Share This Episode
Truth for Life Alistair Begg Logo

The Mystery of Godliness (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2023 4:00 am

The Mystery of Godliness (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1081 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

May 29, 2023 4:00 am

God reveals Himself to us in the Bible—but not completely. There’s an element of mystery that can’t be unlocked until all’s made new. But find out what we can know now that angels only wish they knew! That’s our focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Verdict
John Munro
Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig

God reveals Himself to us in the Bible, but not completely. There is an element of mystery that we won't be able to understand until all things are made new. There is, however, something we can know that angels only wish they knew. We'll learn what that is today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg continues our study in 1st Timothy. We're focusing today on the closing verses in chapter 3. What is the mystery of godliness? Well, it's summarized for us here. The mystery of godliness, he says, is great.

It is great. And then in six lines he encapsulates it. Let me take the six lines and try and summarize them in six words. Number one, incarnation. Incarnation. Where is that from?

Right in front of you. He appeared in a body. It is a reference to Christ's incarnation, that in a moment in time the Son of God became what he was not—namely, a man—without ever ceasing to be what he was—namely, God. The mystery, which incidentally, when Paul uses the word mystery, is simply a reference to that which had previously been secret but which now God has chosen to reveal, and God now has revealed himself in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the mystery of the incarnation is part of the mystery of godliness. And behind that mystery, there is, of course, another mystery, which is the mystery of the Trinity, that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, coequal and coeternal, coexisted before the world was made, and from the splendor of heaven comes the Son of God. This is revelation, you see. This is what God has revealed of himself. And people say, Well, what do we have of God?

Well, what has happened? Well, God is the Creator of the earth. Well, then how has he made himself known? He's made himself known in the world. That's why you have a continental divide.

That's why the rivers flow to the oceans. He's made himself known in his Word. That's why the Bible has such compelling impact. And he has made himself known in the incarnation, in our God, as Wesley put it, contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man. We don't have a mindless faith. I need to go to people who say, He lives within my heart, he lives within my heart.

That's not going to do it. People say, Buddha lives within mine, Buddha lives within mine. Now what are you going to do then?

What have you done? So it becomes total subjectivism. Great is the mystery of godliness. He appeared in a body, and in his appearance there had to be a pre-existence, because he appeared from somewhere. And in his incarnation there was humiliation, because not only did he become man, which was humiliation enough, but he became a servant. And not only did he become a servant, but he became a servant who dies. And he becomes a servant who dies the most cruel pain possible for humanity.

Causing John Murray, the theologian of old, to say it is humiliation inimitable, unrepeated, unrepeatable. Wilbur Chapman encapsulates it in his hymn, One day, one day when heaven was filled with his praises, and one day when sin was as black as could be, Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin and lived among men. My example is he, and living he loved me, and dying he saved me, and buried he carried my sins far away, and rising he justified freely, forever. And one day he's coming.

What a glorious day! Do you see why you need to learn your hymnbook as well? You've got the whole jolly gospel there in a verse and a chorus. That's enough to keep you going all through the week. He lived and loved me, he died and saved me, he was raised for my justification, he ascended to the right hand of God, he intercedes with the Father on high, and he's coming back for me.

What else do you need to know? Well, we better go to the second word. We're running out of time here. Incarnation is the first word. The second word is vindication. He appeared in a body what was vindicated by the Spirit. When men and women nailed him to the cross, in carrying out that act of judgment, they were declaring him to be cursed of God. Now, you need to know your Bible to understand this, but Galatians 3 13 says, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. So the people looked at it, and they said, He can't possibly be the Messiah.

Because the Old Testament says that anyone who hangs on a tree is under the curse of God. Therefore, how can you have a Messiah who is under the curse of God? The answer is, because he was bearing the very curse of God on sin—not his sin, because he was perfect, but the sins of those who would believe in him. And God vindicated his Son in the resurrection.

He vindicated his Son all the way through the journey of life. In his baptism, Jesus stands there, and the Spirit alights on him as a dove, and the voice from heaven says, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And people were going around saying, Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't this this guy from Nazareth? And the voice from heaven says, This is my beloved Son.

That's what people say today. Well, isn't he just another man? Isn't he just a teacher? Isn't he just one on the smorgasbord of religious leaders? And we come to the Bible, and the Bible says, No, this is the Son of God incarnate.

And he is vindicated. You get it in Galatians 4 4, but when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to do what? To redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the full rights of sons. So you're no longer a slave, but a son. And since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. You're in the family. You were a slave, you became a son.

Since you're a son, you've got stuff coming to you. Romans chapter 1 and verse 4, same truth concerning his vindication, regarding his son who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. Turn to Romans 8 and verse 11, and you'll find the exact same emphasis. So we have incarnation, and people looked at him, and then we have vindication, in his resurrection uniquely so, all the way through his pilgrimage, this was the case. And then what we have here is the third word, is the word observation.

Where does the observation come in? Well, he was seen by angels. The angels were observing him.

Where and when? Well, we know that they observed him in his birth. We know that they observed him in his temptation in Matthew 4. We know that when he makes his return to heaven, John pictures it in Revelation 12 with all the angelic host as the party of welcome.

But I think the emphasis is probably here in connection with the resurrection. He was seen by angels. When? When God vindicated him. When he was raised. That's what is so wonderful about these scenes at the end of the Gospels.

Matthew 28. And there was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow, and the guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

They were frozen stiff. And the angel said to the woman, Don't be afraid. I know you're looking for Jesus. He was crucified. He's not here. He's risen just as he said.

Why don't you come and see where he was? So the angels were there observing the wonder of redemption, but not participating in it. They were looking, as it were, over the ramparts of heaven.

Metaphorically so. And Peter pictures that when he describes them in 1 Peter chapter 1 and in verse 12, concerning the glory of the Gospel, concerning the wonder of the Gospel being preached by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, then you have this intriguing little sentence, Even angels long to look into these things. That's why if you want to talk about angels, we'll talk about angels. And you can tell your friends, Listen, I'm going to tell you something that angels wish they knew. I know there's something angels wish they knew. Don't angels know everything?

No, because they're not omniscient. So what do they wish they knew? They wish they knew what it was like to become a Christian. They wish they knew what it was like to be redeemed. They wish they knew what it was like to come from darkness to light. They are, if you like, on the very ramparts of heaven, looking down and saying, Whoa! Look at this stuff!

Nudging one another. Hey, Saul of Tarsus! Woo-hoo! My, oh, my! Would you look at that! Cursing, swearing, knives, daggers, truncheon, stones, flat in the sand.

Check this out. And they wonder at it all. They observe it. A few years ago, when Sue and I were at the Keswick Convention in England, we attended a late-night thing for some of the young people, and in the course of an event that took place, I think, in a school gymnasium or something, a group of young players depicted a scene whereby the thief on the cross appeared in heaven and was greeted by the two angels who were sitting at the reception desk. And the angels had been talking to one another and saying, after the death of Christ, I wonder who the first person will be. I wonder who the first person will be to arrive in paradise. And in, all of a sudden, comes this most unlikely-looking character.

A total ragheap, if ever you saw one. And they look at him, and they say, What are you doing here? And he says, That's what I was going to ask you. And they say to him, Well, you know, are you justified? And he said, I don't know. They said, Well, what have you… So the one of them said, Listen, just sit there for a minute. Just wait there. And he said to his colleague, the other angel, he said, You watch him.

I'm going to go check, because there's something really irregular about this. Well, this guy is the most unlikely person to show up here. So the one angel goes off and checks with Gabriel, has a little chat with Gabriel, comes back, and this is what he says, I've just gone and made a fool of myself with the archangel Gabriel. I told him, There's been a dreadful mistake.

This man's a common criminal. He's nobody special at all. And Gabriel said, Well, he is now.

And I said, What? Then he said, What's your definition of special? And before I had time to reply, he said he thought a personal invitation to paradise from the Lord of life made a person quite special enough. Thank you very much. Then all the seraphim laughed their heads off.

I tell you, if angels could blush, I would have gone golden. Incarnation. Vindication. Observation. Proclamation.

Proclamation. Now this mystery is that which is proclaimed and preached among the nations. All over the world the Spirit of God is moving. Says Donald Guthrie, It must never be forgotten that a Hebrew Christ had become a Christ for the nations. A Christ for the nations.

Let that phrase grab our hearts. A Christ for the nations. Who will go to the nations?

Who's next up in the batting order? Who is ready now to go, to take your place? I will go here.

I will go there. No matter what it costs, no matter what it means, I am ready to go for you to the nations. There are no closed nations. Loved ones, God has to grip our hearts with this. When we see the princes from Saudi Arabia, we need to remind ourselves, Listen, Christ is the Christ of the nations. When the people come out of Eastern Europe and we hear their stories of further affluence and the inroads of BT and technology and all those other things that we might rejoice in because of our interest in material prosperity, we need to remind ourselves, Christ is Christ of the nations. The vast resources of the world are here, and the vast majority of the resources are being used to talk to ourselves. One of the greatest burdens that I bear is people keep telling me all the time, Well, why would you be so concerned about people who don't know? Don't you care about us? I care about you passionately. But the ninety and nine that are safely in the fold are in the fold.

It's the one who isn't in the fold. We do not exist for ourselves. He is preached to the nations. God is a missionary God. He came down on earth that he might send us out into all the world to preach the gospel. When Eric Little left Edinburgh after his Olympic victory in 1924, and he was there at Waverley Station, first to London and from London on then to China, and the crowd gathered to say goodbye to him.

And some were his friends and family and folks from church, and others were people who were intrigued because he played rugby for Scotland and was an Olympic gold medalist. And as they gathered all around, he seized the opportunity, and he dropped a window in his train compartment, and he shouted to the silence crowd, Christ for the world! For the world needs Christ! And then he led them in the singing of All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name and took his journey on, and he died in a prisoner of war camp.

Why? Because he understood the mystery of godliness. It had burned itself into his soul.

He could never be the same again. There wasn't a gold medal that had been minted that could meet the aspiration of his heart to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. The penultimate word is affirmation. Affirmation. He was believed on in the world.

Believed on in the world. God's promise to Abraham is fulfilled, Genesis 12.3. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. The words of the psalmist as he anticipates men and women bowing before his footstool are fulfilled. From utmost east to utmost west, where ere man's foot hath trod, by the mouth of many messengers goes forth the voice of God. Give ear to me, ye continents, ye isles, give ear to me, that the earth may be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth his successive journeys run.

His kingdom stretched from shore to shore, till moon shall wax and wane no more. Incidentally and in passing, loved ones, do you see what happens when something other than the gospel becomes the point of unity? Listen to me carefully. I know some of you think I am distinctly weird, but believe me, my words will be fulfilled. And I'll tell you why.

Because as soon as men and women take their eye off the mystery of godliness and put it on any other agenda—be it political, be it family, be it whatever it is—you can unite with everyone and their uncle. Are you interested in a good family? Sign me up.

Are you interested in being a good dad? Sign me up. Would you like to do this?

Yes, I would like to do that. Well, then let's all get together and admit this. What's the problem? How can people in the church in America be so dense as to miss this? Because they are untaught. Because they do not know their Bibles.

Because they are susceptible to a spiritual three-dollar bill. And that, loved ones, is why we will give our dying breath to instruct you that in a subsequent generation long after we are gone, there will be those who can arise and say, Great is the mystery of godliness! For it ends with exaltation. He was believed on in the world, and he was taken up into glory. The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now.

A royal diadem adorns the mighty victor's brow. The highest place that heaven affords was his by sovereign right, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and heaven's eternal light. While the cruel taunts and jeers of men with the ringing of their hammers and with the scrambling of their antagonism towards this suffering servant there on Golgotha, while their breath was still hanging in the air, the gates of heaven were opened wide, and the angels sang, All his work is ended, joyfully we sing, Jesus has ascended, glory to our King. Now, this doesn't sound very believable, all this, does it? How could you ever get anybody to swallow this?

You can't. You don't have to. For all of this mystery of godliness is veiled before the eyes of those who are perishing. But when God shines the light of the glory of his gospel into the darkness of the hearts of men and women, and when they discover the work of the Spirit way in the recesses of their lives long before they ever understood, then they'll stand and they'll declare the same with us. Some of you are here this morning, and you're agnostic, and I'm glad you're here.

You don't know if you believe or not. Well, I didn't try and make a real easy little talk for you, I think you would agree that. Didn't try and give you a little thing, you know, Jesus is a nice man, and wouldn't you like to know a nice man, and after all, your mortgage is a little tough at the moment, and you need a little peace in your life, and wouldn't like to sign up for it.

I could do that, but that'd be a flat-out lie. The only thing I can do is do what it says. Let's tell you this most unbelievable story, this incredible mystery. Today, if you hear God's voice, do not harden your heart. That is a warning for each one of us. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Alistair has been sharing the gospel story today, and encouraging each of us to do the same.

Alistair returns in just a minute. Our passion here at Truth for Life is to tell others about Jesus, and we know that you share this same passion, and yet we also know starting gospel conversations can be intimidating. So I want to encourage you to mark your calendar for next Monday. We're going to begin a four-week study on personal evangelism called Crossing the Barriers. Alistair will walk through the importance of being an evangelist. He'll explain how to engage in gospel conversations, and as the title suggests, he'll help us overcome our reluctance barriers. There's plenty to learn in this study, so to help you remember, we prepared a corresponding study guide that is perfect for taking notes.

It comes in a printed booklet, or it's a free download. Go to Truth for Life dot org slash crossing barriers to find out more. And of course, you can always help share the gospel by giving to Truth for Life. That's at the heart of our mission, and when you give today, we want to say thank you by providing you a book called How Christianity Transformed the World. It's a book that explores the positive influence Christianity has had on the culture throughout the centuries.

You can request the book when you give a donation at slash donate. Now here's Alistair. Father, there isn't language enough to get our words around the immensity of these truths, and so we're left where we need to be before you to say, Lord, turn our darkness into light. Give us for our mourning joy, for our lostness, the wonder of your truth. Make us bold in these things, gracious but bold. May the only offense that comes be the offense of the wonder of your cross. And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion, and power now and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine.

Once someone has professed faith in Jesus, is it possible for that person to fall away from the faith? We'll find out tomorrow. By the way, today is Memorial Day in the United States, and we are joining and honoring those military members who lost their lives in service to their country. We want to extend our gratitude and deepest condolences to the families and communities they left behind. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-29 04:26:00 / 2023-05-29 04:34:49 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime