How is the plan of salvation a mystery?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of salvation is one of the central themes of the Bible, and its revelation is often described as a mystery. This term refers to something that was once hidden or not fully understood but has now been revealed through divine revelation. The plan of salvation encompasses God’s overarching scheme to redeem humanity, and the unfolding of this plan across the Scriptures highlights its mysterious nature.

The Mystery Revealed Through Prophecy

The Bible contains numerous prophecies that hint at God’s plan of salvation, often in ways that were not fully understood until their fulfillment in Christ.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV):

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

This early prophecy, given after the fall of man, foreshadows the ultimate victory of Christ over Satan. The promise of the “Seed” is a hint of the coming Messiah.

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV):

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of a child who will have divine attributes, pointing to the incarnation of Jesus. However, the full significance of this prophecy was not clear until Jesus’ birth and ministry.

The Mystery of Christ’s Incarnation

The incarnation, the act of God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, is a profound mystery central to the plan of salvation.

John 1:14 (NKJV):

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The concept of the Word (Logos) becoming flesh is a divine mystery that reveals God’s plan to personally enter human history to bring salvation.

1 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV):

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.”

Paul explicitly calls the incarnation a mystery, emphasizing its significance in the divine plan.

The Mystery of Christ’s Sacrifice

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is another element of the mystery of salvation. It was prophesied and prefigured in the Old Testament but only fully understood in the light of the New Testament.

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV):

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

Isaiah’s suffering servant prophecy pointed to the sacrificial nature of the Messiah’s mission, but its full meaning was not understood until Jesus’ crucifixion.

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NKJV):

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Paul explains that the wisdom of God, including the necessity of Christ’s death, was hidden for ages and only revealed through Christ.

The Mystery of Salvation for All

One of the most profound aspects of the mystery of salvation is that it is available to both Jews and Gentiles that accept Christ.

Ephesians 3:3-6 (NKJV):

“How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”

Paul reveals that the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation was a hidden concept now made known through the Spirit.

Colossians 1:26-27 (NKJV):

“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This passage underscores the revelation of the mystery that Christ’s salvation extends to all people, including Gentiles.

The Mystery of the Church

The establishment of the Church as the body of Christ is another dimension of the mystery of salvation. The Church is described as a new entity in which believers are united with Christ and each other.

Ephesians 5:32 (NKJV):

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

Paul compares the relationship between Christ and the Church to that of a husband and wife, highlighting the profound union.

Colossians 1:18 (NKJV):

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

The Church, as the body of Christ, is a key part of God’s great salvific plan.

The Mystery of Faith

Faith itself is often described as a mystery, involving the believer’s response to God’s revelation.

1 Timothy 3:9 (NKJV):

“Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.”

Faith is portrayed as a mystery that believers must hold onto, suggesting its riches and power.

Romans 11:33 (NKJV):

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

Paul marvels at the incomprehensibility of God’s wisdom and knowledge, including the plan of salvation, emphasizing its profound nature.

The Mystery of the Kingdom

The teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of God often involve parables, which convey deep truths in a way that requires spiritual insight to understand.

Matthew 13:11 (NKJV):

“He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.'”

Jesus indicates that the mysteries of the Kingdom are revealed to those who are spiritually receptive.

Mark 4:11 (NKJV):

“And He said to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables.'”

This reinforces the idea that the truths of the Kingdom are mysterious to the worldly and require divine revelation to be understood fully.

The Mystery of the Gospel

The Gospel itself, the good news of Jesus Christ, is described as a mystery hidden but is now revealed.

Ephesians 6:19 (NKJV):

“And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.”

Paul seeks prayers that he might proclaim God’s infinite love in the Gospel.

Romans 16:25-26 (NKJV):

“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 kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”

This passage highlights that the Gospel was a mystery kept secret but is now revealed and made known to all nations.

The Mystery of Resurrection and Eternal Life

The resurrection of the dead and the promise of eternal life are also aspects of the mystery of salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NKJV):

“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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Paul reveals the mystery of the resurrection, describing the transformation that will occur at the end of time.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV):

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.”

The promise of resurrection and eternal life with Christ is a profound aspect of the mystery of salvation.

Conclusion

The plan of salvation is indeed a profound mystery, encompassing various aspects of God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ. From the prophecies of the Old Testament to the revelations in the New Testament, the unfolding of God’s plan demonstrates its mysterious nature. The incarnation, the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ, the inclusion of Gentiles, the establishment of the Church, the nature of faith, the teachings about the Kingdom, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the promise of resurrection and eternal life all contribute to the rich tapestry of this divine mystery.

The Bible presents these truths as once hidden but now revealed through Christ.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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