Gospel Steadfastness (Philippians 3:17-4:1)March 20, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning, we open the word now because we know that all scripture is God breathed is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work with that reminder in our minds, when you go ahead and open to Philippians chapter three, we starting in verse 17, this morning, Philippians 317. Now, as you’re turning there, you have probably at some point in your life started something new probably many times over, in fact, and there is a little bit of a question over the starting something new and that is, will you actually finish it? So you take up a new hobby or sport, perhaps you decided to learn a language or an instrument. And these are all good things, but you discover pretty early on that it’s more difficult than you were hoping, like golf looks easy until you swing the club for the first time. Who wouldn’t want to learn French but we would all be multilingual if we could just pick it up. And that doesn’t necessarily happen. So will you actually learn I would guess that our storage rooms nevermind goodwill, but our storage rooms are filled with false starts. You can look in your garage and go oh, yeah, I remember the one summer I did that. Yes, is kind of how we wrote We rarely become experts, because it’s hard to finish well. And it’s important for us to acknowledge that at the outset, because that’s true the Christian life. Also, it’s hard to finish. Well, the Christian walk takes perseverance. And there gonna be a lot of hard times along the way. And we may well be tempted to quit. So we said last week over and over again, need to keep running all the way home, right need to keep running all the way home because we’re not there yet. So what will keep us from quitting last week, we talked a lot about perseverance, and specifically the action of perseverance, that whole idea of just keep running. This week, we’re talking about steadfastness, which is really the attitude that will keep you running, persevering, because Paul’s point and I’m gonna state it even more bluntly than Paul does, which is rare, because Paul is pretty blunt. But my point is simply that we will quit. Unless, and that’s why we’re gonna look at this morning, we will quit unless we make three choices. And Paul talks about here that will help us cultivate steadfastness, so that we run to the very end. So what’s the first choice we make is that we watch with looking Philippians three verse seven team joined together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. So Paul is saying here, again, a point that he’s made a few times and makes elsewhere in his letters, you need to become imitators of me, it sort of reads literally, in fact, we’ve seen this before. We talked a couple of weeks back as we had our Gospel examples, sermon that Paul has said in First Corinthians 11, one follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ Imitate me as I imitate Christ. And here he is saying it again directly to the Philippians. Very similar to something he said to the Thessalonians to like he says this a lot. What I love about the this passage in Thessalonians, is it’s got that same connection to suffering and joy, those notes that we keep coming across in Philippians, as well, he writes this First Thessalonians, one, six, You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. So there’s that imitation in suffering with joy. That’s very much the point Paul keeps making, I’m suffering. Would you do what I’m doing? In the midst of it, he said, way back in chapter one, verse 30, you’re going through the same struggle that I’m going through. So follow me as we as I do this, and he put himself forward and all of Chapter Three that we’ve seen so far as an example, to follow this, this idea that you should count everything as loss just as Paul has done. And we seem to it’s not just Paul, of course, we’re supposed to imitate Christ. That’s Philippians, two, especially five to 11 You’re supposed to have the same mindset as Christ. And then we walk through what that looks like. And he held up Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples to follow as well. It’s been our theme statement for all of Flipkens in fact, right to advance the gospel we must emulate that was so weak, I’m gonna like we can Okay, let’s try that again. To advance the gospel. We must emulate Christ. And Paul, and now we’re getting some other people tucked in here as well.
We’ve again seen Timothy and a Pafford datas and the here Paul IX. licitly broadens it. It’s not just Paul. And in fact, Paul even says keep, you know, just as you have us as a model, that’s Paul and Timothy since Timothy’s listed as one of the authors of the letter as well. He’s saying, it’s not just us, though. Keep your eyes on everyone who lives like they do. The word for live is the word walk, almost always in the Bible with New Testament and Old Testament if you enjoy obscure vocabulary. The word is peripatetic, which is very fun to say, one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. In fact, what if someone calls us a pair of pathetic peripatetic acts? I just feel like we should have a ready retort. I don’t know. But anyway, that’s the word here. But it does mean to walk. Because what is Paul saying here? You want to keep your eyes on those who actually walk the walk, who are actually following in Christ’s footsteps, not just people who profess Christianity, but people who practice Christianity. The Christian life is a journey. Why do we call our discipleship groups journey groups because you got to keep walking. And we’ve actually want to arrive, we want to be pilgrims who actually make progress. And to do that, we need to walk the right way. And an arduous journey like that means that we could probably use some tips along the way. So I have a friend who hiked the Appalachian Trail one summer and he was setting off from Mount Katahdin. And he saw so you know, new guy, right first day kind of thing. Well, there’s some people he’s going north to south or some people are going south to north. And so they were just mean, it’s a bad illustration. Everyone click your unlock button at the same time. We’re bound to get that to stop then. I wasn’t joking. All right. Hopefully it stops soon. Anyway. So there are people who are finishing up the track, right as he’s beginning. And he’s saying, hey, you know, help us out like a couple noobs like us, what advice would you give us and he’s expecting, like, esoteric, you know, motivational poster kind of advice. And instead, the guy looks at them and goes, ditch the Nalgene bottles, and just use Gatorade bottles instead will save you a pound. I love that I’ve actually shared that story before because I love it. Because that’s the Christian life right there. Like we think it’s going to be these great slogans that save us. And it’s like, no, you just need to save a pound here and there. Okay. So as you walk, how do you avoid blisters? How do you choose a good place to camp? What food are you going to want for the journey so that you actually get all the way there? What happens if you run out of water? Where do you find a water source? We’re going to watch those who’ve got it down. We’re gonna learn from people who’ve been doing the journey longer than we have. And I just I love that Paul commands us here to watch a larger group, keep your eyes on this larger group, all those who live like we do, because the reality is that we don’t all have a Paul and Timothy relationship. That’s that’s common in Christian circles, right? Who’s your Paul, who’s your tenant who’s disciple you? Who are you deciding? I got no problem with that, okay. But even if we have that relationship, there still will be holes, because nobody’s perfect. Nobody’s good at everything. So we need that big group, we will probably have some people in our lives who had an outsized influence in our lives spiritually, but we all need to be discipled by the whole church, that we are discipled by the church, I am so grateful for the man who discipled me in high school. And I learned so much from him, but I didn’t learn everything from him. Another good example is he just he didn’t teach me how to study the Bible. It was not his strength, especially for someone like me with the gift of teaching, like I needed to know how to do this well and rigorously. And I learned it elsewhere. And that’s okay. Like, that’s no sleight on him. That’s just how it works. You might need to learn prayer from person A, and evangelism from Person B, and parenting from Person C. This is one of the reasons why we need to be in community, by the way,
don’t want to beat a dead horse here or anything. But like Kyle was saying, that’s something you don’t get on a live stream. You don’t get to watch the examples, get to know the people so that you can say, I want to learn from that guy. Because that’s awesome. So we need to be in this sort of community where we can actually get to know one another well enough to know which people we should be following. That’s what happens in Journey groups, of course. And yeah, is there a leader in a journey group? Absolutely. But ask anyone who’s ever been in a journey group. It is mutual encouragement, we are all learning from each other. Certainly, that’s what community groups should be as well even explore our part of that’s just rotating the teachers and not like I want to learn vocation from Greg Nulty. And evangelism from day Fox because like these are some people who know what they’re talking about, but also the group itself, you know, as you’re sitting around the table People are having this conversation going. That’s really insightful. So we’re going to watch in these ways. Don’t miss though that this is a command. Like this is one of the ways we obey Christ. Keep your eyes on people who are walking well. And that requires us to look around, and to know the people in this room well enough to discern who is living? Well, and how can I learn from them? So who are you watching? Let me like take a moment here. And scroll through some names do you have those people already have that person you would like to learn from? And you haven’t yet. there gonna be some very hard days in the Christian life, we’re gonna want to quit. And in those moments, we can take encouragement from those who are persisting. Those people like you and me, ordinary people, who’ve just got extraordinary faithfulness, putting one foot in front of the other day in, day out, I want to talk to that guy who memorize James, even though he’s not good at memorizing Scripture doesn’t come easily to him. Or that gal who just every conversation ends up being a gospel conversation, even though she’s not an extrovert. And she doesn’t consider herself an evangelist, but she just gets there, right? Men and women have integrity. In all these different areas, we want to learn from them, watch. We need to watch but the next point Paul’s gonna make is that we need to be very careful whom we watch, because we don’t want to imitate those who don’t live like Paul Timothy, in Christ. And so that’s our second point. second choice we make to cultivate steadfastness, as we consider let me read verses 18 and 19. For as I’ve often told you before, and now tell you again, even with tears, many lives is enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach in their glory is their shame, their mind is set on earthly things.
So Paul’s mentioned this before, of course, Paul has mentioned a few things before, he even mentioned that he doesn’t mind mentioning things more than once, because that’s a safeguard for us here is the safeguard the reminder, many live many walk as enemies of God. And here, he’s not talking about false teachers. Well, that’s a real danger. And one he talks a lot about, he’s talking about false livers. People whose lives show they don’t actually belong to Christ, they are not submitted to Christ. Paul says specifically that they’re enemies of the cross of Christ, the values and priorities of the Cross, which so often seem like weakness and folly. The values of the Cross are antithetical to the values of this world you think about it, the cross teaches us that instead of taking advantage of others for our own sake, we’re actually should be willing to disadvantage ourselves, for the sake of others. Use Paul’s language in the last chapter to pour ourselves out, spend ourselves for the sake of others. The cross teaches that instead of self promotion, we should be pursuing self forgetful, self denial, sacrificing, and serving, not seeking our own glory. But the good of those around us. The cross teaches us that instead of insisting on our own way, maybe loudly but you know, maybe passive aggressively, we should humble ourselves and be deferential to those around us. Necross teaches us that instead of winning at all costs, we know that victory comes in defeat, often in the Christian life, you can see why so many live enemies have that mindset, because that is not the mindset of this world like that does not make sense and the Doggy Dog look out for number one sort of world. It is so easy to profess Christ with our mouths and deny Him with our lives. And that’s why we must be careful, choose carefully who to imitate. But Paul doesn’t stop there. Otherwise, I would have included that in the Watch section because that’s just more of that. He goes on to explain the issue with people like this and and then going on, he takes us in a different direction here as well. In the process, he explains why he says this with tears, often told you before and now tell you again, even with tears. And what a reminder to us when we’re when we’re talking about people who deny Christ by their lives. Our hearts should break This is not the time for, you know, self righteous judgment, or just turn a blind eye. This is a time for weeping. I mentioned this because we slip into our culture’s mindset so easily. And so what is our culture is approached to people that we don’t think are measuring up, we disdain them. And this has been especially true in the church in recent years, where we’ve become like the culture so that we’re more concerned with winning the culture war with winning people. So we might actually win some culture war and lose people in the process. That is not Paul’s approach. That’s a bad trade. To win an argument and lose a person is a terrible, terrible trade. From Paul’s perspective, you see this, it isn’t a time to like, own them, or whatever it is we talked about today, this is a time to weep for them. Why such heartbreak? Because if these people are steadfast in rejecting the values of the cross, they’re headed for a very grim future. Paul reserves weeping for apostates, not for people who are struggling, we all struggle to promote, He reserves weeping for those who have abandoned Christ. And what is their destiny, he tells us quite clearly, its destruction. Interestingly, that’s the exact same word that we saw last week, translated as mature, or haven’t obtained all this. And I said, it’s that idea of completion. That’s the root behind all of this. And here it is, again, their completion, when they reach completeness, its destruction. Because we’re talking about the mindset of the cross, of course, we get the great reversals of the cross as a huge piece of this. Some of those reversals are like in weakness is our strength in death is our life.
But it goes the other way to the ones who are first will be last just as surely as those were last will be first. And so what might seem like gain here could be utter loss. And that’s what Paul’s describing their god is their stomach. He’s talking about a fixation with earthly appetites. He’s using a specific analogy for much more general principle, what can I consume? That’s the question, whether that’s actual food or more likely something different, but the focus is all on me. How can I satisfy my cravings, the cravings of my sinful flesh. And he says, their glory is their shame. That points forward to the end as well, that moment of destruction. Jesus says something like this and Mark chapter eight, not only does he say What foolish it nests, it is to gain the whole world and yet lose your life in the process. But it goes on to say those who are ashamed of the Son of Man, Son of Man will be ashamed of them at His coming. So you could get some glory now and you can, by the way, get some glory now, for rejecting Christianity. X Ven. Jellicle is like a pretty cool hashtag. Right now we’re doing a series on that after Easter, by the way, so you have that to look forward to the whole phenomenon of deconstruction in the church will get you a book deal. It will make your blog go viral, you could get on whatever the equivalent of Oprah is now, because that guy got on Oprah before and he was the spiritual advisor for a while. You can get glory now, but it ends in shame. And how come? How stronger contrast that is then to the many Christians who are willing to be treated shamefully here in this like, like Christ, whom they serve whom they follow. Who will see their glory in the next section, by the way. But that’s the whole issue. Of course, the whole issue that Paul’s pointing out with people like this is that they don’t have a long term eternal perspective. Because their mind is set on earthly things. That’s the summary of everything else that he just said about them. They cannot raise their gaze above the present horizon. They’re asking the question, what’s for dinner tonight? And if you only are ever worried about what’s for dinner tonight, you’re not ever going to think about the heavenly banquet, and the wedding supper that we will have with the lamb. Now mindset is a recurring theme in Philippians hoping it’s one of those words you’ve heard a bunch of times now if you’ve been coming for the whole series, you’re going to think I’m certain get it. Chapter Two. We talked about being like minded and being of one mind and then verse five, and your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus even last week. If you think differently on some point if your mind is set down Firstly on some point, and here we have it again, how we think matters so much for how we live. Proverbs tells us as a man thinks so is he. So if you set your mind, fix your gaze on the wrong things, you will live poorly. Are you gonna press on toward the heavenly goal? Is that your mindset? Are you going to keep chasing after the merely earthly? Will you trade an eternal prize for temporary pleasure? These are real questions, like they work out practically, don’t they? Like where your horizon is matters a lot, I could save up for retirement so much faster if I didn’t give money to this church. Anyone else feel that way? Like, can I get an amen? Every month, I look at that, and we give monthly were paid monthly. So we give monthly and I see that God actually went out this morning, got my email from the church saying thank you for your donation. We’re like, that’s a chunk of money that could go elsewhere. So I could save up for retirement a lot faster if I didn’t give to the church. But think of what a small mindset that is. Because what happens after retirement, that’s the one that goes on forever. Retirement is short, in the perspective of eternity. You pin this, your hopes on this world, they will be dashed. We sang about this a moment ago, my worth is not in what I own. And it talks about this exactly right. Like if you put your hope in your beauty, you’re going to age, your looks will fade. And even if by some miracle, they do not fade, you die, at the end of it.
You’re going to pin your hopes on success. You will fail eventually, like nobody bats 1000. Even if again, by some miracle you did, you’re still gonna retire. And that is going to sell the company to somebody else is going to break it up. Your name is going to be gone, like in an instant. And then you die. And no one cares anymore. Because you don’t know what your great grandfather did for a living. Some of you were like, Oh, wow, exactly. Two generations. No one cares about you ever again. Okay, that’s rough.
You’re welcome. Thanks, everyone. It’s a beautiful day outside though. pin your hopes on pleasure. I mean, pleasure lasts for like, a minute. And then it’s gone. It’s so temporary. And again, even if you make a lifetime, out of seeking pleasure. You die. Okay, like you got it. If you only think about this life, you will choose poorly, you will quit before you reach the goal. I saw this, we used to have a memorial run every year in the town where I grew up, you know what a like fun run kind of thing. And so we did it safely. And we were running, we ran by a park and you kind of like did a loop around it every year, there’d be a couple people who go right through the park. But the people who ran the race understood this. And so there are people on the other side of the park. So like you got there faster, and you got disqualified, you don’t get to reach the goal. Consider carefully how you run so that when you get to where you actually want to be, you aren’t disqualified. Think through your choices from an eternal perspective. And this section was from the negative perspective. Let’s turn to the next section. That’s really the positive perspective on thinking through all this and we keep reading. third choice that we make to cultivate steadfastness we remember verses 20 and 21. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. So in contrast of those who live for the here, and now, we recognize that as Christians, we belong to a still future kingdom. We talked about the already and not yet last week, we already belong to that kingdom, by faith in Christ. And that kingdom is already here. Partially, in Jesus even says like a mustard seed, right? So it’s tiny, and then it spreads from there. So the kingdom is here and it’s in our hearts, but it’s also coming and will eventually cover the earth. Now remember that citizenship is key to the Philippians because where they lived and Macedon Then you have the town of Philippi. They were all granted citizenship in Rome. And so it’s come up again a couple times in the letter. Why does he mentioned because they were this outpost of Rome in the middle of Greece. And that’s a picture of what we were an outpost of that future kingdom. In the middle of this world. We’re exiles, citizens of a different place living here. And so we are awaiting a future and already, Lord and Savior. Now, Paul almost never calls Jesus savior. That’s probably weird. You’re like, really? Because we call Jesus Savior alot. highly unusual for Paul. Why does he call him Savior here, because that’s one of the titles for Caesar. Remember, they’re being persecuted by those who engage in emperor worship. So they’re being persecuted because they don’t call Caesar, Lord and Savior. And so Paul’s got to remind them who the real Lord is, the real savior, is because the race will be hard. And we will be tempted to quit. Unless we remember how the story ends, when the not yet becomes present reality.
We eagerly await a Savior from there the Lord Jesus Christ, we’ve heard that phrase before in Philippians. Because one day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There’s the reminder. Right, that, that his vindication with the end of chapter two verses five to 11, we read about Christ’s humiliation, he’s a humbled, obedient to death, even death on a cross, and then he’s vindicated. His vindication, that little cycle right there is a preview of our own. And it gives us a hope, in the face of this present darkness, even in the face of worldly powers. Why would you fear somebody who’s a lowercase L Lord and a lowercase s savior? When you know the King of kings and Lord of lords, who’s the capital S savior? Why would you fear if you were brought before a lowercase J judge, because you were speaking faithfully from scripture, because you know what, one day you and that Judge are going to stand before the judge with a capital J. And you know, what you will hear from the judge on that day, not guilty, but righteous in Christ gives us that hope, and this confidence. Now, the only time we call back to chapter two, either there’s actually a lot of chapter two, in this section, the whole language of our bodily renewal reminds us of this. So Paul says, He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. What we’ve come across that word form, transform form in chapter two, taking on the very form of a servant being in very form God, it’s translated as nature, but it’s the same word. And then he is made in human likeness. And when he humbled himself at that same word, lowly, so you see, it’s that same paradigm press, just as Christ was humiliated and suffered before glory. We get to do that same little parabola right there. One day, we will be like Him, and there will be a physical renewal, resurrection, restoration reconstruction. There are these terrible images coming out of Ukraine. They are emblematic of a sin scoured world. Like this is just what sin does to us what it does to our hearts. It’s what it does to our spirit. It is what it does to the world as a whole as well. But one day, that will be rebuilt, we will be rebuilt, remembering that reality transforms our experience of suffering today, so that we can endure to the end, can even rejoice here. And now not because everything we experience here now is good, because it’s not because God is using it for good to bring about his purposes. And we know that that’s true, and that that will actually happen. Why because his power confirms this. That’s what we read who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, like he has the power, sufficient to accomplish his purposes. He will ultimately subject all things to himself. What an important reminder for us today. In a chaotic world, God is absolutely in control of all things, and he will bring them to their proper and There’s still so much brokenness in this world. But there will come a day. When that changes. Here’s the way Gordon Fee says it. He says, this passage reminds us that despite appearances, often to the contrary, God is in control. That our salvation is not just for today, but forever, that Christ is coming again and that at His coming, we inherit the final glory that belongs to Christ alone. And to those who are His. If you forget that, you’ll quit. You’ll make the most of this life here on Earth, set your mind on earthly things, maybe even compromise to escape suffering, when it comes because you bear the name of Christ. But if we remember, if we remember, we consider carefully how the story ends both paths, the one that leads to destruction, the one that leads to the transformation of our bodies, we watch those who are running well. We won’t quit, what will we do? We will stand firm.
chapter four, verse one, let me read it for us. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love, and longing for my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends, this is the conclusion. This is the summary. This is what happens if we cultivate those attitudes that lead to steadfastness, the end result of us watching and considering and remembering is that we stand firm. You can’t miss how much affection is in this one verse. Paul actually uses the word beloved, twice, translated as whom I love. And then dear friends, like when you use beloved twice in one sentence, that’s affection, right? Not just the ones that I love the ones I longed for, I wish I could be with you guys. I wish I could see. And then he calls them my joy and crown. And those are both images that point to the end. Because the joy that we experienced now is not escapism, it’s bringing that future reality into the present, remembering what is ultimately true, like knowing that we will see a loved one again, who dies in Christ transforms our experience of death. So that there could be a joyful sorrow, sorrow, yes, but a joyful sorrow. Plus, I think Paul is here referring to this specific joy of the end of the race, of the perseverance knowing that he and they both finish the race, that his labor was not in vain, that brings him joy. And what happens at that moment, they get the crown, because they finished the race. And that’s when you get to where that world reef. All that love is part of the encouragement, to be steadfast to stand firm that relationship now and in glory in light of that stand firm. In this way, he says, In what way? Well, everything we’ve hit so far right, verses 20 and 21, remembering how the story ends and living in light of it all the way back to chapter one, verse 27, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel and everything we saw after that were Paul fleshes out what exactly that means, following Christ example falling Paul’s example, following the examples of those who are running well living up to the gospel call that we’ve received. We don’t just stand firm in this way we stand firm in the Lord. Well, of course we do. Because everything we do, as Christians we do in the Lord. Everything we do, we do in light of the fact that we are united to Christ, by His grace and our faith. And so we stand firm and the promise that comes with knowing Christ, physical resurrection, transformation of our bodies of this world, the Heavenly Kingdom, the eternal reign of Christ, when all things will be under his control, there’ll be no more sin, and no more sickness and no more sorrow and no more death hole that provides an anchor for our souls, and unshakable hope. Regardless of the present circumstances, otherwise, we’ll drift. Right you you tie your boat up to this world that’s like tying your boat up to flotsam, tied up to driftwood in the middle of the ocean. You just gotta go. Where the wind and waves take you will want an anchor, that solid tie your vote up to like bedrock, right? That’s what Christ is. That’s what our hope is. The Christian life is hard. You will be tempted to quit. And now’s a good time for the hard reminder that not every member of the visible church will persevere to the end. There will be those who sat in this room for decades, who will not finish this race. Paul’s weeping because some who professed Christ gave up. They decided to live foolishly, in short sightedly. What about you? Will you give up? Will you quit? You will. Unless you listen to Paul your watch you consider your remember, if you watch those who are running well and learn from them and follow their example, if you consider carefully where this world pursuits lead, and how transient and fleeting those pleasures and glories of this world are, if you remember how the story ends, the Christ has come and Christ will come again. And at that time, he will set all things right, then you will stand firm in the Lord in this way. Let’s pray to that. And now. Lord, we pray that you would make us steadfast, that we would stand firm to the end. Because our hopes are set on you that our minds are fixed on eternal truths.
That we will be able to lift our gaze above the horizon of this world, and peer into eternity. We pray, Lord, that even now you would call to mind the names of those men and women who are running well, when we know we could learn from them, that we would look at them and watch them that we would follow their example, that we would keep running, we would be a community of mutual encouragement for this journey. That when the days are hard, and we are tempted to quit, we would be help to one another, to get people back on their feet, and running again. And we pray, Lord, for the grace that we need the spiritual nourishment that we need, daily that we will even take together in a moment to press on, to finish the race, to lay hold of that for which you laid hold of us. God, I pray for those who are here today who have been coming perhaps for decades, who are in many ways, a part of this church visibly at least, but whose minds are set on earthly things. God, would you wake them up from their spiritual stupor even now and help them see what is coming. I pray for those who are here today, because they’re still just checking out Christianity. how grateful we are that they’re here with us, Lord? Would you open their eyes to see ultimate reality, the joy and the glory that we can know in Christ, that is unfading imperishable? That the circumstances of this life cannot threaten because our inheritance is guarded in heaven, by the power of God Himself. Would you help them to put their hope in you as they put their faith in you even for the first time? We pray this through Christ our Lord, Amen.