Grace & Truth Chapel
131 Fardale Avenue ~ Mahwah, New Jersey
Phone 201-327-6226 ~ E-mail

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"The Mystery of Godliness" (posted November 3, 2011)

  And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
   - 1 Timothy 3:16

Seeing that the Assembly is the House of God-- the living God-- and the witness and support of the truth, how important that we should know how to behave ourselves in the House of God. In view of pious behavior the apostle speaks of "the mystery of piety," or the secret of right behavior.

One has written of this passage: "This is often quoted and interpreted as if it spoke of the mystery of the Godhead, or the mystery of Christ's Person. But it is the mystery of godliness, the secret by which all real godliness is produced-- the divine spring of all that can be called piety in man" (John N. Darby). This mystery of piety is what is known to piety but not yet manifest to the world.

The secret of godliness lies in the knowledge of God manifested in and through the Person of Christ. Thus in this beautiful passage we have Christ presented as making God known to men and angels.

In Christ, God was manifest in the flesh. The absolute holiness of Christ was seen in that He was justified in the Spirit. We are justified in the death of Christ; He was sealed and anointed altogether apart from death-- the proof of His intrinsic holiness.

Then, in Christ as Man, God was seen by angels; in Christ He was made known to and believed on in the world; and finally, the heart of God is made known by the present position of Christ in the glory.

All this is spoken of as the "mystery of godliness," because these things are not known to the unbeliever. Such, indeed, can appreciate the outward conduct that flows from piety, but the unbeliever cannot know the secret spring of piety. That secret is only known to the pious; and the secret lies in the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God has been revealed to them in Christ.

Hamilton Smith

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