THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST
The mystery of Christ begins with Genesis 1:1 where He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In the third chapter He is the promised seed and the one who would utterly crush the head of the serpent. And as we go thru the Word of God, we see the mystery unfolded step by step. Finally we see Him as King of kings and Lord of lords in Revelation 19:16.
In this brief glance, we have not included the epistles of Paul written after Acts 28:28, or the gospel of John which belongs to the same period. In John we begin to see some things not before revealed. By Him came grace and truth. He had a glory as of the only Begotten. True spiritual worship was also introduced, leaving behind temple, priest, and ritual.
But it is in the prison epistles of Paul that we find the highest revelation of the glories of Christ. And it takes these revelations to complete the mystery of Christ. Or we might say, that it takes the dispensation of the mystery to complete the mystery of Christ. Let us examine it.
In 1:22,23 we find the words, Church which is His body, the fullness of Him. Bodies had been known before, but none which could be said to be the fulness of Him. This is the church of the dispensation of the mystery, something that had been hid in God from ages and generations.
This church is the fullness of Him who is the Filler, One who fills up all the members with all spiritual gifts and graces. He has ascended far above all the heavens in order that He might fill all things. The Father set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. This ascension far above all things was essential so that He could fill all things.
When John made note of the fact of the glory of Christ, he also mentioned that of this fullness all had received, that is, believers. But in the church of the mystery, we have a higher plane. It is the fulness of the Christ. And we learn more of the fulness of Christ from Paul. In Him dwells all the fulness of the godhead bodily and the church is filled to the full in Him who is the Head of all principality and power. It is on resurrection ground that this fulness dwells in Him bodily. That is how it dwells.
Now it was necessary that there be a bodily manifestation of God who had never been seen by the eye of man. So the only Begotten Son declared GOD as Father. That was the office of the Word. A word declares or tells something.
This manifestation was in the nature of a mediatorship, a link between the invisible God and man. Christ is the express image of the invisible God. He who has seen Him has seen the Father. And today we read of the Son and His glories, and see the Father.
The church members are said to be complete or filled to the full in Him. And He is Head, not only of the church, but of principality and power. This headship is revealed as the mystery of God's will.
So the church which is the body of Christ is the fulness of the unseen Christ. It was created as one new man. It is an object of His care in ages to come.
Although the prayer in Ephesians 1 is for the saints and faithful at Ephesus, nevertheless it is applicable to such folks today. In 1:17 we note that the first thing necessary is that we have the gift of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Trying to learn about the mystery without learning Christ is about as foolish as some who want the kingdom without the King. The mystery of Christ can never be fully known without a grasp of the dispensation of the mystery. Neither can the dispensation of the mystery be known without a full revelation of the mystery of Christ. Study these two mysteries in 3: 1-6.
Then before the prayer is opened there is an additional requirement, and that is that the eyes of the understanding be enlightened. Those spiritually blind can never get to see the mystery. Note that education is of no help. It is in the spiritual realm that there must be the light, the understanding.
1. The hope of His calling. In the dispensation of promise the highest revelation of Christ is His position as King of kings and Lord of lords here on the earth. But now in the dispensation of the mystery we find a purpose for the ages in which Christ will be over all things, both in heaven and earth, and that these things will be gathered together as one. See verse 10. He is called to be the highest potentate in all the universe. And the purpose seems to be that God shall have the glory.
2. The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the holiest of all. We know nothing of the character of the place that is called the holiest of all. We do know that the tabernacle in the wilderness was a pattern of things in the heavens, but the pattern is all we have had revealed to us. We know nothing of heavenly geography, its materials, and its climate. But we do know that there are riches there and that they are a part of Christ's inheritance. We also find that the saints and faithful are made meet (fit or worthy) to be partakers of that inheritance (Colossians 1:12). In Ephesians 2:6 we learn that the saints are made to sit together with Christ in these heavenly places, the holy of holies. And much more, in the ages to come will be piled up kindness upon kindness. Those in the dispensation of promise were partakers with Abraham of an inheritance which was the land that was promised. That we can see and understand to some extent. But in the dispensation of the mystery are things far higher and greater than Abraham ever dreamed of.
3. The exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe. This is resurrection power. But it is only for those who believe. There is no record that in any dispensation resurrection power will be exercised in behalf of those who do not believe. This power raised Christ from the dead and set Him at the right hand of God in heavenly places. This power does the same thing for the believer in the dispensation of the mystery. This is identification with Him. Truly God is gracious to us because of the work of the Son. We should be thankful.
Study to shew thyself approved
2 Timothy 2:15
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