I love a mystery. I enjoy
a baffling exceptionally well-written mystery.
Authentic Christianity is
an inexplicable mystery to many people. That is
because Christ is a mystery. Because of our intimate
personal relationship with Him we are a mystery to
the world. Those who do not know the Lord Jesus
Christ will not and cannot be expected to understand
the true Christian until they, too, have a saving
knowledge of Him.
A. W. Tozer got to the
heart of this mystery when he wrote that Christians
are crazy in Roots of Righteousness:
"A real Christian is an
odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for One
whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day
to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on
the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to
be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared
right, goes down in order to get up, is strong when
he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and
happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can
live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he
can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible,
and knows that which passes knowledge."
Christians are meant to
be different, and we are in good company.
Can you imagine Christ in
all His glorious riches actually dwelling through
His Spirit in our lives right now? God's goal is to
make us in all respects just like Christ. God is at
work. He is sovereign. He is busy changing lives and
the way He does it is a mystery.
TELL ME A MYSTERY
The apostle Paul even
said that Christ is God's mystery (Col. 2:2). The
good news we share with the world is "the mystery of
Christ" (Col. 4:3).
Paul uses the word
"mystery" not as we do in our day, but in the
context of his day and age. The word "mystery" in
the Scriptures is a secret, a truth undiscoverable,
except by divine revelation. It is a fact that
cannot be understood in detail without divine help.
It cannot be known by natural abilities and mental
powers. It was a truth that was hidden in the
counsels of God down through the ages and
generations until God in His grace chose to make it
known to mankind by divine revelation. The apostle
Paul says, "the mystery which has been hidden from
the past ages and generations; but has now been
manifested to His saints" (Col. 1:26). It was
concealed from angels and men until God revealed it.
The only way of knowing this "mystery" is through a
self-revelation of God to man. God revealed a great
mystery to the apostle Paul. God made it visible or
known to man.
If Paul has in mind the
heathen use of "mystery" whose secrets were kept
confined in a strict narrow circle of initiated
members of their society, then he tells us that the
Christian mystery in Christ is just the opposite
because it is fully declared and proclaimed in the
open to everyone in the world. God has revealed His
deep secret to all mankind by means of His special
revelation. There are no secrets with God. He has
fully revealed Himself in Christ. The deep mystery
is that God has granted free admission of all
Gentiles on equal terms with the Jewish believers to
all the privileges of the covenant. God has now told
His secret to all His saints. God's riches are no
longer limited by national ties. God has done this
according to the riches of His grace.
The context of this great
passage on God's mystery in Christ is the church as
the body of Christ (Col. 1:24). For some it is
strange to say that the apostle can "rejoice in my
sufferings for your sake." The apostle had learned
the joy in Christ in times of suffering (Phil. 4:4).
In fact, verse 24 is a great outburst of
thanksgiving to God for the privilege of suffering
"on behalf of His body."
There is a sense of
purpose in his experience. "I am filling up in my
turn the left-overs of the tribulations of Christ in
my flesh." Genuine Christians are strange, indeed.
Does Paul's suffering
have any atoning value for his sins? No. Do our
sorrows have any atoning value for our sins? No, of
course not. We do not come adding any virtue or
merit to the completed work of Christ. Christ's work
of atonement for sin is complete. It was completed
when Christ declared from the cross, "It is
finished!" We are saved by grace alone through faith
alone in Christ alone.
The Christian's suffering
is on a different level from that endured by Christ
on the cross. Punishment for sin is not in view
here. The sufferings of Christ alone have atoning
value for the sinner. Ours do not. It is part of our
stewardship. We suffer troubles, afflictions,
tribulations and persecutions because of our
identification with Christ (Matt. 5:10-12). The
afflictions of the church are also the afflictions
of Christ (Acts 9:4-5). The person who persecutes
the church persecutes Christ. When believers suffer,
It is this stewardship as
a member of the family of God that he was "made a
minister" on behalf of the church. God assigned him
the task of fully proclaiming God's message to the
known world. The call of God was to preach without
reserve the whole gospel of God to the ends of the
earth. Paul now proceeds to tell us about that great
responsibility that was thrust upon him and every
Christian minister (Col. 1:25).
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST
In Jesus Christ are
summed up everything we can know about God and His
eternal purposes. In Christ we see the riches of
God's glory, wisdom and grace (Rom. 9:23; 11:33;
Eph. 1:7, 18; 2:7; 3:16; Phil. 4:19).
Christ is a mystery
The gospel is a mystery
of mysteries. Christ is Himself the grand mystery of
redemption. It is the majestic secret of God with
us. It is the glorious manifestation of God's
dealings with mankind. The Holy Spirit takes the
revealed Word of God and illumines us individually.
We are made gloriously wealthy by this mystery.
C. H. Spurgeon said:
"Each separate individual must have Christ revealed
to him and in him by the work of the Holy Spirit, or
else he will remain in darkness even in the midst of
the gospel day. Blessed and happy are they to whom
the Lord has laid open the divine secret which
prophets and kings could not discover, which angels
desired to look into.
said the apostle Paul, "great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." The Lord
Jesus is crowned with "glory as of the only begotten
of the Father, full of grace and truth." He is "the
brightness of the Father's glory." We have
"unsearchable riches in Christ" because "in Him
dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
As Spurgeon noted: "Oh,
the riches of the grace of God which it has pleased
the Father to impart unto us in Christ Jesus! Christ
is the 'mystery,' the 'riches,' and the 'glory.' He
is all this . . . He is all this among us poor
Gentiles . . . and we are made heirs of God. . . .
All things are ours in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The essence of the
mystery is Christ Himself in His person. It is
Christ in all His glorious riches actually dwelling
through His Spirit in the inner lives of His
The incarnation of
Christ is a mystery
The incarnation of Christ
is a deep mystery. It was born in the unsearchable
wise mind of God. The idea of "Immanuel, God with
us" was conceived in the omnipotent omniscient mind
of God. Every regenerated mind delights in this
vital union between God and man.
The apostle Paul tells us
another mystery. Let the quotable Spurgeon say it
for us. "Our Lord's person is at this day
constituted in the same manner. He is still God and
man; still He can sympathize with our manhood to the
full, for He is bone of our bone and flesh of our
flesh; and yet He can help us without limit, seeing
He is equal with the Father. Though manifestly
divine, yet Jesus is none the less human; though
truly man, He is none the less divine, and this is
the door of hope to us, a fountain of consolation
which never ceases to flow."
Very God-very man. God
incarnate became a vicarious substitute for sin and
died and rose again.
The death of Christ
is a mystery
Since the incarnation is
a great mystery we are ever mindful of the great
mystery of His death. That the Son of God should die
as a substitute for our sins is quite beyond us. He
humbled Himself and became a servant, and died as
our substitute on a cross. He bore our terrible load
of sin on the cross that we might never bear the
Father's righteous wrath. He took the cup of wrath
that we ought to have drunk forever and drained it
dry. He bore our punishment in His death. He
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a
curse for us. Moreover, He has made everything right
and safe for us with God the Father by making an end
of sin and an everlasting righteousness on our
behalf with the Father. The finished work of Jesus
Christ is a grand mystery. Jesus Christ is all my
righteousness. He is all my salvation and all my
and ascension of Christ is a grand mystery
On the other hand since
He is the second person of the Godhead, the Son of
God, the eternal Word of God, should we be in the
least surprised that He should rise from the dead?
Jesus Christ "is the
firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18). He overcame
death and passed to His sovereign throne at the
right hand of the Father in heaven where He reigns
as the living Lord. He has overcome death. He is
Since you are a believer
you have been raised up with Christ, therefore keep
on constantly seeking the things above where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
Because of the new birth
Christ now lives in me. This is the greatest miracle
of all. Christ in me is the most certain thing in my
personal experience (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 3:16-17).
A total change took place
in our outlook when we came into personal contact
with Jesus Christ. There was a time when we were
"alienated from God" and we were "dead in trespasses
and sin." We began and ended each day without any
serious thought about God and His will for our
lives. He was not important to us. We were hostile
toward God. But something happened in our lives. Now
we are reconciled to God. Now He is our most valued
person. Something happened within us. Something
changed our attitude toward Jesus Christ. In the
moment we believed on Jesus Christ our whole life
changed. God is in the business of changing lives
and He does it when we repent of our sins and
believe on Christ as our Savior. What happened? We
were born again. A spiritual birth took place and
Christ came within you and the Holy Spirit made you
His temple. If you need your life changed that is
where you must begin. It begins when you open your
heart to Christ and receive Him as Lord.
Every believer has
stamped in him, "Made in Christ." That means there
are no cheap imitations of Christians. The crowning
work of redemption is conforming the believer into
the image of Christ (Gal. 4:1).
miracle is Christ in you
"Christ in you, the hope
of glory." The grandest mystery of all Paul
tells us is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Christ in me creates the "hope of glory."
A. T. Robertson stresses
the idea of the preposition en here is "in" not
"among." The context requires that we understand the
phrase as referring to an inner subjective
experience. The mystery long hidden is not a
diffusion of Christ among the Gentiles. It is the
indwelling of Christ in His people, both Jewish and
Gentile. The declared "hope of glory" of both is
"Christ in you." Paul has in mind the indwelling
Christ in the heart of every believer. Though "among
you" makes good sense, it is more probable "in you"
or "within" (cf. Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 4:19;
Eph. 3:17). It is the personal experience of the
living presence of Christ in the individual life of
the believer that is the mystery of mysteries.
Ephesians 3:17 tells us
Christ "dwells in your hearts." The central fact of
an intimate personal relationship with Christ is
this great truth of "Christ in you." This indwelling
constitutes "the hope of glory" for every believer.
Jesus is the Shekinah glory of God, and He shines in
our hearts so that we see the glory of God in the
face of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6, 16; 1 Jn. 3:2-3).
The Christian has
experienced the superior light and knowledge of
Jesus Christ and all other religious experiences and
claims of the Gnostics and secret mystery religions
fade into nothing when compared to the inward
knowledge of an intimate love relationship with Him.
The first Adam headed up
the human race and stood for us, and fell for us,
and we fell in him. How marvelous that the second
Adam took up within Himself all His people and stood
for us and kept the covenant with God the Father so
that now every blessing of that new covenant is
infallibly secure to all who are risen in Him.
"Whatever Christ is His
people are in Him. They are crucified in Him, they
were dead in Him, they were buried in Him, they were
risen in Him; in Him they live eternally, in Him
they sit gloriously at the right hand of God, "who
has raised us up together, and made us sit together
in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.' In Him "we
are accepted in the beloved,' both now and forever;
and this, I say, is the essence of the gospel; he
who does not preach Christ, preaches no gospel. . .
. Christ Himself is the life, soul, substance, and
essence of the mystery of the gospel of God"
Anything short of Jesus
Christ will leave you short of salvation. You have
to reach Christ, and touch Christ and nothing short
of this will save you.
Jesus gives us Himself.
To have Christ is to have eternal life. He does not
merely give us wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, redemption etc., but He is made of
God all these things to us. He is our life.
Therefore, we cannot do without Him.
The Christian experience
heightens every individual power we have. Keep in
mind the person in whom Christ begins to possess
does not cease to be himself. He does not become a
robot. This is not some pantheistic philosophy Paul
"Christ in me" means that
He is bearing me along from within. His motive-power
carries me on giving my whole life a wonderful sense
of God's presence. It gives me life with an endless
song in my heart.
This blessed union with
Christ is a vital union with God. The more a person
is "in Christ" the more he is "in God." To be united
with Christ is to be united with the God who raised
Him (Rom. 8:11; Col. 2:12). The heart of Paul's
fellowship with Christ is found in his certainty
that "God was in Christ." The believer is risen with
Christ through faith of the operation of God who
raised Him from the dead. The apostle John says,
"Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with
His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
It is Christ in you or
within you that gives us the riches of His glory.
The mystery is the indwelling Christ in Gentiles. It
was not a mystery to the Jewish people that the
Messiah should come and dwell among His people. That
was their great hope. However, that the Messiah of
Israel should dwell among the non-Jews was an
entirely new revelation of the purposes of God.
Christ freely given to the Gentiles is the mystery.
Christ now indwells in His people, regardless of
whether they are Jewish or non-Jewish.
Christ in you
Christ in you accepted by
faith alone means Christ possessed. When Christ is
in you the law has nothing more to say to you. It
can no longer condemn you because God has declared
you acquitted. You have been justified by faith in
Christ in you means
Christ experienced in all His power. Christ in you
fills your life with His holy presence and power.
That which the law can never do, Christ does by
indwelling in you.
Christ in you is His
sovereign rule in your life. Christ in you is
Christ's scepter from the center of your being over
every facet of your personality. Christ in you is
His power bringing every thought into captivity to
Himself. Christ in you means the imperial
sovereignty of Jesus Christ over your life. We find
our freedom by being in submission to His sovereign
hand over our lives.
Christ in you means His
filling you with His wonderful presence. Christ in
you transforms your person until you become like
When Christ enters into
our lives and we yield to His presence He
transforms, elevates us to His likeness. The apostle
Paul declared, "I live, yet not I, Christ lives in
me." When Christ enters in He sanctifies us, and
sets us apart for His glory.
Christ in you means
He enters into us and becomes our life.
Christ in you means His
power in you. We were without spiritual strength
until Christ came into our lives. We were dead in
trespasses and sins. Now our spiritual victory is
Christ in you means we
are spiritually rich. We were in spiritual poverty
until Christ came in and now we have all the riches
of Christ Jesus. We are now rich because He is rich.
Christ in you means honor
and glory. He glorifies the place where He dwells
even for a moment. If Christ comes into your heart
His whole court comes with Him! Rejoice for you have
Him as a holy guest. People who value and love Him
cannot be happy without Him.
OUR HOPE OF GLORY
The indwelling Christ is
the ground for the expectation of glory both now and
the future. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The
word "glory" points to the great consummation in
God's eternal purpose, and is a comprehensive word
for God's glorious presence with His people.
The wealth of glory for
the believer is this mystery among the Gentiles
which is Christ. Our ground of hope is "Christ in
M. R. Vincent says, "The
full glory of the inheritance was a hope, to be
realized when Christ should appear. Glory refers to
the glory of the mystery; hence the glory
consummated at Christ's coming" the glory which
shall be revealed."
The glorified saints
around the throne of God have no higher source of
joy than the saints on earth. They have no higher
theme or song of praise to the Father. They are only
happier because their discovery of these things is
more complete and are now freed from all earthly
hindrances and limitations that interrupt our
enjoyment in our present state.
Christ alone is our
foundation for the blessed hope in the future, or
eschatological glory. The fact that we now have
Christ in us is the pledge of final glory when
Christ returns. This glory is yet future. We will
share in the yet future full manifestation of God's
glory in Christ.
Jesus Christ focuses our
minds and desires on that which is above in heaven
and the eternal future. Christ in you gets eternity
into the picture. He gets our minds off our past
through the forgiveness of our sins and into the
present as He lives within us and into the future as
we concentrate on our blessed hope in Him alone.
"Christ in you" energizes the present and gives us a
song to sing. Lord Jesus, will I see You today? Even
Paul wrote in Colossians
3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear,
then shall you also appear with Him in glory."
The apostle Paul prayed
that this great truth would become a reality for the
believers in the church at Ephesus. He prayed, "that
He would grant you, according to the riches of His
glory, to be strengthened with power through His
Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in
your hearts through faith; and that you, being
rooted and grounded in love, may be able to
comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth
and length and height and depth, and to know the
love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you
may be filled up to all the fullness of God"
(Ephesians 3:16-19). That will take your breath
away! When Christ in you offers all of those
glorious benefits why in the world do people go
turning to new age movements, secret mystery
religions, occults and cults seeking the most recent
If you know Jesus Christ
as your personal Savior He wants to settled down and
make Himself permanently at home in your heart. He
wants to settle down in your "inner man" that is,
the personal, rational self, the moral I that has
experienced spiritual renewal by the Spirit of God.
He is talking about the very core of your inner
spiritual being, the place where the Holy Spirit
works to fashion and form His temple since the
moment you were born again. That is the place where
He is at work forming you in the image of Christ.
It is there Paul tells us
Christ "dwells" "in your hearts through faith."
Christ wants to settle down in a dwelling, to dwell
fixedly in a place, to live in a home. He wants to
settle down and feel completely at home as a
permanent dwelling place in your heart.
Do you make Christ feel
at home? Do you invite Him in as a permanent
resident? Does He feel comfortable in your heart?
Are there two masters trying to be sovereign in your
life? Do you give Christ the free reign of your
life? Do you have any junk closets where He is
forbidden to enter? Are there any secret hideouts in
your heart? Can you honestly drag everything in your
heart out in the glaring holy light of the Son?
But Paul is not through.
He says in a great doxology, "Now to Him who is able
to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask
or think, according to the power that works within
us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen"
Literally Paul writes,
"But to Him [God] who is able above all things to do
exceedingly above . . ." It is exceeding some number
or measure, over and above, more than necessary and
is intensified by adding the idea of exhaustlessness
and "above." The apostle Paul has in mind something
that is beyond all things. It is superabundantly and
over and above anything he can imagine. Now to our
God who is able to do exceedingly beyond all things,
superabundantly and over and above all things,
exceeding all things beyond all things, we ask or
think, according to the power that works within us.
What a great God and Savior we worship!
Our weakness is connected
to God's omnipotence and omniscience. God is able!
The amazing thing is the
best is yet to come! These are words of hope and
confident assurance of the believer's future. The
apostle John wrote of that final glory in 1 John
What glory is ours,
We shall have glorified
bodies just like the resurrected body of Christ when
He appears in glory. "He who has come to live in our
hearts, and reigns as our bosom's Lord, makes us
glorious by His coming," declared Spurgeon. When
Christ comes to reign He brings countless blessings
with Him. Just think of it. "He who went to the
cross for me will never be ashamed of me: He who
gave me Himself will give me all heaven and more: He
that opened "˜His very heart to find blood and water
to wash me in, how shall He keep back even His
kingdom from me? O sweet Lord Jesus, thou art indeed
to us the hope, pledge, the guarantee of glory."
The Lord Jesus Christ
entered into a covenant with God the Father to bring
His people home to glory. He who pledged to bring
every sheep of His flock safe to His Father's right
hand will not fail. He has never failed one of His
covenant promises. He never will.
Christ in you is glory.
In having Christ, you have glory. Christ's glory and
your glory are wrapped up together. If Christ were
to lose you it would be a great loss to Him. If I
can perish with Christ in me He will lose His honor.
His glory is gone if one soul who has put their
trust in Him for eternal life is ever cast away. As
sure as the Lord God lives, Christ in you means you
in glory with Him for all eternity. This is the most
astounding truth taught in the Bible. "Christ in
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
Christ in me is a prophet
teaching me His way, giving me His direction so I
can proclaim His message with clarity and boldness.
"To whom God willed to make known" is the result of
God's grace, through no merit of the saints, making
it known. God says, Now that you know all my deep
secrets in Christ, go into the entire world and tell
them. Instead of piously keeping them to yourself,
or your select group, go out and tell the secret to
everyone who will listen. Only Christians can
understand the mystery because it is "Christ in you,
the hope of glory."
Christ in me is my High
Priest interceding and giving me immediate access to
God so I can go directly into His presence with my
petitions on your behalf.
Christ is me is a king
demanding my loyalty as I bow in worship only to Him
as my Lord and Master and as His servant I go out to
Don't be ashamed for one
moment of the fact that Christ in you is your hope
This is the greatest
mystery of the universe that God of the Jewish
people would take up residence in Gentile men and
women. The idea of salvation of the Gentiles was
nothing new. The prophets spoke of it and the poets
wrote of it in the Psalms. But the idea that He
would tabernacle Himself in a Gentile was something
wholly new. That is the mystery of "Christ in you
the hope of glory."
Christ in Wil Pounds!
Christ in the Quechuas. Christ in the Jivaro. Christ
in the Chinese. Christ in the Japanese, the
Russians, the African. Christ in me! That is my hope
of glory and I pray that it is yours, too. It is the
only hope for the world in which we live. Do you
have that hope? Do you share that same expectation
of glory with God in Christ? Do you have Christ
dwelling within your heart? Do you have Christ in
you? You can begin right now.