If you’ve spent much time perusing your Bible, you’ve probably stumbled across passages dealing with the “mystery” (and most likely, these were passages written by Paul). In Ephesians 3, Paul spends time revealing the mystery to us: that the Gentiles now have access to salvation! Wrapped up in this mystery is God’s entire plan of salvation – salvation for all! But why is it called a “mystery?” And should it still be “mysterious” to us today?
I think 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 best explains the way in which Christ’s gospel was/is a mystery. As vs 18 says:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
We can see from this passage that God’s plan of salvation makes no sense to those who refuse to believe it, but to those of us who accept it, it’s brilliant! Verse 21 goes on to say:
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
See, because the world is so “wise,” it views the concept of God as foolishness. They have been blinded by their own pretensions. For the Jews and Greeks of the day, it wasn’t that they didn’t believe in the supernatural; it wasn’t that they didn’t believe in deities. Their problem was that they thought they already knew what God would do. The Jews already had a fixed idea of what the Messiah would be, so when Christ appeared and didn’t lead them to victory against the Romans, they refused to accept him. The Greeks didn’t accept Christ because they couldn’t conceive of a god allowing himself to be put to death by his own creation. And because they already had things “figured out,” they missed their chance.
Today, people do the same thing. They would rather put faith in scientific theories that have not been proven. They would rather believe that all of the order we see in our universe (the fragile food chain, vast differences throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, the very specific orbits of planets, etc) was created through a giant explosion (something that, in all practical applications, has only been shown to destroy, not create). Have they been blinded by their own “wisdom?”
Too often, even those who profess to be religious only listen to their own ideas about what God wants. Many times they view the Bible as a collection of stories or suggestions, and not the “wisdom of God that leads to salvation” that 1 Corinthians purports it to be. How is that different from what the Jews and Greeks were condemned for?
Throughout the Bible, passages talk about truth and understanding. I firmly believe that God gave us understanding and intellect for a reason. We are supposed to be able to understand God’s message for us. It’s not supposed to be “mysterious” any longer. It’s not supposed to be some “better felt than told” experience. No, God’s word is supposed to be powerful and undeniable. It’s supposed to move us and touch us in a way that nothing else can. But for it to do that, we have to read it, study it, know it.