Saturday, June 13, 2015, 10:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Praise Be Told!” Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Philippians 3 (ESV). Watch Out! (vv. 1-4) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. The “dogs” the believers were to be on the lookout for were those of the circumcision group who were trying to convince believers in Jesus Christ that they also had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Although God commanded Abraham, under the old covenant, that all males must be circumcised, when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he did away with that requirement, for now we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, although, in reality, neither circumcision nor keeping the law ever saved anyone. In the Old Testament, they were saved by faith, too. Their faith was looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise. Ours is looking back to the promise already fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So, we are not to add on to what the Bible, under the New Covenant, requires for our salvation, neither are we to take away (subtract from) what God requires. When we add or when we subtract from God’s requirements, we are basing our faith on the flesh of humans and the will of man rather than on God and his Word and his Spirit. Whereas what has come to be known as “legalism” still exists within the church today, that is not the biggest threat today to the true gospel. The big threat today is not so much a problem of people adding to the gospel, but rather that they are taking away from it and are diluting it to make it more appealing and acceptable to this sinful world, so as not to offend anyone with the truth. “Belief” in Jesus has been reduced, for the vast majority, to nothing more than an acknowledgment of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, or an acceptance of his forgiveness and eternal life, or an emotional decision made at an altar to invite Jesus into our hearts. Once someone “prays the prayer,” they are told they are now saved, that it is a done deal, and that their eternity in heaven is secured and can never be taken away from them, but all this is based on a lie, for the most part, because they are not teaching them that faith in Jesus means death to sin and living to righteousness, the purpose for which Jesus died (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Lu. 9:23-25). They are not being taught that Jesus died so they would live for him who died for them, and no longer for themselves (2 Co. 5:15). They are not being told that Jesus died so that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Ro. 8:1-14). And, many are not being instructed that God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Some of you may be saying, “She is a broken record. She keeps saying the same things over and over again.” Well, that would be true, yet the Lord has me teach book by book and chapter by chapter, and so this is the consistent message throughout the New Testament, which is the same message as was taught by the prophets of old, too. God still requires that we repent of our sin and that we walk in his righteousness and holiness, and that we do so by faith in him, and in the power of his Spirit within us, and not in our own flesh. I Count as Loss (vv. 5-11) If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Whether we are like Paul was before his conversion, and thus we live by our flesh in trying to earn our own salvation, i.e. favor with God, or whether our fleshly works are based more in the belief that God requires nothing of us at all, and thus we believe we can now live how we want and still have the promise of heaven, both of these beliefs are based in the flesh of man, and in the will of man. One adds to our faith, and the other subtracts. Both are man-made teachings, and both are wrong, and must be eradicated from our lives. We, as followers of Christ, must no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, but we must live our lives according to the Spirit, in the ways of God, and according to his holiness and righteousness. So, no matter what we take pride in, in our flesh, whether it is in legalism or in false liberty, for the sake of Christ and his gospel, we must consider them as rubbish, and as something to be discarded from our lives. Paul said that whatever confidence he had in his own flesh, he considered as loss for the sake of knowing Christ, but not just knowing him, but that he may gain Christ, i.e. that he might be in relationship with Christ, by faith, and that he might grow in him to maturity, and might walk in his holiness. He wanted to have his life found in him, not having a righteousness of his own (that comes from the law), but that which is through faith in Christ. When we determine for ourselves how we are made righteous in Christ, while disregarding much of what scripture teaches on this subject, it is still a righteousness of our own making, regardless of whether it is founded in the law or in a false concept of God’s grace and our freedom in Christ. Paul wanted to know Christ, not just with head knowledge, but experientially (intimately). He wanted to know, too, the power of his resurrection. So, what is this power of Christ’s resurrection then? It is not to save us just so we can go to heaven when we die. I guarantee that! It is that Christ died so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. The power of the cross is not just in forgiving us of our sins so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven. The power of the cross is that Jesus put sin to death so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He didn’t die so we would stay bound in slavery to sin. He set us Free! So, we need to live like we believe that! Paul, too, wanted to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. When we die with Christ to sin, by faith, and we live to righteousness, in the power of the Spirit within us, we will be hated and persecuted, and thus we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. I Press On (vv. 12-21) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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. Paul made it clear to us, though, just in case we might get under a yoke of slavery to feeling as though we must live in sinless perfection, that this “becoming like him in his death” is a process of daily putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh, and putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. Although in Christ we are made righteous by the blood of Christ, and because his righteousness is now credited to our accounts, scripture is real clear that Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. We have been saved (past), we are being saved (present – ongoing), and we will be saved (future – when Christ returns). We are being made into the image of Christ, and we are being conformed into Christ’s likeness, and we are being made holy. We are not yet perfect, yet we should NEVER use this as an excuse for continued willful sin, for the Bible says that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die. Praise Be Told! / An Original Work / December 28, 2013 Based off Various Scriptures He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for all our sin. Our chastisement was upon Him. By His stripes, we now are healed. He has witnessed all our trials, And the sins we choose to wear. Yet, while we were dead in our sin, Jesus died, our sins to bear. He himself bore all of our sins In His body on a cross, So that we might die to our sin, And live for His righteousness. By faith in the pow’r of Jesus And His blood shed for our sins, We can be forgiven our sin, And have life with God in heav’n. He will lead us and He’ll guide us In the way that we should go. He will comfort and protect us, Because Jesus, we do know. Though He disciplines for our good, He will heal us – Praise be told! Do not fear, your Lord is with you. Just have faith in Christ your Lord.