Summary: Philippians 3:1-11. Christ’s righteousness on our behalf is the only hope for the salvation of anyone.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
COUNT IT ALL AS LOSS
- Most of you have probably never heard of the man named Edward Mote. Mote was born in January of 1797 in London, England. His family was poor and not at all religious. In fact, Mote is quoted as saying as an adult “My Sundays were spent in the streets. So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God.” In his school, Bibles were not even allowed to be seen.
- But as a teenager he began learning the art of cabinetmaking. And at sixteen his master (his boss) took him to hear a popular preacher at a local church. There he was converted to Christ , and began his life long journey of following Jesus. Initially, that meant moving just outside of London and becoming a well known cabinetmaker and devoted church goer.
- In 1834, as he was walking to work, Mote decided that he should write a hymn. By the time he got to work he had already worked out the chorus; and would have four completed verses by the end of the day. He would add a few more verses later. The first verse of his hymn has these words:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
- Most of us know where it goes from there: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” About a decade and a half after writing that hymn, Mote became the pastor of a church than he helped build with his own hands. There he preached for over 20 years until illness required him to step down at an old age. And just before his death he is said to have made this comment: “The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon, and they do very well to die upon.” He died at the age of 77.
- I tell you that story so that you can get a picture of a man who understood the meaning of biblical salvation. Here was a man who knew that there was absolutely nothing he could do to earn God’s favor. Here was a pastor who knew that what people needed to hear most was that Jesus Christ was there only hope.
- Most will go through life never understanding what Edward Mote did. Most will live their lives assuming that somehow, some way, heaven will be attained because they lived a sincere life. Tim Chester in his book Total Church gives us an interesting rewrite for that famous hymn that epitomizes how most people think:
My hope is built on something less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I trust my skills, I trust my fame,
And maybe sometimes Jesus’ name.
- It is after all one of the most common traps the enemy leads us into. The fancy term for this kind of attitude is self righteousness. By righteousness I mean being right with God. A self righteous person thinks exactly what the label says – that they are righteous by themselves. Something about who they are makes them righteous. Some good work they do makes them righteous. Some religious tradition they invent makes them righteous.
- Scripture takes people who think they are righteous on their own to task. It confronts them head on. We could spend our whole time together looking at statements that tell us about our human condition. One of the clearest is Romans. 3:10-12: as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
- All we have to do is look around and we know this is true. Men and women are not righteous; and anyone who thinks they are, is fooling themselves. I read a quote this week from a preacher I like to listen to named Matt Chandler. He says “The depravity of man is the only doctrine we have with thousands of years of evidence.” History shows us over and over again that left to his own devices man will not seek God.
- Now as we come to Philippians chapter 3 we are going to see Paul make a similar argument. He is going to tell us that there is nothing we should have confidence in except Jesus Christ. There is no room in biblical Christianity for self righteousness. As the hymn says, our hope should be built on nothing less than Jesus’ shed blood on the cross and on his righteousness on our behalf.
- Let’s look to the word of God together.