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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Era of the Hidden Secret # 2

The coming and expectation of the "Messiah", the "Christ" (the same word in different languages was certainly no mystery. That "Seed" had been foretold immediately sin entered (Genesis 3:15) and Moses had prophesied the rising of the Prophet (Deut. 18:15). References to the Coming One are many: His birth, His life, His anointing, His sufferings and His glory.

Then there was no secret as to salvation being preached to the Gentiles. That is not an exclusively New Testament truth, nor a part of the Mystery now revealed. The same is true as to the Kingdom of God. That is not made known as a fact for the first time in the New Testament. There are other things also in the New Testament which are quite apparent in the Old.

One other thing needs to be emphasized as not changing with the two eras. It is the basic law of all that relates to God. Some confusion has come into the minds of many in relation to the change from law to grace. When everything has been rightly said as to our being no longer under the Law, but now under grace, the idea has slipped in that the fundamental principle has changed with the dispensations. This is not so. The principle, or law, which is the same in every era is faith. Faith was no less the governing law in the Old Testament than it is in the New; and no more in the New than in the Old. In that age it was not the works by themselves that justified. Neither in Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, nor any other of the army mentioned in Hebrews eleven was it what they did that found the way through to God (although there was a significance in what they actually did), it was faith in God that was virtuous. Works without faith are as ineffective as faith without works. There is no conflict between Paul and James. They are only the two sides to one thing. (Perhaps James was more of a legalist than Paul.) The key to every approval in the Old Testament is "He believed God." It is so very clear that God placed this law beneath and behind everything. Very big changes exist in the two dispensations, it is true. In the old, God blessed in temporal and material ways. Obey God; be faithful to God's commands, and blessing will be upon "thy basket and thy store"; your family and your field. Prosperity will be on your labors and there will be facilitation of your success. But underneath all that there was the law of faith. It is unchanging with times and economies. Paul has not been shown a new principle. This has nothing to do with his "revelation" in particular. The "secret" lies beyond  that, although his doctrine of justification was admittedly revolutionary and upsetting. He really only made faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ dominant and thereby its closure of an old order of things. Of course, much time and space is required to elucidate Paul's doctrine of justification, but that he has done for us. We are saying that "the "mystery" as revealed to Paul particularly is not a new idea as to the law of faith, although the basis of faith may be literally changed from men's works to Christ's finished work. Works themselves do not justify, but the justified man or woman works the works of faith.

It is important and helpful to know that, in the old era, God was not working with a different mind from that which belongs to this present era. His mind is unchanging in its nature and purpose. If His method and means change, His thoughts and object remain the same from eternity to eternity. Because in one era He hides these essential concepts, it does not mean that they are not implicitly in all that He chooses and uses. What comes to light in the subsequent dispensation is not new in the sense of never having been before in the going of God. It is only what God has been consistently working toward all along. So, when the secret is out, we are able to see it in the ways of God with persons and people and things from the beginning. There are no after-thoughts with God.

"The sovereign rule of heaven is like:

A TREASURE which A MAN found in a field, and HID it, and in his joy he sold everything that he had, and BOUGHT that field" (Matthew 13:44).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "The Secret Revealed")

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