Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~ Do What Israel Didn’t Do: Phil 2.14-15 (Part II)

We said yesterday, as we looked at this passage, that Paul is reiterating his exhortation to live a life “worthy” of the gospel with emphasis to how it relates our purpose in life (Phil 1:27). Paul is saying that your purpose in life is to congregationally — together as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ gathered into one local church, living and ministering together — you are to do congregationally what Israel failed to do.

We also said yesterday that we’d look at three things in this passage. We looked at the first: that we are not to grumble and sinfully question the leaders of the church. God has placed leaders over us, and instead of undermining them we are to live together in peace and unity, unlike the people of Israel in the wilderness. We display glorious and joyful unity that only Christ can give to a watching world.

II. Be the children of God.
In verse 15, he says be the children of God. Look at his words: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning,” in order that “you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish.”

Now, we’ve already said that if you are saved, you are the child of God. He’s saying that you show your adoption by your life. You show whose child you are by your behavior. You show who your father is by your obedience, by your deeds.
Jesus once encountered a group of Jewish people who were opposing His teaching, and they said to Him, “We are of our father Abraham.” And you remember what Jesus said to them? “No you’re not. You’re of your father, the devil, because you do the deeds of your father, and you’re not doing the deeds of My heavenly Father, the God and father of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You are doing the deeds of the devil.”

Paul is saying to these Philippians: be the children of God, show whose children you are.
III. Shine as lights in the world.
In verse 15, he says, “shine as lights in the world in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Paul is saying your life is to be a witness to the world. Not just your life individually, but your life together, the way that you express and experience the grace of God in your lives together as a congregation, is a witness to the world.

Israel was supposed to be the children of God, who by their light, let shine to the nations the glory of God so that they became a blessing to the nations and so that the nations glorified God. But Israel didn’t.
Paul in this verse is drawing on Deuteronomy 32:5, in which Moses says, “They” (the wilderness generation) have dealt corruptly with Him;” (God— the wilderness generation has dealt corruptly with God) “they are no longer His children because they are blemished; they are a crooked and twisted generation.”

Jesus uses that same phrase all the time in His teaching to describe the unbelieving generation to which He was preaching.

In Deuteronomy 32, Moses is saying they were to be the children of God, and to witness to the unbelieving and perverse generation of the Gentile Canaanites around them. But they showed that they weren’t the children of God and became a perverse and twisted generation.

And then the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:14-15 says, ‘You be the children of God without blemish, and you be a light to the wicked and perverse generation in which you live.’

Paul is saying do what Israel didn’t do. That’s your purpose in this world. Now that’s awesome, and it’s humbling. Paul is saying, ‘Christian, you be and do as a congregation what Israel failed to be and do. You be a light in the world. Show your sanctification in your living. Show your doctrine by your life. Let your sanctification, holiness, Christ-likeness, your pursuit of godliness serve as a witness to unbelievers. Let your life together testify to the reality of gospel grace.’

In fact, Philippians 2:15, sounds a lot like what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men so that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Paul is saying, Christian, together, without grumbling, questioning— without petty rivalry and disrespect towards the spiritual leaders that I’ve given to you— do what Israel didn’t do. Be the children of God. Be a light to the world.

God, in the Bible, tells us that His purpose is to one day sum up everything under the headship of Jesus Christ, and His strategy to do that is the Church. He intends, by gathering together men and women, and boys and girls from every tribe and tongue and people and nation into his family, his house, his church— to bring all things into subjection to Jesus Christ. And His strategy for us living out a witness to the world is the local church, congregations living in biblical fidelity and faithfulness to the Bible, living together in mutual love and accountability, living out his gospel. This is his plan for witness to the world. That’s His Plan A.

And let me let you in on a little secret— there isn’t a “Plan B.” That’s it. His plan for bringing all things under the headship of Christ is you doing congregationally what Israel failed to do. And that means that the most important thing for the future course of world history that will happen this year will not happen in Washington, D.C. It will not happen in the state capitol or in the city hall. It will happen in our living with one another in our mutual growth and grace, in our joyfully pursuing godliness, and it will be used by God for a witness to a watching world for the salvation of sinners and for the glory of Christ. It’s absolutely mind boggling. God has called us to do what Israel didn’t do. And for that we need His grace.

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