Faithlife Sermons


Notes & Transcripts


Does anyone here tonight enjoy a good mystery novel? I have a daughter who loves to read and for me to read to her. Because she is a girl I end up reading “Nancy Drew” books – for those who are not familiar with the reading material of 10 year old girls, Nancy Drew is a girl detective who ends up solving all these crimes that the bumbling police never quite manage to work out. When I was a boy I read “Encyclopaedia Brown” books – a similar thing but for boys. You read the story and there were these clues, that if you were smart you could work out who done it. And of course, at the end Encyclopaedia Brown could solve the mystery and explained the clues. But it’s not just kids; adults have Agatha Christie and a multitude of others. The clues are all there hidden in the story, and if you look deeper you will be able to solve the crime, work out what went on. The Bible speaks about a mystery too – there has been this secret that has been hidden away, a mystery to be searched out and discovered. It says in: [1 Peter 1:10-12 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.] There were these prophets searching out this mystery trying to work out what God was going to do. There was this salvation and grace coming and but they didn’t know what God was going to do so they tried to search out the mystery [OHP]. And it wasn’t just them – even the angels were longing to look into this wonderful thing that was going to happen. But why make it a mystery? Why hide your plans? Well, part of it is that if you have enemies then you don’t want them to know what you are planning. In war they use codes so that the enemy doesn’t know what they are up to. You have the information in a form that the initiated can understand and the others can’t. Another factor is that if something is worth having it is worth an effort to get it. If you give your son a car he is likely to trash it, but if he has to save his paper round money and work hard to get it, he will value it. There is a treasure that is worth seeking out. Those who value it will seek it out, those who can’t be bothered making the effort will miss out. Earlier this month it was my daughter’s birthday and we got her a paddling pool – 3ft deep, 10 ft in diameter – it was a bit big to wrap, so what we did was lay a trail of clues: one in the budgie cage led to one in the piano, which led to one under the tree-house and so on until it finally led to the present. She had to search out to find the thing of value. And there is treasure worth finding in God’s Word, mysteries that we need seek out: Let’s have a look at these mysteries – a little overview that you may care to investigate more deeply for yourselves.

Mystery of the Kingdom: [OHP] In my morning reading I have been reading the parable of the sower: [Matthew 13:10-11 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.] Jesus’ Kingdom is a mystery. People didn’t get it, it wasn’t how they thought. His disciples thought that he would give the Roman’s a hiding and get rid of the occupying forces, set up His throne in Jerusalem like the kings of history. But Jesus said: [John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” ] It was different to world’s ideas of politics, power, armies, influence, and might. [Luke 17:20-21 Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”] It is a mystery, spiritual, something that our natural mind can’t figure out. Jesus rules, is King of our lives, but not in the visible way like a king of this world.

Mystery now revealed: [OHP] But unlike Agatha Christie mysteries, the mysteries of the Bible have been revealed. They were hidden but now they have been revealed. They can be known by revelation by the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 2:6-13 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden (in the past) and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (God kept His plan hidden from those trying to thwart it) However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (now it has been revealed) The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.] Now we can understand, the meaning has been revealed. Have you ever been reading a mystery novel and turned to the back of book to find out “who done it” – you then read the mystery with a different insight, there is significance in things that are said and done that you hadn’t picked up before. And it is like that with the Bible. The prophets tried to understand but they couldn’t quite put the pieces together. Do you know the story of the two on the road to Emmaeus after Jesus rose from the dead? Jesus met them on the road – He explained the Scriptures to them, and it all made sense, once they knew it was about Him. There was an Ethiopian official travelling in his chariot reading the Scriptures – but he had no idea who this one being slaughtered like a lamb was, then the Spirit sent Philip to him and revealed that it was all about Jesus, then he got it – understood the mystery because he had received revelation. We need revelation in order to understand the mysteries in God’s Word (pray for revelation, gift of faith).

Faith is a mystery: [OHP] But faith is a mystery: [1 Timothy 3:9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.] It doesn’t make sense to those who do not have it, but to those that do it is obvious. So how do you get it? – Ephesians 2:8 says that this faith is a gift from God.

Gospel is a mystery: [OHP] Then the Gospel is a mystery: [Ephesians 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.] Jesus came preaching Good News (the Gospel) but it is foolishness, makes no sense to people; but to those with faith, those who believe, it is the power of God unto salvation. But the natural mind can’t figure it. What is the Gospel? Paul said: [1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I make known to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.] There is the Gospel: the Messiah died, was buried and rose again. How does that work, how does that save me? It is a mystery to natural mind, but is the way of life to the one who trust in Him, dies with Him and is raised to newness off life with Him. Not many will dispute that Jesus died, there He was on a cross, a soldier thrust a spear into Him and blood and water flowed out. Yes, there is no doubt that He died, or that He was buried. The point of contention is that He rose from the dead – that just doesn’t happen! But the Gospels record eyewitness accounts of Jesus being alive after His crucifixion. I too am a witness, I can testify – you ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart! Here is One who conquered death: Jesus the Messiah!

Mystery is Christ: [OHP] Because Jesus the Christ or Messiah is Himself a mystery: [Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus the Messiah, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, ] It is a mystery long hidden, but Jesus was revealed. Here was the plan of God revealed in His Son. ! [Colossians 4:3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.] But it is a mystery – who could have figured it out, or dared to suggest what actually happened. This was God Himself! Do you want to know God? Meet Him? Do you want to know the mysteries of God Himself? Then look to Jesus! [Colossians 2:2-3 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.] Jesus is the full revelation of God Himself! [John 14:7-9 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? ] He said, “I and the Father are one.” [Hebrews 1:1-3 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature] But most people do not see Jesus for who He is – He was just a good man who lived a long time ago; they do not penetrate the mystery.

He appeared in a body: [OHP] But the greatest mystery of all that this One who is God, actually took on human form: [1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.] God became a man, took on flesh and blood, appeared in a human body. He who is eternal, confined Himself to a span. He who created all things became part of that creation. Not far removed, way out there somewhere, but one of us! He has been through what we have. Born as a baby, growing up, tempted as we are. John said: [John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.] The greatest mystery of all – God living among us as one of us, making the way whereby we may come back to God.

Gentiles included: [OHP] You see we are far from God, we have no claim on Him. We are not His people, He has no relationship with us –we are Gentiles. But here is another mystery – one the Jews never conceived possible: the Gentiles are included in the covenant, the relationship agreement with God: [Ephesians 3:2-12 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, (you see? He never would have worked it out with his own mind) as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, (the mystery has now been revealed and it is Jesus the Messiah) which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.] We Gentiles can come to God, share in blessings of God’s people.

Christ in you the hope of glory: [OHP] So Jesus is the mystery, as is the Gospel, that He died and rose again and that through that death in our place, that even we Gentiles have access into God’s Kingdom. But it is even more wonderful. This mystery comes even closer to home. Jesus the mystery of God actually comes to dwell in you: [Colossians 1:24-27 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.] That is a wonderful mystery: Christ Himself in me! Praise God! That is real life! The Son of God has taken up His dwelling in me!! Absolutely astounding!

Resurrection to immortality: [OHP] But even more secrets have been revealed: a life that never ends! Eternal life! Life in all its fullness. Because the mystery is that this life is not all there is. That is how it seems to most, that is how it may seem to our natural mind. But listen: [1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.] A mystery that the natural mind can’t comprehend is that this life is not the end, those with the life of Jesus will be raised to life, to immortality, we will never die! Our thinking tells that everything dies eventually – they mystery of God that has been revealed is that there is immortality for the one who is in Christ!

All things complete in Christ: [OHP] You see? This was God’s plan from the beginning – not death, but life that never ends: immortality. And God’s purposes will be accomplished. This is a mystery: His will, His purpose and it will be brought about, brought to completion.[Ephesians 1:9-10 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. ] All will be brought to perfection, that Kingdom established with the King, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah ruling, head over all. It is a mystery but you can know the truth and reality of it tonight. The Holy Spirit can reveal the truth of this wonderful mystery that can bring you life and bring glory to God!

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