Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sermon Notes on Mystery and 1 Cor 4:1

My text this morning was
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Cor 4.1)
I focussed particularly on mystery. Some quotes; first Eugene Peterson, quoted by Phillip Yancey in, Church: Why Bother? (Zondervan, 1998), p45:
The church, as Eugene Peterson has observed, is composed of equal parts mystery and mess. 
Then from Marva Dawn & Eugene Peterson, The Unnecessary Pastor (Eerdman's, 2000) on embracing mystery:
There is a kind of mind, too common among us, that is impatient of mystery. Mystery, these minds assume, is what pastors and theologians are paid to get rid of. They assume, and not without evidence, that what we don't know is a breeding ground for superstition and uncertainty. If we don't have a clear and concise outline of what we must know, how can we think straight about God . . . The task of the human mind is to know; if it doesn't know something, it seeks to find it out.

So it is understandable that the modern mind accustomed to seeing the tangled undergrowth of "mystery" cleared out by the "knowledge" bulldozers would retain little appreciation for the kind of mystery that Job and Isaiah and Paul speak of, a mystery that deepens as our knowledge increases. 68

"Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend." Denis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain (New York: Addison- Wesley, 1995), pp. 203-4

Scripture is not the answer book to all our problems but a doorway into the world of God's mystery. And one of the mysteries of this life is that God isn't interested in solving all of our problems in the ways we think they should be solved. 69
Some pertinent verses:
Colossians 1:26
the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

Ephesians 3:3
how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.

Ephesians 3:4
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ

Ephesians 3:9
and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,

Ephesians 1:9
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Chris

Colossians 1:27
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.

Colossians 2:2
that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ

1 Timothy 3:16
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.

Ephesians 6:19
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel

Colossians 4:3
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison

1 Corinthians 13:2 
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.