The greatest secret of all

Post date: 09-Oct-2013 15:03:08

Top Secret image from

We all love to be in the know, to feel like we have the inside track. Whether it's a half-price restaurant deal, an obscure little charity shop that has amazing vintage clothes, or an online deals site, we love to be the ones who have information that is of benefit to others. Unfortunately people can exploit this - so many religions and cults say that they're the (only) ones who know how life really works, and promise the earth if you'll sign up with them or come along to their meetings.

The bible talks about the greatest secret ever - but it's a secret that's been made known. It's like the understanding you have at the end of a murder mystery when the great detective summons everyone into the drawing room to unmask the murderer and explain his motives. It's that revelation that makes everything fit together and make sense. Paul says that people who read his letter:

will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:4-6 NIV)

In fact this mystery or secret is just what he has been explaining in 2:11-22: the news that both Jewish people and non-Jewish people can become fully God's people by trusting in Jesus. We have friends who recently applied for visas to stay in Ireland. They got the visas, but they come with all kinds of strings attached: for example, they can only stay for a fixed period of time, they can't do paid work here and they can't vote in elections. In contrast, an Irish citizen can live here their whole life, can do whatever kind of work they can find, and can vote in all of our many elections! Paul is saying that in Jesus anyone can become a full citizen of heaven, with no restrictions.

This sounds like basic stuff, Christianity 101, but Paul says it has cosmic implications. He says that even the most powerful spiritual forces see Christians living together as followers of Jesus, and are amazed by God's wisdom. You see, God fits together Irish and American and Filipino and Hungarian and even English people as he builds his house - the church. The church isn't a physical building made of bricks and mortar, it's a spiritual building made of people.

So for those of us who know the secret, we are to share it. It's what we naturally do when we've come across some great news that could be of benefit - we want to tell our friends and family about it. And for those of us who have heard the secret but aren't yet living it out, the challenge is to accept the message of Jesus. Paul says that the result is that:

In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12 NIV)

Many people regard God as a severe headmaster in the sky and basically try to keep out of his way. Paul says that if we listen to the greatest secret of all - salvation through trusting Jesus - then we can come right into the throne room of the Creator of the universe, confident that he will welcome us and listen to us.

"Top Secret Rubber Stamp" image by Stuart