‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12).’
I have spoken *before on this subject of the revelation of Jesus Christ, i.e., how God has revealed Him to His people. God’s Word the Bible, makes it clear that Jesus came to live a life of perfection on behalf of His elect; to die for them, to be raised to life and to ascend into heaven. From there He will come to gather them to Himself (Matthew 24:31) and to His Father to live with them forever (Revelation 21:1).
In the Beginning
In the beginning God created ‘all things’ (Genesis 1-2:1; John 1:3), and most importantly He made the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:22, 23). He placed them in the Garden of Eden which was a paradise of perfection. There they had everything they needed (2:16). They were given dominion over the whole of the earth (1:26-28), and they were to have offspring who would share together in their work (2:15) and walk with God (3:8) in harmony with Him.
At least, that is what one would have expected; but God had a plan of which Adam and Eve had not the least inkling (3:17-19). No one could have guessed why God would allow the serpent, an evil creature (3:1-7) into the Garden. It was a complete mystery (Mark 4:11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-7) that would not be fully revealed until New Testament times. With the hindsight of the New Testament we can begin to understand ‘the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God’ (Romans 11:33-36) in this matter.
Without sin, which brings death (1 Corinthians 15:56), there could be no resurrection of the dead to eternal life. Without sin Jesus could not have demonstrated His passionate love for His people by dying on the cross. He took upon Himself the punishment due to them for their sin, and afterwards rose for them from the dead to be the ‘firstfruits’ (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23) of those who die in Him.
Because of this, the wonder of God’s mercy and love can be better appreciated by those for whom He died (Romans 5:8). Without pain and suffering, there is no real understanding of the blessedness of God’s healing, or of experiential wholeness and wellbeing in Him.
Growing in Christ as He Reveals Himself to His Children
Individually these things are ‘progressively’ revealed to those who grow in Christ. At first we are like babies with little understanding. Things don’t make a lot of sense, but gradually, bits of the puzzle come together. We taste, we touch, we hear, we see and we smell through our nostrils. Incidentally, with sin in us, since it is not completely eradicated in this life, we might also be a bit smelly!
As we grow and mature in Christ we no longer think as children (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12). We hear and understand what God is saying to us by His Spirit through the study of His Word. We hear His word though those who preach in His name. We pray and we worship together with other believers, as members of Christ’s body. Our love of God grows day by day. Our love of neighbour likewise grows (Mark 12:30, 31). None of this is by our own enabling. It is all by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit who is our Enabler, the Paraclete (John 14:26). He is the One who gives us spiritual life (John 3:3-8). He transforms us to become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
No longer children, but adults, we begin to appreciate God’s revelation of His plan; the mystery (Romans 16:25; 1Corinthians 2:6, 7) that was not fully comprehended by God’s people of old. God unfolded through history what was to come, i.e., He would bring into being a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9) who would be an inheritance for Him (Deuteronomy 32:9; Jeremiah 10:16), and a people who would love and adore Him forevermore, because of their salvation through His Son.
‘However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom of God ordained before the ages for our glory (1 Corinthians 2:6, 7).’
*My Understanding of New Covenant Theology (NCT)