God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who was valiant for the truth (John 18:37; 3:3; 5:19; 6:26, 32, 56; 8:34, 58; 10:7; 13:21, 38).
God lamented in Jeremiah 9:3 that he had no one valiant for the truth. God forbid that there ever be a dearth in men and women of that caliber today. We are recapturing the mystery, and it is sure exciting. The great mystery of godliness certainly can electrify and motivate us to live for God when we are captivated by its truth. It took about 40 years for God to completely reveal it to Paul, and within Paul’s lifetime it was lost. God’s people forsook the great mystery to promote their private concerns and agendas and to establish control over God’s people or as II Corinthians 1:24 says, “to have dominion over their faith.” Rather we want to be fellowlaborers, “helpers of their joy.”
There were several years of my life after having learned, lived and enjoyed the great mystery of godliness, that I lost it. I could quote the verses and purport the doctrine, but my practice, how I lived my life, denied it. We have to live it with pure consciences. . . willing at any moment to examine ourselves to see if indeed we are still in the faith as II Corinthians 13:5 says. People demanded allegiances to people and not to truth and I was hoodwinked.
As we recapture the great mystery of godliness, it is important that we not lose it again. That’s an ever-present danger. In II Timothy Paul details four steps down, and it will behoove us not only to be aware of them, but to also avoid them at all costs. E. W. Bullinger, in his introductory notes on II Timothy, states that the prominent feature of II Timothy is the church’s departure from the truth listing the four verses that demonstrate the road to ruin.
It’s easy to point fingers at the first century believers wondering how they could have departed from the faith. But we do not have to look far from where we are today at friends and acquaintances we have, to see the great difficulty believers still have today getting along and maintaining likemindedness.
Some of our brethren, our long-time friends, are going through some real tough times these days. Many fellowships are still bickering and fighting and not living the mystery as one body. It’s important that we support them in prayer.
Some people want to have no standards to life. . . to let anything go. . . to let their own egos run wild and do whatever they want to do. Others legalistically try to run everyone else’s life thinking they have all the answers. Neither extreme is good or profitable. We want to maintain our liberty, and that takes walking circumspectly. Unless we work as a unified body pursuing common goals and objectives dictated by God in His Word, we have no chance of the mystery continuing throughout our lifetimes.
I want to handle the confronting and hurtful truths that some shall depart from the faith. Now that doesn’t mean they are not believers or that they still didn’t fellowship or go to church. It means they no longer were living according to the faith, the gospel of the grace of God, the great mystery revealed. I also want to handle the four steps Paul warned Timothy of in his second epistle. The idea in handling these four steps down is not so we can point fingers at others. It is so we can take care of our own walk with God as it relates to the One Body of Christ to which we have been called. I need to remember these steps so I don’t repeat the error. God forbid that all the ground we’ve gained in living the mystery be forfeited because of selfishness, political intrigue, and maneuvering. I don’t want to go down that road again.
The steps down are:
1. They turned away from the Apostle Paul (II Timothy 1:15).
2. They erred concerning the truth (II Timothy 2:17-18).
3. They resisted the truth (II Timothy 3:8).
4. They turned away from the truth unto fables (II Timothy 4:3-4).
As you can see the steps down relate to how we deal with the truth. The central section of I Timothy is 3:14-4:5. It covers the purpose and the conflict. The purpose is stated in 3:14-16, and the conflict is presented in 4:1-5.
I Timothy 3:14-15:
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou [one] oughtest to behave thy[one]self in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
The second “thou” in verse 15 is not in the text. This isn’t just instruction so that Timothy knows how he ought to behave; this is instruction for all the believers. NAS: “that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God.” NIV: “you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household.” NLT: “you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.” Greek interlinear: “so that you may know how it behooves [one] in [the] household of God to conduct oneself.” This instruction was not just for Timothy; everyone needed to know how to do it.
I 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.
This is the very heart of the Marvelous Mystery Tour Teaching Series. Jon Nessle takes two hours to handle these different facets of the mystery in it. Suffice it to say right now that the mystery of godliness is great. Let’s hold on dearly to it!