The great mystery of the one body of Christ was FIRST revealed when God made it known to the Apostle Paul. Paul called it "his gospel" and it was the standard for his teaching regarding the Lord Jesus Christ. It was in the first century (and is today) the most important truth revealed to believers. God gave this revelation to Paul to complete His Word.
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, 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:
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
The word "dispensation" means administration or stewardship. Paul was given the revelation and the responsibility of administering God's truth for our day and time. The things that God had planned for us, He kept secret from ages and generations and revealed them after all was accomplished and holy spirit given on the day of Pentecost. The greatness of this mystery is that each believer is perfect in Christ: completely, completely, absolutely complete in Christ. The riches of the glory of this mystery is that it is Christ in YOU! This truth is to be taught and believed.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
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.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
God kept this great secret, for had the princes of this world (including the Devil) known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. If Satan had known that ANYONE who believed would get born again of God's spirit, be justified (just as if they never sinned), be made righteous, and complete in Christ with eternal life, he never would have crucified Jesus Christ. He would rather have had Jesus walking the earth declaring God's Word than to have it available for every believer to be made perfect in Christ.
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 [administration] 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:
The great mystery was FIRST revealed to Paul. In other ages it was NOT available for man (or the Devil and spiritual powers) to know about it. It was an "unsearchable" truth because it was "hid in God!" But NOW that it has been revealed, it is our awesome responsibility and privilege to make it known.
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
We speak the truth of God's Word regarding the mystery and live according to the spiritual power given us in Christ. We make known God's secret plan for man. We make it known to other men and women; and we make it known to spiritual principalities and powers in heavenly places as we walk in light of this truth.
1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Paul declared himself and other leaders in the body of Christ as stewards of the mysteries of God. To be a faithful steward is to continue day after day after day holding fast to the faithful word of God regarding the great mystery. This is a requirement for those who stand as ministers of Christ.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
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:
That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Making known the mystery was everything to the Apostle Paul. Even in prison, Paul asked the believers to pray for him that he would have opportunities to speak boldly and make known the mystery of the gospel. Speaking about the mystery is for us (as it was for Paul) what WE OUGHT TO SPEAK!
For I would that ye knew what great conflict [care and concern] I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul's prayer for those believers who had not yet met him was that they be comforted together in love with other believers. That they understand the greatness of the one body of Christ and live accordingly. That living in love, knit together as one body, was an acknowledgment of that which God had planned. We are sons of God. We are complete in Christ. We are ONE BODY!
1 Corinthians 15:51
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
The mystery of our completeness in the one body of Christ, which God kept secret, includes our gathering together unto him at the last trump. This is not equivalent to that which was revealed by Jesus Christ in the gospels. This secret was FIRST made known to the Apostle Paul!!! It is part of the administration of the grace of God - the great mystery. The gathering together of the ONE BODY of Christ was a secret. But NOW it is made known and is to be believed and taught as part of teaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have not hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
We have an awesome responsibility to make known the mystery. Although revealed almost 2000 years ago, it has remained secret for much of that time. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote in Timothy that before the end of his life most of the believers had turned away from this truth. Many in our day and time were taught the mystery in a class called Power for Abundant Living taught by Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille. As part of that class, I received a small booklet titled: "The Church (the Great Mystery Revealed)." In the introduction Dr. Wierwille wrote the following:
"When the first century believers failed
to continue to act in light of the great mystery as unfolded so magnanimously
in the epistle to the Ephesians, they lost the true teaching concerning
the mystery which is the center of all true Christian faith, the one body
of Christ. The immediate consequence of the loss of this truth of
the great mystery produced glowing errors. It initiated the different
so-called bodies with all the subsequent division and schism in the church
body. Instead of rightly dividing the word of truth and recognizing
the one body which God made (Ephesians 4:4), men set about making their
own ecclesiastical bodies and sects.
The truth as to the believers perfect standing before God in Christ was the next major loss. The truth as to what God made every believer to be in Christ, how every believer is justified by the faith of Jesus Christ and saved by Gods grace was all basically lost. Failing to adhere to the truth the teachers began to propagate error regarding the Lords promised return from heaven, the gathering together and the resurrection. Preparation for death and judgment replaced the great hope of the blessed return of Christ. Spiritual darkness engulfed the Christian world, and religion (man-made forms of worship) became the norm of Christianity. This all-pervading spiritual sterility is yet around us, upon us and in us. We have not recaptured the truths of the revelation of the great mystery. The first truth to be lost is always the last to be recovered." Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille
Dr. Wierwille points to a number of errors in
teaching and practice that result from turning away from the revelation
of the great mystery. First, those who lose sight of this truth begin
to form divisions and ecclesiastical bodies. Second they lose sight
of their perfect standing in Christ, their justification and salvation
by grace. Finally, they begin teaching about death and judgment rather
that the great hope of the return of Christ and the gathering of the Church.
Let us continue in the truth we have been taught and live the abundance
that God has provided for us as members of the ONE BODY.