Summary: As champions of the cross we are to lift high the cross of Christ.
Champions Of The Cross
1. Illustration: British Pastor and Scholar John Stott, in his book The Cross of Christ, wrote about the centrality of the Cross in the Christian Faith. He wrote, "...the cross transforms everything. It gives us a new worshipping relationship to God, a new and balanced understanding of ourselves, a new incentive to give ourselves in mission, a new love for our enemies, and a new courage to face the perplexities of suffering" (17).
2. The cross is to Christianity as the flag is to our nation.
a. Just as we defend the flag out of a sense of patriotism, we should defend the cross out of a sense of discipleship.
b. We are called to be champions of the cross.
3. According to Paul, Champions Of The Cross...
a. Emulate Good Examples
b. Avoid Bad Examples
c. Live In Eager Expectation
4. Let's stand together as we read Phil. 3:15-21
Proposition: As champions of the cross we are to lift high the cross of Christ.
Transition: Champions of the cross...
I. Emulate Good Examples (15-17).
A. Pattern Your Lives
1. Mark Twain once said that "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. However, Paul says quite the opposite. Hey says we should strive to follow a good example.
2. First he starts out with the idea of being spiritually mature. He says, "Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you."
a. Agree on these things probably refers to the whole narrative, including the rejection of his Jewish past.
b. But it especially includes his "participation in Christ's sufferings by being conformed to his death" and his eager pursuit of the heavenly prize.
c. But then Paul makes a surprising qualification: And if on some point you disagree, I believe God will make plain to you.
d. Although some have seen here a hint of conflict between Paul and some in the community, that is most unlikely since Paul's tone carries not a whiff of the odor of controversy.
e. Indeed, his words are almost nonchalant ”a kind of "throwaway" sentence” which makes one think that no great issue can be in view.
f. That not all of them would necessarily see things his way is implied, but that much has been implied throughout the letter.
g. Most likely this is another matter to be understood in the context of friendship.
h. But throughout the letter he purposely avoids any hint of this kind of superior-to-inferior expression of friendship; in fact he goes out of his way to make sure that their friendship is understood (Fee).
3. Paul then shows the necessity of moving forward in our spiritual walk when he says, "But we must hold on to the progress we have already made."
a. Paul seems to be calling them to live in keeping with how they have already followed Christ, before they ever received this letter.
b. Given his longtime and loving relationship with this church, and his frequent stops there, it is hard to imagine that in this letter he is telling them anything new.