THERE ARE MYSTERIES IN GOD’S WORD
Condensed from the writings of J.C. Philpot by Michael Jeshurun
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a MYSTERY, even the HIDDEN WISDOM, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” [1 Cor. 2:7]
Every true minister of the gospel is “a steward of the mysteries of God;” as the Apostle declares (1 Cor. 4:1), “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” And his office is, as God the Spirit teaches and enables him, to bring forth these mysteries for the edification and consolation of the people of God.
WHAT IS A MYSTERY?
Let us endeavor to discover its scriptural meaning. A MYSTERY has these three marks attending it–
1. It is a truth beyond the comprehension of nature, sense, and reason.
2. It is hidden from the wise and prudent.
3. It is revealed by the Spirit of God unto babes.
These three distinct marks are found in EVERY gospel mystery; and therefore nothing but divine teaching can lead us into a spiritual and experimental acquaintance with heavenly mysteries.
Almost everything pertaining to the Gospel and the Kingdom to come is a ‘Mystery’!
There is the ‘Mystery of the Trinity’ [1John 5:7],
the ‘Great Mystery of Godliness’ [1Tim 3:16],
the ‘Mystery of the union of the Church with her covenant Head’ [Eph 5:30-32],
the ‘Mystery of the Gospel’ [Eph 6:19];
the ‘Mystery of the Kingdom of God!’ [Mark 4:11],
the ‘Mystery of the two natures, that “company of two armies,” perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom! [Sos 6:13]
the ‘Mystery of iniquity’ [2Thes 2:7]
the ‘Mystery of the Resurrection’ [1Cor 15:51, 52]
And then comes what John saw in Revelation (10:7)—”In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, THE MYSTERY OF GOD SHALL BE FINISHED, which He has declared to His servants the prophets.”
This is the winding up of all things, when the mystery of iniquity in the professing world; the mystery of God’s dealings with his people in grace; the mystery of his dealings with them in providence; the mystery of the way in which God has led his church; the mystery of all our trials, temptations, afflictions, and sufferings; the mystery of the crooked road we have walked, of the tangled labyrinth which we have threaded; the mystery why the wicked have prospered, and the righteous been oppressed—all these mysteries, which now puzzle and perplex nature, sense, and reason, will then be unfolded to the church of God.
Then “the mystery will be finished;” and God will lay bare the mystery hidden for ages in Christ Jesus, and make it known to the salvation of His people, the confusion of His enemies, and the glory of Himself.
Now, “in the Spirit,” the man of whom the Apostle spoke, preached “mysteries;” (1Cor 14;2) for “in the Spirit” they must be preached, and “in the Spirit” they must be received; or he who preaches, and those that hear, will preach and hear in vain. But what a mercy if the Spirit has preached any of these mysteries into our hearts; and what a blessing if we have received them in a measure of faith, hope, and love; and being deeply sensible of our ignorance, have received the truth in the love of it, been enabled to embrace it, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, for our soul’s edification and consolation. THEY MUST BE RECEIVED AS MYSTERIES.
Immediately as natural reason intrudes, and the question is asked, “How can these things be?” we cease to submit to God’s will and word. But when we fall down before the throne of God, and feeling that though we cannot understand them, cannot comprehend them, cannot reason ourselves into them, we yet are enabled to receive them into our heart by a living faith, we see their beauty, taste their sweetness, and enjoy a measure of their glory.
Thus we have some evidence that we have received and have felt a power in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, when a ‘reasonable’ religion, a ‘natural’ religion, an ‘intellectual’ religion satisfies us no longer. Has there not been a time with us when we scorned all mysteries, and would have no religion but one which we could comprehend, and, by dint of our natural understanding, could lay hold of? And through mercy, has not this ‘proud Babel’ been laid low? And have not some of us, through the teachings of God in the conscience, found NATURE, SENSE, and REASON buried in the dust; and felt ourselves brought down to be little children, to know our own ignorance, and to cry to the Lord to teach us the truth by divine revelation?
And since the Lord in mercy has brought our reason to nothing, since in mercy he has caused the ‘tall steeples of natural religion’ to topple down and be stretched in the dust, have we not felt a measure of sweetness, of power, of reality in the things of God not known before? Has not truth come with life and light into our souls, made us new creatures, revolutionized our lives, changed all our views, and given us eyes to see realities we never thought of before? And has not the Gospel of the grace of God been received into a believing heart, and a measure of its sweetness been experienced?
It is thus we have some evidence that we have received the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. And are they not doubly sweet, because reason cannot comprehend them, because we are not able to understand them; and because they can only be received from the lips of Jesus, or as they are dropped into the heart, and distilled on the conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit? And is it not far more blessed to learn them thus, than if we could understand all mysteries by natural intellect, or fathom the depths of God by the line of creature understanding?
Some of you perhaps are poor and despised, and are ridden down by ‘great professors’; your family and friends perhaps cast you out, and say, “Really we cannot understand you; you were a good Christian once, a pattern to others, a truly pious person; and everybody loved and spoke well of you. But,” they say, “what a strange person you are now! We cannot at all get on with you. Ever since you have gone to that chapel, and become connected with that strange sect, you are quite altered, and we know not what to make of you.” Does not this show that the mystery, revealed unto babes, is hidden from the wise and prudent? If all could SEE as we see, HEAR as we hear, FEEL as we feel, the gospel would then be no mystery at all; but by knowing something of this mystery, we are made to differ from them, and this stirs up their enmity and wrath.
“What,” say they, “are there only two or three in a village, only half a dozen in a town, only one in a family going to heaven? and are none right but they?—Away with such narrow-minded, bigoted wretches.” What is this but declaring that there is a mystery in this people’s religion? If they could understand it, if it were agreeable to nature, sense, and reason, it would cease to be a mystery, and you would cease to have a testimony from God that you have received it into your heart with power.
THEREFORE, TO KNOW GOSPEL MYSTERIES BY DIVINE TEACHING, WILL SEPARATE A MAN FROM THE WORLD, LEAD HIM OUT OF FALSE CHURCHES, CUT HIM OFF FROM DEAD MINISTERS, AND BRING HIM INTO UNION WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
And as he finds these are spiritually led into the mysteries of the kingdom of God, it will produce a communion with them, and a sweetness which he never knew in dead churches; and, his heart being dissolved in love and affection, he will cry, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16.) And thus he will have an increasing testimony from God that he is not one of the “wise and prudent” from whom these things are hidden, but one of “the babes” to whom they are revealed.
O may we know more of these divine mysteries! And may the Lord the Spirit lead us more deeply into them, favor us with more sweet and abiding views of them, and specially make the mystery of the gospel, in the Person, love, and blood of Jesus, “all our salvation and all our desire.” And then, we shall bless God not only that there is a mystery in the gospel, but that He has mercifully unfolded it with power to our consciences!
Amen! Praise the Lord! – M.J.