What Is Meant By Mystery of Godliness?

Paul talks of this phrase in 1st Timothy chapter 3, verse  16.  So here I will explain the powerful truth  concerning what is meant by  the Mystery of Godliness.  

God walked this planet 2000 years agoThis phrase, we will see. involves the ASTOUNDING Truth that God walked this planet in the person of His Son.   The Son of God became truly human, to live a beautiful life amongst us and die to redeem us.  This phrase also contains the truth that Jesus rose again after crucifixion and entered into glory.   However, this phrase also encapsulates the tremendous destiny of the Church ( God’s people), that they too are destined to glory.  The church will rise with Christ to be glorified,  The Church one day will be gloriously perfected and shine in this world!

The Household of God

God has a loving home where He lives, moves and acts!  It is His ‘Church’ to which  we all, (if saved) belong to.  This wonderful family, this household,  His church is precious to God and is being built by Jesus.

Mathew 16: 18I will build my Church and the gates of hell will NOT prevail against it.

Christians of all ‘churches’, denominations, as well as those with no denomination really belong to this great household – this ONE Church.  Acts 20:28 informs us that the Church (us collectively as believers) has been purchased by God’s own blood! What a wonderful scripture – proving that Jesus Christ is truly God; it was His blood that purchased the Church.

This Church that Jesus built and also purchased, is described in verse 15 as the custodian of the truth. (The pillar and ground of truth). Let’s look at the TRUTH – The major aspects of the truth, that are held and displayed by God’s household in verse 16.

The Mystery of Godliness

This verse appears to be a fragment of an early church ‘hymn’! It is the setting of the Churches beliefs to poetry and music.

1 Tim 3:16 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Let’s look at what the hymn is saying.

God Was Manifested in the Flesh

Who is it then that was manifested ‘in the flesh’? This was none other than God, the eternal creator of all things. This means an astounding thing!   God, became truly human and lived among us; He was the eternal Word of God, (The Son of God).  This is the creator (the Word) spoken about in John 1: 1-2 regarding His existence and power –  prior to His birth at Bethlehem as Jesus.

John 1:1, 2In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 

These first two verses speak of the wonderful One who was in the VERY BEGINNING.  Before the world, space or time itself came into existence.  Verse 3 teaches that Jesus (The Word) created ALL things. Each flower, bird, every star, and every planet, angels and men all were created through him.

The Astounding Happening

Then something wonderful happened!  Let’s now look at a wonderful verse: John 1:14.

John 1:14  – And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father – full of grace and truth.

ASTOUNDING! This means that one-day something AWESOME happened! The Lord Jesus at a particular time in history, became something He was not before! He became a physical being who was truly human in every way; a human life and human nature! Before that event in history 2000 years ago he was essentially Spirit as the Word with the Father.

The Apostle John’s Testimony

Years later the apostle John casting his memory back said that they had actually seen and touched this eternal and Wonderful One.   This One who had healed the sick, lifted the fallen, loved the sinners, comforted the sad, inspired men and lived and died and rose again for humanity.  Listen to John’s  words:

1 John 1:1 – The one who existed from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and (actually) touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the Word of life!

The Life that knows No language

prostitutes were bathing Jesus feet with tears.John was trying to describe the “indescribable One” because there is no earthly language capable of describing the beauty of the life he lived among us.  Earthly languages all fail!  This life drew the loyalty of rugged fishermen; tax collectors and children.  All these were utterly drawn to him. Even prostitutes were bathing Jesus feet with tears of repentance as His gracious life drew them to sorrow over past sin,  a new sense of purity and an awareness of God’s love and grace.  As you read through the gospels, you will see that his was also a path of loneliness. Rejection at times by his own family and the most severe persecutions that came from the strict unyielding religion of his day were his lot! God (as Jesus) new human hunger, thirst, tiredness, temptation, temptation to discouragement, (dare I say it – real sexual temptation also). Every battle that we fight was his!    And praise God, every victory he won belongs to us also!

HOW human was Jesus?

According to  the scriptures the very test of whether a teacher is speaking from God actually depends upon whether or not he believes God became truly human!

1 John 4: 2,3By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the {spirit} of the antichrist.

So how human was Jesus as he walked amongst us? – How much did he ‘lay aside’ and leave behind when he left heaven? Here are some scriptures to read up if you wish to:

Philippians 2: 6,7 – (The son of God) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

Luke 2:52 – And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.  This tells us that He left behind His “omniscience”.   As God,  The Son of God knew all things.    However, as Jesus of Nazareth he had to learn and grow in wisdom an understanding as we all do.

Acts 10:38 –  God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.   As God, prior to his birth at Bethlehem,  The Son of God  was ALL POWERFUL.   After being born as a man and given the human name of Jesus he was totally dependent on God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Hebrews 2; 18  – For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.  The apostle James ( the Lord’s human brother) tells us clearly that God cannot be tempted, (James 1:13 ).   However. once the Son of God had taken humanity he knew the full force and blast of every human temptation we all endure.

Vindicated In the Spirit

This means that all through the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the time of his ascension into glory, the Holy Spirit both preserved and bore testimony and attested to Christ’s worth and righteousness.

Jesus Vindicated at His Baptism and On The “Mount of Transfiguration”

Matthew 3: 16. 16 – When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  At Jesus Baptism – The Father and the Holy Spirit both attested to Jesus ‘Sonship’ .

In the gospel of Matthew chapter 17 we read that Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.    We are told that as they watched Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun.  His clothes also became as white as light.   Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.  Peter was so awe-struck with all that was happening that he exclaimed, “ Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”   Then God spoke from heaven…..

Matt 17:5 – While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him”.

Jesus Was Offered Through The Eternal Spirit

As Jesus hung upon the cross bearing our sins and the curse of the whole universe, the Holy Spirit as very active.  Jesus Offering of Himself at the Cross was actually through the ‘eternal Spirit’   Hebrews 9:14  how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?   This is a glorious truth!   Among other things, this means that although the crucifixion was a historical event in time it had an eternal consequence.   Because it was such a mighty  ETERNAL EVENT it was planned and actually took place before the earth ever existed.

 Rev 13:8 says – all those dwelling on the earth will worship him, every one whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.

My Christian brother and sister, your salvation is  SECURE.   When Jesus poured out His holy blood he purchased an  ETERNAL SALVATION  for you.   Not only are your past and present sins dealt with, bit also every sin you will commit in the future!

Jesus was Vindicated in The Spirit By His Glorious Resurrection

The resurrection designated and vindicated Jesus as the Son of God with power ( according to the Spirit of holiness).

Romans 1: 3-4 – His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Jesus – Becoming the ‘Life Giving Spirit’ in His Resurrection

It goes far deeper in truth than this..  Jesus, in His resurrection, even became the Life Giving Spirit, (1 Corinthians 15:45, 2 Corinthians 3:17. Bless God, He now comes to us to dwell and live in us. (Romans 8: 9-10, Ephesians 3:17).

1 Cor 15:45 – And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Even while our Lord was on this earth the ‘Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus was not available to man. Let’s look at a portion from the gospel of John together!

John 7:39 But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Now that our Lord has ascended,  He comes to us as the Life Giving Spirit. He said – “ I will come to you!”, ( John 14:18). His Spirit is now available to us to breath into our lives.   When he comes to us he brings all the victories He has accomplished for us through His incarnation (coming to earth), human life, crucifixion, resurrection and enthronement. He said before he left the earth – ‘Be of GOOD OF CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME the world. All His NOW victories are available to us in the power of His life Giving Spirit.

Seen By Angels

Angels saw the incarnation, human living and ascension of Christ. ( Luke 2: 9-14; Matt 4:11; Revelation 5:6, 11-12). They worshipped him in heaven before He came to earth; they worshipped him at Bethlehem. All angels and all creation will forever more worship Jesus.

Rev 5:11 to EndAnd I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.  And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power.  And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Singing, loud praise, with prostration! All is falling down before the lamb! (Jesus) – What a worship service!
Let’s join with the heavenly ‘choir’ Monday evening praising the lord Jesus!

Preached Among The Nations – Believed on In The World

Here we see that Jesus is not the exclusive property of any race or nation. He was not just the Messiah who had come to raise the Jews to earthly greatness. He was and is, the saviour of ALL nations; of the whole wide world.
Let’s pray as we gather that His word may go forth to the whole earth. Let’s praise Him that His love and grace is reaching out to all men today. Freeing, healing, saving, liberating, blessing! AMEN.

Taken Up Into Glory

This refers to Christ’s ascension into glory, (Mark 16:19; Acts 1: 91-11; Philippians 2:9). According to historical sequence, Christ’s ascension went before Him being preached among the nations. However, it is listed here as the last event.  This is for a very good reason (other than poetry).

This indicates that the Church ( God’s redeemed) is taken up into glory as Our Lord was! It implies that not only Christ as the HEAD, but also the Church AS HIS BODY is the manifestation of God in the flesh. We (together as His church are a human manifestation of the life of God on this earth)!

If we as the Church will only function as the loving ‘household of God. If we as the church will only function as the supporting pillar and ground of truth – we as His Body will bear a glorious testimony to the world. And one day the whole Christ – not only the head (Jesus) but also us (the Body) will together be caught up with Him into the glory!
The story of Jesus started in heaven; it ends in heaven! William Barclay says – “ He lived as a servant, He was branded as a criminal, He was crucified on a cross – He arose with the nail prints on him still. But the end is GLORY!”