Philippians – Press On!

 Phil. 3:12-21

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will

transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

With experience, growth and an increase in knowledge, it is possible for the devil to convince you – that you are a completed work; that no additional progress or increase is necessary.

If you accept that lie, not only will your future spiritual growth stall, you will go backward. Your discipleship will be less effective and influential. Your influence will degenerate. Your zeal will dial back. And your relationship with God will become increasingly distant.

The apostle Paul carried a wealth of knowledge and experience – yet he said, “Not that I have already obtained.” One translation has it: “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect,” (Contemporary English Version). If this was so of Paul, it is certainly the case with me and with you. We are not there yet! So long as we live, we must press on to make our lives closer to God through Jesus Christ. Once you give up growth, you stop growing and begin to decay in your devotion to the Lord.

“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” This is not (a) forget what you have learned, or (b) forget who you are, or (c) forget your earliest commitment to the Lord. Rather, forget what hinders, what corrupts your attitude, what keeps you from moving, what lures you back into sin. Dismiss all that so you can press on and keep growing and obtaining.

Don’t let mental baggage hold you back. Deal with issues and conflict with prayer and knowledge. When you have done all you are able to do that is right and pleasing to God, if disappointments and distress remain – forget it and move on.

This is the way mature people think and live. And, should anyone think otherwise, God – through the means He has chosen – will correct such subdued indifference.

“Only, let us hold true to what we have attained.” You cannot hold true to where you are if you stand still or let diminished motivation enslave you and stop you.

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” The example, the model of good people can keep us pressing on, growing and obtaining more and more in spiritual benefit.

Phil. 3:1-11

Philippians

(Warren E. Berkley)

 Phil. 3:1-11

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—  though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. 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 whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

I’ve looked at this passage for many years and have always thought, first, of this simple point: There is value in review. “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul didn’t consider it a problem to repeat what he had said or written before. Review has spiritual value. We need to hear, over and over, the truth of the gospel of Christ. In fact, if, as you listen to your local preacher, you begin to hear things you’ve never heard before … and have not found in Scripture – well, question that!

The rest of this passage conveys one primary point: Look out for the bad guys, who aggressively advance a fleshly Judaistic religion.” Paul says, “I was like that once. I share their ground of boasting. But, I gave all that up to know Christ and serve Him.”

Evildoers, false teachers, were aggressively seeking to recruit Christians to their ill-conceived cause (a heavy hand of legalistic Judaism, imposed on Christians).  Their actions included their claim that they were the true Jews, the real people of God who had authentic access to God. Their boasting – their religious resume – Paul could identify with.

But Paul was not holding tightly to that resume. His Jewish background was not his ground of boasting nor his evangelistic story.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ … to be found in Him … that I may know Him and share in His suffering.” etc.

Paul could boast like the evildoers, but he had given all that up – “for the sake of Christ.” To form a relationship with God through Christ was far more important to Paul than boasting about his Jewish background.

Phil. 2:19-30

Philippians

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a sonwith a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Paul, writing to the Christians in Philippi, gave them instruction, encouragement, challenges and gratitude. But it is important to remember, these are real people who lived in real time. Here we are introduced to Timothy and Epaphroditus. Paul is commending these men and holding them up as examples of committed disciples. We need to meet them.

Paul wanted to send Timothy. Verse 19 tells us, Paul wanted Timothy to visit Philippi, then report back to Paul what he hoped would be good news. Not just anyone would do. “for I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” Paul considered Timothy to be, not just a good reporter or messenger. But one who really cared about the people. “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ,” (v.22). Timothy was not like those who were self-seeing.

There was another good man Paul wrote about. Epaphroditus. Paul considered him to be his brother and fellow worker and fellow solider. For the Christians in Philippi, he was their messenger and minister to Paul’s needs.

It seems, the Christians in Philippi were distressed, wondering what had happened to Epaphroditus. Paul explains his situation to relieve their worry: “…he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So, receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what as lacking in your service to me.”

Two good men who were close to the apostle Paul and the Christians in Philippi.

What do they teach us? (1) They teach us to be available to serve, to see how folks are doing and share good reports. (2) They teach us to be trustworthy and unselfish. (3) They teach us to have such faith, we are willing to step into risks for the sake of Christ. (4) Paul teaches us to “honor such men,” not exalting them beyond measure but affording them the gratitude and respect their good behavior deserves.

Christ.

_______

I found this that relates to this week’s article:

Points to Ponder: (1) The Tender Concern of Three Preachers for a Church. Observe the genuine caring on the part of each, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, for “the things of Jesus Christ” and the welfare of the disciples of Jesus. (2) Greatness of the Cause. Epaphroditus’ example (verse 30) shows the value he placed on the work of Christ. It is worth the risk of one’s life. (3) Rejoicing Amidst Sorrow. Paul writes, “I rejoice in the Lord” (4:10) and bids the Philippians do the same (3:1; 4:4) even while grieving over other things (2:27–28; 3:18). Read Colossians, for instance, on the wealth we have in Christ (or more briefly, Philippians 3:1–16), and then “rejoice in the Lord” no matter what your sorrows. The grief cannot dampen the joy. (4) Genuineness to Answer the Cynics. “Seek first the kingdom” and “take up your cross” can become pulpit language not taken seriously by preacher or people in the pew, the latter finally concluding it must not mean what it seems to say. Before you become so cynical, spend some time gazing on the example of Epaphroditus. His is a model that declares the work of Christ to be worthy of the risk of one’s life. Then determine to put before the world an example of twentieth century genuineness and commitment that will silence the cynics and shout out to the world that there is something real, and here it is!

Mott, L. A., Jr. (1986). Mott’s Notes: Epaphroditus. Christianity Magazine, 3(11), 28.

Philippians 2:12-18

Philippians

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:12-18

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Obedience to Jesus Christ must be a consistent, ongoing way of life. That you and I obeyed the Lord first in repentance and baptism, only means we started that way of life. It must continue, grow deeper and stronger, even when there is no audience. In our private lives, our thought life, our public image and in all our relationships – obedience to Jesus Christ must be our consistent manner of life (from the inside out). This activity of faith enables us to be involved in and recipients of “our own salvation” God provides through Jesus Christ. That this ongoing obedience is not grounds of merit is made clear: It is God who works in you.

Think of it like this: Our obedience to Jesus Christ gives God access into our lives to work for our present and eternal good, that which we could not do without Him.

Grumbling and disputing is not only immature and against the example and teaching of Christ. It interrupts this ongoing obedience, therefore works against not for “our own salvation.”

The aim in all this is to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Part of this is, “holding fast to the word of life.” Obedience to Christ must be grounded in our knowledge of and use of “the word of life.”

“So that in the day of Christ,” Paul said, “I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Paul has his focus on the spiritual good of the Christians in Philippi. He is urging their ongoing obedience to Christ, without immature attitudes intruding … all of this in preparation for eternal good “in the day of Christ.” Paul makes it clear, this was his heart’s desire for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Those Questions Need Responses

Attention Parents: One of Your Most Powerful Tools

I read this the other day, on a website devoted to parenting.

“Your toddler has a curious mind and so there is no limit to the number of questions that he may ask you in a day. Sometimes, the questions may be repeated too. However, studies have revealed that on an average a toddler can ask about 100 to 300 questions in a day.” https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/common-questions-toddlers-ask-repeatedly/

I do remember when we were raising our children, at that toddler stage, there were questions. Why is water wet? How was I made? Why do people die? What does “no, we don’t have the money” mean? We never counted the number of questions per day, but studies show very high numbers.

Knowing what to say in response to your children and giving right answers with care is one of the most powerful tools parents can use to inform, to encourage curiosity and train them in what is right.

Moses knew this (from the highest source). He told the Israelites:

 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’  then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.  And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.  And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.  And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us’.” (Deut. 6:20-25)

This passage illustrates the power of responding to our children’s questions. When they witness a baptism and ask what that is about; at a funeral and they inquire about death; at a wedding and they ask about marriage – good responses given with care are memorable. Later, perhaps in the teenage years, questions may arise about the authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the relevance of the local church, marriage, divorce and remarriage – again, good responses given with care are memorable teaching moments.

Give God’s answers to your children.

Phil. 2:5-11

Philippians

(Warren E. Berkley)

 Phil. 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Phil. 2:5-11

The opening verses of chapter two call upon Christians to make attitude a priority, as described in these descriptive phrases: “…the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” etc. (See 2:1-4).

These descriptions of healthy attitude can be called unselfish humility, and there is no better example of that than Jesus Himself. So Paul says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” In the NIV: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” That’s the high standard Christians must aim for. Unselfish, courageous, Christ-like humility.

Jesus never did anything through selfish ambition or conceit. He was meek and lowly, illustrating in the highest way, the attitude that should govern all who follow Him. (He was unlike the scribes who were driven by selfish ambition; see Mark 12:38-40).

He existed in the form or very being as God before, during and after His incarnation and has that nature/status now in heaven. But, He “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” Jesus did not have to steal or seize Deity from God; it was His by nature.

And yet He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” He humbled Himself, emptied Himself. He didn’t stop being divine when He came to earth – that isn’t the point. He didn’t claim that deity as an exemption. This all speaks to His humility. He became a bondservant to save us and take us to heaven.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

It was more than just visiting the human race. His unselfish humility brought Him here, to suffer and die, “even the death of the cross.” He lived on the earth, emptied Himself of His heavenly existence – obeying God and serving us; not just dying, but the death “on a cross.”

The Father honored this supreme act of humility: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.” There is no greater. Jesus Christ is not one among many religious leaders or teachers. He is Deity who came here and died for us and was then exalted by God.

What should the response of human beings be to this? Submission. Submission now that is fully realized eventually when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.”

One question comes out of this. Am I living in humble submission to Him, who humbly submitted Himself to death for me?

Knowledge and the joy of possession. A Quote.

It is also possible to say precisely why. Truth seduces us very easily into a kind of joy of possession: I have comprehended this and that, learned it, understood it. Knowledge is power. I am therefore more than the other man who does not know this and that. I have greater possibilities and also greater temptations. Anyone who deals with truth – as we theologians certainly do – succumbs all too easily to the psychology of the possessor. But love is the opposite of the will to possess. It is self-giving. It boasteth not itself, but humbleth itself.

Helmut Thielicke

Philippians 2:1-4

Philippians, A Fresh Look

(Warren E. Berkley)

Phil. 2:1-4

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The main idea of this brief paragraph is immediately clear. It is about how Christians are to think and interact with other Christians.

Why is this important? Because there is “encouragement in Christ,” and there is “comfort from love.” In Christ, we are equipped to encourage one another. In Christ there is joy and “comfort of love,” which enables us to be of the same mind, the same good attitude with each other.

The key words here are loaded with motive, good will and unity, which ought to have very direct and practical impact on each of us, as we let this part of Scripture change us and probe our hearts.

Living under the authority and example of Christ, we are able to be “of the same mind.” No. This doesn’t mean we are mental clones. Rather, the center governing principle of our inner thoughts are the same. There is unity of thought among us because of our mutual submission to Christ. We think alike because we serve the same Master. It is that simple.

Similarly, “the same love.” This is not about us imitating each other, to achieve this sameness. This is about imitating Christ and following Him, resulting in the inner and outer presence of this love. It is self-will and care that reaches out actively to serve others in the best possible way.

When Christians are “on the same page” following Christ, there is this uniformity and harmony of thought and attitude, “being of full accord and of one mind.”

The negative of this teaching is: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Any words or actions which are driven by selfish ambition or conceit should be resisted, rejected and internally rebuked by followers of Christ. It is not who we are.

Rather, “in humility,” we are inclined to “count others more significant than” ourselves. If it can be said that we look out for Number One, that One is Jesus the Christ, not us, not self, not a group or network of close, limited friends.

To be even more specific: “Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.”

Are you on the “look out” for yourself or for others? Is your interests of heart self-centered? To whatever extent that is true of you, you are not aligned with the Savior.

Philippians 1:27-30

Philippians

A Fresh Look

Phil. 1:27-30

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

That the apostle Paul enjoyed a pleasant, peaceful relationship with the Christians in Philippi is obvious throughout the letter. Also, it appears to be, there was no major doctrinal crisis or dissension in the church (exception, see Phil. 4:2).

Yet, peaceful experience and good relationship doesn’t rule out the need for practical admonition and commands about daily living.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

Paul had this great interest of heart, that the Christians in Philippi would continue to live up to the high standards of Christ on a daily basis. Thus, Paul wanted to know about them, whether he was present or absent. He wanted to hear that they were standing together under the authority of Christ, side by side, for the faith of the gospel.

This is what every Christian wants to hear about every other Christians. This is what I want for the readers of this article. And this is what you want to hear about me.

Likewise, Paul didn’t want his brothers and sisters in Philippi to be “frightened” by opponents. Paul said – the fact you have opponents only shows further, they are headed in the wrong direction; and you are headed in the right direction.

And,  “it has been granted to you, that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

The richness of our faith is evident, when we consider persecution and suffering “for the sake of Christ” to be a granted privilege, not a realistic drudgery.

As the Philippians suffered, they were engaged in the same conflict, the same battle Paul was part of. To be well engaged, it was essential for them to let their manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.