Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chapter Six - The Doctrines of the Mystery

There is certainly doctrine found in Paul’s epistles that was revealed before he began his ministry. In other words, not everything that he preached and taught was new revelation. However, with the revelation of the mystery came doctrines that were previously hid. Paul said that ministers are the “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). The body of Christ itself is THE mystery, but there are also other mysteries that pertain to this present dispensation. Pastors and teachers must understand these mysteries and work to make them known to the body of Christ. We will give an account to Christ of our stewardship of His mysteries.

Let's consider some of the major doctrines revealed through Paul.

1. The body of Christ 

The church which is the body of Christ is "one new man" in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Ephesians 2:11-22). There are many local churches, but there is only one body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4). The local church is a visible manifestation of the body of Christ in a community. It is possible to be in a local church and still be lost but only believers are members of the body of Christ.

2. The Gospel of the Grace of God

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

The word “gospel” simply means good news and there are various messages of good news in the Bible. But there is only one gospel to be preached in the present age (Galatians 1:6-12). It is true that God has shown grace in every dispensation. Yet, Paul speaks of grace over a hundred times and says more about it than all other writers of scripture COMBINED. There is a difference between grace in a dispensation (Genesis 6:8) and a dispensation of grace.

3. The baptism BY the Spirit   

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
(Ephesians 4:4-6)

There is only one baptism that makes us members of one body and it’s not water baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13). Water baptism is only a symbol and cannot put us into a spiritual body. Also, as I pointed out at the end of chapter two, there is a difference between the baptism WITH the Holy Ghost and baptism BY the Spirit.

4. The temporary setting aside of Israel  

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
(Romans 11:25-27)

That Israel was going to be blinded was prophesied (Isaiah 6:9-10) but that Israel would be blinded WHILE God is building the body of Christ during this age was a mystery not revealed to the prophets. The setting aside of Israel is called a “fall”, “diminishing”, and “casting away” in Romans 11. This judicial blindness is in PART (there was a remnant that believed and there will yet be a future restoration). This process started in Acts 7 and culminated in Acts 28:27-28 (around 65 AD and Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD). During this transition there were signs and Paul went to the Jew first. After Acts 28 the signs of the kingdom ceased and the gospel was sent to all men alike without any preference.

5. The heavenly position of the body of Christ

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20)

Israel’s position concerned the earth. They were promised a land, nation, and kingdom on the earth. They are promised earthly blessings. The body of Christ is NOT promised earthly blessings (Colossians 3:1-4) but we have a position in heavenly places and we are blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Dr. Scofield said, “In his [Paul’s] writings alone, we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church” (Old Scofield Reference Bible, pg. 1252).  

6. The secret coming of Christ

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
(I Corinthians 15:51-52)

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
The rapture of the body of Christ is a mystery that Paul received “by the word of the Lord”. This coming of Christ takes place secretly BEFORE the tribulation period. Paul tells us to look for Christ from heaven, NOT the Antichrist from earth (1 Thessalonians 1:10). We are not going through the tribulation period because we are not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Before God declares war on this world He will bring His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) home to heaven. We must not confuse the rapture (from a Latin word which means to be “caught up”) with the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation.

7. The judgment seat of Christ

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
(2 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Upon the rapture, the body of Christ will be judged for our service (not sin which was judged on the cross). Some will receive rewards, others will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Rewards will not be given for such things as record Sunday School attendance, large offerings, and big buildings. We will be judged for our work, what SORT it is and not what size it is. In other words, God cares more about quality than quantity. With revelation comes responsibility. We are held responsible for knowing what God revealed for this age and living accordingly. We must not confuse this with the judgment on Israel (Ezekiel 20:37), the nations (Matthew 25:31-46), the angels (Jude 6), or the dead (Revelation 20:11-15). These judgments are different as to time, place, basis, reason, and results.

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