01 January 15, 2012 Philippians, Chapter 3 Verse 4
PHILIPPIANSCHAPTER 3Verse 4January 15, 2012FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH JACKSON, MISSISSIPPIPlease began communicating to your class this week that a member of the PastorSearch Committee will be visiting in the class next Sunday, January 29th. A card willbe mailed to the class teacher with the time slot they will be in the class, so you canprepare your lesson time around them.“Before I start talking...” (Yogi)ThunderExodus 19:19“Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.”Job 26:14“His mighty thunder, who can understand?”Job 37:2“Listen closely to the thunder of His voice”Job 37:4“He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain the lightnings when Hisvoice is heard.”Job 37:5“God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannotcomprehend.”Psalm 29:3“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders!”"Our God Is An Awesome God"“Theres thunder in His footsteps And lightning in His fists”
RELIGIOUS CREDITS THAT DO NOT IMPRESS GODPhilippians 3:5-6“circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, aHebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” Phil 3:5-6Paul lists seven items that he once put in his spiritual profit column, but now places inhis loss column.When he understood the Gospel of Christ, the apostle realized that all of thesecredentials, achievements, privileges, and rights were worthless.Paul is not saying that they are of no social, cultural, educational, or historical value.Instead, he is saying that they are of no value for salvation; they could not save him oranyone else.SALVATION IS NOT BY RITUAL“circumcised the eighth day,” (Philippians 3:5a)Paul begins with circumcision because that was the major issue for the Judaizers(Acts 15:1; Gal 6:12-13).The apostle went through the defining rite of Judaism (Gen 17:10-12; Lev 12:3) whenhe was circumcised the eighth day after his birth.The Greek text literally reads, "with respect to circumcision an eighth-dayer."Unlike some of the Judaizers, Paul was not a Gentile proselyte to Judaism.He was a Jew by birth and followed the Jewish rituals from the beginning.At the proper time, he had gone through the ceremony that initiated him into thecovenant people.He, like most Jews, had long forgotten that circumcision was to depict in a dramaticway how sinful and in need of cleansing people are, and had made that surgery abadge of righteousness.Yet Paul includes circumcision, the most essential rite in Judaism, in his spiritual losscolumn.Salvation does not come by any ritual or ceremony, whether Jewish circumcision,infant or adult baptism, or the observance of the Lords Supper.
SALVATION IS NOT BY RACE“of the nation of Israel,” (Philippians 3:5b)Pauls declaration that he was of the nation of Israel supports the idea that some ofthe Judaizers were Gentile converts to Judaism.But Paul was by birth a member of Gods chosen people, of whom God declared,"You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth“.He inherited all the blessings of being part of the covenant nation.Paul was a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — a heritage thatthe Jewish people relied on, along with circumcision, for salvation.But racial heritage, like circumcision, is unable to save anyone; no standing with Godis gained by birth (but by rebirth!).SALVATION IS NOT BY RANK“of the tribe of Benjamin,” (Philippians 3:5c)Another of Pauls seemingly impressive credentials was that he was a member of thetribe of Benjamin, one of the most prominent tribes in Israel.Benjamin was the younger of the two sons born to Jacobs favorite wife, Rachel.He was also the last of Jacobs sons to be born and the only one born in the PromisedLand.*Saul, Israels first king, was a member of the tribe of Benjamin.*Saul of the OT contrasted with Saul of the NT.*Driven (vs) Called!When the Promised Land was divided among the twelve tribes, the holy city ofJerusalem was included in Benjamins territory (Judges 1:21).When the kingdom split after Solomons death, only Benjamin and Judah remainedloyal to the Davidic dynasty.The great leader Mordecai, used by God along with Esther to save the Jews fromgenocide, was also from the tribe of Benjamin (Esther 2:5).Thus, the tribe of Benjamin was one of the most noble in Israel.*By Pauls day, many Jews no longer knew what tribe they belonged to.*Intermarriage during the years of exile had blurred the tribal lines.
But Pauls family had remained pure Benjamites.That again elevated him above some of the Judaizers, who probably did not evenknow their tribal descent.*But Pauls privileged status as a Benjamite did not impress God.*Family status has nothing to do with salvation.SALVATION IS NOT BY TRADITION“a Hebrew of Hebrews;” (Philippians 3:5d)Paul did not personally contribute anything to earn the first three privileges on his list,but inherited them from his parents (circumcised the eighth day, of the nation ofIsrael, of the tribe of Benjamin).*The last four are things that he himself achieved.The apostles claim to be a Hebrew of Hebrews is best understood as a declarationthat as he grew to manhood Paul strictly maintained his familys traditional Jewishheritage.*He was born in Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor, not in Israel.But unlike many Jews in the Diaspora (dispersion), Paul remained firmly committed tothe language, orthodox traditions, and customs of his ancestors.He did not become a Hellenized Jew ( Acts 6:1; 9:29), one who had been assimilatedinto the Greco-Roman culture.Instead, Paul left Tarsus for Jerusalem to study under the famous rabbi Gamaliel (Acts22:3; 26:4).*Pauls zealous devotion to his Jewish heritage was widely known.*Yet after he saw the glory of Christ, it became merely one more item transferredfrom the gain to the loss column.SALVATION IS NOT BY RELIGION“as to the Law, a Pharisee;” (Philippians 3:5e)*Paul pursued his Jewish heritage to the extreme.*He was so zealous for the Law that he became a Pharisee.To the Sanhedrin Paul declared, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees" (Acts23:6).
At his hearing before Agrippa, Paul testified, "I lived as a Pharisee according to thestrictest sect of our religion" (Acts 26:5).*To become a Pharisee was to reach the highest level in devout, legalistic Judaism.*The Pharisees were supremely devoted to the Law, including the Old Testament andall the traditions that had been added to it.Jesus said they had actually substituted those traditions for the Law of God (Matt15:1-9).The word Pharisee probably derives from a Hebrew verb meaning "to separate,"signifying that they were set apart to the Law.The origin of the Pharisees is not known for certain, but the sect probably aroseformally during the intertestamental period.It had been developing since Ezras time when the concern for Gods law was revived(Neh 8:1-8).Although relatively few in number (the first-century Jewish writer Josephus estimatedtheir number at 6,000), they had the greatest religious influence on the commonpeople.To be a Pharisee was to be a member of an elite, influential, and highly respectedgroup of men who fastidiously lived to know, interpret, guard, and obey the Law.Pauls cherished status as a Pharisee was but one more item in his spiritual loss column.No priest, monk, theological scholar, or member of a devout sect can achievesalvation by such involvement.SALVATION IS NOT BY SINCERITY“as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;” (Philippians 3:6a)As further evidence of his zeal for his Jewish heritage, Paul confessed that he hadbeen a persecutor of the church.The Jews viewed zeal as the supreme religious virtue.*It is a two-sided coin; one side is love, the other hate.*To be zealous is to love God and hate what offends Him.Pauls zealous but misguided love for God caused him to hate and persecuteChristianity.
Vance Havner said:“these are the days of guided missiles and misguided men.”*In terms of zeal, Paul went the Judaizers one better.*They only proselytized the church; he had persecuted it.His zeal for God led him to relentlessly, unsparingly, and mercilessly try to stamp outChristianity.*Paul was sincere, but sincerely wrong.*The world is full of people who, like Paul, are sincere in their religious beliefs.They will make any effort, pay any price, and sacrifice anything in their attempts toplease God (in the flesh).They may be devout, orthodox Jews or Protestants who are heavily involved inchurch services and ceremonies.*They may pray, fast, or live in poverty, and seek to do human good.*But religious zeal guarantees nothing.*Those people can be absolutely wrong.*When Paul faced the reality of Jesus Christ, the zealous persecutor of the churchrealized that his misguided zeal was a spiritual killer and belonged in the spiritual losscolumn.SALVATION IS NOT BY LEGALISTIC RIGHTEOUSNESS“as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:6b)Before his conversion Paul outwardly conformed to the righteousness which is in theLaw.*Those who observed his life would have found his behavior blameless.*One of the best little boys in Raymond.*Paul seemingly had it all.*He had undergone the proper rituals, he was a member of Gods chosen people, hewas from a favored tribe in Israel, he had scrupulously maintained his orthodoxheritage, he was one of the most devout legalists in Judaism, he was zealous to thepoint that he persecuted Christians, and he rigidly conformed to the outwardrequirements of Judaism.All these “good” things were actually deadly, because they deceived him intothinking that he was right with God.Paul saw all these things as useless for salvation, and the reality of salvation by gracethrough faith in Jesus Christ was revealed to him.
False religion deceives the mind and consequently damns the soul.Philippians 3:7-87)“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for thesake of Christ.8) More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value ofknowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, andcount them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” (Philippians 3:7-8)The statement but whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted asloss for the sake of Christ sums up the dramatic change that took place in Paulsperspective when he met Christ.*All of the cherished treasures in his gain column suddenly became deficits.*But by Gods marvelous grace, those things that he wrongly imagined would givehim eternal life were replaced by five matchless benefits that were his in Christ.The forceful phrase “more than that” is an untranslatable string of five Greek particles(lit. "but indeed therefore at least even").It strongly emphasizes the contrast between the religious credits that do not impressGod and the incalculable benefits of knowing Christ.In verse 7, Paul counted the religious credits in verses 5 and 6 as loss; here he expandsthat conviction and declares all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value ofknowing Christ Jesus.