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The Mystery Of Christ

(Mystery, in the Scriptures, denotes that which is only known through revelation to those taught of the Holy Spirit.)

The mystery of Christ is associated with the revelation of the truth relating to Christ and the members of His Body. We shall be dealing in due course with the Church, the Body of Christ, but we desire to say something at the commencement of these articles concerning the Person of Christ.

In what humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit must we approach such a subject as this! One has well written of Christ,

"But the high mysteries of His name

An angel's grasp transcend,

The Father only (glorious claim)

The Son can comprehend."

Indeed, without the encouragement of the Master's words we would not dare to take up the pen to write. But He has said: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall glorify Me : for He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you" (John 16.13, 14). May He graciously unfold to us, then, more of the Mystery of Christ!

It is not given to man to penetrate back into the eternal ages, "before the world was." All we know is that the Triune God was there, enthroned in uncreated light.

"But ere this spacious world was made,

Or had its first foundation laid,

Thy throne eternal ages stood,

Thyself the ever-living God."

At some period unknown to us it pleased Almighty God to create, for His glory in heaven, angelic beings of various rank and splendour, and in number "ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands." Then, at some later date, for His glory on earth, He created "man in His own image" (Genesis 1.27), surrounding him with an infinite variety of created things on and above the earth, all expressing the glory of God's wisdom, goodness and might.

Man, in his folly, chose to rebel against his beneficent Creator. But that tragic, far-reaching event was foreseen by God who had already planned to use it to manifest the exceeding riches of the glory of His grace! From that moment the light of God's glorious grace began to dawn on sin-benighted man. Grace provided our first parents with the coats of skins to cover their nakedness, dim but delightful foreshadowing of the robe of righteousness to be provided by Christ's atoning death. Wondrous hidden mystery of Christ! In the dark days of the Flood we read how "Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6.8) and then found security in the ark, precious type of Christ. More and brighter rays of the glory of God's grace are traceable in all His dealings with His chosen people Israel. By the mouth of the prophets God spoke to them in various ways, revealing little by little of the great salvation that His grace had planned, "concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come... which things angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1.10-12).

At last the day appointed from eternity for the full revelation of God's glory arrived, when the Father sent the Son, "the effulgence of His glory, and the very image of His substance" (Hebrews 1.3). Though veiled in human flesh, in Him dwelt "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2.9). The dim light of Old Testament revelation was gloriously superseded by the majesty of Him who is Sun of Righteousness, sent "to shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1.79). The ancient cry to God, "Shew me, I pray Thee, Thy glory" (Exodus 33.18), found an answer at last in the incarnate Son of God.

The unbelieving multitudes were greatly mystified and asked, "Whence hath this Man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? ... Whence then hath this Man all these things?" (Matthew 13.54-56). In their blindness they failed to see beyond the veil of flesh, "the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" (Colossians 2.2, 3).

The faithful record in the Gospels of His living words and mighty works fills our hearts !

Gentleness and tender feeling,

Pity too and grace,

Softly lustred all Thy dealing

With our stricken race.

Thou with sympathy and healing

Mid our woes didst move;

Every gracious deed revealing

Thou, 0 Lord, art love."

But the divine plan, conceived before the world was, went even beyond the gracious revelation of God's glory as demonstrated in the earthly life of the Son of God, that glory being seen in the marred face of Jesus Christ, shining forth in overwhelming grace from the awful blackness of the Cross! He who at Bethlehem assumed our nature, sin apart, at Calvary bore our sins that we might become His own for ever.

Anticipating the day when, having put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and the Holy Spirit would come, He said to His disciples: "In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (John 14.20). Thus God's plan went far beyond saving man from eternal judgement. It provides for his eternal union with Christ, "the Mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints ... which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory" (Colossians 1.26 and 27). So indissolubly joined are we with Christ that He is referred to as the Head of the Church which is His Body, composed of every believer in this wondrous dispensation of God's grace. (See Ephesians 1.22 and 28; 3.4-6). "This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the Church" (Ephesians 5.32).

What raised the wondrous thought,

Or who did it suggest,

That we, the Church, to glory brought,

Should with the Son be blest?

0 God, the thought was Thine,

Thine only could it be;

Fruit of the wisdom, love divine,

Peculiar unto Thee.

The motives too, Thine own,

The plan, the counsel Thine,

Made for Thy Son, bone of His bone,

In glory bright to shine."

Fruit-bearing by the branches is dependent upon reception of sap, moment by moment, from the vine. As we abide in Him, looking to Him, instead of to ourselves, His wisdom and knowledge are imparted to us. Are we lacking in love? Abide ye in My love," says Christ. If we keep His commandment, His love will be manifested in us. How rich we are and we know it not! This divine union brings with it immense privileges and great responsibilities too. For "he that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2.6).