“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that aye lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
The answer to an objection!
Such is the intention of the words of the text inscribed above!
Not all who hear the gospel, who weigh the preaching of the Word in their consciences, seek this glory and liberty the apostle had been talking about in the preceding chapter. Of the many who come under the preaching of the Word, there are some only who actually bask in its light. Well, then, how about the others who never seem to relish the light of this gospel?
The apostle answers with an objective possibility!
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost!
And this hiding is accomplished through the god of this world who has blinded their eyes, and that, too, with the expressed purpose that the glorious gospel of Christ should not shine unto them.
Indeed, the gospel is hidden in the lost! But what does that mean? How is this accomplished? And with what purpose is this blinding process?
Important concept, the gospel!
It means glad news, or glad tidings. And the term is used in Scripture with various additions which describe to us its exalted nature and contents. It is called the gospel of God when it purposes to emphasize that it is not of man, but of God alone. He is its Author. He proclaims it. It is called the gospel of Christ, the gospel concerning the Son of God, the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of our salvation, the gospel of peace, the gospel of the promise, etc.
In our text it is called the glorious gospel, or more correctly translated, the gospel of the glory of Christ; which must undoubtedly refer to the gospel, the good news, concerning the glory of Christ. It is the gospel which reveals, illumines, the glory of Christ. It is the glory which Christ received in His exaltation, and which He now possesses as the anointed and glorified servant of God. Of Christ Who is the exact image of God. He is that eternally as the Son. Thus the Scriptures can speak of Him as being the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). And Heb. 1:3 declares that He being the brightness of His glory is the express image of His person. However, when the text speaks here of the glory of Christ, it points specifically to His glorified human nature. In human nature He humbled Himself and became of no reputation, and in human nature He is also exalted in highest glory after He had completed the work of our salvation, and merited our righteousness. It is this glory of Christ, preached in Paul’s gospel, which is hidden in the lost!
This can never mean that the apostle is the subject and author of the gospel. Though it is true he is what is called a secondary author, for the Lord had separated him unto the gospel and even to write it. He belonged to those men who were infallibly inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit to write the Scriptures. Yet Paul does not, neither does any other secondary author ascribe the gospel to any other than God Himself. It is the gospel of God. He is the Author. The gospel contains His promise. It contains the revelation of the glory of His Son. When the apostle, therefore, speaks of “our gospel,” he simply emphasizes the fact that he had received it, and it was in his possession. It was the gospel he preached.
Most important it is to understand correctly what the apostle means when he says that the gospel is hidden in the lost! It surely cannot mean that the gospel itself is hidden or covered up so that it cannot be seen. Rather the opposite is true. The gospel is never hidden. Nowhere does Scripture present the gospel as a thing that is hidden. It lies in the very nature of the gospel that it is a revelation. The Divine purpose in the gospel is to reveal. It is the REVELATION of God and. of Christ. But there are several Scriptures which speak of the blindness of those to whom the gospel comes. A good illustration of this you find in the 13th chapter of Matthew. There the Lord is referring to the prophecy of Isaiah and applying this prophetic word to some of His contemporaries, whom He describes as having ears which are dull of hearing, and of having eves which are closed. This is obviously also the idea of our text. The veil is, therefore, not put over the gospel, but much rather over the objects to whom the gospel comes. A veil is put over their eyes, and hearts; so that they cannot see, though they have eyes, and they cannot hear, though they have ears, and they cannot understand, though they have hearts and minds.
And if you ask: Who are these in whom the gospel is hidden? Who are they who have a veil cast over them that they cannot see the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel? The answer is: “In the lost.”
The apostle speaks a sovereign truth here!
The reason why the gospel is being hid in some is that they are in the process of perishing, yea, they are already perished. And the very sign of their reprobation is their blindness. As in the old dispensation some could not stand to look on the face of Moses, and therefore asked for him to cover himself with a veil; so now, there are some who complained respecting the gospel. To them it was too deep. It did not make sense. To the lost their blindness will not allow them to see the beauty of the gospel, the beauty of the glorified Christ revealed therein.
The instrument through which these are blinded is “the god of this world,” or perhaps better translated, “the god of this age.” For the world here is looked upon from the viewpoint of this present dispensation, with its changing scheme. Of this age, the Devil is god. This does not mean, of course, that the Devil is actually a god. But it means that this age reckons with him as its ruling principle. And it is the Devil’s work to blind the eyes of some. It is he who makes the unbelieving blind. He hinders them in seeing the light of the gospel when that gospel confronts them.
Only an instrument the Devil is! That means, does it not, that there is One Who uses that instrument. Though the Devil may imagine that he is on his own, that he acts independently according to his own good pleasure, yet this is never true. Always he is only creature, and that, too, under the surveillance and direction of God, Who alone is God! Reprobation is not the Devil’s to determine, nor to realize. Reprobation is God’s sovereign decree. Nor should we say that a man is reprobated because he is blind, or because he is blinded. Rather, the truth is that he is blinded because God has reprobated him. And in the working out of God’s decree, Satan is His instrument. As God’s instrument Satan very successfully blinds the hearts of many. Very artfully he uses various means to accomplish this blindness. Sometimes he uses plain sophistry, then again, false philosophy. Now he comes with the offer of worldly riches, then again, with fame and popularity. Whatever the method may be, he uses it to blind the eyes of the unbelieving. So blind they become that, though the sun may be shining in its strength, they cannot see it. Though the light-giving power emanates from the gospel, it does not shine into their hearts and minds. And let us not be mistaken as to where he works with his arts. His sphere of operation is always where the gospel is preached, where that gospel is most purely preached. Where the light shines the brightest, there is the greatest blindness.
And the purpose of this blinding process?
According to the text, that the brightness of the gospel may not shine into them. Listen to what Paul says here: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Whose purpose is that? The Devil’s? O, to be sure, the Devil does not want the gospel light to shine. He is, indeed, pleased to put a veil over you so that you cannot see it. Nothing pleases him more than to have you walk in darkness with him. But understand well, when the apostle speaks of the purpose of this blinding process, he is not at all interested in the purpose of the Devil. Specifically he has in mind the purpose of God. It is His gospel that is the revelation of the glory of Christ. And it is this gospel that the ungodly, according to the Divine intention, may never see. The reason is that the gospel light is intended only for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that too, according to God’s sovereign election. This does not mean that the gospel has no significance for the ungodly. Truly it is as the apostle tells us in another place, “the word of God is a savor unto life, but also unto death.” It kills and it makes alive. It saves and it damns. It is a power of God unto salvation unto everyone that believes, but just as really it is a power of God unto condemnation to all the ungodly that come in contact with it. But the supreme purpose of the gospel is to transform those who are designated people of God into the likeness of Him Who is the very image of God, namely, Christ Jesus. That is the exalted purpose of the gospel of Christ’s glory. That the ungodly may be conformed to this age and be destroyed with it, while at the same time, the child of God. may be transformed into the heavenly, that is, the glorified image of Christ, that is God’s two-fold purpose of the preaching of the gospel.
Most significant was this truth in the day of the apostle for the church as well as for the apostle himself. Surely the question: Why is it that many who hear the gospel do not embrace it and therein find their salvation? has its answer in this truth. And though in many the gospel is hidden, the apostle will not faint in bringing this glorious gospel to as many as it pleases God to send it. He will not cease to preach, though many there be who reject it. Neither will he handle that Word of God dishonestly or craftily because of those in his audience who are blind. By the mercy of God he will continue to commend himself to every man’s conscience.
Thus it must ever be, my reader. We also have a glorious gospel to preach. It is one that magnifies God’s sovereignty in our redemption. One that belittles man and humbles him into the dust. But it is also one that lifts him up, that moves him to look by faith to Him Whom God has raised from the dead and into the highest heavens, and crowned with glory which is the radiation of His own glory, into which glory He purposes to bring all His elect.
And we will not faint, nor change this gospel to meet the objections of men, so long as we receive mercy. We will continue to recognize the truth that all is not Israel that is called such. We will even expect that blindness will come to some that they may be lost. While at the same time we shall continue to believe that the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the exact image of God, will transform others into this perfect image. Never will we compromise with the truth or dishonestly and deceitfully present it, as the manner of some is, for the purpose of becoming big or to gain popularity. Yea, with the apostle, we will continue to set forth the full counsel of God, in the faith that God Who is the Author of the gospel and its Preacher, will realize through it His everlasting purposes.