To the Bible, then, all must come at last if they would be truly wise in spiritual things. This is a great truth which few of the sons of men have learned to appreciate according to its importance. A man may be a theologian profoundly skilled in all questions of “divinity”; he may be well versed in the mythology of the heathen world; be able to speak all languages of the nations; compute the distances of orb from orb, and weigh them in the scales of rigid calculation; he may know all science and be able to solve all mysteries, — but if, with all this, he be ignorant of “the things of the spirit”; if he know not the true meaning of the Bible; he seemeth only to be wise, while he is, in fact, a fool. Therefore, the apostle saith,
“let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men”.
If our contemporaries could only attain to the adoption of this great precept,
“let no man glory in men”,
they would have overleaped a barrier which as a fatal obstacle prevents myriads from understanding and obeying the truth.
But while God lightly esteems the wisdom of the reputed wise, there is a wisdom which He invites all men to embrace. This is styled “the wisdom of God in a mystery”; it is also termed
“the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world which none of the princes of this world knew”.
It is said to be hidden in a mystery, because until the apostolic age, it was not clearly made known. This will appear from the following texts:
“Now to him that is of power to establish you according to the revelation of THE MYSTERY, which was kept secret (χρόνοις αἰωνίοις) in the times of the ages, but now (in the time, or age, of the apostles) is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
“By revelation God made known unto me, Paul, THE MYSTERY, which in other ages (former ages under the law of Moses) was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”
Here is “the knowledge of God”, in which are contained “exceeding great and precious promises”, the understanding of which is able to make a man wise, and “a partaker of the divine nature”. Now, although these hidden things have been clearly made known, they still continued to be styled the mystery; not because of their unintelligibility, but became they were once secret. Hence, the things preached unto the Gentiles, and by them believed, are styled by Paul, “the mystery of the faith”, and “the mystery of godliness”, some of the items of which he enumerates; such as,
“God manifest in the flesh, justified by the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory”.
Thus an intelligible mystery characterizes the once hidden wisdom of God, and becomes the subject matter of an enlightened faith. This, however, is not the case with regard to religious systems which are not of the truth. Unintelligible mystery is the ultima ratio for all difficulties which are insoluble by the symbols of ecclesiastical communities, whose text of universal application is, that
“secret things belong to God, but the things which are revealed, to us and to our children”.
This is true; but, then, these things which were secret in the days of Moses, have been revealed by God to the apostles and prophets for our information.
No one has any right to set up his own ignorance as the limit of what God hath revealed. A thing may be unknown to such a man, but it doth not therefore follow that it is either absolutely unintelligible or a secret. He may not know of it, or, if explained to him, he may not have intellect enough to comprehend it, or his prejudices, or sectarian bias may darken his understanding—this by no means makes the thing unintelligible or mysterious to other people. All that such persons have a right to say is,
“We do not know anything about it”.
They may confess their own ignorance, and resolve to look into the matter, or not; but they are presumptuously overstepping the bounds of propriety to venture to do more. Those who have no secondary interests to subserve apart from the truth only desire to know that they may believe and do. But where to know more would jeopardize the “vested interests” of a sect, and extort the confessions of its leaders and members that they were in error and knew not the truth, investigation is discouraged, and the things proscribed as too speculative and mysterious for comprehension, or, if understood, of no practical utility. In this way mankind infold themselves as in the mantle of their self-esteem. They repress all progress, and glorify their own ignorance by detracting from things which they fear to look into, or apprehend are far above their reach.
Beside glorying in men, this unfortunate peculiarity of the human mind has developed the organization of a system of things impiously hostile to the institutions and wisdom of Jehovah. It is a system of many subordinate parts. It is animated by one spirit which, under various modifications, pervades and actuates the whole. It is an evil spirit, and may be detected wherever the dogma of unintelligible mystery is at work. The name of this system is “MYSTERY”. Its baneful effects began to be visible in the apostolic age. It was then styled, “the Mystery of iniquity”, which, as was predicted, has, like a cancer, eaten out the truth, and submitted in place thereof a civil and ecclesiastical constitution, styled “Harlots and the Abominations of the Earth”, such as we behold on every side.
say the scriptures,
“is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thy head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”
If thou wouldst, O reader, get this wisdom, happy art thou if thou findest it.
“For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is A TREE OF LIFE to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
“He opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures”.
If thou wouldst gain the knowledge of the wisdom of God which is so inestimable, and which is contained in the word they preached, thou must also be the subject of the same illumination. This is indispensable; for there is no obtaining of this commodity except through the scriptures of truth. These
“are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. For all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”.
What more dost thou want than perfection, and a crown of life and glory in the age to come?
– #13 + 14: Thomas, D. J. (1990). Elpis Israel: an exposition of the Kingdom of God (electronic ed., pp. 3–9). Birmingham, UK: The Christadelphian.
To be continued: Necessity of a revelation of creation 14 Searching the scriptures
- Some one or something to fear #7 Not afraid for Gods Name
- People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
- Looking for Answers
- Sharing the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge
- God’s forgotten Word 1 Introduction
- God’s forgotten Word 3 Lost Lawbook 2 Modern scepticism
- God’s forgotten Word 4 Lost Lawbook 3 Early digressions and Constantinic revolution
- Raising digression
- Hellenistic influences
- Politics and power first priority #2