Hold On, Press On

I will be preaching this today at Sovereign Grace CRC-BF Homes,  Paranaque:

Philippians 3:1-21

Hold On, Press On

Outline

  1. 1.     Beware (Phils 3:1-4)
  2. 2.     Loss and Gain (Phils 3:5-11)
  3. 3.     Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:12-16)
  4. 4.     Imitate Me (Phils 3:17-21)

Fallen Condition/ Redemptive Focus:

  1. Instead of on holding onto Christ Jesus Only- tempted to be confident on past achievements, associations, racila background, or even knowledge
  2. Instead of Fear- to venture forth in Faith – in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Intro:

I am now 48 years old…when I was young ..I was converted at UST Hospital with 42 to 43 degrees Centigrad fever and Dengue Fever in 1981..and then I became Calvinist after a year…and even became immediately  embroiled in a controversy with a elder-candidate about his Arminisanism – usually hidden behind a supposed OT Election view…We are branded as trouble makers –and there is a truth to that since we are young and brash then …and sometimes a firebrand –as I am still…

And I thought that I can end my days being a former- disciple by the Vanderbilts, De Young and Kwantes…even a godson in marriage of Pstr Doy Castillo and an ordained ruling elder for 14 years of a Presbyterian church and I can take comfortable life as an engineer of Meralco…but God can turn your life upside down and make you hear Him again amidst the pain and death and sickness-my own. And so I am making up for lost time to help other CRC churches starting with San Pedro CRC…and now I am honored that at least for today I will be here to –I hope –encourage you all.

As a church and as a nation we are in crossroad..and to face so many challenges…and though we are small –we must make choices that will have significant effects on people we still have influence-our family and friends…

The old pestilential errors are still there and now mascarading behind a veneer of good PR image…and we might be lulled to disarming ourselves..though we wish charity for all…we wish true salvation to all…not out of convenience or untruth. We are Reformed so we can serve the greater Evangelical churches and Christians in this time.

  1. 1.     Beware (Phils 3:1-4)

(Phil 3:1 [ESV])

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

 

(Phil 3:2 [ESV])

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

 

(Phil 3:3 [ESV])

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh-

 

(Phil 3:4 [ESV])

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

Sometimes, we –church leaders and pastors must be repetitive..like our fathers..for we are concerned of those under our care and so Paul started at v .1 that these things he will be saying id for their safety…their protection . and what are thesethings?

It is about the Judaizers, the source of our righteousness, what the future holds on , what we the mature ones should be doing ..and how should we see about those who left because of their compromise with the world.

In v2, Paul equate those of the Judaizers with those outside the kingdom…outside the church for he called them dogs, evil workers and mutilators –like that of mention Leviticus 21:15 that the Mosaic led nation was warned about…for they are …more concerned of outward religion instead of what is real in their hearts.

In v3 So Paul defined for us –what Gentiels under Christ…under the New Covenant – not under the Sinai Covenant – we should be.

Slide5

One of my interests is checking on how divergent the theologies of Armstrongism and the Seventh Day Adventist on their preoccupation with Food, Festivals and Laws of the Mosaic Covenant..and sometimes I just smile when Evangelicals and even Reformed Christians try to do what ther are doing .

For the past 10 years there is a new rage from the works of James Dunn and NT Wright aboiut how we Protestants misinterpreted Paul and their contention is that Justification is about the acceptance of Gentiles in the New Covenant of Jesus. That the whole Judaizing heresy is not abut Justification per se but acceptance within the covenant community. There is  truth in their allegations…and that the preoccupation of 1st century Christians with Jewish boundary markers are disloyalty with the Messiah Jesus.

We are no longer defined if we sacrifice at the Temple or that we even make animal sacrifices..nor observance of Sabbaths, Food Laws or the annual Festivals or whatever is related to the Temple sacrifices. For they are shadows..the reality is in Jesus…his Person and Work. Not just Justification but also our sanctification is first and foremost in Jesus and the Holy Spirit He sent to us –starting at Pentecost.

For we the true circumcision..in our hearts…we worship in Spirit and Truth –who was given to us…we take pride in Jesus our Savior and Lord…And we don’t take any confidence in our flesh- our achievements or who we are in this world. We rely only in Jesus. And this is the key chord in the music he will be playing in chapter 3.

  1. 2.     Loss and Gain (Phils 3:5-11)

 

Confidence in the Flesh

(Phil 3:4 [ESV])

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

 

(Phil 3:5 [ESV])

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;

 

(Phil 3:6 [ESV])

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Coram Deo – Alpanay NeH- Before God…words that means –we are actors in a stage..now it depends to whom we are presenting to..our audience . Is it this world?

Or men? For we are here for the One audience we need to please..whether in a jeepney or here infront of you? Do I try to please you my brothers  and sisters or Him who sits on the throne?

In v5 – Paul –tries to stooped to their level –for arguements sake –for He has much to be confident in the flesh…for he was not hastily circumcised when he was already old but since birth –on the 8th day as required by the Law. He is from the Nation of Israel-an Israelite…both of his parents are Jews- Hebrew of Hebrews, from the tribe of Benjamin who remains loyal to Kingdom of Judah and did not secede from it and went to the Northern Kingdom.

Slide7

And as for the Law- in its exacting demands – in ritual purity, Sabbath observation, food laws, and temple sacrifices –he is a member of the strictest sect –Pharisees…the seperated ones- and was mentored by the esteemed Gamaliel. Iand interms of righteousness demanded by Law and the Sacrifices- he is blameless- without fault-

He in fact boasted that his zeal is real –for he pursues the followers of that blasphemer and criminal and accursed Jesus to the ends of the  earth. Not until he encountered the Risen Lord at Damascus and realized that there is an alien righteousness coming from Jesus.

This is what it amounts to- if Law is without Christ Jesus….zeal not according to knowledge..and there are still many in our times who will demand you this or that as if Jesus has not come and died in the cross and was not resurrected from the dead and now at the right hand of God-reigning and interceding for us.

Loss and Gain

(Phil 3:7 [ESV])

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

(Phil 3:8 [ESV])

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

(Phil 3:9 [ESV])

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-

(Phil 3:10 [ESV])

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

(Phil 3:11 [ESV])

that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Slide9

Verses 7 to 11 is interesting from a business point of view..for it speaks of loss (forfeiture) and gain (financial gain) and then even went to the other extreme of considering it or accounting as rubbish- dug- waste given to the dogs.

In v7 he considered all things –yes all things – as loss …and then at v 8 he speaks of gain-assets  because of knowing Jesus Christs- which is to him is of supreme worth –to the next level in our lingua, nothing can compare to it …so that he can have that righteousness that comes from trusting Jesus..and so he continues in v.9 that he wants to experience the powerr of resurection in this life—which comes from his living connection to Jesus. This is not merely Justification but also our sanctification-our Christian living- from day to day.

And then he spoke of something crazy – “and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” – becoming conformed with him.

Thisis possible because Jesus is the 2nd Adam, the Life giving Messiah who gave us the Spirit for this life and the life to come. And this is available to Christians- Jews and Gentiles alike.

So many time during Milenyo, Ondoy and Maring-Habagat our house in San Pedro is inundated by floods-as high as almost waist deep inside in the house –and through the years I had accumulated some books in my mini library…and so many times some lower level books were wet and destroyed…

And last time I know the floods are not abating..and so the Lord called me to surrender them all and rely only upon the basic relationship with Jesus..and so I relented – for thsi is my treasure on earth- the Vanderbilts knows this.

And then He reminded me of a Scripture ..out of context –I think J – of these clause “the cloak and the parchment “ from Paul’s last words to Timothy…and then the flood stopped rising…But I need to surrender all..my knowledge..my treasure …so that I will know this intimate knowledge of Jesus..

And so with my recent bout with my diverticulitis..He might not heal me completely but He wants me to hold onto Him whatever happens.

Salvation is free..because Someone paid for it…but we cannot pretend that we can still do something about it… we must surrender all-consider all things loss…and learn to hold only to Jesus. We must learn to let go . The New Covenant is defined by a newer loyalty.

When Douglas Macarthur came to Japan – it is no longer just the Emperor that people should have loyalties to…it is to the American Caesar or Shogun that they should be loyal to as well … To us it is more – it supplants, it replaces totally our earthly allegiance – No king but Jesus.

During Lord Supper –when we eat the bread and drink the cup..I am reminded of  a scene from a movie- Highlander – starred by Chris Lambert and Sean Connery who belongs to a race called Immortals – there was a scene where Lambert- was sipping the wine and je was remembering what is happening in that year…maybe he reign of a Napoleon ..or his defeat at Waterloo.

What do you remember when you drink the cup- we should remember His death and His resurection –yes and primarily yes…but as those with Him..we must also raise a toast to the goodness of our Lord-through the years…the years of pain of sorrow, of pain, pf our isolation , of being misunderstood- for he stood by our side . And through the joys, the fellowship, the triumphs , the times when we were together as one brethren ..before the dark days when we are now outsiders…For The Lord is good and always to be trusted…in death and resurrection.

Just a digression-have you observe that the death of Jesus for Christians –cannot be divorced or seperated from His resurrection for them? –meaning the intent and extent of His work at the cross is packaged with His Rising form the grave and that this is applicable in totality to Christians…not just Justification but also sanctiifcation.

There is no atonement without a change in life in a person regenerated by the Spirit…we cannot soeak of Jesus dying for all and then deny that His resurerection is only for definite number of people. Itis either all or it is definite –it cannot be both.

Back again- I always felt that sometimes I preach a hard gospel-and it is okay is this will be my first and last invitation to speak here J. For I speak of a gopel that expects the dead i spirit to rise again and hear His voice, A gospel that expects those in prison to sing praises to God, a gospel thatexpects those in pain and in sorrow to endure and trimuph by serving others- not minding the limitations imposed by sickness in us, a gospel to those defeated, hurt by those they love – to rise in victory and by offering his tender mercies to those who failed to remember her anymore. But this is our God.

  1. 3.     Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:12-16)

(Phil 3:12 [ESV])

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

(Phil 3:13 [ESV])

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

(Phil 3:14 [ESV])

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

(Phil 3:15 [ESV])

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

(Phil 3:16 [ESV])

Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 Slide11

We take pride that we are Reformed and that we know more of the ways and mind of our Lord in this world-even before our understanding that there is one consistent way of salvation through  to the ages –as in our Covenant Theology- or that there is a present and future reign of Jesus in Amilinealism , or that a local church or its association should be governed by a Presbyterian church govt., or that God is present even the lives of unbelievers  -even a reprobate –in our doctrine of Common Grace- we are known for the doctrines of Grace – the TULIP-

If we know that there is nothing in us that merits salvation and nothing in us that God has not done before – even before the foundation fo the world without any condition or any any of our foreseen works or faith in us- that He loves us so because of HisLove for His Son- who died and rose and is now reigning King and Priest and will come again  for us –and the world and He sent the Spirit as well sending preachers and sharers of the Gospel –so that our minds can be opened and our spirit be brought to life – and thus we are justified at one time with a faith that He gaves us thru the Word..we take steps to living for His Son..and through ups and downs- we will be sure pf our heavenly inheritance- for not even this world or its god- the devil –nor even us can frustrate the Eternal design and Purpose of the Father of giving a proplr to His Son-Jesus Christ.

If we know this – why then our defeated look..our inaction to share the gospel- to be bold in taking the world again…the elect will be only reach by the spoken Word.We will examine what Paul want us to Hold On and Press On.

From v 12 to 14-Paul addresses those more mature in faith- in the Christian life- He rminded them –that like him- They have not yet actively obtained nor passively was prefected of that perfection before the Lord- but that we must continue to press on knowing more and more of Jesus and his calling to us in this world- we must remember that this a call heavenward –to God –and this is part of being a Christian.  We must remember this as our target for we might forget. It must be our mark- our crossline in our scope.

In our office we have a 3 year goals, annual goals and then the quaterly goals so that we might not lose trackor be distracted.

We must forget our past achievement s – so as to root out pride and be lax or no longer venturing forth.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

And we must strive in all our might- our whole heart, mind and strenght must strive  to lay hold of Jesus as we are held by Him …We must not let go and be bamboozled by fear of defeat or irrelevance.

Others may think otherwise..saying it is time to rest..to be out of the limelight..to lay low… Maturity does teach us-NOT to hug the limelight  BUT instead to be in the forefront- NOT to be succesful…BUT to be faithful to the ONE calling us- everyday…For we have not yet arrived in heaven yet nor we have the resurrection body yet…

We must live consistent lives and not eventually falls by the wayside and forget who we are. Walking the same  rule- same mindset- we continue t serve the One Lord.

There is a tv series of a Chemistry teacher –Mr White –who when he learn he is dying from lung cancer- instead of redressing his life- turn bad- Breakig Bad- instead use his knowledge of chemistry in making high grade shabu and which involves later in the series- murder and so many evils-until he died.

I am reminded of Ka Freddie Aguilar too…sayang…

There is a real danger here..Jesus died sometime AD 30 and Paul will sometime 67AD-and maybe He wrote these epeistles when he was imprisoned around 62 AD. 30 years is a long time –waiting for the Lord to avenge against His old covenamt nation and against the Mighty Roman Empire. And we might also think now also. It is a call to perseverance…Those who ears…hear…

A christian-a true christian should not be eaten by despair and succumbed to the world. If you think otherwise- Paul is confident –that God will reveal-confront  you later of this.

As Spurgeon said here-“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Let us keep all the good that we have received; let us not give up the truth that we have learnt; let us not leave the way along which we have traveled so far; and let us keep together, let perfect unanimity prove that the work of grace is going on in one as well as in another.”

 Slide13

 4.     Imitate Me (Phils 3:17-21)

(Phil 3:17 [ESV])

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

 

(Phil 3:18 [ESV])

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

(Phil 3:19 [ESV])

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

(Phil 3:20 [ESV])

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

(Phil 3:21 [ESV])

who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

 We need heroes in this life…those who we can model our lives…those we can see striving and standing up for compassionand truth..and in V17 Pauls mentioned to them to mirror his life in theirs..As Paul follow Jesus..so should they also follow Jesus and imitate Paul in his stance in the Gospel..and be not scared to submission by the power and those in authorities…

I am glad that my mentor and spiritual father – Ps Maas- hold onto his last breathe as a Christian, pastor and husband to Mom Eloise. With sickness he got from here..he remain –in his weakemed body – as a model for us to the end.

Though there is this display of power in the Empire and then of societal acceptance amongst the Jews- we have our own political order-a commonwealth- a citizenship-not of this world.

And we might be tempted to forsake that of we cannot see..and what might we be then:

V19 Pauls says – weeping and lamenting for those he had once been with – that they became enemies of the cross of Christ. That their stomach or vowels is now their God- they are only following their creaturely needs and desires- this world concerns- food, shelter and what we might call as our needs. We might even hide our base and foul desires with a cloak of religiousity or the mantle of church authority.

Then instead of being  ashamed of our new associations or job or activities – we dull our conscience by saying it is permitted –nay –even desirable…for we can see this in those celebrities who take pride in the sins they put themselves..Charice…Freddie Aguilar…Alcoholics…Gangs who rapes and killed young women…here in Las Pinas or Los Banos or Leyte or Samar…

Our mind are trapped in this earthly existence. And we thought that our hope is here and now-and we must grasp it by our own wisdom and our efforts. Adn we are so wrong….

What would you do?

When the love of a woman had gone cold- will you trun to someone warmer or will you listen to the whiper in your ears –saying  -You are my child…see I love you so taht I gave my one and beloved Son for you..

When your Father –who you have known so many years- is now sick and is now dying and heaving his last breathe – Will you remember –that there is a Ftaher that does not dies nor will leave you nor forsake you as an orphan in this world..

When the brother you seek –was not able to help you in your financial problems..will you remember him who sticks closer than a brother – the Firstborn over Creation -who is always besides you whether you recognize Him or not – in you pain and  sorrow until you win in faith.

Someday these lowly bodies will be transformed- no more be ashamed of our sickness or handicaps. We will be like Jesus glorified bodies. We will use the energy that He will use in His Second comingin subduing the  whole creation and all its rebels- to trasform us.

By then we will no longer live by Faith- but we shall see Him fac-to-face. What would you do now knowing there is still a future for us-a heavenly hope for us?

Conclusion:

  1. We must be in full confidence in the identity we have in Jesus
  2. We must trust not on ourselves or what this world offers- but inly in Jesus
  3. We must act as mature – holding onto what we have learned and yet continue topress on the claims of Lordship in this dying world.
  4. We must remain a people of Hope…That Jesus will come again and with Him we will be resurrected in glory.
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