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Summary: Part 6 of study of Philippians

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THE PASTOR’S POINTS

Bible Teaching Ministry of

CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH

Thomasville, NC

Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor

"But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you."

Philippians 2.17

In AD 337 the great Constantine died. He had spent his life conquering and "Christianizing" the known world. One of his grandsons was named Julian. He was not seen as intelligent or considered a threat to the throne. Julian grew up in the company and tutelage of monks and Christian scholars. He learned the faith and participated in leading worship services. His regular duties included copying religious books and building chapels for worship.

Unfortunately Julian’s main teacher was a "closet pagan." Mardonius was a Christian on the outside, but his whole mental development was based on the ideas of Greek paganism. Later Julian met Maximus, a well-known teacher of the worst kind of paganism (Neo-Platonism). Under Maximus’ influence Julian formally renounced Christianity to embrace paganism. When he ascended to the emperor’s throne in AD 361 he used his power to return the whole empire to pagan worship, beginning the active persecution of Christian believers. His grandfather must’ve turned over in his grave!

(IT IS A SMALL JUMP TO MAKE THE APPLICATION THAT WE OUGHT TO BE CAREFUL WHO TEACHES OUR CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS. OUR GRANDFATHERS WOULD TURN IN THEIR GRAVES TO SEE THE PAGAN MINDSET IN OUR SCHOOLS TODAY)

The question presents itself about Julian, as to his motivation to ditch Christ for the teachings of paganism. What was his complaint with Christianity?

What went wrong with young Julian? In his memoirs, the former worship leader, scholar and Christian builder wrote: "Have you looked at these Christians closely? Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all; they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition; the sun shines for them, but they do not see it; the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die."

Julian had a right to shudder when he thought of Christianity; especially a faith that looked like death. For all the trappings of organized religion, Julian looked at the lives of religious people and thought just like the two little boys who were standing outside the church as they watched a long-faced preacher arguing with a sourpuss member...Said one boy to the other, "Man, if that’s what 30 years of Christianity will do for you, I want out NOW!"

As one scholar wrote about the "God is dead" movement," "Men looked at a dead church and assumed its owner was also deceased."

It is essentially true that joy AND sacrifice are part of the Christian life. The problem is we often cannot put either one in healthy perspective. Paul does it for us in this text, as he answers the vital question, "What kind of Christian experience produces great, satisfying, life-affirming and visible JOY in the life of the believer, even in the midst of sad, difficult and sacrifice-demanding circumstances? Good question!


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