THE MYSTERY MADE MANIFEST
Colossians 1:25-27 (The body of Christ, His church) Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
A study of the lesson text would not be complete unless consideration is given to a similar passage from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus. For this cause I, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel (Eph.3:1-6).
Along with this, consider what Jesus told His apostles and disciples regarding the use of parables during His earthly ministry. And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables (Mark 4:11). This same teaching of Jesus is recorded in both Matthew 3:11, and in Luke 8:10. It seems in order that one additional scripture would be helpful to understand the mystery that has been made manifest. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen (Rom. 16:25-27).
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and all therein, including man and woman (Gen. 1). From the scriptures cited above, this we know - the plan of eternal salvation for mankind was formed in the mind of God before creation, but, in its completeness, was kept a mystery, hidden from ages and from generations, from the beginning of the world, until the time God saw fit for it to be revealed. All mankind, which wasGod's creation, was to be offered eternal salvation, which wasGod's plan, at the time He chose to make it known, which wasGod's time to reveal it to the world. This is, as it was in the beginning, was throughout all generations, is now, and forever shall be! What mortal being could, with reason, contend that it should be different!
God's plan of salvation was a mystery to mankind, not because it had not been originated, but only because it was not revealed and fully understood until the time foreordained by God that it should be made known. The term "eternal life" is not found in the Old testament, and the term "everlasting life" is found only in Daniel 12:2. However, eternal life is implied in all the writings of the prophets, as well as references to the worship of God from the beginning of time. Both Cain and Abel worshiped God; Cain's offering was not acceptable, while the offering of Abel was according to the will of God (See Gen. 4:1-5). We find in Genesis 8:20, 12:7, and 22:5, that both Noah and Abram worshiped God.
This implies that God communicated directly with these patriarchs giving them the knowledge of His will; that only through obedience could they expect to gain eternal life. Hebrews 9:13 tells us that sanctification, under the old law, came through obedience to God's sacrificial laws that were in effect before the coming of Christ. A study of Hebrews 9:11, and certain passages in Chapter 10, reveal the mystery of the remission of sins. Under Old Testament law, sins were atoned by sacrifices made each year (10:3), but sins could never be taken away (10:11), until the offering of the Son of God, as the sacrifice that took away the sins of the sanctified children of God, once and for all time (10:10 & 18).
Today, in the dispensation of the fullness of times, all mysteries of eternal salvation in Christ Jesus are made known according to His good pleasure (See Eph. 1:9-10). The will of God was sufficiently made known to people of all generations, from the beginning of time to the present day, to work out their own salvation. God's wisdom prevailed in His time. All glory to God and His uncompromising wisdom!