1 Timothy 3:14 NET I hope to come to yousoon, but I am writing these instructions to you 15 in case I am delayed, to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God,because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth.
16 And we all agree, our religion containsamazing revelation: He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles,believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
5 year old Johnny was in the kitchen as hismother made supper. She asked him to gointo the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s OK-Jesus will be in there with you.”
Johnny walked slowly to the door and opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to turn around - whensuddenly an idea came to him. He openedthe door again – peeked inside – and said: “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup.”The question for little Johnny was this: “Was Jesus there?”
MAKE SURE JESUS WAS “THERE” The apostle Paul had written a personal letter to a young preacher protégé namedTimothy and basically told him to make sure JESUS WAS “THERE” in the church he served in Ephesus.
1 Timothy 1:3 NET As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminablegenealogies. Such things promote uselessspeculations rather than God’s redemptiveplan that operates by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
Timothy was told instruct certain people not to spread false teachings nor occupy themselves with myths and interminablegenealogies.” In doing these they wouldn’t keep the MAIN thing the MAIN THING!The MAIN THING being God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith.
Instead he was to make sure that thepeople lived “a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Timothy 2:1 NET First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2 even for kings and all who are in authority,that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
In chapter 4 he stresses what Timothy should presently focus his energy on. 1 Timothy 4:13 NET Until I come, giveattention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
In the first 13 verses of chapter 3 Paul laid out the characteristics/qualifications of Elders, Deacons & even Deacon’s wives.
And then Paul wrote, I hope to come to yousoon, but I am writing these instructions to you in case I am delayed, to let you knowhow people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14,15 NET
In other words, if the church that Timothy served followed the instructions in Paul’s letter they would truly be a church thathonored God. And Jesus would be "there."
But there’s a mystery here Right after Paul makes this dramaticcomment stressing the importance of what’s in this letter he writes: 1 Timothy 3:16 NET And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation: Hewas revealed in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed amongGentiles, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Reading that verse in context it seemed out of place. It didn’t fit! It had absolutely no bearing on the verses immediately preceding it nor with those that follow. One moment Paul’s writing about theinstructions the church needs to follow to be pleasing to God, and the next, he’s talks about some “amazing revelation” about Jesus.
It would be something like me talking aboutmy plane crash. I’d be telling you about noteven remembering going to the airport that day. My last recollection was eating at aTaco Bell in Wichita, KS then the next thing I knew I was being held hostage in a hospital in Wichita being told I crashed myplane in Kingman, KS a month ago. How all the bones in my face had to be put back together…
Then looking toward the west I say, “Oh, my parents, little sister & I sure enjoyed riding our motorcycles through the Colorado Rockies every year!” On the face of it, that’s how disconnected verse 16 appeared to be from the verses surrounding it. But then, looking a little closer it all began to make sense.
You see, this letter to Timothy was all about “godliness”. It was all about how we oughtto LIVE as God’s people. And if I OBEY the instructions of godliness in this letter it pleases God. And so Paul writes: our religion contains amazing revelation.
Many versions translate amazing revelation as mystery or secret. Thayers defines it: hidden thing, secret, mystery Isn’t it an amazing revelation when the teams on CSI or Law & Order reveal the mystery of who-dun-it?A mystery is something that you can’t quite understand.If you could understand it, it wouldn’t be a mystery would it?
3 men were talking together in a hotel lobby: One man said "I will not believe anything that I do not understand."The others agreed that it would be foolish tobelieve something they couldn’t understand. Sitting nearby there was another man who looked up from his paper and said: "Gentlemen, on my ride this morning I saw some geese in a field eating grass; do you believe that?"
"Certainly," said one of the 3 listeners."I saw the pigs eating grass; do you believe that?" "Of course," Said the 3. "I also saw sheep and cows eating grass; do you believe that?" "Of course," was again the reply.
"Well, the grass turned to feathers on thebacks of the geese, to bristles on the backs of the swine, to white wool on the sheep,and to hair on the cow; do you believe that, gentlemen?" "Certainly," they replied. "But do you understand it?"
You see, the nature of a mystery is that it isn’t easily understood. And becausemysteries are hard to understand there are people who rebel at the idea of accepting those mysteries. As the man in the hotellobby had said: "I will not believe anything that I do not understand." People say that very thing: “If I can’t understand it… I can’t accept it”
Tony Campolo was a theology professor in a secular college and had a student once who declared “For me to believe in God, Ihave to have a God that I can understand.”Campolo smiled as he replied “God refuses to be that small.”God refuses to be small enough for you or me to fully understand.
In fact, it’s NOT POSSIBLE for us to fully understand Him. God Himself declared: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, "declaresthe LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV
You will never fully understand Godbecause there will always be things about God that will always be a mystery.So now, Paul tells us “our religion contains amazing revelation.”
What is THIS amazing revelation? And we all agree, our religion containsamazing revelation: He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles,believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 NET
What’s Paul saying? He’s saying:Jesus is our amazing revelation becauseHe was revealed in the flesh - appeared in a body.Jesus is our amazing revelation becauseHe had such power and authority that He was vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, and was taken up in glory.
Jesus is the amazing revelation of our religion. He is the foundation of all we say and do.Jesus is the reason we should read what is written in 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy andEphesians, and Romans, and Hebrews and all the rest of Scripture. We should readthose letters because their contents contain the type of godliness Jesus (our amazing revelation) expects of us.
2 Timothy 3:16 NET Every scripture isinspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training inrighteousness, 17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. This is where we started this journey of 3:16s of the Bible. The Bible is not a collection of the writings of clever men. It is not a library of the thoughts and concepts of highly moral theologians.
THESE are the words of God. When weobey what is written within the pages of this book, when we attempt to mold our lives around what is written in a letter like this one Paul wrote to Timothy - then we are pursuing godliness. We are attempting to make our lives pleasing to God.
What if I don’t agree withsomething that’s written in the Bible?What if something that Paul wrote, or Johnwrote, or Luke wrote… what if something in one of the writings offends me? What if Idon’t like what I’m reading? Well, you don’t have to like with what’s written, BUT you DO need to understand: The Bible is not a smorgasbord.
You don’t get to pick and choose whatyou’re going to accept. You don’t get to vote on what you like and what you don’t like.You don’t get to tell Jesus "I’ll take a little of this and a little of that… and we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the rest." NO… you can’t do it that way.
The reason Paul tells us that Jesus is the amazing revelation of our religion is because: Jesus is the final authority. This is HIS book AND this is HIS church. He sets the standards. He tells us what is expected.He can do that BECAUSE Jesus is the one who bought the church with His blood.
No person has the right to alter one command or instruction given within the pages of the Bible. If we agree to THISstandard then Jesus will be IN this church… and Jesus will be in our lives. Too often Christians… and even churchesfall into a trap of saying: “I know that’s what the Bible says… but,” our creed says, ourbook of discipline maintains, our church has always taught.
One preacher of a denominational church said something like this, “I know what the Bible says, but we’ve become morecultured than the 1st century church. We’ve advanced to the point where we can makeimprovements on what they did back then.” You know what these people are saying? They’re saying “We took a vote… and we made a few changes to make things more comfortable.”
What they basically did was substitute men’s reasoning for God’s. They have substituted the doctrines and teaching of men for the Word of God. This does not please Jesus!Jesus said: and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Isa 29:13) Matthew 15:9 NET
In other words, if we substitute what weprefer for what God has said our worship becomes Vain, Empty, Worthless, You don’t want to go there!
This church doesn’t want to go there eitherThe Churches of Christ/ Christian churches have no creeds. We have no books of doctrine. Why? Because we want to avoid(at all costs) of falling into the trap of putting man’s doctrines above the teachings of God. That doesn’t mean we won’t fall into that error. It simply means we endeavor NEVER to say more than the Bible teaches… nor less.
Instead of “CREEDS” there are “mottos” we try to abide by. “Where the Bible speaks we speak, where the Bible is silent we’re silent”“No book but the Bible, No creed but Christ, No law but love” The whole purpose of those mottos is to remind us that Jesus and His Word MUSTbe our ultimate authority. That doesn’t meanwe’re always going to be successful… but it does mean that’s our fundamental objective.
One last thought… Paul tells us that Jesus is “the amazing revelation of our religion.”I want to share a story and then I’ll tell you this last thought. A couple hundred years or so ago in Europe, the custodian (also called aSexton) of a beautiful cathedral was putting things in order for the next days worship.
This Cathedral was widely renowned for its beautiful pipe organ, and it seemed theentire front of the stage was dominated with the pipes of the organ. And when it was played, it sounded like the angels of heaven. On this particular Saturday, the custodianwas disturbed to see a visitor enter through the doors and approach him. The strangerwanted to know if he could look at the organ which he had heard so much about.
The sexton was not sure he wanted a stranger to get so close to their celebratedinstrument, but he conceded as long as this man didn’t touch it. The visitor went over to the organ and lovingly took in its beauty,and then he pleaded that he be allowed just to play it for a short while. Annoyed, the custodian almost turned down this request.
But something in the man’s eyes andmanner changed his heart and he allowedthis man to play, but only if he returned all the stops to their positions when he finished. The stranger seated himself at the organ and began to play, softly at first and then building to a powerful crescendo.
The custodian was startled to hear suchbeautiful music coming from the pipes and for a time he lost himself in the flow of its emotions. All too soon, the organist wasfinished, put the stops back again and was walking down the aisle to leave. “Wait,” cried the sexton, “that was the mostbeautiful music I have ever heard. What is your name?”
The stranger turned and smiled. “My name is Felix Mendelssohn.Commenting later to a friend, the custodian said “Just think, I almost kept the master from playing his music in my cathedral.” Paul tells us that Jesus is the amazing revelation of our religion. Thus: We canattain godliness ONLY because Jesus is the amazing revelation of our religion.
We can be godly only if Jesus plays Hismusic in the cathedral of our lives. Jesus is what makes us godly. You could obey every instruction in 1 Timothy. You could abide by every command in the New Testament.You could pray every day and attend church every Sunday.
But if Jesus is not IN your life… Then youwill never be godly in the eyes of the Father.Colossians 1:27 NET God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of thismystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.Now we know the answer; “this mystery… is Christ in you, (which is) the hope of glory”
Is Christ in you?How much do you let Jesus influence your life? We all know the meaning of the letters WWJD. What Would Jesus Do Let’s add a few letters, WWJWMDRNWhat Would Jesus Want Me Doing Right NOW! Let Jesus influence EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE!