Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unspeakable Mysteries


Eph.5: 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

II Cor.12: It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

If we really assess what the Scriptures teach and what we say we believe, we must be astounded. The very thought that the soul which lives within us should be given eternal life is breathtaking, if indeed we believe and understand what is being said. To say it is a  mystery understates the magnitude of these unspeakable riches. Our earthly minds have only earthly comparisons with which to navigate through spiritual imageries, and that is infinitely insufficient.

Paul calls the relationship between Christ and the church a great mystery. And Paul says that there was a man he knew, which most of us believe was Paul speaking in a literary construct about himself. This man was carried into the very dwelling place of the Holy Trinity and upon his return he was unable to even share what glories he had witnessed and experienced. The eternal dimension cannot be translated into human words except for some metaphors and types. But even the metaphors and types are a wonder. The wonders of Christ are, as say the French, je ne sais quoi.

II Cor.9:15 - Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

II Cor.12: 4 - How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

I Pet.1:8 - Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

But when we consider the greatness of the eternal truths of redemption it should make us ashamed at how the church has repackaged them to conform to earthly ventures. It is an incredible spiritual betrayal. Just one moment in the presence of the Risen Christ will indict the entire western church. We have diminished His glory and made it bow to the carnal desires of individuals and the church at large. The things of the Spirit are now treated as some intangible dream which is much more evident in written doctrines than they are in the observable lives of His followers.

Most of the church seems more grateful for an unexpected check than they are the glorious mysteries of heaven's realities. Praise reports rarely are given for just the privilege of knowing Christ,  but usually they are testimonies of personal advancement. Prayer requests center on finances or health issues or other personal needs, but rarely ask for the power to live fully surrendered to Christ and His perfect will. The church has become a spiritual welfare state where people come to get their needs met without even considering the spiritual power of self denial. Jesus is a provider first and Lord a distant second.

Oh but please do not miss the present glories of knowing Him who created us and from whom the heavens fled. Human words are but so much dust when compared to the glory of the Creator Redeemer. We have been given a gift of grace simply by the faith which was also a gift. And in a stunning display of grace and power, we have become the sons of God. Oh my. Can any human mind digest such a thought? We have not only been promised eternal life through Christ, but we have been grafted into the eternal family of Almighty God.

And the one person who caught a glimpse of what lies beyond cannot utter words through which to share. Have you ever seen a movie where a little girl witnesses such an horrific event that she is rendered mute? Regardless of how people try and get her to speak she remains silent and traumatized by what she saw. Well that is what happened to the Apostle Paul. The seraphim and the cherubim, the Spirit of God and the Almighty Father, and the Risen Christ who still bears His wounds, all of that and more so affected Paul that he could not even attempt to communicate. His experience on the road to Damascus changed him and this experienced changed him even further.

And yet we also will see what he saw. This is no “pie in the sky” as some mock. This is an awaiting reality with a power unknown here on earth. This is what is called “heaven”, but it isn’t people reclining with their harps. This is the eternal pageantry that will illuminate all of creation with the luminescence of the Lamb. Basking in His light we will have new bodies that can worship without distraction and without the restraints of time. This is why He suffered and died. And here He is, beaming with the glory of the resurrection, and exalted above every creature.

This is who men spat upon. This is who was lashed unmercifully. This is who wore the crown of thorns. This is who was mocked. This is who had his beard plucked from his face. This is who was impaled upon those Roman planks. This is who breathed His last breath and then was speared post-mortem.

But the transformation is beyond human understanding. He who bore such brutality now reigns with the brightness of His triumph over death. No longer a servant, He is now Lord of Lords. And who deserves Him? Whose works have ushered them into His presence? Whose life was so holy that they earned a place before Him? Oh dear friends no one can offer one single shred of good works to purchase a place in that heavenly Temple. All human works and motives shrivel up in His presence, and every creature given a place in His presence must present the cross as their payment. We will be there because of Him, all because of Him. Self righteousness will be banished, and pride will be history. It will be Jesus who deserves all the glory and honor, and we will continually give it to Him as we live forever in an unspeakable mystery.

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