Study this excellent article. Understand what God has done!
But as it is written: "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and have not entered into the heart of man, whatsoever things God has prepared for those who love Him" (I Cor. 2:9).
What are these "things" that the senses haven't experienced nor have even occurred to the mind of man for his joy? Are they future things reserved in Heaven as rewards for those who love God? No, for in the next sentence Paul writes in the past tense, "For to us God has revealed them through the Spirit." According to him these things were in the past unperceived and unknown by man, but they have since become known through the Spirit's revelation to us who love God.
In a similar way, when His disciples asked Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables, He explained,
Because to you is it given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to those it is not given. For whoever has, it shall be given to him and he shall abound; but whoever does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away from him. For this reason in parables to them do I speak, for seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand...But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear. For, assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men craved to see the things you see and did not see them, and to hear the things you hear and did not hear them (Matt. 13:11-17).
In connection with these statements about "things" by Jesus and Paul, consider this one by Peter:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Pet. 1:10-12, NIV).
Do you see how these statements by Jesus, Paul, and Peter harmonize? They all speak of certain "things" which were at one time unknown, even by God's own inquisitive prophets, who itched to see them, but which have since become known. Yet these mysterious things became known, not because man in his own wisdom figured them out, but only because God chose to reveal them in His own time. And how did God reveal them? By the Spirit through inspiration of the apostles who preached them as the gospel (1 Cor. 2:10; I Pet. 1:12). Thus, Paul calls the gospel "the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19).
So then, what are these mysterious things'? So far, we know that they are: 1) things hidden for long ages from the ancient prophets and from all "the sons of men" (Eph. 3:5); 2) things predicted by those prophets of the sufferings and glories of the Christ (1 Pet. 1:11); 3) things revealed by the gospel (1 Pet. 1:12); 4) things concerning salvation (1 Pet. 1:10); and 5) things relating to the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 13:11).
When Paul quoted the words of the prophet ("Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard..."), which began this article, the apostle had been addressing this very subject. He was saying,
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the ages to our glory; which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But just as it is written: "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard..." (1 Cor. 2:7-9)
This passage adds to our knowledge of these things the following: 1) they comprise "the wisdom of God in a mystery," 2) God foreordained His "wisdom" before the ages, and 3) not even Satan knew it fully, for he would never have moved his "seed" (Gen. 3:15) to crucify "the Lord of glory." For it was through the cross - the irony and the mystery of the cross - that God defeated Satan and his wicked host:
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2:15, NIV).
So, it's clear that the cross is the heart of God's mystery; His secret counsels remaining hidden of necessity until His work of the cross, and His Son's resurrection, and ascension - and then He would reveal His mystery in the gospel.
If we sum up all the things we've considered so far and characterize them by one word, it would be this word - CHRIST. Christ is God's hidden wisdom, foreordained before the ages to our glory, and finally and fully revealed in the gospel.
I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may he encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:1-3, NIV).
And to us Gentiles there is an additional facet to the mystery that's especially heartening.
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:25-26, NIV).
Christ in the Gentiles is a significant part of the mystery, which God camouflaged so well in the ancient Scriptures that some of the early disciples needed special help to accept it. But that hidden treasure was widely scattered in the Law and the Prophets (Gen. 12:3; Psa. 72:17; Isa. 2:2-3; Zech. 9:10), and it remained for the apostles to unearth it:
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 (Eph. 3:2-6, NIV)
If the content of the mystery is Christ foreordained before creation, "as a lamb slaughtered from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), hidden even from God's holy agents of the multi-layered, cryptic Scriptures (Matt. 13:17), and manifested at the completion of Jesus' work on the earth (Acts 2:36), then the mystery is essentially what the Bible is about. And if the mystery constitutes the spinal column of the whole Bible, then wouldn't an understanding of it give us a reliable and healthy perspective toward God's whole counsel? Wouldn't it keep us on the right path?
This is what the Lord says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16, NIV).
Those "ancient paths" Jesus applied to Himself as the place where "you shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:29)· And by walking in "the good way" Paul said you would be shielded from deceptive teachings:
in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments (Col. 2:2-4, NIV).
Through the teaching of Christ in the ancient Scriptures the apostles converted multitudes, and after their conversion the apostles strengthened, confirmed, and edified them by the same body of writings:
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... (Rom. 16:25-26, NIV).
Paul also indicated that the prophetic writings are designed to encourage us and teach us:
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom. 15:3-4, NIV).
Of course, there's no single right way to teach the mystery, and I won't presume to tell you that my way of teaching it is the best way for you. I'll be bold, though, in saying that a return to the beginning of the ancient Scriptures, to Genesis, would prove fruitful for us, for in that book we first find the gospel, in mystery-form, proclaimed throughout. By studying it, in collaboration with the apostolic writings, you'll be able to "bring forth" such treasures, new things and old things (Matt. 13:52), as these: 1) the old creation (Gen. 1; Jno. 1; Heb. 1; Col. 1) and the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Jno. 1; 2 Cor. 4:6), both realized through the Word of God, as it brings them from darkness to light and from chaos to cosmos (order); 2) the Powers of Law, Sin, and Death (Gen. 3 and Rom. 3-8), and the freedom from them by Christ's law (1 Cor. 15:54-57; James 1:25); 3) the promises of God to Abraham concerning his seed and his inheritance (Gen. 12-22; Gal. 3-4); 4) the unusual birth of that promised seed (Gen. 17, 18, 21; Isa. 7:14; Lk. 1:26-39); 5) the sacrifice and resurrection of that same seed (Gen. 22; Heb. 11:17-19; Jno. 19-20).
It has taken us here in our homes almost a year just to get through Gen. 1-22, but we're taking our sweet time: the "things" of God are things to be savoured and enjoyed; they are things to meditate long on and to give thanks for.
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: yea, Father; for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight. All things have been delivered unto me of my Father.. and no one knoweth who the Son is, save the Father; and who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whomsover the Son willeth to reveal him. And turning to the disciples, he said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see: for I say unto you, that many prophets and kings desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not (Lk. 10:21-24, ASV).