The Revelation of the Mystery - Part II
“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” —Ephesians 3:4-6
Paul’s desire for the church, including the Gentile population within the body of Christ, was to completely understand God’s plan through Christ. Of course, this refers to the new covenant in Christ, which is the message of the cross. God had specifically called him to bring this message to the masses, including the Gentiles.
The message of the cross is not a message that is exclusive to one group of people, but rather inclusive and intended for all. Going back to the idea of the mystery that Paul presents, we need to understand that he is bringing to light the adoption of the Gentiles into the body of Christ.
GOD’S PLAN FOR THE HUMAN RACE
It is critical to reiterate the idea of the cross being inclusive. The death of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross was a completed work meant for all, giving Gentiles equal access to God and His saving grace as He had given the Jews. There is no longer a difference between Jew and Gentile, and both groups stand on equal ground at the foot of the world’s Redeemer. These two groups are now one body in Christ, with the Gentiles receiving the same benefits as the Jews when Christ is accepted. This was always the plan of God for the human race.
God's ultimate plan is broken down into four aspects: eternal, historical, spiritual, and prophetic. As Paul uses the word mystery, it refers to God’s plan of redemption.
First, this plan is eternal in its scope. This plan contained God’s everlasting counsel, decreed before the foundations of the world, declared as God’s supreme knowledge, veiled to humanity but ultimately revealed through Christ.
Second, the term mystery is historical in its announcement. Historically, the announcement was made by God and is known as the “mystery of Christ.” Paul was tasked to proclaim this historical message that Christ is the hope of humanity and that anyone at any time can experience this great salvation. Historically, this new life was declared by God throughout time, and through Christ, all, both Jew and Gentile, can have this new life.
Third, it is spiritual in its perception. Paul retains the idea, as focused on the Gentiles as part of the family, that this mystery was revealed to the apostles and prophets.
And fourth, it is prophetic in its outcome. The divine consummation is still awaiting, as it refers to what God has done and is doing. As both Jew and Gentile have been brought together through Christ and His cross, neither has received the total benefits of the atonement, which will be realized at the coming resurrection.
SHOULD THERE BE DIVISION WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST?
In short, Paul is expressing that since we are now one in Christ, there is no room for separation. There is no room for those who claim to understand the mystery but do not practice it daily.
This belief states that the church should remain separate until the eternal state overcomes the social state. It is the idea that because people might be different, they should remain on the outside looking in. This type of philosophy should not be tolerated within the church, seeing that we all do not deserve to be in the family to begin with. Yet here we are. If God did not do that with us, why should we do that to someone else? The gospel is not exclusive, as proved by Paul; it includes anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. The cross eliminated the division between races, creeds, and socioeconomic classes, and it was in the mind of God from the very beginning.
Instead of looking down on those who may not be in the family, we should encourage them to join the family. We do this by practicing what we preach or living what we believe. No one should consider Christianity exclusive, nor should Christians look down on others for not being saved.
The church today should mimic Paul’s teachings so that we understand the nature of God’s new covenant plan, that Christ is the mystery of God, and that His church should be one body with one Lord and God.
It must be noted that Paul was sure to state that this revelation did not come from his personal conclusions but was revealed by the Holy Spirit that the church was united in Christ through His finished work. Through His blood, there is no Jew or Gentile, bond or free, but only sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. As a result, I will state again that there should be no division within the body. Unity must be our calling card. From all that was given through the apostles and prophets, it is clear that it was always in the mind of God for Gentiles to be brought into the family, and that our unity and togetherness now identify God’s people in a multiethnic group with love for one another that is furnished by the Holy Spirit.
THE PURPOSE OF THE CROSS
The purpose of Paul explaining this mystery is to express the fact that all are born outside of the family and hopelessly lost. We were on our way to a devil’s hell when Jesus Christ found us, saved us, and adopted us into the family. We are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and we share in the promises of God. The cross made this possible. The cross is God’s walking plank from death to life so that whosoever crosses that plank can experience everlasting life (John 3:16).
The cross is the heartbeat of the gospel, and it is the most crucial aspect of the plan of God. Everything before the cross pointed forward to what Jesus Christ would do. Everything since the cross points back to what was accomplished. The cross is the foundation of God’s redemption plan, for it was there that all sin was dealt with, and every stain was cleansed. The cross is where our victory was won, and the grip of sin was broken.
To conclude this thought, allow me to reiterate that those who have accepted Christ are now one body. Those who have wholeheartedly received the gospel of Jesus Christ are members of the same family, and we are all equal in Christ.
The mystery revealed to Paul was that all who say yes to Jesus, no matter their racial identification, are now a part of a new race, a new community, and have new identities in Christ. Because of this change of heart, there should not be any division within the body, for we are all one in Christ.
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