The Mysteries of God Lesson #3
The Mystery Of The Faith 1 Timothy 3:9
In 1 Timothy chapter three Paul gives us the qualifications of men for the offices of pastor and deacon. These are characteristics of grace that a man must possess before he is considered for ordination as a pastor or a deacon. In verses one through seven, he tell us that the work of a pastor is a good work, and one to be desired, as well as what kind of man a pastor must be. In verses eight through thirteen, he tells us that the work of a deacon is also a good, noble work in the kingdom of God, and that a deacon must be a man of faithful, godly character. Both pastors and deacons must be men who hold “the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”
Notice the language carefully. The Holy Spirit does not say “the mystery of faith,” but “the mystery of the faith.” That definite article, “the,” identifies the faith he is talking about. He is not talking about our faith toward God, the gift of faith, the grace of faith. He is talking about the doctrine of faith, the doctrine of the gospel.
It is called, “The Mystery Of Christ” in Ephesians 3:3-4. “One can say that this mystery is, in a sense, Christ himself, that is Christ in all his glorious riches actually dwelling through his Spirit in the hearts and lives of both Jews and Gentiles, united in one body, the church” (William Hendriksen). The mystery of the faith is the mystery of Christ.
It is also called, “The Mystery Of The Gospel” in Ephesians 6:19. The gospel is called a mystery because it cannot be known apart from divine revelation. No human eye can see the things of God. No finite mind can grasp spiritual truth. No amount of wisdom, learning, and reason in man can discover divine truth. “The things of God knoweth no man.” They must be revealed (1 Cor. 2:7-16). The mystery of the gospel is the blessed truth of full, free salvation in Christ for all who trust him, both Jew and Gentile.
The message of grace is called “The Mystery Of The Faith” and “The Mystery Of The Gospel” because of “the mysterious doctrines of it, such as the doctrines of the Trinity of Persons, of the union of the two natures in Christ, justification by his righteousness, regeneration by his Spirit and grace, the saints union to Christ, and communion with him, (and) the resurrection of the dead” (John Gill).
It is the responsibility of every pastor to proclaim the mystery of the faith faithfully to his own generation and the responsibility of every deacon to assist his pastor in that good work (Eph. 6:19-20).
It is the responsibility of every man called of God to the work of the gospel ministry to give himself wholly to the task of proclaiming the mystery of the faith, faithfully teaching the doctrines of the gospel, proving the mystery of the faith by the Word of God, and protecting the mystery of the faith from those who oppose it.
In this study, we will look at seven things revealed in the Word of God concerning “The Mystery Of The Faith.” These are seven aspects of gospel truth that no man could ever know except by divine revelation. At the risk of oversimplifying the subject, I will give these seven things in one word headings, so that they may be easily remembered.
sin - The first thing made known in “the mystery of the faith” is sin. Until men and women know their sin they will never seek a Savior. Until we know our sin, we do not know our need of Christ and will not trust him. So when God the Holy Spirit comes to save he convinces men of sin. You may think, “Pastor, everyone knows what sin is.” If you do, you are mistaken. The fact is, very few people know what sin is, where sin is found, or how we became sinners. As long as we think of sin in terms of what men and women do and don’t do, in terms of acts and deeds, we are missing the mark. When men and women are enlightened and made to know the mystery of the faith, they are taught three things about sin that no man can know and acknowledge about himself, unless he is taught of God.
1. Sin is not so much what I do as it is what I am by nature. Sin is the enmity and hatred of man toward God that is manifest in rebellion and unbelief (Rom. 8:7; 1 John 5:10).
2. Sin is not a corruption that invades man’s heart, but a corruption that is found in man’s heart (Matt. 15:17-20). The heart of man by nature is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:9-14).
3. Sinfulness is not a nature that is acquired and learned, but a state and condition of birth. We became sinners by the fall of our father Adam. (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Adam’s sin was imputed to us by God (Rom. 5:18) and imparted to us by natural generation, so that all are born in spiritual death and sin (Psa. 51:5; 58:3). The nature of man from his birth is depraved. He is incapable of doing good and of ceasing to do evil.
SOVEREIGNTY - Secondly, “The Mystery Of The Faith” is the revelation of the one true and living God in the sovereignty of his character. All men by creation and conscience, know that God is, that God is powerful, that God is holy, and that God is good; but the sovereignty of God in the exercise of his providence and grace is something revealed only in the Word of God. God almighty is absolutely sovereign in...
· The Universality Of His Providence (Psa. 115:3; 135:6; Prov. 16:4; Isa. 45:7).
· The Purpose Of His Grace (Rom. 8:28-30).
· The Exercise Of His Grace (Rom. 9:16).
SUBSTITUTION - Thirdly, “The Mystery Of The Faith” gives us the revelation of the gospel doctrine of substitution (Gal. 1:3-6; Isa. 53:4-6). The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, assumed human nature, lived and died in the place of his people; and by his obedience to God as our Representative and Substitute obtained eternal redemption, salvation, and everlasting glory for us (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12).
There has never been a time when Christ did not stand as our Substitute and Surety before God. There has never been a time when God’s elect were not blessed of God and accepted of him in Christ; and there never shall be such a time. He was our Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began (Eph. 1:3-6;2 Tim. 1:9). He was our Representative while he lived upon the earth as a man, obeying the law and will of God in all things (Rom. 5:19). He was our Substitute when he died in our place at Calvary (2 Cor. 5:21). He is still our Substitute in heaven today, representing us at the throne of God as our all-sufficient Advocate and High Priest (1 John 2:1-2). He shall be our Substitute still in the day of judgment. Just as he stood condemned in our place before the bar of God, bearing our sins imputed to him, we shall stand accepted and blessed before the bar of God, being redeemed from all sin and having his righteousness imputed to us (Jer. 50:20; Rev. 21:27; 22:11).
SATISFACTION - Fourthly, “The Mystery Of The Faith” also reveals and assures us of satisfaction for sin made by our Redeemer (Rom. 3:24-26; Gal. 3:13-14; Isa. 45:20; 1 John 1:9). A holy, just, and true God could never save sinners without the satisfaction of his justice. Christ, our Substitute, has fully and perfectly satisfied all the claims of God’s law and justice by his life and by his death. By his obedience in life, he brought in our everlasting righteousness for his people (John 17:4). By his obedience in death, he put away our sins, paying for us all the debt we owed to divine justice (John 19:30).
SALVATION - Fifthly, “The Mystery Of The Faith,” the gospel of Christ is the revelation of full, free salvation in Christ by the grace of God. All men by nature are self-righteous Arminians. All men by nature believe that salvation is in some measure conditioned upon the freewill and works of men. That is the reason you will find the teachings of freewill, works salvation incorporated in all false religion. That is not the case. Salvation is not the way men think. It takes only a casual reading of Holy Scripture and only a very basic knowledge of spiritual truth to see that…
· Salvation is in Christ alone (Eph. 1:3-6).
· Salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9).
· Salvation is free and unconditional (Rom. 9:11-16).
· Salvation in Christ is full, complete, and perfect (Col. 2:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:30).
· Salvation is obtained by faith alone (Acts 16:31).
SURRENDER - Sixthly, “The Mystery Of The Faith” shows us that faith in Christ is more than the acceptance of specific doctrinal truths. It is surrender to Christ as Lord (Lk. 14:25-33). Faith in Christ is neither more nor less than the commitment of my life, body, soul, and spirit, for time and eternity, to the rule, dominion, and disposal of the Lord Jesus Christ.
solidarity - Seventhly, “The Mystery Of The Faith” reveals and compels a real, everlasting solidarity of saved sinners in Christ (Eph. 3:6; Col. 3:10-11). In Christ men and women who are natural enemies, men and women from diverse and opposing cultures, races, and social classes are united in heart and purpose as one family, one body, for the glory of God. We possess a mutual love (Christ) that causes us to love each other. We seek a mutual goal (The Will And Glory Of God) that makes us submit to and serve one another. We shall obtain a mutual inheritance (Heavenly Glory) that shall dissolve all earthly distinctions. In that day, when we have obtained that which Christ holds for us in heaven, all true believers shall truly and perfectly be one in him. We shall then enter into the everlasting experience and joy of perfect knowledge, perfect holiness, and perfect commitment to Christ!
This is “The mystery of the faith,” “The mystery of Christ,” “The mystery of the gospel.” It is this mystery which God has called us to proclaim and make known unto all men.
1. Sin - The Depravity Of Men!
2. Sovereignty - The Character Of God!
3. Substitution - The Suretyship Of Christ!
4. Satisfaction - The Basis Of Grace!
5. Salvation - The Work Of Grace!
6. Surrender - The Nature Of Faith!
7. Solidarity - The Union Of Believers In Christ!