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Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Mystery Revealed # 7

In the wonder and amazement of this unveiling we must be clear as to its exact nature and meaning. To do this we must put our finger upon key phrases which precisely embody and define it. We have found the statement which gives the ultimate and consummate issue: it is in Ephesians one, verse ten. Can we find in that same Letter a phrase which brings that end into history, that is, the operation leading to that end? I think we can. It is a fragment in the section marked as verses thirteen to twenty-two of chapter two: "one new man." That whole section is an enlargement of that fragment and it should be carefully read as such. There have been hints of this in other Letters of Paul, but here he gathers all together, and not only so but - as we should expect if his mind was ranging the "ages" and the secret hidden in them - the whole Bible is comprehended.

As to other hints, we have such classic and impressive instances as Romans five, verses twelve through nineteen. Here the two generic and racial heads are set over against one another - the "one man", Adam, and the "one man" Christ; and the context shows the significance of each. Another tremendous instance is set in that chapter of amazing enlightenment, First Corinthians fifteen. It is at verse forty-five: "The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (see the immediate context). In Ephesians the Apostle first refers to the personal Christ, and then proceeds to the corporate "one new man." In an earlier passage both of these aspects have been mentioned: First Corinthians twelve, in verse three, "Jesus" and "Jesus is Lord" is personally mentioned; in verse twelve the phrase "so also is the Christ" (the article is in the original) makes the members and the Head identical for the practical purpose of expression): "Now ye are the body of Christ" (verse 27). The uniting is by the "One Spirit" on Head and members.

It is Ephesians that this "One new man" is revealed fully. If this is "the mystery hid from ages and generations," although existent all the time, we can now see, in the light of "the making known," how this has been the governing concept all through the Bible, that is, manhood according to Christ.

At the beginning God said, "Let us make man". The Psalmist cried, "What is man?" In the Incarnation Christ's favorite designation of Himself was "Son of Man." In redemption there is "one mediator also between God and men, Himself Man" (1 Timothy 2:5). In reconstitution there is the Pattern "Second Man" (1 Corinthians 15:47). In exaltation and glory the Psalmist's question is answered in Jesus: "What is man?" (Psalm 8:4; Hebrews 2:6). In consummation there is "One new man" - Man. There are foreshadowings in the Old Testament. Adam was "a figure of Him that was to come" (Romans 5:14). "The man Moses" (Numbers 12:3). David was "a man after God's heart" (Acts 13:22). These are only instances taken from many, and their character or function bears respectively features of Christ.

So, over all the Bible history, there is the shadow of a Man, both individually and corporately. The Divine concept of MAN governs all God's ways: in creation, Incarnation, mediation; in the Cross as setting aside one type of man to make way for another; in the resurrection as the New Man - the "firstborn from the dead" - accredited; in the exaltation of Jesus as the New Man instated; in the coming again of "The Son of Man" to remove the remnants of Christ-rejecting humanity and establishing the new order; in the Church in terms of corporate manhood, the vessel and vehicle of Christ's completeness and manifestation. All this is what Paul saw in "the face of Jesus."

The Church itself is not the "Mystery" revealed to Paul, but the Church as the Body of Christ - The One New Man - in which all distinctions other than Christ are non-existent; this was the revelation. It had to be a revelation from heaven for such a rabid, committed, fanatical Jew, with all his ancestry, descent, birth, tradition, training and "blood" to come genuinely to the place where he could say with conviction 'where there is neither Greek nor Jew, etc.; where all walls of partition are broken down; where there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision; where there are no "children" and "dogs", but "all are one in Christ Jesus" "One person in Christ Jesus" - the gender is masculine.

How very much of the New Testament is illuminated in the light of this "New Man" concept! Indeed, it covers all of the meaning of true Christianity. It gives the real meaning  to the birth (John 3). It explains the Person and character and work of Christ. It is what the Apostle meant when he said, "If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). And it explains those consummate words in Romans eight and verse twenty-nine: "... foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son;" and Ephesians one and verse five: " ...foreordained unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ." All this and much more indicates what is the specific purpose, work and nature of this present dispensation. The work in the "groaning creation" is with a view to "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19-23).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

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