The following is a sermon transcription that will share with you what are some of the mysteries in the world and what is the greatest of all. For example do you know how life come about? We can actually find the answer from the Bible. Why do people die? Today we will find out something crucial for all of us.
The Greatest Mystery in the World
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Peter Shee)
Mysteries in the world..
There are many well-known and intriguing mysteries in the world. For example, the Bermuda Triangle, where ships mysteriously disappeared and no remains were found; the Easter Island with its huge stone statues that appear to exist but with no logical explanations as to who created them, why they exist, and significance they hold; the NASCAR Lines in Peru which span over 80 kilometers but are only visible in aerial photos. From an aerial view of these Lines, geometric designs of animal figures like monkeys, lizards, and eagles can even be seen. How were these structures created? There have been so many speculations about these intriguing mysteries.
Yet, what is the greatest mystery in the world?
The greatest mystery is found in the bible. It may not immediately strike us as something intriguing when we hear of it. But when we consider it carefully and rationally, we will realize that this is the greatest and most important mystery in the human world.
Let us first consider another mystery which we all take for granted, simply because we come in touch with it every day. It is the mystery of life.
What is life? What constitutes life? Nobody will disagree with me that out of all the life forms on earth, the highest form of life is that of humans. What are we made of? The bible says that we are made of the dust of the earth. If we were to analyze our composition, we will realize that we really are made up of very common elements such as iron, phosphorous, calcium, and zinc. By themselves, these are common elements. So how it is that when they common elements come together, there is life? Do these elements constitute life? No. Nobody can create life. Even test-tube babies are just products of human intervention in conception, not products of human creation. We are not only unable to create life, we are also powerless in our ability to retain life.
As it is written in Ecclesiastes 8:8, “no one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit”. In this battle against death, “there is no release from that war”. Everyone faces death and hence, the battle against death is a losing one. We are unable to hold on to life because, by itself, life is a mystery. The elements that compose humans are exactly the same for the living as well as the dead. How do we explain where life comes from? We can use science to illustrate the chemical processes in human bodies just like we illustrate the depletion of energy from a battery. We can use science to describe the renewal of human cells as well as the aging process. We know of products which can aid these processes but nobody can explain why people age and die.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Ps 139:13-14)
When the psalmist wrote this many years ago, medical technology had not advanced to the point where people were able to see the insides of their bodies the way that ultrasonic imaging does now. Through such procedures, young mothers can now see the babies within their wombs. Yet, long before these procedures were introduced, this psalmist was given the wisdom to understand this mystery. He concluded that God is great and was filled with awe at God’s creation. However, life is not only wonderful because of its design, but also because of the consciousness that comes with life. Our consciousness allows us to know that we exist, and when you think about it, what makes us conscious? It has been determined that these processes take place in our brain. It is just a few kilograms of grey matter and yet, it is the seed of our consciousness. To me, this, and life in general, is mysterious. It is also a mystery which we often take for granted.
So what is the greatest mystery in the bible?
Of course, it involves LIFE.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10). Here, the mystery is that Jesus comes to give us life. If life by itself is mysterious, the fact that Jesus wants to give us a more abundant one ought to be seen as a greater mystery. And this mystery lies in the following verse:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (verse 11)
Why do I say the mystery lies here? Because Jesus came in order to sacrifice His life for us. By His sacrifice, we have abundant life. We have established thus far that life is not something we can retain. And Jesus did not come to inject life into us. He did not claim that He will come to breathe life into us. He said that He came to give up His life for us. Indeed we know that Jesus died on the cross. He did so in order for us to have eternal life, that we may retain life forever. This is such a great mystery that it is almost unimaginable. And unless we read the bible in its entirely, it is a mystery we cannot understand.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor 2:7-10).
What is this mystery that our eyes have not seen and our ears have not heard, nor has it ever entered into the hearts, or thoughts and imagination of men? What is this mystery of God, hidden throughout the ages, that has now been revealed to us? The bible tells us that if men knew of this mystery, they would not have crucified the Prince of life, the Lord of glory. It is evident that this mystery has to do with Jesus and His death.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:1-2).
The greatest mystery of all time is that Jesus came to die on the cross in order to give us eternal life.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb 2:14).
Through death, Jesus destroys the power of death. This is a concept that is hard to grasp – how can death and its power be overcome by dying?
We may have already heard or seen practices based on a similar concept. The traditional Chinese medical practitioner heals bones by first breaking them; radiation causes cancer but it is used as therapy for treating cancer; chemotherapy heals one of cancer by injecting poison to kill cancerous cells. Through death, Jesus destroyed death. Other therapies may come with certain risks but when Jesus destroyed death with His death, there was only certainty. It is a sure cure for human death, for sins.
God, the Creator of all things, the absolute One, because man and went through the process of birth and development like everyone else. He, who is infinite, became finite and eventually died. We may question how the source of all life can die. Yet this is why it is the greatest mystery. After He died, He came back to life, breaking the power of death. This is a plan He fulfilled. We cannot explain Jesus’ resurrection or the eternal life He give us using chemical processes. But we see that it follows a spiritual principle:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)
We die as a consequence of sins, “for the wages of sin is death”. Nevertheless, this verse also concludes that there is a way we can live forever and this eternal life is in Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 tells us that every one of us has sins, that through our Lord Jesus Christ, is redeemed. Romans 5:6-10 describes how Jesus demonstrated His love towards us that while we were still sinners, He died for us. Through His death, we are saved. He willingly laid down His life and He could take it back, hence overcoming death. We are the ones deserving of death, not Jesus. Yet Jesus planned His own death and gave up His life in exchange for ours. This is another spiritual principle demonstrated in the mystery.
Romans 6:3-7 explains why Christians go through baptism. Through baptism, we enter into the death of Jesus and are buried with Him. In the same way Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, so we share in the same resurrection. In baptism, we die with Christ, are buried with Christ, and raised with Christ. Our old sinful self dies and a new self, a new life, is raised. “For he who has died has been freed from sin” (verse 7). This brings us back to a point raised earlier about why humans face inevitable death and are unable to retain life, why science can only explain the process of aging and death but not why. The explanation is a spiritual one.
We die because we have sinned. To live forever, we would have to get rid of our sins. The bible tells us that when we die with Christ, we have effectively freed ourselves from sins and are, therefore, able to retain life and avoid death. This is how Jesus gives us eternal life through His death. We are reconciled and united with Him, both in His death and in His life. Our sins receive remission. This is a spiritual process, which we sometimes see manifested in the physical; though we cannot see when our sins are forgiven, we sometimes see physical changes.
Jesus once came to a house where many people had gathered to listen to Him. There was a man who could not walk and had to be lifted in a stretcher by his four friends to the roof top, before being lowered down before Jesus. Jesus told this man that his sins were forgiven and this man got up and walked. Some people where amazed that Jesus did not say what was expected – to simply tell the man to get up and walk. Instead, Jesus told the man, “Your sins are forgiven.” These words caused quite a stir then, with many thinking, “Who is this man? Only God forgives sins.” They did not know that Jesus was God who became man. So Jesus said that in order to prove He has the authority to forgive sins, He could tell a paralytic man to get up and walk.
When a person’s sins are forgiven, it is sometimes manifested in physical healing. Having sins is a spiritual disease and the remission of sins is likened to spiritual healing. This spiritual disease causes physical death, which explains why when one is cured of this disease, it can also bring physical benefits in the form of healing. Such healings have happened in the True Jesus Church. There are people who went for baptism in a stretcher, received baptism in the name of Jesus, and literally got up to walk back to the shore. There have been others who were told they only have a few months left to live, but after receiving baptism, felt such power within them and were healed of their incurable diseases.
There was one such family from Malaysia who heard the gospel and understood that Jesus washes away sins. Their baby boy was born with a congenital heart disease and had been told by their doctors that the boy would not survive without surgery. This family brought him to Singapore to seek a second opinion and the boy grew sicker than before. They were told by the doctors in Singapore that a surgery would definitely kill the boy. The family made a decision – they knew that with or without surgery, they would not be able to retain the boy’s life. But, they could do something to save his soul. They believed that baptism will save the entire family and even if the boy were to die, there would be no regrets; they believed that when Jesus comes again, they would all be resurrected and united in heaven.
It was with this faith that the entire family received baptism before returning to Malaysia. No surgery had been performed. By then, the boy had been without food for weeks and was depending on the drip for sustenance. He could ingest nothing and no voice could be when he cried. Upon their return to Malaysia, the boy was brought for a review at the hospital. The doctors were all amazed at how his condition had improved and asked the parents which doctor they sought help from. The boy was given a new diagnosis and the family was told that he would be able to develop almost normally.
What caused this reversal? Was it the waters in Singapore he was baptized in? No, there was nothing miraculous about the waters. But there is wonderful power in the name of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus has the power to forgive sins and the forgiveness of sins was manifested in the physical healing of this baby.
To prove that there will be complete healing and that we will never die again, the bible holds a promise of the day when Jesus will come again. When He returns, all of us who have been baptized and have held on to our faith will come back to life. When we come back to life, we will be given a body that will never die. Those who are yet alive will see their bodies transformed and receive complete healing. This is not just the healing of souls that rids us of our sins during baptism; when Jesus returns, we will receive complete healing and continual renewal. We will never die.
Do you believe in resurrection? Our physical healing is just a foretaste of resurrection. The greatest mystery is that Jesus has come to die on the cross so that we do not need to die. When Jesus returns and we are resurrected with Him, we will have a share in this greatest mystery of all time. This is why Paul tells of a mystery that “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Cor 15:51); our bodies will change and we will live forever with Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 tells us that when we are baptized and our sins are washed away, we are no longer condemned to death. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and law of death, because death comes from sins and we are freed from sins through baptism. We die with Christ and resurrect with Him.
We suffer now and our body is subject to physical pain, sickness, aging, and death (Rom 8:18). But when Jesus returns, our bodies will be redeemed just as our souls are redeemed in baptism. When He returns, the same power from God which raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us from the dead (Rom 8:19-23).
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” (1 Tim 3:16)
The greatest mystery without controversy is the mystery of how God came in the flesh, died in the flesh, and resurrected in the flesh. He was seen by angels and now preached amongst people who do not believe in Him. Yet there are people in this world who believed in what was not immediately believable but true. He is believed on in the world, and received up in glory. He will come again and we will share in that glorious resurrection. This is the gospel that we preach.
To some it may be foolish, but for us, there is nothing truer than this.