"THE MYSTERY" A Corporate Body, i.e., The Body of Christ
This is a body of believers wherein Christ is the head -- the one who is all and in all. [Note in Eph. 4:6b that the Father also is in all, and in Eph. 1:13, so is the Holy Spirit!]
It is a body wherein no nation has any advantage - no religious system has any advantage and no individual, whether bond or free, has any advantage. (Col. 3:11).
This body was created, historically, post-Acts, but elected "Before the foundation (overthrow) of the world." (Eph. 1:4): a paradox - outwardly - chosen from The Revealed Plan "since or from the foundation (overthrow) of the world" (Matt. 13:35), but secretly to fulfill God's "Hidden Purpose" (Eph. 1:4). In other words, we have an election from within the elect (Eph.2:10). Hence, considering all things historically, "The Mystery" is a parenthesis in The Revealed Plan, but when seen from God's ultimate purpose (see Eph. 1:9, 10; 3:11), it is vice versa.
When you think about it, it is rather humorous. The Greek word, "poiema" translated "workmanship" (Eph. 2:10), means "poem" or "poetry." As confusing as this may seem, the called-out (the corporate body of Christ, so to speak) is the Most High's "poetry." To me, and perhaps to the Creator Himself, this is just a wee bit of heaven's humor.
Even so, whether humor or not, the present calling is a secret calling of our Lord in sovereign grace. Thus we are, as it were, an ambassador without portfolio (II Tim. 1:9); therefore, not a legal authority, but rather a Spirit-energized testimony of His grace.
IT IS AXIOMATIC "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). The capstone of all visions reaches its zenith in the dispensation (or stewardship, Greek word, oikonomia, or literally, "law of the house") of The Mystery, i.e., the sacred secret of Christ. This adjunct to the dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:1-3), given the Apostle Paul to complete the Word of God, has been and still remains the superlative vision which could, and would, dispel the darkness that overshadows 20th Century Christendom. Note the following difficulty.
A set of circumstances, not dissimilar to now, was when Paul (some 19 centuries ago) expressed his personal musings, writing, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart...for Israel" (Rom. 9:1-4). Less than ten years later, the nation of Israel rejected their own scriptural promises and the fuller revelation of the Mystery. Even those who did receive Christ still clung to the New Covenant, etc., and turned away from Paul and the superlative visions of the Mystery (II Tim.1:15). Not only so, their zeal for the things of Circumcision demonstrates their influence in the early church council of 300 -325 A.D. (See our paper, " 'The Mystery' - God's Sacred Secret to Complete the Word of God.")
The outcome from the traditions of those times reminds one of Laban's guile, when Jacob, who labored for "Rachel," discovered he had received "Leah." Please do not read into this anymore than is said. Otherwise, the point will be overridden.
In any case, Paul at this point had become a prisoner of Jesus Christ and began to write in a time of rejection and other adversities. What did he write? "Rejoice, be anxious for nothing." Results -- the peace of God which passes all understanding was the Apostle Paul's (Phil. 4:4-7).
Now, let us consider the things which differ about our subject matter: the corporate body of Christ from within the Mystery as opposed to the body of Christ in the Acts Period ( a time when the New Covenant was offered to Israel). We make a major point of the distinctions, because to treat these two as synonymous compounds the already existing error.
Our comments on the corporate body, along with the scriptures, Eph. 4:14-16; Col. 3:11, declare and demonstrate an equality not found in the descriptions of the body in I Cor. 12. When you read from the prophets concerning the fulfillment of that body, you will discover that the Gentiles are actually second-class citizens (humanly speaking), even though they seem to be satisfied (Isaiah Chapters 60 and 61, Jer. 31:31-37). Whereas, the members of the corporate body are already exalted to the place where Christ is now seated: far above all principalities and powers, etc. (Eph. 1:20-23; 2:6,etc).
Moreover, in the body of the New Covenant, its head has eyes and ears in its membership. In the corporate body, Christ, the Head, is ALL -- period! When you think about it, the most outstanding vision of the New Covenant body is in the Holy City New Jerusalem (Rev. 21 and 22). Please observe, even here the Gentile must come into that city through one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Whereas in the corporate body, only ONE WAY, through CHRIST, into blessing is ever even hinted! (I Tim. 2:5)
Lastly -- Fruit is Fruit -- but you should never confuse apples with some other fruit. Hence, it is written: "where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18)! It is therefore required to rightly divide (cut) the Word of God!
Pray about it!
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8.
C. E. McLain 11/13/87