Mysteries of the Bible, Part 2
Unveiling the Future
The Poet said, Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you. I’m not sure he was correct, because there is not just one, but there are many mysteries of life. Whoever we may be, whatever brilliance we may achieve in all of life, we can never claim to have probed too deeply the mysteries of life. Certainly, we cannot claim to have exhausted them.
The things that God wants to tell us about, we should know. The things that God wants us to continually think about, we should hold constant in our minds, until we arrive on the wonderful shores of heaven.
We have talked about some mysteries that have challenged the minds of men through the ages. Now let us focus on the mysteries which have implications for the future, and in particular the prophetic future.
The Mystery of the Future
First of all, think about the mystery of the future. The person who wrote the Proverbs had something very important to say about this: “Boast not yourself of tomorrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). Never forget that. The future is a mystery, and it’s going to continue to be so. This is a good time for a word of warning, because we have a lot of so-called prophets walking around in today’s world. Sometimes they appear at county fairs, and sometimes they appear in churches. They say, I can tell you what the future is going to bring. And they’ll announce the day or the hour of something; perhaps the return of Christ, perhaps an economic collapse, perhaps a particular spectacular event like an earthquake or a firestorm. They ask you to believe that what they say about the future is going to come true.
Put it down in your diary, and never forget it: the future is a mystery! Therefore, the person who attempts in his own name to predict the future is a charlatan. He is lying to you. Hold ere this truth before your eyes, that all the world is lies and lies. And particularly is this true about the people who attempt to predict the future. However, that having been said, there is one exception to the future being a mystery. Amazing details of the future can be found in the Bible, contained in Scriptures we have come to call the Prophetic Word.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
We can look into the Prophetic Word, and we know a number of things for sure. We know that the future is going to continue until the time appointed by the Lord. We know that as we move into the future, we will be in the midst of a deteriorating culture. We know that Christ is going to come again, as we shall mention further. We know about a period of time called the Great Tribulation. We know about the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And we know quite a number of significant details in the midst of those high points of knowledge.
The Book of the Revelation, the Book of Daniel, and other of the books of the New and Old Testaments tell us about the future, so it must have legitimate meaning for us. The Bible says that it contains all that pertains to life and godliness, and to some degree, that includes the future. In fact, God presides above all of the future. But beyond that, watch out for the charlatans. Never put money in the hands of people who look into a crystal ball, and tell you whether your marriage will work or that you will soon come into easy money. Do they read by the lines of your hand: your life line, and your death line? Well, the future is not determined by our hands. “My times are in Your hand (Psalm 31:15), says the Word of God about the future. Keep your eye on the mystery of the future. You don’t know what the day or the hour shall bring forth, but God will be in the midst of it all.
The Mystery of the Church
Consider the mystery of the Church. This is far more profound and important than we can consider in a short space, but the Bible very definitely tells us that God has brought to pass a very remarkable plan.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in few words, Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:1-6).
What was the mystery? It was that God would produce something new in history, a new living entity. Some people would call it an organization, but that’s not true. It’s an organism: a living entity called the Body of Christ. The mystery was the startling announcement that the whole world, the Gentile world especially, would be given the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ, and be born again. He also told us that the message that would go out to the Gentiles would not be the message that says, Keep the Law, and you will be a part of the State of Israel.” But the message was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).
So the mystery of the Church began to be revealed in the pages of the New Testament, totally unforeseen in the Old Testament. No prophet knew about it; Christ did not tell us about it; it came as a result of His death and resurrection, and God’s program for the nation of Israel being temporarily set aside. He brought to pass the Church, the Body of Christ. When you are a Christian, you are a member of His living Body.
The Mystery of the Rapture
That helps us to consider the mystery of the Rapture of the Church. What is the ultimate destiny of the Christian? Is the Christian supposed to be dragged through the awful years of the Great Tribulation? Listen to what the Bible says:
“Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Here the Apostle Paul is saying, “One more mystery I want you to know about,” a mystery being something you could not figure out by your own logic, but which is told to us by God. He said, “I want you to think about the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.” He’s telling us what he has told us in some other places as well: that we live in a period of time, this Dispensation of Grace, in which God is building this organism, the Church. God is calling out of the world a people for His Name. But there is coming a day in which the Church Age will be done. What will mark that day? The answer is:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Now, the logic of attempting to predict the day or the hour that Christ will intervene in history and take His own home to be with Himself, is not logic at all. It’s simply an attempt to name the future, based upon human reasoning. We cannot know the future, except as God tells it to us. He tells us that there is coming an event that will be unprecedented. There will be no build-up to it. You can’t put a date on it by calculating a series of signs step-by-step. It’s going to happen quickly. It’s intended to come as a great surprise to the world, and a great deliverance to many Christians. God has told us that there is going to be a period of time called the Tribulation, but He speaks to the Church and says:
“Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
How will He do that? He will do that by catching us up to be with Himself. So I give you a promise, and the promise is this: there is a generation of Christians who will not die. Rather, in their living bodies, they will be caught up to heaven, into the very presence of Christ Himself. What a day that will be!
You ask me to explain this? The Bible says, it is a mystery. “Behold, I show you a mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Now, having been shown that mystery, we should look with great expectation toward the return of Jesus Christ. That expectation should cause us to live lives that are pure, clean, and enormously capable for Him, filled with bright anticipation.
The Mystery of the Antichrist
Think, then, about the mystery of the Antichrist, which is also carefully explained in Scripture. You’ll recall we mentioned how “the mystery of iniquity does already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). However, that mystery, that tide of iniquity, is hindered by the activity of the Holy Spirit working through the Church. But keep in mind what will happen, when that retarding force is taken away.
“And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
So, you have a mysterious person, who may even now be lurking on the scenes of history. He may even now be in some walnut-paneled office, laying out his schemes, his territorial imperatives, his plans for the future. Maybe he’s a hard charger, who already is the president or king or leader of some country, but who never will be satisfied until he achieves his burning ambition to run the world. That person is not known to us now. But the Bible says when the force that restrains is taken away, “then shall that wicked one be revealed.” Sure, we can guess at who the Antichrist may be. I have papers on my desk with at least a dozen different approximations of that, sent to me by various people. But we can’t really know with any certaintythat is, by Divine revelationwho the Antichrist is, until he is revealed, when the Church is taken out of the world.
The mystery of the Antichristhe’s a mysterious guy. But it’s also mysterious that there can be a principle in the world called the “spirit of antichrist” a spirit which John says is already in the world (1 John 4:3). Isn’t it mysterious how a principle can slowly become embodied, finally taking shape in the form of a person? That person is so much the embodiment of evil, that he is called “that man of sin. . . the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
How can a human heart become so wicked, that finally he will be responsible for the murder of millions of people, vast coercion across the world, and all of the rest of it? How could this happen? Well, it is the “mystery of iniquity,” finally embodied in the mystery of the Antichrist, to be unveiled to the world when the Church is gone.
The Mystery of Ultimate Reality
Does it ever frustrate you that here we are, little creatures, in the midst of an awesome universe, large and complicated beyond description? In those moments of humility that I trust come to us all rather frequently, we must ask, “Who are welittle tiny specks of dust in the midst of this vast creation?”
Well, that set of questions almost moves over into the realm of philosophy, a subject which I’ve had the opportunity to teach in days gone by. Philosophers are constantly discussing the question of ultimate reality. It’s called “cosmology,” and then it’s called “teleology,” and finally its called “ontology”the ultimate nature of reality. We think we are smart and brilliant and know a lot. But we don’t even know what life is. We don’t know what light is. We don’t even know what time is. We do not know how the mind influences the body. We do not know anything about spiritual things. Besides that, there are many in the realm of science who are willingly ignorant about a lot of other things. They don’t even know where morality comes from. In fact, it’s one of the great things to wonder at todayhow little science knows, and how it limits itself by its inhibiting philosophies, guaranteeing thereby that it will know even less in the day! s to come.
What about ultimate reality? What is the final substance of eternity from which all things come? We have a hint in the Word of God. The Apostle Paul was a very astute philosopher. He makes some statements to us that are wonderful:
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many abound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:15-18).
To see this can instantly solve some pressing questions of life. The Apostle Paul is being asked, in effect, the question, “What is final reality?” Now Paul is not quite a neo-Platonist, but he did say there were two kinds of reality: that which is not seen, and that which is seen.
Everything which you can see: houses, and lands, and cars, and clothes, the human externals of people, what we call the realities of lifethese things, the Apostle Paul says, are temporal. They are only significant within the confines of time. Yes, they are relatively important, but there will come a day whenpoofthey are all gone! They are not lasting. We have only a temporary association with any of those things, and you cannot keep them. These are passing scenes in life.
In effect, the Apostle Paul says, don’t trust them. Don’t think money is the ultimate reality. Don’t think that fame is ultimate reality. There is very little difference between “Who’s who” and “Who’s that?” Don’t trust your friends and their promised fidelity to you. All things which you can see with the sight of your eyes, which you think you can prove empiricallythese things are not important, the Apostle Paul says. Paul goes on to say that reality is made of what you cannot see. Reality, if you please, is a set of mysteries that are unfolded to us by a gracious God. It is out of the unveiling of these mysteries that we begin to understand reality. For instance, talking about Jesus Christ, the Bible says:
“Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing” (1 Peter 1:8).
Reality is a Person, Jesus Christ. We have never seen Jesus Christ, but we believe in Him. And the Bible says: “Believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).This is because we have believed in the Person of the living God who is invisible. The Bible tells us about believing Christians, and the reason for their fidelity. It says they seek “a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). There is an invisible city, that is out there somewhere, that we are moving toward, and that we’re going to live in one day. That city is called the New Jerusalem. That city is heaven. And we live for heaven, rather than for the purposes of earth.
Ultimate reality, then, is unseen. Ultimate reality is the Person of God. It is the Being of Jesus Christ. What is real above all else in our lives, is the connection that we have with Him. How do I become a part of ultimate reality? Strictly speaking, until I know Christ, I am nothing. I have no significance, no real contact with reality. But when I believe the Gospel, I become something, and what is that?
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
My congratulations to you, if you are a Christian. You are on the right track. All of these mysteries of which we have spoken will one day vanish like a morning cloud. The sunlight of Divine illumination will make every one of them perfectly clear. Then we shall know even as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
By the way, one of the horrible things about being a lost sinner, is that you’ll never really know. No promise is given to the lost sinner that then shall we know even as we are known. But perfect knowledge, perfect wisdom, the solving of every mystery, is a promise given to every Christian. For many other reasons, but especially for that one, I invite you today to become a Christian.
The Mystery of YOUR Future
Thank God salvation is no longer a mystery. But rather, Christ says, “Come unto Me,” and He says it to you. Would you like to know Christ today, to be a real Christian, to have everlasting life? If you will believe in Him, that He is the Son of God, and died for your sins, He promises to give you life eternal. You have the opportunity to receive Him now. Let me invite you to do this. You may want to pray this prayer, truly accepting Christ.
“Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner. I know that Christ died for my sins on the cross, and rose again. I want now to take Him as my personal Savior. Please come to live within me, and give me the assurance of salvation, I pray in Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.”
If you have said that prayer to accept Christ, and meant it in your heart, your eternal destiny is no longer a mystery. You are a child of God beyond a shadow of a doubt! Please write to us and let us know if you have made this decision, so that we may rejoice with you. We have many Bible teaching materials that will help you in your new walk with God.
From the writings of Dave Breese
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