The Mystery of Godliness Part Two
“Great is the mystery of godliness;
God was manifest in the flesh…”
1 Timothy 3:16
God Manifest in the Flesh
The unveiling of the Mystery of godliness begins with the incarnation of God in the flesh. Without His initiative to step into our dark world to walk, live, and die as a man, we would be forever lost in our sins.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The motive of God is forever love. Of His own Will, He was moved to reveal unto us the sacrificial nature of His heart. Though we see various instances in the Old Testament of God appearing to His servants (for example: to Abraham in Genesis 18:1) these manifestations are what theologians describe as anthropomorphisms of brief duration. However, it was not until the Divine conception within Mary that God breathed Himself into the human race.
In His brief 33 years walking as a MAN, growing up as a MAN, learning obedience, experiencing the darkness of the religion of that day (as He sat in the Temple at the age of twelve), hearing the reasoning and ignorance of God that these men had, that He fully felt the oppression of the religious and political landscape of humanity.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
The Mystery of Godliness begins in our “seeing” Jesus in spirit and in truth. In the “seeing” of Him by the “spirit of revelation” we are instantly infused with an impartation (though embryonic) of the Divine Nature; a ministration that transcends the words and rhetoric of religion, breathing into us the very breath of His Life. There is no longer an attempt to initiate change in our own strength but we now experience the change brought about by our receiving of Him.
“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…”
Our journey INTO godliness begins in those who personally receive His Being into their own. As Jesus grew into a man He “became” our salvation in overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh, and even Satan. In like manner, we “as newborn children” desire and are exhorted to drink in the powerful nourishment of the “milk” of the Word.
“as newborn babes desire the pure soul-nourishing milk, that you may grow by it; if indeed you “tasted” “that the Lord is good;”
1 Peter 2:2-3 (LITV)
Note the language of the Word of God: “that you may grow”! Much of the gospel of today states that by our belief (mental assent) in Christ we are now fully declared righteous, and the great work of God is complete. For many, the “milk” of the word becomes a steady diet. The Mystery of Godliness is presented doctrinally and is no longer a mystery. It becomes just another “declaration of faith” which holds no wonder or need for pursuit. The idea that we need to grow in holiness or godliness is considered legalism and presented as something to be ignored by the social gospel of our day.
Paul clearly distinguishes between those who are growing into maturity by receiving the “pure milk of the word” and those who are satisfied with the milk of the word and have no desire to develop further.
“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able”
1 Corinthians 3:2
It is evident that even though they were receiving of the apostolic ministry, they were partaking of MILK and it was not producing growth!
“Neither yet now are ye able”
There was a vast difference between the ministry of Paul to the Church at Corinth and his ministry to the Church at Ephesus. Those who are truly receiving the ministration of the Word, walking in its power, and feeling the call of God to maturity, can no longer remain satisfied with the milk (as good and necessary as it is for a season). Those who are content with the milk of the word may intellectually understand the great doctrines presented in the Epistle to the Church at Ephesus, but they do not profit from it. They hear with the mind, but the heart is not impacted by the Mystery presented in its ministration.
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”
Personal entrance into the Mystery of Godliness can only become our truth through a living faith which causes us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only”. Without our coming to the place of “doing” we will remain unchanged and unaffected by His Word. We remain loved by God but stagnant and immature in our walk.
An intellectual assent of belief is the deceptive nature of religion. James compares it to the belief that even demons have.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”
Faith without works is a dead and presumptuous thing in the sight of God. The Greek word translated “works” is energia from which we derive the English word “energy”. Faith is the power of God, active and alive within a child of God. It transforms the hearing of the word into the doing of the word. We are not saved by good works. As Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 2:8-10) we are saved “unto good works”. A life that fails to express the works of faith is devoid of the faith from which they spring.
Works (energia – energy) that are the product of a living faith are the evidence of our entering into the mystery and power of godliness. Paul presses Timothy to avoid those who attempt to present “a form of godliness” but in reality deny its power. Godliness is itself the manifestation of the power of God in our lives. It is the outcome of His Truth being active and influential within the life of a believer. There is an evident difference between those whose lives are being changed by the growing dynamic of godliness and those who are content with having a doctrine of godliness.
“Having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”
2 Timothy 3:5
We need the authenticity in our day to begin to walk in all that the Word presents to us! We are not talking about self-righteousness or high-minded thoughts concerning ourselves. We are talking about the truth of our own apprehension of Him.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (read Hebrews 5:11-14)
The writer of the Book of Hebrews is reaching out, exhorting, and admonishing the believers to whom he is writing. There is a love and a desire for them to rise out of their stagnation. It was LOVE that birthed the exhortations, not self-righteousness! The burden to see them leave the milk of the word was the echoing of the Spirit of Christ within him.
True fellowship of the Spirit exhorts one another unto godliness and purity of heart. We can often mingle with Christians with little or no mention of His wonder or person. At other times, even in brief conversations with those who are alive and filled with the dynamic of faith, there is a refreshing and encouragement in Him. Fellowship is the fruit of our WALK in His Light; it has very little to do with what a person may or may not believe.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
1 John 1:7
There is a sharing of the Light of God with those who are alive and walk in it. What is this Light of which God is speaking?
“In him was life;
and the life was the light of men”
It is a sad commentary that we often estimate an individual by what they know rather than by that which they live. When His people walk in the Light they are living and moving in the power of Him. In that Wonder of Him fellowship arises; faith is communicated, and we touch the truth of the Body of Christ. In this atmosphere of faith and Light, we experience the Mystery of Godliness!
Related Post: The Mystery of Godliness – Part One
to be continued…