Summary: Paul had been trying to be righteous through works, and learned that he needed to approach God in a different way.
A. In April of 1988, the evening news told the story of a photographer who was a skydiver.
1. This skydiving photographer had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell.
2. The film clip, taken by the skydiving photographer that was shown on the news report, showed each of the skydivers falling and then showed each of their chutes opening.
3. Then suddenly, the film clip went berserk, jerking this way and that.
4. The news reporter explained that the picture became so chaotic because that was the moment that the skydiving photographer had reached for his own ripcord only to discover he had forgot to put on his own parachute.
5. Sadly, at that point, none of the other skydivers could help him and he fell to his death.
6. That skydiving photographer had trusted in something that was not worthy of his trust.
B. Similarly, all of us remember the investment scandal led by Bernie Madoff.
1. In 2008, Madoff was arrested for running an elaborate Ponzi scheme, in which he paid very high guaranteed returns on investments with the proceeds from new investments rather than from returns on investments.
2. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison and charged with restitution of $170 billion.
3. In November of 2015, a U.S. judge authorized 1.42 billion to be given to victims of the scheme.
4. I doubt that many of his 4 thousand 8 hundred clients will see much of their money returned.
5. Those investors had trusted in someone who was not worthy of their trust.
C. In Philippians chapter three, the apostle Paul made some very important points about righteousness, and he spoke from personal experience.
1. Paul was like the skydiving photographer and a spiritual investor – Paul thought he had made the right spiritual investments and thought he was wearing the right parachute.
2. But Paul was wrong, and he discovered that when he met Jesus Christ.
3. Paul explained in today’s section from chapter three that there are only two kinds of righteousness (righteousness in this case has to do with our spiritual standing before God).
1. The two kinds or paths to righteousness are works righteousness and faith righteousness.
2. One is valuable and acceptable to God, and the other is not.
4. As we explore today’s verses, I hope that we will discover which is the acceptable righteousness and that our study will help us confirm that we are approaching God in a way that is acceptable to Him.
5. As we approach this subject, we will need two sermons to properly address it.
6. Today’s sermon will explore works righteousness, and the next sermon will explore faith righteousness.
WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS (3:1-6)
I. The Exhortation (3:1-3)
A. Verse 1 begins, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”
1. Our English translations begin 3:1 with “finally,” but the Greek word really means “for the rest,” and introduces a new section of the letter.
a. Paul established two important things in verse one before he goes on to his new subject.
2. First, Paul established what we might call the indestructibility of Christian joy.
a. As he has said often in this letter, he says again: “Rejoice in the Lord.”
b. The significant qualifying phrase is “in the Lord.”
c. It is always easy to rejoice in payday, or playday, or in fair weather, but the Christian can always rejoice in the Lord no matter what.
d. Our relationship with God is a permanent certainty and a source of continuing joy.
3. Second, Paul established what we might call the necessity of repetition.
a. When Paul said, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again…”, he was about to repeat a previous warning.
b. However, this word of warning does not appear earlier in this letter, so it must have been delivered to them earlier, either when Paul was with them, or in a prior letter that we are not aware of.
c. At any rate, Paul found it necessary to do what every parent, preacher and teacher must do – repeat important information.
d. One of my faults as a preacher, and perhaps one of our faults as listeners is our desire for newness and novelty.
e. We don’t want to hear the same old things over and over, we want to hear something new.
f. But the great saving and sanctifying truths of Christianity do not change and we cannot hear them too often.
g. And, by the way, when was the last time you told those who love you: “You don’t need to tell me you love me since you have already said it in the past?”