|“They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”
1 Timothy 3:9
Everyone loves to read a good mystery novel, or watch a crime show where various clues eventually lead to the apprehension of a criminal. There seems to be something inherent to the human psyche that loves uncovering mystery. And there is certainly much mystery in life. There is so much information in the world that we could not possibly learn it all in a lifetime, and even then – the events of tomorrow remain a mystery.
There is mystery in the gospel, as well. We sing, “The mystery of the cross, I cannot comprehend!” The apostle Paul uses the word mystery some twenty times in his writings. In the verse above, he is listing the qualifications of Deacons, and he says, “They must hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience.” There is mystery in the faith. Who can fully understand the awesome truth that Jesus Christ took on human nature, while remaining fully God? Who can fully understand three persons within one eternal Godhead? Who can fully understand a body which has experienced decomposition in the ground, being resurrected to eternal life?
And there is even mystery in understanding Scripture. There are some passages that are very difficult to comprehend. What does it mean that Jesus went and preached to spirits in prison? (1 Peter 3:19) Did God command Samuel to compromise the truth? (1 Sam. 16:2) Were early Christians baptized on behalf of the dead? (1 Cor. 15:29)
But while there are mysteries in Scripture, and while there are doctrines of the faith that we cannot fully comprehend, that does not diminish the veracity and certainty of the gospel. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Children can understand the simple truth that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. When we encounter mysteries in Scripture that are beyond us, we can choose to walk away in unbelief, and reject what we cannot fully understand, or we can bow in humble submission to the God who is far, far above our understanding, and give our lives in worship and adoration of who He is and all that He has accomplished for us in Christ Jesus! May God enable us to choose the latter!