Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Coming of the Holy Spirit 5/27/2012
Acts 2:1-21 The Day of Pentecost

Dearly beloved,

After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, for a time period of 40 days, He was with His disciples to give them more instruction as well as to appear unto many as proof that he lived after dying. After He instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit Whom He had promised would come, and after He blessed them, He returned to heaven where He had come from some 33 years before. We testify that we believe in His Ascension as fact everytime we recite the Apostle's Creed.

As His disciples stood staring into the sky worshipping Him as He disappeared into the clouds, the angels told them that this same Jesus will return in like manner as they had seen Him ascend. They then heeding the command of Jesus to wait for the Holy Spirit to come in power, returned to Jerusalem where they spent that time waiting
in great joy in the temple praising and blessing God.

Ten days after our Saviour ascended to heaven, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended with sounds and with visible signs, and there was a divided opinion of what the crowds heard and saw. Peter, the one who had earlier disowned Jesus by denying Him three times and had then been restored by Jesus Himself, now is the preacher that stands up and explains to the people what this all means. Let us listen in today to hear as to what the Lord directed him to say to explain the meaning of that which they heard and saw.

This never to be repeated event came at the end of the 7th week after the Passover celebration and it was the second of three great Jewish feasts which were celebrated at Jerusalem annually. This particular feast was called the Feast of Weeks and it was a time when the worshippers of God came to together in the Holy City give thanks to Him for the completed harvest. It was a very joyous occasion and large crowds were gathered in the city at this time of the year.

The account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is found in what is called the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the book we commonly refer to simply as Acts. It is the fifth book in the New Testament, it was written by Luke, who wrote the third Gospel, the Gospel Luke and it is a sequel to that Gospel. The book of Acts is thought to have been written somewhere around 50-60 AD, which means that it was written before the horrible destruction of the city of Jerusalem, which occurred in the year 70 AD.

As we think "big picture of the New Testament" before considering the events of Pentecost in the book of Acts, it will perhaps be helpful to point out that in the Gospels we have physical life of Jesus displayed through four different Gospels, in the book of Acts we see
the Holy Spirit working through the lives of His followers as they carry out His mission that He sent them to do and in the letters that were written and which are placed in the Bible after the Gospels and Acts, we see apostolic doctrines discussed and taught.

It is noteworthy to recognize that the Acts have been placed in the canon between the gospels and the epistles as a link between the records of Jesus and the writings of the apostles. In many ways the epistles are not understandable until one has done a thorough study of the Acts. For in this book we see the main trends of the early church as well as effective samples of Jesus' continuing work. Therefore the Acts serve as a vital contribution to the discussion between the teaching of Jesus and the apostolic doctrine.

Even though the Apostle's Peter and Paul are two main characters in this book, who really are the main characters? Are they really the ones who are continuing the work of Jesus? Who descended on the day of Pentecost? Did Peter come down from heaven? Did Paul come down from heaven? Certainly not, but rather the Holy Spirit descended and implanted and embedded His life in the lives of His followers!! Can we not then say that the life of Jesus then continued through His indwelling in the lives of those who are His followers, who believe upon the mighty name of Jesus the Christ? I believe that we can say that, so therefore, from now on when we refer to this book as being the book of Acts, we are going to be referring to the acts of Jesus in His followers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. ACTS=Jesus' continuing work in the ministry through them then and there, and through us in the here and now!!

One more thing by the way of introduction. Perhaps it is a thought which should give us inspiration and persistence to study this book of "ACTS" with eagerness, expectation and confidence. How so and why for? Please consider: In the last chapter (28) and in the last two verses of the book of Acts these words are written which refer to the Apostle Paul, who is in Rome in prison knowing that in the end he will be killed for preaching the Gospel. What do you think of this ending? Does it leave you wondering what happened next? Is there an epilogue? (explanation of what happened afterwards)? Is there a sequel? If chapter 29 would be written, what would it say? Who would write chapter 29? Do not all churches to some degree believe that they are writing chapter 29? Consider the end of the book....

30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

In our younger days when we heard the endings of fairy tale books they often ended with the words, "and they lived happily ever after." As we grew older we came to understand that those stories were not true, but were stories of imagination. We came to realize that there is an end to all things in this life, but as we grew in the knowledge of the things of God, we learned that with God there is only one desire and that is that we would "live happily ever after." That is the sense we have with the Apostle Paul at the end of ACTS, for there is no end to the life that he lived in Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are left with the same sense that the old westerns used to end with as the hero(s) rode off into the sunset. Paul rode off into the sunset and the work continued through other followers of Jesus Christ.

Are you not getting eager with me now to dig into this book of ACTS, in order to journey along with the Holy Spirit as He descended and as He begins to spread His saving influence by testifying of Christ into the world through the lives of those in whom He indwells? Already within me is rising up a desire to follow this book of ACTs all the way through so that I may as a pastor be assured, encouraged, directed, rebuked, challenged and inspired as I allow this same Holy Spirit to show to me how the first church went about gathering the "exiles" into the church. Already I am asking the question: How does the church that I am a part of connect with the church of ACTS? With the church of the Epistles? I sure am getting eager to begin this study. So let us begin and we are picking up the ACTS history of the church in chapter two.....

KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Ten days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit descended. They heard, they saw, they were filled and they spoke by the Spirit. Do we recall what happened early in the life of Jesus's baptism when a similar happening occurred?

KJV Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
KJV Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

After Jesus was was baptized by John, the Spirit descended upon Him "like a dove" and His Father spoke from heaven. After being led into the wilderness by the Spirit to exhibit His power over the devil, Jesus initiated His public ministry by saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.."(Mark 1:15)

He continued for three plus years to teach and preach of the Kingdom of God wherever He went and especially to the twelve men that He had chosen to carry on the work when He had finished His mission of redemption for the world. Eventually the religious leaders could not handle Him anymore, for He had turned their world upside down with His message of love from God through Himself as the Light of the world. Instead of coming to the Light, they ran and hid in the darkness, for their way was against the way of the Light of the world.
They refused to believe that He and the Father were one....and eventually He laid down His life for the world, but also for those who put Him on the cross.......

The apostle of love, John, records through the inspiration of God's Spirit the final sermon of Jesus. His public ministry was now completed, so beginning with chapter 13 and continuing through chapter 17 of John's Gospel, we read and hear the last words of Jesus which He shared with those who would continue His presence and work after He had ascended to heaven after the resurrection. They would be able to do this only through the gift of the Holy Spirit and His indwelling presence in them.

It would be best to read the entire dialogue, (13-17) but let us take a look at a few verses which speak of the promise of the Holy Spirit to be sent by the Father.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

KJV John 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

There is much here to think and meditate on which will help us as we read and hear of the events of Pentecost. For consider this: If we try to understand and interpret the meaning of Pentecost without considering the promise of the Holy Spirit to be sent, what will we come up with? Most likely, all kinds of our own notions and ideas.

In all simplicity, God sent His Son to show us His (God's) heart for the world, and the Holy Spirit was sent to show us Christ! As those who heard on the day of Pentecost marveled: "we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." The coming of the Holy Spirit is no small matter in the economy of God to bring His saving grace to this world and to ourselves!! This day did not just happen quietly in a corner of the world somewhere. Jesus had been born in a lonely stable, on a night like any other night, but now in the pouring out of the effects of His life, death and resurrection into all the earth, there was great attention brought to this momentus event through that which was heard and seen through the sound of the wind, the sight of the flaming tongues of fire and through that which was heard spoken concerning the wonderful works of God.

Here I might say that there has been much written about these three signs and books upon books written concerning as to what they meant or mean. I do not wish to say anymore about those things other than to emphasize what I wrote above.: God sent his Son to show us His heart and the Holy Spirit was sent and is sent to show us His wonderful works in Christ Jesus. The third article of the Apostle's Creed explains this:

I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

At this point in my understanding of this event, it seems that all the signs were to bring attention to the message of God for the world through Christ Jesus. It would be like a megaphone that is shouted through so that people would come to see and to hear what is going on over there.....The message is not in the sign but the sign points to the message, the wonderful Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Could we compare it to the signs, wonders and miracles that Jesus performed while walking here with us in His physical being in that they all brought attention to what He wanted them to hear: "Repent and believe the Gospel, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Let us now continue on in our meditation of ACTS.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Let us remember that this was the time of one of the annual feasts, and people had to be everywhere as they came to the Holy City to celebrate with gratitude for their harvests. They came in great numbers to the temple as their curiosity "now when this was noised abroad" must have gotten to them, and were they in for a surprise when they got there. They saw and heard simple and unlearned men from Galilee speaking things which they understood in their own language, their mother tongue. They asked the question in amazement and marvel, "Are those that are speaking Galileans?" We can tell that they are from there by looking at them. How do they know our mother tongues from the countries that we were born in? Then they answered their question (as well as my thought as to what they must have been thinking) "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."

What were these wonderful works of God? Simply put, could we not say that the Spirit had opened up their understanding so that they saw more of God and his ways than they had ever seen before? They had a question as to how this could be happening, but in the midst of their confusion, they heard in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. That is a wonderful reminder, that in the confusion of many things today, we have the infallible, inerrant and readily available Word of God to hear and to read. That was sufficient for them back than, it has been sufficient through the ages and will be until the day that He comes to gather us to Himself so that we may be with Him forever. Let us continue on to see how this was received by the crowd.....

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

For some the amazement continued, the wonder continued, but alas, for others it was just a drunken gathering of partiers. Nothing much has changed, has it, for unless one sees through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, the things of God are foolishness and senseless. But what is going to happen next? Who is going to step up to clarify that which is happening? It has been said that "confusion is the basis of all learning and clarification the basis of all teaching." It is time for some clarification, for there is much confusion in and amongst the crowd. It is a time for teaching, and who should stand up, but Peter.....

Peter, the one who disowned Jesus when the time for standing up for Jesus came to pass? Yes, it is the same Peter, but then again, it was not the same Peter. He was a new Peter in the sense that he was now indwelt by the Spirit that Jesus had spoken of in their last hours together. (John 13-17) The Lord had breathed the Holy Spirit into Peter as well as the other apostles the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22) He was no longer afraid, for He had been restored by the very one he had deserted. The old Peter had come to the end of himself, the very place that the Lord knew that Peter needed to come to in order that the new Peter come forth. Jesus had referred to this happening earlier in a discussion with Peter. (below) Jesus knew it was going to be a heart wrenching experience for Peter, but through faith he would come out the other side as the new Peter. Let us always remember that as awful and as evil as Satan is, he is a servant of God who may not/cannot do anymore than the Lord allows him to do in the lives of people. (Job 1) Satan serves God. "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory, forever and forever. Amen...

Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,
32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
33 Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death."
34 Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me."

Peter was full of the Holy Spirit and he is the one who now offers the explanation of what this is all about....This is the first recorded sermon in the New Testament church after the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. (This sermon in chapter two continues past our text verses) He uses the prophet Joel and the Shepherd King David to ground his sermon in fact, and he applies the sermon in a contemporary manner as he answers the question that was asked by the crowd that day: "What does this mean?

He first quashes the idea that it is a drunken gathering, pointing out that it is only nine am. In that culture, as in most cultures, that statement was simply absurd, for to be drunk at that time of the day one would have had to begin drinking much earlier. It was a dumb statement that some made in trying to address the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, out of a lack of understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Peter ties this current happening to the prophesy of the prophet Joel:

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

This is another portion of Scripture that is widely debated as to its meaning, especially concerning the meaning of verses 28-31. I do not really have a good handle on them. We can be like the people that heard Peter give his explanation, for we often continue to have questions upon hearing an explanation. And even though I understand the main thing that Peter was bringing forth in his direct answer, yet I am left with more questions as a result of that which Peter said. It is good to have questions, for that keeps us interested to find out more of the wonderful works of God. When we ask questions of the Scripture, it is like we are asking God for our answers. That is a good thing, for He tells us in the book of James that if we lack wisdom, ESV James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

Let us place again here the words that Peter spoke on that day:

Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

"This" refers to that which prophet Joel had prophesied of, which now follows..
"last days" refers to the time of the New Testament.

"all flesh" Does this mean every person, or does it mean all nations, tribes, tongues, kindreds?

This is the age of the Spirit, and it has been since the time of His outpouring, which occurred only because Jesus lived, died, arose, ascended and descended through the Spirit. He is with us, He lives in us and will never leave us again. Whether Peter is interpreting Joel to mean those things began to happen now or will happen later, I do not really know. But I do know that the Spirit came on that day, He brought the all the gifts of Christ with Him, the greatest of which is Love, Not our love, but the love of the Father for us through His Son Jesus Christ. This Incarnate One, Christ Himself, now dwells in us.

As a result of this outpouring, we are assured that (Acts 2:21) that "whosoever" shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Have we called upon the Lord?

May the Lord add His blessing to our joyful, eager and continued meditation in His Word, the King of Creation, Christ the Lord, Our Saviour and King!!!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 27 May 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Keep your eye on the prize! 5/20/2012
In this meditation we are going to look at the change that came into the life of the Apostle Paul, as he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Prior to this time he was known as Saul and he at that time was persecuting the true believers of Jesus Christ. He was steeped in the religion that he had been born into and into which he had been trained and nurtured into, believing that he was pleasing God.

This portion of Scripture today shows us the difference between religion (offering our work in order to be saved) and Christianity. (apprehending/unnderstanding in/believing that which God has done in Christ). Saul understood religion real well, as we will see in our text. He was second to none as far as what man had to offer, but he came to see that it was all worthless concerning merit toward salvation.

As we consider the change in Paul's life through this text before us today, let us think of our own lives so that we may be able to compare Paul's experience with our own experience. Not that we use Paul's experience as a model that must be followed to the T and therefore making it a requirement that all have the same experience, but rather that we may focus on the pninciples of things he experienced as he went from religion to Christianity. It is a privilege for us to have so much of Paul's own testimony concerning his experiences which relate to his conversion, not only in the book of Acts, but also from the epistle (Philippians) before us today as well as in some of the other epistles which he wrote. There is sufficient material written about Paul and his life before he was converted to give us a good idea of what kind of reputation he must have had before the people in that day. And, of course, there is far far more written about things he did and said in his new life in Christ which consisted of his being united to Christ by faith. We learn much about the heart of God through the life of Paul as we read of his actions and listen to the words that he speaks in his many writings in the New Testament.
For they are the words of Jesus Christ as spoken through the mouth of the Apostle Paul

Paul was a product of that which he was born into and consequently did that which he was expected to do and be. He was carefully trained into a system of belief that did not worship God in a relationship of spirit and of truth. It was a man made system which did not understand the heart of God towards sinners. Therefore, there was no understanding of that which Jesus was doing and saying in the kingdom that He brought to the earth. For it was a kingdom of grace and truth, one which endeavors to serve the other rather than to have dominion over the other. Paul's peers did not understand Jesus, were jealous of Him, hated Him and therefore they in the end killed Him. This is the type of religion that Paul was raised in.

As we compare religion with Christianity, we could also say that Christianity is relationship. We recognize that to have a relationship there must be at least two people and that to have a relationship with another person in a real and intimate manner requires that we not only spend time together with them but that we also share more than superficial things between one another. We realize that the closest of all relationships is the one between husband and wife and is one that when experienced and lived in according to the plan of God is designed to bring deep intimacy through sharing of one another's lives. True relationships require grace, truth and time. Grace, truth and time. There must be acceptance and affirmation of each other, there must be honesty and truth and thirdly, there must be time allowed for dealing with differences that often exist.

Life is about relationships. Christianity is about relationship. Without knowing about as well as experiencing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have no relationship with Jesus. We have only a relationship that is based upon external practices, traditions and customs. In other words, we have not yet come to know and experience what true relationship is.

The text is found in Philippians 3:1-14 and is found in the spiritual love letter that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi while he was in prison around the year 60 a.d. It is a letter that does not address any direct problems at the church, but gives affirmation, encouragement, direction and warning. Through this letter the heart of Jesus comes forth clearly through Paul and in chapter three Paul opens up his heart and life for the world to see, both what he was before he came into relationship with Jesus and after He had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. I am not sure of how many years it was after his encounter with the resurrected Jesus, but it was quite a few.

The Text: Philippians 3:1-14

KJV Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.(safeguard)

He begins with a word of exhortation, that they would rejoice in the Lord. Paul is showing us here that it is good to repeat what has been said before, for in doing so it shows of the importance of hearing those things over and over again so that we would be reminded of and grounded in truth. We must beware of the novelty of having something new at the expense of growing bored with the same old story of the Bible. We need the Spirit of God to bring freshness to that which is true and certain.

2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

These people were demanding that in order to be a true Christian one had to be circumsized. Paul had consistently taught that this teaching was contrary to the plan of God, for it is written in the books of Romans:

KJV Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
KJV Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

KJV Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

This is crucial for our church in our generation as the battle for the gospel is being fought.
There is always the temptation for our flesh to add to that which God has done for us in Christ. We want to say and to preach: "Yes, it is by grace through faith, but... but... but. There is nothing that can be added to what God has done in Christ, for if we add anything to it, we are falled from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Paul lists three attributes of what a relationship with God through Jesus looks like.
1. We worship God in the spirit,
2. We rejoice in Christ Jesus
3. We have no confidence in the flesh

KJV John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

KJV Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
KJV Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When we ask someone what a Christian is, most people will say, I repented years ago, I belong to this church, I give so much to the church, I sing in the choir, I teach Sunday School, and so on. These are all good and godly things, but in and of themselves, they are not worship. For our whole life is worship and the things that we do are expressions of that which is in our heart. We are to put no confidence or trust in the things that we do in order to attain some kind of favor before God.

Paul now shows of how he formerly trusted in heritage and his efforts before he came to experience Christ.
The first four were his by inheritance, but the last three were by his effort.

4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Now his change in perspective came, for this is where he had the encounter with Jesus. (Acts 9:1-22) But we also must refer to Acts 7:58-8:1 which tells of Saul being present at the stoning of the faithful witness Stephen of Jesus Christ for preaching the gospel. Would Saul, after consenting to and after being at the stoning of Stephen, have laid awake all night with the scenes going through his mind of the radical behavior of this witness of Jesus? Would there in Saul's soul be seeds of doubt beginning to sprout which would cause him to question of the truth of his own behavior toward the followers of the resurrected Jesus? We can only speculate on this as we think of how the revelation of Jesus Christ has come to us in our lives. For some the revelation of the love of Jesus for their soul has come suddenly and then has grown over the years as they spend time with Him. With others, it has been a revelation almost from the crib, as they have been nurtured by their mothers and their fathers who demonstrate the gospel through their care for their child. We are as the child in that we cannot add anything to our care, but we can only receive the care. God brings the gospel to us and we receive it.

But for some of those who have been raised and taught in religion, the conversion to Christianity has been somewhat akin to Apostle Paul's journey, in that there have been points along the way that have begin to jar the foundation of our religion. The situations as well as the people with whom we have had encounters with have caused us to rethink our traditions, our behaviors, our practices and our beliefs. And so it is with us, Jesus is always pursuing us into relationship with Him. Not secondhand, but direct from the revelation of Himself through the Word via the Holy Spirit.

Now Paul writes of how he sees things according to how God sees them, according to His Word.

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

This speaks of justification which is by faith.

When we are united in Him, we are saved.
People of Southeast Indies in their pidgin english say like this as they testify of their position with God because of trusting Jesus for their salvation: It goes like this:
They look at the Bible and at their life:
God He say: I'm all wrong.
God He say: I can't fix it.
God He say: Here's my Son.
I say, I trust in Christ.
God He say, I'm all right.

Here we now see a heart that is yearning for a deeper and closer connection with the one who saved him.

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Becoming a Christian is like a coffee shop which changes it owners. You see that it is all broken down, it is run down, but one day you notice that there are some changes and renovations in the shop. Somewhere there was a transaction in an office, ownership changed and the outward changes begin to appear. Likewise, in our lives changes become visible outwardly when we enter into relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. A new owner is evident in our life.

Paul wants to encourage those who may be feeling not up to par in their Christianity by being transparent with the Philippians as to the reality that he also is a work in progress in knowing Christ.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul was sought by Jesus, was humbled by Jesus and was saved by Jesus. Only two things are needful to be saved: To realize that we are a sinner and that Christ is a great Savior. Those two revelations will always cause one to ask for mercy and pardon from God through Christ.

He now clarifies his confidence by saying that he is yet in process on the journey. This is important in Christian leadership in that we may give the impression that we are far ahead of those we desire to nurture and teach and therefore bring them discouragement because of their lack of ability to understand spiritual truths. Let us here remember that all who are in a position of effecting others are leaders and therefore, very few would not be considered leaders. It seems as if Paul in these verses, writing in the singular, is emphasizing the importance of leadership in providing the example in being transparent with one's struggles to understand all things, but yet pressing forward in that which one does understand. Let us remember that we only know in part and only prophecy in part. We go forward on the foundation of which we have been placed upon and are being built upon, the person of Christ Jesus in a relationship of spirit and of truth. Not a religion, not even a doctrine, but we move forward in the building and nurturing of the relationship with our dearest One. We are united unto Him and our immaturity in understandings of scriptural truths does not separate any of us, for we are One. With Him and with each other. We are thankful that others bear with our small understanding of a lot of things, knowing that they will be patient and long suffering with us as we like Paul continue to press onward toward the goal before us: The Prize fo the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus!!

Let us press on.

We are so often discouraged that we do not need to be told to press off, but that we need to be encouraged to press on because we are called for eternity, we are kept for eternity, therefore we press onward for the prize of eternity, Christ Jesus.

Sometimes the prize is so dim in view, that we are not even certain that we are running in the right direction. But He who called us has already set aside the prize will keep us to the end. So let us press onward to this upward calling in Chist Jesus.

In my struggle to grapple with the text and its meaning for us today, I shared with my wife of what the text was about and when I asked her what to do, she said, Press On

It is a sign of spiritual immaturity to think of ourselves of that which we are not. Spiritual maturity is marked by consistency and moderation, not inconsistency and extremes.

Let us press on toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus!

Paul "saw" the goal for himself, for us and for them.
KJV 2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

.KJV 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
KJV 1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

As did Peter for his hearers.
KJV 1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Let us press on......keeping our eye on the prize

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today and always.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 19 May 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Coming of the Holy Spirit 5/27/2012
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Lawry Kilpela family as they grieve but yet rejoice in Lawry's being called home.