You are not ready for this kind of knowledge

Most everyone loves a good mystery.

Not only does the Bible appear to be a mystery to many, but it also claims that it has a mystery to reveal.

Gnosticism was a philosophy in vogue during Paul’s day which claimed to be a higher mystery than most were familiar with.

Many of the churches Paul was affiliated with were being influenced in some way through this philosophy.

Gnosticism has never really lost its appeal, and is at the basis today of what many call New Age thinking.

The word is Greek in origin and is the word we translate as knowledge.

Different aspects of the philosophy infiltrate the church and cause a heretical thinking which leads people away from the truth that is in Jesus.

This is part of what Paul is addressing in his letter to the Corinthian church.

Gnosticism claims that it has a higher knowledge that only the initiated may access.

In fact, I went to a site which listed the six core beliefs of modern Gnosticism, and they wouldn’t let me in.

A block came up which said, “You’re not ready for this kind of knowledge.”

Having a special knowledge that others don’t appeals to those who would like to think of themselves as superior in understanding the mysterious world.

That is the way Paul begins this section of his letter to the Corinthians.

And I, when I came to you, brothers,
did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. …
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1Co 2:1, 5

Paul says that he spoke plainly when he presented the gospel.

He didn’t use high-sounding phrases or words or any esoteric language.

For those of you who can remember the ‘60s and early ‘70s, someone would rattle off something which had penetrated their brain through the marijuana smoke.

Then someone else would say, “Wow. That’s really heavy, man.”

What they really meant was, “I didn’t understand a single thing you just said.”

Now we use the phrase “it’s complicated” to avoid trying to explain what we ourselves don’t understand.

Speaking in a way that no one understands may make you appear exalted in the minds of others, but does little in the way of communication.

However immediately after this Paul begins to talk about a secret wisdom as we see in the next two verses.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom,
although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age,
who are doomed to pass away.
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God,
which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
1Co 2:7

Paul uses the language of the Gnostics to gain the attention of his readers.

Notice though that he is talking about a wisdom that is different from the normal wisdom of the people.

He says that it is a secret and hidden wisdom which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

Notice that the purpose is OUR glory—not God’s glory.

What Paul has done here is to put down the idea of the Gnostic wisdom, because it focused on confusing people.

Then he picks up on the idea of a knowledge or wisdom which is superior to what people are looking for in Gnosticism.

This is something that God had decreed and hidden before the ages began but has now revealed to Paul.

So, let’s take a few moments to dig into this mystery which was hidden but is now revealed for our glory.

We should understand, though, that Paul was one among many who spoke of God hiding things and keeping them a mystery.

You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.
Isa 48:6

At that time Jesus declared,
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding
and revealed them to little children;
Mat 11:25

Jesus declared that the things of God are not accessible by the ordinary means of man’s logic and reasoning.

And yet, those of us in the west continue to try to understand God and His ways with our natural mind.

The western analytical, logical mind is simply not comfortable with any kind of an unsolvable mystery.

The eastern mind—the mind of the orient—is quite comfortable with mystery.

The eastern church is known for its embrace of mysticism, while the western church is known for its logic and rejection of mysticism.

I find it interesting that God chose to reveal Himself to an eastern people who were comfortable with mystery and to have a book written for us by eastern-thinking people.

Then, God calls Paul, who is a mixture of the two.

Brought up as a Jew with a penchant for mystery, but educated with the logic of the Romans.

He explains this to the Ephesian church.

For this reason I, Paul,
a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—
the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly.
Eph 3:1,3

Until Jesus came along, all the things of God seemed to belong only to the Jews.

Jesus began to break down the wall which separated the Jews from others when He ministered to the outcasts of Jewish society and also those outside of Judaism, such as the Syrophoenician woman.

Even though John the Baptist declared it, and even though Jesus demonstrated it and told the apostles to include everyone, they still didn’t get it.

Paul got it, and wrote much of his letters to the churches explaining this mystery.

When you read this,
you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations
as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Eph 3:4-5

He then says plainly what the mystery is in the next verse.

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs,
members of the same body,
and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus
through the gospel.
Eph 3:6

There are three aspects to this mystery.

  • we are fellow heirs,
  • members of the same body,
  • and partakers of the promise in Christ.

I titled this message THE MAGNANIMOUS MYSTERY because of this verse.

Magnanimous means generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or less powerful person.

Gentiles—those outside Judaism—are fellow heirs along with the Jews of the promises of God.

Not only heirs, but members of the same body.

Paul explains this more fully earlier in his letter to the Ephesians

For he himself is our peace,
who has made us both one and
has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances,
that he might create in himself one new man
in place of the two, so making peace,
and might reconcile us both to God
in one body through the cross,
thereby killing the hostility.
Eph 2:14-16

None of this was understood by the Jews, those whom we call God’s chosen people.

They were chosen in Abraham to bring to light the knowledge of God for all the world to see and understand, but they kept it for themselves.

They were more proud of their being separate than they were of their being God’s choice as a vessel for the gospel.

Paul explains this in a little more detail in his letter to the Colossians.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles
are the riches of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you,
the hope of glory.
Col 1:27

The mystery, which is strange to the natural mind, is Christ is in us.

It is Christ in us which is the hope of glory.

Remember at the beginning I told you the mystery was for our glory?

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God,
which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
1Co 2:7

It is Christ in us which is the hope of glory.

What does that mean that Christ is in us?

What does a child understand when we say “You need to have Jesus in your heart”?

Could it be that maybe we are faced with a magnanimous mystery which cannot be solved by our rational mind?

What does glory mean?

What is this hope of glory?

The word translated glory primarily denotes an opinion, estimation, repute; and in the NT, it is always good opinion, praise, honor, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence,

Christ in you brings all these things into play.

You should have a good opinion of yourself if Christ is in you.

Our weakness, though, is that we value the opinion of others more than we value God’s opinion of us.

Low self-esteem is the result of not knowing our true identity in Christ.

We have looked at the first two aspects of the magnanimous mystery—fellow heirs and members of the same body.

The third aspect is the most amazing of all—partakers of the promise in Christ.

Peter lets us know what this is in one of his letters.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him
who called us to his own glory and excellence,
by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises,
so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
2Pe 1:3-4

God, in His magnanimous, all-inclusive loving nature has included you in the divine dance of being one with Him.

Being one with Him means that we partake of the divine nature which was in Christ Jesus.

The Lord’s prayer which He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane is being fulfilled in us.

that they may all be one,
just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jn 17:21

I trust that thought is as exciting to you as it is to me.

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