1 Timothy 3:14-16 – Spiritual Bridges
In many of the adventures of both westerns and science fiction, a hero has taken time to get help from his associates. He builds these friendships. The Lone Ranger has Tonto. Luke Skywalker has Han Solo. Gandalf has the Fellowship of the Ring. They spend time developing their skills and building their relationship before they set out on the adventure.
At some point, they pass a bridge from their time of friendship building to adventure making. For the Lone Ranger it was as he saddled up his horse and was joined by his partner to leave town to catch the bad guys. For Han Solo, it was as hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley bar on the planet of Tatooine. For Gandalf and Frodo, it was as they met the others members of the Fellowship at the Elfin residence of Rivendell.
Paul is helping the reader pass a spiritual bridge here in this letter. He has taken time to teach about the God’s mission, God’s Word, God’s Leaders, and God’s Servants. Before Paul leads us in the adventure of the book of 1 Timothy, he makes a transition, a spiritual bridge which he builds between the heroes and their purpose, and the danger which lies ahead.
The bridge has two ends. The entry point of crossing the bridge is a “mystery of godliness.” The other side of the bridge where one exits is a hymn.
BRIDGE ENTRY: MYSTERY OF GODLINESS
2 Peter 1:3
This is the entry point to the spiritual bridge is the mystery of Godliness. What is this about? Godliness is the way of living. Paul will transition in this letter, like he does in many other letters, from belief to behavior. Godliness is the goal. It is a mystery because in the Old Testament, godliness was set by rules which could not be achieved. The Old Testament Mosaic Law had so many regulations that it was impossible to be Godly.
The mystery in the New Testament is something which was not revealed in the Old Testament that was revealed in the New Testament. In this case, the mystery is godliness. Godliness comes through the work of Jesus Christ. He gave us the example.
The “mystery of godliness” represents both the truth of salvation through Jesus and the expectation for Christian living for advancing the cause of the gospel in the present.
We don’t fulfill Godliness alone. We have the help of Christ. That comes through the good Gospel.
BRIDGE EXIT: THE GOOD GOSPEL
If we are going to build spiritual bridges with people, we have to help them understand that God called us to godliness. He called us to a standard of behavior. However, that comes from believing in Jesus Christ in what He did for us. Trusting Jesus and following Him will help us to live Godly lives.
The Good Gospel is revealed in these verses as a series of six statements of faith:
- Incarnation – manifested in flesh
- Resurrection – vindicated in the Spirit
The reason for this position is because Romans 1:4 and 1 Peter 3:18 point to a resurrection that happens with the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Ascension – seen by angels
- Gospel Proclaimed – preached among nations
- Gospel Accepted/Believed – believed by the world
- Glorification – taken up in glory
I personally think this is both a reverse chiastic structure (earth, spirit, spirit, earth earth, spirit). At the same time, I think this was based on an early hymn which emphasized the story of the Gospel. When we present the Gospel, we need to have all of these elements. I think Paul wrote this hear as a prayer. He also wrote it because he was getting ready to share with Timothy the flaws of the false teachers. So before he speaks about what is wrong, he shares what is right.
You can use this prayer as a teaching tool to share the Gospel. All the elements or parts of the Gospel are here for a Christian to share with people who need Jesus Christ.
The spiritual bridge begins with our Christian behavior and ends with our Christian belief. Why do we act the way we do? We act the way we do because we believe certain truths. These truths about Jesus Christ are essential to the Gospel. Take one of these truths out of this sequence, and you don’t have everything necessary for the Gospel.
We are in the business of building bridges with people. As we develop relationships, we need to see where we can build a bridge to share the Gospel with the lost around us.