Friday, December 30, 2011

The Journey from Eternity into Time

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, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

If there was ever one verse that captures the entirety of the Christmas story - 1 Timothy 3:16 is it.  In a span of one verse, the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, captures six statements that tells us the Journey of God the Son from Eternity into time.  This verse was most likely one of the first hymns sung by early Christians living in the days following Christ's resurrection.  Consider below the journey recorded for us in this verse:

1. The Journey was made by God  The King James and New King James tells us that it was "God manifest in the flesh".  We know from other scriptures, such as John 1:14, that this was the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, who had agreed with God the Father from all eternity to take upon Himself humanity.  God, in the person of Jesus Christ, would make the journey from Heaven to earth through a virgin's womb. (Isaiah 7:14)

2. The Holy Spirit made this journey possible.  The event of God the Son taking upon Himself human flesh was ordained by God the Father, and made possible by God the Holy Spirit.  In this one short phrase: "justified in the Spirit", we see here not only the twin truths of Christ's Deity and humanity, but also the Personality of the Holy Spirit.  It is He who would overshadow Mary, making the conception of Christ's humanity a reality in her womb.  Also to, the Holy Spirit was the Agent responsible for the miracle of the virgin birth, thus preserving Christ's human nature from the tainting of sin as seen in that term "justified".

3. The Angelic Hosts announced it  When Paul writes "seen by angels", I am reminded of angels who met the Shepherds watching their flocks by night in Luke 2.  Or we could also include the Angel Gabriel who told the news to Mary and Joseph of the Christ child being miraculously conceived in her virgin womb.  The text here tells us that the entire angelic host of Heaven was witness to all of this. 

4. Preached unto the Gentiles  When we read "preached unto the Gentiles", we are talking about the entirety of the proclamation of Christ's birth, life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.  Herod heard of the Savior's birth.  Then as this baby grew into a man, he lived a perfect life for 33 years and made his way to the cross.  After rising from the dead, He gave his final commission unto His followers, the disciples, to go into all the world an preach the gospel, making disciples, baptizing and teaching them everything He had done and said. (matthew 28:18-20). 

5. He was by grace through faith believed  Paul wrote these words in or around 60 A.D, almost 30 years after the events of which he records here.  No doubt he is reflecting on all those who by grace through faith believed on Christ - from those early saints gathered in the upper room following Christ's ascension to the untold thousands who were converted under his ministry.  John 1:12 tells us that as many as received Him, as many as believed upon His name, He gave them the right to be called children of God. 

6. He ascended, demonstrating that while being man, He never ceased being God.  The ascension of Jesus Christ does for Christ in demonstrating His Deity as the incarnation does in demonstrating His humanity.  He had to become man in order to pay the price for salvation with his blood.  He never ceased being God - for only as God could He be the true source of salvation to all who by grace through faith would believe on Him.

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