Bible Study Notes:

The Mystery of the Church vs. the Occult
Ephesians 3:1-5


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
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Dear Father we exalt and praise your holy Name forever. All your judgements are righteous and all your ways are just. Father we come before your throne in prayer for those in bondage tonight, for those in the kingdom of darkness who see you dimly through the veil of sin. Oh God, we pray deliverance tonight over the earth. We pray that prisoners will be loosed from all addictions. That captives will be set free! In Jesus Name. AMEN and AMEN

Praise You Lord God of hosts, creater of all things, we thank You for Your Grace, Love and the Hope that decends upon us from on high.

Father God, awake the sleeping church. Alert your people to the damage caused by the roar of the lion, satan. Make your body arise to the challenge and fight the enemy for the precious souls of mankind, we pray. Father God, awake your sleeping giant, and let the mighty church triumph over the works of darkness!

Father, let us not be concerned with daily living, you have promised to meet all of our needs according to your riches in glory in Christ Jesus. But let us fasten our eyes upon Jesus and catch the vision of a lost, dying and enslaved world. Let us be bold to confess our testimony and bring the light of the gospel upon the gross darkness covering the peoples! Lift us with Your Holy Word tonight. Bind satan and prevent him from causing computer problems, in the name of Jesus we ask this. AMEN

Oh, God, bring a hunger and yearning for your Word over the world. Those feeding on satan's ashes, let them come to themselves and seek the glorious feast at the Father's table! Oh God, give your church a heart of compasssion. Cut out the heart of stone and indifference!

satan we come against you in the mighty and glorious and holy Name of Jesus. We bind you and rebuke you and cast you out of this holy place in Jesus Name!

Father God, open our hearts this night to receive your Word. May we be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Holy Spirit, we invite you to be our treacher. Bring all things to our remembrance. And to You, most Holy God, be all the praise honor and glory forever. AMEN and AMEN

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. Welcome to Bible Study. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ throught the companionship of the Holy Spirit!

Last time we were discussing the fact that IN CHRIST we are part of a mighty building, the Church, with Jesus being the chief cornerstone, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We are being built by God into a holy temple, a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. As living stones, or lively stones as one translation has it, we are being placed by God in an appointed place. Since we are living stones, sometimes we are stubborn and "pop out of place". Also because we are living, we are sometimes used by God to rub against each other, chip off the rough edges of one another, and polish each other up. This brings us up to date to the beginning of Ephesians chapter 3. Paul begins by saying:

Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--

Paul was literally a prisoner in Rome for spreading the Gospel, refusing to back down, and being determined to complete his mission for the Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder, and this is to myself as well as to you all, how long we would stay Christians if we had to go to jail for preaching the gospel? Lord fix our hearts on thee so that we will be faithful under persecution!

I'm not normally a "gloom and doom" person, but I sense in my spirit that the days of religious freedom we have enjoyed AS CHRISTIANS may be coming to an end. The forces of darkness are gathering, and being a Christian in many areas of our country is ridiculed, mocked and scoffed at. It concerns me greatly that many of the believers I meet have little or no knowledge of the Word. If the Bible was declared illegal - and in some countries it already is - would we know enough in our hearts to stand? For many years I have heard preachers declare that the great end-time revival is coming. But know that with the genuine also comes the false! That is why we MUST know the Word. It is not optional. God's Word is the only secure place we have!

Thank God that Paul withstood all the trials and held fast to the faith. Thank God that he received and fulfilled his mission to the gentiles. When I get to heaven, other than Jesus, Brother Paul is one of the first ones I want to meet!

Now Paul was a prisioner in Rome "for the sake of you Gentiles". If he had been afraid to carry out the mission the Lord had given him, he probably would have been "safe". But he refused to be "safe", he refused to let anything stand between him and God's will for his life.

Again, I wonder, those of us in American who are so used to comfort and pleasure, if those things are removed, would we still be faithful to God? Dear God, grant that we may continue faithfully serving you no matter what the cost!

Now Paul begins to discuss the mystery of the Church.

Ephesians 3:2-3 Surely you have heard about the administration* of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery** made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

The greek word translated "administration" in verse 2, oikonomia, is also translated stewardship, or dispensation. It is the same word used in Chapter 1:10, dispensation in the KJV, stewardship in Amplified. Paul was called to be the Apostle to the gentiles (praise the Lord), and was the adminstrator, steward or dispenser of God's grace to the gentiles. Now the Church was not revealed in OldTestament prophecy, it was a mystery that was revealed by Jesus, particularly about the part of the church that was gentile. This dispensation and mystery is referred to in Chapter 1:9-10

Ephesians 1:9-10 (English-KJV) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Here dispensation is the same word in 3:1 translated administration. Even though God planned the church from the beginning He chose not to reveal it until the fullness of time. Jesus told the disciples:

Mt. 13:10-11 - And the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."

Why didn't God reveal the Church in the Old Testament? We aren't told that. The same verse in NIV, calls it secrets instead of mystery:

Matthew 13:10-11 (English-NIV) The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them."

Our gospel today is still HIDDEN to the lost:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (KJV) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NIV) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Unbelievers are BLIND to the gospel. Sometimes we forget that - the things that are clear to us, are foggy at best to them. Our terminology, our faith, our joy is foreign to them. We must be VERY patient as the Lord leads us when testifying to the lost. It is a slow process, bringing the Gospel into focus for them.

Now, a mystery is a secret previously hidden but now made clear so that no mystery remains for any one who will accept the truth as revealed. Mysteries today are puzzles to be solved. The solution to a mystery or puzzle in God's Word is received by revelation. Revelation is also called godly wisdom and is received by our reborn spirits from God. God granted Paul a revelation into his plans for the Church,especially as concerning the gentiles or non-jews.

In our society today, there are a lot of groups that claim to have spiritual wisdom, knowledge or insight into "hidden things" - typically called the occult - including astrology, tarot cards, fortune telling, spirit mediums, wiccans, witches and all kinds of stuff. But this is spiritual garbage, false prophecy, and just plain ignorance.

OCCULT is a broad term that covers witchcraft AND astrology, psychics, etc. They are one and the same, deceptions from the master of deception. The Bible tells us that satan can APPEAR as an angel of light, trying to deceive even God's people!

The occult is fascinating to many because it does pretend to have secret knowledge and be a source of power. All of us have anxiety about the future sometimes, and feel weak and scared. The occult promises to help us, BUT IT CANNOT DELIVER! We MUST stay in the Word!

Evil only has power over us if we allow it to. At best it is a puny power, nothing compared to God's awesome power which raised Christ from the dead! The root word for Godly power is dunamis, which means DYNAMITE!

God reveals to his servants His secrets plainly. We don't have to join a cult or go through initiation or wear funny costumes to receive knowledge from God. The Word is ALWAYS good for you, even if you don't understand it fully. As you continue to hear, God will make it plain to you.

If you want to see how the knowledge of God holds up against the occult world, read the book of Daniel. The wisdom that God gave Daniel was ALWAYS superior to the astrologers, etc. The ancient persians and chaldeans were the ones who invented astrology. God was wiser then, and He is still wiser now.

Daniel 2:22 (English-KJV) He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

Daniel 2:22 (English-NIV) He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Being psychic and being a godly prophet are NOT the same. A psychic claims to consult with elemental spirits and the dead, a godly prophet hears from God. The Biblical test of a godly prophet is 100% accuracy, according to the Old Testament. If 100% of a godly prophet's prophecies did NOT come true, he/she was put to death. What psychic can claim this? If one thing out of a hundred comes true, they crow like a rooster as if it is something to be proud of.

Of course these psychics are going to claim to be FROM God. Who would listen to them if they said, the devil told me so and so? But they lie. There's a guy in Sedona, Arizona that claims to be the latest and greatest messiah or savior, the new Jesus, and he gets his stuff from transmissions from space ships every night.

You need to understand the difference between "magic" and faith. Magic (as in witchcraft) seeks to control the demonic spirits of the universe through spells and incantations. The demonic spirits at times "seem" to obey, because they want to draw the new witch ever deeper into sin. But the truth according to God's Word, is that the only way demonic powers can be defeated is through the blood of Jesus, our testimony and the Name of Jesus.

Revelation 12:11 - They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Witchcraft also believes in harming your enemies if possible. The Bible teaches to love your enemies, pray for those who deceitfully use you. Faith receives from God because of God's love not because of some ritual or chant or spell. God prospers us because He loves us. We don't have to sacrifice a baby or cut off a finger or something else horrible to receive God's best. He gives it to us joyfully and freely.

I also was fascinated by the occult as a teen - and learned that it is all deception and lies. Did I ever tell you about playing with an ouija board? Well, when I was about 13-15 or so, I used to play with it with my friends. We'd ask silly questions, like does Bobby love me? or will I be rich?

Well one day we were at the swimming pool around lunch time in broad daylight, and one had brought that thing with him and we were playing with it, sitting on lounge chairs in the sun. Well, I asked it, Ouija, do you like me? and the the little triangular planchette we had our fingers on flew to YES. It almost knocked us off the chair! Anyway, then I asked it, Ouija, who are you? Guess what it said? It quickly spelled out S - A - T - A - N! I never touched that nasty thing again!!! That's what clued me in on the fact that the occult was not of God. I studied about it in the light of God's Word, and realized it was ALL deception, witchcraft, astrology, tarot cards, spirit mediums, psychics, the whole nine yards!

May I share with you what happened to me a little later too? Several years later, when I was a young mother, I was learning about how satan can control you through certain objects that link you with him, like statues, books, records, tapes, etc. I was wanting to clean house badly so I could be free, absolutely free of demonic oppression! I believed in Jesus and wanted to be a Christian wholly and completely, but it felt like an evil shadow was following me, an oppressive spirit. I cried out to God for help. But it seemed to get worse!

Now this seems scary and weird, but I tell you the truth. It got to the point that this "thing" began moving around in my house, and moving things around on my desks and counter tops. I FREAKED! Dear God save me, I cried. Help me!

Things began to fall off desks and countertops. There was no wind, all the doors and windows were closed. I KNEW that something in my home was giving access to this spirit but didn't know what. I had gotten rid of everything I thought was evil.

Then, God began to reveal to me that I had some fantasy novels that I had been reading. I didn't think it was wrong. I loved to imagine other worlds, etc. But what I was ignoring was that these other worlds were governed by magicians and wizards and witches! I was desperate. I said, I'll get rid of anything God. Just deliver me from this oppressive spirit! I'm telling you, I was scared.

We had a large wood stove to heat with. I started shoveling books in as fast as I could. There were quite a few of them. Soon that stove turned cherry red, the fire was so hot, and almost caught our house on fire. (NOTE: burn your books outside!). The rest I crammed into the trash can. It was raining outside so they were destroyed too. I left the lid off. When I tossed the last book, the spirit left! And hasn't come back since, praise the Lord!!!

When we come to Jesus, we need to do a housecleaning and get rid of all the devil's garbage, including horoscopes, psychic predictions, ouija boards, amulets, idols, satanic music, etc. A good rule of thumb when evalutating music is - does it promote SEDUCTION or DESTRUCTION? If it does, toss it! SEDUCTION to wrongful sexual activity or idolatry - worshipping wiccan gods or the devil. DESTRUCTION - promoting violence and suicide. What you listen do affects how you think which affects how you act. If you are often confused, depressed or upset, look at what you are feeding your mind! If in doubt, TOSS IT OUT!

Well, folks, it never ceases to amaze me - when God's Word goes out, the devil tries to divert, distract and confuse. But in Jesus'Name we are ALWAYS victorious. If you would like a copy of my Bible study on the occult, please email me at karleenp@earthlink.net.

As believers we won't know everything until we get to Heaven, but we can always be growing in knowledge and understanding. The important thing is to GROW.

Now the Jews had been given God's law and knew they were God's promised people. Through what they knew at the time, the only way gentiles could be saved would be to convert to judaism. NOW God has revealed the mystery - the solving of the puzzle - how can we all be saved? The answer is: through the gospel - the good news that Jesus blood has cleansed us ALL from sin, once and for all.

Ephesians 3:4-5 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

Notice Paul says: "YOU WILL BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND". This is a promise to us! The Bible may seem to be confusing at first, especially if we are just coming out of a sinful life style. But as we continue, it will become clearer and clearer to us, like a veil has been lifted off our eyes. Sometimes it comes slowly, be patient with yourself, for God is patient with you!

Now this mystery was NOT made know to previous generations, it was revealed through Christ, particularly to Paul. yes, md, the others had a bit of trouble with the gentile thing, until God gave Peter a vision at Cornelius' house. Do you remember that? Peter saw a sheet being lowered from heaven with what a jew would consider to be unclean animals on it. God said "Kill and eat". Peter had to see this THREE times before he accepted it and understood that the gentiles were to be accepted equally in the kingdom of God.

Notice that Paul does not claim exclusive rights to this revelation, but includes "God's holy apostles and prophets". Anytime anyone claims to have an exclusive revelation from God, revealed only to him or her, WATCH OUT! God tells his servantS secrets - not just one alone.

In Ephesians 5:6, Paul goes on the EXPLAIN the mystery :

6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Now the Jews had been given God's law and knew they were God's promised people. Through what they knew at the time, the only way gentiles could be saved would be to convert to judaism. NOW God has revealed the mystery - the solving of the puzzle - how can we all be saved? The answer is: through the gospel - the good news that Jesus blood has cleansed us ALL from sin, once and for all.

Lord, thank you for your Word that has gone out tonight. Help us to put it into practice. AMEN

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice.

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