A Gospel Worthy Of Your Life
Pressing on to the goal of the Gospel – Phil 3:12-21, 4:4-7
- Forgetting what’s behind and pressing forward
Phil 3:12-14 ” 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. 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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The concept of forgiving oneself is popularized by many Christian authors. Though the concept sounds biblical, there is actually no bible support for it. As faithful evangelicals, we are called to speak the truth and not to add to or teach what is not given in the Bible.
God has laid hold of the apostle Paul and God has set him free. However, he is ashamed of his past. He remembered how as a zealot, he persecuted the Christians, how he approved the stoning of Stephen to his death and how he was an enemy of God. But now he belongs to Christ. It is not that he has reached the goal or become a perfect Christian, but this one thing he will do – forget what is behind him (his putrefying pride, murderous heart and misguided zeal), and press forward towards the goal to win the prize of the high calling God in Christ Jesus.
There are many spiritual battles we face in the Christian life. It is sad indeed if our affections are set on small things (our career, possessions, success, influence or power) instead of on Christ. It is sad indeed if we will not see ourselves through the eyes of God, if we will not walk away from our past and if we will not believe in what God has said. Be like the apostle Paul – what is behind, will be left behind. God has dealt with it on the Cross.
2. Christ has forgiven you all trespasses
Col 2:13-15 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
The apostle Paul emphasizes in Col 2:13 that God has forgiven you all trespasses. He has dealt with all our sins on the cross of Jesus Christ. He mentions that the ordinances (certificate of debt or prison sentence) against us has been crossed out and paid in full when Christ shouted “It is finished” on the cross. Christ paid for all our trespasses on the cross. He spoiled principalities and powers and triumphed over them.
Satan is a liar. He wants us to live in our shame and our past. The only effective way to deal with our past is to nail it to the cross of Christ. The truth is that we really do not have enough time to unravel our past, our hurts, our sins etc. We cannot possibly do it except through the cross.
3. There is no condemnation in Christ
Rom 8:1-4 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
In the above passage, there is the contrast between law and grace. The law says “Do, do, do,” while grace exclaims “It is done!” There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus and who walk in the spirit. What is past is past and what is behind is behind. You cannot put down your past in your own effort; however, Christ has done it for you. You are what God says you are.
4. God works with you in all circumstances
Phil 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord alway:and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The command to us is to rejoice in the Lord. It is a call to rejoice even in pain and suffering. The Lord is at hand. He is with us in all things and in all circumstances. We are not to be anxious but to be patient. We are to pray for all our needs and in everything. Supplication refers to the deepest needs of our souls, our battles in life and the cries of our hearts – we are to bring all these to the heavenly Father. We come to Him with the attitude of thanksgiving. And the peace of God shall guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We live in a fallen and broken world. When we meet with adversities, we hope for two things – (1) the desire for deliverance from the pain or suffering and (2) the desire to understand the reason for such pain or suffering. But God is sovereign. He is often silent but it does not mean He is absent from us. For the apostle Paul, the presence of God with him in the flame of trials or pressures in life is a bigger answer to his hope than deliverance. Remember Daniel’s three friends who went through the fiery furnace, seeking neither for deliverance nor understanding God’s will, but simply obeying God. Remember what King Nebuchadnezzar saw “… four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Dan 3:25)” The presence of the God with us in all circumstances is the answer we need to face all trials and difficulties of life.
5. God shall supply all our needs
Phil 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The apostle Paul has learnt to be content in whatever state he is in. Contentment is having the settled peace of God in all circumstances. Three times in the Bible, it is mentioned that God’s will for handling money is contentment. The presence of strife, pride and personal issues disturb the peace of the church and distract us from sharing the Gospel. They steal away our freedom to serve the Lord.
In verse 19, Paul affirms that “..my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We need to ” seek ..first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness… (Mt 6:33)”Let us seek His kingdom and be completely confident that He will help us. He gives us the peace and freedom to do His will. Let us press on to the goal of the Gospel by His grace. Amen.
Summary of Rev Bill Mill’s last thematic message by Elder SimCheeSeng.
New Life BP Church Camp, 12-15 June 2013 at Bayou Lagoon Park Resort, Melaka, Malaysia.