Monthly Archives: February 2014

False and True Security

This will be the message I will be sharing today-Febuary 23, 2014 to San Pedro CRC:

Philippians 3:1-16

Outline
1. Loss and Gain (Phils 3:1-9)
2. Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:10-16)

Fallen Condition/ Redemptive Focus:
1. We are tempted to be confident on our past achievements, associations, racial background, or even knowledge – instead of on holding onto Christ Jesus Only-
2. Instead of False Security and Insecurities –to venture forth in Faith In Christ – in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Slide2

Intro:
When I was young – I was hoping to enter UP Diliman but since Electrical Engineering was a quota course – I failed –and so I just told my mother that I will enroll anywhere were it is safe to study-since it is still Marcos era –and rallies are everywhere. And so we chose UST, it was no big deal then -1981- but now? After UP, Ateneo or Dela Salle…UST is now a brand name…. Our schools or educational attainment -something to be proud of…

And now in the social media –Facebook or Instagram- we share our experiences –those we can be proud of –instead of being thankful. We are proud of our travels, gadgets, our food, the color of our skin…and for some of their family associations , our surnames, our jobs.

Though it truly defines us…it is wrong to ultimately find our security –eternal and abiding- in them –for they shall all pass and be nothing. One thing will only remain in the end. We will be discussing them now.

1. Loss and Gain (Phils 3:1-9)
(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:

Have you observed –as we grow older –our fathers seems to be repetitive? Either they are saying the same thing becasue it is really important-or we continue to forget or disobey their counsels to them. This repetitiveness springs from our concern of those under our care.

And so Paul started at v .1 that these things he will be saying it for their safety…their protection that he has to say these things again. And what are these things?

It is about the Judaizers, supposed to be Christians still clinging to the past –to their source of their righteousness.

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

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

Slide4

One of my distant relative is an Adventist and she was ostracized for her strange beliefs- very anti-Catholic and even anti-Protestant even. And so 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 like Luther misinterpreted Paul.

Their teaching 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 it is true that the preoccupation of 1st century Christians with Jewish boundary markers is in fact disloyalty to the Messiah Jesus.

Slide6

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 – the chord that resonates in the music of the salvation and taught by Paul in chapter 3.

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.

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.

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. In terms of righteousness demanded by Law and the Sacrifices- he is blameless- without fault! No one can bring an accusation to him before He became a Christian –in terms of outward conformity to the Law.

Slide7

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 seen without what Christ Jesus has done and accomplished in the Cross and His Resurrection …. it is just zeal not according to knowledge.

And there are still many out there who will demand from us to gain and maintain salvation to do this or that. As if Jesus did not die in the cross and was not resurrected from the dead and is now at the right hand of God-reigning and interceding for us.

Gains and Loss

(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-

Slide9

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

In v7 he considered all things –yes all things – as ONE BIG LOSS

and then at v 8 he speaks of gain-asset 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..

2. Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:10-16)
(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.

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

Let us review some views of how we view sufferings:
1. The Catholic view – they inflict lashes on their bodies hoping they can atone or suffer here now in this earth –so they can merit heaven
2. The Muslim jihadist- They inflict pain and death to others-infidels- so that they can merit paradise with so many virgins waiting for them –like Valhalla that of Norse myth.
3. The Prosperity Gospel- health, wealth to the the Christian who have faith- which is the twin opposite of
4. Job/s friends view- all sickness, calamity and poverty can be explained by the lack of faith or the sin of the Christian.
5. Pauline’s view on suffering- in this side of heaven –suffering happens to the Christian who shares and partners in the Gospel- and thus he experience the power of resurrection in this life.

Most often – we try to avoid pain and loss and for good reasons- we have inherent instinct to self-preservation..but not all pain and suffering are evil…sometimes it is for our sanctification, our growth as disciples, our growth in wisdom.

So many times in the past- when I was suspended as an elder without trial nor appeal in the Presbyterian church, when my father died, 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, when my nephew-Nathaniel died of drowning, and then last November’s hospitalization due to diverticulosis-during the Yolanda typhoon.

I have to go through pain, isolation and fears – And I need to surrender all..my knowledge..my treasure …my idea of security – so that I will know this intimate knowledge of Jesus.. That it is still my direct relationship- my bare and naked connection to the Lord –which is more important.

And so with my recent bout with my diverticulitis..and subsequent clearance colonoscopy last January 2014- He wants me to hold onto Him whatever happens. Even when alone in the endoscopy unit.

Salvation is free..because Someone paid for it –for we cannot pay –how much we worked for it…and 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 this 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 all together as one body …For The Lord is good and always to be trusted…in death and resurrection.

The death of Jesus for Christians –cannot be divorced or separated from His resurrection. The meaning the intent and extent of His work at the cross is packaged with His Rising from the grave and that this is applicable in totality to Christians…not just Justification but also sanctiifcation.

It is not only the penalty of sin we escaped from –but now in our lives we should experience and expects deliverance as well from the power of sin –and then in the end –its presence as well! Great is the Lord Jesus Christ.

(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.

Sometimes we take pride in what we know or how we are called – like we are Reformed or Pentecostal or Baptist or Fundamentalist – and that we know more of the ways and mind of our Lord in this world.

Slide12

We have undergo in the past –trainings and seminars and so many activities –and we take pride that we are part of the inner circle of a local church –and as time goes on – we no longer grow or sympathize with those new believer being drawn by the Lord to our church- we stopped sharing and discipling others in the basic of the Faith.

We also no longer take risks for the faith or in reaching out others- “been there-done that before” and so instead of stretching out for the faith and discipling others for the Lord- we stopped growing and we turn inside our cocoon and hide in our shells.

From v 12 to 14-Paul addresses those more mature in faith- in the Christian life- He reminded them –that like him- They have not yet actively obtained nor passively was perfected yet.

Like an athlete- or our lone Sochi delegate –Michael Christian Martinez -there is growth as sons and disciples – 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 achievements – 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 bullied by our 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 to NOT be hugging the forefront- to be succesful merely in the eyes of the world ..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 to serve the One Lord.

Slide13

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.

There is a real danger here..Jesus died sometime AD 30 and Paul will also die by 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 covenant nation and against the Mighty Roman Empire. And we might also think now also-which is more than 2000 years ago since Jesus –physically left this earth.

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.”

What would you do?
When the love had gone cold- will you run to someone warmer or will you listen to the whisper in your ears –saying -You are my child…see I love you so that I gave my one and beloved Son for you..Don’t be lonely –for I am with you …always…
When your the one 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 Father that will leave you nor forsake you as an orphan in this world?
Someday these lowly bodies will be transformed- no more be ashamed of our sickness or diseases. We will be like Jesus glorified bodies. We will use the energy that He will use in His Second coming in subduing the whole creation to trasform us.
By then we will no longer live by Faith- but we shall see Him face-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 only in Jesus
3. We must act as mature – holding onto what we have learned and yet continue to press 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.
Tomorrow when we arises from our sleep and go to work, school or stay in our neighborhood –this perspective- positive, confident and yet humble before God – be our guide as we talk to other persons, neighbors..let us express and spread that there is hope beyond this world –this space and time- and let us point to the person who makes it all possible- the Lord Jesus Christ.

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