Dear friend in Christ,
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
Think of that my dear friend, it is a new day of grace in which we are so blessed to live in the favor of God through Jesus Christ, who has loved us and given himself for us.
As we continue with Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, we remember from last week as a result of coming to faith in Jesus Christ, he began to live in eternal life through knowing God and Jesus Christ. (John 17:3), (Phil 3.10-11) As a result of being reborn, He began to live an entirely new existence, which was that now he boldly preached the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ instead of persecuting Him in his followers.
Last week we heard of how his great desire was to attain the resurrection of the dead, (Phil 3:11) and so he pressed on toward that goal, as he now lived out who Christ had called him to be. (Phil 3:14) As was said last week, he looked through the “windshield” and not the “rear view mirror” which he explained in verses 12-13. Paul was grasped by grace and now he began to preach the message of grace to a graceless world. He did not look backward but forward in how he could make an eternal difference in the lives of his dear fellow human beings.
This week we will consider Philippians 3:15-21. May the Lord grant unto us the meaning of His Word into our minds and hearts by the illumination of His Spirit. Amen.
Philippians 3:15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
After speaking of how he came to know Christ according to the Scriptures, he now encourages his people to walk in maturity in the essentials, namely that through faith in Christ one is a new creation. He calls them to stand fast in the essentials, and to be charitable in the non essentials. Here he is talking about that which occurs within the heart and mind of a person through faith before going on to speak of the evidence (love) of that which has occurred within one’s mind and heart. Stand fast in your knowledge that through faith in Christ we have eternal life.
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
He now calls upon us to be an imitator, a copy cat. In other places he qualifies his request by telling them that in actuality, they are following God and Christ. Left unsaid, is that if he is not following Christ, don’t imitate him.
KJV 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
KJV Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Now that we are followers of Christ, we no longer live for ourselves, but for the sake of others. How are we leading so that those who are watching us will be drawn to Christ? Are we living for ourselves, or are we conducting our lives in a way that those watching and those being influenced by our example will be led away from Christ?
It has been said the children are like wet cement, in that when they are young they are soft and pliable, believe that which they are told and hear and eventually firm up in their ideas and convictions as they grow up. We need to consider our ways……..
He now reveals his deep love for the souls of all people, by giving a warning, weeping as he does. He has been so deeply affected, no we could better say infected with the heart of Christ, that he weeps as he warns them of the danger of those who would rob them of earthly joy and eternal joy. The joy robbers are back again, by bringing a gospel that is a false gospel, and who are living according to their fleshly existence, which means that they do not believe God in His Word. Their end is destruction.
3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
The Scripture records Jesus as weeping twice. Why did Jesus weep?
John 11:32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
34 And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."
35 Jesus wept.
36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
Was it because He saw the pain and misery that sin and death brought into the world?
Luke 19:37 As he was drawing near- already on the way down the Mount of Olives- the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen,
38 saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples."
40 He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,
42 saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side
44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Here Jesus wept because they did not receive Him as the Prince of Peace and that judgment was coming to them.
Paul demonstrates of his Christ indwelt heart as he says goodbye to a congregation he had cared for a number of years.
Acts 2:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.
32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
He closes our text today by pointing us to that which is to come, to that which is not seen by our earthly eye, by our external eye, but only by the eye of faith.
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Let us not forget, that “The best is yet to come……” Perhaps these last two verses will be best explained by the following…….
How many of us remember the times in our youth when we would ask our parents as we traveled on a long road trip, "Are we there yet? How many more miles?" A common question from us when we were in the beginning years of our lives and at which point we had not come to understand that there is a lot of waiting on life's highway.
Our God has set the longing for eternity with Him into our hearts and has given us a foretaste through the Holy Spirit of that which He has prepared for us on the new heaven and on the new earth. We are as foreigners in this strange land which we are passing through, for we are looking for that city whose builder and maker is God. The sureness of our successful arrival to our final homeland has been guaranteed through the sealing of the Holy Spirit upon us. But sometimes we forget that which the Lord has won for us, that which He has placed into our hearts and minds and that which has only been described in earthly terms. May the following story refresh our hearts and minds as we wait for that glorious day....
A man and his wife had spent over 50 years in the mission field in a foreign country, and had become somewhat crippled as they ended their many years of serving the Lord. As they left the field, and as they began their journey on the ship to come back to the United States of America to spend their final years in their native land, it just so happened that the president of the United States was traveling back home to the US on the same boat, as he returned with his entourage from a hunting expedition.
As the ship approached the New York Harbor, great crowds could be seen from afar as they excitedly awaited to welcome home their president. As can be expected, there was much noise and activity as the ship tied up at the dock, as the president and his supporters walked down the gangplank, into the crowd and into waiting vehicles of transportation. Soon everyone was off of the ship and and shortly thereafter the streets were deserted.
At this point, the missionaries began to hobble down the gangplank and as they did the elderly man voiced his frustration."There is not one person here to meet us, we who have been doing the Lord's work for all these years! How fair is that there is no one to meet us when we come home, but there are thousands that came to meet the president when he comes home? It is so unfair!!!!" His wife listened, but said not a word.
So that night after they had settled down in the place that they were staying, again he began to voice his frustration about the lack of reception at their homecoming. His wife kindly told him that perhaps he should take it up with the Lord and see what He says about it. So the man retired to his prayer closet, and began to pour out his heart to the Lord in a respectful but yet direct way about how unfair it was that no one welcomed them home. Soon the man became quiet, began to listen to the Lord and then he began to feel his heart softening as he listened to what the Lord had so say to him. He returned to his wife with a joyful and restful countenance, which to his wife was very surprising. Naturally she asked him, Wow, what did the Lord have to say to you?
The elderly crippled missionary spoke in a joyful, but humble and quiet voice: He said, "You are not home yet..........."
Faith is not only believing God in His Word, but it is also resisting all those things in life that are brought forth as reality and as truth. Let us remember, that God is only known as revealed through His Son from the Holy Scriptures through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He is faithful……
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
Waiting with you for Him,
Pastor Orval Wirkkala