THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH
The word “mystery” appears twenty-two times in the New Testament, and in most cases refers to the Church, or the Lord’s Gospel. This word, which causes us to look at the Church a little differently, is only used by Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and the Revelation, and by the Apostle Paul in his epistles. After 2,000 years, we have come to take the Church as natural, but it was not always that way.
From the time of Abraham, the Lord’s Plan of Redemption was always to have the Anointed One, the Messiah, to come through the descendants of Abraham. The Messiah, Jesus, was prophesied to be a “light unto the Gentiles.” 1 Of course, the Jews read that prophecy and thought that they were to be the light. Paul corrects this notion when he explains to the Jews that they have fallen short and sinned, just like all mankind. 2
The mystery is that the Creator of all things would send His Son to become a man and to become the sacrifice for all sin. Because sin entered the world through a man, it had to be paid for by a man. Because a spiritual being (Satan) introduced sin, it required a spiritual being to save us from sin. Jesus fulfilled both roles. He is God, and yet a man.
When John was taken (snatched up, “raptured”) to Heaven in chapter four of the Revelation, he was distressed because there was no man in Heaven or on the Earth that was able to open the scroll 3 which represented the redemption of the Earth. Again, Adam had relinquished his rights to the Earth when he sinned. So it must be a man who redeems back those rights. Heaven is within the spiritual realm. Why should there be a man in Heaven? But there was, and is, a man in Heaven. Jesus is the man, and as one of the elders pointed out, Jesus is qualified to open the scroll.
God’s Plan, from the beginning, was for the redemption of the Earth through Jesus. Satan, who had rebelled against the Lord and sought to usurp His throne, was trapped when he caused Adam and Eve to sin. The Lord was not caught off-guard when this happened. It was already covered in His Plan. This Plan was initiated in Genesis 4 and is concluded in the Revelation, with Satan being cast into the lake of fire.
And we, the Church, are part of this great mystery. We are the blessed recipients of the fulfillment of the mystery and of God’s great and wonderful grace. May His name be praised always.
1 - Isaiah 42:6, 49:6
2 - Romans 2:17-25
3 - The Revelation 5:4
4 - Genesis 3:14-15