Summary: First sermon I preached at our new church plant, The Road, www.tiftonroad.org. It was about the willingness of Paul to totally rely on Christ, rather than any earthly accomplishment or accolade.
Text: Philippians 3:2-11, Title: Gladly Losing Everything, Date/Place: The Road, 4/17/16, AM
A. Opening illustration: Losing softball
B. Background to passage: This passage is coming off of one of the greatest passages on the nature and work of Christ. Paul then talks about how they should live in light of that truth. He then puts forth two examples of those who are serving in that way (Timothy & Epaphroditus). Now he takes the time two warn them of a false teaching that is going around (maybe in the Philippian church already, but more likely just regionally) about the necessity of observing the Jewish law in order to be a Christian.
C. Main thought: Knowing Christ causes us to relinquish all things and gain righteousness, power, and life in Him
A. Losing Lists – Knowing Christ (v. 7-8)
1. Over and against the false teachers (dogs) teaching that you earn your standing with God by observance of the law AND faith in Christ, Paul gives a grocery list of his qualifications to be the awesomist, most righteous Jew on the planet. He does it as a trump card to show that if anyone could that, he could. Then he uses accounting terminology and says that the things that were assets, were actually liabilities. Goodness, if trusted in for right standing with God, actually damns. He uses strong language to demonstrate the seriousness of their failure, and the failure of those that would trust in them. He alternative is losing the lists! He puts forth that knowing Jesus, gaining Christ was of far surpassing value than any religious work. It’s kinda clique in our day, but he says that a relationship with the King of Glory beats religion.
2. Jer 9:23-24, John 17:3,
3. Illustration: One person asked this question to a respected Christian institution. He phrased it this way. What must I give up to please God? The response came from this Christian institution. First of all give up all colored clothes. Where only white. My tie I am wearing would definitely be out. Everything that is not white get rid of from your wardrobe, they replied. Another thing to please God they said, stop sleeping on a soft pillow. That will only make you soft and how can you please God if you are sleeping on a soft pillow? Sell your musical instruments and have no entertainment. Don’t eat white bread anymore because it might bring you too much enjoyment. The last thing. Take no more warm baths only cold baths. These were the requirements laid out to please God. They came from a second century Christian institution.
4. Nearly everything in our lives is based on performance. Our jobs—raises, positions, promotions. Education—grades, graduations, Latin names at the end of degree, and anything that ends in “of the month.” Sports—positions, batting order, play time, minor leagues, MVPs, and win/loss records. Credit scores, reputation, industries like the performing arts, politics, and even some relationships, based on performance. Just the opposite is true with Christ. We are not to strive to have a checklist of things that need to be done to be saved, nor to stay saved, nor to be a good Christian. Nor should we impose lists upon others. Just like Paul, our view of our lists should be a liability and we should repent of their position in our lives. Our aim should not be religious service or practice for our position, but our aim should be an intimate knowledge of our loving Lord. And I don’t mean simply an intellectual assent, but a relational knowledge, abiding in, dwelling in, walking with. This will require pursuit of Him. Knowing any person does. Learn of Him, desire Him, seek Him with the aid of the Holy Spirit until you find Him, and continue to deepen with Him. Find people who don’t keep lists but pursue Christ. Ditch the list, know Christ.
B. Losing Hope – Trusting Christ (v. 9)
1. Paul continues off of his example he wants to set, but furthers the relational emphasis. He says that he wants to be found in Christ. He brings our union with Christ into the equation, and begins to describe for the Philippians how that occurs, so that they would be equipped should the false teachers come teaching another way to be called righteous. This is one of the clearest passages about righteousness being grasped by faith over and against the law. Paul says that the way he is found in Christ is not by his lists, not by his lineage, not by his zeal, and not by his good works, which were from the law of God. The only way that he/we could/can be righteous (right standing before a holy God) is to have a foreign, an alien righteousness that comes from outside us, and is credited to our account. Christ earned righteousness through a perfectly sinless life, and we are the beneficiaries of it, as it is appropriated by God through faith. So it is obvious by this time in his paragraph he has lost all hope of righteousness in himself, and throws himself wholly upon the righteousness of Another.