The Mystery of God
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery,
even the hidden wisdom, which God
ordained before the world unto our glory”
1 Corinthians 2:7
Salvation and the Entrance into the Kingdom
Is a Journey and a Life,
Not an Event
The subtlety of religion is to start out well but not finish well; to begin in the good and perfect way but become relaxed and satisfied or consumed with the concerns and affairs of this life. We need to read often the parable of the sower and the various soils into which the life of Christ was sown. Paul, speaking of himself, declares…
“But I keep under my body,
and bring it into subjection:
lest that by any means,
when I have preached to others,
I myself should be a castaway”
1 Corinthians 9:27
We are reminded throughout the New Testament that salvation is the on-going work of the Spirit of God in our lives. Paul speaking to the Church of God at Phillipi says,
“Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure…”
The working out of our salvation is the result of God working in. A life that has become inactive and lukewarm ceases to work out His working in. It becomes slothful and complacent and in the end unfaithful and impotent. It is to such that God speaks judgment and sorrow as to the unfaithful servant who was given the one talent…
“His lord answered and said unto him,
Thou wicked and slothful servant…
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
The Fear of the Lord
The Secret of True and Vital Prayer
The entrance into the Kingdom of God requires much diligence and above all a healthy fear of the Lord. His Spirit calls and beckons every man to the fear and awe of Him.
“For that they hated knowledge,
and did not choose the fear of the LORD”
The religious man cloaks himself in religious phrases, religious activities, prayer meetings, out reaches, church activities and other such “works” all the while ignoring the inward working of faith which would bring him to obedience and the way of the Lord. The prayer of the Pharisee…
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess”
Notice that this man “prayed thus with himself “! His prayers never left his lips; God was not listening. Prayer without obedience, prayer without the brokenness of heart that comes from knowing to Whom we speak, and the infusion of faith whereby we touch the substance and reality of His heart, are merely the echoes of a vain and impotent religion.
Here Jesus is praying to the Father:
“Who in the days of his flesh,
when he had offered up prayers and supplications
with strong crying and tears unto him
that was able to save him from death,
and was heard in that he feared;
Though he were a Son,
yet learned he obedience…”
The very prayers of Jesus were offered in the fear of the Lord and in a life of obedience! Such things are too deep for me but these are the truths of the life of the Son. If they are true in Him, then it must become the reality within my own life. For He who became my sin did so that I may become His righteousness and a living participant within the great mystery of God.
THE PURSUIT OF THE MARK
This life of becoming is the sum and substance of the Kingdom of God. The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares emphatically…
“Let us therefore fear,
lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest,
any of you should seem to come short of it”
This is the attitude of heart of those who would enter into the fullness of God. It is a heart which is so in love with Him that to fall short of His purposes, to displease Him, to miss Him in the full purpose and desire for our life is an unthinkable tragedy. Not because of judgement but because of love and the great desire to please and honour Him. This is the heart with which Paul wrote to the Philippians…
“Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow after,
if that I may apprehend that
for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded,
God shall reveal even this unto you”
Any one in Christ who is not pursuing this one thing the Spirit declares that “God shall reveal even this unto you”. To be otherwise minded is to miss the mark in our walk with God. It is to this end we are called and in the seeing of this we are overwhelmed with the enormity of His Call and the greatness of our need for Him and one another. We recognize the need to meet with one another, to participate in the working out of that mystery through the means of fellowship and the ministration of truth. Men who are satisfied with meetings and Bible studies in which the fire and the presence of God is missing reveal a lack of truth and honesty. The ministration of encouragement and exhortation is for those who desire truth within the inward man; a desire for transparency and authenticity over a mere appearance of righteousness.
Paul’s Specific Purpose
“TO MAKE MEN SEE”
The Building Up of the One Body in Christ
Paul in describing the purpose for which the grace of God was given to him declares…
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,
is THIS grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And to make all men see
what is the fellowship of the mystery,
which from the beginning of the world
hath been hid in God,
who created all things by Jesus Christ”
The cry of Paul’s heart was to make all men see what is their participation (Greek word for fellowship) in the mystery! Men without a sense of the mystery have no desire to fellowship in this manner. They see no purpose in meeting and functioning with others in the power and wonder of His Holy Spirit. This mystery is the Christ in me, interacting with the Christ in you, each member functioning within the call and the expression given by God whereby we grow into the very fullness and stature of the risen Christ! How can we settle for a gathering of His people if this functioning and ministration of His life between members of the Body is not a reality? Paul goes on in his epistle to say…
“But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together
and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,
maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love”
This coming together in the power of His Life begins with “speaking the Truth in Love”. The fullness and increase of this corporate expression will be “according to” (in proportion to) the effectual working (functioning) of every part (member). We can preach, teach, pray and strategize all we want; this living reality will only come by the functioning of every part. Any ministry, whether an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher that does not have this beating within his heart is failing the call of God. The true heart of Christ within a man desires to see the Body of Christ arise in His fullness. Men who seek to hold the pre-eminent place within a gathering of God’s people have missed the mind and heart of Jesus. We are called to present unto Christ a chaste virgin, a spotless bride, a people who are fully attentive unto Him. How dare the ministries of God seek the attention and love of His sheep! “He must increase; I must decrease” was the heart of John the Baptist; so should it be with all who minister Him. We must function in such a way as to so present the living Christ to men that their obedience and affections are fully centered upon Jesus not a man.
The Means By Which The Body of Christ Is Realized
A picture of true ministry is revealed by an incident recorded in John’s Gospel…
“Again the next day after John stood,
and two of his disciples;
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith,
Behold the Lamb of God!
And the two disciples heard him speak,
and they followed Jesus”
Do men really want this? Do the ministers of God and the multitudes of church organizations across the land really desire this one thing; for men to rise up and follow Jesus? Our part is to declare “Behold the Lamb of God” and to do it in such a way that men actually rise up to follow Him. We are here to make Him known. Those to whom we minister should hear us speak and then rise up and follow Jesus! How simple and pure ministry is to be! The sad part is that men, their organizations, and their own desire of recognition corrupt this simple truth and lead men to follow them and to “support” their ministry rather than the development of others in their own ministrations.
The other issue in our day is that men want to follow others and support other people; for growing into their own functioning ministry is fraught with personal accountability, obedience and faith. It is much easier to simply sit in a pew and absolve themselves of this responsibility. In gatherings where there are no ministrations of life, the power and presence of God is lacking and men remain undeveloped and immature.
The mystery of God will never be known and realized without this ministry one to another. Paul, as great and powerful as his ministry was, declared “That we with all saints might know…” He understood that his knowing of the depths, the power and fullness of God would only be realized with all saints. Those who have seen and touched the hem of His Glory know that His fullness can only be revealed in a Body, not an individual. It will take the full functioning of every member to embrace and contain the glory of the new wine. There is no room for elite little groups any more than there is for mega churches to think they can contain this Mystery. Peter and his fellow believers were meeting together and there began a religious segregation of the Jews withdrawing from the Gentiles to form a little clique. A young newcomer rebuked Peter for straying from the truth. Peter was faced with repenting and acknowledging his error or citing his position as “chief apostle” to ignore the rebuke. Peter, to his credit, repented at the rebuke of Paul. The fivefold ministry (Ephesians 4:13) is to bring the people of God unto “the unity of the faith” not to separate His people unto themselves! The fivefold ministry will remain in the church until this is accomplished.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the (their) work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Any ministry that has not this one goal in mind has missed the purpose and the call of God. Any ministration that is content with the status quo of a divided church, drawn unto men and organizations and the kingdom building of those who seek honour for themselves, will be subject to the judgments of God. All things are unto the Son, and it is He alone who is to have the pre-eminence in our midst. The scriptures declare prophetically “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be” and it is the responsibility of all the people of God to see this come to pass!
Our understanding of the Mystery of God is revealed by what we do not by what we say. Jesus said those who “speak of themselves or from themselves, seek their own glory” but those who labour by the Spirit of Christ glorify and honour Him. It is the day of the Revelation of Christ; an hour when men will declare by their actions whether they are His or mere hirelings who seek out their own glory. This house will be finished.
This Mystery of God will be accomplished!
“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel,
when he shall begin to sound,
the mystery of God should be finished,
as he hath declared to his servants the prophets”