Gospel Gain (Philippians 3:1-11)March 6, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning, go ahead, open up to Philippians chapter three will be in the first 11 verses this morning. Philippians three, one to 11. As you’re turning there on December 10 1936, Edward the eighth of England abdicated the throne, so that he could marry the woman knee. He loved Wallace Simpson, there were some issues there, she was twice divorced, husbands were still alive. You know, he’s supposed to be the head of the Church of England. And so it wasn’t gonna work out. So he stepped down as king. And of course, this seemed crazy, then probably seems crazy still today to a lot of us. Why would you give up all of that money and power status, you know, the seat at the table. But from his perspective, what seems to us like a loss was actually gain that is if you put the woman he loved in one side of the scales, and then put the monarchy in the other side of the scales, it was no contest for him. Now, in our passage, this morning, Paul does something similar, he puts his impressive achievements, and all of his inherited status on one side of the scales, and he finds them wanting when compared to something else he can, he can cast them aside, he can abdicate his previous life for the sake of gospel gain for what he gains in Christ. So how does this tie in where we’ve been in Philippians? Let’s make sure we’re in context. So you know, by now, the main theme of Philippians have been coming for any amount of time, I hope. It is this to advance the gospel, we must emulate Christ. And Paul, despite opposition, and that could be internal or external opposition. So we have some disunity going on, we got some persecution going on. So despite opposition for our joy, and God’s glory, that’s what we keep seeing week in and week out this week. And with this new section in the letter, Paul begins to answer kind of a key question for us. Why should we care if the gospel advances? Even assuming this, this whole Gospel of ants is a good thing? But why why is it a good thing? Exactly? And would that really be for our joy? Nevermind for God’s glory? So is it really for our joy is this and how does this relate to God’s glory? And Paul says, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. For our joy. He says, in essence, you can give it all up. Because in Christ you gain infinitely more, you can give it all up because in Christ, you gain infinitely more and what are we giving up again, this is not just like, giving up our our baubles, you know, or possessions or something like that. It’s really giving up your performance, we can give up that sense of having to measure up so give up your performance, and rest in God’s grace. That is the gospel. And what Paul says here is that when you when you do that, when you rest in God’s grace, there is tremendous gospel gain. So let’s look at that gospel game, we’ll get four things we gain in the gospel. So gospel gain, number one is joy, joy may read chapter three verses one and two. Further, my brothers and sisters, Rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilated years of the flesh. Pause there, okay, so if you’re reading in a different translation, or even the older NIV, if you’re an ESV, older NIV, this section actually begins with finally, instead of further and mercifully, the NIV, in their update, changed it to further I say mercifully, and I mean, that’s a mercy to preachers especially because of course, Paul’s only halfway done, and to say, finally, and keep going for that long, you start to sound like a preacher. It’s the old joke. I don’t care for this joke. But the little boy asked his dad, Dad, when the pastor says, Finally, what does it mean? And his dad said, Son, it doesn’t mean anything.
So in closing, let me say, We’re just getting going here. The thing is, though, this doesn’t mean finally, that’s not it at all this, the word that’s used here is really it’s the Greek equivalent of et cetera, and et cetera, doesn’t mean the last little bit it means the rest of it. And so really a good translation here would be as to the rest, the stuff I haven’t gotten to yet. This marks a transition then for us, we really are in the second half of this letter at this point, where we’re moving from news to progress. So we’ve talked a lot about what’s going on with Paul, what’s going on with the Philippians, all that kind of stuff, and now he’s really going to get into some exhortation. Here’s where you can progress in your faith. That’s what he’s been about this whole time. And in particular, They can renew their joy in the Lord talked about in the Lord a lot last week you can renew their joy in the Lord, even despite suffering, that’s going to happen as they resist bad teaching, we see that right here in verse two, some stuff that he’s warned them about before. And honestly, this is probably gonna explain some of the tension that we have in the community as well. And we’re gonna have this increasing focus on hope. So that’s kind of like all that’s coming in the rest of the series. So don’t feel like you got to remember all of those things that I just said. But that’s, that’s where he’s going. That’s the rest of the stuff that we need to talk about here. So alright, opens on this note of joy, which has been running like a light motif throughout the book of Philippians. This joy is based on whatever Paul said before, we know that, what he says next, no trouble for me to write the same things to you, again, are the things that are the basis for your joy. So what is it exactly, probably not something he said in the letter already, but more likely what he preached to them when he was there with them. Of course, that would be the gospel, the gospel, this is this is how we can be made right with God again. And he says it’s a safeguard for them to remember these key truths. And it’s also no trouble for him. I love this, by the way, is one of those phrases in Scripture, you just gonna blow by and you don’t think about it all. There’s like, tremendous application. In that phrase, it’s no trouble for me. I can say the same things to you again, like you’re a parent, you ever repeated the same thing your kids more than once, of course, and a lot of that is like pickup toys kind of stuff that maybe that’s not what we’re talking about. Here. We’re talking about gospel truths, though. So much of what we do is saying the same things over and over and over again, because we are fixed gold people, it just takes a long time for it to get into us. So if you’re a parent, or maybe this is a discipleship relationship, you’re in ministry in some way to go. It is not a burden for me. Just what Paul says here, literally, it is it is not a burden for me to have this conversation with you again, why isn’t it a burden because of the end result? Which is gospel advance? If you’re saying it the 6000 time to your kid means they get it? They understand the love of God? Did that feel burdensome? Of course not. So the point he’s making here, it’s almost like if you saw a friend, you know, can’t swim fall into a river and you dive in and you save them from drowning. They’re like, Oh, man, I’m so sorry, Your clothes are wet. Now. I don’t care that my clothes are wet, you’re alive. That’s what Paul is saying here. It is not a problem for me to have this conversation with you again. And so much of that is because of the joy that the gospel brings. Now why does the gospel bring joy especially in this context is because it offers us assurance that God loves us already. Before we proved ourselves before we earned it before we measured up while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans five, eight, which means you can see it’s a gain and loss thing. We gain joy. What is it that we lose in the process? We lose? worry, anxiety, fear? Will we measure up on the last day? Did I do enough? Am I actually good enough? Like that’s constant fretting? I mean, this is like the middle school or trying out for the baseball team or something and every day at the end of tryouts going, I don’t know why bobble the one catch was, am I gonna make it or not? To live your whole life with that pressure would be awful. And the gospel offers rest. It offers joy, in the knowledge that our acceptance depends on God depends on Christ, what he did for us and not on us and our ongoing performance.
Now, why is it a safeguard we understand then why it’s not a burden for Paul to say this, but what makes it a safeguard for them. It’s because the Philippians face a temptation, they need to safeguard they’d need that you know, the bumpers up in the bowling alley kind of thing still, because there’s always this danger of the gutter ball kind of feel, what is the temptation that they face that we all face face is to trust in the flesh, to start to trust in our performance instead, to put our confidence in our works. And maybe I actually actually am good enough to do this. I think I could earn my salvation and Paul will have none of it uses extremely blunt language here and deeply ironic language. Also, he’s talking about a group of people who had pushed this kind of works mentality, this performance mindset group known as the Judaizers, this group saying, you know, it’s the Jesus nice, that’s fine and all that stuff, but you really got to keep the law if you want to be saved. And so Paul’s talking about this group that keeps the law and what does he call them? First of all, he calls them dogs. Now I know for some of you I guess that’s awesome. I love have dogs first of all you people are crazy. But second of all, that’s not the way Jews or Gentiles. Greeks would have thought of dogs dogs back then were scavengers. So they were nasty wild dogs straights. That’s just all they were they were not pets back then. All right. I know some of you were like, go and watch the chosen Matthew had one. No, we didn’t. Okay, that’s just not how this works. All right. So it’s a scavenger, they would eat the things that were left behind in the streets. The stuff left behind in the streets is not probably clean. So here you have an unclean thing, eating unclean things. Oh, that’s the Gentiles, right? So became this really nasty term for Gentiles who were unclean from the Jewish perspective. And here Paul is calling a group of Jews dogs. So deeply ironic again, and then he calls them evil doers. Now, keep in mind, these are the good doers. Like this is the group keeping the law meticulously, and he’s going, yep, that’s doing evil. Why? Because even though they’re doing good, in a sense, they’re turning people from life giving grace to confidence in the flesh, and that is evil, and thus, they’re evil doers. And then it gets even stronger. In the last epithet, these mutilated errs of the flesh. Of course, this is code for circumcision, which is the physical clue that you are trying to keep the law and therefore, to earn your salvation. Paul can’t even bring himself to call it circumcision here though, and said, he picks up a pagan word, the whole idea of mutilation. So if you’re to look back at say, the story of Elijah at Mount Carmel, and he’s fighting with the prophets of Baal, and they’re not waking their god up, because it turns out, he’s not real and all that stuff. And so what happens, they begin cutting themselves to get their God’s attention. And Paul saying, that’s what circumcision is, when you do it with this mentality. You’re just trying to gain the favor of your God. That’s a Pagan Perspective, trying to earn acceptance. And Paul’s point is trying to earn acceptance like this turned out to create your own righteousness is bondage. It is the bondage to worry and fear and anxiety, that constant did I measure up, but grace is joyous freedom.
There’s an old story I’ve shared before, but it’s a great one. It’s a Warren weirs. B. And somebody was trying to understand the relationship between faith and works a little bit like the the two wings of the plane that we did a couple of weeks back. And somebody said, I always like to think of it like a rowboat. And so you know, one more is faith and one or is works and you got to kind of keep them going together and weird people just like that’s a great illustration, except that nobody’s getting to heaven in a rowboat. And that is kind of the point here, Grace abolishes merit, we cannot try to earn our favor. It won’t work. We’re not good enough. And ironically, that should bring us joy, a joy of going cool, I can’t do it. I didn’t measure, no big deal. tremendous weight lifted from our shoulders when we give up fruitless striving. I can’t do it. But he did it for me. So you give up your performance and rest in God’s grace. Now takes us to the next point. And it’s a related point because if we can’t earn it, then there’s no reason for us to be boastful or arrogant about it. So gospel gain. Number two is humility. Me read verses three to six. Four It is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh, though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more circumcised on the eighth day of the people of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews in regard to the law, a Pharisee as resile persecuting the church as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Alright, so gospel game number two humility in contrast to boasting gain humility, you lose boasting in the process. Now maybe it’s a bit odd to talk about humility, when the passage so clearly says we boast as it does right there. But we boast in what in what we boast in our new identity. And this is what Paul says, and these kind of weird statements that we get here. He says, We’re the circumcision. And here we’re talking about a spiritual circumcision, what Deuteronomy would call a circumcision of the heart. So this real marker because again, circumcision is meant to mark you out as I’m one of those people who follows God will the real marker is the spiritual change in your heart being born again, whatever you want to call it, something like that. So he says, We’re the circumcision because we’re the ones who actually marked out as belonging to you God, and we serve God, the word there has to do with temple service. So he’s almost saying like, we’re the real Levites were the real priests serving in the temple because we serve in the Spirit. And of course, the temple is the temple of the spirit, like we’re all brick building this temple kind of idea. So we serve in the spirit, as opposed to laboring in the flesh, in a physical temple of brick and mortar. And then he says, we put no confidence in the flesh, but rather boast in Christ. So our confidence is in his work, and not our own. This is the passage that Robert read for us earlier, but not the wise boast of their wisdom, the strong boast of their strength to the rich boast of their riches, the one who boasts most things cool, boasting is a good thing to do as a Christian, just as long as you boast in this, you know, God, hey, you’re in Christ, we boast in Christ is what Paul says here. Now, maybe that’s good for you, like maybe you should boast in Christ, because, frankly, I’m looking out at the congregation here and y’all are bunch of sinners. And that just makes sense. But I on the other hand, I’m, I’m pretty godly. I might have reason to put it was ain’t did us laugh at me. I might have reason to put confidence in my flesh. And Paul says, Great, let’s do it. Let’s go. Come on. I’ve got even more reason, Paul says, so he holds out his story, kind of like exhibit a for verses two and three, and how true they are. Alright, I’m exhibit A, for why the gospel is truly gain. Even if you you know, you got the whole resume. So he outlines his status. First half has to do with his inherited status. He didn’t really have anything to do with us, right? So he’s born a Hebrew tribe of Benjamin. It’s not like he’s grafted into Israel. He’s got the tribal ancestry can trace himself all the way back to Abraham circumcised on the eighth day, and that’s something his parents did for him. Not a choice he made, but he’s got the status. Okay. But then he goes on in the next section to say, Yeah, and I lived up to the status. You know, those people who get into the ivy League’s because their parents went there something that legacy people, you’re like, Oh, I know why you got into Harvard. Okay, but I had a 4.0 While I was there. I don’t know if that’s a Harvard works. But whatever the scale is, right? Like I did it. I measured up when I was, that’s what Paul’s saying. I’ve got the pedigree.
And I measured up like I actually did it. So go ahead and talk. I had the right theology, I was a Pharisee, the people who were actually concerned about following God’s law, I was so zealous that in fact, the people who were messing with that theology, I felt free to, you know, like, be the coat hanger for when they’re stoning people to death. And then he says, when it comes to righteousness based on the law, I’m faultless. And I know that like blows our minds, because we always talk about the fact that you cannot keep the law. That’s why Jesus had to come. But in a sense, he did. Paul checked all the boxes, he observed all the right days, he ate the right foods and didn’t eat the wrong foods, you know, kept kosher, he didn’t sin willfully. So Paul, saying, if anybody’s performance would actually measure up if anybody would have cause for boasting in the flesh, it’s me. I’m the guy. But Paul knows that even that is not enough to gain what he truly wants, where we’ll go in the next section. But part of that’s because he sees too, that he still has this heart failure in his life. He talks way more about this in Romans, but it just goes on to the like, I did all the externals, and then I got to Thou shalt not covet. And that one’s really tricky. Because how do you know if you did that? Like that’s not quite the same box to check is it and so it like messed with him for a while, and he sees the self will in all of this as well because of course, the problem was measuring up and like I did it, I did it. I did it. I did it as you become proud. And so you got all sorts of other issues and it’s also totally self centered. I’m doing all of this so that I can earn my salvation. So the heart is still broken in all of this easy to get the externals just impossible to get the internals though. This is why Jesus referred to people like Paul, prior to his conversion is whitewashed tombs look so good externally. Inside. How is untold abominations, works righteousness, this idea of I can earn it, I can do it. It brings arrogance. Boasting, it brings judgment. So you begin to look down on other people. And of course, we see this even today, like I gotta pause here for a moment because a lot of you are like, it’s cool. I’m not Jewish. This is not a danger for me. We do the same thing in other areas like we live in a very secular culture and so many ways. You got the same things here. There are certain markers today of I am a good person. Again, like, from one perspective, they got signs out in their front yard saying, Here’s the list of things that I do. And how do you feel about people who don’t do those things? It’s the same arrogance and judgment that we always see. It’s just a secular religion instead of a religious religion, I don’t know. But it’s the same mentality underneath is this the same self. And it’s the same boasting that comes about whereas grace, righteousness receiving righteousness is instead of earning it, creating it for yourself, it brings humility. The contrast here is the contrast between the Pharisee and the tax collector. Remember this parable that Jesus told and what happens the two people come into the temple to pray, and the Pharisee Waltz’s in center stage Spotlight. I’m here, and I’m amazing Hebrew of Hebrews. And I thank God I’m not like the rest of you. All these people that I’m looking down on, including that tax collector right there and I can look down on all of them. Because look at what I’ve done, I fast I tied I do it all correctly. Didn’t check his heart though. Very definitely boasting in his accomplishments as opposed to boasting in the Lord like forgot to read Jeremiah nine. So he’s got this flush confidence. The tax collector had it right that the tackler doesn’t walk in, he’s like standing that threshold. He’s got we have this in church, sometimes, like, I’ll just see somebody standing in that doorway. They won’t actually come in to the auditorium. Like, it’s cool. Like, we’re sinners. And here you fit, okay. But there’s that same feel like I’m not sure I belong. And he beats his breast and he looks down instead of looking up. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. That’s it. This is what I’m bringing you as my sin, my messed up life. And Jesus says, Yep, that guy gets it. That guy justified, accepted and accepted, not because of what he did, because he just confessed he didn’t have anything good to offer accepted because of what Jesus would do for him. It’s this contrast the quote, I think it’s Tim Keller, who said, law says, Do this, and it is never done. Grace says, believe this, and everything is already done. And you think of what, and joy and humility that brings the humble confidence that we receive, and there’s nothing I can do. That has been done for me. Are we just saying nothing in my hand I
brain simply to the cross? I claim, you’re gonna it’s so important for us to see we still face this temptation. In fact, one of the funniest things I’ll hear sometimes if people basically get up in church and are like, I thank God, I’m not a Pharisee. And you’re like, Well, you know, you sound like a Pharisee when you say that, right? Because that’s what the Pharisees. So we still have this issue, we can still make righteousness, a matter of external observation. Here are the boundary markers. Here’s how you know that you’re good. We still have food laws in Christianity today, don’t we want to have a conversation about alcohol, for example? And when know somebody why, well, you drank or you smoke or something like that. So you’re out. You watch which movies? You got your days, right? What about even our religious rights and you’re like, well, we’re not really religious rights people. It is really interesting. I’ve seen people come up here before here, we’re talking in this room and read prayers that others have written, like the historic prayers from the church and go, what you can extemporize you don’t just know how to talk to God. Okay, so there’s a right way to pray and wrong way to pray, apparently. Okay, good to know, we still have these markers to show that we’re in and again, outside the church as well. But let’s talk more in the church. We got theological shibboleths, you know, you got to make sure you got the right stance here. Any cultural issues you can think of today, we’re Christians take that as a mark of acceptance in Christ. I’m kidding. Obviously, every one of them right. The problem here though, is that none of those markers are Christ. Christ is the marker, one marker, his name is Jesus. We got to have that in our heads. Here’s what da Carson said, I love this. He says, Be careful of people who inadvertently or even intentionally and maliciously imagine that faith in Jesus Christ, and delight in him, little less important than their personal accomplishments. Instead, look around for those whose constant confidence is Jesus Christ, whose constant boast is Jesus Christ, whose Constant Delight is Jesus Christ, emulate those whose constant boast is Jesus. Nothing else. That’s the point. Of course, with all that focus on Christ takes us to the next section. This is the real gain, of course gospel gain. Number three is Christ. We gain Christ himself. What do we lose in the process? Well, self will really is what it is self pride all the human itself. In the process, we gain Christ. Let me read verses seven and eight. Whatever were gains to me, I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things, I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. So if there’s nothing I can do to get myself right with God, how should I consider my efforts? Well, Paul uses an accounting analogy to help us understand this. It really is that abdication idea, he just uses a different illustration. So he reckons them all as lost. It’s like he’s totaled up all of his works. And at the end of it, he wipes that slate clean at zero, okay, those are all debits, not credits, they all amount to nothing, everything that used to be gained, you know, when he’s he’s keeping score in terms of how he’s doing all of that, as nothing. For the sake of Christ. Jesus is the decisive difference. And Jesus changes our whole approach to religious scorekeeping. Instead of earning, it’s a matter of receiving. And so then in verse eight, he doubles down, he says, it’s not just my law keeping, it’s not just that I’m a Hebrew of Hebrews, and I’ve got the zeal, and I’ve got the right theology, and I’ve got all of that it’s absolutely everything, point to anything in my life. And I will say it is a loss compared to Christ, anything whatsoever that he could trust in, or take confidence in, that would be the ground of his being the foundation of his self understanding, it’s all loss. And that’s so important, because some of us in this room are tempted to be Pharisees. That is that we’re tempted to trust in religion. And so that’s where the debits are going to come. There’s some others in this room who are still looking elsewhere. That is, you’re not really ever going to point your religious performance. But you might point to things like your success, your family, your heritage, your politics, your personality, your approach to cultural issues, whatever it might be. It’s the self salvation idea. And we don’t just try and save, save ourselves religiously. Going into secular culture, we often try to do it secular ly, so that we’re trying to
prove ourselves to ourselves to a watching world. And Paul says, that’s all loss. Okay, you gotta count that all loss if you want to gain Christ. And it gets even stronger, he calls it garbage. And you probably know the garbage is very came translation. A little bit of a debate as to what exactly part of this stuff lying in the street this is referring to. So filth maybe helps us out? That kind of suggests a couple of different things. I’ve said before, and I stand by it. This is an impolite word. This is not a word that belongs in church with the best translation is probably crap. If I were to stand up here and say, Well, that’s all crap. You guys be like, that’s not normally have random talks up here. And you’re right. It’s not how I normally talk up here. And that’s, that’s the idea. I’m not I’m not a shock jock. Preacher. I’m sure we’ve got that by now. So for Paul to say that he’s got a shock jock retreat, it means he’s trying to startle us to get our attention here. I remember John Piper one point, John Piper is like the least shocked Jackie preacher of all preachers everywhere. And at one point, somebody asked him on a panel, what do you think about the prosperity gospel, the health wealth gospel, I said, I’ll tell you what I think about it, I think it’s crap. And you’re like, okay, and he’s not wrong. By the way, that’s exactly what it is. But that’s Paul’s point here. All your achievements, if that’s what you’re coming with, if you’re going, Lord, actually something in my hand, I bring, and it’s my education, and it’s my achievements. And it’s my religion. And that’s crap. For Paul saying, that’s how I’m going to consider it. Because Christ is so much better. So he uses his vulgar term to stress his point, not going to trust in anything outside of Christ. That’s really important that he says, I consider all of this last I consider it garbage. This is an act of the will. This takes intentional perspective. He looks at all this stuff, and he goes, I’m going to change how I think about this. Now why then would he do this? Why does he renounce every inadequate claim because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, there is nothing better. To lay hold of Christ, you gotta come with empty hands, you’re gonna lay hold of Christ, but to lay hold of Christ for that he would renounce everything else. And we’d be careful here knowing Christ is not had knowledge. That’s not what the word no means in Greek, but its intimate relationship. So it’s a little bit like Edward the Ace again, he did this so that he could know Wallis Simpson. It’s the same idea we could know Christ to have that vital union so that we live our lives in the Lord, as Paul keeps saying. But here’s the thing, you cannot gain Christ until you count your former gains, as long as you have to erase the one column, all my stuff, and put his life in its place. So you give up your performance, but you gain his performance. That’s what it means to rest in grace. And that takes us to the last section, where we gain his righteousness last gain here when we read verses nine to 11. So that I’m a game Christ and be found in him not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, I want to know Christ is to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him and his death, and so somehow, attaining the resurrection from the dead. So again, Christ’s righteousness, really, and the loss is our pretend righteousness. So we get Christ’s righteousness here. And this is what Luther called an alien righteousness meeting outside ourselves. So that’s why it comes on the basis of faith. It’s not something we build in ourselves, but we receive from outside ourselves. It comes from God, not from our Grace denying efforts to earn but through faith. Let’s define faith because it’s so important understanding this passage right here. Faith is in so many ways, taking credit for something we didn’t do. I’ve shared this illustration before, but it’s been a few years and two really helpful illustrations, I’m gonna share it again. When I was a teacher down in Columbia. This was did not happen to me. But in my colleague, the biology teacher, we had these two kids, there were seniors, and they were not our top students. And for lack of effort, no other reason. And so one of them had done his homework. Another one had not, and the other one knew that was a problem. And so he’s like, Dude, can I cheat? Cool. We’re brothers. Yes, absolutely. He’s Xeroxed his friends homework, and cruelly scrawled his name over the other guy’s name on the Xerox.
I got nothing. As a teacher, I got nothing. But I’m so glad they did this, because that’s exactly what we do. We take Christ’s homework, his perfect performance record. And we just crudely scrawl our names on top. Do you do your homework? No. Do you get any other questions right now? Maybe I got a couple. Right. But it was like accidental. Well, then, how do you expect to pass the class? That’s a Xerox Yes. Yes, it is. I get Jesus’s performance record. That’s such good news. That is the gospel. Now, let’s talk about faith, though. The whole turning in someone else’s homework idea, because faith is a tricky concept. It seems a little bit too easy. Like even now some of you are looking at me like, no, there should be more than that. Okay, there’s not actually more than that, so long as we have faith clearly defined, because as humans, we’re constantly flitting between moralism, I need to earn this, and libertine ism, or cheap grace, which is it doesn’t matter what I do, so long as I sign my name, on some card somewhere or raise my hand when the preacher tells me to, there are three elements to faith, and all three have to be there for it to be biblical faith. There is a cognitive element, the head. This is what we normally mean when we talk about belief. So there are truths, we need to believe we read a couple a little while ago. So there is that element. But it’s more than that. There’s also a relational element. That’s the heart. And that is trust. In fact, the word belief and trust are the same word in Greek. They’re the same word in Hebrew, there’s no like distinguishing between them. It carries the idea of loyalty with it. So there’s this sense of like, I don’t just believe certain things about Jesus, I trust Jesus, like I’m following him. And then there is a behavioral aspect, hands, head, heart, hands off, you got to be there we call that obedience or fidelity. Obedience, again, doesn’t earn it, but it’s proof that we actually trust. So faith is more than intellectual assent. I believe God exists. I believe Jesus is God’s Son. The demons believe that unimpressed, okay. That’s not good enough. It’s more it’s the trust element. It works itself out in the way we live our lives. Now again, if you’re got the obedience piece, but you’re doing it because you think you can earn it, well, that’s backwards then also. So it’s not I obey, therefore, I’m accepted, but I’m accepted. Therefore I obey, works itself out in the way I live my life, when we stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting in Him. That’s when we truly grasped grace. This requires deep humility, what we saw earlier, because we did not need to acknowledge that we can’t. And he did was Spurgeon who said, He that thinks lightly of sin thinks lightly of his savior. And that’s it. Exactly. So there’s Grace’s humble posture right there, like I actually need to be rescued. We do this because we want to know Christ, the power of his resurrection. That’s the life change that we’re looking for, of course, that we would be different that we’d be raised to new life. But then Paul goes on like we’re all on board so far, right? I want to know the power of his resurrection. Can I get an amen? Testify and participation in his sufferings? Hang on now? What? Like it important reminder, though, by the way, because I think one of the reasons why the the Judaizers were making inroads in Philippi, like the whole circumcision movement was Judaism was an accepted religion in Rome, was this accepted minority religion. So if you could put on Jewish markers, you’re probably not going to be persecuted. And Paul’s going,
don’t fall for that. Okay. Don’t fall for that. It’s okay if you got to participate in his sufferings. What is going on here, though? Exactly. A lot going on here. Paul’s giving us an S scatological framework. eschatology is the study of last things and times, however you want to say it. So in other words, Paul’s helping us by showing us how the story ends. And you got to know how the story ends or you will never do suffering in this life. So why can we rejoice in suffering because of the resurrection? Because Christ was raised in the dead and we know that we will be raised from the dead in Christ that changes everything. So he’s got this really delicate balance then, on the one hand, Paul’s not letting us slide into triumphalism, which is glory without the cross. Like, no, no, there will be suffering, because we follow a guy that they crucified. And he said, you want to follow me Take up your cross. So there will be suffering, not triumphalism. But there’s also not stoicism, where there’s just this like, you know, life’s really hard stiff upper lip, everybody pie in the sky when you die. No, no, no, no. It’s both simultaneously always. Yes, there’s suffering. But there’s triumph in it. There’s glory in the suffering, even we can participate in suffering willingly. Because we get to experience resurrection life in Christ, even in the here and now. The chronological order of these four statements is so important. Because what does he say? I want to know the power of his resurrection. Okay, Jesus’s resurrection, and participate participation. So our participation in his sufferings that’s our sufferings now, becoming like him in his death. So that’s our death. And so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead, our resurrection, do you see how there’s a chronology there? Christ is raised. That’s the foundation for everything. You just can’t have hope apart from that. If Christ wasn’t raised, then then suffering is just awful. But the good news is Christ was raised from the dead so we can have that hope. So that’s the foundation of it all. But we suffer. And not only do we suffer, but we become like Christ, even in his death, because again, we follow a crucified savior. And what results from that is our resurrection. But you can’t get to the resurrection without dying first. Like we all want to be raised with Christ. You got to die first. And that death may be challenging, let’s say, Now, how do we participate in his death, becoming like him in his death, this is not Christ once for all redemptive act, we don’t do that we add nothing to our salvation. Of course, rather, if I could, quote Gordon Fee here, it’s that through our suffering, the significance of Christ’s suffering is manifested to the world. We’re willing to embrace these trials because we know that God will use it for gospel advance in us and through us, our joy and his. This is the crowning jewel of redemption, being found in Christ, knowing Christ treasuring Him above all. We can sometimes think of grace as just being escaped from punishment. But that’s not it. That’s mercy. And that’s a good thing. Grace is something else. Grace is a receiving it’s undeserved reward in favor. And Paul’s point here is that that’s not just heaven. Like the end result of this is not just Well, I get to live forever with my friends, and it’s pain free and there’ll be really nice sunsets or something. No, Paul’s point is God is the gospel. What makes Heaven Heaven is the fact that Christ is there and we will be with him. He is what satisfies He is the supreme pleasure. He is our sovereign joy. So the one who truly understands grace is the one who is willing to give up everything else for the surpassing joy of knowing Christ, knowing him being found in him being loved by Him on the basis of what he did alone, the choices before you now, to trust in the flesh, to put confidence in your efforts, your achievements, lesser pleasures of this world. The problem with that is those are all under threat always. What are you going to trust in, in this world that is secure? You know, we’ve got a conflict going on in Ukraine right now. And you could just see that, and what if you were trusting in your parenting, and all of a sudden, you got to make the hard decision that you’re separating the family and the kids are going to pull in while you stay behind the fight. Like that’s going to shake the foundations of your identity, you put your status and achievement or possessions? Well, those are gone because the company got blown up. You know, I mean, like, everything is under threat. And of course, we
talked about the fact that our performance is constantly under threat from our own hopeless inadequacy. The fact that we don’t measure up is because insistently as we would, everything is under threat. Unless you consider all of that loss to begin with, that you may gain Christ and be found in him, because that is a joy that nothing can steal. Christ already triumphed, over death, nothing is going to take him away, or steal us out of his hands, you can give it all up. Because in Christ, you gain infinitely more, give up your performance, so you can gain his performance and rest in His grace. And look, this is a real invitation for you today. If some of you are like, yes, that’s my life story right there. I’m like Paul counted it loss. But some of you I know, are still investigating. And some of you you’ve been coming for a little while, and probably trying to understand what exactly it is that Christianity teaches. Here it is. This is a great passage. This is what it means to believe in Jesus, belief, and trust, and the obedience, the fidelity that comes from it. This is how we gain him and lay hold of him. Let today be the day when you do just that. To receive all in Christ and lose ultimately, nothing. Let’s pray. Father, I do pray, especially for those who are here today who are still questioning Christianity, and wondering what it’s all about. I pray that you would grant them understanding in this time, to to know what the message of Christianity is and what it is not. It is not works. It is not hurting, but it is receiving on the basis of what Christ did. And Lord, I pray that your spirit would stir and then even now, to believe and trust and obey, to count everything else loss in order to gain relationship with you. And a joy that is unthreatened by circumstances a hope that not even death can overcome. What I pray for those of us who are here, who believe in Jesus already who’ve been doing this, but who are always tempted to fall back into works, and trusting in our flesh and maybe even boasting in our flesh because we just seem to be doing better than some other people. Would you humble us once more? And would you remind us the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus better than all that we would lose in this life? Better than all that the world has to offer. Jesus is better. May we find our rest and our worth our identity in him? We pray through Christ our Lord.
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