First, a little context: faith = convictions = heart-mind moral discernment. We’ve had two millennia of people abusing the word “faith” to mean an intellectual body of belief plus the actions arising from such belief. It goes back to that false duality of “being” and “doing” as opposed to simply living. Faith is a higher faculty from which the mind can draw implications, but what the mind makes of it is not faith.
I struggle often to help people break down the old mental habits. It’s not easy to make Western minds, American in particular, grasp the organic life model of thinking about reality. There is no such thing as inert matter; it’s all buzzing with the life of God. We can keep trying, but no one can get it without an active connection between heart and mind. It remains a mystery to outsiders.
In the New Testament, the word “mystery” has a special meaning based on the underlying Greek word musterion. A word study is not going to help much because it’s not a matter of linguistics. The New Testament use of the word is parabolic. Something is a “mystery” because the intellect cannot handle it directly. A biblical mystery is something that only the heart of faith can grasp. It’s not a secret, but it’s veiled to those whose minds are closed to the heart-mind. Faith can be manifested in word and action, but no thoughts can hope to define it.
This is the hard part for most Westerners: Ultimate Truth is God’s character, not a body of knowledge. It’s the Person of God Himself. When Hellenism was injected into Hebrew rabbinical studies, God was objectified and His truth was reduced to reason. Thus, the Pharisees worshiped their reasoning about God, not God Himself. It was a blasphemous idolatry that wasn’t obvious to anyone who wasn’t heart-led.
So we say that Jesus is God incarnate, but those words can deceive; that choice of words offers an excuse to drag Him down into the reason. Rather, with Hebrews 1:1-4 let us affirm that Jesus was the most accurate human manifestation of God’s character. It’s really not that different from the first few verses of John’s Gospel. The idea is not to define Jesus, as if to place boundaries that distinguish intellectually. Rather, it’s intended to leave your mind behind and speak to the heart. What we learn is that, if we can absorb the character of Jesus in our hearts, we can participate in revelation. You don’t learn about God through your mind; you become aware of His divine nature in your convictions.
You could theoretically learn every fact and master all human theoretical science and still not have a clue what matters. Only moral truth can give purpose to human existence, and God is the sole source of moral truth. He is moral truth. Our business is to manifest His glory in our feeble broken lives by His overwhelming power. Following Christ means just that. So now it means something when we read Hebrews 11:1 — “Faith is the substance of God’s promises, the evidence of things our senses cannot discern.” Faith is more than enough to bring about action that trusts promises more than sense and reason.
Thus, the full intent of our actions in this world is revelation. We know that most of our world cannot receive the truth directly the way we do from a personal communion with God, so we offer hints of that truth with our actions. We live to disclose, to uncover the mystery.
Contrast this with various forms of human behavior that mandate secrecy. I’ve often made much of how bureaucracy takes on a life of its own because the foundation is fear of accountability. Everyone is taught to hide themselves in the hive. Only on the rarest occasions can any single person defy the bureaucracy from within and expose the secret details. It wouldn’t be so bad if bureaucrats would simply obey their bosses, but the whole thing is shot through with a culture of hiding the truth, even from each other, and especially from bosses. In a certain sense, nobody inside of a bureaucracy knows the truth. It’s just one big blob and everyone loses their true identity; there are no individuals.
There are plenty of religions and quasi-religions that keep secrets in a similar fashion. Some have the practice of lying to outsiders enshrined in plain statements in their religious teachings, if you can find the references. They tend to hide that, and will flatly deny it most of the time, but you read their scriptures for yourself and see it plainly stated. For them, it’s a command from their god(s) to deceive outsiders to protect the religious organization from defilement. Some of the awfullest things you can imagine, and maybe some you can’t imagine, are done inside those secrecy wrappings. They have a duty to deceive lest they lose their divinely ordained blessings and privileges. (Need I mention that mainstream Christians are generally hypocritical about deception?)
While I offer links highlighting two groups notorious for mutual hostility, it isn’t hard to find similar material from a lot of religions and secret organizations with the declared intention of taking over the world. We do not confuse Creation with “this world.” Humanity (this world) is fallen, but Creation is not. We reverence God’s character in His Creation, but we know He has plans to end this world, and has commanded us not to become too attached to it. We have no stake in the warlike plans of others aiming to take over this world because, ultimately, this world as we know it is a deception in itself.
We have a duty to declare.