Wednesday, 13 December 2017
…holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 1 Timothy 3:9
The words here are still referring to requirements of being ordained as a deacon. Not only are such men to be outwardly exemplary in nature, but they are also to have that coupled with a particular inward qualification. The external orthodoxy of an individual may cover over and hide a corrupt mind towards the gospel itself. And so Paul says that such a person is to be one who is “holding the mystery of the faith.”
The “mystery of the faith” is the subject. It is that which was concealed in God until it was revealed in Christ – that a person is saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. It is called a mystery because it was hidden from man’s knowledge until it was revealed at the time which was divinely appointed by God. And it remains a mystery until it is revealed to the soul who has not heard it. In other words, it cannot be deduced apart from special revelation. And this mystery-revealed, although sufficient to save, does not necessarily save. It must be received as truth. Thus Paul says that he is to hold to the mystery “with a pure conscience.”
As Vincent’s Word Studies says, “An intellect, however powerful and active, joined with an impure conscience, cannot solve but only aggravates the mystery; whereas a pure and loyal conscience, and a frank acceptance of imposed duty along with mystery, puts one in the best attitude for attaining whatever solution is possible.”
It is not appropriate to ordain someone simply because he meets the external qualifications, and who also has a mental understanding of the gospel. These things must be coupled with a pure conscience towards the gospel. In essence, “I have heard the gospel, and I believe it to be the truth of God. I am saved not by any works, but by faith alone in Christ Jesus. Now I desire to be a deacon who works out that knowledge though a life dedicated to Him.”
Life application: If you have the most intellectually grounded pastors and deacons in the world at your church, it doesn’t mean that they have a true heart towards the gospel. True men of God will be willing to defend the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus above all else. External works are wonderful to see in our leaders, but they must be men who will hold fast to the heart of the gospel at all times. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who brings salvation – apart from any merit of man.
Lord God, Your word shows that we are completely excluded from the process of salvation. There is no thing we can do to be saved, except to trust in the finished work of Christ. What a stumblingblock to the people of the world who think being right with You stems from something that we do. Rather, it is all about what You have done through Christ. And thank You for the simplicity of this offer. Thank You for reaching down to us and making all things new. Amen.