1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Why God has mingled with the revelation of His will to man so much that is confessedly obscure. Note —
I. THAT THE OBSCURITY IS NOTHING MORE THAN IS TO BE EXPECTED FROM ANALOGY. It is remarkable that mysteries sensibly multiply as knowledge increases. In every direction we soon reach the limits of human knowledge. How little does the educated man know of the mysteries connected with our bodily frame; but let the physiologist speak, and he will tell you that every separate member and vessel and nerve of the human frame is full of mystery. The peasant that turns up the ground, and casts in the seed, perceives no mystery in its growth; but the philosopher, who understands the wonderful process of vegetation, is conscious of difficulties which he cannot solve in its several stages towards maturity. Since, then, there is so much that is mysterious in the natural world, revelation is the production of the same Being, and bears the same characteristic feature of its great Original.
II. THE MYSTERIOUS PART OF CHRISTIANITY ARISES FROM THE VERY NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION. The truths which it announces transcend the comprehension of the human mind. "Who can by searching find out God, who can find out the Almighty to perfection?"
1. The doctrine of three persons in one God is an instance of this. The mystery does not consist in any ambiguity of language, but in the nature of the subject; not in the teacher, but in the small ability of the scholar.
2. The facts of revelation are accompanied with a similar difficulty. They do not come under human observation. Redemption through Christ is a series of operations which stands alone, belongs to a class of its own, and is not to be judged of by the measuring line of human policy. As well might a man, ignorant of the rules of art, pass his judgment on its most finished production. As well might the babe of yesterday exercise his faculties on the higher problems of nature, as men attempt to estimate the wisdom, love, and mercy that shine in the gospel of Jesus Christ. "His ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts," etc.
3. The regeneration of the soul transcends the common observation. It is a fact taught; us by revelation, and experienced by the subject of it; but is only to be studied and known by others through the medium of its results.
4. The resurrection from the dead is not in accordance with our experience. We have no means of ascertaining the account of this truth. There is clearly no impossibility in it. The same power that formed our bodies may obviously reconstruct them. It is a field of Divine operation into which we cannot enter, and the mode in which the work will be accomplished is among the secrets of the Deity.
III. THE MYSTERY THAT ACCOMPANIES REVELATION TENDS TO INCREASE THE EFFICACY OF THE GOSPEL.
1. It tends to humble us before God, which is the great end of the gospel. God is worthy of universal adoration, and the elements of this exercise of the mind are awe and reverential feeling. But this state of mind can never be produced by anything that we fully understand. Familiarity breeds contempt. The more distinctly we realise the limits of our knowledge the deeper will be our impression of the grandeur of the Divine mind. The wisdom of God, in His restorative system of mercy, abases man in the very faculty which caused our fall. He humbles us at the very root of the tree of knowledge, teaching us to submit our understandings to the guidance of His Word.
2. It tends to excite our diligence in examining Divine truth. The obscurity that conceals it is a reason for continuing our researches. God has made His revelation of a kind to try our best faculties. Were all that is to be known easy of apprehension it would be a departure from the usual mode of Divine procedure. In nature the most valuable is not found upon the surface. Gold is dug from the bowels of the earth, and pearls are gathered from the depths of the ocean.
3. It is necessary to make us more desirous of heaven, where we shall enjoy perfect knowledge. The attainment of the loftiest intellect on earth is but the alphabet of knowledge, compared with what we shall know hereafter.
4. It lies at the foundation of the Christian's hope. It must be mysterious that God should so love a ruined world.
Parallel VersesKJV: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.