This message was shared with the congregation of Kanata Pentecostal Church in Ottawa, Ontario on July 22, 2012.
THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL REVEALED
Rev. Barry P. Boucher, D.Min.
Lifecentre Kanata- July 22, 2012
Mystery is defined as a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand.
Many things in our bible are still a mystery to us because mystery is part of our walk as followers of Jesus.
Take for example the mystery of Israel’s salvation in Rom. 11. A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Ukraine in 2002. Three men from three cities involved in messianic ministry - reaching Jews with the gospel of Yeshua. Ten years later, twice a year retreats, there are now over 25 cities and 300 leaders from messianic congregations. One of the fastest growing messianic movements in the world today.
The mystery that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1 Cor. 15:50.
The mystery that we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. vs 51
The mystery of his will being made known to us in Jesus Christ alone. Eph. 1:9
The mystery that we Gentiles are fellow heirs through the gospel. Eph. 3:6
And there is the mystery of lawlessness ( global crisis ) and the mystery of godliness seen in 1 Tim. 3:14 "he was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."
We are going through the Book of Ephesians over the summer. Let me read the introduction of this book from ‘The Message Bible’ and think about what Paul was attempting to teach them.
What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives. The moment the organic unity of belief and behaviour is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians joins together what has been torn apart in our sin-wrecked world. He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behaviour before God, so that the bones - belief and behaviour - knit together and heal.
Once our attention is called to it, we notice these fractures all over the place. There is hardly a bone in our bodies that has escaped injury, hardly a relationship in city or job, school or church, family or country, that isn’t out of joint or limping in pain. There is much work to be done.
And so Paul goes to work. He ranges widely, from heaven to earth and back again, showing how Jesus, the Messiah, is eternally and tirelessly bringing everything and everyone together. He also shows us that in addition to having this work done in and for us, we are participants in this most urgent work. Now that we know what is going on, that the energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the heart of the universe, it is imperative that we join in vigorously and perseveringly, convinced that every detail in our lives contributes (or not) to what Paul describes as God’s plan worked out in Christ, “a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”
THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL REVEALED
Paul, the writer of Ephesians is a Jewish believer and Torah scholar who has not been cut off from his Jewish roots but rather has come, by revelation, to the knowledge of Yeshua as Messiah and the fulfillment of all that has been promised in the Hebrew scriptures through him.
The mystery he speaks of is clear in Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the holy scriptures.”
Jesus validates the Hebrew scriptures when he said to a Samaritan woman in John 4:22, “We worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”
Again, in Luke 24, after the resurrection, Jesus is walking with Cleopas and an unnamed disciple on the road to Emmaus and the bible says, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”
God concealed Jesus from them for a season and a purpose for his own reasons. This is where revelation and trust not argument comes in.
Jesus is the mystery of the gospel of God.
After a brief conversation with the two men he says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Jesus unfolds the historical patterns and perfect prophecies of his activity in the earth on behalf of his people.
Isaiah 46:9-10...’remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Galatians 4:4-5...4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
In Ephesians, Paul talks about the gospel as mystery even though it has always been present just not understood.
The Hebrew scriptures are all about anticipation.
100’s of messianic prophecies prepare us for the Messiah who is coming. His tribe. His method of conception. His place of birth. His life and ministry. His death and resurrection. His ascension and his soon return.
What is the purpose then of the New Testament then?
The good news is more than a message, it is about a person - Jesus Christ.
THE GOSPEL IS A PERSON
Paul states in Romans 1, “as concerning his son descended from David according to the flesh but was declared to be the son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace...”
The gospel is about Jesus himself. Even his name, Yeshua, means - the Lord is salvation.
In his humanity - a descendant of the lineage of David qualifying him to be the messiah.
Fully human - yes.
But John the Baptist introduced Jesus this way, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Everyone knew that only God could forgive sin.
Jesus as son of David is not enough.
He must also be divine.
As the son of God, he demonstrated power over sin and sickness when he healed the paralytic and said to him - “your sins are forgiven you, take up your bed and walk.”
“Only God can forgive sin” said the crowds and knowledgable scholars of his day. They were right.
Jesus as Saviour must be 100% man and 100% God at the same time.
This makes it possible for him to die as a sinless sacrificial lamb on the cross in your place - as your substitute. He literally died and was buried for three days...but that’s not the end of the story...
THE MYSTERY OF THE RESURRECTION
Scripture teaches us, “if messiah had not been raised, our preaching would be useless and our faith in vain and we would still in our sins.”
Think of how that statement applies to every world religion and the philosophies proposed by men.
Paul says, “Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead.”
This compelling mystery, according to Paul, must be shared with others. Why?
The gospel is no longer meant to be a mystery and be held within the walls of our churches but a story to be told to whosoever will listen.
We now call men and women to repent, receive forgiveness of their sin and become participants in His Story.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
Romans 1:5 “to bring about the obedience of faith for his name’s sake” implies that genuine biblical faith is more than a decision, more than mental assent, more than believing a doctrinal statement...the essence of biblical faith is obedience.
The just shall live by their faith.
I have heard it said many times, “Faith is a gift from God”
...so is air, but you have to breathe it.
...so is bread, but you have to eat it.
...so is water but you have to drink it.
...so is the gospel and you have to live it.
Believing the gospel, is receiving the person of Jesus into your life with the life-changing revelation of Christ in me. It is now your body but his life.
You now affirm his place in you as Saviour and Lord and live actively engaged in what he is doing in the earth today.
“Not my will but Thine be done” is what Jesus taught.
From the New Testament perspective, the gospel is not anticipation anymore but rather fulfillment.
The Saviour is not coming, he has arrived and according to Ephesians 1:9-12 “Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth...”
The mystery has been solved, the work of salvation has been done and our job is to let people know what God has done for them in Jesus.
ILLUSTRATION: The red cloth.
LET US STAND TOGETHER AS I CLOSE WITH A READING FROM EPHESIANS 3:1-13
3 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 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.
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
LET US PRAY
Thanking God that the whole world is now included in the mystery.
Thanking God that his wisdom concealed and revealed the mystery in the fullness of time.
Thanking God that we now understand the nature of the mystery being One New Man in Jesus Christ.
Thanking God that this mystery called the gospel is both experienced by and demonstrated through the church, his hands and feet in the earth today.