"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path". Ps 119:105
EFFECTIVE BIBLE STUDY
In these pages we have looked at ways we can gain an understanding of God's Word through reading and studying the Bible. But what about the claim that the Bible contains unfathomable "mysteries"? It is certainly true that God's ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), and that our minds are too finite to understand such things as the mechanics of creation (Job 38:4-7) or how God could know the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
Yet, it would be wrong to conclude that scriptural teachings are unfathomable or that the Bible is a mysterious book. At least two reasons lead us to this belief. First, God expressly sent His Word (the Bible) as a message to mankind; therefore, it was written in a way that men and women could understand it. Second, while the Bible does speak of mysteries, it also makes it clear that these mysteries have been revealed. Here it is helpful to remember that the entire Bible is in fact a revelation--a book revealed by God.
Perhaps part of the problem lies in our modern sense of the word "mystery" as it is used in religious contexts. In the New Testament the Greek word mysterion simply refers to something formerly unknown that has been revealed, or something that is only understood by an inside group. Because of this meaning, some translators feel the word "secret" more accurately captures the meaning of the word mysterion.
But who are the people that make up this inside group? No-one more mysterious than Bible readers! Let's begin by looking at an important New Testament example.
THE "MYSTERY" OF THE GOSPEL
During the ministry of Christ, his disciples preached the Gospel of the Kingdom without teaching about his sacrificial death. They never thought such a thing would happen.
Had the apostles understood the things spoken by Jesus, his death would have confirmed their belief that he was the Christ.
After Christ's ascension to heaven, the Spirit revealed this "mystery" of the Gospel to the apostles before they resumed their preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
THE MYSTERY REVEALED
The Apostle Paul speaks about another crucial aspect of the Gospel that was revealed in New Testament times. He deals with this in Ephesians 3:1-7, a section the New King James Version entitles "The Mystery Revealed."
First Paul begins by telling the Ephesians about "the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you . . ." (Ephesians 3:2). What was this dispensation of grace?
This mystery was not fully understood before the coming of Christ:
What was this particular mystery that God revealed to Paul and other Christians?
Other aspects of the Gospel were revealed in a complete sense in the New Testament as well:
The prophecies concerning Jesus Christ that have been fulfilled are the facts embraced in the Gospel of the Kingdom; the mystery made known is an important theme connected with the Gospel (see also Acts 8:12), and involves the teachings of the Kingdom and of the Messiah.
The conditions of salvation are based upon the revealed mystery.