People keep secrets for different reasons, some out of spite or malice others in the hope of protecting the people they love. While many secrets are really nothing more than gossip or hearsay, some secrets are such profound mysteries they cannot be penetrated, they must be revealed.
Our Creator holds the most crucial of all secrets; He holds the secret of the meaning of life and He has revealed to us the reason death brings this wonderful gift of life to an end. The secret of life has been an open secret from the very beginning of time (Gen 1 & 2) and the reason death plagues all living creatures was also explained to the very first people on earth (Gen 2:17).
The Meaning of Life
With modern technology we have been able to minutely examine the detail of living organisms – or the mechanics of life – but this does not answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?”
People have had access to the answer to this question since the world began. However, those people who have come to know and trust the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ understand that when death first entered the world (Gen 3:1-6), humanity was distanced from such knowledge. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden and separated from the true source of all knowledge – God their Creator.
Thankfully, our Creator had already determined this would not always be the case; from before time began He began to plan and implement His glorious rescue plan for humanity, which would bring people back into a relationship with Himself, giving them renewed access to His wisdom.
As our Father foreknew all that would happen in the history of our world (Is 46:10); before He created the universe He carefully preordained and set about meticulously implementing a programme to enable those who would choose His Way to be part of His future eternal Kingdom (1 Pet 1:20). From before the foundations of the world God knew who would choose to join Him in eternity (Eph 1:4), but to ensure His plan would succeed, it was imperative for our Father to keep many mysteries hidden until the right time for them to be revealed.
The Seven Great Mysteries of the World
When I was a child I was fascinated by the Seven Great Wonders of the World. When I came to know Jesus I discovered that The New Testament outlines the Seven Great Mysteries of the World that our Father has revealed through His Word to those who would learn from Him. Unlike the wonders of the world, these Great Mysteries are everlasting truths and their implications will reach into eternity.
Although the Father holds back secrets to be revealed when He knows the time is right, He has progressively revealed those Great Mysteries that will be to our benefit. Without a doubt, the most precious secret He has thus far unveiled, is what some translations of the Bible call The Mystery of the Gospel (Eph 6:19).
The word gospel derives from the Old English word gōdspel, which means God’s tale; this is a paraphrase of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, which translates into modern English as Good News. This Mystery of the Gospel is actually a web of mysteries, all related to the one Great Mystery – the Mystery of Christ (Col 4:3). Our Father has revealed that the first and Greatest Mystery is – God our omnipotent Creator was made manifest in the flesh. As Paul explained to Timothy:
Without question, this is the Great Mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. (1 Tim 3:16) NLT
This first mystery unlocks the next six Great Mysteries God has revealed. The apostle Paul explained that these mysteries surrounding God’s plan for humanity were carefully hidden from earlier generations, but after the resurrection their full impact could be revealed. Paul told the Corinthians:
….. my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the Mystery of God—His plan that was previously hidden, even though He made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. (1 Cor 2:4-8) NLT
When we unpack this passage from Paul we find layer upon layer of meaning. Foremost we understand that God has revealed the Great Mystery of His plan and purpose for humanity to all who seek His wisdom rather than the passing wisdom of this world.
He has given us the Good News and those who seek His wisdom will be able to fathom the Mystery of Christ, which is, that although He was instrumental in the creation of the universe (Col 1:16), He became a human person and died a sinless death on our behalf. By this almost incomprehensible sacrifice, He made it possible for anyone who would believe His words and accept His death on their behalf to receive His gracious gift of eternal life and enter His eternal Kingdom.
Spiritual Powers Kept In the Dark
The next layer of meaning we find in this passage from Paul’s epistle is related to the last sentence. Paul explained that “the rulers of this world” did not understand God’s hidden mystery, otherwise they would not have crucified our glorious Lord (1 Cor 2:8).
It is obvious the rulers Paul is referring to in the earlier part of the passage are the Romans and powerful Jews who agitated to have Jesus crucified, they are the ones who are soon forgotten. The Greek word used in association with these rulers has a sense of their activity completely ceasing.
However, the deeper meaning revealed by the last sentence goes beyond these mere physical rulers, it goes to those behind them. These powerful beings were present at the very beginning of human history (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8) and this part of our passage alludes to them.
The Ruler of This World
These beings are the spiritual powers working behind the scenes, coaxing, driving and influencing the mortal instruments of their designs. They are the rulers of this world who are also called the principalities and powers (Eph 6:12; Col 2:15). They are mentioned throughout the Bible and their activity will not cease until they are cast into the lake of fire God has prepared for them and their leader (Matthew 25:41).
The apostle John recorded Jesus’ words when He told some Jewish people they were of their father, the devil (John 8:44). Jesus recognised the true motivation behind the machinations of the Jewish leaders who were trying to kill Him (John 8:40).
Later, He talked about “the ruler of this world” in association with His coming death (John 14:30). This ruler is clearly satan, “the prince of the power of the air” mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph 2:2-3). John also explained that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
God’s Rescue Plan Should Be Announced to All
Satan and his demonic forces are referred to throughout the New Testament as principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Rom 8:38; Eph 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:15; 1 Pet 3:22). Paul tells the Corinthians that not only were the worldly rulers ignorant of what they had set in motion by crucifying their Creator, these unseen powers were also caught off guard by God’s foreordained plan.
Satan would not have prompted people to act in the way they did had he known the true outcome of the crucifixion. That is why our Father, in His wisdom, kept the details of His great rescue plan a mystery. Our Father has very good reasons for keeping things hidden until the time is right to reveal them, but He makes all things plain at just the right time.
Jesus instructed His people to reveal His rescue plan to anyone who would listen (Mark 16:15), no matter what the cost. When writing to his young friend Timothy from a prison cell in Rome, the apostle Paul said:
God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time—to show us His grace through Christ Jesus. And now He has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. ( 2 Tim 1:7-10) NLT
The majority of the apostles gave their lives to share this Good News. They had no intention of keeping secret what the Father had revealed through the incarnation of His Son. The Good News is that Jesus Christ has revealed and carried out His rescue plan for humanity.
While this divine plan was kept secret from the beginning of time, God had been working to prepare the way for His Son’s incarnation. His prophets had foretold the coming of a Messiah, who would reveal this wonderful mystery to people everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey Him (Romans 6:25-26) and share in the eternal Kingdom He has prepared for His people (John 14:1-3).
Although details of His plan are now freely available to those who seek after Truth, many people choose to remain ignorant of the mysteries God has revealed and instead they become wise in their own eyes (Romans 11:25). While claiming to be wise they eschew the wisdom of God their Creator. But the Father has declared He will eventually destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nought the discernment of the discerning (1 Cor 1:19). He tells us plainly that the wisdom of this world is foolish, because it cannot comprehend His hidden Truth, which He keeps for those who believe in His Son.
My original intention was to write about The Seven Great Mysteries of the World in one post. However, the more I looked at each one, the more I realised one post would not even scratch the surface. I will now deal with each Mystery individually, making this a seven post topic. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!