Long before humans existed, God already knew that they would reject him and fall into sin and death, and he graciously planned in exquisite detail how he would rescue them and bring them back to himself. God imagined these details for his own joy and pleasure in contemplation, but he told no one his imaginations in great detail. When the time was right and God actually pulled off this Rescue, it would bowl everyone over in amazement, but that was far in the distant future. For now, God had a secret that would be his alone. Even then, the universe was filled with millions of spirit beings that we call angels, but God did not share his plans with them.
God created mankind and human beings rebelled. For thousands of years, generations came and went, but God did not tell his secret to these ancient peoples either (Eph. 3:4). Through the centuries, God dropped hints and clues concerning his secret through special men and women called prophets–at times in fascinating detail–but God revealed only the details he wished to reveal. Not even inquisitive kings could learn more than that (Luke 10:24). The prophets themselves had questions. Who was this Rescuer and when would he appear? The prophets asked the Holy Spirit for more information. They searched and inquired. Still God did not reveal his secret–nor to people in general, not to prophets in detail, not to spiritual beings, “principalities and powers,” who longed to look into it also (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Then, when the time was exactly right, God sent the Rescuer, the Son of God made man, whom we know as Jesus the Christ. By his faithful life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection over sin and death, Jesus rescued humankind for God. Jesus then sent his special messengers called apostles, to tell the whole world what God had done, to announce to everyone God’s eternal secret in all its glorious detail. Now the secret was out–to peoples who formerly did not know, to kings and commoners, to all nations everywhere (Eph. 3:7-9; Col. 1:5-6).
Yet with all the revealing and announcing, the preaching and explaining, the real meaning and effect of God’s secret remained unknown. The heart of the matter could not be understood in all its splendor simply by being told. It also had to be seen. And seen it was, and is, and will be forever. It is displayed in living color every day, in the lives of the “church”–every human rescued by God, you and me included. We are watched by humans and observed by angels (1 Peter 2:9-12; Eph. 3:9-10). They see all of us being changed from what we were into the likeness of Jesus Christ himself (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:7). The secret is out–let us obey God, show his beauty and wisdom and grace, and so doing bring glory to him throughout the universe (Col. 1:9-14).