Sermon #1551                            Miscellaneous Sermons


     Title:           “The Mysteries of God”

     Text:           1 Corinthians 4:1

     Subject:      Things Now Revealed

     Date:          Sunday Morning Bible Class

                        December 14, 2003

     Tape #        X-94a



Turn with me, if you will, to 1 Corinthians 4:1. Paul has been urging the saints at Corinth to overcome their carnal strife and division, to esteem all God’s servants equally as instruments of good to their souls. Now, he says…


“Let a man so account of us, as the ministers of Christ.” — What an awesome privilege, honor and responsibility this is! The man who now stands before you is nothing. There is not a man in this building who is not more fit than me to be your pastor, and to preach the gospel of Christ. I know something of my own innate limitations and inward lusts. But the Lord God has been pleased, in his infinite goodness and boundless grace, to make this worthless piece of human flesh a minister, a servant of Christ. He has trusted to this earthen vessel the treasure of his gospel!


"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." — Those men called and gifted to preach the gospel are stewards in God’s house, “stewards of the mysteries of God.” They are men to whose care the Lord God has committed the wondrous mysteries of the gospel, giving them light, knowledge and understanding in them. It is their business and responsibility to dispense and make known, the mysteries of his boundless, free grace in Christ.


The one thing that is required of stewards is that they be found faithful to their stewardship (1 Cor. 4:2).


(1 Cor 4:2)  "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."


I covet your prayers on my behalf in this regard, that I may be found faithful to your souls, faithful to the gospel, and faithful to the glory of God. In faithfulness to my responsibility to your souls as the servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God, I want to talk to you today about “the mysteries of God




The word “mystery,” as it is used in the New Testament, refers to something once hidden but now revealed.

·       That which was hidden under the types and shadows of the law is now revealed in the gospel.

·       That which is hidden from natural, unregenerate, unbelieving people is revealed to believers by the Holy Spirit.

The word is used twenty-two times in the New Testament. But the mysteries revealed are seven. There are seven mysteries specifically revealed in the gospel.




I.                   The apostle Paul speaks of “the mystery of godliness” in 1 Timothy 3:16.


(1 Tim 3:15-16)  "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (16) And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."


“The mystery of godliness” is the whole body of revealed truth regarding the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ the incarnate, crucified, risen, exalted, saving Son of God (Eph. 6:19; Col. 2:2; 4:3). It is called — “the mystery of the gospel” — “the mystery of God” — and “the mystery of Christ.”


(Eph 6:19)  "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel."


(Col 2:2)  "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ."


(Col 4:3)  "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds."




II.                The Holy Spirit tells us (1 Tim. 3:9) that pastors and deacons must be men who hold “the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”


There is but one faith by which sinners are saved, the faith of Christ. John calls it “the doctrine of Christ.” “The mystery of the faith” is the message of salvation by the grace of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the message of the gospel (1 Cor. 2:7).


(1 Tim 1:19-20)  "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: (20) Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."


(1 Cor 2:7)  "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory."




III.             Then the Scriptures speak of what I will call “the mystery of spiritual union” between Christ and his people (Eph. 5:32; Col. 1:27).


(Eph 5:25-32)  "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."


(Col 1:25-27)  "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; (26) Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."


What a mystery this is! There is a real, blessed, indestructible union, a mystical, spiritual oneness between Christ and his people. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. Believers are so thoroughly one with Christ that all that he is and has as the God-man, we are and have in him. His doing is our doing. His acceptance is our acceptance. And his reward is our reward.


‘Twixt Jesus and the chosen race

There is a bond of sovereign grace

That hell with its infernal train

Can ne’er dissolve, nor rend in twain!




IV.           The mystery of providence masterfully is set before us in Romans 8-11(Rom. 11:25-27; Eph. 3:3-9).


The mystery of providence is the revelation of the fact that God has always intended to save chosen sinners out of every nation. To that end he sovereignly rules all things. Even the fall and casting away of the Jews was used by God to be a means of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles.


(Rom 11:25-27)  "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."


(Eph 3:3-9)  "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, (4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) (5) 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; (6) That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (7) Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. (8) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"





V.              When John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” When it came time to worshipped, though he could not meet with them in body, he met with God’s saints around the throne. As he did, worshipping God, the Lord Jesus taught him the mystery of the stars and candlesticks (Rev. 1:20).


The revelation of this mystery is the assurance given to faithful pastors (stars) and gospel churches (candlesticks) that they are in the hands of Christ, established, provided for, and preserved by him.


(Rev 1:10-20)  "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.


(12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; (13) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; (15) And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (16) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.


(17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: (18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; (20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."




VI.           “The mystery of iniquity”(2 Thess. 2:7) and of Babylon (Rev. 17:5) like all that we have seen thus far, is a mystery that cannot be known and understood, except by Divine Revelation. But this is a mystery plainly, forcibly, unmistakably revealed in the Book of God.


The mystery of iniquity and of Babylon is the wicked influence of freewill, works religion, as it is used by God to be an instrument of judgment upon those who receive not the love of the truth.


(2 Th 2:7-12)  "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."


(2 Th 2:13-14)  "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."


(Rev 17:4-8)  "And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: (5) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (6) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. (8) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."




VII.        Now, turn to 1 Corinthians 15 and behold the mystery of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51-58).


The mystery of the resurrection is the wonder of how Christ will both raise the dead and reconcile all things to God (Eph. 1:9-10) at his glorious second advent.


(1 Cor 15:51-58)  "Behold, I show 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. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."