the word “mystery” appears more than a handful of times in the new testament and the majority of those times refer to the Gospel of Christ. i bring this up because i just taught on 1 timothy 3:16 and it got me thinking about the mysteries of God we strive to solve.
as i looked at the context of paul’s letter, it occurred to me that the “why” of his letter was more relevant for my message than the “what”. 1 timothy starts off with a warning against false doctrines and young men who get sidetracked with fruitless debates and speculations and then want to teach others. i realized there’s a present danger for many of our students to take for granted the great (and revealed) mystery of the Gospel while pursuing lofty and “deep” discussion.
i know discussing the mind blowing concepts of God can be healthy, fun, and even beneficial, BUT i think paul’s warning is there for a reason. if believers get too caught up in eschatology, whether God is inside or outside of time, or if Jesus is really, physically at the right hand of God and forsake “godly edification” and “love from a pure heart” we are not as “deep” or “mature” as we think.
when we’re crying out for “deeper” Bible studies but talk trash about our parents, we’re not mature. when we can quote long-dead theologians, but don’t know how to show love to the unbelieving people around us, we’re not deep. i’m not railing against anyone specific. trust me. this is an age old problem. (obviously, PAUL addressed it!) it’s like p.j. o’rourke’s quote about everyone wanting to save the world, but no one wanting to help mom do the dishes.
i know we like to dive into the mysteries of God, but the greatest mystery has been solved. it’s been revealed. and when paul points it out in 1 timothy 3:16, he doesn’t quote Christ or the old testament or some other Scripture. he quotes a hymn that sums up the simple yet profound Gospel!
unfortunately, we’ve come to equate depth and maturity with the ability to discuss tough, lofty concepts. i feel like the harder to grasp and maintain maturity is imitating Christ. even when thinking about the disciples… they seemed just as, if not more, challenged by the concepts of turning the other cheek, loving samaritans, and feeding nagging crowds as they did by Jesus and the Father being one, calming the storm, or even the resurrection.
of ALL the “mysteries” of God that paul could have extolled or referenced, he seems to be awed the most by the Gospel… by amazing grace… and so should we.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.