THE OPEN SECRET- Lesslie Newbigin

One of the most common metaphors used in the New Testament to describe  the relation of the church to the gospel is that of stewardship. The church, and especially those called to any kind of leadership in the church, are servants entrusted with that which is not their property but is the property of their LORD. (see Paul’s own recognition of such in  I CORINTHIANS 3:1-4:14)

That  which is entrusted is something of infinite worth as compared with the low estate of the servants in whose hands it is placed. They are but mud pots; but that which is entrusted to them is the supreme treasure (see 2 Cor.4:7). The treasure is nothing less than “the mysteries of God”, “the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19), “the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and…made known to all nations…to bring about the obedience of faith”(Rom.16:25-26). It is “the mystery of His will…to unite all things in Him”  (Eph.1:9-10).

It is the open secret of God’s purpose, through Christ, to bring all things to their true end in the glory of the triune God. It is open in that it is announced in the gospel that is preached to all nations; it is secret in that it is manifest only to the eyes of faith. It is entrusted to those whom God has given the gift of faith by which the weakness and foolishness of the cross is known as the power and wisdom of God. It is entrusted to them not for themselves but for all nations. It is Christ in them, the hope of glory.

THE BATTLE for MIDDLE EARTH WAS REAL TO THE APOSTLE PAUL

The Battle on Earth

We noted before that the challenges the Human Race is faced with in the 21st Century are simply staggering. Just to speak of the twin goals of unity and peace which this blog seeks to focus upon and advocate, not to mention the gigantic logistical concerns such as hunger, energy, health, and security. No wonder large numbers are either pessimistic about any positive gains at all or, are so overcome with “gloom and doom” that they have given up on all but just seeking to survive by any means possible.

For those that do seek to be responsible and do what they can to make the world better, there are many sincere folks who still reject a basic premise of Holy Scriptures: Adamic humankind cannot win this battle. If there is to be a “salvation/redemption” it must come from outside the Race, from above- from heaven itself. Many Christians are still trying to “patch up” the old Race when God has already clearly condemned it and testified to His provision of an entirely new humanity. Thus the emphasis on “the Ten Commandments”, or “disciplines of the christian life”, or the “how-to’s”, or tradition, or ceremony, or ritual, or a host of “contemporary worship” styles. Now none of these may be wrong-headed ideas in themselves(some of them come from God), they just fail to preach and teach the heart of the Gospel of Christ: salvation is of the Lord and it is His GIFT to sinful and rebellious humanity. But this gift is a Person who brings an entirely new thing to the earth, namely, Himself. It is “external” to every one of us, and for this reason we must repudiate every dependence upon ourselves and learn to live in total dependence upon Another. Christ has inaugurated the Kingdom of God on planet earth!

This is really so simply to demonstrate from the Biblical Narrative that it proves much more is going on in this present confusion and darkness than just our own ignorance and refusal to let God be God. No there’s conspiracy at the highest levels- on the levels of  the “powers and principalities”, or the powers behind the pawns of world commerce and governments. Listen to Paul’s own “pulling back the curtains” on what our real battle involves:

…Be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of GOD, that you may be able to stand against the schemings of the devil. For we do not wrestle agianst flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

This view of reality comes out in the Biblical narrative over and over again. To neglect it or to take it at less than face value is to already shut yourself off to the light that can effectively lead you out of darkness. The “children of light” are those who have already accepted this as God’s testimony to the unseen things faith must live by. This is why in the Apostles of Christ you will not find anything remotely resembling our current confusion of “smoke and mirrors” but a clear declaration of truth (see 2COR.3:12-4:6).

This is God’s GIFT to the world. Just say NO to Adam’s way of making things better and YES to God’s GIFT. As we consider the Apostle Paul and his writings, we must let him be who he tells us he is. It will require disciplined listening to his own statements of the chief factors in his understanding of and complete trust in the Anointed One of Jehovah!

The victory in this battle belongs to the TRUE VINE, the Servant of Jehovah. Our only hope is to participate in His victory as branches in dynamic-union with Him. Read the Gospel of John, chapter 15!

My Favorite commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20 by D.M.Lloyd-Jones (1977)

INTERNATIONAL YEAR of SAINT PAUL

A special year in honour of ST.Paul the Apostle has been declared by Pope Benedict XVI. The year will commence on 28th of June, 2008. It may very well be the golden opportunity indeed for all of us to be involved in getting to know for ourselves this Apostle to the Gentiles and the significant role he played in the development of Biblical Christianity.

My suggestion at the begining is to go to the source- go to Paul’s writings themselves. If all Scripture is God’s testimony to his Son Jesus Christ, then surely Paul’s own testimony to the revelation given him of this Christ can be said to be among the richest of all that the Church can study for the knowlege of eternal life.

In a previous post on godly contentment, I left you with a question to ponder which was ” Who taught Paul the art of godly contentment?”  Did you search the Scriptures to find his own answer?

” BUT you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:20,21)

Yes, Paul consistently claimed that it was the resurrected and exalted Christ himself that personally gave the Apostle his Gospel; that he had been taught by this same Christ, much like those first disciples that found themselves walking with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus (another earlier post). And what was the unique part of the revelation that was left for Paul to be especially the recorder of for the world and for the Church? I do not hesitate to say that it is “Christ in You”, the little phrase “IN CHRIST” that is so dominant in St.Paul’s writings and ministry.

The universal Church has never been more in need of rediscovering this CHRIST as the source of God’s new humanity and thus the only true source of UNITY. This blog will be participating in the call of a year of Jubilee and post often about Paul’s unique contribution to our access to the treasures of grace found in Christ alone. What would happen if the blog world would do the same and dedicate the priority on searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so, just as some of Paul’s early audiences did at Berea?

 

CHRIST CALLS SAUL of TARSUS

Related essay on the spiritual poverty in the churches. From A.B. Simpson’s, Philippians