Monday, June 27, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~What We Desire, How We Receive It, and How We Live: Phil 3.7-11

On Thursday last week, in looking at verses 7-11, we looked three things that those who gain Christ gain with Him:
Justification (9) – counted righteous in Christ.
Sanctification (10) – becoming like Christ by the power of His resurrection.
Glorification (11) – completely perfected in the final resurrection.

We said that the Apostle Paul is giving us the answer to three very important questions. The first question we looked at last week, “What is Paul’s treasure?” He makes it very clear that Jesus is his treasure. Jesus isn’t just a ticket, Jesus is his treasure. Today, I want to look at two related questions, How is it that I gain this treasure? and then, having gained that treasure, How then do I live?

I. How Paul receives it.
The staggering thing in this passage that Paul says is that the greatest treasure in this world is something that you don’t find; it finds you.

Paul spells it out so beautifully in this passage, Paul says, ‘I didn’t gain my treasure, I received it. I didn’t earn my treasure, I was given it. Jesus did something in order to give me my treasure. And my response to that is simply to receive it.

So here’s Paul’s message to you: ‘Here’s how I received the treasure. I didn’t go looking for it; it came looking for me. I didn’t find it, I was found by it.’ Paul’s own testimony bears this out: he was on the way to Damascus not to find Jesus, but to find Christians to kill, but Jesus finds him, and suddenly He who was not his treasure becomes his treasure.

And look at what Paul beautifully stresses this in verse 9. Notice three things that he says.

First, the treasure comes from God (v. 9). The righteousness that he needs in order to experience the greatest treasure (fellowship with God), does not come from Paul, it comes from God.

Second, it is a righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.

Third, the righteousness is not Paul’s own. It’s not your own. He says this explicitly: “I want to be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own….” This righteousness is not righteousness in you; this is not you cleaning yourself up a little bit and getting better. It’s a righteousness that has been accomplished in Jesus Christ, which is now being offered to you.

You see how radical this is. Could Paul make free grace any clearer than he does here?

If you are struggling with your assurance, start here in Philippians 3:9, because it simply tells you this: your hope, your confidence, your assurance is not based on anything in you at all. It’s based on something outside of you, in Jesus, which has been offered to you and which you simply receive by faith in Him. There’s no more glorious message in the world than this message.

II. How Paul lives.
But then Paul, having told us how we receive this treasure, tells us how we’re supposed to live. Paul is pursuing the prize now – not trying to earn it, because the treasure has been given to him – but he has not yet experienced the fullness of that treasure. It’s kind of like Hebrews 11, God has given them a city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God. But, Hebrews 11 says, they haven’t occupied the city yet. Not until we occupy that city will we have tasted the prize in all its fullness. So now, Paul’s heart is now set on a treasure, which he cannot fully experience until the day of resurrection.

Paul pursues that prize by resurrection power. He needs pride-humbling, sin-conquering, Christ-exalting power at work in his life. That power comes from the power by which God raised Jesus from the dead: resurrection power. If someone has resurrection power at work within him, he cannot be comfortable in sin. The free grace of God has led Paul not to be lazy, but to be passionate, pursuing the prize in resurrection power because God is at work in him.

And then Paul says something absolutely shocking: he wants to know Jesus Christ and share in His sufferings. Christians have a radically different view of suffering because of the hope that is set before us. We know that a day is coming when suffering will be no more. We know that even in suffering God loves us and is near to us.

Paul is telling us that for the believer, suffering is part of God’s design to make us like Jesus. If Jesus, our great high priest, learned obedience through that which He suffered, then we also are made like Him through suffering.

Paul furthermore says “…if by any means possible I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul is never going to be satisfied in this life with what he is, he’s never going to reach perfection here, because he is looking for is something that’s never ever going to be completed in this life. It’s only going to be completed when we all stand before God on the Last Day.

Is that how you think about the Christian life? Paul says in verse 17 that he has been recounting all of this so that his readers can emulate him. Do you? Are you comfortable in your sin? Are you lazy in your growth? Are you surprised by suffering? Are you longing for the resurrection? Paul is never ever going to be satisfied with yesterday’s growth, because he’s waiting for the day when Jesus has eradicated all sin from him and there is a new world. Are you waiting for it?

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