Summary: Is Christ enough or do we have our eyes on something else?
“Nothing Else Compares”
By: Rev. Kenneth E. Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Philippians was written by Paul from prison as he awaited a trial. Paul had been arrested for preaching, basically, that all a person had to do in order to be saved was to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It did not matter whether a person were a Jew by birth, had become a Jew in order to become a Christian, or had never been a Jew at all.
None of this mattered to Paul.
There were many people, for whom this kind of proclamation was the most scandalous thing imaginable.
Many of these folks were Paul’s own people, the Jews…Jewish Christians even, who held to the belief that in order to be saved—faith in Christ was not enough…
…a person had to continue to follow the many rules and regulations of the Jewish Law in order to be a ‘real Christian’.
These folks were called Judaizers or Legalists.
And their teachings, Paul believed, were not based on grace, but on works, and on things having to do with this world, the flesh shall we say.
In verses 19-21 of Philippians Chapter 3 Paul states: “Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
In other words, Paul is reminding the Christians in Philippi and the Christians in Newport News that Christ alone is the One in whom we are to put our hope.
We are not to put our hope in anything we try and do to gain a righteousness on our own—because whatever we do in regard to that—it will never be enough.
If we think we have to live up to the strict regulations of the Law…
…jot and tittle in order to be saved…
…if we think this is going to save us…
…we are terribly mistaken.
One reason is, we cannot, no matter how hard we try live up to all the rules and regulations of the Law.
These things stand against us and condemn us.
They show us how short we fall.
They show us that there is no hope in these things, only death.
They show us that, in order to be saved, we must rely on Christ and Christ alone for our salvation.
That is why Christ died. To save us…
…to save us human beings who cannot save ourselves.
Still, many do not understand this.
It sounds too simple.
There must be more to it.
There must be something we must add!
The Judaizers or Jewish Christians were telling the folks who were not Jewish by birth that they had to be circumcised and become Jews before they could become Christians!
“Rubbish,” says Paul!!!
In verse 2 he warns about these Judaizers: “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.”
He goes on to say that true circumcision is something which occurs on the inside of a person.
It is something that occurs when we rely on Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, our hope.
The Holy Spirit moves in and circumcises our hearts, thus we “become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Circumcision is the sign of the Covenant between God and humankind, and through Christ this circumcision is of a spiritual nature by grace through faith—it is a gift of God!!!
It is not by works. There is nothing we can do to earn it!
Paul, writing from prison… Paul a man who could have been GREAT in the eyes of the WORLD…
…makes the point that Jesus is enough…
…that salvation is by grace through faith by reading off his own resume!
Basically Paul is saying: “Don’t listen to those Judaizers who are telling you that you must ‘jump through another hoop’ in order to be truly saved. Don’t listen to them that say you must first become a Jew in order to become a Christian…
…just look at my own background as an example of how worthless and wrong their teaching is.
“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel…” This meant Paul was a real Jew by birth, not a converted Jew. He was circumcised when he was only 8 days old.
He was “of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews…”
… “in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”