God’s Mystery Story

By Mark D. Roberts

January 30, 2018

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ…

Ephesians 1:8-9


Do you love a good mystery story? I sure do. This has been true ever since I was a boy, when I devoured every one of the Hardy Boys mysteries. (That added up to 51 books in 1971. When I ran out of the Hardy Boys, I read most of the Nancy Drew books, even though these were supposedly just for girls.) These days, when I have a chance to do some fun reading, I’ll inevitably turn to a mystery thriller by someone like John Grisham or Lee Child.

The silhouette of a person through an opaque wall, hand outstretched ready to reveal themselves.The fun part of the mystery story is the secret, the unknown truth that will be revealed at the end, the “whodunnit” and why. Of course, I love to try and figure out the mystery by myself, analyzing the clues before I get to the end of the story. I get distinct pleasure when I can solve the mystery on my own.

But this won’t work when it comes to the mystery of God’s will. Ephesians 1:9 makes it clear that we can know God’s mystery, not because of our clever deductions, but because God has made it known to us. In fact, this verse adds that God enjoys revealing his own mystery to us. No divine guessing games here. Rather, we grasp the mystery of God only because of his revelation, which is an expression of God’s “good pleasure” (1:9).

Verse 9 introduces God’s mystery, but doesn’t tell us what the mystery is. We have to wait until the next verse for the big reveal. But in verse 9 we are reminded of our dependence on divine revelation if we want to know the deep things of God. Yes, we can figure out quite a bit about God by using our minds and by considering the natural world. But this effort only takes us so far. If we want to know God, if we want to know his plans for the world and for our lives, if we want to know his purpose for the cosmos and our purpose for living, then we need God to reveal his mystery to us.

Something to Think About:

How do you understand divine revelation?

How much of your understanding of God comes from your own deductions and feelings?

How much of your knowledge of God is built on what God has revealed in Christ and in Scripture?

Something to Do:

Talk with a friend about the questions above and the answers you have given. Discover how much your friend is like (and unlike) you in these things.


Gracious God, though I love a good mystery story, I thank you for making yourself and your mystery known to us. How grateful I am that you did not leave us to our own devices. We would never have figured out your mystery on our own.

Help us, dear Lord, to take your revelation seriously, to base our thinking, our faith, and our lives upon your revelation in Christ and in Scripture. When we begin to think we can figure you out on our own, bring us back to a right understanding of just how much we depend on you. Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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