Summary: an exposition of Philippians 3:17-4:1
Islington Baptist Church
September 30, 2001
Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:19-33
Please turn with me to Philippians 3:17-4:1 (read).
A few weeks ago we talked about how important it is to have godly Christian examples to look up to and model ourselves after.
Remember the example of Timothy that Philippians 2:19-30 set before us. Timothy was a man who genuinely cared for the needs and well being of others. Timothy was man with pure motives in serving. He was man who had his priorities straight in that Jesus and the kingdom of God came first. He was a man who became what he was because he had submitted himself to the mentoring process.
Remember Epaphroditus? Epaphroditus models to us a Christian man who was willing to give everything he had including his life for the sake of serving Jesus Christ. He didn’t hold anything back. He is the kind of person that we are to honor in our churches.
In the first verse of today’s text Paul says “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern"
Paul was a shining, yet not perfect, example of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. As we examined last week: a determined pressing on for the cause of Christ was the burden and goal of his heart. Paul was about following Jesus to the very end and he was doing so with an expectant joy in his heart. Jesus, the work Jesus had given him to do, the promises that were his in Christ, the future that was his in Christ, dominated Paul’s life and thought.
Such a man and such people, who example to us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, we are to follow.
Here’s a general principal from this verse for all of us: I. To the degree that Christians model Christ like behavior and thought we are to follow them in their examples.
It goes without saying that our ultimate example of the way we are to be is Jesus Christ yet what is clear is this: when you see another Christian living for Christ learn from their example and follow them in their obedience to Christ.
We need to keep our eyes open for such people, tested people, mature Christians who are always striving forward in their walk with Christ.
II. In v.18 of our text a reason for Paul’s call to follow him and his example of what it means to a Christian appears.
It was not out of pride or with an arrogant attitude that Paul called people to look to him as an example of what it means to be a Christian. A terrible problem was hand that he was dealing with. Within the very walls of the church there were some who were proclaiming a different way to be a follower of Jesus Christ. These individuals here called “the enemies of the cross” in 3:2 are called by Paul. “dogs, evil doers, and mutilators of the flesh”. These ones, were at the same time Paul was calling the church to emulate him, were calling the church to emulate and follow themselves.
When it comes to the way of salvation the scriptures are crystal clear. It is by the grace of God that we are saved. Salvation does not come to us as a result of any of our efforts or so called goodness. Salvation is the gift of God. It is by faith alone in the person of Jesus Christ that we are saved, faith accompanied by a repentance from our sins.
In the church of Paul’s day there existed a strong group of people who started to add to the way of salvation. They started to preach a different gospel. They taught that if you were a man that you had to be circumcised to be saved. They taught that in addition to believing in Jesus that if you wanted to be saved that you had to obey the OT food laws and various other laws.
Not only did they add to the way of salvation, they shrank back from the way of salvation and the gospel message Paul preached. In particular, from the use of Paul’s own words, they shrank back from the message of the cross. They were ashamed of the cross of Christ. They did not hold up the preaching of the cross and the necessity of coming to the cross for salvation. In I Corinthians 1:18-25 listen to what Paul says about the cross, the cross these ones were rejecting and shrinking back from “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, god was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.