M y ste ry (Port Two)
F our of the five passages in First Corinthians employing the word mystery (2:7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2) use it of the body of truth which we as New Testament believers enjoy now, for which we are responsible, and which we must present in the spirit of love. The last reference is First Corinthians 15:51, where Paul is disclosing the glorious truth, never stated in the Old Testament and not mentioned in the Scriptures until Christ uttered it in John 14:1-3, namely, of the rapture of the Church saints without seeing death. When we turn to Ephesians and Colossians, we meet the word re peatedly and it is stressed. In Ephe sians 1:9 the usage relates to the un veiling of God’s purpose and will wherein Christ will head up God’s purpose for the earth and heaven. Such vast themes could not be fully set forth in Old Testament times be fore the manifestation of the Son of God or the consummation of the plan of redemption on Calvary. The word is employed in 3 :3 ,4 ,9 and 5:32 of the grand truth of the mystery of the Church, wherein believing Jew and believing Gentile are one in the Body of Christ, a truth not hinted at in the Old Testament. Because the Vul gate translated the Greek word mus- terion in 5:32 by sacramentum, the Roman Church claims erroneously that marriage is a sacrament. The us age in 6:19 concerning the mystery of the gospel may refer to the same truth as the previous four references in Ephesians, that is the accomplish ment of the gospel in calling forth the Church. If this be denied, then the passage speaks of- the good news of salvation, although this had been re vealed in passages of the Old Testa ment such as 1Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. The references in Colossians, com panion epistle to Ephesians, speak of the truth of the indwelling Christ in each believer (1:26,27), His ful ness as the perfect expression and em bodiment of the Godhead in human form (2:2), and the message of the gospel as culminating in the calling out of the Church (same as Eph. 6:19).
In the great eschatological passage in Second’ Thessalonians 2, verse 7 discloses that evil is not working hap hazardly in the world, but rather with a definite goal in view and a master mind in its motivation. Through Satanic impulse evil will culminate in the hideous sight of a man claiming divine prerogatives. Saddest of all, those who loved not the truth will be deluded to believe the lie. Evil will work as a leaven until the man of sin is revealed. The last references in the Pauline writings are in First Timothy 3:9, 16. The first passage points to the deposit of truth in the New Testament faith with its full-orbed doctrines. The sec ond passage was, doubtless, a hymn in the early Church, setting forth a thumbnail sketch of the life and min istry of God manifest in the flesh. These truths could not have been conceived of in Old Testament days, for only the fulfillment of the prom ises served to outline these events on the canvas of history. Our word mystery has lost none of its significance when we find it in the Book of Revelation. In 1:20 it has reference to the unveiling of the course of the spiritual history of the Church of Christ from its beginning to its apostasy in the Laodicean era, presented in chapters 2 and 3; 10:7 would appear to speak of the consum mation in time of the purpose of God through the preaching of the gospel; and in 17:5,7 the term is speaking of the counterfeit religious system of the Great Tribulation period, Mystery Babylon, the trafficker in the souls of men. Since; twenty of the twenty-seven uses are in the Pauline writings, we may well consider the word as em phatically, though not exclusively to be sure, Pauline. In summary, the mysteries of the New Testament are its distinctive truths and doctrines set forth by revelation, not by means of the scholarly research of men which yields the wisdom of worldly philosophy. These mysteries are by divine revelation, are spiritually per ceived and are the glory of our faith. END.
IN W O O D EN TOO L SHEDS, IN A BAN DON ED SCHOO L BU ILD ING S, IN ON E-ROOM SHACKS, in Grange halls and barns The American Sunday-School Union gives birth each year to new Sun day schools in many parts of rural America. And every year many of our Sunday schools grow up and become churches. In a 25-year period, under the direction of our missionaries, 1,045 churches have been organized from Union Sunday schools — an average of 41 a year. These 1,045 churches fall into 24 different classi fications denominationally. Our ASSU missionaries welcome spiritual, social and econom ic changes in rural communities which make possible the establishment of a church and regular services of worship. The missionary is then free to move on to another needy community to begin a new rural Sunday school. The A merican S unday -S chool U nion is proud to be the represent ative of the church-at-large on the rural mission fields of America. Your prayerful support of the work of ASSU will help establish rural Sunday schools — many of which become churches.
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