“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: foe the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. “
But as it is written…!
The apostle, guided infallibly by the Spirit, is led to reflect on an utterance of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:4), not only to repeat it, but to expand on it.
The prophet had written: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.”
The apostle, without altering essentially the contents of Isaiah’s message, alters the tone of the message from direct conversation to objective revelation; while at the same time changing the pronoun “him” into the plural “them,” and the last part from “waiting for him” into “that love him.” The heart of the message, however, he allows to remain unaltered. The ancient prophet in prophetic vision marveled at God’s preparations for His people as he saw them on the dark background of Zion’s desolation, preparations so marvelously great that he observes that from the beginning of the world no mere man with all his senses could perceive. The apostle, on the other hand, beholds those same divine preparations, once hidden in the eternal wisdom of God, as now revealed through the Spirit in the gospel.
Of that hidden wisdom, or the wisdom of God in a mystery, the apostle in the context had been speaking.
Hidden, that is, in the eternal God, and ordained by him before the world of our time was founded, according to which and unto which end, he determined our glory—the eternal glory of his church.
That hidden wisdom is now revealed—first of all, to the apostles, then, through them unto the church, through the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, Who searches out the deep things of God as He searches out all things, the Spirit, Who is given without measure unto Christ and by Him poured out into the church. It is the Spirit of Pentecost, Who reveals to us the divine mystery concerning those things which never entered into the heart of man to conceive, but which God hath laid up for them that love him.
Such is the contents of the gospel of revelation the apostle had received, and which now he declares unto us—again, not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Eternal, adorable wisdom!
Hidden beyond and behind all the things of our present vision! The reference, no doubt, is to the eternal, sovereign, and all-wise counsel of the living and incomprehensible God. For the apostle, having spoken of the hidden wisdom, continues by informing us: “which God foreordained before the world (the ages) unto our glory.” That is the counsel of redemption, according to which the all-wise God wills to attain unto His highest glory through the most appropriate means. In the very center of this eternal, unchangeable will of God is the Christ, Who in Proverbs 8 is described as the Wisdom personified. And with that Christ is the church, given unto Him by the Father, which must participate with Him in His glory.
Within the brackets of time, as with unseen hand, all things, large and small, good and evil, righteous and wicked, sin and grace, move to realize the divine purpose. Nothing happens by chance or accident in ages past, present, or future; but all is directed by the ineffable wisdom of the sovereign God. The fall of our first parents in Paradise, the deluge which destroyed the first world, the rainbow of promise, the rise and fall of the nations, the true and the false prophets, the incarnation, death, and resurrection and the glorious ascension of Christ, the manifestation of the Spirit of Pentecost, the preaching of the gospel, and the gathering of the church out of all nations, the battle of the ages, the parousia, the glorious second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ—all in their time appear and perform according to the eternal wisdom and for the purpose of God. Such is the idea of the hidden wisdom, now revealed. But there is more.
The apostle speaks, as did Isaiah, of the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. And this includes the new heavens and earth where righteousness shall forever dwell. Prepared are they in the eternal wisdom of God. All that wait for their final and glorious manifestation is the ultimate passing away of the present world of sight, and the coming of the glorified Christ with His holy angels. And also included in that new creation is what the Scriptures call the inheritance of the saints in light.
Note here how the apostle emphasizes the greatness of them. Not able are our present senses to perceive them. They defy our present understanding. Never could we as we are now composed with all our instruments of perceptibility and understanding be able even to imagine the things God has prepared for those who love him. How many and how great the things God has prepared!
Prepared they were not only in the eternal wisdom of God, but also in time by our Lord Jesus Christ. Based they are on His meritorious and redemptive work, wrought in His perfect sacrifice on the cross, attested to in his glorious resurrection from the dead, and finished in His majestic ascension to God’s right hand, where now He prepares in Father’s house many mansions for His people and preserves their inheritance. All of these have to do with our final and eternal glory. Of this latter the apostle made mention in the context (verse 7).
For God has revealed to us through the Spirit—so we read literally in the text. Always the subject of revelation is the invisible, eternal, all-wise God. Revelation therefore is always a divine act. It is the work of God whereby He unveils and discloses what was hitherto hidden and unknown in Himself. Revelation is an internal disclosure to the believer. Of little significance, for example, would the vision of the four beasts to Daniel have been without the interpretation by the angel. And the revelation to the seer of Patmos could not have been disturbing to him were it not that the God of revelation had shown to him the things which must shortly come to pass. So also it must be understood in the text. The apostle is speaking of the revelation of the things God has prepared for them that love him, but it is the revelation through the Spirit.
Never could the vision and the interpretation of the things God has prepared have come up into the mind of mere man. Though the Creator has endowed man with amazing senses of perceptibility and understanding—and it may be said of mere man that he possesses natural wisdom—there is no eye, or ear, or heart in man that could possibly have penetrated into the mind of God to perceive the things of His plan. Nor could mere man with all his faculties have understood the revelation of the purpose of God as it unfolds in history. The apostle stresses this point in the context (verse 8) when he says: “which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
What God has prepared for them that love Him can only be known by divine revelation. And divine revelation is realized only through the Spirit—the Spirit Who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
In this brief but most profound statement the apostle explains the mystery of revelation. Job tells us by implication (Job 11:7) that no man by searching can find out God. And that means that God is an incomprehensible deep; and no mere man, curious as he may be, can by searching discover the depth of the being of God. But Paul tells us here that this is the sole prerogative and function of the Holy Spirit. That the Spirit searches out the deep things of God must mean, therefore, first of all that He does this within the being of the Triune God eternally. The Spirit searches out the deep things of the Father and reveals them to the Son, and the deep things of the Son and reveals them to the Father. In the Spirit the Father and Son know each other perfectly and have in that Spirit most intimate fellowship. Secondly, it must mean that the Spirit searches out the depths of the attributes, the thoughts, the will of God, that is, His decrees and plan. So there is nothing in God that the Spirit does not know, and what He knows He knows most perfectly. In the third place, that Spirit also searches out and knows all things (unlimited). And that must mean that all things in history, the things that come to pass within the brackets of time, are known to Him also. He discovers that they are precisely the things of God’s eternal counsel. And that means that the creation with its myriads of creatures is essentially as they were eternally in the mind of God. It means too that events of history, from the creation of the world to the second coming of Christ, are known by Him, because He it is Who works in all things to realize the purpose of God.
The omniscient Spirit, Who discovers the depths of God and of all things, is the sole medium of revelation. He is the inerrant Author of the Holy Scriptures, and as He has come to dwell in the church as the Comforter Who would lead the church into all the truth, He is also the Author of salvation within us. It is He Who regenerates us, giving unto us the life of the resurrected and glorified Lord; and it is He Who applies the saving merits of Christ to our hearts and lives; and it is He Who through the gospel, the good news of salvation, reveals unto the church the deep things of God.
This leads us to point out finally how the Word of God in our text speaks of the recipients of this revelation of the Spirit.
When the apostle says in the text, “but God hath revealed them unto us,” he is referring, first of all, to himself and all the apostles. The apostles and prophets are the repositories into whom the Spirit first commits the revelation of the mysteries of God. Ordained and qualified they were by the Spirit not only to hear and understand the testimony of the Spirit concerning the hidden wisdom of God, so that unmistakably they received it, but they were also officially appointed and qualified to speak that word of revelation and infallibly to write it. Thus it is, as the Scriptures testify, “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” ‘(II Peter 1:21b); and again, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. . .” (II Timothy 3:16a). So they could not but speak and write of the things which they had heard and seen.
Nor should it be forgotten that the central recipient of revelation is Christ Himself. He is the Logos, the Word of God, through Whom all that is revealed of God is made known. He it is Who was appointed and sent to reveal the Father. He spoke no word of Himself, but only that which the Father gave Him to speak. And it is He also Who receives the Spirit without measure and in turn pours out that Spirit into the church, and into the apostles first. That is why, before Christ ascended into heaven and gave promise to the disciples of the coming Spirit, He said, “he shall testify of me.” And it is also the truth that, upon the foundation of the apostles of which foundation Christ is the chief cornerstone, that Christ will build His church, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. But there is more.
The recipient of revelation is also the church of Christ.
Beautifully they are described in the text as “them that love him.”
And that means, first of all, that they have been made to believe the word of Christ as it comes to them through the apostles. It makes no difference really whether we read the text with Isaiah who says: “that waiteth for him;” or, with the apostle: “that love him.” They that love him, wait for him; and the converse is also true, namely, they that wait for him are moved to do so by their love for him.
And always that waiting or loving is the work of the Spirit of Christ within them. That Spirit opens their eyes, which by nature are closed. Their ears, which by nature are deaf, and their hearts, which by nature are without understanding, are unstopped and renewed. In one word, that Spirit of Christ regenerates them and renews them in principle, so that they are enabled to perceive according to the measure of grace the things of the kingdom of heaven. They behold, in accord with revelation, the things God has prepared for all those who love Him. So they possess the hidden wisdom through the Spirit.
Blessed eyes, which, though they cannot yet perceive all the beauty of the inheritance of God laid away for them, nevertheless by faith fix their beholding of Jesus Who has promised!
Blessed ears, which, though they are not able as yet to catch the strains of heavenly music, are nevertheless able to discern the Word of God, the Holy Gospel of good news, that speaks to them in sweetest tones concerning the glory that is theirs in the day of Christ!
Blessed hearts, which are no longer dead in natural depravity, but made alive by the regenerating Spirit of grace, and so enabled to understand concerning the things which have abiding value—the things God has prepared for them, and unto which they are graciously preserved. Blessed they are, too, because in them has been shed abroad the love of God, the divine intention of which is that they may be conformed to His image, and be perfect as He is.
Blessed Spirit of Christ!
That wonderful Comforter, Who has come to abide in us, stilling our hearts which so often are fearful because of the things we see and hear in this vale of tears—He not only leads us into all the truth, but also stablishes our hearts and joins us by faith to the Invisible.
That glorious Revealer of the hidden wisdom of God makes known unto us concerning the divine preparations, which we could never know with our meager human understanding, nor sense with all our human faculties.
Such revelation moves us to exclaim with awe:
O God, how good Thou art
To all the pure of heart,
Though life seems vain.
Burdened with anxious care,
I groped in dark despair,
Till in Thy house of prayer
All was made plain.
There in thy house, under the proclamation of Thy Word, Thy Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of my glorified Redeemer, made known unto me the eternal mystery.
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!