The Mystery of Christ October 18, 2017

                                      

Receiving a visit from Epaphras, the founder of the church in Colossae, the Apostle Paul learned of the heresies that were problematic to the Colossian believers. Writing from prison in Rome, the Apostle counteracts these teachings by declaring The Supremacy and Pre-eminence of Christ.

Col 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  Jesus Christ was the image of the invisible God.
Col 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 

The Apostle continues his letter showing that the mysteries referred to in the religion of the Gnostics were also false, in that now, what was a mystery hidden from ages has been revealed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Col 1:26  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 

Col 1:27  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: 

The heresy that plagued the Colossian church was a mixture of Gnosticism and Judaism. There is a great variation of teaching in Gnosticism. Irenaeus in his writings “ Against heresies” tells us that the Gnostics enforced a system of secret teachings, the esoteric gnosis or “knowledge” that gave the sect their name.
They believe that the maker of the world, the Demiurge, is not the highest God. They believed that the Supreme God cannot be reached and that He is above the Christian God and that the Supreme God does not communicate with humanity.
In the passage of scripture from Col 1:24 to 2: 5 we see how the Apostle Paul again counteracts this idea.

The Gnostic idea that existed in the time of the early church through the schools of Philosophy and has survived through the years and still is found today in such organisations as Theosophy, Freemasonry, Illuminati and Rosicrucians and many others.

Simply put, the idea is enlightenment, gaining secret knowledge, understanding the secret mysteries and so step by step drawing closer to the Supreme God.
The Gnostics claimed to hold the “secret mysteries” and this mystery religion is passed on to those seeking the knowledge.The Apostle Paul uses the words that the Gnostics would have understood.

Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
The word mystery (Greek - mustērion - moos-tay'-ree-on) From a derivative of μύω muō (to shut the mouth); a secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites): - mystery.
In many of these Gnostic sects and cults, the secrets are exactly that, “secret”. They are only to be revealed to those who are being initiated and as each person seeks further knowledge, the secrets are revealed. However we see the Apostle Paul writing in his letter to the Colossians, that this mystery has now been made known to all.
It is a “secret” no more.

Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Col 1:27 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:
Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 

Paul reveals here, that the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”

What Paul is saying here is that salvation is nothing to do with a step by step revelation of secret knowledge but a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That Christ can dwell in our hearts by faith.
This knowledge of the mystery of Christ is not secret any more but is being revealed through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 
The mystery that had one time been hidden, “the mystery of the kingdom of God” Mark 4:11, spoken of by Jesus is now revealed to mankind.
The apostle Paul used the word mystery 21 times in his Epistles. In each case, the “mystery” involved a wonderful declaration of spiritual truth, revealed by God through divine inspiration. A mystery is that “which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5).
The Gospel represents the final disclosure of God’s Word to mankind.


Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;


Having dealt with the errors, showing that the answers to these false teachings lie in the recognition that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the fullness of the revelation of God, that in Christ we live and move and have our being, that Christ is in all, through all and over all. Showing the Supremacy and Pre – Eminence of Christ.

Paul goes on to express his deep concern for these Colossian Christians, who he had never met but as he says, he was suffering on their behalf.

Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Col 1:25 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;


Paul’s specific concern was that the Colossians grasped the understanding of what the knowledge of the mystery of God really meant.
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 acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Col 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 


Paul wanted them to be encouraged by being knit together in love and attaining to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding concerning the mystery of God the Father and of Christ.
Paul knew that to become discouraged, the Colossian believers could become easy prey to the world, the flesh and the Devil.
He did not want them to become disheartened and lose the enthusiasm that he had heard of concerning them.
Paul was encouraging them (Greek – paraklein) sometimes this word means (Comfort or to Exhort). He was wanting to enable them to meet these difficult situations with confidence and without fear.“Knit together in love” (Unified).
Paul knew that they needed to stand together firm in the unity of the faith which they had heard from the beginning. Paul knew the dangers of these heresies and how easy it was for new Christians to be tempted away from the truth.
The false teachers are very cunning and are very well disguised as the real thing.


Col 2:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
Col 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. 


We need to be alert and on our guard against false teachers in our midst.

Ezekiel 13:99 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.
2 Tim 4: 3,3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Matt 7: 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's. clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.


A false teacher can be anyone in a position of spiritual authority or claiming to be.
Wolves don't often attack wolves, but they do go after sheep.They bring destructive teachings and lies into the church, often, by telling people what they want to hear.

J
er 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD.
Jer 23:16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
Jer 23:30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
Jer 23:31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Jer 23:32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.


A false teacher provides layers of truth mixed with error.
This truth is very much relevant in our day. The Bible reveals that in the last days, people will fall away from the truth.


2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

It is essential that we as Christian be aware of this fact and stay true to what the Bible teaches, being always alert and checking everything we hear by the Word of God.

 

A true teacher teaches from the Bible.The Apostle Peter says, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Pet 1:16).
A False teacher creates his own doctrine. And then he says the false teachers exploit you "with stories they have made up" (2Pet 2:3) .For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. "We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him" (2Pet 1:3).
For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: "They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them"
(2Pet 2:1).“Ye shall know them by their fruits”
The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control,perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2Pet 1:5).
The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander :
(2Pet 2:10).They are "experts in greed" and "their eyes are full of adultery" (2Pet 2:14).

The true teacher appeals to Scripture.
"We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it" (2Pet 1:19).

The false teacher appeals to  extra revelation and lusts of the flesh.
"
By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" (2Pet 2:18).
 

The results of True teaching.

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Pet1:8).
The true believer will receive 
"a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Pet 1:11).

What are the results of false teaching?

The counterfeit is 
"like a spring without water" (2Pet 2:17).
They promise much but produce little.
The false believer will experience 
"swift destruction" (2Pet 2:1). "Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping" (2Pet 2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, "Depart from me; I never knew you" (Matt. 7:21)

There certain scriptures that are very often misquoted, or that are quoted but not finished off. In doing so they can appear to be contradictory. However when quoted correctly it is quite obvious that there is no contradiction at all.
2
Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, 
( the verse continues) ……….through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Joh 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: (the verse continues)…….and they are they which testify of me. 

These two scriptures seem to be saying that there is something in the words of scripture that has power to save.
However when you read the whole of the verses, we see that salvation is in the subject of the verse, the person of Jesus Christ.
The Old and New testaments are normally made from compressed cardboard and paper. Throw it in a fire it will burn.
There are those who say it contains the Word of God. - Those that swear an oath on it. – Hug it to their chest as though it is a magical book. There is nothing magical about the book. In itself it cannot do anything.
There are many people that have read the bible and are not Christians, are not saved, who have not understood the message of the Gospel.
True the scriptures contain the history of creation / the history of Israel / it reveals the genealogy of Jesus but the Bible is more than that.
It reveals Christ Himself.
The New Testament reveals what was hidden and the Old Testament. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed and the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed.
Jesus said “It is they which testify of Me”.
To Timothy. Jesus was made known through the scriptures.
The MYSTERY of Christ is revealed in the scriptures.
What is this Mystery? 

Col 1:27 Christ in you, the hope of glory”.
Another example is the Lords table with the elements. Nothing magical about them. Bread & wine – biscuit and juice – basic rudiments of this world.
As the scripture says, they pass through us. Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
There is no trans - substantiation takes place. No real presence. Just bread and wine. That is why this is no place for the unbeliever. Why? Because the natural man receiveth not the things of God. For he does not discern the body. He does not understand the mystery of the Body of Christ.
Here again is the Mystery of Christ. 
Joh 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
But we have believed the Mystery revealed in the scripture Col 1:27 Christ in you the hope of glory.

The Holy Spirit has revealed to us the Mystery of Christ. That is why our salvation does not depend on these rudiments of the world the beggarly elements ( the keeping of ordinances) but our salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that the mystery of God is Jesus Christ:
 “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” (Colossians 2:2–3). . 

 

 

 

 

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