Everyone seems intrigues by mysteries. Secrets. Myself included. This past year, I took both of my daughters and my three granddaughters to see America’s Castle—the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C. I had visited many years ago, and I quickly remembered what had so intrigued me. It was all the closed doors. It was the knobs to secret doors that I knew led to hidden passageways behind the walls. It was the rooms that could be glimpsed around the curve of a hallway roped off to visitors. There was an aura of mystery to our tour that even my 8-year-old granddaughter seemed caught up in. When I inquired what her favorite room was in the house, she named it. And then, with no prompting from me, she added in a voice tinged with impatient frustration, “But I wanted to see behind the closed doors.”
For thousands of years the Gospel was a closed door. A mystery. But when Jesus came, He opened it. And the Apostle Paul helps us understand what we now see.
Read Romans 16:25-27
The Mystery Rooted in the Old Testament
• Using John 3:16, write out a simple definition of the Gospel.
• What phrase in Romans 16:25-27 indicates that the Gospel was not just a New Testament idea?
• Give one or more different elements of the Gospel from each of the following Old Testament writings: Genesis 3:15, 12:1-3 (compare Galatians 3:16); Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 53:1-12, 9:6-7; and Zechariah 14:1-9.
• How do the New Testament writings confirm that the Gospel is rooted in the Old Testament? Read Revelation 13:8, John 8:54-58, and Romans 3:21.
• What fresh thoughts and applications does this give you when you consider the political correctness and pluralism of our day?
The Mystery Revealed in the New Testament
• What word in Romans 16:25-27 indicates the Mystery of the Gospel is no longer a secret?
• What is the Mystery of the Gospel that has been revealed in the New Testament? Give the phrases from verse 26 and Ephesians 3:6.
• Describe Paul’s passion to make the Mystery known. See Romans 1:16-17.
• Who does “both” refer to in Ephesians 2:14?
• How do these “two” explain the revelation of the Mystery as Paul unfolds it in Ephesians 2:11-18 and Romans 3:9-12 and 21-24?
• In your own words, describe the Mystery as it is revealed in the New Testament.
The Mystery Reflected in the Followers of Christ
• Who are the followers of Jesus Christ who reflect the Mystery? Read John 1:12-13, 3:1-8; Ephesians 4:3-6; and
• Does the fact that Jew and Gentile alike are justified through faith in Christ nullify God’s unique promises to the Jews? Read Romans 11:1-2 and 28-29.
• What are some of the promises that God gave uniquely to Abraham and his physical descendants, the Jews? Read Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-17 and 15:7-21 with Hebrews 6:13-15; Genesis 17:1-8, Genesis 22:15-18 and 24:7; Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2-5; Zechariah 12:10-13; and Romans 11:25-27.
• How does God later confirm these promises? See Zechariah 8:1-8.
• How does this Mystery reflected among the followers of Jesus Christ glorify God? See Ephesians 2:1-9, Romans 3:27-30 and Romans 11:33-36.
• What beautiful analogy does Paul use to describe the Mystery as it is reflected in the Body of Christ? Read Ephesians 2:19-22.
• What practical effect does this have on individual followers? See Romans 12:3-5 and Ephesians 4:1-6.
• How is the Mystery summed up at the end of human history? Read Zechariah 13:1, 14:2-9; Revelation 5:6, 9; 19:11-16; and 21:1-5.
• How clearly is the Mystery reflected in your life among your circle of friends? In your church? Who are you revealing it to?
Now that you have explored more fully what was formerly behind a “closed door,” what will you do practically and specifically to reach out across racial, cultural, social and national barriers to embrace, support, love and demonstrate unity with other followers of Christ? In this critical hour, we need each other as never before. So I have one suggestion: Pray. Pray for individual followers of Jesus Christ to repent of their own sin. Pray for God to revive the hearts of followers of Jesus Christ so that we more clearly reflect the Mystery, and draw the world irresistibly to the cross. Pray for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted because the reflection is so clearly evident in their lives. And pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the peace of the world that God has promised will be established when His Only Son, our Savior, Israel’s Messiah, and the world’s Redeemer returns as Lord of lords and King of kings to reign forever and ever. Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus! ©2015 ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ
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