Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Mysteries of the Faith

My Bible reading today coincidentally included Dt 29:29 and Mt 13:11-12. These two passages contain very different messages to the people of the Old and New Covenants regarding the mysteries of God. Before we take a look at what they say, let me just tell you that the message for those of us under the New Covenant is much better.

The Secret Things Belong to the Lord
First I read in Deuteronomy where Moses said, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (Deu 29:29). I have always liked that verse, which I've underlined in my Bible, because there are some passages of Scripture that we don't always understand clearly. When that happens, it's helpful to remember that the secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever. There are some things the Lord chooses to keep secret, at least temporarily, rather than reveal them to us. Those may include the meaning of certain difficult passages of Scripture, for example. Or they may include the reasons for certain unexplainable events that can happen in life, especially tragic ones. Of course, we can pray and ask the Lord to give us understanding of these passages of Scripture, or to explain the reasons why some event has happened, and He can answer such prayers. After all, He has promised us, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jer 33:3, NIV). But sometimes He chooses not to let us know, while we are still on this side of eternity. When He does so, we have to learn to rest in Him and be content with not knowing. We must accept the fact that we are not God, and we cannot fathom all mysteries.

The Knowledge of the Secrets of the Kingdom Given to Us
Then After reading Deuteronomy 29:29, I turned to my New Testament passage for the day, as I've been reading through the Gospel of Matthew. In the thirteenth chapter , I read that "The disciples came to [Jesus] and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'" (Mt 13:11-12, NIV). That was quite a coincidence to read about secrets again, when I had just read about them in Deuteronomy, so I knew the Lord must have something to say to me about secrets. Therefore, I looked more closely at this passage and realized for the first time that it contains a message that is at the same time both different and similar to what it says in Deuteronomy 29:29.

Under the Mosaic covenant the secret things belong to the Lord and only the things revealed belonged to us and to our children. but under the New Covenant, the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given to us and belong to us. It has been granted to us to know mysteries. Praise the Lord!

Uttering Hidden Things 
Then He went on using parables to tell them what the kingdom of God is like. Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." (Mt 13:34-35, NIV). Jesus has uttered to us things hidden since the creation of the world. Hallelujah!

I trust you can see how that is quite different from the way it was under the Old Covenant. The New Testament Scriptures are filled with things long hidden but now revealed to us. What a privilege it is to know these things. That which was enfolded in the Old Testament is now unfolded in the New. Now that the veil has been removed from our eyes, we understand the mysteries that were hidden for ages past in the Hebrew Scriptures. It's all made possible because of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Yet we know that unless He reveals something to us, it remains a secret to us until He does. That's why you can read the same passage for decades and still get something new out of it, because you are hungry and you dig for it with a childlike heart, and the Lord speaks to you a fresh word. You humble yourself as you open the Word and ask the Lord before you read to speak to you, because you know that unless He reveals it to you, you cannot understand it on your own.

Revealing Hidden Things to Little Children
God is pleased to reveal hidden things to little children and hide them from the wise and learned. In Luke's gospel it says, "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'" (Lk 10:21, NIV; cf. Mt 11:25). The wise and learned ones study and accumulate lots of head knowledge, which is primarily a cerebral exercise. As they do so, they tend to become wise in their own eyes, and they think they are something when they are nothing. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. As they become more and more conceited, God opposes them, because He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Meanwhile, the little children are able to understand mysteries that the wise and learned don't even know, because God reveals it to them. The little children don't have all that baggage in the way. They haven't become complicated yet or been taught how to be skeptical of the Word. They haven't learned how to doubt and question God.

I spoke with a repair man from England who did some work on our home here in the States recently. He was a very nice man. But when I talked to Him about the Lord, he said that when he received religious training, he came to the opinion that we can not prove that God exists and we cannot prove He doesn't exist. Therefore, he became an agnostic and no longer believes in God or heaven or hell. That's what some religious training does for people, it helps them lose their faith. Some seminaries are more like cemeteries. Young students go into them with an eagerness to learn the Bible and be trained for ministry, but after sitting under the so-called wise and learned professors who are skeptics that deny the power of God, they learn how to rationalize and become critics of the Bible. They become unbelieving believers. And by the time they graduate, their faith is shipwrecked and they are useless for any kind of ministry.

Before you go heading off to seminary, you'd better make sure the Lord told you to go there. I don't have a problem with higher education, especially of the biblical kind, but it can be very dangerous to your soul if you go someplace the Lord has not sent you. What you really need is not more head knowledge, but discipleship. That's what we offer in our Doulos Training School, which is a free, three-year discipleship training program that provides both the theological, biblical training you need, and the necessary practical development where you learn to put what you've learned into practice. It's not for everyone, but we have people from various walks of life, including pastors and university students growing in God through this training. If you are interested in knowing more about it, let me invite you to see our DTS Overview and prayerfully consider whether this is something the Lord would have you do.

Bringing Old and New Treasures Out of the Storeroom
I'm reminded of what the Lord said to His disciples, after He taught them the meaning of the parables about the kingdom and uttered things hidden since the creation of the world. “'Have you understood all these things?' Jesus asked. 'Yes,' they replied. He said to them, 'Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.'” (Mt 13:51-52, NIV). Since it has been granted to us to know mysteries, then as we teach the Word to others, we can bring out of our storeroom new treasures as well as old, both the things that people are familiar with, as well as new revelations given by the Holy Spirit. It's not merely one or the other, but both the Old and the New.

The apostle Paul said, "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." (1Co 4:1). He wanted to be regarded as a steward of God's mysteries, and that is what every disciple should strive to be. To one extent or another, we as disciples have all been entrusted with the mysteries of God, and He expects us to be good stewards of what He's entrusted to us. Let's be faithful with what we've been given and not take these precious things for granted.

In describing the qualifications for deacons, Paul wrote, "But holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience." (1Ti 3:9). There are those believers who have not maintained a clear conscience after receiving the secret of the faith, and the Lord is not pleased with them. But we're not of those who do so. Instead with the Lord's help we will have the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

Closing Words
I trust this little study has helped you to realize that we as disciples have been given a great privilege that they didn't have in the Old Covenant. The Lord has given to those of us under the New Covenant the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom and the things revealed to us belong to us and to our children forever. Even so, we must hold these mysteries with a clear conscience. And let's never forget that even if we could fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, if we have not love, we are nothing (1 Cor 13:2).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image from Sid Roth, It's Supernatural, is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Secret Kingdom, Paradoxes of the Kingdom of GodThe Kingdom of God is Like ThisThe Link Between Two Realms, The Power of Two or Three, Changing the Atmosphere, The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James AgboolaKeeping a Good Conscience, God's Way to Greatness, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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