Godliness is the quality of God in the ordinaries of life.
Alright. Thank you very much. Always nice to be put on the air by a friendly voice. I remember back in 1935, I was on the air live every morning on a Philadelphia station. ’35, oh, that’s a long time ago, isn’t it? [chuckle] And one morning the announcer was hungover, and he forgot that he had his microphone switch still open, and after he put me on the air, he mumbled, “Oh, that’ll hold him.” [laughter] I’m glad for my friends.
Hello, radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing all right? Oh, I trust so. Bless your heart. Nice to be back with you. This is your friend Bob Cook, and I want to look with you at 1 Timothy 3:16. “Without controversy,” says Paul, “Great is the mystery of godliness. God manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into Glory.”
Now, when the Bible speaks about the word “mystery,” it is in the New Testament, it is the idea of something that was formerly kept secret, but now is made manifest. That which was kept secret before, but now is made manifest. Now, the reason that we say that is, you go over to Romans, the last chapter, Romans 16, and the last few verses, “Now unto him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest. And by the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the everlasting God made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
Ok what’s that? That’s the mystery of salvation by grace. That’s what Romans is all about. A mystery, something that was kept secret, but now is made manifest to people who will exercise faith and obey God. You get the idea? Then you have 1 Corinthians 2:7. “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Wisdom, God’s plan of salvation. Had they known God’s plan of salvation, they wouldn’t have been a part of the crucifixion. Then you go over to Ephesians. I’m just turning the pages of my big Bible here and looking up some of these verses with you that talk about mystery, so we’ll know what we’re talking about. And it’s Ephesians now, all right? “Having made known unto us,” that’s Ephesians 1:9. “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will.” What is His will? “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth even in Him. And in Him we have obtained an inheritance,” and so on. “That we should be to the praise of His glory.”
What is the mystery of God’s will? Gathering together in one, Jews and Gentiles, everybody, all things in Christ. Oneness in Christ is part of the revealed mystery of God’s wonderful grace. And you come over to Chapter 3 of Ephesians, Verse 11. “And the mystery might be known,” 3:9 it is, “To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What’s that? The mystery of the church that God should work through His body, the church here on earth. Mystery.
Then you go over to Colossians. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and that should be 1:27, it seems to me. Yes. He said, “I’m made a minister, according to the dispensation of God, to fulfill the Word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That’s the mystery of the dynamic of the Christian life.
Then in Chapter 2:2, “I’m praying for you people at Colossae that their hearts might be comforted being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God the Father and of Christ. In Him, Christ, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” That’s the mystery of the Godhead and revealed Godhead in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he speaks of the mystery of Christ again in Colossians 4:3, the mystery of Christ for which also he said, “I’m in jail for that, preaching that the Lord Jesus is Lord of all.” The mystery of Christ. Then you go over to 1 Timothy 3, that’s the one we have, the mystery of Godliness, and that I think is just about it.
So now let’s talk, shall we, for a little while about this matter, “Great,” he said, “Is the mystery of Godliness.” Now I have a little Cookism definition of Godliness. Godliness is the quality of God in the ordinaries of life. A godly person is not a person who is godly only in church or in prayer meetings or in religiously structured occasions. Godliness has to be real at the sink as well as at the sanctuary. So Godliness is the quality of God, the Presence of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, the attributes of God in the ordinaries of human life.
Now, immediately that poses a problem because this type of experience is not accomplished by making up your mind that it’s going to be so. You don’t say to yourself, “Go to now, I will be a godly person,” and you make up your mind that that’s going to happen, and then it does. No, it doesn’t work that way. And many of us, and I am among them, have tried that method, “I will be Godly, I will be a man of prayer, I will be a man of faith,” and then we decided that we were going to do this and set out to do it and fell flat upon our faces.
Can you identify with that, any of you? [chuckle] Yes, I think we can. No, he said that Godliness is a mystery, Godliness is a mystery, great is the mystery of Godliness. Well, where do you start? You start by letting God in to your human flesh. Incidentally, he makes a parallel here between the incarnation of the Lord Jesus and His earthly ministry on one hand, and your experience and mine as Christians on the other. The Lord Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, was and is. He’s the Godman in the glory. There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. You and I had a man in space far before the time when human beings walked on the moon.
The man in the glory, the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the Godman, no hyphen between those two, altogether God, altogether man, human. So he said, “God manifest in the flesh.” The incarnation. The angel said to Mary, “The Spirit of God will come upon thee and that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” God manifest in the flesh, now that’s what we call the “incarnation,” the virgin birth. The Virgin Mary, an unmarried young girl, and the power of the Holy Spirit of God producing within her body that fertilized ovum which grew into the little baby Jesus and grew up into manhood to be our living Savior.
“He grasps not,” Paul says in Philippians 2. “He didn’t grasp at it as a thing to be held on for Himself, being equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” What it must have been on the day when the Lord Jesus left the throne of the Father and went down the stairways of the stars to be born of the Virgin Mary? Well, we don’t know, maybe we never shall know completely, but when we get to Heaven we’ll know a little more about it, won’t we? God manifest in the flesh, that’s what we call the “incarnation.” Now, how does that apply to you and to me? Remember the verse I read for you from Colossians 1:27, “The mystery that we preach among the nations which is Christ,” -where?- “In you the hope of glory.”
Paul says in Galatians, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Christ liveth in me; Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Philippians 2:13, “It is God that worketh in you to will,” takes care of the want to, “and to do,” that takes care of the actual obedience, “of His good pleasure.” God can make you want to do the right thing, and then He can help you do it; hallelujah for that.
So then Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Anything God asks me to do I can do because He helps me. Christ in you the hope of glory. See, this whole matter of Godliness starts with a Person moving into your life to control it.
I have to ask you. Has that ever been true of you, my beloved friend? Have you, as a matter of fact, now, many of you listening are religious, or you wouldn’t be listening to a religious station. I realize that, and I give you credit for being interested in the things of God. But I have to ask you, has there ever been a time when you deliberately opened the door of your life to the Presence of Jesus Christ and invited Him in, so that His Holy Spirit can control your life? That’s where Godliness starts. The mystery of Godliness starts with a Person who moves into your body, thinks in your mind, motivates your heart, stimulates your conscience, stiffens your will. Jesus of Nazareth, working, living in you, is the start of Godliness. Well, we’ll get at that the next time we get together.
Father dear, wilt thou work in us today thy perfect will, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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