The Secret of the Lord

Dr. Brian Allison

I want to share something with you which I would describe as mystical, and I have chosen this word deliberately. I want to share with you something that I believe is for all of us as Christians. Generally speaking (and by way of backdrop), sometimes we do not enter into certain kinds of spiritual experience, which are indeed available to us in Jesus Christ, because of an ignorance that these experiences are even possible. If the truth of the Word of God (regardless of what it entails) is not presented to us, if we fail to have the opportunity to receive that truth, then we will not experience the life and power which a real understanding of that truth offers; because depending upon what we hear, with respect to the truth, it occasions and gives rise to faith, which in turn, fully embraces and secures that truth which has given it birth. So, we do not enter into certain kinds of spiritual experience because we have failed to understand, in faith, the truth undergirding that particular experience. God does not work in a vacuum. We must hear the truth, and when we have heard the truth, we must allow that truth to speak to us and to give rise to the faith that allows us to fully and experientially embrace the truth, and thus its reality and power.

God confides in certain ones

May God allow you to hear the truth I present in this message. It is so crucial to understand this truth if we are to enjoy the very life and fellowship of God. Again, what I say here is mystical, yet it is critically relevant to our mature spirituality. The truth I want to share with you is overwhelming, and yet it is so attainable. Psalm 25:14 reads, "The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant" (NASB). The Berkley Version reads, "The companionship of the LORD is with them that fear Him." This translation does capture an important aspect of the original term, but is lacking in conveying the essential aspect of the original. The Revised Standard Version translates this verse, "The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him." Again, this translation captures an important aspect of the original term, but is also lacking in conveying the essential aspect of the original. The New International Version reads, "The LORD confides in those who fear Him." I think this translation (along with the NASB) captures the essential aspect of the original.

Think about this language for a moment. What does it mean that the Lord confides in certain ones. To confide means to share secrets or private information in the context of trust. What we are considering is confidential communion or conversation, which implies intimate company. A special, close relationship is presupposed in this exchange of private matters; and thus the Berkley translation renders the original as "companionship;" and the RSV as "friendship." So, in the context of this friendship relationship, in the context of companionship, the Lord confides; He reveals His secret.

This thought of companionship or friendship with God is absolutely staggering. Similarly, Psalm 55:12 helps us to understand this concept, "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; or is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend. We who had sweet fellowship [same term in the original] together." Again, the idea is that of private, intimate sharing of hearts. Recently I had dinner with the leader of a Christian institution. I have known this Christian brother for a number of years. After our meal together, we were engaged in confidential communion. He shared with me private, privileged information. He trusted me enough to open up his heart. And the Lord is pleased to share His secret with those who enjoy a special, close relationship with Him. Oh, the joy of sweet communion with God!

A secret requires revelation

Now, to actually become party to a secret, the possessor of the secret must choose to reveal it. It is self-evident that if someone has a secret, he or she must decide to reveal it, if someone else is to know it. The Lord has decided to reveal His secrets. For instance, in Amos 3:7, we read, "Surely the LORD God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel [same term] to His servants the prophets." So, the securing of the knowledge of secrets requires revelation. The simple, but astounding, point is: God is pleased to grant unto us inner revelation of Himself. God has chosen to intimately disclose Himself to certain human hearts. Of course, when I talk about divine revelation, I am not talking about revelation that has the character of being publicly authoritative, comparable to the Scriptures, and thus is binding on the consciences of others. The canon of Scripture is closed. And yet, God is still active and moving; and He is still pleased to disclose Himself. Now, unless we understand this fact, then we, of course, will not have the correlative faith to actually embrace it, and thus know the power of it in our own lives. Unless we really believe that God is pleased to give us inner revelation, we will not experience it. The content of truth necessarily defines the object of faith; and the presence and expression of this faith brings us into the sphere and power of that truth. Whatever is not of faith is sin, and is thus displeasing to God.

God speaks in the heart

True spirituality involves a living faith. God is pleased to communicate directly and spiritually in our hearts. In other words, God is pleased to give us new or fresh insight, new or fresh understanding; or, if you like, spiritual light or illumination. For example, recently I preached on the text Galatians 2:20. I had studied this verse on various occasions in the past, but when I studied it recently, seeking the Lord for direction and help, I believe that He proffered fresh understanding – spiritual illumination. Galatians 2:20 teaches about being crucified with Christ, but what was 'revealed' to me was a slightly different rendering of the wording, yet still conveying the same truth. The words that strongly impressed themselves on me were, "We have been nailed to the cross with Christ." Those words gave me a completely new appreciation of what this verse teaches. So, God is pleased to give us fresh understanding, new light, unusual insight, spiritual illumination by which He provides us with His personal guidance and direction in our present circumstances. God personally and mystically comes to us and spiritually speaks in our hearts. He graciously reveals His heart secrets to us.

Typically the thoughts of God imperceptibly blend and collapse with human thoughts, but they have a certain character about them which distinguishes them from our native thoughts, although they are clearly of the same nature as our own thoughts. The thoughts of God subtly become a part of the natural flow of consciousness, of thinking, and yet there is the internal witness of the Spirit accompanying them, confirming to us that God has indeed revealed Himself. Often we know that it is God revealing, even though His thoughts quietly become part of the natural stream of our thoughts when, first, there is a sense of conviction, burden, or certainty attending those thoughts – for instance, "Yes, I need to go and talk with that Christian brother;" or "I need to go and help that Christian sister;" or, "I need to give this amount of money to that cause;" etc. Second, there is a peace that often accompanies the inner feeling of constraint – for instance, "Yes, I must do this, and I am settled about it, regardless of what it involves." Third, there is the absence of self-promotion, self-ambition, self-gratification, etc. associated with the inner revelation. This inner revelation always brings glory to Him; and often it is an expression of His love in us and through us, so that His name is praised.

The inner revelation of God is God's spiritual speaking, His mystical voice. Jeremiah 23:16ff. reads, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise Me, "The LORD has said, 'You will have peace'"; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, "Calamity will not come upon you." But who has stood in the council [same word in the original] of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?'" Again, in Jeremiah 23:22, we read, "But if they had stood in My council [same word; 'My secret'], then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds." The revelation of the secret of God is in the form of speaking, that is, words. Recently I was preparing for an evening service. I prayed to the Lord, asking Him what He wanted me to speak on. And here is what came to my heart: Loving Christ. I was absolutely convinced that this topic was that on which the Lord wanted me to speak. Subsequently different folk were deeply blessed and challenged by the teaching.

The inner revelation of wisdom

Through the speaking of God, in the communication of words, we receive God's wisdom. God is pleased to reveal His wisdom – what we are to do in a certain situation; how we are to relate to a person; how we are to respond to someone who has become upset, discouraged, or depressed; what we are to do given certain circumstances; etc. Notice the language of Job 15 in which Eliphaz is speaking, "Were you [Job] the first man to be born, or were you brought forth before the hills? Do you hear the secret counsel [same term] of God, and limit wisdom to yourself?" (v. 7). This latter statement has the form of parallelism. God's secret counsel is His wisdom. Job 33 is a very interesting passage with respect to our theme in this message. Elihu, the self-appointed spokesman of God, says, "Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride; He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol" (vv. 14-18).

The inner revelation of God's ways and activity

Now, more specifically, what is the secret which the Lord is pleased to reveal? Consider the text again – "The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant." We have a parallel structure here, that is, the second statement parallels the first one; the second statement echoes the first one. The 'secret' parallels the 'covenant'. Thus, the secret pertains to life with God, relationship with God; more specifically, to knowing the saving ways and activity of God – what God is pleased to do, what God is pleased to accomplish, how God is pleased to deal with His redeemed people. For instance, in January of this year, different ones from the church gathered on a Monday night to seek to discern what the Lord wanted us to do with respect to how we should reach out to the community. We had an open discussion, and there were differing views. Consequently, we committed ourselves to go away for a week and pray about it. When we convened a week later, the Lord had revealed to us what we were to do. We were convinced about that. Different ones shared what God had said to them during the week; and I shared how I had struggled during the week to know the Lord's will, and how on that very morning of the day of our reconvening, the Lord had revealed something to me, which was later that day confirmed by some literature that was put into my hands. We, as group, realized that the Lord wanted us to knock on the doors of the homes in Unionville. God had 'confided' in us; and we were confident of His personal leading.

The recipients of God's secret

God's secret is not open to everyone, but only to those who evidence a certain spiritual disposition – "...for those who fear Him." We must have a proper attitude toward God before He will disclose Himself to us. Our attitude must honour Him. Those who have a 'big view' of God, those who recognize His immensity, those who 'walk softly' before Him, those who are filled with awe and reverence, those who are afraid to transgress His law and be disobedient to Him are those who will know His secret. These are the ones to whom God is pleased to share His heart, to give direct guidance, to provide sufficient wisdom for the present moment. Notice how Proverbs 3:32 states the matter, "For the crooked man is an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate [same word in the original; it can be translated private counsel] with the upright." Recall, that to fear God means to turn away from evil – Proverbs 3:7, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil;" Proverbs 8:13, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate;" Proverbs 16:6, "By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil." To fear God and to be righteous refer basically to the same behaviour. To fear God, to live uprightly, results in tremendous spiritual blessings – confidential communion with the Lord; intimate fellowship with God; sweet companionship with Christ. Thus, Jesus says, "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him...If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him" (Jn. 14:21,23).

So, God is pleased to open up His life and heart to us, sharing His secret, as we fear Him and are obedient to His will. At the point of obedience, we discover the wonder of God's presence; and that is the experience of joy. It is mystical; but if you do not 'hear' this truth, you will not enter into it, because you will fail to have the correlative faith to embrace it so that you may know the power of it. God is pleased to give us inner revelation, and the more we are open to it, the clearer it will become to us when He does give it. As you continue to cultivate the 'hearing heart', and walk in this truth by faith, God will increasingly take you to spiritual places and levels that you have not hitherto experienced nor enjoyed. He will take you to, as of yet, unexplored depths of His being. He will push back new spiritual horizons of which at present you have not even conceived. The secret of the Lord knows no limit nor end. It is as deep as the heart of God Himself and as inexhaustible as His mind. This glorious honour has been given to the people of God. Jesus said, "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. 15:14,15). Praise the Lord!