Memphis Belle

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Philippians 1:1-30
Philippians 2:1-16
Philippians 2:17-30
Philippians 3:15-21
Philippians 4:8-23

 

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Philippians 2:17-30

 

“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.  For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.  But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.  Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.  But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.  Yet I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.  For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.  For indeed he was sick nigh unto death:  but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.  Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:  because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”

 

Correspondence About Paul’s Servants Epaphroditus and Timothy

 

“We are in the second chapter of Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”, and Paul moves on to elaborate and talk about Christ our example, and his exaltation, and then encourages us to go on in the Lord and to let that thing that God has worked in us work out and manifest itself in this life.  To do all things without murmuring and disputing.  You see that.  Even though we’re in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, we’re supposed to shine as lights in this world, and hold forth the Word of life to a lost world.  Paul also says that we would also be infectious, that his labour would not be in vain.  He had laboured on these Philippians.  In verse 17 where we pick up, he says, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.  For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” (verses 17-18)  Paul says, ‘Look, if I happen to be,’ and he uses the word “oblation,” the drink offering, the wine to be poured out, and he’ll use that in 2nd Timothy when he knows that his life is at an end [later on in 67AD].  Here he’s sensing that he’s going to be released from his imprisonment in Rome.  But he says, ‘If I’m to be that sacrifice that’s poured out on your offering of service and labour,’ and often times even in pagan practices the Philippians would be used to, sometimes when there was an animal that was sacrificed, there would be a drink offering poured out on that sacrifice.  Paul says, ‘If I be poured out upon the sacrifice of your service, your faith, I rejoice with you all, for the same cause also you joy, and you rejoice in me, that our labour is not in vain.’  Paul said, ‘If this is what God wants I’m willing to be poured out for the benefit of your walk with the Lord and your service.’  [Comment:  Why, I wondered, would the prospect of Paul’s death have been a good thing?  Then the thought popped into my head, because the prospect of his coming death, being poured out, put him into a flurry of letter writing, the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Epistle to the Philippians, possibly 1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy, Titus and Hebrews, six Epistles in all, all of which would not have become a valuable part of the Word of God if he had lived on and been able to visit these churches and Timothy at the very end of his life, just before Nero had him killed.  Now Paul was probably released some time in 62AD, after his first imprisonment.  It is believed he was imprisoned again around 67AD, and was executed by Nero shortly afterward.  Hebrews and 2nd Timothy were probably written just before his death.  But the possibility of his death even in 62AD inspired this flurry of letter-writing from prison.  Can you imagine the Bible without the Epistle to the Ephesians, or the Book of Hebrews, or any of these other valuable Epistles?  When Paul couldn’t make it to Rome when he promised to, he wrote Romans.  Can you imagine the Bible without the Book of Romans?]  “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.” (verse 19)  And I bet he liked to be called Timothy better than Timotheus, we’ll get to ask him soon.  Paul said (to Timothy) let no man despise your youth, maybe he called him Timotheus to make him sound a little more sophisticated as Timotheus as he does as Timmy.  ‘But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly to you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.’  Now, Epaphroditus is with Paul in Rome.  He’s come from the church at Philippi, he is going to return.  Paul is hoping to send Timothy back with him to the church at Philippi, so that Timothy then can come back to Rome and let Paul know what’s going on in Philippi.  There were no fax machines, no telephones, none of that, how wonderful in those days.  And he says, ‘I trust to send Timothy to you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.’  “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.” (verse 20)  I,e. ‘Who intentionally, who is committed to care for your state,’  “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (verse 21)  Now it’s an interesting statement, because Paul has some other labourers with him, and perhaps Luke, Justus, some of the other many names that are with him, maybe they are out on errands doing things for him.  Perhaps Demas is there, and Paul already at this point sees in the heart of Demas that Demas is attracted to this present world.  And he’ll say that in 2nd Timothy, ‘Demas hath left me, attracted to this present world,’ in contrast to the world to come.  It’s very interesting to hear Paul say this, ‘only Timothy.’  ‘You know, he’s the one that really has a heart for you [the Philippians] that resonates with me.’  You notice, there’s so many others, Paul says, they seek their own, you know, they’re a Christian…Paul didn’t say he didn’t have Christian friends, they have their own relationship with the Lord, their own walk, but he said, ‘Timothy, like myself, would be willing to be poured out.  I have no other man likeminded.  You know, this is a guy who is given to the work of Christ and to the cause of Christ, above his own interests.’  And that was his emphasis here, ‘let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus…though he was in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God…took upon himself the form of a servant, he emptied himself.’   He’s saying Timothy also.  And what a compliment, for any Timothy’s that are here, you know, in a support role in some way or another, never unnoticed by God, recorded in heaven’s annals, to be brought out into the open and rewarded with tremendous rewards.  Timothy becomes a giant of a man in regards to Church history, and all of us familiar to Paul’s letters to Timothy, and the things he has to say about him in the Epistles, young men.  “For all seek their own [things], not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” (verses 21-22)  What a blessing.  “Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.” (verse 23)  Now Paul says, ‘You know, I’m waiting to see what’s happening with this hearing coming up,’  “But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” (verse 24)  Isn’t it interesting, he’s not saying ‘The Lord told me this, the Lord told me that,’ he’s just saying, ‘I have a sense about this, something’s going on here, I’ve got a sense in my own heart, in the not too distant future, I’m going to be released and be able to come to you again.’  “Yet I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.” (verse 25)  Epaphroditus had come from the church at Philippi with an offering for Paul there in Rome.  When you were in, you know there’s places today where they stick you in a hospital, you know, we’re used to complaining about hospital food.  I hope none of you cook in a hospital, it’s nothing personal, just a generality.  Maybe your hospital has people who just get sick so they can get in and eat, I don’t know, that could happen too.  But most of the time people complain about hospital food.  There are hospitals in eastern Europe today, there are hospitals around the world today, and when they put someone in there, there ain’t no kitchen in that hospital.  And if your relatives and friends don’t come and throw a basket, or you let a rope down and pull up some food or something in your room, you don’t eat.  And Paul’s under guard in Rome, and it’s the support of friends and care of friends that’s making this time probably bearable anyway, and Epaphroditus had gone there from Philippi to take an offering. 

 

Epaphroditus Meets The Local Bacteria

 

Paul said ‘He ministered to my wants.’  “For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.  For indeed he was sick nigh unto death:  but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” (verses 26-27)  Paul says, ‘You know, he got here,’ now many scholars feel that he got this Rome-fever that was predominant in regards to illnesses in Rome at this point.  We’ve got the swine flu and the Asian flu, you know, we’ve got a season of flu.  Well in Rome, particularly during the warm seasons, many times it was from the water, they make jokes, ‘Don’t drink the water.’  You had to become acclimated, you had to get there, and let the bacteria, the local bacteria move in, mess everything up for awhile until you adjusted to them. And many times people would come to Rome and either eat something or drink something, and end up sick.  And evidently Epaphroditus comes there, and ends up meeting the local bacteria, and “was sick nigh unto death.”  Remarkably they heard about it in Philippi.  You know, in the Church rumours can spread across oceans and continents, and we can really get the job done.  You know, this is without telephones, or the post office or anything, they had heard back in Philippi that he was sick, in Rome.  Paul says, ‘No, not only sick, nigh unto death.’  Isn’t it interesting that God puts it on Paul’s heart to write that as he’s moving on, mentioning some things about his fellow labourers, as he’s moving on to another doctrinal point, and yet the Lord puts it on his heart to mention these specific things.  Remember Paul would say, ‘Triphemus I’ve left behind, sick.’  Well this is the same guy, remember, Paul the apostle is the same guy sending out sweat-bands and aprons and [anointed cloths], and people were being healed just by touching those things.  God was doing spectacular miracles at points in his life.  [My guess, healing those doing the Work of God in service to Paul, God keeping this work functioning smoothly, protecting those serving Paul in God’s Work.]  Why doesn’t Paul just pray for them?  Well I’m sure if Kenneth Copeland or Hagen were there they could have straightened this whole thing out and told Paul what he should have done.  You know, there must have been some negative confessions going on or something here.  [Pastor Joe is being real facetious toward the Name-it-Claim-it/Blab-it-Grab-it groups we have with us nowadays, the Health & Wealth Gospel groups, whose “gospel” is another gospel, and not the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What is the Gospel, anyway?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm]  Now, I’m being facetious.  But it [these false doctrines, gospels] could be very destructive.  You know it’s interesting with the “Comfort CD” that we put together here for people that are suffering, people that are in the hospital, there’s over 23,000 of them spread out across the country, and we get mail and emails.  And we had a family from the mid-West contact us several weeks ago, and their three-year-old son died.  And they had come, somehow, in contact with the Comfort CD, and they contacted us, and said, “You know, our church told us that if we would have had faith, our son would have lived.”  And they’re dealing with that.  And thank goodness we have some families here at church who have lost children and are graciously willing to contact them and talk to them, encourage them.  Paul was sick, he said it was through his illness that he ended up in Galatia.  Not in spite of, but through his illness, he says, he ended up planting the churches there.  Here Epaphroditus is ill, to the point of death.  Paul is right there with him.  God had granted miracles to be done by the hand of Paul.  But you see, in all of those situations, it was the Lord working through the man.  It wasn’t just the man working without the Lord.  It was the Lord working through the apostles who confirmed the Word which was preached, and none of those apostles had the right to just swing that gift around whenever they wanted.  They couldn’t just take off their sports jacket swing it around and knock down whatever they wanted to knock down, you know, go out and get one of those hairdos and knock people down [like those televangelists on the Sunday-morning comedy shows.], sports jacket, Holy Spirit shotgun thing, you know.  Which is a mockery, and sad.  Epaphroditus was sick.  Paul doesn’t say ‘Epaphroditus, that wimp!’  He says, ‘My fellowsoldier, my fellow labourer, this warrior whose here with me, who has put his life on the line for the cause of Christ, who is a demonstration of the things we exhorted you to do, of ‘let this mind be in you, took upon himself the form of a servant,’’  “For indeed he was sick nigh unto death:  but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” (verse 27)  God had raised him up, God did heal him.  You know what?  God has healed me every time I’ve been sick, that’s why I’m here tonight.  I’ve always been healed.  And when I’m not you’ll know.  He says God did heal him, God had mercy on him, “not on him only,” but Paul says, “but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”  You know that Paul was praying for him, you know that Paul was brokenhearted about his illness.  “I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.  Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.” (verses 28-29)  Notice, “and hold such in reputation.”  He doesn’t say he has a bad reputation, or that he lacks faith or there must be sin in his life.  Paul says, “hold such in reputation:  because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, and not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” (verse 30)  ‘He put his life on the line, jeopardized his life to be your emissary to come here to Rome, to bring the offering, it was for the cause of Christ and in the line of duty that he was wounded with this illness, this soldier, this warrior.  Hold that kind of man’ he says, ‘in high regard.’ 

 

Philippians 3:1-14

 

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.  To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of concision.  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh.  If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church, touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:  but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:  but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

Beware Of Dogs

 

“Finally, my brethren,” now Paul’s a typical preacher, he’s got two more chapters and he’s already saying ‘Finally, we’ll wrap this up in a minute.  I’ll make one final point here.’  You know, you’ve got another hour to go, but here’s Paul, “Finally.”  And it obviously means more than that, it means he’s getting to something here that he really wants to say.  “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” not in circumstances.  Paul’s in prison.  Rejoice in the Lord.  Believe me, I’m not preaching this at you, this is an autobiographical self-exhortation, you know, I mean, I look at this and think about what I would be doing.  It is an exhortation to me.  Not in circumstances, “rejoice in the Lord.  To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”  I don’t mind writing,’ he’s going to remind them of some things now, ‘but for you it’s safe.’  He’s going to give them some warnings now.  “Beware of dogs”, that’s a great plaque for mailmen, isn’t it [laughter].  There’s great plaque material in the Bible.  “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.  For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (verses 1-3)  So, beware, beware, beware, there’s three of them there in verse 2, and they are in the tense of “constantly be guarding yourself against dogs, constantly be guarding yourself against evil workers, constantly be guarding yourself against the concision.”  And Paul is taking aim and pulling off both barrels at the Judaizers here, the legalists of his day, the self-righteous  [Comment:  The Judaizers were not Sabbatarians, trying to get Sunday-keepers to go back to keeping all the 10 Commandments, as many would have you believe.  Historically speaking, Pastor Joe is a little bit off-target here.  As it is starting to be realized amongst history scholars, historically the early churches during the time of Peter and Paul all kept the 7th day Sabbath and Holy Days.  The Readers Digest Atlas of the Bible says that Paul on his third missionary journey “went through Macedonia by road, celebrating Passover at Philippi”, p. 198, (1981 edition) and makes constant reference to Paul reasoning and teaching in every synagogue he could, on the Sabbath day.  Throughout the Book of Acts it mentions Paul only once as giving a sermon on a Sunday, which must have been a special occasion.  Historically it is beginning to be realized that the early Church was Judeo-Christian in makeup and observances of days (see The Rise of Christianity by Stark, and In The Shadow Of The Temple by Skarsaune).  So these Judaizers were something else.  They were Pharisees who had accepted the physical knowledge that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but their actions proved otherwise as far as they being genuine Christians, for they were trying to get everyone to believe that all the ceremonial laws in the Torah, such as circumcision and animal sacrifices, were still in full force---in total opposition to the ministry of the apostle Paul, who interestingly enough, was backed up 100 percent by the apostle Peter, apostle to the churches in Judea proper.  The Book of Hebrews, in chapter 10 shows us that all the ceremonial laws and sacrifices had been superceded by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and that the coming of the Holy Spirit brought circumcision of the heart, superceding circumcision of the flesh.  Paul taught that Christians were free of all these ceremonial laws.  The big issue, away from the Temple, because you couldn’t sacrifice an animal in a foreign land, but had to do it at the Temple in Jerusalem, the big issue for these Judaizers then was that of circumcision.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians1-1-24.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians6-1-18.htm]  He’s calling them dogs, because that’s what these Pharisees called Gentiles.  They were coming around, following Paul in his work from church to church, saying that the Gentiles who turned to Christ, because Christ was a Jewish Messiah, they really needed to be circumcised to be part of the Church, or else they were still Gentiles.  Paul says, ‘Constantly be looking out for dogs,’ he’s throwing it back on them.  ‘Constantly be looking out for evil workers,’ I think Paul is a little bit heavy.  ‘Constantly be looking out for the concision,’ and he doesn’t use the second half of the word “circumcision”, he uses the word that means somebody who cuts or mutilates themselves.  And Paul is saying, ‘The circumcision, they’re bragging in, saying, will make you more spiritual, is nothing but mutilation before God.’   Because you have to understand, Paul is saying to this church, that what they’re saying, they are an affront to the finished work of Jesus Christ, they are mocking in self-righteousness, the fact that Jesus when he died on the cross, said, “It is finished,” ‘paid in full.’  What they’re saying is, ‘You can be a little more spiritual, you can add to the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ didn’t really know what he was talking about when he said ‘It is finished, paid in full.’  Because if you get circumcised, you’ll be just a little bit more spiritual.  You’ll be adding to the work of Christ.  If you do this thing, if you sign our register, if you go through our class, if you get this diploma.’  Now I’m not against classes, I’m not against diplomas, but look, the idea is, they were doing it in the sense that they then were superior to other believers because of some effort in their flesh.  Paul says that’s nothing but mutilation, it counts for nothing, it doesn’t mean anything.  Believe me, there’s organizations all over this country that do religious stuff, that build big buildings, they’re well-oiled machines, they build all kinds of stuff, hospitals…evil workers, dogs.  That’s heavy.  Because he knows at the center of that, what the stakes are.  This is a man, and he’s going to go on and give us his credentials, but in his zeal he had murdered Christians and blasphemed the name of Jesus.  And he knows that he’s washed, and cleansed, and loved of God, and to live is Christ and to die is gain.  And he can do that with a heart filled with assurance, because all of his religious life never amounted to a single thing, until he encountered the grace of the Living God, and grace upon grace, measure upon measure.  People will tell us, ‘Oh, be careful!  You preach that grace stuff, you know what happens.  You got that big flock of sheep up there at Calvary Chapel, you keep preaching grace, you’ll turn them into a herd of lunatics.  They’ll be out there sinning and carrying on, you’ll make them all nuts.  They’ll just think they can just go on out there and do it all and get to heaven anyway if you preach that grace stuff, cheap grace.’  NO SUCH THING AS CHEAP GRACE.  Purchased at a cost to Almighty God that we will learn of in the ages to come, and still never arrive at a full understanding of it, I’m sure, at the blood of his Son.  And for anyone whose in love with Christ, they know that grace is their lifeline, day after day after day after day, grace, unmerited favor.  Oh, there should be character.  We should be growing and being conformed into the image of Christ.  He talks about that in this letter.  But in regards to our acceptance to God, to say taking a knife and mutilating part of your body makes you more acceptable is an affront, because it was his Son that was mutilated on the cross.  And there need be no other mutilation to make anybody acceptable to God or for God to love.  No other religious sweat that can improve upon the bloodshed of God’s Son.  And Paul is going to make that point now, look what he says here in verse 4, “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh.  If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:” ‘Top this!’ he says.  “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”  ‘I did it the old fashioned way, these guys think if they get circumcised at 20, 30 or 40, they’re going to be more spiritual?  Let me tell you this, I did it when it’s supposed to happen, on the 8th day, screamed a little, but.  Of the stock of Israel, I’m no Hellenist, I’m no Gentile being converted to this, I’m of the stock of Israel.  Of the tribe of Benjamin, if you’re gonna brag about a tribe other than Judah, it’s  Benjamin, they stayed faithful when the other ten tribes in the north pulled away and went into idolatry, Benjamin.  [For more about those ten tribes that did pull away, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html]  Mordicai and Esther, who saved the entire nation, Benjamites, of the tribe of Benjamin [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezra/ezra3.html].  Of the Hebrews, which means though he grew up in Tarsus, Tarsus is recognized as a full Roman colony, but he grew up speaking Hebrew and Aramaic, was not a Hellenistic Jew who grew up speaking Greek, he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews [you might say he was a zealot of the zealots, religiously speaking, not militaristically speaking],’ he says.  As touching the Law, a Pharisee.’  In the Book of Acts it tells us he was the son of a Pharisee [so he was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, really steeped in it].  That doesn’t sound good to us, does it.  ‘I’m a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee.  These guys want to brag?’ he said.  ‘Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church.  They think they’re zealous because they’re trying to get someone to get circumcised?  I wanted to take people’s heads off.  I was zealous.  Touching the righteousness which is in the Law,’ that’s a remarkable word, ‘blameless, blameless.’  Not the righteousness which is of the Law, because there is no righteousness of the Law, but the righteousness that was in the Law, he says, that was perceived to be in the Law.  ‘If anybody thought they could be righteous by keeping the Law, people would look at my life and they said one word, blameless.’  So what he’s saying is, ‘If there’s anything to brag about in religion, I can brag way more than them.  They’re following me around telling you that you need to be circumcised now?  No, no, no, no, I was circumcised on the 8th day, the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, touching the Law a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.  In regards to zeal, they don’t know anything about zeal, I spent my life persecuting the Church.  Touching righteousness which is by the Law, blameless.’

 

What The Apostle Paul Gave Up In Life To Follow Christ, Everything

 

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” (verse 7)  Now, it’s interesting too, because ‘What things were an asset I counted as a liability,’ there’s some of that in the language here.  But the interesting thing is he said, “what things were gain to me, those I counted” with the effect that I’m still counting today, it’s in that tense, “those things I counted loss for Christ.”  ‘I started thirty years ago on the Road to Damascus, and I still feel the same way.’  “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do [presently] count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (verse 8)  Paul says, And presently, I suffered the loss of all things, not received in Jerusalem, started a riot with my countrymen, my family.’  Paul evidently was married.  We have language that indicates that he cast a vote when Steven was to be stoned, which means he had to have been a member of the Sanhedrin.  To be a member of the Sanhedrin you had to be married.  We hear nothing, you know, he disappears, he says, ‘Honey, I’m going out to persecute a few Christians,’ and he comes back years later, and she’s gone, she’s not around, we don’t know what happened.  But he suffered the loss of everything.  No doubt he had wealth in his father’s family.  To live in Tarsus you had to be wealthy.  There was no one living there that was mediocre in their income.  Everything, think of that.  We think sometimes, ‘Boy, should I go on the mission field for five months?  I’ll have to give this up, and…’  no, no, Paul says, ‘I count it, everything, and still count it that way, as nothing, all of my religious practice as nothing, compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and yea, I still count it all dung.  Then I counted it stuff, now I count it dung.’  The more he grows in grace the worse that old stuff looks.  And dung can be refuse, it can be garbage, and it can be dung [slang for manure, or that other word, and in King James that word “dung” was probably used the way we use that other word].  And who wants to go back to that, Paul, when you put it that way? 

 

It Isn’t Religion, It’s A Relationship

 

“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (verse 9)  He’s looking forward now.  I account all of that as loss, “And be found in him not having…”  Paul’s saying, constantly beware of dogs, constantly beware of evil workers, constantly beware of those who mutilate themselves.  Paul’s saying,  ‘If there was anything in religion that could open the door between a Holy God and a sinful man, I would have been able to do that by the way I lived.  Because religious people looked at my life and said, ‘blameless,’ that is what they stamped on me.’  But that is because he said man doesn’t understand the standard of holiness that God demands for a human being to walk into his presence and have fellowship with him, let alone be called his son or his daughter, and to call God himself Father.  Paul says what was required for that to happen can never be touched by human energy.  It was God that provided the sacrificial Lamb, his own Son, spotless and pure, that paid the price in full.  And the excellency of the knowledge of him is something that no other religious stuff compares to.  Now isn’t that one of your frustrations, trying to talk to your friends and relatives, I mean, who think you’re nuts, you’re at the mall or the meter factory, or wherever they think this is, and you don’t go to their religious club anymore.  You don’t go to their religious system anymore.  And you try to tell them, ‘No, no, it isn’t religion, it’s relationship.  I have my life changed, I grew up in religion, or I grew up without a religion, and I was lost, didn’t mean anything to me.’  And you don’t have to have all that stuff.  Hey, that’s a lot of stuff to brag about, you know, I’ve got relatives, they’ve spent years in this stuff.  They’ve spent more money on ‘Basket of Cheer’ and ‘Bingo’ than I’ve spent on Bibles.  And it’s not easy for them to just say…And I think we have to understand that.  We have to understand that God loves them. And we have to sow his precious seed into their lives.  [Comment: When Paul is talking about “righteousness which is of the law” he’s referring to the part of the Law of God, the ceremonial laws, which these Judaizers were trying to promote wherever they went.  Paul went on in his Epistle to the Hebrews to show that the ceremonial laws had been superceded by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God on the cross.  As Jesus in Matthew 5:17-48 shows, the moral law of God, the Ten Commandments, and the spiritual intent of them are still in full force.  But as the terms of the new covenant show us, it is God within us, via the Holy Spirit, who writes those laws in our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:6-13), and it is that same Spirit of God that makes us no longer hostile to the law of God or God himself, whereas the carnal mind is hostile to the law of God and God himself (cf. Romans 8:5-7).  Law & Grace is a complex subject in the Bible, and it is why so many within the genuine Body of Christ disagree on how to define it.  But amazingly, all those differing and disagreeing groups who are actually filled with God’s Holy Spirit, end up yielding to, obeying and following the same precious moral Law of God, as defined in both New and Old Testaments.  That’s a real head-scratcher, to have differing definitions where no one agrees, and yet yielding the same Spirit-led obedience.  For more on this subject, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.]  If you have an aunt or an uncle or parent or somebody whose driving you out of your mind?  You have somebody you’re saying “That person is never gonna get saved.’  There were a lot of people saying that about Paul.  In fact Paul was so bad, when he got saved they were still afraid of him, thought that he had become a spy or something.  Anybody can get saved.  [I don’t know about now, but in the 1990s, Pastor Joe’s congregation was reputed to have 30,000 people in it, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia.  A lot of local Philly people got saved in that local area.  Philadelphia is a real tough city.]  But there is that line that has to be crossed, from religion to relationship, from religion to relationship.  Paul was talking about that, “that I might be found in him.”  Look at verse 10, “that I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”  “that I might know him,” not that I might know about him.  There’s lots of people that know about him.  I knew about him.  “but that I might know him,” that’s the difference between religion and relationship.  It isn’t knowing about Jesus Christ, it’s knowing Jesus Christ.  And look, you know I don’t know about you, but as I became a teenager and started to argue with my parents about going to church, and they started to fight with me to get out the door on Sunday morning, if I knew one of their friends, if I knew somebody was going to be there that was going to tell them, ‘Well, we didn’t see him there, he never showed up,’ I had to go to the church and sit way in the back, in one of those little alcoves with my friends, you know you sit back there snickering, and then the people turn around and give you dirty looks and get mad at you.  But I acted like that because I wasn’t saved.  Oh I knew about Christ, you can grow up in the church, you can grow up in Calvary Chapel, go to Calvary Christian Academy and all know about Christ.  “that I might know him,” that’s the life-changing experience.  What really finished me with religion is one night there was this trouble, and something crazy was going on, anyhow I ended up getting hit across my face with the butt end of a pool cue, just like that, right across here [laughter], that woke everybody up, you’re supposed to be paying attention.  And I saw stars for a minute, but was able to get up and run away from what was going on, I wasn’t a Christian yet.  And I went and I hid in my pastor’s bushes, he had bushes out in front of his front door.  And there were so many people around, he opened his door and he saw me, and said, ‘Get out of here!  What are you doing!?’ and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, you’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, are you OK?  You went through confirmation class here, didn’t you?  Come in, you look terrible, and these people chasing you to kill you?  Come into my house.’  He said, ‘Nah, get outa here!’  So I said to myself, ‘I’m not going there anymore, if I live.’ [laughter]  Just thought I’d throw that in, for your information about religion.  I knew about him, I didn’t know him.  And you know what’s interesting, too?  Listen to Paul here, “that I might know him,” he appeared to you thirty years ago on the Road to Damascus.  He appeared to you in Jerusalem in the dungeon, and talked with you, he sent his angel to stand on the deck of the ship with you in the shipwreck.  Christ has appeared to him a number of times and talked to him.  Miracles have been done by his hands.  People have been raised from the dead.  Signs and wonders, and Paul is saying “that I might know him.”  And the idea is, it’s in the present tense, you know, you’re only as good as your last hit as they say in the music industry.  You can’t brag about, ‘Oh yeah, we used to do this,’ no, no, no, no, what’s happening today, in your life?  What’s happening today in your life with the Lord?  Paul’s saying ‘that I might know, and continue to know him.’  Paul says, ‘I’m not satisfied because I had an experience 30 years ago, because I had an experience 18 years ago,’ he said, ‘I’m here today in the prison, I’m in Rome, I’m going to appear before Nero, the head honcho of civilization, and I just need to sense your presence today Lord, I need you to speak to my heart, I need you with me today, I need to know you here today, chained next to this Roman soldier, oh that I might know you today, Lord, and know your voice today and your leading today---“that I might know him.”  You know, doesn’t it keep you from getting discouraged?  If Paul needed to say that, it’s ok for us to say it.  It’s ok for us to say, ‘You know, I need to pray more, I need to read more,’ you’re right, you do, so do I.  You need to know him.  I do too, in a more intimate way.  I need a 2002 relationship with Jesus Christ.  I find when I look at my records, my 2001 relationship with Jesus Christ is not sufficient for now.  In fact, worse than that, I need an August relationship with Jesus Christ, because my July relationship with Jesus is already worn out.  I mean, look, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not starting a heresy here.  I know that I’m paid for in the blood of Christ, I know I have an eternal relationship with my heavenly Father.  I know that through the blood of Christ I have access, I know all of that.  But I want to exercise those privileges, today, tomorrow, hear his voice.  You know, if you’re anything like me, I have two prayer-lives, I have the one I have and the one I believe I’m going to have.  [laughter]  I’m at least exercising faith.  I have the prayer-life that I have, and then I have the prayer-life that I imagine I’ll have some day, up every morning at 4 for the rest of my life, by the time Kathy and the kids get up I’m glowing, floating around the living room, ‘You can’t get me mad even if you try, I’m so filled with the Holy Spirit.’  And you know, getting out in the park, you know, for hours on end every day, in the Word, just angels sitting around me to make people leave me alone so I can, and just stopping the phone from ringing.  You know, there’s that part of my spiritual life that is in faith [i.e. he’s saying he’s not all there yet J ].  Then there’s the reality of my spiritual life, where I have to drag myself out of bed, and some mornings I do, and some mornings I don’t, struggling to get time alone with the Word because of how busy things are, and sometimes acting like I’m filled with somebody else besides the Holy Spirit.  [he laughs]  And I find myself, when I listen to Paul saying, “that I might knew him,” I say, ‘Yeah, I’m right with you, I am right with you, I am right with you, I am thirsting and longing for a greater measure of his presence, for a greater intimacy.’  You know, I’ve been married for 24 years.  I enjoy the level of intimacy that I have now, more than I did in the first two years.  If you’ve just been married two years, be encouraged.  There are things I can take for granted about it.  But I enjoy it.  And I know her more now.  My kids, I’m enjoying more than ever my relationship with them.  When they’re little, you’re their dad.  You ain’t their buddy, they have buddies.  Their buddies are all goofy like they are.  ‘I ain’t your buddy, I’m your dad.  You got lots of buddies, you got one dad.’  But then as they start to become young men and young ladies, you start to become their friend, ‘This is now my sister in Christ, this is my brother in Christ, not just my son.’  And there’s a growing and maturing and enjoying relationships.  And Paul is saying that, ‘that I might know him, oh it’s been 30 years now, but what bit I’ve tasted has made me thirst for so much more of his presence, of his love, of his grace, that I might know him.’

 

“The Fellowship OF His Suffering” Is Something We Step Into As We Grow

 

“and the power of his resurrection,” ‘I’m hanging in there with you Paul,’ and the fellowship of his sufferings,” ‘We’ll I’m off at the last stop.’  You know, I’m into, Paul I’m only a 30 year Christian, so I’ll just stick with ‘that I might know him, and the power of his resurrection.’  Some day I might move on “to the fellowship of his suffering.”  “being made conformable unto his death;”  Now look, that doesn’t mean we all wish we could get crucified.  “being made conformable to his death” is this, “let this mind be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, took upon himself the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men,” the idea is, it’s that of relinquishing your rights, you know, “that I might know him.”  The power of his resurrection, yes if we know the power and the reality of the risen Christ in our lives, the fellowship of his suffering is something we step into.  Not that we don’t in any way complete his substitutionary atonement, not relative to that, but just as Jesus said, “If the world hated me, it’ll hate you.”  There is an animosity, there are some things that we will bear as Christians.  ‘If any means I might be made conformable to his death, Lord, be gracious so that when the time comes, whether it’s in front of a firing squad, whatever it is Lord, when it comes,’ You know, we’re supposed to walk worthy of the vocation that we’re called to.  Part of that vocation, and a central part of it, is stepping across that final line.  It isn’t just living like a Christian in this world, that is all going towards what this all manifests itself in, finally, and that is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away.  ‘Lord, for me, let me have that unselfishness, even in regards to my own life, and be made conformable to your death, Lord, Father, here I am.  Use me, mold me,’ we sing those words, ‘fill me.’ 

 

I’m Still In-Process, A Work In Progress

 

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (verse 11)  Now Paul hasn’t just become a legalist here after condemning all the legalists earlier in the chapter.  What he means is, however it happens, however I die I don’t care.  [Comment:  Here’s the doctrinal difference between the super-grace oriented denominations and those that believe you can lose your salvation through neglect, which even the apostle Paul indicates in Hebrews and another Epistle is a possibility, for it was Paul who said “Quench not the Spirit” in 1st Thessalonians 5:19.  If it is through the Spirit of God that salvation comes into a person (cf. Romans 8 and Acts 2), then the quenching of it may lead to one being placed in the 2nd Resurrection, back to physical life at the period of the Great White Throne Judgment.  Is that person eternally lost for being placed in that particular resurrection?  Many would say yes, but the plain truth of the matter, doctrinally, is we just don’t know.  Some think yes, some think no.  For an interesting video on this 2nd Resurrection, see: http://vimeo.com/49085207.  To say that those who hold this view are legalists, just for holding a different doctrinal interpretation is not fair though, if we truly want to come to understand and get to know our various brothers and sisters within the greater Body of Christ.]  It doesn’t say “if” like it might not happen, and he doesn’t say “attain” like I have to work for it, the translation doesn’t give us that idea here, he’s saying “If by any means” however it happens, ‘going to be made conformable to his death, and however he chooses, and whatever way it comes, makes no difference to me, it’s my way of attaining to the resurrection.’  It’s all issuing forth in something.  And he had said that, it’s part of this.  ‘He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, wherefore God hath also highly exalted him,’ God raised him.  Paul says, ‘I want to attain unto that.’  And of course, being a prisoner in Rome, he knows, ‘Hey, I could be martyred, it could be next week.  I could be set free and die in a shipwreck, been floating around enough times, that’s almost happened.  I could be stoned to death, that’s almost happened,  However it happens.’  “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:  but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (verse 12)  Paul says, ‘I haven’t arrived,’ “but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:  but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (verses 12b-14)  Paul says this, ‘If by any means I might apprehend that which I have been apprehended for, and I have not yet apprehended.’  Paul says, ‘You know, I’m still in process, like you Philippians.  And I haven’t realized yet fully why he loves me.  I have not taken hold of yet the full reason of why I haven’t been taken hold of by him.  I have not yet apprehended that which I have been apprehended for.’  And Paul says, ‘That is still a mystery to me.  I was killing the Church, I was making people blaspheme the name of Jesus at the point of a sword, I was slaughtering Christians, and hauling men and women off to prison and destroying families.  And he reached out to me in his love and his grace, and he made me his own.  And I count everything else I had going on before that as dung.  Not just that I might know him, and why he set his love upon me.  You don’t have to be afraid of grace when you live there, see.  You don’t have to say, ‘Oh, you’d better not preach grace, they’ll all get crazy,’ no, no, no, no, if you’re spending your life saying, ‘I have not yet apprehended that which I have been apprehended for,’ if you sit along with him genuinely, not, ‘Oh, I go to Calvary Chapel, oh, I have a Bible,’ no, Paul says, ‘That I may know him,’ this relationship thing is real.  And when I sit alone with him, I am still mystified in his love, his love, that I can lift my head toward heaven and say, ‘Abba, Father [Hebrew: “Daddy.”]  And that he’s not ashamed to be called our God, to call us his children.  [Comment:  This is something I want my commandment-keeping friends on the other side of this doctrinal fence to understand about the grace-oriented denominations, such as Calvary Chapel.  Although the Calvary Chapels define Law & Grace with a more grace-oriented slant, their doctrinal-Scriptural explanation is different, their obedience as Christians to God’s laws is identical for 9 out of the 10 Commandments, right to the spirit-level of obedience (cf. Matthew 5:17-48).  They don’t lay out a bunch of do’s and don’ts of God’s Laws in front of prospective members, but they realize, that if one genuinely accepts Jesus into his or her life, they will be into the Word of God and prayer on a daily basis.  And they have witnessed, that new-believers who come into the local church and accept Jesus into their lives, the Holy Spirit does a work within them, whereby they gradually change and conform into the very same exact obedience patterns that the more ‘legalistic’ churches live by and preach.  That means there is something central to our explanation of Law & Grace, on both sides of this doctrinal fence, that is missing.  There is something the Calvary Chapel’s have in their understanding of Grace that the other side needs to explore and come to understand.  I’ve personally witnessed the truth of what I have just related in the lives of new-believers within the Calvary Chapels.] 

 

“Forgetting Those Things Which Are Behind”---Reaching Toward Those Things That Are On My Heart

 

“I count not myself to have apprehended:  but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (verses 13-14)  Forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” that’s a big challenge there, isn’t it?  “Forgetting those things that are behind.”  That comes to play in a number of different ways.  First of all, we all have brain damage [what I call dame-bramage].  You know, the gene-pool was pure in Adam’s day, Adam and Even, you know, they lived to be hundreds of years old, and they were programmed by God.  They were hardware, and God made the hardware, the meat and the dendrites and the connections, and then God put the personality in there, which was software [i.e through the spirit-in-man.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm for more about the spirit-in-man software.]  And the day Adam was born [created], he had open fellowship with God, and he was created in the image and likeness of God.  Well, ever since the beginning, man has been less intelligent, but with years of development of technology, that makes us the dumbest generation that’s ever lived with the most dangerous technology, that’s why you see the news the way it is, it’s bad.  I’m just joking here, don’t take anything personally, [but he’s 100 percent correct] ‘Forgetting those things that are behind,’ I have this problem, I forget the things I want to remember, and I remember the things that I want to forget.  You ever do that?  ‘There’s just one thing I want to forget, that guy, I never want to see his face, I never want to think about him again.’  You wake up the next morning, ‘I just want to forget that guy.  If I never see his face again, I’ll be too happy, I know I need to repent, I know that’s not Christian,’ you wake up the next day, ‘I hope I never see that guy again,’ you know [loud laughter], you remember the things you want to forget, and you forget the things you want to remember.  Hide a key [laughter], so that if you loose the key that you have attached to you, you can still get in your car or your house.  You’re done, man.  ‘Where did I put this?  I put it somewhere so I’d remember where it was.’  You should attach it to the guy that you can’t forget.  [laughter]  “Now forgetting those things that are behind,” some of them are attached to our pride, ‘Circumcised on the 8th day,  the tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of the Hebrews, Phd. Dmins, Doctor of Ministry, not demons, this certificate, president of a corporation,’ We’ve got all kinds of things that our pride can get attached to.  Are we really willing as Paul says, ‘I’m wiling to count all of that as nothing,’ a human being that has open fellowship...[some text lost, due to damaged tape]…and God reached to where I was, I was on some astroplane, and pulled me, reeled me in and saved me, and put me through the sheep-dip, washed me, cleansed me and called me his own.  It’s good to look back once in a while, then you realize what he’s done for you, and where he’s brought you from.  But the things that I’m longing for now, are ahead of me, reaching for them, reaching to make my faith-prayer-life a reality, instead of my reality my prayer-life.  I’m reaching toward those things that are on my heart, they’re ahead of me, ‘to know him, the power of his resurrection.’  To understand more each day and each year, his love.  ‘To apprehend to a greater degree that which I have been apprehended for, pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’  What a way to live.  Isn’t that a remarkable way to live?  Like it says in Ephesians, I was wandering according to the coarse of this world, I had no purpose.  I live now, I, can’t help it, I get up in the morning, and I put on the news, every day, to see if we’re still here.  To see what’s happening in Israel, to see, the Lord could come today.  [Comment:  Calvary Chapels believe in the pre-trib Rapture.  It remains to be seen whether this will happen.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm]  I’m addicted, pray for me [I was a prophecy addict for 25 years, which contributed to my training and ability to put together a nice set of commentaries on the Old Testament Bible Prophecy section on this site.   So the addiction yielded some fruit, I guess.  I’ve been subsequently healed of the addiction J].  And in all of that, I’m looking past, I’m not just looking and saying ‘Oh no, look at the world, oh, look at the shape it’s in, I need some Malox now.’  No, I look at what’s happening because I’m looking past it, I’m reaching, in my heart, to those things that God has set in front of us, of heaven [the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, which Jesus brings to earth at his 2nd coming], and of glory [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm  and http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm].  And I’m looking at how short the time is.  And I’m thinking, ‘How do we invest ourselves? The harvest is great, the labourers are few.  What are we doing with our lives?’  There’s a calling on each of us.  We’ll start there next week, and talk about that if he tarries.  I could put that over my desk, “I have not yet apprehended that which I have been apprehended for,” I think, ‘Paul, I am right there with you.’  ‘Forgetting those things that are behind,’ good stuff.  You know, you go to lay on a psychiatrist’s couch, and you pay him a hundred bucks an hour, ‘Tell me about your mother, tell me about your father, tell me about your aunt, tell me about your uncle, tell me about 1950, tell me about 1960, 1970, 1980,’ and he examines your whole past, and says to you, ‘This is why you’re nuts.’ [laughter]  ‘I know I’m nuts, that’s why I’m here, I’m not paying you to tell me that, I already knew all of that!’  But only a Christian counselor, a Christian psychologist, a Christian psychiatrist, or a Christian psyche, soul, “trist”, healer, a soul-healer, that’s you, can say, ‘forget those things that are behind, let’s press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, let’s reach out to those things.’  There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we all have baggage, and we are all adult children of sinning parents, and we’re all part of a big dysfunctional family. I know all the words, but let’s leave that off, Christ has given us new life, he’s washed us, and he’s cleansed us, and he’s removed our past, there’s not a stain of sin on us anywhere, we are pure and spotless and holy and beautiful to our Father whose in heaven through the blood of his Son Jesus Christ.  [applause]  And we will spend the rest of our lives taking ahold of that and believing that, and it will set us free.  The grace of God, the grace of God…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Philippians 2:17-30 and 3:1-14, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

With so many “other gospels” floating around, what is the real Gospel?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm

 

Who were the real Judaizers?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians1-1-24.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/galatians/Galatians6-1-18.htm

 

What is Grace?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

‘Looking, reaching forth to those things which are before.’  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm

 

 

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