Anglican Morning Devotion, 29 October 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion of Churches Worldwide
“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.”
(1 TIMOTHY 3:16; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The greatest mystery of godliness is the Amazing Grace by which we are called, justified and saved. Who were we to gain such a glorious inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ? We all alike are sinners and in no wise worthy of that inheritance in glory. Why did He love us so, and how can we love Him? Well, we could not even love Him had He not first shed His love abroad in our hearts: “We love him, because he first loved us.”
(1 JOHN 4:19) And when did He first love us? It was in the eternity past before the worlds were made:
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:4-7)
The very nature of our redemption in Lamb of God “slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Were we ever worthy, and are we now, of the salvation made available to us through the once-and-for-all sacrifice of the only Begotten Son of God? No, we were not, nor ever shall be. We are made worthy through His imputed righteousness and none of our own. Good behavior will not save us. Good works will not save us. Giving our lives to a good cause will not save us. Only the blood of our Redeemer saves fully and finally; and that as the highest expression of love. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing . . . . 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
The mode of our redemption is also truly a mystery. Why would the Prince of Glory deign to surrender the splendor of the glorious opulence of Heaven to be born among those who were His deadly enemies, to preach to those dumb ears who would not believe, to reveal beauty to eyes that would not see, to be tortured and murdered on a cruel cross? Why? The one answer is shrouded in a love beyond our comprehension for His elect. The wages of sin being death, and all have sinned, there could be no escape for the sinner available through any effort or act on his part. There must be One who was without sin to pay the wages of sin by His own death – and that was our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ! (see Romans 3:23 & 6:23)
The mystery of godliness, in its magnitude of continuing consequence is incomprehensible to the human mind. The rewards of salvation are eternal and not subject to annulment. We who are sinners have been justified and sanctified through the works of our Lord. We are accounted righteous through no works of our own, but by means of the ‘imputed’ righteousness of the One who died in our stead.
Godliness is a mystery because no human wisdom could have conceived of it. Christ is the only One of any religious faith who died as God for our salvation. His death was vicarious. It is inconceivable, in human terms, that God the Father could love so magnanimously as to send His only Begotten Son to die in the stead of those who were at enmity with Him.
Godliness is a mystery requiring the eternity of the ages to understand. We have not the time in this life to comprehend it. God incarnated in the flesh that we might know Him more effectually. He was fully man, and fully God. He was seen of angels with great wonderment, and so, why should we not wonder at so great a love and possession as well?
True and unbounded faith in God is also a mystery inexplicable to the lost sinner. It is stronger evidence of God than any scientific formula could reveal. But it is a privileged knowledge that cannot be had by the reprobate sinner. God’s love is not foreclosed by the most egregious sin; however, the habitual sinner may reach the point of no longer being able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit by way of a continual denial of it. Have you denied Him too often? No, not if the wonder still arouses the question of your soul’s security.