Recently I have been looking for a list of most commonly asked questions and objections non-believers have regarding Christianity, and have posted requests for that information on my Facebook page. It has been an interesting process, and has led to some very good responses, which have in turn led to some very good conversations. One of the objections that has come up, and not only is that particular line of questioning but in many past conversations I have had and witnessed, it that of pride and self righteousness on the part of professing Christians when they are sharing their faith. This is something I know for a fact that I have been guilty of, and have tried to correct over the years. I frequently ask people, particularly when I am sharing with those who are friends as well as non-believers, to give me an honest assessment of my approach. This is not in the interest of compromising on the truth of the gospel, which is in itself a very hard message for many people to accept, but to make sure that my attitude doesn’t get in the way of that message.
This got me thinking about the fact that, in truth, the message of the Gospel has very little to do with me. Yes, God has made amazing changes in who I am, what I believe, how I live, and the like. But those changes do not find their source in me. They were not caused by me, they were not due to any goodness in me, and I can take no credit for them. My salvation was, and is, and always will be a work of God. The more I focus on myself in the process, the more I get into my own way.
Now there are many differing views on the details regarding the roles of man and God in the process of salvation, and my purpose is not to try to plumb those depths in a short blog post. However, Biblically, salvation is of God, and that can not be denied. Whatever your view of soteriology, it is clear that the only reason a true Christian is capable of living differently from the world is through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in that believer’s life. The term “born again” has been overused to the point where it has become almost meaningless in modern conversation, but it remains a very true and very accurate picture of what happens when we repent and trust in Christ. We become an entirely new creation, with new desires and new motivations.
This is, I believe, is a large part of what Paul is communicating in Philippians 3. Prior to his conversion, Paul was the poster boy for self righteousness. He has the right background and family, he did the right things, and he knew the right people. On the outside he looked great. There was no obvious need for change from the perspective of the world. But after his conversion he saw the truth, and his heart and motives changed. He came to know that his former self righteousness was not about God, but was about him, and was useless.
So I pray that as you share your reading and preach from this chapter, that it will be edifying and motivating in three different ways. For believer, I hope they will be encouraged to pursue God above all, and yearn for the eternal treasures only found in Jesus Christ. For those depending on their own righteousness, which is most people you will meet, I pray that they will see the uselessness of trying to stand before God on their own merits. If Paul’s works and zeal couldn’t get him into heaven, ours certainly won’t get us in either. And for those living in open rebellion against God and His word, I pray that they will the uselessness and emptiness of life outside of Christ and turn from desiring earthly treasures to desiring heavenly ones.
READ PHILIPPIANS 3
Paul here talks about those who desire earthly things, and those who’s citizenship is in heaven. Where is yours?
If there is a heaven, and you have to be a good person to get in, are you good enough? Have you thought about it?
Don’t put your confidence in your own flesh, in your own good works. They will never be enough.
Look at the example of the Apostle Paul. Prior to meeting Jesus face to face, there was every indication he would be at the front of the line to get into heaven. Look at what Paul had accomplished:
Re-read Paul’s earthly reasons for confidence:
If anyone else thinks he has reason for 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; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
But Paul said he counted it all loss for the sake of Christ, for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ.
Paul, though by human standards looked to be a very righteous man, rejected his own righteousness in favor of Jesus’ perfect righteousness.
He counted everything else as garbage in order that he might gain Christ, not through righteousness of our own, but through faith in Christ
By God’s standard, none of us is righteous. We are all guilty sinners, deserving of God’s justice.
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
For Paul, Christ, and knowing Him, was of MOST value.
What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? If it is through Christ that we attain resurrection from the dead and eternal life, what could possibly be more valuable?
Are 80 or so years of pleasure worth an eternity of pain?
You may see no value in living for Christ. You may reject God’s word, and choose to live your own way, or chose to worship God in your own way.
If you do so, you are one of those who Paul says walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
If the truth of the cross sounds like foolishness to you, take it as a warning from God.
We pray that your citizenship will be found in heaven, and when we arrive, we will see you there as well.
Store up treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do no destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Live for the eternal, not the temporal. Live for the greatest reward, that of knowing and being known by God himself. Repent and trust in Him today.
For the praise of His glory,