Summary: Salvation comes through knowing Jesus Christ


© 3-2000 by Mark Beaird

Text: Philippians 3:3-9

One of the great inequities of life is that many people seem to get ahead in life, not based on what they can do or even by hard work, but rather based on whom they know. We see this on our jobs at times; the person who spends more time "working the system" gets ahead of the person who is actually doing the work. Then there is nepotism, someone completely unqualified or not even in line for a position is hired for a job because they are related to the right person. We have a saying for these situations, don't we? "Its' not what you know, but it's all in who you know."

Well, that's exactly what Paul has to say about salvation. "It's not what you know, but it's all in who you know, that determines if we're going to be saved." In this instance we should be happy.

As we see in our text, and many other passages, the apostle Paul is "THE" great proponent of salvation by grace. We know Paul's stance by his many statements concerning our total dependence on Christ for salvation-the more well known of which is probably Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."

It's clear that Paul is teaching that salvation is not based on what one can do but in who one knows. These are the facts of true salvation through Jesus Christ.


A. Paul believes that we should put absolutely no confidence in the flesh (v.3).

What is Paul trying to tell us here when he tells us not to trust in the flesh?

n "'Flesh' (sarx) refers to what man is outside of Christ… He teaches that sinful humanity has no grounds for confidence before God, because man unaided is powerless to achieve righteousness before God. The true believer, however, puts all of his trust in Christ and so removes any grounds for human pride or boasting." (EBC)

B. We should not even put confidence in religious activities or ceremonies (vv. 4-6).

What good are ceremonies and religious activities if there is no place in our hearts for God? What we do in worship should be a result of what we are in our hearts. Our salvation is expressed outwardly from what is within. No matter how we try, we can never absorb enough religion to save ourselves.


A. What we have trusted in the past we must cast it aside

(vv. 7-8).

Too many people are like the brother of the prodigal son. They are bothered by the grace of God. In their view, because of their hard work, they feel that deserve the favor of the Father more than those who make a mess of their lives. In other words, salvation by grace just doesn't make sense to them.

Allow me to read you something written on this subject,

n "You're worried about permissiveness-about the way the preaching of grace seems to say it's okay to do all kinds of terrible things as long as you just walk in afterward and take the free gift of God's forgiveness. ...

While you and I may be worried about seeming to give permission, Jesus apparently wasn't. He wasn't afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation; and he proved that by bringing in the elder brother at the end of the story and having him raise pretty much the same objections you do. He's angry about the party. He complains that his father is lowering standards and ignoring virtue-that music, dancing, and a fattened calf are, in effect, just so many permissions to break the law. And to that, Jesus has the father say only one thing: "Cut that out! We're not playing good boys and bad boys any more. Your brother was dead and he's alive again. The name of the game from now on is resurrection, not bookkeeping." (Bold Italics added)

-- Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 7.

B. We must trust only in the righteousness of Christ (v. 9).

n Mark Twain said, "Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out, and your dog would go in."

-- Mark Twain, Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 2.


n It's been said that saving ourselves by our own works of goodness is like trying to swim from California to Hawaii-it's just not going to happen.

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