in order that, though looking, they may look and yet not see, and, though hearing, they may hear and yet not get the sense of it, nor ever turn back and forgiveness be given them.”—Mr 4:11, 12; Mt 13:11-13; Lu 8:10.
The great difference between the sacred secret of God and the secrets of mystery religions is, first of all, in content: God’s secret is good news and is not a lie or man-made deception. (Joh 8:31, 32, 44; Col 1:5; 1Jo 2:27) Second, those who are chosen to understand the sacred secret of God are bound, not to keep it secret, but to give it the widest possible proclamation and publication. This is revealed, as noted in the foregoing, by the Bible use of terms such as “preached,” “made known,” “manifested,” and also “declaring,” ‘speaking,’ in connection with “the sacred secret of the good news.” True Christians exercised the greatest vigor in telling this good news containing the understanding of the sacred secret to “all creation that is under heaven.” (1Co 2:1; Eph 6:19; Col 1:23; 4:3, 4) God determines who are not deserving and withholds understanding from such ones. God is not partial when he does this; it is because of “the insensibility of their hearts” that God does not open up to them the understanding of his sacred secret.—Eph 4:17, 18.
Centers Around Christ. Since “the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying,” “the sacred secret of God” must center around Christ. (Re 19:10; Col 2:2) All “the sacred secrets” of God have to do with his Messianic Kingdom. (Mt 13:11) The apostle Paul writes to fellow Christians: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge,” and “it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.”—Col 2:2, 3, 9.
Paul spoke of himself as having a stewardship of “sacred secrets of God.” (1Co 4:1) He speaks of the comprehension he has “in the sacred secret of the Christ.” (Eph 3:1-4) He explains that this sacred secret is hidden wisdom foreordained by God before the systems of things. (1Co 2:7) The declaration of the mystery, or “the sacred secret of God,” began with Jehovah’s own prophecy at Genesis 3:15. For centuries men of faith looked forward to the “seed” of promise to deliver mankind from sin and death, but it was not clearly understood just who the “seed” would be and just how this “seed” would come and bring deliverance. It was not until Christ came and “shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news” that this was made clear. (2Ti 1:10) Then the knowledge of the mystery of the ‘seed of the woman’ began to be understood.
The Messianic Kingdom. In Paul’s writings he gives a full view of the revelation of the sacred secret of the Christ. At Ephesians 1:9-11 he speaks of God’s making known “the sacred secret” of his will, and says: “It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. Yes, in him, in union with whom we were also assigned as heirs, in that we were foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.” This “sacred secret” involves a government, the Messianic Kingdom of God. “The things in the heavens,” to which Paul refers, are the prospective heirs of that heavenly Kingdom with Christ. “The things on the earth” will be its earthly subjects. Jesus pointed out to his disciples that the sacred secret had to do with the Kingdom when he said to them: “To you the sacred secret of the kingdom of God has been given.”—Mr 4:11.
Includes the Congregation. There are many features in the knowledge of the sacred secret. The apostle gave further details when he explained that the sacred secret includes the congregation, of which Christ is Head. (Eph 5:32; Col 1:18; Re 1:20) These are his joint heirs, with whom he shares the Kingdom. (Lu 22:29, 30) They are taken from among both Jews and Gentiles. (Ro 11:25; Eph 3:3-6; Col 1:26, 27) This feature of “the sacred secret” could not be made clearly known until Peter was directed to visit the Gentile Cornelius and saw this Gentile household receive the gifts of the holy spirit, in 36 C.E. (Ac 10:34, 44-48) In writing to Gentile Christians, Paul told them: “You were . . . without Christ, . . . strangers to the covenants of the promise, and you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13) Through God’s dealings with the congregation, “the governments and the authorities in the heavenly places” would come to know “the greatly diversified wisdom of God.”—Eph 3:10.
This congregation is shown in vision in the Revelation to John to be composed of 144,000 persons “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” They are standing with the Lamb, Jesus Christ, on Mount Zion, the place where the “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem,” is located. In ancient earthly Jerusalem was situated “Jehovah’s throne,” with kings of the line of David seated on it; also the temple of Jehovah was there. In heavenly Jerusalem Jesus