Has God Told You the Secret?
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. NKJV
I am sure that God has many secrets that He has not revealed to us yet. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” And God does not let out His secrets to just anyone. God reveals other things only to certain people. “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him” (Ps. 25:14).
In this passage there are a couple of secrets that Paul is talking about. Now in this context, secret does not mean something that God does not want anyone to know. Instead it is simply something that God has not revealed to His people as of yet. It is something hidden that cannot be know unless God reveals it to them.
In the New Testament there are several secrets that God has revealed to us His people.
Rom 16:25-26 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith NKJV
Jesus Himself said, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Mark 4:11-12 NKJV
One of the great mysteries of the New Testament was how could God bring the Gentiles into a place of fellowship equal with the position given the Jews, God’s chosen people. Or why would He even want to do that?
There had been for centuries an seeming great gulf between God and the idolatrous Gentiles. They had even persecuted the Jews and oppressed them. There seemed to be no way God could deal favorably with them.
Since Paul is writing to a primarily Gentile church that is a part of what Paul is saying here. As gentiles we were not a part of the promises of God to Abraham. We were not a part of the covenant that God made with the Jewish patriarchs.
But Paul’s mystery goes beyond even that.
The mystery that Paul here is speaking of is that our connection to God is so great that Jesus has taken up residence in all of God’s children. “Christ in you”
I. Jesus had told His told His disciples about this.
A. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
B. John 14:20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. NKJV
C. John 14:23-24; Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. NKJV
D. But all this was no doubt beyond their comprehension. For there were many things that Jesus taught that they could not understand at the time but the meanings were revealed to them later.
II. But this type of thing was foreign to the Old Testament believers.
A. Often times we see the Spirit of God coming on an individual such as Sampson.
B. But David is the only one who even comes close to this NT pattern.
C. What a blessed privilege we have.
1. That the great people of the OT did not even have what we enjoy.
2. That we have a constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.
III. But for the New Testament believers this is a guarantee that we are children of God.
A. Rom 8:9-17
1. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
2. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
3. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
4. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
5. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
6. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
7. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,"Abba, Father."
8. 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. NKJV
B. What a blessed privilege
IV. Paul described his life as no longer his own because of the indwelling Christ.
A. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal 2:20
All of this is beyond the comprehension of one who has never become a child of God. To them it is still a mystery. But for those of us who are saved, it is the hope of glory.
Our hope of heaven is not that we do all the right things.
Our hope of glory is not that we have followed some correct religious formula.
Our hope is not in water of baptism or in belonging to the church.
Our hope is in a relationship so intimate that Jesus lives in us.
Our hope is in a relationship so intimate that Jesus lives through us.
Don’t tell people that if they come to church things will go better for them.
Don’t tell people that if they get baptized and join the church that God will then smile upon them.
The question God will ask us before allowing us into heaven is, “Did you know My Son?”
And the evidence of that is that God’s Spirit lived in you every day.
Title: Life Application Bible Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, & Philemon
God made the “mystery” available to Jews and Gentiles alike, and the mystery is Christ in you. Jews and Gentiles will have that oneness in Christ’s body because God had planned from the beginning of time to have Christ live in the heart of each person who believes in him. The indwelling Christ gives believers certainty of their “hope,” being in Christ’s glorious, eternal kingdom. Believers are in Christ; Christ is in them; therefore, believers can look forward to sharing Christ’s glory.
V. Two questions make up the mystery to which Paul refers:
(1) How could Yahweh, the God of the Jews, care about Gentiles now, since the entire Old Testament story is about God giving the Jews victory over the Gentiles?
(2) How does Yahweh, fearsome and distant, come close to us, since Moses, when he got close, was affected physically for days thereafter?
It’s a double mystery of breadth and depth. And here is the clue: it is for you. God has extended his love to all people and has placed his love in your very heart and soul through Christ, who died and rose, and who lives in you. God has come to you in two ways: historically in time and place, and personally in your mind and heart.
Now it’s your job to live as though Christ is in you, free of fear and confident of eternal life.
Title: MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon
The message Paul proclaimed in his ministry was the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints. There are some things God reveals to no one. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” God reveals other things only to certain people. “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him” (Ps. 25:14). Proverbs 3:32 says, “He is intimate with the upright.” Still other things were hidden in the Old Testament but have now been revealed in the New. The New Testament calls them mysteries (musterion). Paul’s use of this word is not to indicate a secret teaching, rite, or ceremony revealed only to some elite initiates (as in the mystery religions), but truth revealed to all believers in the New Testament.
Of all the mysteries God has revealed in the New Testament, the most profound is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Old Testament predicted the coming of the Messiah. But the idea that He would actually live in His redeemed church, made up mostly of Gentiles, was not revealed. The New Testament is clear that Christ, by the Holy Spirit, takes up permanent residence in all believers (cf. Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; Eph. 2:22). The revelation of the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles awaited the New Testament (Eph. 3:3-6). Believers, both Jew and Gentile, now possess the surpassing riches of the indwelling Christ (John 14:23; Rom. 8:9-10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:7, 17-18; 3:8-10, 16-19; Phil. 4:19). The church is described as “the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”’ (2 Cor. 6:16). That Christ indwells all believers is the source for their hope of glory and is the subject or theme of the gospel ministry. What makes the gospel attractive is not just that it promises present joy and help, but that it promises eternal honor, blessing, and glory. When Christ comes to live in a believer, His presence is the anchor of the promise of heaven—the guarantee of future bliss eternally (cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-5; Eph. 1:13-14). In the reality that Christ is living in the Christian is the experience of new life and hope of eternal glory.