AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH March 2, 2014
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise,
through Grace by Faith
DOORS AND MYSTERIES
DOORS OF UTTERANCE AND MYSTERIES
OF CHRIST, THE GOSPEL AND THE WILL OF GOD
Colossians 4:3, with Ephesians 3:4, Ephesians 1:9ff., 6:19 and Romans 16:25
Paul was desperately keen to push the Gospel into territories as vast as possible, seeking from God for a door of utterance, delighting in a "great and effectual" one, as in I Corinthians 16:9, while exhorting others to pray that "God would open for us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ," (Colossians 4:3). In Ephesians 6:19 he seeks prayer that the door of his mouth would be moved, God giving him "utterance ... that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel."
He had information, boiling in his heart, inclination toiling in his will and formulation building a house of utterance (I Corinthians 2:9-13). He sought the uttermost opportunity, diligence, courage and power to draft the 'mysteries' and relay them, so that the unchangeable Gospel be made known. The crucial revelation has already been given (Galatians 1); the diffusion was needed, and the power to express that to be diffused. It was like a desire to plant many daphne bushes, so that the magnificent formulation should be present, the perfume diffused on all sides and the place to plant made obvious, and available, the scent suffusing all. .
Many are the media for dissemination. One way we use here, which by the grace of God had already led to some 76 nations, and around 430 universities, some years ago, has been that of the electronic missionary. In our now 227 volume Web Site, focussing Biblical Christian Apologetics, and the preaching, teaching and demonstrations that go with it, centring on Jesus Christ and eternal life through Him. The word of God, the Bible is demonstrated to be true, and applicable (I Peter 3:15, II Cor. 10:5), as indeed it is.
Multitudes are the missionaries who have gone on foot, aeroplane, canoe, and vast has been the world coverage over millenia now. The whole world of races is to be covered, and then the end comes (Matthew 24:14).
What of the result ? You see the principle both in John 9:40-41 and 15:22-25. Informed knowledge with faith embracing it and Him to whom it is directed, with eternal life given, but for its eternal loss, because of the love of God, rejection or its equivalent is required. Thus when darkness is shown preferred to light, the sheer abundance of pity and pardon stopping at nothing less (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3, Titus 2-3, Luke 19:42ff.), the result is, however, simple: the internal incitement to eternal misery.
Even then it is found stopped with tears as in Luke 19 and Matthew 23:37ff.. You see the same in the movement of the Lord God in Jeremiah 9, as the prophet imbibes the divine sorrow and expresses it. The word of God is indeed used to uncover mysteries, divinely divulged either to conform and confirm, or complete the initial revelation in the Old Testament. The truth is sharp and immutable: where is not cutting out sin and coming with its remedy, then on it there is no place to rest. It is not available for capture by contraries. so making heaven holy and sure.
MYSTERIES OF CHRIST, THE GOSPEL AND THEN THE WILL OF GOD
A) Let us take first what Paul calls the "mystery of Christ" as in Colossians 4:3 and Ephesians 3:4. Paul wants God to open a door (and how MANY were opened for him, called), to speak this mystery, for which he also was in chains, as are many, in effect, today. It is the word of God, not of man, that he wants there to speak, and to do so as he OUGHT to do with such treasures aboard (Ephesians 6:20). Here we learn that this mystery of Christ was not made known in former times to the extent now revealed (Ephesians 3:5), namely that the Gentiles should with the repentant Jews, share one Gospel in one Christ, Paul transmitting this reality through "the effective working of His power," Ephesians 6:20). To how many he was used to unveil it from Christ! (cf. Acts 9-20).
B) Then, in Ephesians 6:19-20, we see Paul again seeking prayer that to him might be given "utterance that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel," (bold print for comparison). Content, yes, but a bold demeanour fitting for the word of the King of Kings is needed. Neither faint courage nor fickle character, inhibition nor chains are to stop him, with rank clarity and undimmed force revealing what has been given in both substance and expression (cf. I Corinthians 2:9-13).
Romans 16:25, we have Paul praying that God would make them to be established,
firm. How ? It is to be according to "my gospel and the
preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept
secret since the world began."
Paul declares it in this way (red and later bold, added to help understanding and pith).
"Now to Him who is able to establish you
according to my Gospel
and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery,
kept secret since time began,
but now manifest,
and by the prophetic scriptures:
made known according to the commandment of the eternal God,
for obedience to the faith to all nations -
to God alone wise , be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."
Lines 3, 4 and 7 show the threefold input.
Here it is the mystery made manifest in Christ and through the preaching of Him by Paul, but also by the prophetic scriptures, such as Isaiah 7, 9, 22, 32, 42, 50-55, Micah 5, Psalm 2, 16, 22 and the rest of the Old Testament assemblage, which likewise both are and have been a source of such revelation for millenia. Thus, in full context, the three sources are
1) the long-standing prophetic scriptures, given;
2) Christ Himself, their fulfilment and completion and direct diction from deity, preached; with
3) the Gospel proclaimed as by Paul in conjunction with the apostolate (as in Galatians 2:8ff.). All of this has worked, both the divine word and the proclamation, the former revealed as in I Corinthians 2:9-13, to the apostolic cadre of which Paul is one.
Thus the secrecy since the world began is categorically removed into revelation from God, first by the Old Testament scriptures, then by the apostolate inspired by Christ (Acts 9), the Father (Matthew 16:17) and the Spirit (I Cor. 2:9ff.), and so by the Gospel preached. Much increases in substance as this New Testament era dawns, but the light was already present by the grace of God, in the earlier presentation of the Old Testament prophets, it was as a bud in beauty and form comes before a bloom. All this brings focus, as land is exposed by a lighthouse.
The mystery concerns Christ and the Gospel, potent mystery bases, and the revelation brings out the point, while the propagation shows it by the effectual doors of utterance, to which boldness of speech is added. The Gospel is part of the preaching of Jesus Christ, in all things having the pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18). In another analogy, its milk is the source and strengthening at the first, His wisdom the fortification that continues as the new child grows (Titus 3:3-7, Hebrews 5:12-14, I Cor. 2:6). Meat does not remove the milk of the Gospel, but it gives weight of understanding and depth of knowledge of the Lord.
THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL Ephesians 1:9ff.
Now we come to a rich harvest in the revelation of mysteries, as found in Ephesians 1:8ff.. This is a vast interconnecting concourse. But before we cover this, consider Matthew 13:11ff.. Here Jesus Christ declares that many sought to gain the mysteries now being revealed, but to the apostles these are being known, and fortunate indeed are they. They in turn ministered to us.
In Ephesians 1, we find that God has made "known to us the mystery of His will," 1:9. Added to the above list of three aspects (mystery of Christ, of the Gospel, mystery kept secret), this makes the fourth mystery revealed. This is not a composite of the will of man and of God (as abhorred in Galatians 1:6ff.), as if some sort of treaty were made, but "according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself," Ephesians 1:8.
This He exposed with exceeding clarity to the apostles who presented it; and notice that God "purposed in Himself," purpose being a central term in all communication, the whole essence of which is to bring what is not known or not fully known or received, from this source to another, so that it becomes known. That is the nature of the Bible at the personal level, to lead us, as of the DNA and associated codes at the physical level, to form us in accord with the formulations giving information by code; then, with us made, God proceeded to inform us.
Thus to us, the word is given direct, to correct, inspire, challenge and inform our hearts, enriching the mind and saving the soul of those who heed and obey its command, repent and believe, thus being engraced, surrounded with grace. The issues in information are to form, to inform and if it be rejected, to deform by misreading with or without rebellion. and believe, thus being engraced (Ephesians 2:6), surrounded with grace.
Of course it may also serve as reminder of earlier communication, as in the Old Testament. In Himself, God considered all such things whatever, in the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); and it is revealed that He works all things after this counsel. If therefore some wish to ignore Him, as in Psalm 1:4, they stand in great contrast to those who, knowing God, and known to Him, serve as required, like armed forces, the Gospel their ammunition, and the whole word of God once fired, setting alight the flame of truth in many. The latter appear in Psalm 1:5-6, in the blessed knowledge and wisdom of God.
But what of the indifferent, the rebels, the self-assertive: If then some like it that way, like walking along a highway without knowing or understanding the rules, so spattered here or there, then that is the way for them; or if some walk with no divine map, that is the way without God. It is not that it is unsighted, but unsited, out of the will and wisdom of God, free among vast and devastating forces, for the ruin of their souls. If on the way, some reap gold benefits, that also can happen, and for many of these, death arrives just as the bigger barns appeal. There is no solidity, grace or place for them, set at length to smoulder in isolation.
God has His own counsel, and purposes in Himself, for whatever plan appears relevant. Horror may heap among mankind, as divine knowledge is lost. Whole races ignoring the Gospel, glad-wrap themselves before being put by their friends or enemies, into the oven as a prelude. Without God, it is a godless deal: just as real and sheer is it as a destiny, though wholly pointless. A friend of mine, who had accomplished much, seemed in old age to have that inconsequential and rather downcast mood: he had no improvement to look forward to, only a barren, falsely metaphysical universe full of mystery and if not muddle, then mud. Such appeared the dismissed dynamic of it, he so smitten, a listless neutral with no apparent hope.
Part of this mystery of the divine will, made known to the apostolate and based in the criterion of Jesus Christ, with the preparatory communication in the Old Testament, is this vista as seen in Romans 11, 16 and Ephesians 3 for example. Jew and Gentile alike will be made one, indeed all the components of Gospel-believing mankind in all ages will be made one on one basis, foretold in the prophets, but in some areas not so decisively featured as told in the New Testament and as announced by Christ (John 4:21-22).
He is the centre to which these circumferences shrink. Indeed, those, each one, not only known but foreknown, are predestined past the problematic, and all this according to His purpose: for He would have ALL in heaven or earth to be reconciled to Himself and says so clearly (Col. 1:19ff.), but takes what love may cherish and invests with His own Spirit, where sites are found (cf. Matthew 22:9ff.). These are not all the best in talent by any means (I Cor. 1:27); but those who in Him find rest and by His stripes are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
To them His will is no more a mystery (unresolved enigma), though much remains for testing and exposure to come ( I Corinthians 13:9-13); but it is wholly apparent because now revealed in its categories and aspirations, its means and its ends, its open-handed love and its immediacy in the availability of God to His people. Each is received freely through and works in faith (Psalm 124:4-5, Ephesians 2:17, Colossians 1:28). Each is recipient of grace and more than reformation, even regeneration and direct spiritual education in Christ.
Then Christ is in you (Colossians 1:27), the hope of glory. By such ministrations, the mystery hidden from ages and generations is now made known TO THE SAINTS: for who else CAN know it, since in the others, He is NOT within them, nor even trusted for salvation, His word not installed in the heart that they might know, His will not followed, His eternal life not accepted, which nothing can remove (I John 5:11-12, John 5:24, 10:9,27-28), once granted. But not all are saved, wilfully skewing in disobedience to the faith (Romans 1:5,17ff.), so freely offered. While then there is enormous stress on the individual, it is not an individualism that chews and spews; but one built on the love and labour of the Creator and Redeemer, in whose finished work and word, each one saved rests. But not all are saved.
So does man frequently make himself anaemic, despite the iron of truth, witless despite the wisdom of God and wily, despite the candour of God, (as in Galatians 2:8ff.) and despite the reality of truth. It is wilful, but profoundly sad; yet such is liberty and such is love, the great gifts of grace to those not made like mechano sets, but in the very image of God, who would have all to be saved (I Timothy 2:4, Ezekiel 33:11). Be then encouraged if you do not know Him, to seek and to find Him, according to the revealed and revealing Gospel of grace, love and mercy, atonement and reconciliation to God through the Saviour, Jesus Christ.