09 June 2010

Verse-by-verse through Philippians (3:21-4:1)

Before we get to finishing up this last verse of chapter 3, I’d kinda like to review what we have seen so far in this chapter. He starts out in verses 2-3 by warning the people to Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:2-3). There were a group of men going around telling these people that in order for a person to be saved, they had to keep the OT Jewish Law—all the commandments and offerings and sacrifices. And be circumcised. That was what he says, “beware the mutilation.” And in fact, he goes on to say that if anyone could make themselves righteous by keeping the whole Law—it was Paul himself. Philippians 3:4-6 (ESV)--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.

This leads him to express how the grace of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord is so much greater than the works of the Law—and how all the years he spent trying to keep that Law were, for all intents and purposes, waste. Philippians 3:7-9--But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.

Then, we see that by setting aside our own righteousness, we find that true life is not found in holding on to our earthly life—but by letting go of it. Philippians 3:10-11--That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. But, are we there yet? We have eternal life in us—if indeed Christ is in us. But we are not yet perfect, we are still trapped in these bodies of flesh that keep trying to wander off the path, so that we are constantly torn between doing what our flesh wants us to do and what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. So that all we can do until that day when we are perfected, is to strain and struggle and fight to make it through to the end of this race so that we might win that crown of righteousness Christ will give us on that Day.

Philippians 3:12-14--Not that I have already arrived, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have laid hold of it; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Having said that, he goes on to stir us up to all look toward the same One—Christ—so that whatever we do as the body, we are all doing for one reason and one reason only—the glory of God. Philippians 3:15-16--Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. And this brings him back around almost to where he started, by urging us to follow those people whose lives are patterns of godliness and holiness and righteousness—not their own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ—and follow them, because they follow Christ. A=B, B=C, A=C and all that.

At the same time, he warns us about those people he calls the “enemies of the cross of Christ”—who either want to make themselves look better or who want to live without any fear of the wrath of God. Philippians 3:17-19 (NASB)--Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. And now, we wind up at the end of the chapter, by seeing the glorious hope that we have if we trust in Christ, follow Him, love Him, worship Him, we put our hope in Him, He is the one we seek to please.

Philippians 3:20-4:120 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. 4:1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

We are here on earth on a student visa. We live here on earth for the time being—but we got another country we’re going home to one day. And we look forward to that day and we can't wait to get there! And every pain we’ve ever had. Every illness we may go through—GONE!
And every single struggle and every single battle we have between whether to please our flesh or to please God—GONE! Because then—and only then—will we be fully perfected!

Philippians 4:21. The Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body... The word “transform.” (Gk: μετασχηματίζω, metaschēmatizō) It refers to both the structural make-up, and also the internal characteristics of the body. Back in chapter 2, we saw that Jesus was in the form of God—every single thing that God is, is contained in Christ. In other words, to see Christ is to see God. But, He received upon Himself a body, and anybody who saw Him saw a man. Not that He looked like any particular man. But He looked like a man. He talked like a man. He walked like a man. He needed to eat. He needed to sleep. And, when they drove those nails through His hands and feet, He even bled and died like a man. BUT! Did He sin like a man? No. In fact, did Jesus even have the desire to do anything other than the will of the Father? NO! If anybody says He did, that is blasphemy. Jesus never sinned. Never wanted to. John 5:30“I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” 1st Peter 2:22 says that Jesus committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.

But what about us? Do we have a struggle sometimes when it comes to doing the will of the Father? You might say that. You might also say—and this is closer to the truth—that if our flesh had its way, the only thing we would ever want to do would be to sin. Genesis 6:5Then YHVH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. That was why He brought the flood. Then, after the flood waters subsided, and Noah made an offering to God, Genesis 8:21YHVH said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” From the time we are born the only thing we want to do is what we want to do.

BUT!! Guess what? For those who love Christ and who worship and seek to obey Him, He will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body... Doesn’t mean we’re going to look exactly like Christ when He walked the earth. That’s not quite what the word means here. It doesn’t mean that the body I have will look exactly like Christ, and the body that Steven has will look exactly like Christ, and so on so that every single person in Heaven looks exactly the same. What it means is this—everything that is true about the physical body of Christ will be true of our body. It will never want to sin. It will never die. There is death going on in our bodies as we speak. Cells are dying and new cells are replacing them. Problem is, the speed at which cells are dying is faster than the rate at which they're being replaced. That’s just the way it is. Started as soon as Adam put his grubby mitts on that fruit and took a bite out of it. His body started dying. God told him that “In the day you eat of that fruit you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Translate the Hebrew literally into English, and it reads, “Dying you shall die.” In other words, God was telling Adam, “As soon as you eat that fruit, your body will start dying.”

BUT!! If we belong to Christ, one day He will give us a new body that will be just like His—there will be no death going on inside of it because death is the result of sin and in that new city there will be no sin—and there will be no death! We will be conformed to the glory of Christ. 2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:3—Christ is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. Now, this is the good part! He will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body... We will be conformed to the image of Christ. Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). So, in other words, we will be re-conformed to the image of God! Just like it was in the beginning! He makes all things new!!

So, to finish up this verse, He will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue even all things to Himself. Everything belongs to Him, Amen? He created it all!
  • Colossians 1:15-16He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
  • Revelation 4:11“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
  • Romans 11:36For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Jesus created all things. They were created BY HIM, they were created THROUGH HIM, and they were created FOR HIM. The whole universe belongs to Christ. And HE is the one who holds it all together. Does He have the power to do what He wants with it? Does He need our permission to do anything? That’s a question that just about answers itself. Of course He doesn’t! He’s God!! We’re not!! And see, that is where the prosperity preachers walk full-blown into blasphemy. They stand up there and they say that God can't do anything without our faith.
  • Kenneth Copeland: “God cannot do anything for you apart or separate from faith.”
  • Fredrick Price: “God has to be given permission to work in this earth realm on behalf of man…You are in control! So if man has control, who no longer has it? God…When God gave Adam dominion, that meant God no longer had dominion. So God cannot do anything in this earth unless we let Him.”
I’m sorry, what? God can't do anything unless we let Him? Oh, poor God! Sitting up there, fretting and worrying about whether or not we great and glorious humans will allow Him the privilege of doing something! That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard! Come, incline your ear to the Word of God.
  • Psalm 115:3But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
  • Psalm 24:1The earth is YHVH’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.
  • 1st Corinthians 15:24-27Then comes the end, when [Christ] delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For He has put all things under His feet.
Hear that? It all belongs to Christ. And the power by which He rules over this entire universe is the same power by which He will cause these broken down old bodies of sin and death to be perfect and sinless and eternal and everlasting as His own. And He doesn’t need our faith or our permission to do it.

So, chapter 3—CLOSED!! Just 23 more verses until the end of the book. Eh, 6 months—tops. Christ will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 4:1--Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. Look at the words Paul uses.Beloved.
  • Longed-for.
  • Brethren.
  • Joy and crown.
  • Beloved.
Do you think he felt some kindly affection toward these people? He uses the word “beloved” three times in this letter. He calls them “brethren” 8 times. "Fellow-workers" 3 times. He urges them to have the same love, be of the same mind, the same rule, one accord, one mind (Philippians 2:2). Over and over and over again, he is urging them—and us—to unity in the faith in Jesus Christ. That we all walk in the same direction, and point the world toward Christ. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren... Does it sound like Paul loved these people? Yeah, maybe a little bit. That word “beloved”—there really isn't another word like it. It is probably one of the deepest expressions of sincere, flat-out love that you can come up with. It’s the word that God the Father used to describe Jesus and point Him out to the people. When Jesus was being baptized, Matthew 3:17He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and landing upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” When Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Olives, Matthew 17:4-5Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here…let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Now this is where it gets really cool. Just as Jesus was the Beloved Son of God, we too are “beloved” of God.
  • Romans 1:7To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints.
  • 2nd Thessalonians 2:13But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord.
  • Ephesians 1:6To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
  • Romans 9:25“I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.”
Now, if God calls us “beloved” and He loved us when there was no other reason for Him to love us other than the fact that He is infinitely merciful and patient then should we be loving one another? Should we be longing to see one another?

Then he calls them his joy and crown. He uses the same phrase to describe the Thessalonians. 1st Thessalonians 2:19-20For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. So, what would this mean for these Philippian believers? Philippi was a city under Roman control. And in the Roman culture, all the important government officials—including the emperor—would wear a crown of laurels as a symbol of their authority. That was one of the reasons they put the crown of thorns on Christ’s head. He claimed to be a King, so the soldiers mocked Him by putting a crown on Him—not a crown of laurels, but a crown of thorns. Now, here’s the thing: anybody can twist a couple of branches together and call it a “crown” and what’s gonna happen to it in a couple days? The leaves are gonna die, and the whole thing is gonna fall apart.

BUT!! You are my crown. I am your crown. We are each other’s crown! Our fellowship, our brotherhood, our being one in Christ identifies us as kings! Really! We are kings! Revelation 1:5-6To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. We are kings and priests to God Himself! His word says so!

Finally, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. Stand fast. (Greek: στήκω, stēko). Plant your feet. Keep your back straight and your head up. Comes from the same word Paul uses when he talks about the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, and he uses the word “stand” or “withstand” 4 times in 4 verses. It means, “To stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing.” He uses it again in Galatians 5:1Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. And, in a verse that pretty much sums up the theme of this whole letter, Philippians 1:27Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

He is encouraging us to not back down when someone comes along saying that it’s not only the blood of Jesus that saves us, but that we have to DO a bunch of other things in order to be saved. When they say, “Well, yes, we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. But before that, we have to make ourselves worthy of being saved by doing X, Y and Z, and memorizing our catechism and…” We may not always have all the answers when some wolf comes in saying we’re not saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But we don’t have to. We don’t have to always get into a discussion. But if we know that we know that we know that we’re saved, we can just point and say, “I don’t know everything. But I do know this: Down at the cross where my Savior died, down where for cleansing from sin I cried, there to my heart was the blood applied; Glory to His Name!”

Stand fast in the Lord, beloved brethren!
My joy and crown!

Jesus Christ is Lord!

No comments: