Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The Mystery of Godliness

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fourteen of the third chapter of First Timothy.

The Mystery of Godliness

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Paul has just finished (in the last two articles) giving Timothy the criteria for the people who were to serve in leadership with him. (I am careful to make sure that you are aware that serving in leadership is serving, not an opportunity to shirk responsibility or delegate opportunities to serve to suit selfish ambitions)

Another level

Some see Pastors, overseers, deacons, bishops or whoever is in leadership as “another level”, yes they are worthy of respect and worthy to be listened to, but they are just like you and me in many ways, they will disappoint, they are human, they won’t always get it right.

I remember visiting a church and hearing a Pastor who has recently gone to be with the LORD! And he stated (at the foundation of a new church, church was maybe about a year old at that point) that in that fledgling church if he was able to please people about 80% of the time he would be doing better than he himself thought he would.

You see, people assume because someone has taken a calling to be a pastor or a deacon that they are somehow enamored with this new ability to not error or make mistake. They are not sinless guys (There was only one of them and he is our Savior Jesus Christ) They will tick you off, they will hurt your feelings and in many cases will not make it good because many folks will not let them know.

I say this because people are leaving churches in droves, most are not meeting with the pastor, some are letting them know by text, email or even a phone call, which dependent on the pastor may be okay, but it is always best to meet with the person and love them enough to share what is going on.

Some of this is good and some of this is not as good as discussing today’s passage. Paul hopes to see Timothy soon, but Paul is fully aware that we are not guaranteed tomorrow (especially someone with as many people who hated him and wanted to see him wiped out as Paul) so he wrote this letter to Timothy, the church in Ephesus and now for us.

How to behave in the household of God

Paul writes to give these guidelines for Timothy so that “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Paul wanted the church to be singular; regardless of the city the church was planted in he wanted some things to be constant. Paul gives guidelines to Timothy in order to know how he should set the church up, start it on the right foot and how things should run.

Paul reminds Timothy that it is not Paul’s house, not Timothy’s house; they are merely custodians of the house of God. This is a sobering reminder as I am guilty as anyone at admiring men with awesome ministries and seeing what God has accomplished through them. (As if they had done it themselves) But as Paul states, they are simply custodians, on a temp job if you will – This is God’s house!

Not only is it God’s house, but they are called together under the same purpose to be a “pillar and buttress of the truth” both the buttress (ground, foundation, what the place is built upon) and the pillars (what holds the building up and stops the roof crashing in) is truth. There are some churches that need to revisit this because if we are not giving the full counsel of the gospel, we are not serving our believers well.

The truth and the whole truth

Also, anyone who comes looking for truth, if the church is not giving the whole truth then people may miss out on the salvation message of their Savior Jesus Christ. The church is where the truth should be exalted, held up and defended; if the church is not doing so then there will be no truth as we cannot trust the world to give an accurate account of the gospel.

V16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

And here is the truth! Let us look at the mystery of godliness…

1) Manifested in the flesh – This is the beautiful part of the Immaculate Conception when Jesus was born of a virgin in the City of David, in Bethlehem and became man in order to begin his mission here on earth to atone for our sins. He was no less God, no less the Son in the Trinity, no less due all the honor and glory that his deity demands, but now was manifest in the flesh in the same way all of us were, born of a woman.

2) Vindicated by the Spirit – Jesus was not like the rest of us, as in justified after he had sinned by the Holy Spirit. Jesus never sinned and was he was who he was always supposed to be, completely justified and vindicated by the spirit and in constant communion with the Father God. (Matthew 3:16; 1st Peter 3:18; Acts 2:32-33)

3) Seen by angels – If we look at passages in Matthew Mark and Luke we see that Jesus had contact with angels, they ministered to him and they escorted him home to heaven. (Matthew 28:2-7, Mark 1:13, Luke 22:41-43)

4) Proclaimed among nations – Paul himself did this as did the other apostles (and Timothy also) where they would preach to the Jew first and then once they were unable to do this then they preached to the Gentile, bringing the nations to repentance. If we were not converted from Judaism then we are part of this ongoing process and I thank the LORD for the faithfulness of the apostle Paul.

5) Believed on in the world – As a result of this preaching, men believed having their hearts convicted by the Holy Spirit; we are not here to replace the Jews but to encourage the Jews into faith in their messiah Jesus Christ.

6) Taken up in glory – Jesus when he had completed his mission ascended to heaven (Luke 24:51) He prays and intercedes for us still on behalf of the Father (1 John 2:1) His last words before he died on the cross were “It is finished” which meant he had done what the father had sent him to do.

Jesus = literal fulfillment

Jesus fulfilled this and more and his witnesses when he was resurrected showed the world that this was not just some common criminal who died a common criminal death, but he was who he stated he was. Death could not hold him and he is alive today at the right hand of the father. He is the only one who can save you from your sins. Do you know where you are going if you were to pass away tonight?

Paul gives these six reasons why it is beyond all controversy, even within two generations of Christ’s crucifixion there were still heretics and naysayers stating that the historical fact did not happen. Even today people set out to drive a hole in an infallible bible and inerrant truth. Paul does 1st century apologetics in order to give a reasonable defense for what was believed. Praise God that he did!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Three – December 23rd

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Three – December 23rd

Thank you for reading our twenty third installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy in the book of Psalms chapter twenty four which is an awesome piece of prophetic scripture and speaks that the messiah will ascend to heaven…

Who is this King of Glory?

Psalm 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

I am reminded of a song that we used to sing at Vision Calvary Chapel of Porterville which has the words of verse 8 verbatim. The messiah (Jesus Christ) had been through death and reappeared to his disciples, but there was still one last act to do while on earth and that is to ascend into heaven where he is today.

One of the questions that is asked by those who have not studied the Bible is “Where is Jesus today?” well I would point them towards the following verses in Mark and Luke, these explain better than I ever could where my messiah is today.

One Psalm – Two parts

The 24th Psalm is a wonder to me, like many Psalms it is one in two parts, part one is verses one thru six and part two is seven through to ten. I love that in the beginning of the Psalm in verse one and two he confirms the creation account and in verse three it asks “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” in verse four he answers “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” and verses six and seven talk about the righteous reward.

Jesus confirms this in the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter five:

Matthew 5:8 (ESV) Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Part two speaks of the messiah and asks “Who is this King of glory?” it also mentions the gates of heaven and the ascension of the LORD as well as the invitation for him to come home. Reminds me of the hymn I used to sing at Sunday school:

“This world is not my home; I am just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue,
The Angels beckon me, from heavens open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”

Make no mistake about it, heaven was open and willing and waiting for the messiahs return. We read that the messiah gets two distinct names that are befitting his majesty. He is called THE KING OF GLORY and LORD OF HOSTS, two very regal and majestic names that could barely do him and his glory justice. Let’s look at the book of Mark to see how he ascended.

Ascension (Part 1) Mark’s Gospel

Mark 16:14 (ESV) Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

So when Jesus came back it was not all hearts and flowers, like any good teacher he had to deliver a tough lesson to the eleven remaining disciples (twelve minus Judas Iscariot) he had to “rebuke them for their unbelief and hardness of heart”. Can you imagine this? They have spent three years with the best bible teacher ever to walk this earth, they have seen him die and be brought back to life and they still had unbelief?

Suddenly I don’t feel bad about having doubts on occasion about trivial things that happen in my life! Jesus makes sure that they are accountable for believing what they had been taught, don’t get me wrong it is a supernatural thing to hear and unless you had some sort of confirmation that it was correct it would be a tough one to swallow, but these guys had been in Jesus inner circle, they were well warned about what was going to happen.

They are given their (to use a British Army term) “Part one orders” They were to be the beacons of light to the world, they were the new evangelists and go to everyone proclaiming Jesus message. This is still the Christian’s commission today; we are to share Jesus with whoever God puts in our path. We are commanded to make disciples and those who believe will be saved. It is our job to be the tool used by God; the Holy Spirit convicts the heart unto repentance.

Jesus then ascends to heaven and sat at the right hand of God (where he is today) He promised that he was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) and to make intercession for us (Romans 8:3) He is in the right hand of the father to show his place in the order of heaven, much higher than the angels. Jesus also ascended leaving the Holy Spirit to minister to us; we are not alone or cut off from God waiting for his return.

The disciples followed Jesus command and “went out and preached everywhere” we do know historically that the gospel was not spread much beyond Jerusalem until after the Christian persecution.

Lastly we read that “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” I love this and this is where we mess up a little today in church, in the original blueprint the preaching came first and then the signs and wonders came after. The stuff that could change people’s lives was allowed to be the foundation and then the supernatural stuff follows to confirm the message.

Ascension (Part 2) Luke’s Gospel

Luke 24:50 (ESV) Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke being a physician is a little more clinical on his witness account of what happened next, he gives the exact location that Jesus left them, (Bethany) he listed what he was doing (lifting his hands and blessing his disciples) and what happened afterwards.

Jesus took his place as his last act on this earth prior to the second coming to assume the role of the disciples High Priest. Jesus spent his life blessing people and with the power and love that came from these hands, this blessing was for real.

As he was blessing them he went home. This was no ET moment, this was the culmination of forty days of intense ministry for the disciples and appearing before witnesses to prove the resurrection, even as he was leaving the earth he was putting the finishing touches on the disciples preparation for ministry without Jesus.

Jesus literally fulfilled the ministry of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) what greater example we could have but Jesus himself?

They had great joy knowing that Jesus mission was complete; imagine if Calvary had been the end? There would be no Christianity! They returned to Jerusalem (at least until the persecution) and went to the temple and kept in prayer and praise to God. They really believed that it was true and they now lived as public followers of Jesus. By attending the temple they wanted to be in God’s house, in his ministry and in his service. This is a true example of lives changed by Jesus.

Jesus went through all this so we can join him in heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Sixteen – December 16th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Sixteen – December 16th

Thank you for reading our sixteenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be the Son of God. We read this prophecy in the 2nd Psalm verse seven.

Begotten not created

Psalm 2:7 (ESV) I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

I love this prophecy it tells me two things about the coming messiah:

1) He is the Son of God
2) He is begotten

Here is where we lose our Muslim friends who claim that Allah is the same God as the God of the Bible. In Islamic literature we read that “Allah has no Son”. So with Jesus being the Son of God, they worship a different God. I know folks like Tony Blair and his faith foundation may disagree with me, however both holy books (the Bible and Qur’an) say it is not so.

This is not to say that people who were born into the Islamic culture cannot go to heaven. They can! In the same way as anyone who is still in their sin can go to heaven, by trusting in Jesus Christ and following him as your Savior. You will no longer be a Muslim but a Christian.

I also find it awesome that the word used is “begotten” as we stated in a previous article, he was both born of a woman and born of a virgin. (Notice how prophecy comes together?) He was born in exactly the same way that we were, God could have created him as a man, much like he did Adam, but God decided to have Jesus be born as a child. This passage is also quoted in the book of Hebrews…

Hebrews 1:5 (ESV) For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

The writer to the Hebrews quotes two well-known pieces of scripture (to the Hebrew audience at least)  and ties them to messianic prophecy. He quotes Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14, here is the latter for full context:

2 Samuel 7:14 (ESV) I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:

This takes away the heresy that was perpetrated through both the secular world and to a lesser extent the church that jesus was an angel and not actually the Son of God. These verses categorically refute this.

Bible versus opinion

I like it when the bible explains way better than I ever could. I would much rather quote the bible to explain a theological position far better than I ever could. I may stumble, have bad grammar or just not explain it well. The Bible on the other hand would explain, give prophecy and draw a line between scriptures to show God’s perfect will.

Truth be told, my opinion is flawed, like any man and subject to bias. The way that I look at these articles is that if I cannot back up the claims or theological ideas that I put forward with scripture and elementary theological reasoning, then what I write is bunkum.

My Son – Who I am well pleased

Matthew 3:16 (ESV) And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There is nothing finer than a proud parent. When my daughter does well I am so proud. I also love to extend words of love to her as well as warm embraces. It is important to me that she knows that despite her faults I love her unconditionally.

But when she makes me proud, an example of this would be when she sings out, makes a craft that she has invested time or is proud of or even does well at something, my heart swells to an almost exploding rate and I am so proud. God is in that situation with Jesus. Here is the Son of God, humbling himself and allowing himself to be baptized by a man to be an example to the ones who will follow him.

I recently had a birthday and my daughter made me a cake (with adult supervision) and you should have seen her face as she brought that to me. She was so happy to be giving something to Daddy on his birthday. She was glowing to see daddy’s response.

Again (if we really needed it at this point) is further confirmation that Jesus is Gods own son. The firstborn and the apple of God’s eye, equal in deity with God but also humanity incarnate.

Deity versus humanity

This is the most common problematic issue with looking at the life of Jesus. We have to treat all situations acknowledging that whilst he is fully human, he is also fully God. Angels worship and serve Jesus, which gives us his place in heaven. (Hebrews 1:6; Deuteronomy 32:43)

We can’t promote the humanity in place of the deity (and vice versa) He is fully God and fully man. He is God because we see in these scriptures that Father and Son share the same being, because he is both he is the only one who could atone for the sins of the world. Unlike the Jehovah’s Witness and Latter Day Saint (Mormon) churches believe, Jesus is confirmed as being both God and man.

Jesus is unique, there is no-one else that came down and knew from the beginning that he was there to die for our sins. He gave everything, never sinned, lived a perfect life, was blameless and man tried to send him to his death because of their own sinful hearts.

But death could not hold him; three days later he rose again, strengthened his followers by appearing to them before ascending into heaven to sit at the Fathers right hand. He will come again to judge the world, but it is your choice whether you are found guilty or not.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE