly make it known. In spite of all the opposition that he faced, Paul was faithful to the end (2 Timothy 4:7). We need to follow his example (Philippians 4:9). I believe it is every believer’s responsibility to give out the gospel of the grace of God and tell other believers about the revelation of the mystery (Acts 18:24-26). We need to preach and teach the whole Bible. However, we must place emphasis on the specific revelation for the age in which we are living! We do not have Paul with us but we have his writings which are inspired scripture. We who understand the revelation of the mystery have the responsibility to make it known to as many as we can. God wants the gospel of grace and the revelation of the mystery to be made known to all nations.

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, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)

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