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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Mystery - November 19, 2006


Sermon of the Week #200646 – November 19, 2006

BEHOLD I SHOW YOU A MYSTERY—this chapter has several mysteries; first, there is the mystery of the gospel.


Paul told the Ephesians to pray for him that he might have boldness in preaching the mystery of the gospel. And to Timothy he said, “Great is the mystery of godliness, He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” The gospel is a mystery. So here in this chapter he defines the mystery.

Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel that I preached unto you; the gospel facts are that Jesus died for our sins. That is the gospel!

I have heard it said, “What makes the death of one Jew on a cross two thousand years ago so important to so many millions of people?” The reason the death of that one Jew on a cross is important, is because His death on that cross can save millions from the holocaust of Hell.

Then in addition to that Paul further defines the gospel as the fact that He was buried. The fact that He was buried is evidence that the body that was buried was in fact dead. One writer tells of century-old graves in Indiana being exhumed and finding many of the old coffins that gave evidence of some who were buried alive. A greater tragedy would be the awful thought that Jesus had only swooned on the cross. The Word of God tells us they rammed a spear into His side as the final touch that assures the Christian that Jesus was in fact dead. That is the gospel! Jesus died on the cross and He was buried.

But there is yet one more item of the gospel when Paul tells us; “He was raised from the dead the third day according to the scripture.” When Paul wrote First Corinthians twenty-five years after the resurrection there were at least 251 people still alive at that time who had seen the risen Lord. Paul says that the greater part of 500 were alive who had seen the risen Lord. Some of those younger people may have still been alive even unto the early part of the second century. The fact of the resurrection of Jesus was fully proven to be a fact and that is Paul’s definition of the gospel.

Paul said, “Ye received it, stand on it, and are saved by it, if you hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except you believed in vain.” Several times in scripture the Christian is warned, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”


Behold I show you a mystery! One of the mysteries of this chapter is the mystery of the two Adams. There have been two Adams in history. One is the First Adam and the other is the Second Adam. In the First Adam is the federal head of the human race, and the Second Adam is the head of the church. In the First Adam all die and in the Second Adam all are made alive. Both Adams have brides.

Concerning the First Adam, the Lord said, “It is not good for the man to dwell alone, so God caused him to fall into a deep sleep.” God opened his side and from a rib He formed a woman.

I can remember when it was said that it took two billion years for a man to evolve from the animals. Later on they raised the ante and said it took four billion years. I think they say now it took six billion years. I was not there when God created Adam so I cannot speak from experience, but I cannot help wondering if it took six billion years to make Adam; when God opened the side of the First Adam, how many billion years did God have to stand there with a bone in His Almighty hand trying to figure out whether to make a blond, brunette, or a red head? God did in fact create Eve from the rib and she became the bride of the First Adam.

The Second Adam also had a bride. Jesus fell into the deep sleep we call death on the cross. And His side was also opened; blood and water came out. On the first day of the week Jesus awakened from the sleep of death, and on the Day of Pentecost when the Apostles preached the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the bride of Church of Christ was formed. Luke tells us, “The Lord added to the Church day by day those that were saved.” Those that were saved were those who obeyed the terms of pardon announced by Peter when he declared, “Repent ye, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ every one of you and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

I can call any man my brother in Christ who has obeyed those terms of pardon; otherwise he is only my brother in Adam. Actually I can call any man on earth my brother; if I don’t hit him in Christ, I hit him in Adam.

The bride of the First Adam could not have come into existence without the shedding of blood; the bride of the Second Adam came by the shedding of blood. The Church is the only blood-bought organization the world has ever known. Paul referred to the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.


Another mystery in this chapter is Paul’s reference to baptism for the dead. Although this may seem like a mystery to some now; it was not a mystery to the Corinthians. If they had not known what Paul was talking about, they could have said so and he would have answered in the second epistle that he wrote to them. Since he never mentioned it again, we assume that they understood what he meant.

One thing for sure, a baptism for the dead does not mean that any person will have a second chance after death to make a decision for the Lord. Luke sixteen tells us that there was no way for the rich man to go from one side of the spirit world to the other.

Paul has been talking about the resurrection. Many are the theories regarding baptizing for the dead. One idea is that some are baptized as they remember a departed relative, and they themselves are baptized in the hope of seeing them again. One man told me one time that he wanted to be baptized. I asked him, “Why?” He referred to his father who had recently passed away and said he wanted to go where daddy went.

Early in my ministry an old man came through town on his way to a rest home in another part of the state. He sent for me and told me he wanted to be baptized. I asked him why he wanted to do it. He said that he had promised his mother on her deathbed that he would become a Christian before he died. He was well into his eighties and we baptized him in the baptistery. He was in a wheelchair; therefore, it took three of us to get him into the water. Several months later, he came back in a casket and we buried him. Here was a man who really was baptized for the dead. His mother was dead and he wanted to join her in the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, why then was he baptized for the dead?

I was in one church service and a woman went forward during the singing of the invitation. The preacher came down and privately consulted with her as to why she came. He went back into the pulpit and announced, “This lady says she has come forward tonight on behalf of all those who should have, and didn’t.” Of course, there is no way you can believe for somebody else; you cannot repent for someone else, and you cannot be baptized for anyone else.

John Chrysostom, an ancient preacher who died about 406 AD, relates how in the early centuries a person who died without being baptized would be laid out on a bed; someone else would get under the bed. The preacher would ask the corpse, “Do you want to be baptized?” The man under the bed would say, “Yes”, and then he would be baptized for the corpse.

One account tells how this practice is done here in America. One woman was baptized for Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Napoleon, and many other historical characters. Each time, of course, she put a large sum of money into the church treasury.

Whatever the answer to this mystery may be, there is one thing that we can be sure about, Paul said in Romans chapter 6, verse 3, “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?” So if Jesus did not arise from the dead, being baptized into His death serves no purpose. But hear the triumphant cry of Paul as he says, “But now is Christ risen from the dead the first fruits of them that sleep.”


Another mystery in this chapter is the mystery of the resurrection. The question was asked, “How then are the dead raised and with what manner of body do the come?” Paul answered, “Not all flesh is the same flesh. There is human flesh, animal flesh, another flesh of birds and fishes.” I cannot accept evolution because human flesh cannot come from animal flesh, of either beast, or fish, or fowl. In Genesis, God declared that each form of life would produce offspring after its own kind.

There is a difference in the resurrected body and the natural body. First he says, “It is sown in corruption but raised in incorruption.” The natural body rots. Paul says that the outer man decays day by day. Everyday I rot a little. I have come to the place in life that I am one of the rottenest people I know. However it is my opinion that there are many who have rotted a lot faster than I. Sown in incorruption, but raised in incorruption.

Then he says, “Sown in dishonor, but raised in glory.” When we bury a loved one we try to make the body look as good as possible, and then say that he looks natural. Flowers surround the body originally to mask the odor of decay. Martha told the Lord her brother stinks; he has been dead four days. Is there anything more dishonorable than that? But that body will be raised in glory.

Next Paul says, “We will be sown in weakness.” No matter how strong the natural body looks, it is helpless before the onslaught of germs and the passing of time. Everyday I can see the strongest men reduced to a tottering, shuffling, shell of their former self. But that body sown in weakness will be raised with all the power of angels.

Then he said, “The natural body that is sown shall be raised a spiritual body.” How can we describe the change? A boy one time in school was asked to describe the human body. He wrote,

 “Your head is round and hard and your hair is on it and your brains are in it. Your shoulders are shelves where you hang your arms, and your neck is what keeps your head from sinking down your collar. Your arms are what you got to pitch with, and so you can reach the butter. Your spine is what keeps you from folding up, and no matter how quick you turn around it’s always behind you. Your stomach is what hurts if you don’t get enough to eat, and spinach don’t help it none. Your legs are what if you aint got two of you can’t get to first base, and neither can your sister. Your feet are what’s always getting stubbed, and that’s all there is to you except what’s in the inside, and I aint never seen that.”

Actually the only way we can describe the spiritual body is in the words of the Apostle John in his first epistle, “We know not what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall see Him as He is and we shall be made like Him.” The resurrection is a mystery to us, but not unto God.

How can you explain it? I heard a disc jockey one time tell the story of a man who was a painter by trade. He had requested cremation when he died. He died and they cremated him. They took his ashes and mixed them in white paint and used the paint to paint the white line in the middle of the road on US Route 50, somewhere between Cincinnati and St. Louis. I was driving on that road at that time. The fellow beside me said, “When the Lord comes, how is the Lord going to get him off that white line? I had to confess my ignorance. It is a mystery to me. But it is no mystery to the Lord. When the Lord returns, if necessary, He will use a celestial scraper and scrape him right off that line and send him zooming into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. If he is not a Christian, He will scrape him off anyway, and he will meet the Lord before the Great White Throne of Judgment.

The trumpet shall sound and we shall be changed. I read of a preacher one time, who was going to preach on this passage of scripture. As he began to read this verse, unknown to him the ink had faded on the word changed and the letter “c” was left off. He read it this way, “The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be hanged.” He was a little shaken on that one so he said, “Brethren, let me read that again. Again he read, The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be hanged.” He tried it one more time. He said, “Brethren, this is a very important passage of scripture and I am going to read it one more time for special emphasis, “The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be hanged.” Then he said, “Brethren, that is what the Word of God says and I believe every word of it!”

Now let me read that verse again, “The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. Brethren, that is what the Word of God says and I believe every word of it! WE SHALL BE CHANGED.

Then Paul says those glorious words, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” But there is something else; before the victory he mentions the sting of death. Death has a sting to it. Paul asks, “Where is the sting?” It is because of the sting that no one wants to die. I don’t know of any Christian who is in a hurry to die. I asked one elderly woman, “Are you ready to die?” She said, “Yes, I am ready, but I am in no hurry.” Do you know of anyone who is jumping up and down and yelling, “I can’t wait to go to Heaven!” Why is it, the church bulletins are clogged with the names of sick Christians who don’t want to die? It is because death has a sting to it. But where is the sting? After all if you die, you will have a better home than here on earth. Don’t we sing I’ve got a mansion over the hilltop? Yes, we know that, but we still don’t want to die. So where is the sting? Don’t you remember you will have better clothing than here on earth? Do we not sing I shall wear a robe and crown? Yes, we know that, but we still don’t want to die. So where is the sting?

Paul tells us where the sting is when he says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” The reason even the Christian does not want to die is because they know they have sinned. On the face of the most sainted corpse you will ever see is the reminder of the wrath of God.

But Paul then gives the complete answer with this exultant cry, “Oh death where is thy victory, O death where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ. Wherefore my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch as ye know your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Because of the resurrection, press on, always abounding in the work of the Lord. The gospel song says it for us,

“I’m pressing on the upward way

New heights I’m gaining every day

Still praying as I onward bound

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”