Mystery of Godliness! — 1Timothy 3:14-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 19, 2017
If you only had one letter, email, or text to send someone that explained how important their faith in Jesus was what would you write? We live in an age where real writing has gone by the wayside. The conveying of ideas no longer relies on the logical progression of argument but rather on the emotional response invoked instead. Politics, science, morality, philosophy and or religion have been reduced to a visceral response garnered for the gain of the speaker and not the audience involved. In other words writing has been rendered to gain the reader’s or listener’s empathy rather than being based on actual facts.
For Paul the gospel message was the single most important message ever given to mankind. Timothy needed to have a firm grasp of what this actually meant because if he did not he would fall into doubt, personal speculation, or worse the hybridization of the truth! Therefore in the following verses Paul makes an appeal to Timothy concerning the mystery of godliness, let’s discover what he wrote and why…
READ: 1Timothy 3:14-16
Jesus established his church because he was going back to where he has always existed, at the right hand of the Father. This does not mean he is actually present standing or sitting by God’s right hand but rather that he shares all that God is because he is God and he returned to where God always is. This can be confusing for our little liner minds but Paul reminds us that…
I. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! (Vv. 14-15)
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
1. Paul has brought to a close some of the principal guidelines which he has to give respecting the preservation of pure teaching concerning the gospel, the church, and the qualifications for ministry. Before going on to other topics Paul halts in order to insist upon the importance of these things, by pointing out what is really involved in them. Their importance is one main reason for his writing. Paul “hoped to come… soon” to Timothy and the churches that were in the area where Timothy ministered. And he was “writing” these “instructions” so that if he [was] “delayed” in any way, Timothy and thereby those Timothy ministered to would “know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household”. A lot of teaching or lack thereof within the American church “God’s household” today is not based on actual biblical teaching concerning “the church of the living God” or what it means. Paul knew this could happen and was warning Timothy and thereby us as well. Jesus established the church when he taught his disciples about how it was supposed to function as far as disciplines were concerned; they were to “tell it to the church”. Then he related, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV) This is not in some esoteric sense for feel good purposes. The church is not a social gathering, a weekly seminar, or a place to train your kids concerning godly things. Jesus used the word ekklēsia (ek-klay-see’-ah) which literally means “called out ones”. The church is made up of folks who were called out by God from the world and into his body. Paul would write his fellow believers, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) So, when Paul wrote Timothy concerning these instructions he was sharing how “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” was supposed to function. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!
EXAMPLE: Do you like a good mystery? I do; in fact I like a good mystery where you are given clues and you piece them logically together one after another in order to solve it. This is why Sherlock Holmes has survived the decades. Sadly today’s world can be presented all the clues and still not logically think through the consequences of rejecting or accepting the truth God has left us to find him through Jesus. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!
The church of God is the body of Christ in the world. We are his called out ones to do his will in this world. To be a part of this great mystery is a tremendous thing indeed. Paul would often wonder why God in Jesus considered him worthy of his sacrifice and grace. He was often in awe of its mercy and his calling and related to Timothy that…
II. Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great! (v. 16)
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
1. What had personally occurred to Paul was a mystery to Paul until he had begun to understand exactly what had happened. Remember he had written, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (1Timothy 1:12-13 NIV) And so now with complete confidence Paul could declare, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!” God coming to earth as Jesus was miraculous however what Jesus did of his own free will was beyond description. Paul would write that Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV) Jesus did this in order that we would be saved from our sin condition. The choice is ours to make: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22 NIV) Jesus could do this because “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” In fact it is “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34 NIV) Thhis is why Paul would write his friend Timothy, “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!
EXAMPLE: Far too often folks have reduced Jesus to being their friend, buddy or daily Daniel Boone who guides them through their times of trouble rather than who he truly is meant to be in their life. Now certainly Jesus can be these personalities but that is not who he is. He is the Alpha, Omega, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all things. Paul knew that beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!
The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.