Meditations on Various Scriptures 4

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul was made or appointed a minister by God for the benefit of His saints, yet the greatest benefit to any believer is to have God made known in Christ. He was appointed as an apostle and a minister so that he could fully carry out the word of God, and he did that by preaching, teaching, and by the way he lived. The context, however, is more focused on the fact that Paul was preaching and teaching the word of God. In particular, the word Paul preached had to do with the mystery that was hidden from the past ages and generations. This is a fantastic truth of God. The New Covenant has truths that were not seen, but also hidden from the past ages and generations. Whatever covenant theology a person holds, this text tells us without shame that there is a great truth here that was hidden in the past and that only in Paul’s time (and perhaps by Paul as an apostle) this great truth was opened up and set out. This great truth was opened up, set out, and plainly revealed.

This is not just a simple truth that Paul is building up to and setting out, but he speaks of it as the riches of the glory of this mystery and how God now wills for it to be made known. This should teach us how utterly dependent we are upon God to understand the real intent and meaning of the Scriptures. That which was hidden in the past, and when God hides no one can find it, has now (in Paul’s time and by Paul) been manifested. This appears to have been a main point in the teaching and preaching of Paul, though it also appears to be hidden in the modern day as people no longer focus on these things. This mystery is said to be a mystery so great that it is the riches of the glory of this mystery. I can only say that I have never heard anyone even come close to preaching this great mystery much less actually preach it.

If this is such a great mystery, one would think it would be expounded from the pulpits in our land on a frequent basis. This great mystery seems to encompass the great teachings of the Old Testament and actually explain what they really meant. This great mystery is that of Christ in the believer and He Himself is the hope of glory. Modern versions (or perversions) of Christianity seem to view it as either intellectual or moral or both, but the riches of this great mystery is that the indwelling of Christ in the souls of His people is glorious and the heart of Christianity. The teachings of both the Tabernacle and the Temple where the glory came and met with the High Priest was a picture that pointed to Christ and His people. All the sacrifices that were in the Tabernacle and the Temple pictured the cleansing needed in the soul for Christ to dwell there. The bread of fellowship pointed to how Christ would have fellowship with His people.

When the soul is united to Christ and Christ dwells in that soul, then the glory of God dwells in that soul to some degree and yet Christ is the hope of that soul to behold the glory of God. The Lord Jesus is the hope of glory in the soul both in this life and for eternity. God displays and manifests His glory in Christ and as such Christ is the hope of the soul to behold the glory of God. The whole nation of Israel revolved around worship in the Tabernacle and then the Temple, so Christianity should revolve around Christ dwelling in His Temple which is the Church. The Church, which is the body of Christ, must learn to recognize what She is and who it is that dwells in Her. The Church must learn to pursue holiness that Christ may dwell more and more in Her. The Church must learn to love free-grace as this is the only way He gives Himself to His people. In one sense Christ Himself is grace to the Church and Christ gives Himself to His people as the long for more grace. As the glory of God tabernacled among men in the body of Christ, so the glory of God tabernacles among men in the Church.

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