All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. -Romans 16:25
According to this scripture, there is a reason to praise God in light of some mystery that, on several occasions, the New Testament refers to as ‘revealed.’
In all of the times Jesus sat down and tried to explain things to the disciples, there was still a wall of understanding that He bumped in to. He’d have to let it go and tell them that they’d understand it all one day.
“You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” -Jesus, John 13:7
There is something that so goes against human understanding that God has called people of all the different gifts and circumstances to try to paint a picture of. Generations stacked on generations have all been commissioned to the same ultimate purpose and will continue to be until the end.
So what’s the big mystery? What is so hard for us to understand that we need to be reminded and remind others over and over?
People are called to preach the Gospel. Without thinking you can start reciting what you think that is. It can be summed up in John 3:16, so it’s pretty simple and my four year old could explain it to you. So, why did everyone have such a hard time understanding Jesus and why have the people who came after Him had a hard time?
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, -Paul, Ephesians 3:8
What is so difficult to understand about the human race needing to be rescued by a higher power? Most people don’t have a hard time seeing their need or believing the idea of a savior. It’s classic comic book theology. The towns people put all of their hope in being rescued by one super-powered, selfless and ultimately ‘good’ (wo?)man.
My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. -Ephesians 3:9
We’re lost, we need to be found, so God sent someone to find us. Right? We’re sinners, we need to be saints, so God sent His Son to die for our sins. Isn’t that what the Gospel is?
The big mystery in scripture is hard to grasp because humans think everything revolves around them. God didn’t send Jesus in response to a need that we created. God does not respond to us, we respond to Him.
Another word for ‘gospel’ is ‘revelation.’ A revelation is ‘a surprising and previously unknown fact that is revealed in a dramatic way.’ The Old Testament has allusions of a savior laced throughout and blatant references to a Messiah were prophesied long before He showed up.
People were waiting for Him. It would have been harder to believe that Jesus was the Messiah back when you ran into his brothers in town, but we’re so far removed from having our parking spot taken by the Son of God’s cousin, that it’s easier to mentally grab the idea. However, if the Bible is true, living and applicable, then there is something that the vast majority of us are missing. If ‘the truth sets you free’ and you don’t know or believe ‘the truth’ then you’re not free.
God did not send Jesus in response to sin. God sent Jesus in response to love. ‘For God so loved the world…’ God is and has always been love. He is responding to Himself. He is expressing Himself.
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. -Ephesians 3:11
If you believe that God is responding to you, then everything balances on you. Things are instigated by you. You want to make the right choices because you fear that, if you don’t, things won’t go according to God’s plan. You are crippled by sin because you believe you’ve messed up God’s plan for your life.
You fear. You are crippled. You are not free because you don’t know the truth.
What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. –Romans 3:27
The big mystery that we’re missing is the thing that knocks the back wall out of our current set of beliefs. Instead of thinking ‘eternally forward’, which is impossible by itself, we also have to think ‘eternally backward’ until everything becomes ‘eternally present’. That’s why nobody can understand everything there is to understand about God and His creation.
The sacrifice of Jesus is not a reaction to your sin. The only response for sin is condemnation. God did not send Jesus ‘to condemn the world…’ God had Jesus planned from the beginning. He sent Him because He loved the world.
You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you… -Jesus, John 15:15-16
You might wonder: If Jesus sacrifice was not a reaction, but a pro-action and Jesus sacrifice was the ultimate expression of God’s love, then where does sin come in? Then consider that in this life that we have been called to, this life of faith, and there is no room for sin in it. There is no place for sin. This isn’t to say that you will not sin, it is only to say that you are free from the tyranny of sin. You are no longer in a ‘sin sovereign’ existence, but in a ‘grace sovereign’ one.
If you feel like you’ve just had a few major religious branches cut off, then you may find comfort in what Jesus told his disciples when He tried to explain all of this to them.
I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. -Jesus, John 15:1-3