Sermon for Sunday April 3rd, 2011
The Mystery Of Godliness by Steve Shepherd
1 Timothy 3:14-3:16
INTRO. - Unsolved mysteries.
ILL.- Juan comes up to the Mexican border on his bicycle. He’s got two large bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and says "What’s in the bags?" "Sand," answers Juan.
The guard says, "We’ll just see about that; get off the bike.” The guard takes the bags and rips them apart. He empties them out and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains Juan overnight and has the sand analyzed, only to discover that there is nothing in the bags but sand.
The guard releases Juan, puts the sand into new bags, heaves them onto the man’s shoulders, and lets him cross the border.
A week later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, "What have you got?" "Sand," says Juan.
The guard does his thorough examination and discovers that the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to Juan, who crosses the border on his bicycle.
This sequence of events is repeated every week for three years. Finally, Juan doesn’t show up one day and the guard meets him in a cantina in Mexico.
"Hey, Buddy," says the guard, "I know you are smuggling something. It’s driving me crazy. It’s all I think about. I can’t sleep. Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?"
Juan sips his beer and says, "Bicycles." CUTE STORY. Mystery revealed. In time, all mysteries will be revealed and nothing is hidden to our great God!
I Tim. 3:16 “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great.” Wow! Isn’t this the truth? The mystery is great.
And the mystery of godliness is no longer a mystery! The mystery of godliness is JESUS! And He is no longer a mystery to our world! With TV and the internet, most people have heard and are hearing about Jesus! We even hear TV news commentators occasionally talking about Jesus! What’s the world coming to?
Colossians 2:2-3 “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The world needs to hear more about Jesus since He is the way, the truth, and the life. I am so thankful that God revealed Himself to us through Jesus. And I’m glad to know Jesus and that He’s the mystery revealed.
PROP.- Jesus is revealed in scripture and Jesus reveals godliness to us. He is portrayed in various ways by Paul.
1- He appeared in a body
2- He was vindicated by the Spirit
3- He was seen by angels
4- He was preached among the nations
5- He was believed on in the world
6- He was taken up in glory
1. HE APPEARED IN A BODY
Hebrews 4:14-15 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”
He was tempted in every way, just as we are. He was tempted to sin just like us because He was in the flesh just like us!
What’s the importance of Jesus coming in the flesh? He was God in the flesh. He came to seek and to save the lost. He came not to be served but to serve. God being a servant? How could this be? And why?
Jesus came to reveal the Father to us! Like father, like son! If there ever was a son who was just like His Father, it was Jesus!
The beauty of the incarnation is that God came in human form to reveal Himself to us. What if He’d chosen not to do that? Wouldn’t you hate not knowing our God and Father?
ILL.- Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler.
One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, "I am your king!"
The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, "You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!"
And this is exactly what God did by sending Jesus. He was visiting us as God in the flesh. And He was tempted just like we are. Consequently, He knows how we feel and what we’re going through. And He is completely sympathetic, merciful and forgiving.
2. HE WAS VINDICATED BY THE SPIRIT
The Message Bible/version reads: He was proved right by the invisible Spirit. The idea is that the Holy Spirit empowered Him and enabled Him to do mighty miracles, which proved His deity.
The Spirit worked in Jesus’ life and proved Him to be the Son of God. What about you? Does the Holy Spirit work in your life? Does He prove you to be God’s child?
Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Is this what the Holy Spirit does in your life? Is His fruit evident or obvious or is there some other kind of spirit at work in you?
ILL.- I was talking to my daughter the other day about her oldest, Hope, who is about to turn 10 years of age. I said, “She is a sweet girl.” Holly said, “Yes, but I wish she wouldn’t fight with Caleb so much.” Caleb is her younger brother.
Well, we all know that’s sibling rivalry or some of it is just kids being kids. Kids are going to be kids but there is a point where they should grow up.
If this be true for kids, then what about us? Have we stopped being kids? Have we stopped being childish and immature in our actions? Only if we yield to God’s Holy Spirit who lives in us.
There are times when I am a real saint but there are times when behind the wheel of my car that I can be......... You know what I mean and you are no different, only it may be when you’re at work or some where else.
ILL.- I remember an elder who was very faithful at church. He was a good elder, but put him at the ball park when his sons were playing ball and he almost became a devil. He would yell and carry on and it was downright embarrassing.
When are we going to let God’s Spirit rule in our lives? When are we going to let Him produce His sweet fruit in us? Only when we surrender to Jesus.
Jesus was surrendered to the will of His Father. It was evident by the Holy Spirit who lived in Jesus. We must allow the Spirit to live, reign and rule in our lives.
3. HE WAS SEEN BY ANGELS
It is nice that the angels saw or watched Jesus while He was engaged in His earthly ministry because they did have a job to do. Do you know what it was?
Matthew 4:10-11 “Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
The angels came to Jesus and ministered to Him. And this may well have happened many other times, even though it is not recorded for us in scripture. And again, this shows the human side of Jesus. He needed help just as we need help. He needed to be ministered to, just as we do.
Is there someone who is faithful in ministering to you, to your needs? Hopefully, there is. Who? It could be your mate. It should be your mate. It could also be a good, faithful Christian friend. And it could be the angels.
Acts 5:18-20 “They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."
Peter and some other apostles were put in jail for preaching Christ and healing people. But God sent His angels to get them out of jail. And If I’m ever put in jail I would want God to send the angel to get me out too!
Acts 8:26-27 “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship.”
I would like for angels to send me or direct me to people would be open to the gospel just like they did for Philip.
Hebrews 1:14 “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Sounds good to me! I’ll vote for it! I need a ministering spirit, don’t you?
4. HE WAS PREACHED AMONG THE NATIONS
He was and is shall be preached until He comes again.
II Timothy 4:1-4 “1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
I believe in the preaching of the Word and preaching about Jesus. It’s God ordained and a God blessed way to reach some people for Christ. MAY IT EVER BE! We must always stick to God’s Word: present it, preach it, and point people to the Jesus of the Bible! That’s the only way people can be saved.
But preaching in the pulpit is not the only way to preach Jesus. In fact, the pulpit ministry may be the least effective way of preaching Jesus.
Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
We all need to be preaching Jesus wherever we go and whatever we do! We need to be quick to speak a good word for Jesus. We need to stand up for Jesus! We need to stand up and be counted for Jesus!
5. HE WAS BELIEVED ON IN THE WORLD
The people of our world need to believe on Him or in Him! He is our only hope! How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so and I trust God’s Word.
Acts 16:25-33 “25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, "Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!" 29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
Millions and millions of people have come to believe in Jesus in this very way. They believe in who Jesus is, in what He did for them on the cross, and then they want to do whatever He asks them to do: be baptized, make disciples, become servants, etc.
Millions have come to believe in Jesus and millions will follow in their steps as long as the Lord gives us life on planet earth. And God is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance. (I Tim. 2:4, II Peter 3:9)
6. HE WAS TAKEN UP IN GLORY
Acts 1:7-11 “7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
What a sight that must have been! We can only imagine, of course.
Jesus had to leave the scene in order to finish His Father’s work. Now it’s our turn to finish the Father’s work on earth. We need to walk in His steps and do His work. And God has not left us alone or helpless. He has given us His Spirit to aid and help us in the work.
And “greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” II Timothy 1:7
My human spirit is timid, weak and helpless, BUT NOT GOD’S SPIRIT WHO LIVES WITHIN ME!
And if we continue to live for Christ in this life, someday, we too may be lifted up into heaven! And it’s all because of Jesus. We, too, will someday be taken up in glory because of Him!
The mystery of godliness is all about Jesus and the world needs to wake up, smell the roses, and see this truth!
There are lots of good things happening in our world today, BUT THE GREATEST OF ALL THESE IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!
More than anything the world needs Jesus and we need to give Him to the world! The mystery of God is revealed in Jesus. And the world desperately needs Him above all else!
I John 2:17 “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”