The Mystery of Faith - Part 1

(1Tim 3:8-10 KJVS) “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.”

When folks talk about “the faith” they typically are referring to a set of religious dogma: like the Catholic faith or the Protestant faith, etc. But when the Bible talks about “the faith,” it is something altogether different. It is talking about the faith of Christ which was one of the mysteries that was revealed to the Apostle Paul for the church age. 

The Mystery of the Faith

(Gal 3:23 KJVS) “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”

So, if there was a time “before faith came” and during that time men did things by faith. What can we concluded? It was a different faith. If they were “shut up unto the faith that should afterwards be revealed,” did they possess the faith that hadn’t been revealed yet? Obviously, No. But wasn’t there faith in the old testament? Yes, but that was personal faith, the same way as righteousness in the old testament was personal righteousness.

(Ezekiel 18:21–32 KJV) “21   But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. 25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? 30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”

Remember, the faith that should afterwards be revealed, hadn’t been revealed yet. And the righteousness of Christ hadn't been manifest yet either.

If we look at Hebrews, chapter 11, we see a phrase repeated over and over… “By faith…”
“by it (faith) the elders received a good report”
“by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God”
“by faith Abel offered”
“by faith Enoch was translated”
“by faith Noah built an ark”
“by faith Abraham went out”
“through faith Sara received strength”
“by faith Abraham offered up Isaac”
“by faith Isaac blessed Jacob”
“by faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph”
“by faith Moses was hid of his parents”
“by faith Moses …. Did a number of things”
So on and so forth… You get the idea. But the faith that should afterwards be revealed, they were shut up unto. Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 4 reveals that a man lived by "his" faith.

(Hab 2:4 KJVS) “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”

So if personal faith existed in the Old Testament, then what is “the faith” that should afterwards be revealed that was a mystery?

The Faith of Christ.

(Gal 2:16 KJVS) “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

It’s very important to pay attention to the wording because if you change the wording you can change the meaning. Let’s look closer at what we know according to this verse. Paul states because of what we know, even we have believed in Jesus Christ. In other words, we knew something that caused us to believe in Christ. What did we know? That a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. This caused us to believe in Jesus Christ.

This wonderful truth has been preserved for us in the King James Bible, but let’s look at what a believer in the NIV mis-translation knows.

(Gal 2:16 NIV) “know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

In the NIV mis-translation, a man knows that he is justified by his own faith in Jesus Christ, rather than by the faith of Christ. Are we righteous because we have faith in Christ? or because of the faith of Christ?

(Phil 3:9-11 KJVS) “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

The righteousness of God was proven by Christ believing the promise of the Father and giving his life a ransom for many. The offering of Jesus' blood declares God's righteousness in remitting sins whereby He is just and the justifier of those that believe in Jesus. (Rom. 3:25–26) So believers are not righteous because they have faith in Christ, that would be “mine own righteousness.” Paul says believers have righteousness through the faith of Christ and this is of God. It is Christ's imputed righteousness. Now, again let’s see what is the believer in the NIV mis-translation are erroneously being taught.

(Phil 3:8-11 NIV) “9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

So, in the NIV mis-translation the believers righteousness doesn’t come from the law, but from their own faith in Christ. If believers righteousness comes by their own faith in Christ, what happens if they cease to have faith in Christ? Does their righteousness come to an end?The personal righteousness that was in the law was clearly insufficient, but equally insufficient was the personal faith of the individuals who lived by it. Any one who has read about the lives of those who lived by personal faith will notice one thing about all of them, they all had lapse in their personal faith. All of the people that are mentioned in Hebrews 11 had great lapses in their personal faith. The earthly ministry of Christ showed the deficiency of personal faith as he dealt with his disciples. He says to them repeatedly, “O ye of little faith”, “how is it that ye have no faith?”, “Where is your faith?”

From faith to faith

Let’s consider what Paul reveals to us about the mystery of the faith.

(Gal 2:16 KJVS) “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

What happens if the believer stops believing in Jesus Christ? Are they no longer justified? What does Paul say?

(2 Timothy 2:13 KJV) “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Because of the deficiency of personal faith, the believers justification is based upon the faithfulness of Christ - the faith of Christ. Remember that reference to personal faith in Habakkuk.

(Hab 2:4 KJVS) “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Now, watch as Paul quotes from it in the book of Romans in relation to the gospel - the good news as it is now revealed.

(Romans 1:16–17 KJV) “16   For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein [the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Our personal faith exercised one time in the Christ of the gospel moves us from our imperfect faith to the perfect faith of Christ. The righteousness of God is revealed when a person believes in Jesus knowing that they are not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ. Notice how Paul drops the “by his faith,” and just says “by faith.” This is very important as we will see next week as we examine Gal 2:20.

(Galatians 2:20 KJV) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

The King James Bible again preserves for us this wonderful message of the faith of Christ and the NIV mis-translation teaches something altogether different.

(Galatians 2:20 NIV) “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Remember, things that are different aren't the same.