Summary: Most people think of this Mystery of God manifest in the flesh as applying only to the deity of Jesus Christ. But it also have huge implications for godly Christian living.
The Mysteries of God: Mystery # 1
“God was Manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16 KJV)
“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” (I Tim. 3:16). The Bible tells us many are going to be unfaithful stewards of this mystery in the end time (I Tim. 4:1; I Cor. 4:1-2)
The 6 Truths that comprise this mystery of God will focus our attention on 4 key & unique events in the life of Jesus: The virgin birth, Transfiguration, Resurrection, and Ascension. No one else in all of History has ever been virgin born, transfigured, resurrected & ascended!
We must begin with a preliminary note on the Importance of Progressive Revelation in the Bible. Each great Divine truth & Doctrine begins in seed form in the Book of Genesis, grows with life giving insight throughout the Bible, finally culminating in a life altering full bloom of glory in the Book of Revelation.
We learn a lot about God in the O. T. but behold His glory as never before in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). The ultimate revelation of God is found in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:9; 1:19; John 1:14, 18).
But in the same way there is a progressive revelation of God in Christ throughout the N. T. which ultimately explodes with unimaginable life transforming glory in the Book of Revelation! (Matt. 8:27; Rev. 1:17)
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Cor. 3:18). The greater the glory we behold, the greater our transformation (2 Cor. 3:18; I John 3:2).
We see this Progressive Revelation in the supernatural design of the 4 Gospels. The Gospel of Mark (50 A.D) has no genealogy. Jesus presented as the perfect servant of the LORD (Isa. 52:13 – 53:12). The Gospel of Matthew (60’s) traces Jesus’ genealogy back to King David (1000 BC) then Abraham (2000 BC) (Matt. 1:1) & reveals Jesus as King. The Gospel of Luke (60 ‘s) traces Jesus’ genealogy back to the 1st man, Adam & reveals Jesus as the perfect man who came to save all mankind. The Gospel of John (90 A.D) traces Jesus’ existence & Being all the way back to the beginning; and reveals Jesus as God manifest in human flesh. The Book of Revelation gives us the full “revelation of Jesus Christ”(1:1).
This is why it takes a whole Bible to be a whole Christian (Matt. 4:4). You really grow & mature in your Faith as you read & study the Bible through from Gen. – Rev. We can’t afford to skip some books of the Bible any more than a Surgeon can skip a few anatomy classes!
“And without controversy…” - There can be no question about the validity of this truth – Jesus is God! The mystery of how God can become a man is beyond our human understanding. But the fact that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ is beyond dispute!
“great is the mystery of godliness” - The greatest part of this mystery is that “God was manifest in the flesh.” Manifest in two ways:
First & foremost “God was manifest in the flesh” in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God! (Col. 2:9). Secondly, “God was (and is) manifest in the flesh” in every true “born again” Christian. If we are a Christian, Christ lives “in” us (Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 13:5; etc.). And Christ is God!
GODLINESS is a way of life: (1Tim. 2:2) “...that we may lead a quiet & peaceable life in all GODLINESS.”
This way of life was unknown in the O.T. but now manifested through the lives of Christians. Supernatural Godly living is made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19). It is a supernatural way of life made possible by the 2nd great mystery of God which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
GODLINESS is also a revelation: a revelation of God in Christ through His virgin birth, Transfiguration, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into Heaven where He now reigns in glory.
So the mystery of godliness has to do with both the doctrine of Christ & the lifestyle of Christians.
False doctrines lead to false living. Faithfully teaching the “mystery of godliness” results in God’s redeemed people living godly lives! But we are warned that “… in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, proud, disobedient to parents, unholy, despisers of those that are good, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)