Sermon Illustrations

Donald Grey Barnhouse on Mystery Engagement

The second aspect of our being strengthened is given in the last half of Romans 16:25 where Paul says, “according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” In other words, we are strengthened when and as the ancient mystery is opened to us.

How is this so? Part of the answer lies in the word “mystery” (mysterion), which in the New Testament does not mean mysterious or secretive (as the English word suggests) but rather a secret which was once hidden but is now revealed.

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse illustrated this idea when he recounted how he once employed a single woman named Elizabeth as his private secretary who was terrific, and so far as he knew had never dated anyone. This was fine with him because he did not want to lose her. However, one Sunday morning as he parked his car someone approached him saying, “Max and Elizabeth are engaged.” He did not believe it. However, when he got to the church door someone else said the same thing. When he stepped into his office there stood Elizabeth beaming radiantly, confirming the engagement. She and her new husband planned to serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mexico. Barnhouse reflected:

"Here was a true mysterion in the New Testament sense. It had been completely hidden, absolutely unknown, totally unsuspected. Then suddenly it was whispered to one person, and the news spread like leaves in the wind. . . . True, after we knew that the young couple were engaged, we could look back and remember certain circumstances which might have led us to suspect if we had only been thinking in that direction."

From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, The End is Praise, 10/21/2009

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