We See in a Mirror, Dimly

There are a number of passages in the Bible that show us that there are many things that we do not understand in this age. The title of this editorial is from 1 Corinthians 13:12, first part. In fact, the same verse goes on to explain that “…Now I know in part…” The apostle Paul was saying here that in his human life, there were things that he could not see clearly but darkly, or as an enigma as the Greek can be translated. The mirrors in those days were usually polished metal and not fully effective, and he used the image in a poor mirror as an analogy of his understanding.

When we study God’s Word, there are many things we read but as humans cannot fully understand. We read them and know them to be true but with human reasoning we cannot understand how or why. An example of this is in 1 Corinthians 15:35: “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’” Paul goes on to answer this question by beginning with an analogy comparing physical with spiritual things.

Just recently, in a question and answer series, the question was answered, “How can God listen to billions of prayers at the same time?” As a human being, we can usually only concentrate on one conversation at a time, which is why the question would be asked. But with God, whose understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), He could listen to all the prayers of faithful and sincere people at the same time. As was mentioned in the Q&A, in this present age, the number would certainly be a very small fraction of billions, but it would be well within God’s ability to listen to billions.

One might ask, “How could God know, before He created the world, who would be alive in Ephesus in the first century so He could choose His firstfruits from them?” (compare Ephesians 1:4). As a human, our experience and therefore first-hand knowledge extends from some time after birth to death. But with God, who created time, He knew before the world was created whom He would call to become one of His firstfruits prior to Christ’s Second Coming.

Through Moses, God explains to us in Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God.” Then He informs and encourages us, “But those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” So even though there are some things we may not understand because they are not revealed yet, there are many things that God has revealed to us for our benefit. And God has given us this revelation in the form of His Bible. It reveals all we need to know about God and His Plan.

Much is revealed to us in it including that God has a desire for everybody to be ultimately saved as we read in 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He does not exclude anyone for any reason from His desire but when they are called, they must of course respond to Him.

This is also stated in John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” This not only includes His firstfruits but provides the possibility for everyone to be saved in his or her due time. God’s Plan is all inclusive.

However, through His Word, God gives His firstfruits knowledge of rewards for us. Romans 8:29-30, 32 states: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified… He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.”

God also promises that He will not give up on us if we do not give up on Him. Philippians 1:6 says: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God can be totally relied upon to carry out His part of His agreement with all those He calls now.

Again, God addresses us in 1 John 4:9-10, 14. He reveals to us that His Son is not only our Saviour, but the Saviour of the world: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world.” Again, it is revealed to us that Jesus is the Saviour of both us and, later, the world.

And He reveals to us knowledge of the great rewards ahead through king David. Psalm 16:11 reads: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Many things are revealed in the pages of the Bible but some things will not be revealed until our resurrection or change.

If we knew and understood all things, there would not be any reason for faith and hope. Both faith and hope can only be present if we do not see everything clearly but rely on God’s promises, and His promises are awesome. But in this life God requires us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Both faith and hope are mentioned in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope is also mentioned in Romans 8:24-25: “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

Considering the end result of this process of believing what we cannot see, we can read in the rest of 1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am also known.” God knows us fully now but then we shall know all things fully.

The question in 1 Corinthians 15:35, pertaining to the first resurrection, that Paul answered at first with an analogy, before explaining it fully, is also answered in full in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” That is, a glorious Spirit being as John saw in a vision in Revelation 1:13-16.

So the conclusion to the subject is that if we live in faith and hope, not understanding all things now but believing what God has revealed and His promises, this will be the ultimate result, as stated in Revelation 21:7: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

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