3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Here is "the knowledge of God," in which are contained "exceeding great and precious promises," the understanding of which is able to make a man wise, and a "partaker of the divine nature."
Now although these hidden things have been clearly made known they still continue to be styled "the mystery," not because of their unintelligibility, but because they were once secret. Hence the things preached unto the Gentiles, and by them believed, are styled by Paul "the mystery of the faith," and "the mystery of godliness," some of the items of which he enumerates, such as "God manifest in the flesh, justified by the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).
Thus an intelligible mystery characterises the once hidden wisdom of God, and becomes the subject matter of an enlightened faith.
This, however, is not the case with regard to religious systems which are not of the Truth. Unintelligible mystery is the ultima ratio for all difficulties which are insoluble by the symbols of ecclesiastical communities, whose text of universal application is, that "secret things belong to God, but the things which are revealed, to us and to our children." This is true; but then those things which were secret in the days of Moses have been revealed by God to the apostles and prophets for our information.
Elpis Israel 1.1.
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Gentiles full of faith
"If children, then heirs" (Rom. viii. 17).
How to become children? This also is plainly answered.
"Ye (the believers who had been baptised on the reception of the Gospel) are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus: for as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. iii. 26, 27)
Jesus did not mean to say that the Gentiles who would come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham in the Kingdom, would be unenlightened or disobedient or carnally-minded Gentiles; but that among those who should inherit the Kingdom, would be Gentiles, enlightened, reconciled and adopted, through submission to the requirements of the Gospel, when multitudes of the faithless Jews according to the flesh (the natural "children of the Kingdom") would be cast out, to their great dismay.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 18
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
The faith of Christ
The faith of Christ gives us the highest knowledge, which we cannot reach by nature, leaving us to our own resources in the lowest. It tells us of the Father in heaven, as the First, and the Eternal, filling heaven and earth by the invisible energy of his irradiant Spirit, constituting an eternal and universal unit, out of which all things are, and in which all things subsist.
It thus satisfies the highest desire of the highest intellectual capacity with which man is endowed.
That it gives us something the intellect cannot grasp, is no drawback to the satisfaction - rather the contrary. An infinite that we could measure would not be infinity; knowledge and power that we could fathom would not give us the intellectual rest and satisfaction that come with the knowledge of the great and unsearchable first, and only, and all-embracing Power, who is the Father in universe-filling immensity, yet heaven-enthroned personal glory-Creator of all things - the God revealed to Israel by the name Yahweh-Elohim. What if we understand not?
The revelation and the demonstration of the fact is all we need. Deeper than the fact we cannot go, and will cease trying to, as we grow older and wiser. We do not understand the operation of our own mentality, yet we know it is a fact, and use and enjoy it, without distracting our brains in the vain attempt to realize to ourselves the inscrutable process of mental action. That we cannot understand God is no barrier to our enjoyment of Him, but is rather an ingredient in the supernal sweetness of faith, and the satisfactoriness of a boundless action of the mind upwards.
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
"The Fellowship of the Mystery of Christ" is expressive of the truth, that
"God is no respecter of persons; but that in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted by him."
It teaches that Gentiles should be fellow-heirs with Jews, and of the same body with them, and partakers of his promise concerning the Christ, through the gospel: that is, that Jews and Gentiles, by the obedience of faith, should attain to one new manhood before God; and be equally eligible as heirs to the possession of the kingdom, Proof; Acts 10:34; Eph. 3:6; 2:15.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, July 1855
...though the mystery of the gospel was thus made known in the name of Jesus, even Peter, to whom the keys of the mystery were given, did not yet understand "the FELLOWSHIP of the mystery." The keys were not given to him when Jesus spoke the words, nor were both of them given to him on the day of Pentecost.
The mystery was revealed to the Jews first, and, several years elapsed before it was known, or supposed, that the Gentiles would be admitted to a joint-heirship with Jesus on an equality with the Jews. During this.period of about seven years the body of Christ consisted solely of believing Israelites, sons of Abraham by flesh and faith.
At the end of this time, however, God determined to
"visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name."
He graciously resolved to invite men of all the nations of the Roman territory to accept honour, glory and immortality in the kingdom and empire about to be established on the ruins of all others. Hitherto He had only invited His own people Israel to this high destiny, but now He was about to extend the gospel call to the nations also.
Before this, however, could be accomplished according to the principles laid down in God's plan, it was necessary to prepare Peter for the work. Although an apostle, he was still a Jew, and had all the prejudices of the Jew against the Gentile. He considered it
"unlawful for him to keep company, or come unto, one of another nation."
The Jews had no more social dealings with the Gentiles than with the Samaritans. And if any had suggested the propriety of his going and preaching the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus to the Gentiles, he would have positively refused. If, however, he had been ever so willing, he could not have done it for various other reasons.
In those days no one could preach effectually unless he were sent; and as he had not been sent of God, his mission would have been a failure. Then, he did not know whether God would accept the Gentiles on the same conditions as the Jews, if, indeed, He would admit them to a joint-heirship at all. But the law was a sufficient wall of separation to keep Jewish preachers and Gentiles apart until God's time should arrive to do it away, and to bring them together into "one body."
Peter, then, had to be prepared for the work. The narrative of his preparation is contained in the 10th chapter of Acts. A direct attack was made upon his prejudices. He became very hungry about twelve o'clock in the day.
While waiting on the housetop for something to eat, an amazement came over him. In this state, he saw a great sheet full of all sorts of unclean creatures, fit and appropriate emblems of the moral condition of the Gentiles. At this crisis the Spirit said, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat!"
But Peter preferred hunger to defilement, and would not consent, until it was repeated for the third time that the legal distinction between clean and unclean was done away "what God hath cleansed call not thou it common" or unclean.
The impression made on Peter by this vision is best expressed in his own words. "God hath shewed me," says he
"that I should not call any man common, or unclean. Therefore came I to you (Gentiles) as soon as I was sent for."
In this way the second key of the kingdom was imparted to him. Its use was to make known the fellowship of the mystery.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
The innermost thoughts of the heart
The ideal to which we must pray and strive is a constant, moment to moment consciousness of the manifestation of God: a continuous, unbroken communion and contact; all thoughts with God in the foreground, all actions done as unto God, and in partnership with God, trusting and expecting God's active guidance and assistance in everything we do: every deed, every decision.
We should never wonder-never ask ourselves-if anything is serious or important enough to make a matter of prayer, for this is an entirely wrong conception. For the process to be meaningful, it must be continuous and unbroken.
Life must be a continuous prayer-a continuous relationship-in everything, large and small. Everything worth doing is worth praying about. It must be prayed about, if we hope to be in God and God in us. It cannot be on and off, seeking God's help part of the time, depending on ourselves for the rest; deciding what is "important" enough to approach Him about.
We need His help and partnership and presence and comfort in everything that we do. We must live in a continuous atmosphere of working with God; for this is the only possible way to control the flesh and to live in the Spirit.
Bro Growcott - Mercy
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
When the truth, therefore, dwells or tabernacles in a man, the Deity dwells there. Hence, an ecclesia of such men is the Deity's Tabernacle preeminently.
He, then, that believes "the things concerning God and the name of Jesus Christ,' is the man in whose heart Christ dwells; because the truth dwells there with full assurance of faith and hope. The Bible is the truth in a book; Christ is the truth incarnate; and a [Christadelphian] is the truth in his heart lovingly obeyed.
TC Feb 1888
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
What does it mean? Surely a more comprehensive and sublime statement could not be made! Consider the magnitude of the thought! "Filled with all the fullness of God"!
How all our smallnesses and pettinesses and impatience and foolishness and selfishness and thoughtlessness stand naked and ashamed before it! How mean and sordid does every fleshly thought seem under the brilliant light of its transcendent glory!
What would it do to our characters and our course of life from moment to moment if we could but keep this glorious conception constantly in the forefront of our minds? We must keep these things before our minds. It is only those rare few who make these things their constant meditation who are the subjects of this marvelous Spirit transformation.
Bro Growcott - Filled With all the Fulness of God
Grow! Develop! Expand your mind! Fill it with reality. Fill it with the eternal things and people of the Purpose of God.
Eliminate levity. Eliminate shallowness. Eliminate interest in present, passing, meaningless things. Don't drift! Don't drift for a moment! Be constantly MOVING toward a glorious goal. Use every precious moment of life productively, moving toward eternity. Be solid and consistent all through to the core. Be totally and permanently permeated with God. Don't be just a surface shell of meaninglessness and emptiness. Arise to the flooding realization of the greatness and wonder and joyfulness of the divine call to God-partnered, eternity-destined fulness and holiness.
We must be "FILLED with the FULNESS of God." Anything less is not living, but is mere drifting aimlessly to eventual death. Be something real, something total. We are not here just to amuse and occupy ourselves with trivia, while life and opportunity speed away so swiftly to the end of our brief span. Seize the passing present to lay hold upon God with all your love and interest and attention and effort. Nurture its growth until it completely obsesses you, night and day. Keep your mind on the things of the Word, and get rid of all the time-wasting toys of your past, outgrown fleshliness and immaturity.
Really LIVE, and really ENJOY life. Every moment can be a Divine experience: one step closer to Divine perfection. We have no time to waste on folly: and ALL else except this IS pitiful, blind, self-destructive folly.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
IS that power working in us? ARE we being (as the Spirit through Paul says we must be) gradually changed into the image of Christ, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord? Do we find ourselves - by this Divine power (for if it is happening it is certainly not of our own natural, evil selves) - gradually becoming gentler, kinder, more patient, more zealous in the service of God, of deeper spiritual understanding, sensing more fully the overpowering beauty and loveliness of the Divine Word, bonded more and more closely to those who are undergoing the same glorious, exciting transformation, freer from the empty foolishness of the natural mind and passing things, more able to detect and overcome the deceptive motions of sin within us, more keenly hungering and thirsting for the spiritual food of the Word of God, more anxious to put away all that is of the world?
If not, the fault lies with ourselves. If this Divine power of the Holy Spirit is not working these things in us from day to day, then it is the most important and urgent thing in the world to find out why we are being left out of this great Divine operation, for the time will soon come when the Bride will be assembled in all her beauty of holiness, and if God has not been working in us by His Spirit, we shall not be there. James says-
"Draw nigh unto God, and He WILL draw nigh unto you."
It is a definite promise, an absolute guarantee. It is entirely up to us. We draw near to God by conscious, mental effort, by turning the mind and attention and affections toward Him, by constant prayer, by consistent, persevering study of His Word which He has glorified above all His Name, by endeavoring to serve and please Him in all we do, by striving to realize and comprehend the height and depth of His great purpose in Christ.
This latter aspect-the key to the whole-is why it is so indescribably sad when some concede defeat and failure before they really begin at all, by saying that parts of God's glorious message to His children are "too deep" for them to try to understand.
In all these things we must clearly realize that natural ability and natural education mean nothing, that none of our own efforts mean anything-except that it is such efforts that draw God to work within us by the mighty power of His Holy Spirit.
Our feeble and puny efforts to seek Him merely establish the contact. It is the limitless power that flows freely from Him that accomplishes the transforming marvels within us-that all the glory and accomplishment may be clearly of God alone.
Bro Growcott - Filled With all the Fulness of God
21 Unto him be glory in the ecclesia by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
"To God," therefore, says he,
"be the glory by the Ecclesia with Jesus Christ, in all the generations of the aion of the aions."-Eph 3 :21.)
The Common Version gives a curious rendering to the last text. It says nothing about "all the generations;" but makes a lumping business of it, saying, "throughout all ages, world without end!"
But this was not Paul's idea. He confined the ascription of glory to God by "the ecclesia with Jesus Christ," to that aion of the aions during which generations come and go; namely, to the Messianic.
In the aion beyond, there are no generations, there being then no decay and no reproduction; the earth being at that time occupied by people taken upon certain principles out of all the parallelogram.
During the Fourth Cycle, the distinction existing in the Third, will be abolished. It will be no longer "the ecclesia with Jesus," as apart and distinguished from the herd of mankind, the former immortal, and the latter obnoxious to rebellion and death; but it will be
"God all things with all men."-(1. Cor. 15:28; Rev. 21:3.)
The sacerdotal ecclesia is subjected with the Son at the end of the Third Aion, and glory is ascribed to the Father by all, without priestly distinction, who dwell upon the earth.
But, although priestly distinction is abolished at the end of the Third Aion, the royalty continues. God is King for the Messianic Aion and that beyond. This appears from 1 Tim. 1:17, where Paul says
"Now unto the King of the Aions, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God, be honour and glory in the aions;" "even Jesus Christ yesterday and to day the same, and in the aions; "
which are the to-morrow that awaits him. This saying of Paul, in Heb. 13:8, is equivalent to that in Rev. 16:5, where ὀ ὡν, ho ̃n, "who is," answers to to-day; ὁ ην, ho ain, "who was," to yesterday; and ὁ εσομενος, ho esomenos, "who shall," &c., to and in the aions, which are future, or tomorrow.
The apostle Peter regards one of the future aions in this sense; that is, as equivalent to a day, and that day as enduring for a thousand years.
In 2 Pet. 3:18, we find the ascription so frequently met with in Paul's epistles. "To Jesus Christ," saith he, "be the glory both now and in the day of the aion, " ημεραν αιώνος; " and in the eighth verse of this chapter, he says, in reference to the period he calls a day,
"Be ye not ignorant concerning this, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
This is the day of the aion-its duration-in all of which the palm-bearers reign with Christ as kings and priests, according to Rev. 20:4-6. They are kings and priests for the Messianic thousand years, styled by Paul "the day of Christ, " in 2 Thess. 2:2; in which he told the Athenians God would rule the habitable in righteousness by the Resurrected Man. When this day closes, a long to-morrow succeeds, in which the sacerdotal, or Melchizedec, Sonship is abolished, and the royalty of עד, ad, is the glory of the earth redeemed from the curse and pollution of sin.-(Rev. 22:3.) The saints continue to reign as kings in the Fourth Cycle of our diagram; for it is written in Rev. 22:5, "They shall reign in the aions of the aions"-the Messianic and that beyond.
Paul paints an inspiring picture of their unique and exalted position, chosen of God for the working of His purpose and manifestation of His glory -- selected as the clay which the mighty power of God should slowly mould to His likeness, and then, at the last trump, transform into His very spirit substance.
And this final glorious manifestation, gradually brought to birth through the travail of the ages, will be in its completeness and unity of the SON OF GOD, born of the flesh according to the will and power of the all-pervading Spirit. It will be God's creation -- HIS glory -- the greatest example of the handiwork of His wisdom and omnipotence. *
We are the clay in the hand of the Potter. We are the material. He has made us as we are, and He will make us into whatever we shall be. We ask then, Is anything expected of us? Does God just pick some here and there haphazardly for His purpose? We do not entertain that idea for a moment.
Something is expected even of the potter's clay. It must be suitable material. First and above all, it must be workable. Not stiff and hard and crusted. It must yield itself to the hand of the potter. Clay that was satisfied with its present shapelessness and resisted the Potter, or wanted a shape of its own, would be useless.
Then it must have sufficient consistency to hold the shape into which the Potter forms it. Flabby material is no good. "God hath no pleasure in fools" (Ecc. 5:4). He knows our possibilities and will not be deceived, though we deceive ourselves.
Then, to fill a useful role, the clay must pass through the fire. It must be hardened -- not too much fire or it will forever be destroyed -- but just that degree that is necessary to achieve the best results. The All-wise Potter knows exactly how much each vessel needs, and exactly how much each can stand.
The first half of this epistle describes God's work in us, and Christ's work for us -- the glorious temple God is building -- the great redemption that Christ has wrought and God freely offers to us because of the "love wherewith He loved us."
* Bro Growcott - Holy And Blameless In Love