Mysteries. Those unsolved cases and unexplained phenomena that fascinate our curiosity. What was that light in the sky? What was that sound outside? Who was the murderer? Who stole the jewels? Mysteries have been a popular form of entertainment for a long time. People love to have a good mystery explained to them. Think of Sherlock Holmes. Think of the Hardy Boys. You could even think of the groovy Mystery Machine, those meddling kids, and Scooby Doo.
There’s a huge mystery that plagues people all over the world. How does a person ensure that they will go to Heaven when they die? The answer can be found in the Bible. And yet, even after zeroing in on the source of the solution, people still cannot properly solve the mystery. That is why you hear all sorts of conclusions as to what a person needs to do in order to reserve a spot in Heaven.
“You gotta turn away from all your sins and make Jesus your Lord.”
“You gotta turn away from all your sins and be baptized.”
“You gotta fall on your face and cry great tears of sorrow for all the rotten, despicable things you’ve done in your life, you pathetic sinner. You have to turn away from those things and make a pinky promise to God that you will hate those wicked things for the rest of your life.”
“You believe on Jesus Christ alone for salvation and you will be saved. And then you must attend church on Saturdays and obey the Ten Commandments.”
Dang it! We were so close on that last one! Oh well. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it. We got a big problem because we have all these religious sleuths out there who really stink at solving mysteries. Ask them how to be saved. Ask them to show you from the Bible how you can be saved. Let’s see where they take you. One may direct you to the following verse:
Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This religious person will then say, “You have to repent, or turn away from all your sins, and be baptized.” Now when you hear a response like this, do yourself a favor by turning around and walking the other way. You have just encountered one of those religious people who have no idea what repentance is, so they default to a ridiculous definition that I guarantee you is not the proper definition of that word as used by Scripture. You can read my page “Repentance 101” for a study on this topic. For now, here’s what this religious sleuth has left us with: “You get saved by turning away from sin and being baptized.”
Now let’s say you go and you ask another religious “expert” how to be saved. He directs you to the following:
Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
This religious person will then say, “You have to make Jesus the Lord of your life. By calling Him Lord, you are surrendering yourself to Him and will no longer live for yourself.” Wait, what? The verse simply said to confess and believe in Jesus. Confessing the Lord Jesus is the same thing as affirming that you acknowledge His existence. Some religious people teach that this verse says that calling Jesus “Lord” is the act of you making Him “Lord.” That is reaching for something that is not there. Jesus Christ is Lord whether you submit to Him or not. Jesus does not need us to make Him Lord. Jesus was Lord long before we came onto the scene. To confess something is to admit something. If you confess a sin, it is the act of you admitting that you committed a sin. If you confess Jesus Christ, it is the act of you admitting that Jesus Christ is real to you. Anyways, here’s what this religious sleuth has left us with: “You get saved by surrendering your life, wishes, and desires to Jesus Christ.”
There are many more examples like these, and they all have one very important thing in common: They’re all wrong. The two examples we looked at force people to do works of their own in order to be saved. They call for goodness, for a reformation of one’s lifestyle. These examples may seem to be legitimate, since they are based on verses that come from the Bible. Unfortunately, these examples are like sloppy detective work from religious people who are terrible at solving mysteries. The awful solutions that these people come up with is like an innocent man being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, based on faulty detective work done by someone who now has blood on his hands. This is a serious issue, folks. Do you want to trust prideful, religious people with your soul? Or do you want a real answer to the question: “How does the Bible teach me to be saved?” We are going to crack this mystery. And I am going to show you that it is indeed a mystery, albeit one that was solved long ago.
Did you know that there was a great sleuth in the Bible? Well, that’s partly true at least. His name was Paul, and he revealed some big mysteries. He didn’t actually go out and solve these mysteries. The answers were revealed to Paul directly by Jesus Christ. Let’s talk about eternal salvation. Did you know that salvation was a mystery that God kept hidden since the very beginning of the world?
Romans 16:25-26: “Now to him (God) that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”
Here is the revelation of the mystery. Paul claimed that his Gospel is what God uses to establish people, or secure them. Paul’s Gospel is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, was buried, and rose again three days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4), and this Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16). You only have to believe this Gospel to be saved. Well that sounds a lot like “the obedience of faith” that Paul mentioned in the Scripture above. You obey God by having faith, particularly in the Gospel of Christ. What else did Paul say about this mystery?
Ephesians 1:9-14: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his(God’s)will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
God’s mystery was this: When people trust in Jesus Christ, they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. That is the down payment that we get. Believers are purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28, 1st Corinthians 6:20). Imagine going into a layaway department with something you want to purchase. You put a down payment on that item, and that item is reserved for you until you return to claim it. God desires to save people. When a person believes on Jesus Christ, God purchases that person. God places the Holy Spirit into that person as the down payment, until the day of redemption (the day of the Rapture). What else did Paul say about this mystery?
Ephesians 3:1-12: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye 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 fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
Colossians 1:25-27: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you (believers in the age of grace), to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Colossians 4:3: “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:”
1st Timothy 3:9: “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”
Do you want a nice little summary of what the mystery is? Here you go:
1st Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
God became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is preached unto the Gentiles. Jesus Christ is believed on in the world, and those believers are the ones who are saved (Acts 16:31).
The Gospel of Christ is the mystery that Paul wrote about. This Gospel was hidden for a good long while. During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ hinted that it was coming.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 6:40: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:47: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
John 7:38: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
Jesus made these statements, but the people who heard these sayings did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus had not yet been crucified, so the Gospel of Christ was not yet in place. Jesus Christ was the mediator of the New Testament.
Matthew 26:27-28: “And he (Jesus) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
A testament requires a death.
Hebrews 9:16-17: “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”
Jesus Christ had to die on the cross before the New Testament could begin. Do you want to know why this was a mystery? Do you want to know why God had to keep the death of His Son a mystery since the beginning of the world? Because the whole plan depended on Satan, but Satan could never be allowed to know it until it was too late. Who killed Jesus Christ? Was it Pilate? Look at what Jesus Christ said to Pilate:
John 19:10-11: “Then saith Pilate unto him (Jesus), Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
Who killed Jesus Christ? Was it Judas Iscariot? Yes and no. While it is true that Judas led the band of men and officers to the secluded spot where Jesus was away from the crowds so that Jesus could be taken into custody, Judas had outside influence.
Luke 22:3: “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”
John 13:27: “And after the sop Satan entered into him(Judas). Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.”
John 6:70-71: “Jesus answered them (the disciples), Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”
Jesus Christ purposely chose Judas to be a disciple, knowing that Judas would be influenced by Satan to betray Him. God had a secret plan, and this plan would be accomplished with the help of Satan. But Satan could not know beforehand. Now I’m going to show you a passage of Scripture that will bring it all together for you.
1st Corinthians 2:7-8: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Had the rulers of this world known the purpose of Jesus Christ, they never would have crucified Him. You see, when Jesus was going around and saying things such as “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life,” Satan was all like “Say what…? What is this guy talking about…? I gotta get rid of this guy.” Now it should have occurred to Satan that something funny was going on. Why would God allow His Son to go down without a fight? Satan wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand what was happening. When Jesus Christ was resurrected, His disciples thought that Jesus was going to pick right back up where He had left off in His dealings with the Jews.
Acts 1:6-9: “When they (the disciples) therefore were come together, they asked of him (Jesus), saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel(establish the earthly kingdom promised to the Jews)? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
The short-sighted disciples still had the kingdom and the Jews on their minds. They still didn’t get it. Jesus hadn’t just allowed the Jews to kill Him so that He could come back and say “Will you give me a second chance?” Jesus Christ had fulfilled the secret plan, the mystery, that had been hidden since the beginning of the world. Don’t believe me?
2nd Timothy 1:9-10: “Who (God) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”
Mystery solved! How do you become saved? Through Jesus Christ. Through the Gospel of Christ. Through faith. Which of these things? All of them, because they are all the same thing. Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose again three days later. The answer to the greatest mystery the world has ever known has been revealed through the Bible. If any religious people give you a different answer, you tell them to go climb back in their Mystery Machines and eat a few more Scooby Snacks.