Two statements stood out in last week’s sermon, and I hope you thought so too. The first one was: A Christian cannot have confidence in the flesh and also have confidence in Christ, for the two are mutually exclusive. By that I mean, you cannot have one foot in the camp of self-confidence and another foot in the camp of trusting in Jesus. The Christian must have both feet firmly planted in Christ. The second statement was: Paul had to drop the concept that he and God were partners in justification and salvation, and accept the means of righteousness that God alone provides.
The two statements reminded me of the Old Testament story of Uzzah. He was helping David move the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. On the way the Oxen stumbled and Uzzah reach out to steady the Ark so that it would not fall; God struck Uzzah dead. The point of the story is: God does not need man’s help.
The two statements and Uzzah’s story have the same lesson. God does not need our help, and we therefore are not in partnership with him in our salvation. Christ is all sufficient to save.
Paul had a lot of advantages in his life, but he had learned that those advantages were rubbish compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus. Paul had learned to count what was important in life. What was important to him? He answered with this, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10).
As you know Cindy had a heart attack last week. Thankfully she came through it with no heart damage, and was cleared to resume her normal activities this week. Going through such an experience causes a person to count what is important in their life. Afterwards I asked Cindy what her thoughts were as she was lying on the gurney in the ER. She replied, “I was at peace with it all. I knew that whether I lived or died God was taking care of me.”
Paul had learned what was important in life, and Cindy has learned it too. What is important in this life? What really counts is knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection; everything else is rubbish!
We are changing our service a bit today and hope you are pleased. However, make no mistake about this service, for it asks some tough questions such as: What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?
Why ask such a question? You may admire our service, and be entertained by our songs, but that is not enough for you may well be living on the borders of the church. You may have had clean water sprinkled on you, been plunged beneath the water, had hands placed upon your head, had your name mentioned in a solemn service, and learned the appropriate time to say amen, but you are not of His Church if you have not gotten away somewhere from it all and truly answered this question about Jesus.
As the pastor, and the good shepherd I must ask if you are an instrument of the Lord’s. Is the Word of God from you simply sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal; a clang, a clash and a clatter? God deliver us for no one is fooled. Or are you a reverberating sound bidding the fallen to look up?
We have been working our way through the Book of Philippians. In verse 1:12 Paul began writing on the topic of the submissive mind, and this topic has continued through to where we left off last week in verse 2:18. A question arises from this section: Is it possible for the average Christian to practice the examples laid down by Jesus, and Paul?
This is a good question, for after all Jesus is the Son of God, and Paul was the chosen apostle. Raising doubts to an affirmative answer is the Catholic Church’s teaching of the “counsel of perfection.” This teaching declares that the life of holiness or saint-ship is not possible for the ordinary Christian person, it is reserved for a select few who have received some higher calling, and have abandon themselves to that call.
In today’s verses, 19-30, Paul answers the question by introducing us to two ordinary men; Timothy and Epaphroditus. These two men were not apostles, nor were they miracle workers; they were just two Christians. Paul’s point in his topic’s conclusion is: The mind of Christ is available to any Christian; it is not something reserved for a chosen few; it is an opportunity for all believers.