God Shares His Secret Thoughts

Dr. Brian Allison

Do you have any secrets? I am sure that you do. We all have secrets; and we try to guard many of them. We have personal secrets, family secrets, business secrets, etc. Now, having or keeping secrets is not necessarily bad. Some psychologists maintain that in keeping secrets, we create internal stress which may eventually result in detrimental physical health. I do not believe that this is always the case. Sometimes it is good to keep secrets, especially out of a sense of loyalty and love; and the power of such heart expressions can in themselves be quite medicinal and satisfying.

Even God has secrets, and He disclosed His secrets to chosen vessels. God was pleased to make His mind known to prophets, prophetesses, and apostles who, in turn, were to proclaim or declare to others what God had first spoken to them. When we think of God internally speaking to prophets, prophetesses, or apostles, we may rightly speak of the prophetic speaking of God. God often spoke first, before He acted. He was pleased to speak and reveal what He was about to do before He actually did it. Amos 3:7 reads, "Surely the LORD God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets." The internal speaking of God, at times, took the form of visions and dreams. For instance, Numbers 12:6 reads, "He [the Lord] said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream.'" These forms of prophetic speaking were not vague, nebulous, or cryptic in content, for God communicated through simple words or speech. God actually spoke His words into the hearts of His chosen instruments. 1 Samuel 3:19 reads, "Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD."

Again, when God was pleased to speak in words to the hearts of the prophets, they, in turn, were to proclaim the divinely given message in order that there would be possible moral and spiritual profit experienced by the people. This is the emphasis in Ezekiel 3:22,27, "And the hand of the LORD was on me there, and He said to me, 'Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you...But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth, and you will say to them, "Thus says the Lord GOD." He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.'" In this message, we will consider the prophetic speaking of God, concentrating our thoughts on Ephesians 3:3-6 which reads, "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."

God shares and speaks His own thoughts

Now, Ephesians 3:3-6 is not an exhaustive, nor comprehensive, reference to the prophetic speaking of God, but we can learn some salient aspects of this form of divine speaking from these verses. The first thing that we learn is that God is pleased to reveal His own thoughts – "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery" (v. 3a). The technical term for God's prophetic speaking is revelation. God, in particular, was pleased to directly and clearly impart certain thoughts to the heart of the apostle Paul. We cannot know God's thoughts unless He is pleased to share them. In so far as God is pleased to share such, there is 'divine revelation'; and, of course, to share one's thoughts typically means to speak one's thoughts.

It is an incredible fact that God would be pleased to share His thoughts, and will, with people. In 1 Corinthians 2:11-13, we read an astounding statement; and in many respects, it is incomprehensible, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God [What things? – His thoughts]. Which things [that is, these thoughts] we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." The Holy Spirit initially communicated God's thoughts to the apostles and prophets who proclaimed them; and the same Spirit enables believers to receive and understand those thoughts which have been recorded; and, in this sense, we really have 'the mind of Christ' (1 Cor. 2:16). Now, I do not know how the Spirit accomplishes this. It defies human analysis and imagination; and if it were not recorded, I am sure that we would not believe it. But the Word of God teaches, in no uncertain terms, that our God, who is eternal and infinite, has imparted His thoughts to the hearts of human beings. Do you find that incredible? Do you find that impossible? Well, it is true.

God communicates His mind in such a way, through His Spirit, that we can know that mind; not simply think about His thinking, but actually experience His thinking. Does this fact humble you? It is an astounding privilege; I find it staggering, beyond belief. And do you see what this fact implies? It implies God's favourable evaluation of us. God must highly value us, His creatures, if He is willing to impart His thoughts to the hearts of human beings. This truth is a statement on the depth of His love for us, that He would be willing to condescend and make it possible for us to know His mind, and thus to think His thoughts. Usually anyone who shares, cares. God shares, and He cares. God indeed is a God of love, and He wants you to know His mind through the revelation which He has graciously given.

God shares and speaks His self-knowledge

Not only does God share and speak His own thoughts, God shares and speaks His self-knowledge. That truth is implied in Ephesians 3:3a – "That by revelation there was made known to me..." The revelation of God is the form by which He is pleased to make Himself known. God discloses Himself and, of course, to share and speak one's personal thoughts is to impart knowledge of oneself (i.e., self-knowledge). This past week I met with a pastor associate. When he was one of my students, I did not really have a fancy for him. He did not seem to be the type of person with whom I could socially connect; there was not a relational chemistry. But over the past number of years, I have met with him for lunch and some fellowship. Even this past week, as he was sharing his thoughts, I came to know him even better. The simple fact is that as we share our thoughts, we really impart self-knowledge; we reveal who we are, and thus the recipient of that sharing acquires a greater understanding of who we are. So it is with God. With sharing and speaking His thoughts, God opened Himself up to us. He revealed His person and His way. God's revelation allowed for, and resulted in, the knowledge of God. There is no knowledge of God without the prior revelation of God. We can know absolutely nothing about Him – what He is pleased to do, what His character is like – unless He is first pleased to reveal Himself. Do you see what this implies? God must take the initiative; He must decide to make Himself known. As we read in Job 11:7, "Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?" Can you by searching, find out God? The implied answer is an emphatic, "No!" Unless God decides to make Himself known, we remain in the spiritual dark concerning Him and His ways. Wonder of wonders, God took the initiative and decided to make His mind known to us. That is grace, wonderful grace!

God shares and speaks His secret

What has God been pleased to make known? – "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery" (v. 3a), or if you like, God's secret. Now, it is obvious that the nature of a secret means that unless the possessor of a secret is willing to reveal its contents, it remains hidden. For centuries God was pleased to keep something a secret – "which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men" (v. 5a). God had concealed some truth for a time from humanity, truth unattainable by human effort or energy; and yet, in a point of history, God was pleased to make known this truth to human instruments who, in turn, were to share it with all – "as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and [New Testament] prophets in the Spirit" (v. 5b).

Again, we must stand amazed that God would be pleased to do this. God has not only shared His thoughts, but He has let us in on His secrets. Doesn't that speak of intimacy? God says to us (and I speak reverently), "I want to share something with you, something about Me. I want to let you in on what I am thinking and what I have planned." I trust that this fact humbles you, my Christian brothers and sisters. What a great God! Again it underscores the special relationship that we sustain with Him, doesn't it? As believers, we (to use different language) are the friends of God, for one shares secrets with friends. Recall that Jesus said to His disciples, "You are my friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (Jn. 15:14f.). We are the friends of God, for He has shared with us His secret. Does that move you? Does that stir your heart? Are you drawn out to worship this God, and praise Him? Surely, we must ask, "Lord, how is it that I, a rebellious sinner, have been elevated to the status of Your friend, even as Abraham (for he was called a friend of God)?" Have you ever viewed yourself in this way? As a believer, you are God's friend; and I trust that He is your best friend. If this truth does not stir your love for Him, I do not know what will. If this truth does not move you to worship Him, I do not know what will.

God shares and speaks about His Son

God does not only share His own thoughts, and He not only shares His self-knowledge, but He shares and speaks about His Son. What is the secret spoken by God? It essentially concerns Christ – "And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ" (v. 4). Christ is the essential content of the mystery, that is, the hidden wisdom of God. He is the essential message. The full truth of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord was concealed for centuries, and now it has been revealed. The Old Testament contained veiled prophetic references, various predictions, shadows and types of Jesus Christ; but now, through the apostles and prophets, God has made known His full and final Truth. Jesus Christ is the heart of God's saving plan and redemptive purposes.

The apostle Paul here wrote, concerning the mystery, "as I wrote before in brief" (v. 3b). A better translation would be, "as I wrote above in brief." Paul had already made reference to this mystery, and so we read in verse 4, "And by referring to this [what I already wrote], when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ." Where did Paul refer to this mystery earlier in this Ephesian epistle? Consider, for instance, Ephesians 1:8ff., "In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth." The whole of creation will be 'gathered' or 'collected' together under one Head, even Christ; and thus Christ will have the pre-eminence. So, Colossians 1:18 reads, "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything."

All created things now have their meaning and significance in reference to Jesus Christ; all created things will find their ultimate purpose, reason, and goal in Him; all created things will find their culmination and fulfilment in Him. Christ is the cosmic focal point. The purposes of God are being realized through Him. 'The summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth' simply means that the whole of reality shall be shaped and defined in terms of Christ's existence and His Lordship. And as a result, Christ will receive all glory, and all praise, and all blessing. The worship of, and service to, Jesus Christ must be the purpose and justification for the existence of any human being. This is the heart of the mystery – the pre-eminence of Christ.

Now, this is what God planned and purposed. Is that true for you? Does Christ have the pre-eminence, first place, in your life? Be honest now. What should it mean for Christ to have first place? It means that He must have first take on your time; He must have first take on your energy; He must have first take on your possessions and money; He must have first take on your commitment, your service, and your interests. He must come first. Has that been true for you? God has purposed that Christ should have first place in everything. Jesus must come before your friends, and relationships; He must come before your family, before your children, your grandchildren, your wife, your husband. He must be the focal point of your life, even as He is the focal point of the cosmos. Has He had first place in your life this past week? Are you more concerned about talking with Him in prayer than talking with your mate or friend? Are you more concerned about meeting with Him for fellowship than attending to your own affairs and business? Is it more important to you to find Him in His Word than to relax and wind down by watching a sitcom? If not, then we need to repent. We need to repent because God has purposed that in all things, and by all means, Christ will have the pre-eminence. And in so far as He has the pre-eminence in our lives, God is pleased with us, and we worship Him acceptably.

God shares and speaks Christ's atonement

This 'summing up of all things in Christ' is realized and accomplished through Christ's atoning, saving work – His death for sin. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:1,2, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony [this word can be translated 'mystery'] of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." The mystery of Christ concerns His atoning work; and it is through that atoning work – that death for sin – that Christ is actually summing up all things, bringing all things together, that is, reconciling all things under God. With His atoning work, He brings reconciliation between God and human, between human and human. He brings real peace. And so Paul refers to this in our passage of focus. We read, "To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs [with the Jews] and fellow members [with the Jews] of the body, and fellow partakers [with the Jews] of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (v. 6).

The Gentiles along with the Jews are heirs of the eternal inheritance – resurrection glory and eternal joy; and not only that, the Gentiles are bona fide heavenly citizens of the Church; and not only that, the Gentiles are fellow-sharers of the promise of the Holy Spirit and eternal life. That is the mystery. That is the grace of God. God has declared that in Jesus Christ, we shall be showered with eternal blessings. Obviously, that is good news, isn't it? And so the mystery or the secret of God is not only proclaimed and communicated as good news, but the benefits and the blessings entailed in the mystery are only realized through the preaching and receiving of the good news, that is, the Gospel of Christ. That is how we must understand the phrase at the end of verse 6, "To be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."

The Gospel is foundational and necessary for salvation, and for experiencing eternal life; and we ought never to forget that. If you do not hear the truth of the Gospel, and if you do not receive the Gospel message, then you will not know eternal life. You will not be a fellow-member, a fellow-sharer, a fellow-heir. Ephesians 1:13 reads, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." God's long-kept secret to save sinners through the death and resurrection of His Son has now been revealed, and this is the good news – God's sufficient answer for the appalling plight and condition of the human race.

An appeal

I give a final word to you who are still strangers to God's saving grace; to you who are still in your sins and transgressions; to you who are governed by your pride, self-sufficiency, and arrogance. May I say humbly, my friend, you need to repent and believe in the truth of the Gospel, the saving message of Jesus Christ. The grand secret of God has been revealed. That secret concerns His Son; the fact that His Son is Saviour and Lord, that He died for sinners. This glorious mystery has been, and is being, proclaimed. God is calling everyone, everywhere, to repent, and to put his or her faith in Jesus Christ for the saving of their soul from future wrath and judgement.

Maybe you have made a profession of faith; but that is no guarantee that you are saved, my friend. The Word of God says that 'by their fruit, you shall know them' (Mt. 7:20). Those who are truly saved produce spiritual fruit (i.e., godly characteristics and virtues). Have you shown spiritual fruit in keeping with true repentance? Can you be habitually enraged, angry, and impatient, and yet truly have the Spirit of God? Can you consistently lie and utter falsehood, and yet justifiably believe that you have the Spirit of God? There are many Christians who are self-deceived, having walked the aisle to the altar as a young person. Is this true of you? Maybe you know deep down in your heart that you have not been living for Christ, that He has not had the pre-eminence in your life, that you have not given your all to Him; and yet you have professed His name. You know deep down inside that your profession of faith is merely 'fire insurance' to keep you out of hell, isn't it? You may glibly profess, "I want to go to heaven. Yes, I believe Christ died for me." Do you? The Scriptures teach, "Therefore if any man [any woman] is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things [have] passed away; behold, new things [have] come" (2 Cor. 5:17). How is your heart, my friend? "Behold, now is 'THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,' behold, now is 'THE DAY OF SALVATION'" (2 Cor. 6:2a). My unsaved friend, I plead with you to come to the cross, to humble yourself before God, and accept Christ as your Saviour and Lord. You will most definitely acknowledge Christ as Saviour and Lord one day. It will either be before the throne of grace now, or it will be before the throne of judgement later. The choice is yours. Won't you say 'yes' to Jesus Christ today?