Mysteries Made Plain Hereafter
The eye is a more wonderful instrument than the glasses which men have invented to help it in its work. The ease with which a landscape, or a star, or a friend's face is pictured in it, so that we see distinctly — is proof of wider and greater skill than that of man; yet the powers of the eye are limited. There are things within its range too bright for its study — it was not made to look at the sun except through a medium or veil of protection. The direct light of the sun would destroy it.
The mind is more wonderful than the eye. Its range is not limited by distance or time. It discerns not only color and shape and beauty — but reasons and truth. It knows cause and effect, as well as right and wrong. It knows present and past, and searches the earth and the Heavens. It makes discoveries, and prides itself on its powers; yet its powers have a limit. There are things which it can no more compass — than the unaided eye can study the sun!
The being and character of God are too great for its powers. "No man has seen God at any time." No man with mortal eyes can see Him. The faintest manifestations of His glory — have proved too much for eyes of flesh. Paul, on the way to Damascus, fell to the earth. Peter and James and John, when on the Mount of Transfiguration, were bewildered and knew not what they did. A faint pledge of the glory of Heaven overcame them!
It is only through a medium — that we can know the Infinite, "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father — He has revealed Him." Not in the full majesty of His glory — but only in so far as men are able to bear it.
The mysteries of the gospel are a study too great for the mind. We look upon infinite eternal things — as one studies the sun through a glass which has been deeply tinted.
The mind is finite, and God's works and providences, though plain to superior intelligences — are a mystery to it. God manifest in the flesh, was seen of angels — but men recognized Him only by His works and by the testimony from Heaven — things which they could see and understand. The incarnation, the world's astonishing fact, with the whole plan of salvation — is understood in Heaven — the angels who sang at the Savior's birth, who sustained Him and ministered to Him, understand better than we "the great mystery of godliness."
The work of God's Spirit may be understood by the angels — but it is to us as mysterious as the power which causes the seed to open and the tree to grow. It is not within the range of human intellect. We may feel the influence of the Spirit, and be guided and sanctified by Him — but the exact method of His working is a mystery. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
The same is true of the future life. Heaven is the Christian's hope; yet how little he knows of its glory. The Bible promises him a better country — but he cannot survey it nor picture its scenery. He is assured of a heavenly mansion — but knows not its architecture. Descriptions are given — but they are veiled in human language. The tree and river of life; the gates of precious stones; the light without the sun; continual day; freedom from pain, from sin and death; the throne and the rainbow, and the King in His beauty — though they all tell something about Heaven — are but feeble expressions of its real glory. They are illustrations suited to our limited capacity. A perfect picture of Heaven could not be painted in human language, and would not be intelligible to human minds!
What we do not understand now — we shall know hereafter. Our minds and souls are in their childhood. They will one day understand things which are now hidden. The veil will be removed — and only then, shall we know even as we are known. When we were children — we talked and understood as children. We now see that many of our childish thoughts were foolish. Things are now plain — which then greatly puzzled us. Mysteries have vanished. We have outgrown our childish joys, sorrows, hopes and fears. We have put away childish things.
Just so, in eternity, the soul will put away the things of its childhood. It will understand things then — which are now hidden. The being of God, the work of the Spirit, and the joy of Heaven — will no longer be veiled and darkened. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known!" Then we shall know the full enjoyment of God and of Heaven. "What I do (said the Savior), you do not understand now — but you shall know hereafter."
This is the Christian's hope. It is his comfort in time of trial. It strengthens him against temptation.
The world may be dark — but he looks beyond.
His life may be a battle with evil — but he sees victory and its reward.
His way may be rough and hedged with thorns — but he journeys to a sure place, to a glorious land of which the Lord has promised to give him! Our Savior, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame. So His followers, in the hope of Heaven — bear their burdens, counting it a joy that they are allowed to suffer with Him!
Unbelievers may doubt the value of this comfort and strength. They may ask us to demonstrate it and prove its value by figures, as men prove earthly things. We could just as easily ask a child to prove its father's love, or demonstrate the nature of its trust in him.
We have no just conception of Heaven. No more has a little child — a true idea of its country or of liberty. We can only say: "We know in whom we believe. We know that God is true. We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in Heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands!"