Can you keep a secret?
My wife and I are just so bad at keeping secrets from each other that we have given up. By that, I don’t mean to imply that keeping secrets is a good idea in marriage. Important things need to be discussed and aired in love. But, sometimes little surprises are more wonderful if they are unveiled in the right setting and at the correct time. Surprise Christmas presents, for example, are usually much better if the recipient does not get them until, well, Christmas. Unfortunately, the excitement usually gets the better of us. That’s why my wife usually gets her Christmas presents from me about a day after they are purchased. That’s why I have received many of my best Christmas presents from her shortly after Thanksgiving. While our delight in giving to each other is probably a good thing, we usually don’t have much to unwrap when the big day comes.
Fortunately, God has the patience and ability to make His grand and gracious gifts all the more glorious. The greatest and most marvelous gift of all He kept as a “mystery” for centuries, so that the glory of it and the wonder of it could be fully appreciated. Colossians 1:26-27 speaks of
…the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 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.
God’s plan was hidden for “ages and generations.” God is, and has been, in control of His revelation of Himself and His work. Even while He sent prophets to declare His works and His ultimate plan for salvation, He chose not to divulge every detail. As the Apostle Peter wrote,
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (see 1 Peter 1:10-12)
God revealed to His prophets that He was preparing something truly marvelous. This incredible truth was not even experienced by the prophets He chose and spoke through. They would speak of it, but it would be for those who were yet to come. It was a gift so remarkable that even the angels longed to understand it, but could not.
God’s plan was revealed to His saints. God held off fully revealing His glorious and astounding gift until the intended recipients were able to receive it. After sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for their sins and purchase them as His own people, He revealed the gift to His saints, the people God chose, made holy, and set apart for Himself by the finished work of Christ. It seems that the greatness and glory of the gift could only be comprehended by those who received it. Indeed the glorious gift had to be possessed in order to understand its value.
God revealed the greatness of the gift to those who received it. This gift is one of riches, of exceptional abundance.
God revealed that the gift would be received by the Gentiles. That is, it is a gift that would be given to people of all nations. It would not just go to those who were Jews by birth, but to people of all tribes, tongues and countries.
God revealed that the secret gift would be glorious. That is, its worth would be greater than human imagination could comprehend, unless that comprehension was expanded by the gift itself.
What is that marvelous gift?
The gift of God is “Christ in you. ” Imagine that–Christ, the Anointed One of God, dwells within human beings. The Spirit sent by the Father through the Son, the Holy Spirit of God, inhabits the flesh of all those who believe in Christ. This truth is astounding, and would be unbelievable unless the Holy Spirit so changed people’s hearts and minds that they could grasp it.
This inhabitation of God’s Spirit in human beings is “THE hope of glory.” That is, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in men and women, they would have no hope. He is our only hope to live purposeful lives. He is our only hope for growing in holiness. He is our only hope to ever see the things of God, the things that truly have worth and value.
God, at the proper time, revealed the astounding truth that He would take sinful people like us out of our sin. More than that, He has revealed to us the unfathomable truth that He would choose to implant His Holy Spirit in us and give us the promise, the hope, the assurance, the certain expectation that as He lives in us, so we will and can live for Him.
We must not forget this truth. We must not diminish its importance. By the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to grasp how great and marvelous that gift is. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are given the hope of being transformed by the working of God’s Spirit, into the image of Christ. By the Holy Spirit, we can delight in knowing that “He who began a good work in us will continue it.” (see Phil. 1:6).
Let us not lose our zeal to praise both the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Giver of the Gift, for God is worthy of our praise. Let us not forget to live by the power that He is gracious in giving us to live lives of glory.