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|September 27, 2008 - Kevin Sadler - A Secret Revealed|
Listen and understand
the secret plan
about your Salvation.....
First revealed ONLY to Paul
from Jesus Christ by direct
personal REVELATION !
which are Biblical words and concept, you can never understand Scripture rightly. If you mix Israel's program with the Body of Christ the Church, you will always be "double minded" ....
and missing the boat in UNDERSTANDING God's will and understanding His Word.
Dispensational: We believe God has different purposes he accomplishes through certain means of interaction with humanity during certain
periods of time, called dispensations. For instance, the dispensation of the Law began with Moses giving the law, and ended with Christ
"making us dead to the law." The new age begun after that point in time is the dispensation of Grace, the current dispensation. There are
seven dispensations: that of Innocence, that of Human Conscience, that of Human Government, that of Promise, that of the Law, that of Grace,
and that of Kingdom reign. The last and yet future one is the one addressed by the next two terms.
Premillenial: We believe this rapture will occur before Christ's thousand year reign over the earth.
Pretribulational: We believe Christ will rapture His saints (all believers) before the seven year tribulation period that immediately precedes
the milennial reign.
Vital to any interpretation of Scripture is the recognition of the context in which the passage is found; both the immediate context, and the
broader context. The Dispensational System does this and thus views God dealing with man in different ways during different ages of time. It
is vital to recognize this fact. As noted by Dr. L.S. Chafer, founder and former President of Dallas theological Seminary:
"All Scripture is ... profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16), but all Scripture is of
primary application to a particular person or class of persons which the Bible designates as such. All Scripture is not for the angels, nor is it
all for the Gentiles. In like manner, not all Scripture is addressed to the Jew, nor is it all addressed to the Christian” (Dispensationalism, p.
Dr. Chafer went on to further delineate the problems with failing to make contextual distinctions:
There is a dangerous and entirely baseless sentiment which assumes that every teaching of Jesus must be binding during this age simply
because He said it. The fact is forgotten that the Lord Jesus, while living under, keeping, and applying the Law of Moses, also taught the
principles of His future Kingdom, and, at the end of His ministry and in relation to His Cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace. If this
threefold division of the teachings of Jesus is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion of mind and consequent contradiction of
The teachings of grace are perfect and sufficient in themselves. They provide for the instruction of the child of God in every situation which
may arise. There is no need that they be supplemented, or augmented, by the addition of precepts from either the Law of Moses or the
teachings of the Kingdom.
The church is entirely unknown in the Old Testament and is not mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels. Its founding is described in the book of
Acts and it's teaching is given in the Epistles. Dr. Ryrie expressed these sentiments as follows:
The teachings of Jesus are possibly the most difficult part of the entire Bible to interpret accurately. Why is this so? Because in His
humiliation He lived under the Mosaic Law and perfectly kept it; but He also presented Himself to Israel as their King; and when He was
rejected as King, He introduced the new part of God's program, the Church, and gave some teaching about it. In other words, He lived and
taught in relation to three different dispensations of God's program for this world - the Law, the Church, and the Kingdom. To keep these
aspects of teaching distinct and - without confusion is not always easy.
There are those who consider the Sermon on the Mount a blueprint for Christian living today. To use it this way would require deliteralizing
much of what is taught in order to be able to obey it in this unrighteous world. Further, if this is truth for the Church, then why did our Lord not
mention the Holy Spirit, so vital for Christian living, or even the Church itself?
Others understand the Sermon's primary purpose to relate to Christ's kingdom message. The forerunner, John the Baptist, had announced
the kingdom (Matt. 3:2); Jesus Himself began to preach that message (Matt. 4:17). The kingdom they preached and the kingdom the people
expected was that messianic, Davidic, millennial kingdom promised in the OT and this was no secret hidden before the world first began...
but the Gospel of salvation by faith apart from the law was a MYSTERY HIDDEN UNTIL IT WAS REVEALED TO PAUL FIRST !
Dispensationalism is distinguished by several key principles.
* A clear distinction between God's program for Israel and God's program for the Church, and thus a clear distinction between law and
* Covenant promises to Israel are unconditional and eternal.
* A consistent and regular use of the normal historical, geographical, literal principle of interpretation.
* The understanding of the ultimate purpose of God is of His own glory rather than the salvation of mankind. Thus the focus of
dispensationalism is God oriented.
* The church is a distinctive organism. The church does not begin until after Paul was struck down on the road to Damascus...
14 years after the cross.
The Revelation Of The Mystery
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which
was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you
read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now
been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His
promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective
working of His power."
There are two things that must always be a part of our Bible reading and study: (1) An earnest effort to be completely objective, and (2)
accepting as biblical truth, only what the context recommends.
First, we must take with us into all Bible reading and study, a clear, impartial, objective mind. There is a danger we must guard against:
taking pre-conceived ideas and beliefs with us into the text of Scripture, assuming as we read and study the Bible that we see there the things
we've always believed. This approach limits learning, keeps us from growing and may contribute to believing things which are not true (as
decreed by God). Every time we open the Bible, we should be ready to learn and re-learn; ready to correct long-cherished traditions when
such is called for by the truth of God's Word. Objectivity is fundamental to good Bible study.
Second, when we read and study the Bible, we must let the context inform our conclusions. We must not isolate a word or phrase, make a
doctrinal case from that word or phrase, ignoring the context. In fact, all written and spoken communication deserves this same consideration.
It is not fair to quote someone out of context. Bible reading and Bible study should always be done with careful attention to context. Let us
apply these principles in the study of Ephesians 3. We must not impose onto the text some assumed agenda, and we must take careful
account of the context.
In the New Testament book of Ephesians: in chapter one, the apostle Paul highlights the spiritual blessings God offers in Christ. In the second
chapter, salvation by grace through faith is described in terms of being raised from spiritual death; being brought near by the blood of Christ;
reconciled to God in one body, and being added to a building that has guaranteed structural integrity (see also 1 Pet. 2:4-8). In Ephesians 3
there is emphasis on the communication, the revelation of all of this to man; it is called The Revelation of The Mystery.
Paul describes himself as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ," because this was his circumstance at the time he wrote to the Ephesian church. He
refers to his imprisonment here in Eph. 3:1, also in Eph. 4:1 and Eph. 6:20. Paul suffered incarceration. This injustice was the result, when he
took the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Here, in Eph. 3:1, he describes himself in terms of his present condition, and his personal
dedication to those of Gentile race. "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles."
Paul said to the Ephesians, in verse 2: "if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you."
Look at that word "dispensation," and you may think of the root English word: "dispense." All through the book of Ephesians, we learn about
what God is willing to dispense to us in Christ. This is about God's generosity in what He is willing to dispense to man in Christ: "The
dispensation of the grace of God."
Now the information and instruction about what a gracious God is willing to dispense was given to Paul. Notice that phrase in verse 2: "given
to me for you." The gospel was given to Paul, but not just for his personal use. It was given to Paul, to convey to the Gentiles. Listen again to
these first two verses: "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of
the grace of God which was given to me for you." This is about the dispensing of the gospel of the grace of God through the apostles. This is
about the process that eventually produced this volume, this book we call "The New Testament."
How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which when you read, you may understand my
knowledge in the mystery of Christ)." Observe, there are two key words here. When we define them as they are used in this context, that work
puts us in better position to understand the whole passage. Notice "Revelation" and "Mystery."
Revelation simply means to uncover something. A helpful reference is found in Matt. 10:26 – "Therefore, do not fear them. For there is nothing
covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known." So to reveal (in the biblical sense) is to uncover; to let something be
The other word is "mystery." In this context, this simply means, something that was hidden, but has now been revealed. The word here, in
Ephesians 3, is not identical to the modern use of the word "mystery," which often means something that cannot be known at all. No, the word
"mystery" in Ephesians 3 means – something that was hidden, but has now been revealed. Two other passages in the New Testament use the
word in this sense, Colossians 1:24-29 and Rom. 16:25-27. In fact, perhaps the best definition of this word mystery is Paul's statement in
"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the
mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to
the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."
Do you see this? "…the revelation of the mystery, kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures
made known to all nations." For what purpose? "For obedience to the faith." Both in Romans 16 and in Ephesians 3 Paul wants us to know he
was preaching the message not fully revealed in previous times. It was "kept secret" for ages, but on the day of Pentecost and as the New
Testament was written, the apostles were revealing that message, the gospel. Paul said to the Ephesians: this is what I'm writing to you, and
when you read it – you can understand it. In order for the Gentiles to be "fellow heirs," members of the body of Christ and partakers of God's
promise in Christ through the gospel – it would be necessary to receive and respond to this message delivered by Paul, the gospel, the
mystery hidden before but now made known.
This passage has enormous practical meaning today, for every one of us. The lesson is simple. Today, when people read the Bible, they can
understand it and respond to it – to be members of the body of Christ and partakers of the promises of the gospel. Soberly consider Eph. 3:4
and the phrase: "when you read, you may understand."
If you want to understand the mystery of Christ, you must read it. If you want to know what God is willing to dispense to man in Christ, you
must read about it. If you desire to know who Jesus is and what He accomplished on the cross for your redemption – you can read that and
learn it. If you want to know what your response should be to this gospel truth, you must read it. "When you read, you may understand."
Carefully, objectively reading the Bible; observing the context; being diligent in your thought and application, can revolutionize your life and
put you in position to live as an obedient child of God.
Religion can be a subject of puzzling difficulty and disappointment. Just look around. On many corners of your community and at major
intersections, you will see some huge religious complex, often including several buildings. Whatever you may be uncertain about, you are
certain that there are many different kinds of churches and religions.
Some are admittedly and proudly denominational, aware of their historical roots and bold in their recruiting efforts to inform prospects of their
traditions and creed. Others claim to be undenominational and independent. Community churches and ecumenical endeavors are popular. It
is an obvious and generally accepted part of our religious culture – variety! Church buildings across the nation with various names, various
and differing doctrines and great variance in organization and practice.
The Yellow Pages advertise the problem. You can turn through hundreds of listings of churches, marketed with all kinds of promises, claims,
allegiances and attractions. So the matter of religion can be extremely discouraging, if you look down the street in your community, browse
the Yellow Pages or surf the World Wide Web.
What should people do about religion? Close the Yellow pages and open the pages of the Bible! Instead of looking at what men have to offer,
read what God has said. Religion will always be confusing and discouraging as long as your perspective is focused on what people do, what
the modern culture offers, what is convenient and what has been institutionalized by men. Think outside that box! Change your focus. Read
and study the Bible. When you get focused on the right thing, the pure and undefiled religion of Jesus Christ becomes simple, possible,
practical and worth the devotion of your heart and life. It is both possible and necessary, to read and understand the Bible. That's the
promise and teaching of Ephesians 3:1-7. It is our challenge.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 10.4; April 2003