Hidden in Christ

The reality of God's kingdom revealed

For all the reassurances and certainties of our faith, there is still much we struggle to understand about it. But that’s hardly cause for despair. The gospel invites us to plumb the depths of “God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3). What does it mean to say Jesus is a mystery? It’s not that He’s cryptic and reclusive, waiting to be found, for He is the God who’s come to find us. It speaks rather to the incomprehensible majesty of His nature: that He is the one by whom we’ve been created, through whom we live and move and have our being, and in whom we are redeemed.

“Putting his hand to the king’s royal ear, the prophet whispered this glorious secret, and we are let in on it: God’s kingdom is coming.”
 

Paul uses the word mystery (mustérion) 21 times in his epistles to speak of the blessings and hope God has revealed to us in Christ. And when he wants to describe “the mystery of godliness,” the apostle summarizes the story of our Savior Himself, using this early church confession: “[Jesus] was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16).

Jesus is the goal of history. Like a spouse excitedly organizing your 40th birthday bash, God’s been orchestrating something delightful for the human race, a plan “which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:9-10 NIV). Unity: God’s undercover goal is to bring the world together.

When I think of unity, I think of marriage—of two becoming one. Weddings celebrate this alliance, and the biblical story ends with a wedding, where God and His people are united forever in Christ (Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-21). God’s goal is to forever join with the human race, to set things right again, to reconcile the world and be with us forever—in Jesus. This is the mystery revealed.

 
”For those of childlike faith, those to whom ‘it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,’ they illuminate the path that leads to the ultimate treasure.”

The Secret of Kingdom Come

The Old Testament foreshadows this great truth. In the book of Daniel, for example, the king of Babylon had a strange and troubling dream no one was able to interpret, until “the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision” (Dan. 2:19). The young Jewish exile explained the secret of the dream’s imagery to the king: God is sovereign over all that happens in the world and over the powerhouses of the world. Though empires like Babylon seemed to dominate the earth, the reality is that God was sovereignly accomplishing His purposes through them and would ultimately replace them with His unconquerable eternal kingdom.

So here’s the mystery that was brought out into the light: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). Putting his hand to the king’s royal ear, the prophet whispered this glorious secret, and we are let in on it: God’s kingdom is coming.

Until Jesus arrived on the scene, however, the full nature of this coming kingdom remained ambiguous. Then the Lord appeared, letting us in on “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11)—but rather than pulling out a whiteboard to draw straightforward charts and diagrams, He spoke in the enigmatic language of parables.

These parables illuminate the character of the kingdom: It is a place of reversals where the greatest are the least and the last are first, a place of service where those seeking to save their life lose it and those willing to give their life away find it. The kingdom does not impatiently dominate society from above but grows slowly and patiently from within.

Jesus is God made flesh, the Word of Life who gives weight and life to our words. Each of His parables leads us deeper into the search for the fullness of God’s promise. For the hard-hearted and rebellious, their imagery is obscure and off-putting, but for those of childlike faith, those to whom “it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11), they illuminate the path that leads to the ultimate treasure.

 

The Treasure That Is Christ

The Lord’s teaching helps us penetrate the heart of the mystery. However, when we get there, we find not an abstract idea or concept, but rather the person and work of Jesus Himself. Paul refers to “Jesus Christ and him crucified” as the wisdom of God, that puts to shame the foolishness of the world, “a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 2:7 NIV).

Jesus’ crucifixion made it possible for mankind to be reconciled to the Father, a plan set in motion before time began. Angels have longed to look in on these mysteries, and now you who’ve set your sights on Jesus have been let in on the greatest secret ever known, a secret “which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy [ones] in the Spirit” (Eph. 3:5).

Jesus is the center of world history, the desire of the nations, the one through whom God shall raise the dead and set all things right. The gospel proclaims that in Christ Himself the reality of the kingdom has come: The mystery has been revealed.

 

Illustrations by Adam Cruft

Related Topics:  Gods Love

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2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

5 And He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, Write, for these words are faithful and true."

6 Then He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.

12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.

14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;

20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;

26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;

4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

6 And he said to me, These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

7 And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."

8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

9 But he said to me, Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."

10 And he said to me, Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

11 Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy."

12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.

15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

17 The Spirit and the bride say, Come." And let the one who hears say, Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;

19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;

44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.

11 And He was saying to them, To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,

11 Jesus answered them, To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;

5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

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