Romans – Wayne Barber/Part 82
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|Well, we have finally come to the last installment of Dr. Barber’s teaching on Romans. He ends with a discussion of the power of the Gospel in the Christian’s life.|
The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
We’re going to look at the last few verses, verse 25-27, and I want to talk about the power of the gospel. Paul stated in 1:16 that he’s not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for in it is the power of God and salvation to everyone who believes. The Apostle Paul starts with the gospel and ends with the gospel, which tells you what he’s been talking about all the way through the book of Romans. The word “gospel” means good news, the good news about Jesus Christ.
Look back at 1:1 and just see how the gospel began this book, how it was carried through it and now how it ends with speaking of the good news of Jesus Christ. It says, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” That word there, “set apart,” does not mean he set himself apart for the gospel of God. Oh yes, he did once he was set apart, but God had sent him apart. Man can set himself apart to religion. God sets him apart to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s assignment as an apostle was to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world. We found in the later chapters of Romans that he was going to preach where Christ’s name had not been named. He did not build upon another man’s foundation. As a matter of fact, God through His grace enabled Paul to take the gospel from Antioch all the way to Ilyricum, which is modern day Bosnia. Fourteen hundred miles the Apostle Paul took the gospel of Jesus Christ. That was his assignment, to take the good news of Jesus to the Gentile world.
He says in 15:15-16, “But I have written very boldly to you on some points, so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.”
In 1:2 he goes on talking about the gospel. He says that this good news was prophesied by the prophets of the Old Testament. Verse 2 reads, “which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.” As a matter of fact, this was God’s plan before the foundation of the world. You realize that these people preached the gospel out of the Old Testament. The Roman road is nothing more than Old Testament scriptures brought in light of the New Testament. They did not have the New Testament. They were writing the New Testament. The gospel is all over the Old Testament.
Well, we see in verse 3 that the gospel concerns His Son, Jesus Christ. It says in verse 3, “concerning His Son,” and then it tells us what we need to know about Him. First of all that His Son emptied Himself of His glory, came to this earth, and became flesh. He didn’t enter a body. He became flesh. In fact, he says, “who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.” Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was the God Man, born of a virgin, the Virgin Mary.
In verse 4 he didn’t say He came to die for mankind, but it talks of His resurrection so it implies the gospel message. Jesus came, lived a sinless life, went to the cross, paid our sin debt, died on the cross, then raised the third day, ascended, and is glorified and lives today to offer man this eternal life. It says in verse 4, “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
But in verse 5 the Apostle Paul is still talking about the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. He says “through whom [Jesus] we have received grace.” Now I want you to think with me now lest you think of the gospel as something that happened back here and doesn’t have anything to do with me now but hopefully one day will guarantee me Heaven when Jesus comes for His church. There are many people thinking that way. They’re no longer thrilled with the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul says through Him we have received grace. Grace, first of all, means the undeserved favor of God. The Psalmist asked, “What is man that thou are mindful of Him?” When you get to that point in your life that you can’t understand how a loving, holy God considered man His creation and sent His Son for them, you begin to understand a little bit about grace. It’s not deserved. It came out of the very heart of God.
But not only is grace the undeserved favor of God, it’s the enabling power of God. This is what I want you to see. It’s in Jesus Christ. This is good news. We tell most people, “Hey, it’s good news. Jesus died for you. Now get saved, put your faith into Him and join our church. We’ll teach you how to be bitter. We’ll teach you how to mess up relationships. We’ll teach you how to be overburdened by too many assignments. We’ll teach you all of this stuff. We’ll let you know what it means to be discouraged until Jesus comes and then one day, hopefully, you’ll have a shack over there in Heaven.” The good news, folks, started at salvation, but oh, it’s so much richer than just what got me away and free from the penalty of sin. We receive grace from Christ, enabling power.
Now this grace enables me to be set free from the penalty of sin. Romans 3:24 says, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus did for me what I couldn’t do for myself, and when I put my faith into Him, then what He did is written to my account. That’s what it means to be justified. Acquitted, I’m no longer guilty before God, not in Jesus.
Romans 5:1 says I have peace with God through Jesus Christ. But not only that, this grace enables me to be set free from the power of sin. Now this is what makes the good news good news. Every day of my life Jesus Christ living in me gives me the power to say “no” to sin and to say “yes” to Him. He’s given me victory over the power of sin. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” You are under the enabling power of God. Grace enables me to be and to do what God commands me to do.
Folks, we need to realize it is in Jesus that now we receive grace, the grace to be set free from the penalty and from the power of sin. This is the beauty, the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s not only for the nonbeliever. It’s for the believer.
Ephesians 6:15 is a very important verse. Look over there with me for a second. I want you to see something. There are a lot of people who don’t understand the gospel. They’re preaching nothing more than a message of works, a form of the gospel, but they deny the power thereof. It’s for that reason they are absolute targets of the enemy, the adversary, the devil. Ephesians 6:15 is talking about Christ being our armor. But look at what it says in verse 15, “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” That word “preparation” means a firm grasp of something, a firm footing into something. If we don’t understand the preparation of the gospel, if we don’t understand the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the good news of Jesus Christ, we’re defeated before we get started in the warfare we live in every day of our life. We must understand that it was Jesus back then, it’s Jesus today and it’ll always be Jesus. That’s the good news of the gospel.
What is the victory that Jesus has in your life right now? In Romans 6:3 it’s no wonder Paul says, “do you not know,” agnoeo, present tense. Are you walking around without this understanding? Yes, there are many believers walking around without this understanding. They don’t understand salvation. They don’t understand the gospel. He says that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. You see, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ is not just that Jesus got us out of hell and one day will get us into heaven. The good news is He took heaven and put it into us. He lives in us. That’s the good news.
I want you to go back to Romans 6:5 one more time. This is the last message in Romans. I want to make sure we understand this one verse that simply rocked me when I was studying it. In Romans 6:5 the King James Version uses the word “planted with Him,” but the word used in the New American Standard is “united with Him.” I like that much better. It says, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” The word “united” is sumphutos. We are planted together with, you could say that. You almost get the idea of two things side by side, but the idea I get out of this is not that. There are two words for “with” in the Greek language as I understand it. There’s one word, meta, which is the with of association. We’re with each other in church. That’s the word meta. We love the Lord. We’re drawn to church by the common denominator of our love for Jesus and our love for His Word. But when the service is over we all go our own way.
But there’s another word for “with.” We only have one in English and that’s why it’s so hard to understand. But the Greeks had more than that. It’s the little word, sun. It’s the word of intimacy, of when two things come together to where they cannot be separated. We are united together with Him when He died and we are united together with Him as He arose. Though we died with Him, now so we live, sun, with Him.
Remember the illustration we used. You have some ingredients of a biscuit, and you put all of those ingredients on a baking sheet. You put the flour and the baking powder and the salt and somebody said to put the lard. You put the lard down on there and whatever else you put in the biscuit. Those ingredients on that baking sheet are with one another. They’re with each other, meta, the with of association. You can separate them at any time. But take those same ingredients and mix them together. Put that into the oven and bake it, and those ingredients together come out as a biscuit. I want to tell you. When you bake it, after it’s been in that oven under that heat and that pressure of what it does to it, there’s another word for “with.” Those ingredients are still with each other but the word changes now to sun. They’re so entwined together that nothing, no scientist who has ever lived, can separate those ingredients from one another. I’m united together with Him in His death. I’m united together with Him in His resurrection, in His life. Jesus has “baked” His life into me.
That’s the good news. The good news is that when I wake up tomorrow morning Jesus lives in me. The good news is when I have to go through whatever valley I go through Jesus lives in me. Through Him I receive grace. Grace is the enabling power to do what I could not do but now I can do it in His power. That’s good news. The gospel means more than just getting in the kingdom. Now that you’re in the kingdom, how are you living? Are you enjoying the marvelous power of the gospel in your life? That’s what he’s saying, folks. He starts with the gospel, continues with the gospel, and ends with the gospel. The whole book of Romans is the good news of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Well, no wonder Paul said in Romans 15:17-18, “Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” How many times have you heard this? “Jesus be Jesus in me. No longer me but thee. Resurrection power fill me this hour. Jesus be Jesus in me.” That’s the message. That’s the good news. Grace enables us now to do what God has commanded us to do. It is this gospel, the good news of Jesus, that he starts and finishes with.
When you put your faith into Christ, He went down into the darkness of your sin, took you out of that pit, took you across the threshold from death into life, ushered you into heaven, seated you in the heavenlies and put His Spirit into your life. That’s good news, folks. There’s not one single thing on this earth that can ever defeat us if we’ll keep our eyes on the gospel, if we’ll live in light of the good news, if we’ll live in the light of the power of Jesus Christ living in us. It’s the gospel that Paul is talking about here in Romans. He starts with it. He finishes with it. No wonder people don’t know what the gospel is any more.
We’re not living in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s what Romans has been all about, folks. There was sin in chapters 1, 2, and 3; salvation in chapters 3-5; sanctification in 6-8; security and sovereignty in 9-11; then finally the joy we get in the privilege of serving Him in 12-16. The gospel, what else is there?
There are two things about the gospel we’re going to bring out as we close the book of Romans. First of all is the fact that God establishes men through the gospel. Secondly, God enlightens men through the gospel. Those two things Paul brings out about the gospel as he signs off the book, as he tries to get this point once again across to us of the good news of Jesus Christ.
In verses 25-27 he says, “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 which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever, Amen.”
That’s a lot of words, and it’s not that easy to discern from the original language. But I want to attempt it in two things. First of all, God establishes men through the gospel. The Apostle Paul is writing to believers. He’s interested in believers being established in the gospel. That’s interesting to me. Go back to 1:11. He says, “For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, (now watch) that you may be established.” In closing he says almost the same thing. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel.”
He, first of all, points to God through Jesus Christ, the One who’s able to estab‑lish us. The word for able is dunamai, which means He has the ability to do what thegospel cannot do, but He can do it through the gospel. It’s Him doing the establish‑ing. The means that He uses is the gospel. Paul is lifting up the Father who is ableto establish us as believers. What does it mean to establish us? The word is sterizo.It comes from histemi, to stand. It means to set fast, to fix firmly. Here in this verse it means to make steadfast in mind, to confirm, strengthen. It’s like if you wanted to put something down and make it stand where you put it you would put it in something that’s solid and concrete. The thing that’s concrete, the thing that is solid is the gospel. God will use the gospel to fix our minds to strengthen our minds, to confirm things in our hearts.
To put it another way, He uses the gospel to help us live sane in an insane world. Now, folks, it’s the gospel that establishes a man’s mind. It’s the gospel that confirms to him truth, keeps him on target, keeps him on the path. How does He choose to do it? It’s with the gospel. Verse 25 again reads, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel.” Some people view Paul in funny ways. They see him as an egotist. They say, “Yeah, Paul. Look at him. Here he goes, ‘my gospel.’” Now be careful when you read that. That’s a surface translation, and not even a good one. We know more about that in the Apostle Paul. We know he’s a bondservant of Christ Jesus. So what would he mean when he says “my gospel”? He simply means the same gospel that Peter preached, the same gospel that John preached, the same gospel that was revealed to each of our hearts as apostles.
Look over in Galatians 1:11-12 and it answers that. There are some people, the liberals (who I call the lost), who believe that Paul is one of those egocentric type of people. They don’t take much of what he says seriously. You better take him seriously. He’s one of the greatest Christians in the New Testament. These guys who say that have absolutely no founding behind them. Verses 11-12 say, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel [good news of Christ] which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” So it’s not his gospel. It’s God’s gospel that He revealed to Paul, revealed to John, revealed to Peter and transformed their lives. Then they were assigned to take it and give it to us.
When a believer looks back at when he was lost he realizes how God used this gospel to reveal to him through the scriptures, through these men who wrote it. You understand that it was the gospel that first grabbed your mind and established it. You think about what I’m saying. Even though Paul is saying, “You believers, be established in the gospel,” it was the gospel that first got them established.
Now what am I saying? Well, I’m saying that we’re products of Romans 1:28. We came out of this, folks. Every one of us came out of this. Romans 1:28 says, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.” You see the result of men without the gospel, when men refuse to acknowledge God. They worship the creation and not the creator. Romans 1 says that God turned them over to a depraved mind generation after generation after generation. That’s where you and I came out of.
I want to tell you something. The mind of a lost person is insane, folks. He doesn’t have any values. He’s confused. He’s depressed. We’re seeing all kinds of perverted acts going on in our world today and people are saying, “Where does it come from?” I’ll tell you where it comes from. It comes from sin. It comes from a mind that’s not been renewed by the truth of God’s Word. It’s never been established with the gospel of Jesus Christ. A mind that’s never been transformed. Man, what kind of pervert would put a bomb on a airplane, or in a crowded mall? What kind of person rapes and kills little children? What kind of person would do that? I want to tell you, friend. Exactly what all of us were before the gospel established our minds. I tell you what. You want to point a finger. You better remember there are three more pointing right back at you. The only way to live sane in an insane world is to be established by the good news of Jesus Christ in your mind. It’s the Word of God that turns it around. It’s the Word of God that gets hold of you and turns it.
One man was talking about a time in his life when he first came to know Christ. He said, “My wife was seeing another man, and I did not know it. One day another man came to me and told me about it. I went back to my home (three days after he got saved), went into the garage, picked up an ax and put it in my truck, and I was on my way to kill that man.” He said, “When I got there, I waited for him to get home. I got out of my truck and the man began to tremble as I was walking towards him. I hadn’t grown very much in the Lord. I just had gotten saved. But there were two things God had in my mind that I remembered even from childhood, a seed that was planted there. One was you’ve got to love your enemy. I remembered that over and over again. John 3:16 was the other, God loves you and you once were His enemy.”
He said as he was walking across the yard God just stopped him. He dropped that ax and asked the man if he could talk to him. The man said, “For what?” He said, “I just wanted you to know that my Jesus died on the cross to forgive you for what you and my wife are doing together.” From an insane world into the sanity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the truth that establishes a man’s mind. God does it that way not only when you’re lost to get you saved, but listen friend, he’s writing here to the believers. He wants their minds to be established with the good news of Jesus Christ.
I don’t know all the different applications of this. I know one that God spoke to my heart when I was studying this. How many times in my life have I as a pastor, as a believer, as a husband, as a father gotten my eyes off of the fact that I can’t and God never said I could? The good news is He can and He always said He would. How many times my mind turns to the insane thoughts of my flesh and of this world. How quickly my behavior is affected by that and how quickly I’m out of the Word of God and no longer focused on Him. The very moment that I turn away from the list that is within me and the enabling grace and the power of God that’s within me is the very moment I need to be reestablished in my mind by the good news of Jesus Christ. The very moment a circumstance comes into my life that I can’t handle and I begin to try do it in my own energy is when my mind becomes insane. It gets off track of what God would want it to be and immediately I start acting the same way. I wonder what you’re going through.
Have you come to understand the good news that whatever’s going on in your life God is using it to transform and conform you in the image of Christ Jesus? He’s not trying to add something to you. He’s trying to cut a lot of things out of you to get the image that He wants in you, which is of His Son Jesus Christ. You see, that’s the good news of the gospel. Life never works against you. It works for you. God establishes men in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of Jesus Christ. Hopefully our minds have been established by what Paul has taught us in Romans.
I want to make another point here about circumstances in your life. You know, it says over in Romans 8:28, “For we know that God causes all things to work together for good in our life.” A man in our church told me that he and his wife built a house in a subdivision that was brand new. He said that the developers needed to use his water line for other houses that were being built there. They asked him if they could use it and he said fine, so they hooked onto his water line. Well, you know, in a new subdivision everything’s dirt. He said that it wasn’t long before his water line began to leak. He called plumbers. He did everything he knew to do to try to stop that leak. That water was seeping out into his backyard and it was becoming overnight a gigantic mudpie. He said that he did everything. About a month and a half into it he and his wife got before the Lord and said, “Lord, if You just want our yard to be a giant mudpie, it’s Your yard. Help Yourself. I can’t do anything. I can’t find a plumber to fix it.” The verse that kept coming to them was Romans 8:28. God causes all things to work together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Almost two months to the day their little child fell about ten to twelve feet off a deck in the back, headfirst into two feet of mud. When they got him to the hospital the doctor there in the emergency room said, “Son, your child would be dead had it not been for that mud in that backyard.” That man said to me, “I know something about Romans 8:28. It took God two months to prepare my yard to catch the fall of my son.” You see, folks, God’s always working that way in our lives if we will just look for it.
Well secondly, God enlightens men through the gospel. Paul says in verses 25- 26, “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 which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now if manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.” The words “revelation” and “mystery” work together in tandem. The word “revelation” is the word apokalupsis, which is the word used for the book of Revelation. That’s the word used there. It means take the lid off something that has before been covered or hidden. It means to take the lid off. The word “mystery” is the word musterion. It does not carry the connotation that we think of in English, because we think of it as something we can solve.
Well that’s the way we view a mystery, but that’s not the way God views a mystery. When it’s in the Christian vocabulary, it’s something that God has hidden, and we will never discover it in a million years unless God chooses to reveal it and take the lid off of it. It can not only be that which is completely hidden. It can also be that which is partially hidden. However, it has to do with God taking the lid off, uncovering, and helping us to understand.
Now, what was hidden in the Old Testament that the preaching of Jesus Christ, the gospel uncovered? The prophets had something to do with it. What was it that was uncovered by the gospel? Well, there could be several things. If you’ll take the word “mystery” and run it through the New Testament it goes in many different ways. I think contextually, because he’s just been talking about his ministry to the Gentiles back in chapter 15, the main thing seems to be that both Gentile and Jew can be a part of the Kingdom of God. In the Old Testament the Jews felt like that the Gentiles were dogs. You come to the gospels, and that’s what they’re called. They never had a place for the Gentile world. But, you see, the mystery I believe that Paul, by writing to the church at Rome, would probably more than anything else be talking about would be the mystery of how anyone, whether Jew or Gentile, can become a brand new person in Christ Jesus.
In Ephesians 3:3-6 Paul says that. He says, “that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel… [verse 9] and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things.”
So it seems to be that the gospel of Jesus Christ takes the lid off of this which people did not understand. That is, why does the Gentile world even exist? All of a sudden to the Jewish mind he understands the Gentile is as much a recipient of God’s grace as the Jewish person is the recipient of God’s grace. It was already predicted by the prophets. In verse 26 of Romans 16 Paul says, “but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.” If they could have seen that, but they couldn’t because God has to reveal it. It was right there in their very prophets in the Old Testament that the Gentiles were included in the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus.
Listen to Isaiah 53:11. He says, “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” Now the many does not mean all those different people in Israel. It means the many of all mankind, whether Jew or Gentile.
Jeremiah 31:31 says, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’” Verse 33 says, “‘But this is the covenant which will I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’”
Ezekiel 11:19 reads, “And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” a tender responsive heart. Now, the Jews would have said, “That’s only to us.” However, as you come into the gospel of Jesus Christ, which Hebrews calls the better covenant, the new covenant, and then Romans says in 11:25 that we’re grafted in to that vine by faith, you begin to realize that also included the Gentiles. That was the mystery the Jewish mind could never have understood. Paul was a converted Jew writing all this. No wonder he saw the revelation of what God had shown to him. But the full meaning of these prophesies was a mystery even to their own prophets.
Peter says in 1 Peter 1:10 they didn’t understand. He says, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry.” They didn’t understand it. Verse 11 continues, “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
It goes all the way back to the Abrahamic covenant. God told Abraham that it would not just be Israel that would be given this opportunity. That it would also be the Gentiles. It says in Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth [not just Israel] shall be blessed.” You see, Israel was to be a light to the nations, to bring forth the Messiah, the one who would come to redeem us all. But they rejected Him.
It says in Isaiah 42:6, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations.” Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah said in Isaiah 49:6, “He say, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel.’” It’s too small a thing. “I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” That’s the passage that Paul and Barnabas quoted to the Gentiles and Jews in Antioch in Acts 13:46-47.
A mystery, a mystery, the whole church is a mystery in the Old Testament. It begins to be revealed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, the truth of Jesus, what He came to do. His fulfillment of the old enlightens man’s mind. God used that to reveal, to take the lid off things that had previously been hidden.
Ephesians 2:14-16 says, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.”
In other words, God doesn’t make a Jew who puts his faith into Christ a completed Jew, and He doesn’t make a Gentile who puts his faith into Christ a completed Gentile. He makes them both into one brand new person in Jesus Christ. That’s a mystery, folks. That is the mystery. They did not understand that in the Old Testament and only by the light of the gospel revealed to Paul could it even be understood by us because now it’s made known through the church of the ages.
But the mystery doesn’t stop there, folks, with the Gentiles and the Jews being one. One day all believers in Jesus Christ, Jew and Gentile, will be taken out of this world to be with Christ. Do you know why? Because we received the Lamb, therefore, we’re not destined for the wrath. We’ve received the Lamb. One day that’s going to take place. 1 Corinthians 15:51 calls that a mystery that the gospel unveils. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
It’s repeated again in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Verse 17 continues, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” You see, if you’ve received Jesus Christ and have become a brand new person in Him, you’re not destined for wrath. You’re looking forward to a day. That’s your hope that He’s going to take you out of here. That was a mystery before, but it’s become clearly revealed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It doesn’t stop there. Once we’re out of here 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.” The gospel revealed that there are going to be seven years down here. A mystery, yes, but the gospel’s going to reveal it. Even the book of Daniel was sealed until those days because God is not through with the nation of Israel yet. That’s going to be the time of their atonement. Seven years is planned there. The worst, most awful time on this earth is coming, folks. I want you to understand that. It’s going to get a lot worse. Thank God He’s taking us out of here first.
But the mystery even goes beyond that, and the gospel clears it up. It goes all the way to the thousand year reign of Jesus on this earth. It goes all the way to that final rebellion of Satan. It goes to the great white throne judgment. It goes to where Satan and all of the unrighteous are thrown into hell for the first time. They’ve been in Hades until then. Then you see from that point on a brand new heaven and a brand new earth. The gospel has taken the lid off what people did not understand in the old. It has clearly revealed. The prophets had a part in it, but now the gospel has enlightened man’s mind as to what the future holds for those who believe Him.
I love the way Paul ends it by giving tribute to the One who is able to do these two things through His gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ. The last verse says, “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” Now why wouldn’t he say to the only powerful God or to the only gracious God or to the only loving God? He didn’t say that, did he? He said to the only wise God. Why would he? I don’t know but I think what he’s doing here is saying “Only God, folks, only God could effect and perfect a salvation such as ours, only God. Only God could come up with a salvation like ours.” He not only comes up with it, but He sustains it and carries it all the way through. That’s the salvation that we have.
The good news is today and Jesus lives in you. He’s delivered you from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and one day, the mystery’s been revealed, He’s going to deliver us from the presence of sin when He comes for us and gives us a brand new resurrected body. What an ending! It’s not really an ending, is it? It never ends. It just goes on forever.