Christ uncovered many mysteries of the past, while He also gave us more that remain uncovered. In trying to unravel the further ones some have distorted them.
If you can’t untie the knot you shouldn’t cut it. Leave it tied and accept that which is revealed on both sides, and without detriment or deprecation to the other.
Just one to two generations after the apostles we see several false doctrines that are created from the further mysteries encountered by the revelation of Christ. Gnosticism, the belief in created agents by God, demiurges and angels of which Jesus was one, offering the path to God through some ultimate knowledge or mystery. Arianism, the belief that Jesus was the Savior, but was created and had always been less than God. Marcionism (around 150 A.D.), the belief that the OT God was lesser and separate from the NT God revealed, as well as that Christ wasn’t truly human, making him akin to Gnosticism. There was the belief that the Law was not fulfilled, prompting a form of legalism promoted by what we call Judiazers. Sabellianism in the third century was the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit were three different modes of God rather than three different persons. There are many others that are nothing more than attempts to delineate the unknowable.
Another class of questions surround His cross. Mysteries surrounding His payment for the sins of the world, His being forsaken by His Father when He is also a member of the Trinity, His seeming separation of body, soul, and spirit upon His physical death.
We could spend years looking at different aspects of the mystery revealed, as well as the new mysteries unrevealed, and in fact our work in this church is just that, guided by certain books that we use as our ‘home base.’ And before we return to Eph 3, and onto another mystery revealed, namely Paul’s prayer for the church centering on four such things, God’s power in us, the full knowledge of Christ in us, the love of Christ in us, and the fullness of God in us, I want to look at the mystery revealed that is reconciliation.
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established [perfect participle = was, are, and are forever] and steadfast [i.e. you are not one of the Gnostic fakers who have infiltrated and influenced your ranks], and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
“fleshly body through death” = a refutation of Gnostic teaching that the flesh can only do evil and so Christ was not actually flesh.
It is of great importance that we understand that the Son of God became truly human. He becomes our Mediator, gives us a new life that is human, is exalted as human, becomes our Husband and Lord in whom we can truly identify.
In His fleshly body He reconciled us to God through death. This means we are holy and blameless before God. God finds nothing in us that demands His reproach by justice.
The “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast” sounds to us in English as if our standing can be lost by not continuing in the faith. Those who favor such a shallow interpretation would have to develop their own ideas on what exactly “not continuing” would involve, since most, even of those of the persuasion that you can lose your salvation, don’t think believe in sinlessess (though some outliers do). Cardinal sins, willful sins, many sins, etc. all are offered, but none of this satisfies the human heart and its need for security before God.
Let’s go a little bit further than the shallows.
“if you continue” - present tense.
“firmly established” - perfect participle
= If you continue in the faith forever (past, present, future) on the foundation and steadfast.
All believers continue on forever on the foundation that is Jesus Christ. Paul is differentiating between the Gnostics, who profess to have a foundation, but not Christ’s and the believers in Colossae who stand on the foundation of Christ forever. The “faith” spoken of here by Paul is faith in the gospel, which is the only faith that puts a person on the foundation of Christ. Faith in the doctrines of the Christian way of life do not enter them into union with Christ, but that is a silly and moot point since no one would believe in Christian doctrine without believing in Christ as their Savior. One cannot separate the God Man from His work for salvation, nor the truths of His mind.
“moved away” - I’ve never met nor heard of a person who believed in Christ as their Savior and then decided that He wasn’t the Savior. I’m sure it has happened, but we shouldn’t make doctrines over rare cases in unstable and perhaps psychotic minds. Gnostic teaching was and is designed by Satan to move people away from the gospel, either snatching away the gospel from the hearts of unbelievers or confusing believers and moving them away from sound biblical teaching.
Our point, the good news, and a significant part of the mystery of Christ, is that He as God and Man would reconcile us to God through death, not just physical death, but by being made sin for us. The Messiah being made sin and dying was foreign to the Jewish mind.
The mystery of God in Christ making Him to be sin in order to reconcile us and the world, 2CO 5:18-21.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.