THE SACRED SECRET
(The History of the Mystery)
(The History of the Mystery)
Introduction: Eph. 3:1-13
A. In Ephesians 2 Paul had discussed Salvation (vs. 1-10), Reconciliation (vs. 11-18), and the Foundation (vs. 19-22) that God has provided for us.
B. In our present study he is going to expound on the Revelation that
makes the Salvation, Reconciliation and Foundation possible.
C. He is going to give us a brief History of the Mystery or the Sacred Secret.
D. In discussing these verses we will note three main points about the
a. The Mystery Concealed (vs. 1-5a).
b. The Mystery Revealed (vs. 5b-7).
c. The Mystery Is Real (vs. 8-13).
I. THE MYSTERY THAT WAS CONCEALED (Eph.3:1-5a).
A. Observe please that in verse 3 Paul refers to “the mystery.”
B. The word mystery means, “Something unexplained, unknown, kept secret.” (Webster).
C. The word, as used here, does not mean “mysterious” in the sense that it is impossible to explain, but rather to a secret “which in other ages (what we commonly call the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages) was not made known” as it is now.
D. Illustration: We read a book called a “mystery,” or watch a “mystery” on T.V., and we really don’t understand it until the end.
E. In much the same way the gospel was a mystery, or secret, during the Old Testament period. We might call the gospel a “the Sacred Secret.”
F. Note that the mystery was “not made known” in the other ages as it is “now revealed” (v. 5). God was making known His purpose from the very beginning (Gen. 3:15), but it was not clear and, therefore, not understood.
G. According to Paul, the “preaching of Jesus Christ” was “according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25).
H. It is “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations” (Col. 1:26).
I. But the question we might ask is, “How was it concealed or hidden?”
J. Time will not allow us to study, or even mention, all the ways it was concealed. In fact, I don’t pretend to know all the ways.
K. I do know that the Old Testament contains a “shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1).
L. So what were some of those “shadows” or “types”?
M. In order to help us remember, we will use the word “S-E-C-R-E-T” and let each letter stand for a way in which the mystery was concealed.
Sacrifices – The mystery was concealed in the sacrifices offered in the O.T. All the animal sacrifices from Abel on (Gen. 4) pointed to, in one way or another, the sacrifice of Christ. (See Heb. 10:1-14).
Expressions – There were certain expressions or statements that concealed the mystery. For example, God spoke of:
1. The “seed of woman” bruising the serpents’ head (Gen. 3:15).
2. The “seed” of Abraham blessing all nations (Gen. 22:18).
3. A “root of Jesse” and how “the Gentiles shall seek Him” (Isa. 11:10).
4. Raising up “the tabernacle of David” and including “all the gentiles” who are called by His Name (Amos 9:11-12).
Note: Those expressions and a host of others were never understood by those in other ages. The real meaning was concealed or kept secret.
Characters – There was certain individuals in the O.T. whose lives in certain respects concealed the secret. They were types or “figures” of one to come. For example:
1. Adam (1 Cor. 15:22 & 45).
2. Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6ff).
3. Moses (Acts 3:22-23).
4. Aaron (Heb. 5:4).
5. David (Ezek. 34:23-24).
6. And many others.
Race –The mystery was also concealed in God’s dealings with the Jewish race. The children of Israel and their relationship with God were also a type of something to come. For example they were:
1. Chosen ones (1 Chron. 16:13; Eph. 1:4).
2. Redeemed (Deut. 21:8; Eph. 1:7).
3. Children (Deut. 14:1; Eph. 1:5).
4. Special (Deut. 7:6; Eph. 1:6; I Pet. 2:9).
5. Saved (Ex. 14:30; Eph. 2:5).
Note: God intended for the Jewish race to be a type of God’s people today is clear from the fact that His spiritual people today are called “the twelve tribes” (Matt. 19:28;James 1:1); “house of Jacob” (Luke 1:33); and “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).
Experiences – The mystery was concealed in various experiences recorded in the Old Testament. For example:
1. Abraham offering the ram instead of Isaac (Gen. 22:1-22; 2 Cor. 5:21).
2. God delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 12-14; 1 Cor. 10:1-11).
3. The Passover Lamb (Ex. 12; 1 Cor. 5:7).
4. Jonah in the whale three days and nights (Jonah 1-2; Matt. 12-40).
Note: These experiences as well as many others typified and concealed the mystery in the O.T.
Temple – One of the most notable ways the mystery was concealed in ages past was in the temple in Jerusalem. When it was built “it was symbolic for the present time” and typified numerous “good things to come” (Heb. 10:1). The Holy Place, the most Holy Place, Altar, Curtain, etc…. were mere copies of the true and real thing (Heb. 9:24).
N. Thus we clearly see that the mystery was not “made known to the sons of men” (Eph. 3:5) and “none of the rulers of this age knew” (1 Co. 2:8), nor understood what blessings God had/has in store for those in Christ. As Isaiah wrote (64:4) in his day “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the hearts of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:8-9).
O. The Secret that was concealed in the Old Testament is now revealed in the New. As Paul wrote: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:10).
Note: God can/did keep a Secret but now the Secret’s Out and that will be the subject of lesson # 2.