Summary: Working through the book of Philippians using consecutive expository preaching. Philippians 3:12-16
Sermon: “God’s Not Done with Me Yet”
Pastor John Bright
Philippians 3 “12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”
Help or Hinder?
That’s a good question to remember. Will this help or will this hinder? Back when I did youth ministry we gave the young people a simple diagram to think about the impact of their decisions. It started with a question – “Should I do _______?” Underneath that was 2 columns – “YES” and “NO”. In each column they would list likely outcomes of doing or not doing that thing. One we had them do was “Should I smoke cigarettes?” It was usually a pretty easy way to get them to see the different outcomes or consequences.
Believers in the tradition of Wesley have long understood that we can cooperate with God in our ongoing journey of spiritual growth. We believe that God made the way to salvation through the cross of Jesus. It’s His blood that saves, but we have to say “Yes.” That’s our cooperation in the work of salvation. Last week we saw where Paul got the Philippian Believers to understand they could not save themselves through any work of the flesh. Now, Paul wants them to look to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Today, I will focus on that next work of God in our lives – Sanctification. What’s that? It is a work of God’s Grace in the life a Believer. God pours out Sanctifying Grace into the spirit of each Believer from the moment of Salvation until you breath your last breath. Wherever you are this morning – remember that God’s not done with you yet. Do you want to grow into a deeper and deeper relationship with your Heavenly Father? If you answer is yes… begin using the question I started with – Help or Hinder? It’s really a question about what’s important to get to where you want to be.
Paul knew what was most important
“12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Before I go any further, I have to deal with the Christian version of the “elephant in the room.” Paul uses the p-word in verse 12. If you are a pastor in the UMC you were examined at Annual Conference before you are ordained with the following questions:
Are you going on to perfection?
Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?
Are you earnestly striving after it?
John Wesley used these questions over 200 years ago. We have gotten to the point in Methodism today that we never roll out the p-word around non-church folks. They think we are being uppity and sanctimonious talking about “being made perfect in love.” I need to over simplify this. When we say “perfection” - the world hears us saying we are without sin. God is clear on this one! 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Is that clear?
What Wesley taught was that the Believer moves forward in Sanctification and can be “made perfect in love.” Again, over simplified, it is God working Sanctification in you and me. The goal for Wesley was taken from Luke 10. In the set-up for the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we read:
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”