Summary: To establish that the “mystery of godliness” is manifested in the church through its saints, its foundation and its founder the only begotten Son of God. This lesson deals with the “truth which is after godliness.”
1. Regarding the Christian's Behavior
2. Regarding the Church's Buttress
3. Regarding Christ the Only-Begotten
1. In this lesson today we are going to be discussing a portion of Paul's first letter to Timothy. This letter has been described by biblical historians and commentaries as one of Paul's Pastoral Epistles. We will discuss in this letter three messages to his son. They are the message regarding the Christian's behavior in the "house of God;" the church's foundation as "the pillar and ground of the truth." And finally, a message regarding the "mystery of godliness" or Christ as the “only-begotten Son of God.”
2. First, Paul writes to the young evangelist regarding the Christian's behavior in the "house of God." He says, "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..." Notice, after giving guidance and qualification for the leadership of the church (elders and deacons), he instructs the preacher on his behavior in the house of God. I'm afraid that many problems which face the house of God are caused by preachers. If we learn first how to behave, as preachers; we can then admonish the membership regarding their behavior.
3. Secondly, he writes regarding the "buttress;” the “support or foundation” of the house of God. He states: "the house of God is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth." The true church has as its support and foundation the "truth." It therefore must speak the truth as its message and present truth as its only standard. Those who claim to be the "church" must have as its message "the truth." And its messengers "as trustworthy." The religious groups not claiming to be "the church of the living God" need not contend for the truth, nor require it of their messengers to "proclaim the truth" in their preaching.
4. Finally, Paul writes regarding the "mystery of godliness;" and the only-begotten Son of God. He describes that: "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory." If this is not the story of the "only-begotten Son of God," I don't know what is? Jesus Christ is the "God" described in both of these textual statements in our discussion: "the church of the living God" and "God was manifest in the flesh." For what purpose? To "reveal the mystery of godliness."
BODY OF LESSON
I REGARDING THE CHRISTIAN'S BEHAVIOR
A. These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: Here is Paul's letter to Timothy regarding his and other member's behavior in the church. He concludes the chapter with a particular direction to Timothy. He hoped shortly to come to him, to give him further directions and assistance in his work, and to see that Christianity was well planted, and took root well, at Ephesus; he therefore wrote a very brief letter to him.
B. In the conclusion of his instruction regarding church leadership - both elders and deacons - he concludes with instruction to the young preacher regarding his behavior in the church.
C. Simply stated: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how..." He wrote encouraging Timothy how he might know how to behave himself in the house of God, how to conduct himself as becomes an evangelist and minister of Christ. Many of our ministers do not know how to behave in the church or how to be a proper example before it. In, 1 Timothy 4:12-16, Paul outlines how the minister or evangelist should present himself before the church and God. He says: “These things command and teach.”
1. In his public life. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity,” verses 11-12. Live a life of purity before God and men.
2. In his pulpit life. “Till I come, give attendance to read, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery,” verses 13-14. Grow in your preaching and in your ministry before the Lord, the church and men.
3. In his private life. “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee,” verses 15-16. Paul advises Timothy to abide in the doctrine that will save him; and save others.