Monday, May 11, 2009

The Word: The Mystery of Godliness

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory
(1 Tim. 3.16 ESV).

The Bible has no hesitations about linking Christian godliness with biblical orthodoxy. In order to be godly Christians we must be confessional. If someone were to ask us, "How might I become more like Christ?" how might we respond? It seems clear that the way the apostle Paul would respond would be, "Let essential Christian truths shape your life; this is the mystery of godliness."

What are these essential truths? First of all, Jesus Christ identified with us and died for our sins. When Jesus appeared in the flesh he lived the life that his people Israel, and the whole world, could not. He was completely faithful to the Father and did his will in all things, even as he went to the gruesome Roman cross. It was at the cross that Jesus reconciled God and man making peace by his blood; Jesus was vindicated at his resurrection showing that he was God's anointed one.

Second, Jesus has gone to heaven, the place where God and his angels dwell. We will see him again when he returns but this doesn't mean that Jesus is not actively reigning. In fact, because Jesus has entered into heaven the time has come for the great promise made to Abraham to become a reality (i.e. that the gentiles would come to him).

Third, Jesus is the true Lord of the world. This is good news because of the kind of Lord that Jesus is, namely, the one who brings peace, justice, and will fill the earth with righteousness. Now Jesus, through his Holy Spirit and by the will of the Father, is calling people to allegiance to himself.

These are the central beliefs of the Christian faith that can cause a person to be transformed into the image of Christ. As the church prayerfully mediates on these doctrines then the world will see what it looks like when people have their sins forgiven and are subject to the rule of the world's true Lord. This is what happens when Jesus becomes King.

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