Christian Churches of God
The Mysteries of God
(Edition 1.1 19950819-19981214)
The revelation of God is examined in the terms of the Mysteries and their stewardship in the elect. The parables of the talents and the wise and foolish virgins are also examined. The stages of the revelation of the Mysteries of God are examined and placed in sequence.
The Mysteries of God
The Mysteries of God are divided into what shall be termed phases of revelation. The first phase is comprised of basic doctrines concerning the Godhead, the relationships of Christian living, and the elements of prophecy that affect our understanding of the Plan of Salvation.
The Holy Spirit gives understanding of the mysteries to the elect and makes them stewards of the Mysteries of God.
1Corinthians 4:1-5 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (RSV)
Titus 1:7 shows the elders (the presbuterous or the episkopon) are stewards of God.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; (KJV)
The injunction against being self-pleasing (authade) and not being passionate (orgilon) or given to wine, striking or greedy of base gain (aischrokerde) shows an attitude in the people to whom and through whom the mysteries are revealed. The translation of the term huperatas meaning attendant, or servant, as minister of Christ in the KJV has obscured, or unnecessarily restricted, the application of the stewardship of the Mysteries of God to a priesthood, which is not the meaning. The elect are all given access to the understanding of the mysteries dependent upon their relationship to God in the Holy Spirit. It is however, quite inappropriate to be indiscriminate in the explanation of those mysteries.
The mysteries are given to those who are dedicated to God in Jesus Christ. None is blameless before baptism. That is not the meaning of Titus 1:7. The attitude for the revelation of the Mysteries of God is one of selfless devotion to duty.
The Holy Spirit works with us before baptism and in us from baptism (see paper Repentance and Baptism (No. 52)). It is quite impermissible to be baptised and then not be committed to the work of God in Jesus Christ. The sequence is established as being introduced to the mysteries, trained in the word, and then being prepared to teach the word. That is what Paul meant when he spoke of milk and meat.
1Corinthians 3:1-23 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4 For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apol'los," are you not merely men? 5 What then is Apol'los? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apol'los watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- 13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," 20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21 So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apol'los or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; 23 and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's. (RSV)
This text in 1Corinthians 3 was the prelude to the sentiments expressed in chapter 4. The work of the twentieth century Church of God is exactly what Paul spoke against; each claiming to be followers of men. That is why the works were exposed to the fire of false testimony and destroyed in their own weakness. The trials that we endure are to test our faith and our foundation for we are the temple of God.
1Peter 2:1-5 So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3 for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; 5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (RSV)
The attitude that is required puts away all malice, guile, envy and slander. We are required to work together. We are to be as newborn babes taking of the pure spiritual milk so that we may grow up to salvation. Christ was the first living stone chosen by God and to which we are added one by one to build the house of God.
Upon each living stone that we are, others are added. Thus we must be true and firm for the edifice to stand intact. The living stones are also given a living oracle (Acts 7:38) which is the Scriptures, and a living hope (1Pet. 1:3) which is the faith (see paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)).
We are not to remain babes in Christ. We are to progress from milk to meat.
Hebrews 5:5-14 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; 6 as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek." 7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchiz'edek. 11 About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food; 13 for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (RSV)
We see that Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest. He was appointed by God who was his God (Heb. 1:8-9). As Christ was appointed a priest so too are we appointed to follow him in that priesthood. He was made perfect as we are to be made perfect. We are required to work in the faith. We have an obligation to work towards the salvation of mankind through teaching the word of God. Yet there are those of us who should be able to work, but are still unskilled and living on milk. This weakness in the faith comes through indolence or perceived grievances or in malice and envy. 1Corinthians 13 shows what love should achieve in the elect. It is simply not permissible to be baptised and then withdraw from service in the army of the Lord. No one who puts his or her hand to the plough and then draws back is fit for the Kingdom of God (Lk. 9:62).
It is no accident that the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is followed immediately by the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
Matthew 25:1-30 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins explains in one way what is explained in the Parable of the Talents but from another perspective. The first aspect with the virgins dealt with the personal responsibility of the individual towards God as a bride of Christ to prepare oneself in the Holy Spirit. Only the individual can do that preparation. The second aspect, which is related in the Parable of the Talents concerns productive work in the Holy Spirit within the Kingdom of God. One aspect cannot exist without the other. Individual spiritual development without collective interaction and works in the faith is useless.
14 "For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, `Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' 21 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, `Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 23 His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' 26 But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' (RSV)
The talents in this parable do not simply mean human talents or abilities. They mean the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the wherewithal given to the elect by God with which to serve Him and accomplish His work. Each was given a measure of the wealth of the Kingdom of God. Each placed upon himself the task of replicating a measure in return according to the wealth he was given. Where the individual was given only a small amount it was expected that the amount should have been combined with the powers and wealth of those entrusted with the custody of the wealth to maximise returns on those sums. Thus individuals who themselves cannot accomplish works must place their talents in the combined pool so that maximum utility is gained from each of the members of the body of Christ. Failure to act within the individual’s responsibility so that the work is undertaken collectively places each individual under judgment and rejection into the second resurrection.
The responsibilities of the elect are both physical and spiritual. The physical aspects are also financial. Thus the collective action of the Church is dedicated to proper stewardship. No individual can thus stand alone and not support the work. The work is identified solely from sound doctrine in the Mysteries of God and His worship.
From the identification of the doctrines and our responsibilities we progress from milk to meat. The meat of the elect, which follows on from the milk given to them as babes, is the same meat that Christ hungered after in John 4:34-38.
John 4:34-38 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, `There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. 36 He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, `One sows and another reaps.' 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." (RSV)
Christ’s food or meat here was the work of God. This work was the harvest in which we participate. Sower and reaper rejoice together. Thus Christ reaps where he did not sow. God through the Holy Spirit acting through the elect sows the seeds through the work. What one sows another reaps. God sows through the work of others and we reap. We also sow so that others may reap. Thus we all share in the joy that is given to Christ. None of us is of Paul or Apollos. Like Paul, we are all slaves (doulos) of God (Titus 1:1).
We should do our best to speed the work of God on its way. We must learn to be fruitful.
Titus 3:13-14 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apol'los on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful. (RSV)
Here we see that the Church is being shown that those who would have made divisions in the work by following men are being rebuked by being told to aid one of the elect by Paul who was being held to be of another division. The work of God is not of any man so that no flesh should glory (1Cor. 1:29). Let no man glory in the works of men. Let each man take care how he builds upon the work of God (1Cor. 3:10).
1Corinthians 3:5-9 What then is Apol'los? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apol'los watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. (RSV)
Each person must take care how he builds, but build he must. There is no discretion as to whether we work, only as to how we work. Certainly there is no following of men. The following is of God in sound doctrine.
The Mysteries of God are revealed in stages.
The primary stage deals with the understanding of God; who and what He is. The understanding of the existence of evil and the nature and consequence of sin leads then to a desire for repentance and then the understanding of baptism and God’s saving grace. This process is deepened on an ongoing basis over the life of the individual. The understanding of the relationships between the law and sin, and salvation and grace is a continuing and deepening process. The failure to understand the issue of grace is a primary cause of self-righteousness.
The Plan of Salvation is a primary understanding through the Holy Day periods. The progression from the weekly Sabbaths to the New Moons completes the sequence of the understanding. This is in the secondary phase of understanding. The understanding of the nations involved in prophecy is also part of the primary phase, which develops from the understanding of spiritual Israel. The primary understanding is given in the development of what is known as the Times of the Gentiles (see paper Outline Timetable of the Age (No. 272)). The secondary phase commences with the outline of what is known as the Coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Millennium.
The sequence of the last days and the establishment of the millennial system are understood from the annual Holy Days. The sequence of activities is a different matter.
We might refer to the process by use of a chart.
1. Called to the primary understanding of the Bible:
a) Primary notions of the Godhead. The Father is God.
b) Christ as Messiah in the Incarnation died to save sinners.
c) The Holy Spirit is the power of God, through which we become one with God.
2. Understanding of the history of the Bible and Israel:
a) The patriarchs.
b) The physical salvation from Egypt.
c) The spiritual salvation in Messiah.
3. The nature and role of prophecy both Old and New Testament:
a) Patriarchs and Moses to the Judges.
b) Kings to the minor prophets.
c) The New Testament prophecy from Christ to Revelation.
4. Christian Living:
5. The aspects of development in the Faith:
a) Responsibility to God in personal relationships.
b) Support of the Church in its work.
These basics have to be mastered before true progress can be made.
The secondary phase develops the first phase to higher levels and introduces deeper understanding of the significance of the oracles in prophecy and the Plan of Salvation.
The primary phase led to an understanding of the historical sequence. The secondary phase leads in to an understanding of the spiritual parallels and the role of prophecy in the Church and its implementation. From the correct understanding of the prophets in this phase, the times of the gentiles can be explained and the transference of power can be traced in prophecy and the roles and responsibilities of people and nation can be explained.
The last days can be delineated with precision and the processes of the end delineated. Some of these things can be explained to the uninformed; others cannot be explained as yet. Thus the work must be logically divided into phases and the elect alone must proceed to the second phase. Thus the primary phase is delineated and forms the basis of the message to non-members. There are elements which must be added to that body of literature. There are, however, some aspects which are quite inappropriate to give to others.
Christ expressed this concept in two ways. The first was in explaining the Mysteries of God in parables. The withholding of information from other than the body was done on a deliberate basis.
Matthew 13:10-17 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (RSV)
Thus the understanding is dependent also upon use. Those who do not see and hear will lose what they did have. They shall hear but never understand. The secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven here are the same word musterion or mystery/ies of God. The message of the parables is repeated also in Mark 4:10-20.
Mark 4:10-20 And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; 12 so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven." 13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. 16 And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." (RSV)
Christ explained the purpose to them whilst alone. The understanding of the parables is dependent one upon the other. Everything in the Bible is there for a purpose. Everything has meaning; every number, every aspect, every sequence.
Christ withheld information so that people would not be called before time and hence come into judgment. The word of God is holy and is thus withheld from those who would misuse it.
Matthew 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. (RSV)
The time is coming soon when plain speaking will be the order of the day so that this evil and adulterous generation will be called to repentance. The measurement of the elect follows also from the calling of the last of the sequence of the 144,000. The great multitude is taken up also in the final process. The responsibility is listed here as being fruitful. The cares of the world are seen as interfering with the capacity of those who hear the word and do not act and do not work with the other members of the body. If you as an individual are not participating in weekly fellowship with others when you can and working to support the work then you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Do not be deceived into excusing your own failure to act. If you do not support the work you are not part of it and hence not part of the Kingdom. If you do not financially support the work as you are able then you are robbing God (Mal. 3:7-12).
Malachi 3:7-12 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, `How shall we return?' 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, `How are we robbing thee?' In your tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. (RSV)
There is nothing discretionary in this matter. The work of God is the responsibility of all. The question of tithing is a separate issue which has been addressed in the paper Tithing (No. 161)). However, it is not simply a question of degree. There is no argument as to the fact of the matter, regarding the support of the work. That is a responsibility of all. Each of the elect has the responsibility to find that body which preaches the word of God – all of it. Once that work is identified then it is to be supported.
Christ has not ceased to work in any stage over the previous twenty centuries. He works now. If you are not actively working and supporting that body you are in the second resurrection. That is the reason why there will be a weeping and a gnashing of teeth. Many will realise too late that they missed the boat through not using the talents given to them by God. Do not let it be you. Go! Sell what you have and follow Christ.
Matthew 19:16-21 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (RSV)
God will pour out the Holy Spirit and, in these last days, the mysteries will be expounded so that all of the Host of heaven understands the manifold wisdom of God.
1Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (RSV)
These angels long to look into the wisdom of God as we understand the Plan of Salvation.
1Corinthians 2:1-7 When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. (RSV)
Thus we are glorified having been chosen, called, justified and thence glorified (Rom. 8:29-30).
The extent of the mysteries to be revealed in the last days will demonstrate the wisdom of God to both the heavenly and human Hosts.