Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com

 

 

 

 

Sermon #2302 — Miscellaneous Sermons

 

Title:                           Not yet, but Soon

 

Text:                            Philippians 3:1-21

Subject:                     Four Great Ambitions of Faith

Date:                          Sunday Morning — January 1, 2017

Reading:       Philippians 3:1-21

Introduction:

 

We get our word for the first month of the year, January, from the mythical Roman god Janus. In Roman mythology, Janus was an imaginary, two-headed god who looked backward and forward, the Roman god of gates and doors. We also get the word “janitor” from Janus. A janitor is a person who keeps doors and halls. As Janus had two heads, one facing forward and the other backward, January is a time when we look back over the year that was and forward to the year that is coming.

 

Well, January 1st is here, again. With this beginning of the New Year, people all over the world are looking back and looking forward. I want us to do the same. I want us to look back over the past and forward to the future, with the Book of God in our hands. So, open your Bible to the 3rd chapter of the book of Philippians, and just hold it open on your lap, as we look back at the past and look forward to the future. The title of my message is Not yet, but Soon. Our text will be this 3rd chapter of Philippians. — Not yet, but Soon (Philippians 3:1-21).

 

We will be going over some things which, I hope, are very familiar to you. But I make no apology for that. To preach and teach “the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”

 

An Exhortation

 

This chapter begins with an exhortation (v. 1). Paul says, Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” He used this word, “rejoice, ten times in these four chapters. We ought to always, in the depths of our hearts and souls, rejoice in the Lord. No matter what our providential experiences and circumstances are, we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord. Here is an exhortation to joy. What a blessed command! Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice!” Rejoice in…

Š      the greatness of his person as our all-sufficient Substitute.

Š      the power of his blood, which cleanses us from all sin.

Š      the perfection of his righteousness, which is our righteousness and our justification.

Š      the abundance of his grace, which is always sufficient.

Š      the immutability of his love, which never fails.

Š      the rule of his providence, which works all things together for our good.

Š      the fact of his intercession, which is continual and effectual on our behalf.

Š      the fact that your names are written in heaven.

 

This is the exhortation with which Paul opens this chapter — “Rejoice in the Lord!” May God give me grace ever to do so for the glory of Christ and the good of his people.

 

A Warning

 

In verse 2, the apostle gives us a serious warning. — Beware of dogs.”He warns us to beware of false prophets. He calls them dogs because that is what the Word of God calls male prostitutes. False prophets are men who have, for their own gain, prostituted the Gospel of Christ and the glory of God.

 

Deuteronomy 23:18 “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

 

Isaiah 56:10-11 Those who are supposed to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion, watching over the souls of men, “are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.”

 

Beware of dogs.”Especially the ones that wear collars!

 

Beware of evil workers. — This is a warning against those who teach, preach, and promote any system of man centered, works based, free will religion (Matthew 7:22-23).

 

Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

 

Man centered, works based, free will religion is the single greatest cause of evil in this world. The “good works” of religion without Christ are the most abominable evils done in this world.

Š      They rob God of his glory.

Š      They trample underfoot the blood of Christ.

Š      They do despite to the Spirit of grace.

Š      They gradually debase man to his lowest, most contemptible state (Romans 1:25-31).

 

Evil workers,” as Paul uses the term in this context, are Arminians, freewillers, and legalists, people who teach that God’s salvation depends upon and is determined by man.

 

Beware of the concision.” — Those who are of the concision are men and women who cut, mutilate, and torture their bodies in hope of winning God’s favor.

Š      Circumcision

Š      Doing Penance

Š      Observing Lent

Š      Monasticism, Flagellation

Š      Religious Taboos, Asceticism

 

In essence, Paul is saying, Beware of Christless religion. Beware of any religious custom, doctrine, or service that is centered in yourself and encourages you to focus attention on yourself.

 

True Religion

 

Now look at verse 3. — Here we are given a description of true religion.

 

Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

 

True religion is not man centered, but Christ centered. True religion is not ceremonial, but spiritual. True religion is not a matter of creed, but of conviction. True religion is not outward, but inward. For we are the circumcision. — You who are born of God, you who trust the Lord Jesus Christ, have been “circumcised without hands” (Colossians 2:11), circumcised inwardly by the Spirit of God. Our “circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not of the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:29). Circumcision in the Old Testament was a picture and symbol of the new birth. Circumcision was…

  • a personal mark.
  • an identifying mark.
  • a covenant mark.
  • a painful mark.
  • a permanent mark.

 

When Paul says, “we are the circumcision,” he is saying, we are God’s true, covenant people, the Israel of God, Abraham’s true children, which Worship God in the Spirit. — We worship God as he is revealed in the Scriptures, by the power of his Holy Spirit, in our spirits, and in a spiritual manner. True worship is spiritual worship, not carnal, ceremonial ritualism.

 

John 4:23-24 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

 

And rejoice in Christ Jesus. — We trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone, placing all our confidence in him as our Savior. We are complete in him.

 

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

Colossians 2:9-10 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”

 

And have no confidence in the flesh. — We place absolutely no confidence in our flesh, the experiences, emotions, or (imaginary) excellencies of our flesh. The privileges of the flesh, the feelings of the flesh, and the works of the flesh are no basis of confidence before God.

 

Self-denial

 

In verses 4-8, Paul is sets himself before us as an example of self-denial.

 

Philippians 3:4-8 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung.”

 

Self-denial is an essential aspect of saving faith. Though it increasingly comprehends all aspects of life, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, self-denial begins with a denial of all personal worth and merit as a grounds of hope before God.

 

Here is a legalist of highest order laying aside the filthy rags of his self-righteousness for the blessed, pure, perfect righteousness of Christ. Paul counted all his fleshly, carnal, natural privileges, religious distinctiveness, and educational advantages as nothing but dung before God. He placed no confidence in his flesh. He found that one Pearl of Great Price, and sold everything he had to get it (Matthew 13:45-46).

 

This was done on the Damascus Road when the Lord saved him (v. 7). And this was a decision he made every day, with increasing, growing commitment and consecration to Christ. He counted all things but dung for Christ.

 

Ambitions of Faith

 

Why? What was the cause of this man’s self-denial, consecration, and commitment? What made this man willing to forsake everything and follow Christ?

 

Proposition: Paul was inspired, motivated, and driven to the point of utter obsession by four great ambitions of faith.

 

What are my ambitions? — Let me wrap this message up by asking you what your ambitions are, just as I have asked myself that question as I prepared this message. — What are your ambitions? What do you want out of life? What would you really like to accomplish in this world? What are those things you most desire? Answer those questions honestly and you will know exactly what you are. You will know the kind of person you really are.

 

Paul here speaks about ambitions of faith. These are things that motivate, rule, and govern the lives of God’s people in this world. They are matters of utmost concern to me. I hope they are to you. Here are four great ambitions of faith.

 

Philippians 3:8-11 “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

 

1.   “THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST!”

 

What an ambition! The life of faith is the lifelong pursuit of Christ. Faith looks upon Christ as the most precious, most desirable, most lovely, most valuable Person and Object in the world. The more he is known, the more he is wanted. Therefore, true faith willingly forsakes all to follow him.

 

Christ is the Treasure hidden in the field, for which we would gladly spend all. He is the Pearl of Great Price, for which we must sell all. Jesus Christ is the “One Thing Needful” who must be chosen. Christ is the one thing we must have.

Š      I am thankful for the many comforts of life with which I am blessed; but I must have Christ.

Š      I am thankful for my friends; but I must have Christ.

Š      I am thankful for health; but I must have Christ.

Š      I am thankful for my family; but I must have Christ.

 

“I count all things loss that I may win Christ.”

 

2.   “AND BE FOUND IN HIM!” — (v. 9)

 

Philippians 3:9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

 

This is the believer’s standing. We are in Christ. This is Christianity. This is salvation: — to be in Christ, nothing less, nothing lower, nothing different. It is not partly in Christ and partly in the law, or partly in the ordinances, or partly in the church. To be saved is to be in Christ.

Š      Religion is knowing doctrines and facts. Salvation is knowing God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).

Š      Religion is knowing what I believe. Christianity is knowing whom I believe (2 Timothy 2:12).

Š      Religion is being reformed. Salvation is being regenerated (John 3:3).

Š      Religion makes men new converts. Christianity makes us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Š      Religion is being in the church. Salvation is being in Christ (John 15:1; Ephesians 5:30).

 

Believers are people who are in Christ,

Š      By God’s Eternal Decree.

Š      By the Holy Spirit’s Operations of Grace.

Š      By Personal Faith.

 

Illustration: Grafted into Christ

 

To be in Christ is to have perfect righteousness before God. Our righteousness is not something we establish by performing good works, but something Christ established for us as our Representative before God. We do not make ourselves righteous by our obedience to God’s law. Christ made us righteous by his obedience to the law for us.

 

Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

 

Our righteousness before God is the righteousness of God in Christ made ours and imputed to us by God himself.

 

As I stand before the holy Lord God, I want to be found in Christ.

Š      As I live in this world.

Š      When I offer any service, prayer, or sacrifice to him.

Š      When I leave this world.

Š      When I stand before his great bar of judgment!

 

Now, look at verse 10.

 

3.   THAT I MAY KNOW HIM!”

 

Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

 

I know that Christ is mine and I am his. Yet, I count all things but loss and dung, that I might win Christ, that I might be found in Christ, that I might know Christ. I know him; but, oh, how I want to know him! I want constantly renewed, ever increasing knowledge of and communion with the Son of God. This is the ambition of my heart: I want to know him, my God and my Savior, my Redeemer and my Lord!

 

I want to know him who is the great Benefactor of my soul.

Š      The Mysteries and Glories of His Person

Š      The Riches of His Grace

Š      The Greatness of His Salvation

Š      The Benefits of His Mercies

Š      The Depths of His Love

 

May God give us grace never to take our eyes off of Christ! My soul, let Christ be the all-consuming Object of your being! O Spirit of God, consume my very being with the wonder of free grace, complete forgiveness, perfect righteousness, and everlasting salvation in, with, and by Christ Jesus! That I may know him!

 

I want to “know the power of his resurrection.”

Š      The power of his resurrection declares that I am justified (Romans 4:25).

Š      The power of his resurrection gave me spiritual life (Ephesians 1:19).

Š      The power of his resurrection guarantees my resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).

Š      But I want to live every day, experimentally, walking in the knowledge of the power of his resurrection.

 

Walking with Christ in the newness of life, I want the power of his resurrection to dominate, control, and direct my life in all things. I want to be continually made new by him.

 

I want “to know the fellowship of his sufferings.”

Š      To Know His Sufferings

Š      To Know My Personal Interest in His Sufferings

Š      To Know What He Accomplished in His Sufferings

 

As his sufferings are his glory, I want his sufferings to be my glory (Galatians 6:14).

 

Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

 

I want to know Christ and the fellowship of his sufferings to such an extent that I am ever “being made conformable unto his death.” — This is what that means: — I want to be conformed to Christ in his death.

Š      Entirely consecrated to the glory of God.

Š      Perfectly submissive to the will of God.

Š      Motivated by nothing but love for my God and his people.

 

4.   IF BY ANY MEANS I MIGHT ATTAIN UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.”

 

Philippians 3:11-14 “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

Certainly, this includes a great desire for the resurrection of my body at the last day. But primarily, the yearning spoken of here is a yearning for that spiritual resurrection of grace that lifts us out of the death and darkness of sin. The world, the flesh, and all human life is death. In Christ there is life, real life, eternal life, a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in communion with God! This is what I want. I have not yet attained it; but I am reaching for it.

 

I want what God purposed for me in eternity and Christ purchased for me at Calvary (Ephesians 1:3-6). I want to be like Christ!

 

Application

 

These are the ambitions of my heart, the goals I seek, the things for which I live. I pray that God will make them more and more real to me. And I pray that he will make them your hearts’ ambitions as well.

1. That I may win him.”

2. And be found in him.”

3. That I may know him.”

4. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

 

Children of God, set your hearts upon these things, and by the grace of God you shall have them — not yet, but soon! (vv. 12-21).

 

Philippians 3:15-19 “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. (17) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (18) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: (19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

 

Philippians 3:20-21 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Fortner’s

 

Audio Sermons

Video Sermons

Books

Itinerary