“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” (Ephesians 1:7-9)
Mysteries have always captured our attention. There is something seductive about the thought that we might be given some special knowledge that remains hidden from others. Our sin nature is attracted to the idea that we are superior in our intelligence or that there is some quality in us that makes us deserving to know a secret. But the biblical definition of the “mystery” to which Paul refers, in his writing in Ephesians, is the gospel, which was revealed in full through Jesus, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. For some of us it’s actually hard for us to believe that this is the “mystery” that Paul describes, as if it were too easy. But this mystery, that is given to us in all wisdom, and is beyond our human reasoning, is a supernatural work of God in the hearts of His enemies.
Perhaps that is why Paul wrote, in Romans 11:25, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Did the Gentiles in Rome think they had God all figured out? Do we? God has not given up on the Jews, or any other people group, be they religious, tribal, racial, educational, or economic. This is the mystery that was hidden in the Old Testament, but revealed in the New Testament—that Christ is the Messiah, the Redeemer who brings every elect, lost child into God’s kingdom. “God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:27-28)
Would we deny the gospel to anyone because we want to be superior? Then we are condemned by our pride. Would we want to keep the mystery of forgiveness and reconciliation with God hidden, while it has been revealed to us? Then we are doomed by our selfishness and hard-heartedness. Would we want only particular people to be given this revelation and others to remain without the riches and wisdom of Christ? Then we are judged for our partiality. What foolishness! We are to teach “everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”