1 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…
I. THE PERSON THAT HE SPEAKS OF IS GOD.
II. The great mystery of godliness tells us that this God was MANIFESTED. The revelation he has made of Himself is the ground of all our religion.
1. One manifestation that God has made of Himself is in a character that gives us our most early concern with Him, that He is the former of all things.
2. He is manifested as the object of universal worship. This flows from the former as a practical inference.
3. Another manifestation that we have of God, and in which the gospel exceeds all that went before, is that He is a lawgiver.
4. The gospel gives us a manifestation of the great God under the character of a judge.
5. God is manifested to us as one whom we have dishonoured; the offended party.
6. When God manifests Himself, it is as the author of our reconciliation.
7. God is manifested to us as the author or contriver of that righteousness in which we are justified.
8. God is manifest as the author and fountain of those graces by which we are wrought into his image.
9. God has manifested Himself as the great example and pattern of all our holiness.
10. Another manifestation that we have of God is, as He is the author and giver of those joys that are laid up for us in another world.
III. We are now to consider that particular MANIFESTATION of God which the text has led us to, and this is said to be IN THE FLESH.
1. He has manifested Himself in voices: He used to speak out to the world.
2. He manifested Himself by dreams and visions of the night (Job 33:15, 16).
3. He used to manifest Himself by raising up eminent persons, either as prophets to teach His people, or as saviours to defend them.
4. He manifested Himself in miracles.
5. He manifested Himself in a written law.
6. He manifested Himself by several ordinances.
7. He also manifested Himself by appearing frequently to them. The angel of His presence saved them (Isaiah 63:9).
8. The last and greatest manifestation that we have of God is in the flesh.
(1) His being manifest in the flesh exceeds all the other manifestations that He gave of Himself, as it is more familiar.
(2) This manifestation of God is most certain and convincing. Many times they could not tell whether it was God who spake to them or no.
(3) This manifestation in the flesh is most expressive of our union to Him (Psalm 68:20).
(4) This manifestation in the flesh was for the" working out of a great atonement (Hebrews 2:17).
(5) By this manifestation in the flesh He gave the best instructions in the matter of our duty.
(6) This gives us the greatest assurance of our happiness, because He has carried His body up with Him to heaven: Thither Jesus our forerunner is for us entered (Hebrews 6:20).
(7) This shows the goodness of God our Saviour towards men (John 3:16).
IV. THE NOBLE CHARACTER THAT IS HERE GIVEN OF IT, AS A MYSTERY OF GODLINESS. Under this head there are two parts.
1. That it is a mystery.
(1) Is it not a mystery that He who dwells in that light to which none can approach became visible to us?
(2) Another thing mysterious in this doctrine is, that He who has prepared His throne in the heavens should dwell among men.
(3) Another part of the mystery is, that He who has derived no being from a man should be born of a woman.
(4) He who was Lord of all takes upon Him the form of a servant. This carries the wonder a little deeper.
(5) He who was eternally holy came in the likeness of sinful flesh.
(6) He whose kingdom rules over all is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
(7) It is another mystery, that He who is blessed for ever should become a curse for His people.
(8) It is another part of this mystery that the Prince of Life should be obedient to the death of the cross.
V. This is A MYSTERY OF GODLINESS, AND HAS A HAPPY INFLUENCE UPON ALL PRACTICAL RELIGION. People are the better for believing it.
1. This doctrine is a great argument of our duty to God.
2. The belief of God's being manifest in the flesh is raised upon our value for the revelation He has given us; and denying it carries the most dangerous conclusion against the best dispensation that ever a people were under.
3. This doctrine is the chief ground of our hope, and without that I am sure there can be no religion.
4. This doctrine is apparently the concern of good men, such as work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
5. There is no practical inconvenience in believing that God was manifest in the flesh; it does no harm to our seriousness in any one article of piety or comfort.
6. It is certainly a thing very desirable, and to be wished for, that He who was manifest in the flesh should be God.
(1) It will be easily owned that for a God to be manifest in the flesh is infinitely more kind and condescending than for the highest creature that ever was formed.
(2) In this we have a greater proof of the satisfaction that He has made.
(3) In this doctrine we have a better ground for our dependence upon Him.
1. Hence we see it is quite wrong to pretend any explication of this doctrine, because that is the way to destroy all the mystery. There are two glories in the article: First, that it is true; and secondly, that it is too great for the comprehension of human reason; and I am sure it is no service to the former if we are striving to lay aside the latter.
2. If it is a mystery there is no knowing it without the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10).
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory.