Where reason and faith collide, there is a mystery found.
We do not choose to live by reason alone for without faith it is impossible to please God. Nor do we walk about the earth believing only things that we cannot prove, for reason is also a precious gift from God.
The Christ-follower believes many things without proof for that is the essence of faith: finding evidence of things hoped for but unseen. We also believe many things that are observable facts: evidence of things present and seen. The Path of Life is a way of believing both by facts and by faith and—by mysteries. Each one is like a small beam of light through a prism.
In a teaching song, the Chief Musician Asaph, declares his intention of giving not only the facts of history but the mysteries as well. Israel’s history was filled with the unexplained:
- A burning bush that was not burned up and from which Jehovah’s voice was heard,
- Walking sticks that turned into snakes and back again,
- Horrible plagues striking Egyptians but not the Israelites among them,
- The Red Sea crossing and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army,
- The smoking summit of Sinai and the Law of God, and
- Manna from heaven and water from rocks.
Asaph teaches the facts that must be believed, even the ones that can only be seen as mysteries.
Celebrating the Mysteries
For those of us on the New Covenant journey through the wilderness, there are mysteries to be believed, and not only believed, but enjoyed and celebrated in words of praise, worship and awe:
- The Bible is the Inspired Word of God—it isn’t just a book or a library of books. It was inspired in its writing and preserved as the hands of man have handled it through history. When we read it in faith, we sense its truth by the Spirit and we are changed.
- The Trinity—3 is 1 and 1 is 3. Can you do the math? I cannot. But if we could, the nature of God would fold right into the science of mathematics and that cannot be—God is bigger than math.
- The Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ—the facts of life cry out against these things yet we believe them. We don’t understand, but we believe.
- The Dual Nature of Christ—fully God and fully man—our finite minds demand He be one or the other but the Scripture attributes both natures to Him so we believe it.
- Salvation is in Christ alone by faith and not by works—We accept His salvation as we accept the mysteries of His birth, life, atoning death and triumphal resurrection.
- The Universal Church—this is an organization of the Spirit and not of man’s doing. It is not a denomination; it is not a culture group; it is not a political force; it is a mystery hidden from the heroes of the Old Covenant and revealed at the Table of the Lord.
- The Return of Jesus—among ourselves we may debate the details, but we must embrace the mystery of the Second Coming of Christ. All wrongs will be righted, all things will be made new in a New Heaven and a New Earth ruled by the Lord Himself in a New Jerusalem.
Try as we might, we can only catch tantalizing glimpses of these mysteries. Each one is like a small beam of light through a prism. They are beyond the reach of reason. By faith we believe and there is but one response, that of the angels, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
Psalm 78: 1-7
Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will declare the mysteries of ancient times. That which we have heard and known, and what our forefathers have told us, we will not hide from their children. We will recount to generations to come the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, and the wonderful works he has done. He gave his decrees to Jacob and established a law for Israel, which he commanded them to teach their children; That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn; that they in their turn might tell it to their children; So that they might put their trust in God, and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments…
1 Timothy 3:16 NIV
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
Romans 16:25-27 NIV
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Ephesians 3:2-6 NIV
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 14:2-3 NIV
For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the mysteries! How plain life would be if everything were explained and nothing remained to boggle the mind. But that is not the case: mysteries abound! I praise You for Your ways that are higher than mine, that they are “past finding out.” I know that we will spend eternity together as You unfold to us the mysteries we pondered in this life, an endless revelation of Your glory. Today I will smile at the mystery of Your shining sun and laugh as every breeze brushes my face. I will not fear the mysterious thunder or the preceding flash of fire. I will walk without fear because of the mystery of Your nearness. In Christ alone! Amen.
Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise
Words: Walter Chalmers Smith; Music: Traditional Welsh Ballad
1. Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
2. Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
3. To all, life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.
4. Thou reignest in glory; thou dwellest in light;
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved