#19A GOD’S ETERNAL MYSTERY

Peter teaches us in 1Peter 1:10-12, the Old Testament writers [‘the prophets’], wrote about:

‘this salvation’ – the salvation proclaimed by the apostles and recorded in the New Testament.

‘the grace that was to come to you’ – the grace of God, which God had planned from eternity, that comes, in and through Christ, to both Jew and Gentile.

‘the sufferings of Christ’ – the incarnation of Christ, during which he suffered every pressure known to humans, as well as being misunderstood, insulted and rejected; and the horrendous death of Christ: sin-bearing, substitutionary, atoning, in which he, the innocent one, took the place of us, the guilty ones.

‘the glories that would follow’ – the God-planned purpose and outcome of the death of Christ: the restoration of humans to their intended relationship with God, the restoration of the glory of God as humans once again acknowledge him, and the ultimate eternal glory of the renewed heavens and earth, from which all that entered in Genesis 3 is terminated in an absolute and final way.

‘things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you’ – what the New Testament Gospel states clearly, the Old Testament also teaches.

The Old Testament writers knew that they were writing about something magnificent, something totally awesome, but they did not understand it. It was, at that time, still a mystery, something that was as yet not clearly seen.

Paul often spoke about this ‘mystery’ factor embedded in the Old Testament but now brought out into the open by the Gospel:

‘Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known ...’ [Romans 16:25,26].

‘... we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began ... God has revealed it to us by his Spirit’ [1Corinthians 2:7,10, read 6-10].

‘He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ’ [Ephesians 1:9].

‘... the mystery made known to me by revelation ... the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit ...’ [Ephesians 3:3-5, read 2-12].

‘... the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints’ [Colossians 1:26, read 1:24-2:3].

Even though they did not understand it, the Old Testament writers put a high value put on the salvation/grace/Christ content of their Old Testament message: They ‘searched intently and with the greatest care’ in their efforts to understand this hidden message, this mystery [1Peter 1:10,11]. Even angels long to look into these things [verse 12].

This attitude which put such high value on the salvation/grace/Christ content of the Old Testament is actually quite a challenge for us: do we, who know Christ and his salvation and grace, put equally high value on them? Do we want to understand them more and more? Are we diligent in our search to know Christ, to know his grace, to know his salvation?

If our enthusiasm is blunted, if our attitude to Christ, grace and salvation is rather ‘ho-hum’, then we are seriously depriving ourselves. We are robbing ourselves of the peace with God and the great joy promised by the angelic messengers in Luke 2.

The more we know of Christ the greater our peace and joy.

The more we understand our salvation the greater our peace and joy.

The more we understand and embrace the grace of God the greater our peace and joy.

As Paul urged his Corinthian readers: ‘we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain’ [2Corinthians 6:1] – don’t receive this grand and glorious salvation in an empty, flippant, ineffective way.

For if we value it lightly, its impact in our hearts, minds and lives will, from our perspective, also be light. But if we value it highly, then we will also more fully understand and enjoy its immeasurable richness and completeness – as God intends.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018