The Mystery Of Godliness

1 Timothy

The Mystery Of Godliness

July 20th, 1958 @ 10:50 AM

1 Timothy 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.
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THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Timothy 3:16

7-20-58    10:50 a.m.

 

You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The Mystery Of Godliness.  In our preaching through the Word, we have come to the last part of the third chapter of 1 Timothy.  And if you wish to follow the message in your Bible, you can easily do so.  First Timothy 3, and I begin reading at the fourteenth verse, to the end of the chapter, the sixteenth verse; 1 Timothy 3:14-16:

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

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.

[1 Timothy 3:14-16]

This is one of the great, great passages of the whole Bible.  The apostle begins with a word concerning the reason for the establishment by God of His church in the world.  He says that the church of the living God is God’s abode; it is God’s house; it is where God lives; it is the resting place of His love; it is God’s manifestation in this earth [1 Timothy 3:15].  As Paul wrote before in the sixth chapter of the [First Corinthian letter]: we are separated; we are elected; we are called out [2 Corinthians 6:14-17].  And when we respond to that election and to that call, he says, we are His sons and His daughters that He might dwell in us and walk in us.  God’s manifestation in this world is to be in His church, and His dwelling place is in His church.  The abode of God, in the world, is in His people [2 Corinthians 6:16-18].

Pure truth is the Book that I hold in my hand—the Word of God.  But, if it is not incarnate, if it does not live in us, it does not germinate—for its propagation, for its dissemination, for its being made known in the earth, it requires us.  So the house of God, the dwelling of God, is in His people; it is in His church, the house of God, the dwelling place of God, which is His church [2 Corinthians 6:16].  Then God has another reason for the establishment of His church in the earth.  Not only is it His dwelling place—and could I say blessed and fortunate is the congregation that feels the moving presence and Spirit of God.  A man may be able to worship God by himself on a green hillside somewhere, but it is nothing comparable to the presence of God that moves in power when God’s people are assembled in His church.

Now He has another reason for the manifestation of His church, the establishment of His church in the world: and that is that it might be the pillar and ground of the truth [1 Timothy 3:15].  The word translated “ground,” you can translate it “stay” or “prop.”  The church is the pillar and the stay of the truth.  God has set His truth in the church.  Some of it may be in an atom; some of it may be in a universe; some of it may be in a flower or a rainbow; some of it may be in an electronic discovery, but these are almost inconsequential and insignificant.  Whether the astronomer knows very much or not very much doesn’t matter very much.  And ultimately, whether we are smart in electronics or not is inconsequential and insignificant.  But the great truth of God that has to do with our lives and our souls; and what happens to us now, and what happens to us in the world to come, that truth God has placed in His church.  And the church is the pillar and stay of that truth: it represents it; it upholds it; it presents it; it manifests it to the world [1 Timothy 3:15].

Now in Paul’s speaking of that, then he defines, he delineates that great truth of the living God, which is for our soul’s salvation.  He defines it; he delineates it here in the Word—what is the truth of the living God, concerning which he says His church, God’s church, is the pillar and stay; then he defines it, “without controversy” [1 Timothy 3:16] that is, the people who know God and love God.  By the assent of all, “without controversy great is the mystery of that truth, godliness,” eusebeias the worship of God; the truth of God: what makes us to know God and to be like God.  “Great is that mystery:  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” [1 Timothy 3:16].

Now when I read that in the English, you can tell that it is more than just prose writing.  There is a form to that which is most manifest in itself.  And practically all scholars of the Scriptures would say that Paul is quoting there from an ancient hymn, which was sung in the early church.  And certainly the meter of it, in the Greek language, is some kind of poetry.  There are three very plain couplets, and the meter of it is very regular.  Now the ancient poetry was not written like our poetry.  Our poetry jingles; it rhymes at the end.  Milton calls it the fettered word.  But the poetry of the ancient people—of the Greeks, of the Hebrews—the poetry lay in the meter and in the sense of the thing.  They made their poetry in contrasts and in parallels; in the thought of it, putting them together alike or in contrast.

Now I’m going to read this ancient hymn for you in the Greek so you can see how it goes.  Starts off with:

Theos (God) ephanerōthē en sarki

Edikaiōthe en pneumati

ōphthē aggelois

Ekeruchthē en ethnesin

Episteuthē en kosmō

Anelēmphthē en doxē  

Which translated literally:

He was manifested in the flesh.

He was justified, vindicated by the Spirit of God

He was seen, He appeared unto angels (and we’ll see what he means by that in a minute).

He was preached, proclaimed, made known in the nations.

He was believed on in the world.

He was received up into doxē, into glory, the doxology, singing the glory of God.

 [1 Timothy 3:16]

Now, let’s take these passages.  By the way, I want to say a word about the parallelism of that.  The first two couplets concern the flesh—the first two are contrasts between flesh and Spirit.  “He was manifest in the flesh, He was justified in the Spirit” [1 Timothy 3:16].  The third and fourth—the next two couplets—are contrasted by angels which are near to God, and the nations which are far away from God [1 Timothy 3:16].  And the last two couplets are likewise contrast, the world and glory [1 Timothy 3:16].  We haven’t time for all that.  Some Wednesday night we’ll take an hour and look at Greek poetry, of which this is an instance.

I want to get on with this message now.  He says that this is a great mystery: “Without controversy great is the mystery” [1 Timothy 3:16] of this truth that God has built in the heart of His church.  Now to you, to us, when you read a newspaper on mystery, or a mystery story, or a mystery novel, the word “mystery,” to us, has come to mean an unfathomable riddle.  You get to the end of the thing, and the denouement is there, and you find out who slew such and such.  Or a mystery is an unsolvable problem; it’s an enigmatic, dark thing and it’s a mystery.  There was nothing of the meaning of that in this Greek word mustērion, which has been bodily translated into English, and you have it mystery; a mustērion.  A mustērion in Greek was a thing, a knowledge, an initiation that was only revealed to those who were initiated, to whom it was revealed; for example, the Eleusinian mysteries.  Just about fourteen miles northwest of Athens was the ancient little city of Eleusis.  And there were those famous Eleusinian mysteries.  And they used that word “mystery” in the sense that here was a knowledge, a revelation, like the Masonic Lodge, which is only revealed to the initiated.  The uninitiated didn’t know it.

Now that word mustērion is used according to that Greek definition all through the Bible.  A mystery is something that human reason could not ferret out.  A man by his erudition, his scholarship, his learning, his research could never discover it.  But it has to be revealed!  And a mystery is a great truth, a great thing that is known to God and would have remained forever secret until God reveals it to His people.  Now I want to show you that.  I have picked out the seven greatest mysteries of the New Testament, of the Christian faith.

The first mystery is this one named here: “God was manifest in the flesh” [1 Timothy 3:16].  That’s the mystery of the incarnation [Matthew 1:20-25; John 1:14].  Now a second great mystery is in Colossians 1:26 [and] following: “The mystery… hid from ages and generations, but now made manifest to His saints,” to these who are initiated, “To whom God would make known the riches of His glory, this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” [Colossians 1:26-27].  The mystery of the new birth [John 3:3, 7]: Nicodemus, the learned teacher in Israel said, “How can these things be? [John 3:9].  I don’t understand!”  I don’t understand either.  All I know is when men are born again, when they are regenerated, he’s a new man [2 Corinthians 5:17]: these old things have passed away, and these new dedications glow and shine in the marvelous light of God, the mystery of a man’s changed life!  Here he is in the world, here he is in sin, here he is given to materialism, or agnosticism, or atheism; and there he is preaching the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ!  It’s a mystery!  Paul was that way [1 Corinthians 15:9-11].  I haven’t time to mention the preachers since; who have astounded the world by the change in their hearts and lives.  The mystery of the new birth, that a man could be born again [John 3:3, 7]: and we have experienced it; the touch of the power of God.

Another mystery: this thing that was hid from the beginning of the world [Ephesians 3:9], described in Ephesians, the third chapter, that God was going to build in this earth a new thing [Ephesians 3:5-6].  And on the inside of that new thing were to be Gentiles; were to be Jews, Scythians, barbarians, Greeks, provincials—all kinds of people—from every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and language were to be in this house of God [Colossians 3:11].  And in the third chapter of Ephesians, Paul described it, this mystery of Christ:

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, but it is now revealed unto us by the holy apostles and by the prophets in the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.

[Ephesians 3:5-6]

 

This mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God; but now to the heavenlies above and to the earth beneath, made known by the church of God!

[Ephesians 3:9-10]

That was a mystery that the old prophets never saw [Ephesians 3:5]—that God was going to have an age, a “church age,” in which Jew and Gentile, and any man that would come in faith to Christ, should be an integral part [Ephesians 3:6].

Now another mystery: this third mystery here is that of the union of Christ and His church.

No man ever yet hated his own flesh (body); but nourisheth it, and cherisheth it, even so the Lord the church:

For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones…

This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and His church

 [Ephesians 5:29-30,  32]

It is a great mystery, says Paul, that we are His body, bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh, the mystery of the union of Christ with His church [Ephesians 5:30].

Then the mystery, dark and foreboding, of the working of evil in 2 Thessalonians 2:7: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only He that hindereth will hinder, until He is taken out of the way.  And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall… destroy by the brightness of His coming.”

The mystery of the incarnation is God in the flesh [Matthew 1:20-25]; the mystery of evil is Satan manifest in an ultimate and final Antichrist [2 Thessalonians 2:8]; the mystery of iniquity which doth already work [2 Thessalonians 2:7].

Then he calls this mystery, our translation and the resurrection of the dead.  In 1 Corinthians, in the fifteenth chapter, in the fifty-first verse:

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we, we shall all be changed.

[1 Corinthians 15:51-53].

Don’t you see by these things what he means by that word “mystery?” [1 Corinthians 15:5].  You would never know that!  No man, by philosophical, metaphysical reasoning and research could ever find those things: they are revealed by the Spirit of God; they are a mustērion.  “I show you a mustērion;  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be translated, changed, caught up with our Lord in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when our dead shall be raised incorruptible and when we shall all be changed.

Now this last mystery: this one concerns the salvation and restoration of Israel.  In Romans 11:25 and following:

But I would not have you brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations be come in.

And then shall all Israel be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob…

For the calling and promises of God are without repentance—without change.

[Romans 11:25-26, 29]

The mystery of Israel in these thousands of years, buried among the nations [Ezekiel 22:15], but the Jew is still among us; Israel is still here.  And the great mystery of God in that final deliverance for His people is not known yet to us.  It is hid in the unfathomable choices and elective purposes of Almighty God.  All I do today is just see it, just watch it.  Somehow, all history seems to migrate and to turn toward that final great Armageddon [Revelation 16:13-16, 19:17-21], in which the Lord God said He is to reveal Himself [2 Thessalonians 1:7-8], and in which God shall save His chosen people [Romans 11:26].

I can’t see it.  I don’t understand it.  I just watch.  And there that Hebrew nation, with these thousands of years, is still among us.  And there, according to the prophecies of the Word of God, all history seems to converge and to flow with their armies and their diplomats.  And all of the things that make or break, for the making of the nations or the breaking of the nations of the world, converging in that place [Revelation 16:13-16], toward which the ancient prophet lifted his hand and toward which these apostles do speak, do prophesy [Joel 3:2; Zechariah 14:2-3; Revelation 16:14-16].  I cannot enter into them.  They are the mysteries of God.

Now we return to this one, which Paul says is the greatest one, by the assent of all, “Without controversy great…” and this is the only one of the mysteries that is entitled mega, great, heavy, tremendous.  “…great is the mustērion of the revelation of God” [1 Timothy 3:16].

Then he defines it.  Now we’re going to follow it until that clock says we ought to stop.  God was manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16]: mystery of mysteries, the uncontained, the boundless, the infinite, the unsearchable, the past finding out; the great unknown.  “God was manifest in the flesh,” became flesh; flesh that withers like the grass of the field, like the flower of the field; flesh which in essence is dust.  God is manifest in the flesh, in the flesh!  Mystery of mysteries: that God should become a babe [Matthew 1:20-25], born like you; that God, who feeds this world, should Himself be hungry [Matthew 21:18]; that God, who controls the destiny of the universes, should suffer and die like a man [Matthew 27:26-50].  The mystery—who would have thought it?  Who would have guessed it?  Who would have supposed it?  The mystery of godliness: “God manifest in the flesh!” [1 Timothy 3:16].

How near that brings God to us: the star of Bethlehem is the star of every man’s hope [Matthew 2:1-11].  Between God, infinite and living, and a man, who’s finite and dying, there is a bond of the most wonderful kind.  Our great brother, Jesus the Lord—we, fellow heirs with Him [Ephesians 3:6], bound in a common love and fellowship and communion: God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16].  “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9].  Don’t ask to see God in a bush, that burns [Exodus 3:1-2], or in the lightning of a Sinai [Exodus 19:18, 20:18].  Here is God! [John 14:9].  Would you know Him?  Look full into the face of Jesus!  Would you talk to Him?  Speak to Jesus!  Would you walk with Him?  Walk with Jesus!  Would you hope in Him?  Hope in Jesus!  Would you love Him?  Love Jesus!  Would you trust Him?  Trust Jesus, God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16].  From the manger [Luke 2:7-16], to the cross, from the cross [Luke 23:26-46], to the tomb [Luke 23:50-53], from the tomb to glory [Acts 1:9-10], God manifest in the flesh—the” Word made flesh and dwelt among us” [John 1:14].

“Justified in the Spirit” [1 Timothy 3:16], in His flesh, weak and poor, hungry and reviled, crucified and rejected, slain and dead, but in the Spirit, but in the Spirit, vindicated by the power of the Spirit of God that rested upon Him.  In His words, in His works, in His deeds, the very power of the Spirit of God moving in His soul; even as a child, as a boy, He dumbfounded and astounded the learned rabbis of the schools of Shammai and Gamaliel and Hillel [Luke 2:47].  As a man: “Never man spake like that Man” [John 7:46].  He spake as one having authority.  Moses might have said, and the old covenant might have said. “But I say unto you,” above the authority of the revealed Word of God in the old covenant [Matthew 5:20-45]. Vindicated by the Spirit [1 Timothy 3:16], not only in the words that He spake, but in the deeds that He did.  He spake, and it was done by fiat: the wind sleeps; the waves rest [Mark 4:39-40]; health smiles [Matthew 8:14-15]; pain is relieved; strength comes [Mark 2:11-12]; the dead live [John 11:43-44].  Where there’s power of the Spirit of God upon Him, justified, vindicated by the Spirit of God [1 Timothy 3:16]: at His baptism came upon Him in power [Matthew 3:16]; in the transfiguration, there, in all of the glory He had before the world was [Mark 9:2-7]; and when He was laid in the tomb, declared to be the Son of God by the Spirit in the resurrection from the dead! [Romans 1:4].  The Holy Spirit of God said: “This, this is God’s Son!” [Romans 1:4]. And all that He did, all that He said, and every promise that He made, the Spirit of God vindicated by raising Him up from the dead.  And that vindication, that justification by the Spirit of God [1 Timothy 3:16], has continued through the unending centuries since.  At Pentecost, the Spirit of God came upon the believers in Christ with a great rushing, mighty sound and furor and with flames of fire descending, burning rampant and glorious [Acts 2:1-4].  The largesse promise by the Son of God—when He should enter into glory, taking captivity captive and distributing gifts unto men [Ephesians 4:8]—scattering the Holy Spirit of God everywhere, and from that hour until this, the Spirit of God has attended the faithful preaching of the Word of Christ!

My brother, I could stand here, or in any other spot, and talk about politics, or economics, or war, or peace, or socialism, or communism, and in five addresses, I should have spun out and my congregation disappear.  I’ve been standing in this place now fourteen years, now three times a day, speaking the gospel of the Son of God!  And the crowd enlarges and enlarges, and grows and grows in the passing of the years—the vindication of the Spirit upon the preaching Word of the Son of God!  As it was said of Stephen: “And they were unable to resist . . . the Spirit by which he spake” [Acts 6:10]—justified in the Spirit [1 Timothy 3:16].  The vindication of the claims and promises of Jesus Christ is to be found in the Spirit of God, moving through the centuries since.

“Seen of angels; seen of angels” [1 Timothy 3:16]; well, what in the world?  “Seen of angels,” as though that were a mystery, but this is what he meant; what he meant was this.  The angels never had thought of it like that before.  The angels in heaven had never seen Godhead, Deity, like that before.  “Seen of angels;” that is, they had seen God in holiness; their perpetual sanctus, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” [Revelation 4:8].  They’d seen God, in majestic and sovereign power, fling their universes into space [Genesis 1:1].  They’d seen God in wisdom and in justice and judgment, but they never thought of God in the form of a man crying over the bereaved [John 11:35], suffering with the sick [Matthew 8:16-17], dying for the lost [1 Corinthians 15:3].  The angels never saw it on that fashion.   And it was a mystery: they never guessed it; they never thought of it—such love, such sympathy, such condescension, such understanding.  And when the angels looked upon Him, it was in adoration and glory.  “Seen of the angels” [1 Timothy 3:16], who were amazed.  God in the flesh [Matthew 1:23]; over the manger, the angels hovering in amazement; directing Joseph [Matthew 1:20-21]; strengthening Him in the wilderness temptation [Matthew 4:11]; bearing up in Gethsemane [Luke 22:43]; rolling the stone away [Matthew 28:2]; sitting at the head and at the foot [John 20:12]; and mostly, as the text would mean, as He came back into glory [1 Timothy 3:16].  I think the fifth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 5:1-14], is the picture of the triumphal entry of Jesus into heaven after He had finished the atonement for our sins on the cross [Hebrews 10:12].  And someday our eyes and angel eyes, and someday our voices and angelic voices shall blend, shall bow, looking upon the Person of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, their Prince and our Savior [Philippians 2:10].

“Seen of angels, preached,” unto the nations, “unto the Gentiles” [1 Timothy 3:16]; well, when you first look at that, it seems so trite and prosaic.  What of that?  “Preached unto the nations.”  Ah, this: nothing had ever been preached unto the nations before, nothing!  They were looked upon as dogs.  It was taken as a matter of course that the elect chosen people of God would be saved.  It was also taken as a matter of course that the Gentile nations would be damned.  “Preached unto the Gentiles” [1 Timothy 3:16], unto the nations, a hope for them.  Mark, you preached, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” [1 Corinthians 1:21].  “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” [Romans 10:17].  “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Romans 10:14]

The great tower, the bulwark of offense and defense in the wall of Zion is the pulpit of the Son of God.  That’s the reason I think it is a tragedy to see churches take it away, put it on the side or put it up there—anything to get rid of it.  When God says: “It is by the foolishness of preaching that men are saved” [1 Corinthians 1:21]—our genuflections may be beautiful, and our incantations and litanies may be impressive, and our anthems may be gorgeous; and all of the habiliments of so-called worship may be very sensual in our pleasing—but “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe!” [1 Corinthians 1:21].

I’ll never forget Ambassador Cowan with his hand—over there in Manila—gesturing to the great Philippine Islands, who belong to a stated, ritualistic church, saying: “We need missionaries!  These people need preaching to.  They don’t even understand Latin liturgy.  They need preaching to!”  Preach unto the nations!

“Believed on in the world” [1 Timothy 3:16].  And that is the greatest mystery of the six.  “Believed on in the world.”  Why, consider it.  At Pentecost, Simon Peter preached the Word of the Lord [Acts 2:14-40], and the men who had crucified Jesus, the men who had gnashed on Him with their teeth, at Pentecost, [Peter] preached to those men and they were saved—saved [Acts 2:36-41].  And they took that same gospel message to the cultured Greek and the proud and imperious and contumacious woman!  Think of it; a despised race, the Jews, and the most despised of all the Jews, this crucified Nazarene receiving as the very Son of God, and be saved! [Acts 2:22-47].  Ah, the mystery of it.

And coming down to us, the little band of a hundred and twenty at Pentecost [Acts 1:15] became thousands, and the thousands soon subverted the whole Roman Empire.  And the message is reached down to us today.  And however the professor may scoff, and however the superior pseudoscientist may ridicule, there is something in the power of the preaching of the Son of God that changes the souls of men.  It’s not in the preacher.  It’s in the message; preached unto the Gentiles [1 Timothy 3:16].

Why, a man can come here and sit down and say, “I’ll be a Christian if the preacher can convince me.  Here I sit.  Let him persuade me if he can.  I dare him to.”  Why, he can sit there all his life.  If he’s a convert of the preacher, he’s an unchanged man.  He’s an unregenerated man.  Like Sam Jones, walking down the street of one of those Georgia towns where he’s holding a revival meeting, there was a fellow drunk in the gutter.  And a critic said, “Look, Sam Jones, there’s one of your converts.”  Sam Jones looked at him in the gutter and said, “You’re right, brother.  That’s one of my converts.  God never had anything to do with that.”

The power of the gospel does not lie in a man’s eloquence or in a man’s personality or in a man’s erudition.  The power of the gospel lies in the unction of the Holy Spirit, when the message of God is delivered [1 Corinthians 2:4].  And that may be by a rude, uncouth, unlettered, unlearned, ungrammatical man, butcher of the King’s English, make as many mistakes grammatically as Dwight L. Moody, preach without education, like Sam Jones or Billy Sunday.  That’s not it—not in the man.

The power lies in the message that is delivered, “Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” [1 Timothy 3:16], the great mystery of the exaltation and elevation of our Lord.  The work is finished [John 19:30].  The atonement is made [Romans 5:11].  Satisfaction has been offered [Hebrews 10:12], He arrives in triumph in glory [Acts 1:9], there to receive the rewards of His high office as Son of God and Savior of men [Revelation 5:12].  And there He lives today to ensure the ultimate and final triumph of His own [Hebrews 7:25, 12:2].  God’s people may be slain.  God’s church may be decimated, we may fall upon evil days, but He abideth faithful forever [2 Timothy 2:13]. 

Not a word that He spake shall fall to the ground.  Not a promise that He made shall ever fail of its fulfillment.  These who have trusted in Him, however feeble and weak, He shall someday deliver to God without fault, without blemish, without stain [Ephesians 5:27], without sin [Jude 1:4].  “Of those that Thou hast given Me, I have lost not one” [John 18:9].  My brother, He is there to ensure our ultimate and triumphant arrival.  “I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will receive you unto Myself, I will come again” [John 14:2-3], baring the sword to His foes [Revelation 19:15], unveiling His face to His children, receive us to Himself [John 14:3], an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away [1 Peter 1:4], with Him, received up into glory [1 Timothy 3:16]; the mystery of godliness [1 Timothy 3:16]; grace indisputable.

Now while we sing the song of appeal and invitation, somebody to give his heart in faith to the Lord [Ephesians 2:8], would you come?  These stairwells, the front and the back, in this balcony around, somebody you giving your heart to Jesus, somebody on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front, “Here I come, pastor.  I give my heart to Jesus.”  Somebody to put his life in the church, a family you, or one somebody you; if I make the appeal, it is nothing, if the Spirit of God bid you come, oh! listen to the voice of our Savior [John 1:27; Hebrews 3:7], come.  Come.  Come.  On the first note of the first stanza, if the Lord bids you here, come.  Come.  If He knocks at the door of your heart, open the door of your heart [Revelation 3:20].  “Here I am, Lord.  Here I am.  Take me.  Save me.  Use me.”  Come.  Come, while we stand and while we sing.

THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Timothy 3:14-16

7-20-58

I.          Introduction

A.  Two reasons God established His church in the world(1 Timothy 3:15)

1. It is the place of His abode(2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

2.  That it preserve and uphold His truth

B. Paul defines and delineates the truth of the living God(1 Timothy 3:16)

1.  Scholars say Paul is quoting ancient hymn

2. Calls it a musterion – secret known to God until He reveals it

II.         The greatest mysteries of the Christian faith

A.  Mystery of the Incarnation(1 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 1:22-25)

B. Mystery of the new birth (Colossians 1:26-28, John 3:3, 7, 9, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

C.  Mystery of the calling of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:5-6, 9-10)

D. Mystery of the union of Christ with His church (Ephesians 5:29-32)

E.  Mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

F. Mystery of the translation of the living saints (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

G.  Mystery of the restoration of Israel (Romans 11:25-26, 29, Revelation 15:4)

III.        This mystery the only one called “great, tremendous, mega”

A. God manifest in the flesh

1. Binds us to God(Ephesians 3:6)

2. Reveals to us God(John 1:14, 14:9)

B.  Vindicated, endorsed by the Spirit(Luke 2:47, John 7:46, Matthew 5:20-45, Mark 9:2-7, Romans 1:4)

1. The Spirit’s vindication of Christ through the centuries (Acts 2:1-4, 6:10, Ephesians 4:8)

C. Seen of angels – a new thing to them; the Godhead in Christ they had never seen before(Revelation 4:8; 5, Matthew 1:20-23, 4:11, 28:2, Luke 22:43, John 20:12)

D.  Preached unto the nations, the Gentiles

1. Until Christ, nothing had been “preached unto the nations”

2. Preaching – the God-ordained means of reaching souls (1 Corinthians 1:21, Romans 10:14, 17)

a. Ambassador to the Philippines – “These people need preaching to.”

E. Believed on in the world

1.  The Jews who crucified Christ, at Pentecost converted(Acts 2:37-41)

2.  The rapidity by which it was received – 120 to thousands

3. The power of the gospel to convert the heart

F.  Received up into glory – a finished work, atonement offered, satisfaction made(John 19:30, Acts 1:9)

1.  The certainty of His ultimate triumph, deliverance (John 14:2-3, 18:9)