The glory of this mystery
Colossians 1:18-2:7 from the daily reading in the One year Bible
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
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.
2 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 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. 4 I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. 5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
In John 14:16-24 Jesus says: “ I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” In today’s text Paul says: I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church… 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, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 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. It is hard to understand and comprehend the love and grace of God; His love demonstrated that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) His grace toward us that though we deserved death because of sin, He gave us eternal life through Christ His Son. Yet His love and grace are not the greatest mysteries, the greatest mystery is that the God of creation, Christ, the God of our salvation dwells in us, through the Holy Spirit.
What is required on our part to live in and with the fullness of this mystery, Christ in us? In today’s text Paul says: And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard. We need faith, faith believing in Christ, that He died for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. How could God dwell in us if we were not reconciled to Him? Without Christ and the cross we would still be as those under the Old Covenant, separated from God by sin. It is through faith, believing in Christ and the cross, by which we are saved and reconciled to God. Paul says we must continue in the faith, we must be steadfast and firmly established. He also says though that as we are reconciled to God, we are presented before Him, holy, blameless and beyond reproach. Jesus says: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him… the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” So along with faith, believing in Christ, there is also obedience to Him, to His commandments, the word of the Father, who sent Him. We cannot say we have faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin if we choose sin over obedience to Christ. Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) We must believe by faith, but our faith must also result in obedience, otherwise Jesus says He does not know us. The word knew or to know us, is not simply to have a knowledge or be aware of, surely Jesus is aware of us. He is omniscient. He was aware of us when He was on the cross and said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) The knowing that Jesus speaks of is an intimate closeness, an abiding knowledge. It is the knowledge that people have when they live together; like when a man and woman are joined in marriage. In Ephesians 5:25-32 Paul says: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. That is the knowing of Christ we have in faith and obedience.
The mystery of the gospel is more than that God is loving and gracious. His love and grace are hard enough to comprehend. The true mystery of God though is that because of His love and grace, through faith believing in Christ and the cross and through obedience to God’s word, we become one with Him. Jesus says: “Because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, (by faith believing) so walk in Him, (in obedience) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit the mystery of Your love, Your grace and of Your abiding and indwelling presence is beyond comprehension. By faith I believe and receive. I choose to walk in You, in obedience, that I might be firmly rooted and built up, established in faith, overflowing with gratitude, that the God of glory dwells in me. Thank You. Amen.