Chapter 2

The Mystery of God

From the booklet Colossians: First-Century Parallels
By Gerald Flurry

“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26). Paul says that a mystery was hid from the world for ages. The world doesn’t understand it; people don’t understand what Paul taught the first-century Christians.

This is the same mystery that we talk about today. There’s only one book on this Earth that really explains the mystery of God. And who proclaims this mystery? Who really even wants that mystery? It was “made manifest to his saints.”

Where did that message come from? Mr. Armstrong said about Mystery of the Ages, “In real fact, I feel I myself did not write it.” It was God Himself who made the mystery manifest to His people. Why did He make it manifest to us? So that we could have a large supply of that book out in our garage? Or on our library shelves? God has the answer to those questions.

Paul talked about this mystery while sitting in jail. At that time, ministers were turning most of God’s people away from the truth, just as they have done today. Understand what a tragedy that is: This mystery has been hid from the ages! For 6,000 years man has not understood it. To actually have it revealed to us, and to understand it, is totally unique! In this evil world, God has given us the most illustrious revelation—the deepest revelation that man can comprehend. It didn’t come from Mr. Armstrong. It came from out in the cosmos—beyond the stars and galaxies. (And yet, when God’s people get it, so many of them then allow Satan to take it away from them. They don’t want it enough to fight for it.)

Men have not understood this mystery for all the ages and generations back to Adam and Eve. Soon, though, they will all understand it. God has revealed it to us so that we can teach it to them—today and in the future.

Notice verse 27: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” God makes the mystery manifest to His saints, so He may then make it known among the Gentiles! Spiritually, that means the whole world.

This is a great prophecy about our work—even in this end time. As the Laodiceans turn away from this mystery, we make it known to the Gentiles. Those who are making it known are the only ones who really understand what God commands them to do. The Philadelphians do today what the Colossians did in the first century. God says we must make it known!

The feast of ingathering (or Tabernacles) is about getting this message to the world—to gather in as many as we can. And that will continue into the World Tomorrow, where a major textbook in all educational institutions will be Mystery of the Ages, by Herbert W. Armstrong. Anytime this mystery was revealed in the past, God wanted His very elect to make it known to the Gentiles. That’s why God reveals it. He doesn’t reveal it so we can just sit there and look at it, or enjoy it ourselves. It is for the whole world! We will gather them all in. And it won’t be very long until we do that. Those of us supporting this message today have a special vision that most of God’s own people do not have—to their own shame.

What do the Laodiceans know about Mystery of the Ages? How many of them would fight for it in court? Paul was in jail because he preached this message! He was in jail trying to inspire and encourage God’s people about the great mystery that man has not known for all ages!

Now the Philadelphia Church of God has it. The Laodiceans are so confused, so foolish, so rebellious; they’re letting Satan take it away from them. If only they would stand up and love that message, nobody would ever be able to take it from them. And as long as there’s a work to be done, we’ll have Mystery of the Ages. Nobody can stop that.

The Colossians in the first century fought with Paul—the Laodiceans fought against him. So it is today. The Philadelphians fight for the truth Mr. Armstrong taught us, standing by God’s end-time Elijah, while the Laodiceans are either neutral, doing nothing, or fighting against it. Don’t ever forget how special and how wonderful you are in God’s eyes.

God will bring the whole world into His Family. He is not doing all this work in vain! He gave us this mystery, and He says we’ve heard it, so we’re accountable. We are accountable for a great deal of knowledge! There’s no way we can escape that! We are accountable for delivering the message, or their blood is on our heads. Soon, the whole world will be our classroom to teach Mystery of the Ages. What a responsibility that will be.

Your attitude toward Mystery of the Ages reveals a great deal about your conversion. It reveals a lot about you. All of God’s people have heard the mystery. Nobody can hold on to God’s revelation if they don’t stand up and fight like any son ought to fight for his father. Don’t be fooled: God will let the enemies take it away from you if you don’t love it! And the Laodiceans and Philadelphians will die spiritually if they don’t love this truth.

Jesus Christ doesn’t want a bride who says, Mystery of the Ages—I could take it or leave it. No, He wants a bride who says, There’s only one thing to do, and that is to take it, deliver it and proclaim it to all of the Gentiles, because that’s my job—to gather in the whole world.

How much do we really care about Mystery of the Ages? How much do you want to proclaim it and give this excitement to the world? This has been hidden from the whole world for all ages. If we don’t care, and don’t fight, and if we don’t proclaim this message, God labels us Laodicean and spews us out of His mouth!

We must make this known among the Gentiles. This applies, in principle, to all of Mr. Armstrong’s literature. God commands that we make it known to the world, to give people an opportunity to know God and to know about what this mystery is! It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”! If Christ lives in us, we will love and fight for Mystery of the Ages.

Christ in you is the hope of glory! How much is Christ in you? Well, how much hope do you have? We should be filled with hope. We all need more. We live in a world that is getting more hopeless as time goes on. This world needs hope, and there is only one hope: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We must think like Christ. How much of our thinking is surrendered to Him? We all have to grow in that.

We are building the Family of God in embryo. Jesus Christ died for this world—God gave His only begotten Son—to bring this hope to it, to develop man’s incredible potential.

Every Man

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (verse 28). Paul is warning “every man,” or each individual. He didn’t warn a collective body of Church members. He warned each individual person who would listen, to hang on to “the riches of the glory of this mystery”!

God holds each person accountable for what He has revealed and made known!

God gave the same warning to the modern Laodiceans. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). “[I]f any man [or individual] hear my voice, and open the door,” then Christ will bring him out of the Laodicean Church. Salvation is not a group affair. God is judging us individually. He is warning “every man.” That expression is mentioned three times in one verse—a warning in itself! Jesus Christ is determining if His people can follow Him, instead of a man. Those who heed His warning get to share His very own headquarters throne for all eternity (Revelation 3:12, 21). The Laodiceans are not given that reward.

Colossians 1:28 presents God’s Work as happening in a particular order. First, it says, “we preach,” which means to declare plainly and openly or aloud. Mr. Armstrong did that as a witness to the world. Then it says we “warn”; that’s what we’re doing in this “last end” of the Work—warning all the world. We are running out of time. Of course, these things will run concurrently as well. But we have them listed here in this order.

After the preaching and the warning, then we “teach” every man—gathering in the whole world, man by man, woman by woman, child by child.

This is a vision about the future. One day we’ll reach every man! That must be done one by one. That’s where you enter the picture. You will counsel and teach and guide people. You will warn them, too, when they go in the wrong direction. You will teach them very clearly about the mystery of God—the God Family vision, or the gospel.

We will warn and teach until every man has been taught. And then we will take that program out into the universe. What a magnificent vision this is! How could we allow such a vision to be lost? We are called sons of God! What a magnificent calling God has given us. What a prophetic plan God reveals here in Colossians.

Laboring From Jail

“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). Paul was laboring from jail. Surely, when Paul’s adversaries threw him in jail, they thought they had finally silenced him. But how wrong they were! He worked even harder! Why? Because he knew it would stir God’s people. They knew who Paul was. And they did all they could to proclaim and do the Work of God while Paul was imprisoned.

Teaching Mystery of the Ages got Paul thrown in jail and eventually beheaded! Can you imagine that? And his writings were canonized to make up a hearty portion of the Bible—14 books. A major part of those epistles came right out of prison. He knew something the world didn’t know. Although he was in jail, he knew that his message would go far beyond this Earth. He was imprisoned physically, but not spiritually.

Paul was a convict. That fact reveals a lot about this world. People didn’t really understand what they did to Paul. One day, though, they’ll be convicted and see. All of a sudden, this hope will come alive in their minds and they’ll be inspired, moved and stirred—and, no doubt, shedding a lot of tears, especially those who had Paul incarcerated. Likewise, there are many Laodiceans today who will shed tears profusely because of what they said about Mr. Armstrong—if they repent and make it into God’s Family.

“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” (Colossians 2:1). Paul had a great conflict over what? Over the mystery of the ages! It was a conflict with God’s own people—ministers were out there, as he sat in jail, saying how Paul had gone off the deep end—how he was getting into heresy. They were betraying God’s great apostle.

We won our court battle over Mystery of the Ages. God says this Work must be done—this world must be warned.

The tragedy of the Church in the first century, and the tragedy of the Church today, is this: All of the dirty work was done from within. They have quite a large group and feel secure in that. Paul’s labor and Mr. Armstrong’s labor have been scorned. Many horrible things have been said about Mr. Armstrong. Who is behind all that?

The faithful Colossians labored with Paul, and we ought to labor with Mr. Armstrong. Although he is not alive physically, he still is very much alive if we proclaim the message God gave to him. We bring him back to life and restore what he restored. If we let Christ live in us, we’re reflecting that glory. We cannot rebel against that mystery, or even be neutral.

This is not an easy message to escape. As Mr. Armstrong said repeatedly, this is dangerous knowledge. If 95 percent of God’s people are dying spiritually, doesn’t that monstrous tragedy alone reveal that this is dangerous knowledge? Yet we ought to hunger and thirst after it, and work hard to get it. You will find your effort greatly rewarded.

Spiritual Riches

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Colossians 2:2). The mystery has to do with the Father and Christ and the Family of God. It’s about you being born into that Family.

We are being “knit together in love”—the very love of the God Family. The mystery is man becoming God—sons in the very Family of God. (The word mystery is mentioned three times in a span of six verses.) The mystery is Christ in you, which leads to being born into God’s Family. That is the gospel—the good news of the coming Family or Kingdom of God!

God keeps mentioning the “riches” of the mystery. But the Laodiceans are “rich and increased with goods” physically (Revelation 3:17). Their minds are too much on the physical riches. That is why they are losing the real riches!

The Laodiceans don’t honor their Father (Malachi 1:6). If only they delivered Mystery of the Ages with us, they’d be honoring their Father and their Husband—the whole Family of God. They would have all of these riches. They don’t know what true, spiritual wealth is anymore. That’s obscene!

Yet Paul talked about how wealthy he was, how rich he was, while in jail. He had tremendous vision. Could you be that inspiring if you were in jail? We must be prepared for whatever God allows us to face. How real to you is the fact that you are the Family of God in embryo? As real as it was to Paul?

Continue Reading: Chapter 3: Worldly Scholarship