18 December 2008

Verse-by-verse through Philippians (1:18-1:20)

Last week we looked at the issue of those who preach Christ. There are those who would go to the middle of the jungle, suffer through all kinds of obstacles, and disease and all sorts of other trials to teach the truth of Christ. By the same token, there are still others who wouldn’t take a pulpit for less than six figures. But no matter the reason they are preaching—if they are preaching the truth, then we should be glad. And that’s hard for us to do sometimes. We know that the only reason a certain fellow is preaching is for the money. But you listen to him, and you compare it with what the Bible says, and it lines up and people are learning the TRUTH about Christ—we should be glad. If someone is preaching Christ as the only way to be saved—and not as an ATM like some preach He is—then we should put our own feelings aside, grit our teeth and be glad so long as people are getting saved.

And we talked a bit about the apostle Paul, who left everything he knew—he had a real high-paying job, he had the admiration of many of the most powerful and most influential members of Jewish society. If he had continued his studies in the Torah—the name we use for the collection of the first five books of the Bible, and what is known as the Law, or the Law of Moses—and the Psalms and all the other books of what we call the Old Testament—he may very well have been the greatest Jewish rabbi the world would ever know. But God had other plans. He took this man who had devoted every moment of his life to studying the Jewish Scriptures and he used this man to show the world how to find Christ in the Old Testament.

Who better to interpret the Scriptures to show Christ than the man who knew those Scriptures better than anybody else? And so he then devoted his life—every moment—to preaching Christ. And he was so grateful to God for saving him that he wanted everybody to know about Christ. And he really didn’t care how they learned the truth—just so long as they learned THE TRUTH. So in verse 18 that we finished up with last week, he said, “Look—I don’t care why they're preaching Christ—just so long as they're preaching Christ! Hallelujah, people are hearing about Christ!

So, we’re going to go from there, starting with Philippians 1:18, we’re going to look at Paul’s attitude concerning his imprisonment by the Roman government, how he didn’t look at it like we would. We think of going to prison as a bad thing—not saying I want to. But Paul saw it as a way to tell the Roman soldiers about Christ! He didn’t look at it like “Oh poor me, I’m in jail.” He looked at it like, “OK, how am I going to use this to glorify God?” And that’s a word we’re going to look at today, is glorify. What exactly does it mean? Philippians 1:18-2118 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Look at verse 19. What are the first three words? For I know. For I KNOW. Not “I think” or “I'm pretty sure” or “I've got a real good feeling about this.” I KNOW.

If you recall back in verse 6 a few weeks ago, we saw that Paul says Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. He wasn’t “pretty sure” that God would complete the good work. He was CONFIDENT—absotively posilutely sure. He knew it for a fact. In verse 8, he tells the Philippians God is my witness how greatly I long for you. Paul was never a man to hedge his bets. He knew where his confidence came from—it came from the unchanging God. And he knew that between the prayers of the Philippians and the Spirit of Christ that because they were preaching the truth of Christ that he would be delivered from his present condition, which was imprisonment in his house—house arrest.

Now, does this mean that Paul thought that God would get him released from his imprisonment? I doubt it. What I really think he’s saying is this—that even if he was to spend the rest of his life in chains, God would see him through it. God would give him what he needed, he would not lack any good thing. I don’t believe he was talking about being released from prison because look at what he says in verse 20, that we’ll look at in a little while—whether by life or by what? Death. So I really think he’s saying that if he spends the rest of his life in chains, his chains are in Christ, and the Spirit of Christ will supply his needs. And if he dies, he’ll go to be with Christ, and be gone from this world of sin and corruption.

Verse 20. …according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed… That phrase “earnest expectation” is really one big long Greek word (άποκαραδοκια, apokarodokia, Strong 603) that means, literally, “anxious and persistent expectation.” There is only one other place in the New Testament where we find this word (Romans 8:19--For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God). As far as Paul was concerned, the fact that he would never bring shame to the name of Christ was guaranteed. There was just no doubt about it. It wasn’t going to happen. Period, paragraph. Put it in the books, chisel it in stone—God will never be ashamed to call Paul His child. Oh how I wish that I could have that confidence. Because there are times when I know He looks down at this child of His and shakes His head and sighs, “What did you do that for?” And I don’t mean to make light of it, it is a very serious thing to grieve the heart of God. But while we are walking in this world of corruption in these bodies of flesh, no matter how hard we try, we are going to screw up.

But, because of that supply of the Spirit of Christ, we know when we screw up, we can go to Him and ask His forgiveness. Those who do not know Christ cannot do that. They do not understand the weight and consequences of their sins, they do not know that if they die and their sins have never been paid for by the blood of Christ—they can say things like, “Well, I'll stand and make my case before Him and I'll be OK.” They will do no such thing. They will stand before the holiness of God and they will see themselves as the wicked sinners they were and they will be cast into Hell with no hesitation and with no mercy. But those who do know Christ will bow down before Him, we will see ourselves as the wicked people we are and we will confess that we were not worthy of the grace and mercy He showed us by saving us—we will confess His name, and He will say, “Your sins are forgiven—arise and enter into rest.”

…according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body… That word “magnified.” Can also mean “glorified.” Not that he would just kinda mention God here and there. But that his whole life would put Christ up on the big screen. That the reason he would do everything he did was for one and only one purpose—to glorify God. Now, what does that word “glorify” mean?

Basically, it means to make something appear to be wonderful. Movies and TV shows glorify adultery and premarital sex and drugs and drinking. They make these things look appealing. Ever notice how the beer commercials only show the people while they're partying? They don’t show the fights and the guns and the violence and the head hanging over the toilet that quite often go along with drinking. These stupid entertainment shows have these goofballs like Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan—always show them partying and driving drunk and they make it out like that’s something that little girls should try to be like. The world glorifies itself—it glorifies, it makes these things seem like they are wonderful, and they hide the fact that these things only bring death. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19). The world loves to make you think that sin is not sin—and that if anybody says that in is sin, they are being judgmental and you should not listen to them. The world glorifies itself.

This past Friday night—just a couple nights ago—many people went out, glorifying witches and ghosts and devils—all in the name of “fun.” They took part in a celebration that is rooted in nothing but paganism. According to one source, “During [the night of Oct. 31] the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, the [boundary] lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere, sometimes violently, in their affairs” (Celtic Mythology, p. 127). Now don’t get me wrong, I did it when I was a kid. I didn’t know any better. But now that I do know better—well, let’s just say, that’s where I stand on the issue of Halloween.
But you know, it’s really no different than the other 364 nights out of the year when all kinds of people glorify all kinds of wickedness. Turn on the TV, check out the movies they come out with, and mankind spends almost every waking moment celebrating itself. That’s just how we’re born. It’s all about me, don’t interfere with my good time, don’t tell me the truth because then someone may hold me responsible. But when we follow Christ, we look at our lives and we weigh everything against the word of God. If there is something we do, some habit we have that God calls sin—then we are to call it sin.

We look at the things in our life. And instead of making excuses for our behavior, we look at it and we ask ourselves, “Does this glorify God? Or does this bring shame to Christ? If I do this, will I show people what it means to follow Christ?” And if the answer is “No” then we probably shouldn’t do it. And if God calls it sin, then we definitely shouldn’t do it. If it’s something that it’s kinda, you know, questionable—if there is some music we listen to and it’s filled with filthy language and curse words and it’s all about drinking and drugs and sex and all kinds of things that God calls sin—we may not be doing those things, but should we be enjoying hearing someone sing about those things? Romans 1:28-32And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Did you hear that last part? Knowing that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. All these things that are completely opposite the will of God—if the Spirit of Christ is in a person then there should be a little voice that says, “Hey! You don’t need to be listening to that junk!

But we don’t just glorify Him by the things we don’t do. We glorify Him even more by the things we DO. When someone does us wrong—they go telling stories about us, they lie about us—and we say, “It’s OK.” They tell those stories, and people watch us, and after a while they figure out the truth. And then the person that told the tale winds up looking like a schlimazel, and they just might come up later and apologize. And what would have happened if we’d gone and gotten all angry and banged down their door, and got all violent about it? Some people, as soon as they hear someone’s talking about them, they're ready to drop the gloves and go at it. Let it slide. Of course it’s hard. I didn’t say it was easy.

…so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. I gotta pick on the TV preachers again. Ya know, they go around spewing their gibberish about driving fancy cars and living in mansions and gold plated toilets. And if you ain't healthy, if you're sick, then God don’t want nothing to do with ya. That’s a load of crap. God gets more glory from a child of His that is suffering with cancer, who can't move or hardly even lift their head—than He ever will from one of these gibberish-spewing heretics. And that’s what they are. And I can show ya from their own words and from Scripture. Look at what Paul says here—by life OR BY DEATH, Christ WILL be magnified in my body. You won’t ever hear one of these guys say that death brings glory to God—but it does. John 21:18-19. Jesus is talking to the apostle Peter the day after rising from the grave. He says to Peter, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. Take that Jesse and Creflo. And guess what? Those who die for Christ get to live under the altar of God. Revelation 6:9-11When [the angel] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar [of God] the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held…Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

A few weeks ago we talked about famous last words. What would we want our last words to be? How wonderful, how glorious if the last thing to come out of our mouth would be the name of our Savior! What does it mean to glorify God? It means that we show the world that He is God. Basically. When we show the world that we are nothing without Him—and that with Him, we have everything. Like the old saying goes, “He who has Jesus and everything has no more than he who has Jesus and nothing else.” To glorify Him—that is the reason we exist. To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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