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Thoughts from the Bible 01-18-17

God’s mystery

I love to see a puzzle come together; however, I’m at a distinct disadvantage when there is no picture to guide me. It’s a real mystery then. God’s dealings with His people of old were much like a puzzle – a mystery. As we look back from our vantage point, we have a picture to guide us to understand what the total image is to look like. The mystery is revealed, and all the pieces of the puzzle just fall together. This revelation comes to us through the pages of the New Testament.

One of my Bible professors at Oklahoma Christian University used a phrase that summarizes: “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” For those who lived back in the Old Testament period, it was still a hidden mystery. The pages of the Old Testament ring with the gradual unveiling of God’s scheme of redemption through Christ. Yet Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NKJV) ¹⁰ Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, ¹¹ searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. ¹² To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into.” The picture was more difficult for them to understand. Even the angels of Heaven were apparently not fully aware of how God’s master plan would work. Thus the Old Testament concealed the full picture; the New Testament revealed it all fully.

The wisdom of God is a marvelous thing. His wisdom in generations before Christ came was called a “hidden mystery” (Eph. 3:2-5; I Cor. 2:7-8; Rom. 16:25-26) that involved the salvation of all mankind. The revealed “mystery” came in the “fulness of time” when God sent forth His Son (Eph. 4:4). Jesus stepped into the pages of history to work the eternal purpose of God (Eph. 3:10-11). This same passage tells us that the church, in accord with God’s eternal purpose, declares His manifold wisdom. God sent the news of His “mystery” out into all nations that, now, in Christ, “Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).

A state of spiritual death results when one is separated from God who gives and nourishes our spirit. The Gentile world had experienced that separation for centuries (Eph. 2:11-13). They were not privileged to share in the covenant relationship that produced promise or hope. In fact, nearly all of the people I’ve preached to over the past 50 years were Gentiles. If God had not worked His Divine Purpose to bring us Gentiles in, we too would be without hope today. Of our own selves, we are not able to come back into God’s spiritual presence. Thanks be to God He has now called those who “were not my people . . . my people” (Romans 9:25; Hosea 2:23). And thanks be to God that we receive the benefit of this act of Divine grace!

 


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