I love a good mystery. A good writer will craft a story that cleverly shares little by little the pieces of a puzzle and brief glimpses of some hidden truth. They keep you seeking more clues and guessing till the end when the truth is finally revealed. They finally tie together all of the fragments that by themselves could only lead to speculation and guessing and a partial deduction of the actual truth. In the end the mystery is revealed and it all makes perfect sense.
In a similar vain the Old Testament presented a mystery. God revealed Himself through the Old Testament prophets. But in some ways a carefully crafted story was being presented and brief glimpses and foreshadows laid the foundation for what one day would be fully explained. In the New Testament what could not be fully understood is fully tied together. The mystery is revealed and makes perfect sense.
It is the answer to this great mystery that works its way out in the pages of the Bible that the church exists to tell. There is a message that it is charged to deliver, to preserve and hold dear. Paul takes this message seriously. In Colosians he states that God assigned him to be a steward of this truth. He struggled and toiled with all his energy for this very message.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
(Col 1:24-29 ESV)
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
(1Ti 3:14-16 ESV)
At the center of this message is how Jesus Christ makes it possible for God's people to be presented mature, holy and godly. It is here that the church often fails to recognize and proclaim what is most basic and important. We must remember that godliness is only possible for sinful people through the intervention of God through the Cross. Why is so much of what we proclaim to the world have nothing to do with this message? We have a great truth. The mystery has been revealed and all of the pieces fit together. There is no other means that the church can present people that will be mature and holy. It all goes back to what God has done for us on our behalf in Christ on the cross of calvary. A living God has worked out a great plan through all of eternity and established the church to be a pillar and buttress of the truth. Simply put that means to support and hold up and bear the load and weight of the gospel. We must make sure that our message to the world begins and ends in this great mystery. Then we will begin to see people changed and respond to the Gospel.