By John D. LaVier
The wise man of the Old Testament declared: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing” (Proverbs 25:2). God seemingly delights to hide something away and then in His own time to bring that thing out of its hiding place, manifesting it to His amazed and wondering creatures, and thus bring glory to Himself.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.” With the words of this text in mind, let us turn to the book of Colossians and notice in each of the first three chapters some things which have been hid.
The Mystery Hid
In Colossians 1:26 the Apostle Paul refers to the dispensation given to him by God; “even the mystery which hath been hid.” What was this mystery which had been hid? It was the dispensation given to Paul, the dispensation of grace, during which God is saving sinners by grace, through faith in the crucified and resurrected Saviour, and making them members of the Church, the Body of Christ.
The word “mystery” is used in the Scriptures in regard to many things. For example, we read of the mystery of Israel’s blindness during this age (Romans 11:25); the mystery of the Church as being a joint-body composed of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6); the mystery of the indwelling Christ (Colossians 1:27); the mystery of the vital union between Christ and the members of His Body (Ephesians 5:32); and the mystery of the translation of living believers at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:51). However, we need to take care lest we reduce the mystery to a mere feature of it. The foregoing are but various phases of the mystery. The mystery proper is the dispensation, the dispensation of the mystery.
Some years ago we were in the scenic state of Colorado. As we stood one day on the top of Mount Evans, we could see the mighty snow-capped peaks rearing their heads toward heaven, and we could also see other mountain ranges farther beyond, but we could not see the long valley between. It was hid from our view. So it was with the prophets of old. They saw two great prophetic mountain peaks: the first coming of Christ as the suffering Messiah, and the second coming of Christ as the reigning Messiah, but they did not see the valley in between. That valley was the dispensation of grace. It was hid from their view.
This present dispensation and all of God’s purposes in it, having to do with the calling out of the Body of Christ and its glorious character and destiny, is the mystery that was hid. It was hid, not in the Scriptures, but in the mind and heart of God. Israel’s prophets knew nothing about it, nor did Christ as the minister of the circumcision make it known when He was here upon earth. It was not until Israel had been set aside that God made the mystery known through the Apostle Paul.
All of God’s purposes for the world had been connected with the nation Israel. But Israel rejected Christ in the days of His flesh, then refused the call to repentance, and blasphemed the Holy Ghost. It must then have appeared that the purposes of the Almighty had been defeated, but then it was that the manifold (many-sided) wisdom of God was made known. Then God revealed through Paul the fact that He had a secret purpose. He had foreseen Israel’s rejection of the Christ, and had foreordained that Israel likewise should be rejected, and that during their rejection He would dispense grace to all the world, and bring to completion His glorious Church. Now the secret is out; no longer hid. Now we are commanded “to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9).
God’s Treasures Hid
Men who have valuable possessions usually seek a safe place in which to hide them. God has a safe place in which to hide His treasures. That place is in His own dear Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the jewel box in Whom are hid all the rare treasures of the Godhead, for the Word declares: “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
“All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” Who can declare their value? The hymn writer put it:
Precious, more precious;
Wealth that can never be told;
O, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Precious, more precious than gold.
In his epistle to the Romans the inspired apostle wonderingly cries out: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” And these riches are all in Christ. All the treasures, all the riches, all the “pleroma” (fullness) of the Godhead resided “in Him.”
How blessed the two little words “in Him,” which occur so often. Everything of any value is “in Him.” We read in Colossians 1:19, “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” The words “the Father” are in italics, and have been supplied. If any words should be added it should be the words “the Godhead,” or as the marginal reading puts it, “For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell.”
In Colossians 2:9 a similar expression is found: “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Then follows a tremendous statement: “And ye are complete in Him.” There are two great teachings presented in Colossians: (a) All the fullness of the Godhead is “in Him.” (b) The saints are made full “in Him.” There is nothing we need which is not to be found in Him, for in Him are hid all the Divine treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Christ is heaven’s treasure chest. All is hidden away in Him, and there is a sense in which He also is hidden. He is the hidden Christ. All during Old Testament times He was hidden. Then He was hidden in the womb of the virgin. After His birth He was hidden in Egypt. Returning to the land He was hidden in Nazareth, with one brief glimpse of Him as a boy of twelve. Then He was crucified, and for three days and three nights He was hid in the heart of the earth. But God raised Him from the dead, and He went back into heaven. Now for almost two thousand years He has been hidden beyond the blue, discernible only to faith’s eye.
Some day Christ will be hid no longer. He will be revealed from heaven: The Revelation of Jesus Christ! That is the title of the last book in the Bible. First, though, he will reveal Himself to His own, as He calls them home to be forever with Himself. Then He shall be revealed to all the world. Every eye shall see Him. All shall perceive and know that He is the Incarnate Wisdom of God, that all the treasures of the Godhead, all the deep and precious treasures of wisdom and knowledge, are hid in Him. Then every knee shall bow before Him; His name shall be exalted; His praise shall be on every lip. Then shall be days of heaven upon earth. Lord Jesus, haste the day!
The Saints Hid
In the opening verses of Colossians 3 the apostle reminds the saints of their exalted position in Christ. Having died with Him, and been raised with Him, and seated with Him, they are now to be done with the things of earth and to set their affection on things above. We read: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The believer is to reckon himself as dead to sin, but alive unto God; as dead to self, but alive to Christ; as dead to the world, but alive to the things of heaven.
A most blessed statement is found in this verse: “Hid with Christ in God.” Christ is hid, and the saints are hid with Him. Hid in God; what a safe hiding place. The storms of life may buffet us, but we will not fear, for we are hid with Christ in God. The enemy of our soul may threaten us, but he will not prevail, for we are hid with Christ in God. In all these things we are more than conquerors, for we are hid with Christ in God. What a place of blissful nearness; hid with Christ in the heart of the Eternal One, the object of His love, the child of His care.
The saints are hid with Christ. It is not surprising then if they go unrecognized by the world. John wrote: “The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” The pilgrims of faith wear but humble garb, and veiled is their high degree. We are hid with Christ, be we are waiting. We are waiting for God’s Son from heaven, and for the manifestation of the sons of God. “When Christ, who is our life, is manifested, then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory.” Our bodies of humiliation will be exchanged for bodies of glory. As we have borne the image of the earthy so shall we then bear the image of the heavenly. We shall be conformed to the image of Christ. We shall be like Him, in His likeness. Then it will be seen by all that we are indeed the sons of God, and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
We went into a friend’s home one wintry day to observe a miracle of nature. On one of his walks through the woods this friend had picked up a cocoon, and had hung it up on a kitchen wall. That cold morning he called us in to see what had happened. The cocoon had opened up, and from out of it had come a beautiful moth. As we looked at the ugly cocoon, and than at the beautiful thing which had emerged from it, the thought came, we Christians are now in the cocoon stage, but some day we are coming out. We will be manifested to a wondering world. How that fragile creature got out of that tough cocoon, I do not know, but at God’s time it came out. The time is coming when the graves will be opened, when the power of death will be broken, when every redeemed child of God will soar away yonder to appear with Christ the Head in matchless, marvelous, fadeless glory.
This article was written by Pastor John LaVier back in January of 1955. We are thankful for the faithful ministry of this dear saint of God who went home to be with the Lord in September, 2005.