Chapter 20 – Mystery of Godliness

Posted: October 12, 2022 in Shared Thoughts
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Part 1

Do you know why Paul untiringly prayed for the church?

“For this cause do I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and that by being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to fully know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you all might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to that power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
(Ephesians 3, verses 14 thru 21)

Introduction to Chapter 20

Almost 2000 years ago the Apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle to Timothy that it was not “Without controversy, [for] great is the mystery of godliness…” Well, without a doubt that statement remains every bit as true today as it was the day Paul wrote it.

But how many believers today even know what this “mystery of godliness” is? Perhaps a quick look at the scripture Paul wrote will help to stir up our hunger for truth, understanding, and righteousness.

1st 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.

Clearly, this mystery pertains to the fact that Jesus Christ was in truth God manifested in the flesh. But, if we want to glean all we can from these nuggets of golden truths that Paul has presented here, we must not lose focus of all that Paul is saying in this verse which applies directly to Jesus Christ, and those actions and events which he lists which transpired due to His incarnation. For not only is it true that “God was manifest in the flesh,” for Paul continues to affirm these other truths that “[God was also] justified in the Spirit, [God was] seen of angels [while manifested in the flesh, and therein He], preached unto the Gentiles, [whereby God was] believed on in the world, [and in the end, God was] received up into glory.

These truths here are the purpose and heart of this chapter.  For I wish to remind you that God’s inspired Word encourages us to learn that “Wisdom is the principal thing. Therefore, get wisdom, and with all your getting, get understanding,” (Proverbs 4:7). For with the Lord is wisdom and knowledge, and by Him comes understanding. Consequently, if we are so instructed to “get understanding,” then surely understanding is available to all for the getting. But just like that great treasure which when a man found it hid in a field, and then went and sold all that he had to buy the field, and the same with the pearl of great price, understanding being a great treasure must be purchased with diligent asking, seeking, and knocking upon the door of heaven. But for all that so ask in faith with persistent seeking and diligence, we have the sure promise that God is in truth a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

But, what is this wisdom? Certainly, it is not the vain wisdom of this world, but that which alone comes from God and quickens the spirit of man, and makes him alive unto God.

1st Corinthians 3:18 – Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

If the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding, then it might be said that the wisest thing anyone could set their heart to do is to seek both knowledge and understanding of God. For if there is a God, and be assured that there is, it becomes incumbent upon all of us to seek Him out and to discover how we might not only get along with Him, but please Him as well.

Knowledge is basically an awareness of unalterable truths of reality that pertain to, and are divided among the areas of intellectual perceptiveness, specifically; who, what, and where; while wisdom primarily rests within a sense of application as to when and how; but understanding is having a firm mental grasp of perceiving the “why,” to the point these things becomes a motivation and is exercised in faith and expectation. It might be related this way-

  • Knowledge is the foundation for faith.
  • Wisdom is the application of faith
  • Understanding is the hope and motive which turns faith into faithfulness.

Such is why the author of Hebrews stated that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1). Accordingly, it is our understanding of the things of God that enables us to be faithful and to be wholly transformed into the overcomers Jesus Christ has called us to be. For consider these words of Peter –

2nd Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And thus, through Peter’s words above, we have introduced “grace” into our subject, and yes, it is amazing grace. But do people really understand God’s gift of grace? This is critical for those professing Christianity. Because, if a believer fails to understand the purpose and workings of God’s grace, then it is almost certain they will fall short of allowing it to accomplish all that God intended it to in their life.

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