One of the most sobering truths taught in the Bible is the inability of men to comprehend spiritual things apart from the Holy Spirit's illumination. Since Adam's fall into sin and consequently out of divine favor, in the garden of Eden, mankind has been suffering from spiritual death and stands in need of life-giving power from this same Spirit (see Gen. 2:17, Eph. 2:15). He is spiritually blind and "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:3).
Therefore, "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery". By this we do not mean that no one understands the facts of the gospel. For anyone who can read or hear intelligently can comprehend these basic truths. Nor do we mean that men cannot believe that these facts are true. But we mean that while any man may understand these facts, no man can see the glory (essence of the manifest beauty; preciousness; majesty) of them, apart from the Spirit's revelation (1 Cor. 2:10,14).
Men without this illumination can see everything in the Lord Jesus Christ which the blood bought, Spirit quickened and regenerated children of God can see, except they cannot see the glory of His blessed person and work. "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and He to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Mt. 11:27).
Natural men (i.e., men without Spiritual illumination, see 1 Cor. 2:14) see Jesus as a prophet sent from God. But they cannot grasp that the words which He spoke are "spirit and life" (Jn. 6:63). They can believe that what He spoke is true, but they are not constrained to walk in "the light as He is in the light" (1 Jn. 1:17). They feel no compulsion to follow Him like His own sheep do (Jn. 10:27). These same unregenerate men can believe that Jesus died for the sins of men, but they cannot see their own desperate need of Him as their Savior. They can believe in His love for men, but they are not amazed in the consideration of that love, for they do not comprehend the absolute holiness of God and His hatred for sin. they can believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. But they cannot see the overwhelming victory over sin and death which He wrought by His resurrection. They cannot relish the thought of that conquest over the grave, for they have never seen themselves, helpless victims in the grasp of death and hell. These natural men can believe that Christ Jesus has ascended into the heavens to the right hand of majesty on high. But in considering that ascension and rise to glory they are not compelled in their hearts to bow down and worship and adore this triumphant, majestic Christ.
Yet those, who are by the grace of God, given eyes to see and ears to hear the glorious mystery of the gospel, see Christ Jesus as the Prophet of God. They can go to no other but simply say to Him, "Lord to whom shall we go, Thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:68)? In His death on Calvary's cross they see Him as their need for the payment of their sin debt. His spotless purity makes them ever "Stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love them, sinners, condemned, unclean." Then a consideration of His empty tomb brings joy and gladness to their hearts and they may shout the victory song, "O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory" (1 Cor. 15:55), "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is Christ who died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:33,34). And when a view of that glorious majesty of their ascended Lord is afforded them through the Word, they desire to bow down and worship Him as the eternal I AM (Ex. 3:14).
The glory of the Lord is hidden "from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes" (Mt. 11:25). That hidden wisdom was ordained of God before the world for the glorification of His people (1 Cor. 2:7, Rom. 8:29,30) and is revealed to them in time so that they might say, He "hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
Therefore, we see a division among men over Christ (Jn. 7:43). There are those who see in Him, "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). He is their "song in the night" (Isa. 30:29); their refuge in a weary land (Isa. 32:2); and their "glorious Lord" (Isa. 33:21). But there are also those who see "no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa. 53:2). They esteem Him not nor seek to walk in His counsels. Had they not been blinded by their own sinful hearts they would "not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2:8).
We can in a great measure, see this division during the coming season when men supposedly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Thousands, yea millions who have not an eye to His glory rush headlong into the sensual, frivolities of the time, thinking that He is a God who winks at sin because of the happy spirit of this season. They think that He delights as they do in drunkenness, over-indulgence, and wastefulness; that He does not mind sharing the spotlight with Santa Claus, christmas trees, and gift-mania, so long as they pay lip service to remembering the birth of His Son. It is evident that they have not known the "Lord of Glory" who has said "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images"(Isa. 42:8).
No! they do not behold that manger with adoring wonder, considering the humiliation which the "Lord of Glory" underwent in leaving the glories of heaven (Jn. 17:5) to be clothed in the likeness of sinful flesh (Phil. 2:7). They do not behold that Babe with true worship; recognizing Him as the "Ancient of Days" (Dan. 7:9),"the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending... which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8). Nor do they tremble to think that this One wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger by the hands of a tender mother shall come again clothed in "flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thes. 1:8).
Oh, my friend, have you known this "Lord of Glory"? Not the lord of men's imaginations but the Mighty Creator of all things. Not one who remains as a babe helplessly in need of man's aid and cooperation but One who rules and reigns as King of kings and whose hand no man, devil, or all of creation combined can stay. Not one who must await the outcome of events and the choices of men in order to make His plans and decisions but One who orders all events to transpire in order to work our His purposed will and One who holds the destinies of all men in the palm of His hand. Yes, my friend, He is the "Lord of Glory" who shall one day reveal to a sin-blinded world His majesty and power in an awful and final judgement. There is no refuge from the wrath to come but in that "Lord of Glory". Bow down sinner and cry out for mercy. To do otherwise is to surely perish.
When all the rocks of earth shall rend,
And all its shadows flee;
Oh! may I safe in Christ be found,
Let Him my refuge be!
When storms and flames shall rock this sphere,
And men their terror feel;
Oh! may that Rock, my only fear,
To me say, "Peace, be still".
What makes mistaken men afraid,
Of sovereign grace to preach!
The reason is, if truth be said,
Because they are so rich.
Why so offensive in their eyes,
Does God's election seem?
Because they think themselves so wise,
That they have chosen Him.
Whence is imputed righteousness,
A point so little known?
Because men think they all possess,
Some righteousness their own.
Not so the needy, helpless soul,
Prefers his humble prayer;
He looks to Him that works the whole,
And seeks His treasure there.
"Election!" 'tis a word divine,
For Lord, I plainly see;
Had not Thy choice preceded mine,
I ne'er had chosen Thee.
Empty and bare, I come to Thee,
For righteousness divine;
O may Thy matchless merits be
By imputation, mine.
Thus differ these; yet hoping such,
To make salvation sure;
Now most men will approve the rich,
But Christ has blessed the poor.