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It's Always the Gospel

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:31
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Paul reinforces that the Christian life is not just a one time choice and that is the end, but rather a continuous dying to self-confidence in favor of reliance on Christ

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Introduction

Greeting
Barry Sanders retiring in 1998
He seemed to have it all - an uncanny ability to escape defenses, the power to run between the tackles
He was 1,457 yards shy of breaking Walter Payton’s all time NFL rushing record.
He averaged over 1,500 yards per season
But he left it all behind without explanation
In a recent documentary he admitted that if the Lions had seemed to have a future as a winning franchise he probably would have stayed
He traded in his career - not for something better, but just because
In Paul gives us a view into his life and into what it was like to have it all
He had the benefits of the right birth - circumcised on the eighth day, into the nation of Israel, into the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews
He’d made the right choices as an adult - becoming a Pharisee (the epitome of the Jewish religious system), persecuting the church out of zeal for the righteousness found under the Law, blameless as to that righteousness
And yet he walked away from all of that
Not inexplicably - like Barry Sanders - but for reasons that he says in verse 7
Philippians 3:7 NASB95
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
All of those items that Paul had counted as of import to him and his righteous standing before God were actually worthless - impeding his ability to measure up to God’s standards
He counted them all as loss for the sake of Christ
In the encounter on the road to Damascus he encountered the source of true righteousness and his life was forever changed
This week we’re going to see how Paul deepens the explanation of this concept of gain and loss
The slide background that I’ve chosen this week contain images of the Aurora Borealis
This was purposeful because we are going to ascend into the heights of Christian doctrine this week
In a brief three verses Paul is going to give the most concise statement of the Christian life in all of Scripture
Even though these are weighty doctrines, Paul delivers them is such a way that we could almost miss the depth of his teaching
It is eminently practical in explanation and personal in nature
This is the only passage in all of Paul’s letters where he refers to Christ Jesus as “my Lord”
He will call everything rubbish - dung for the sake of knowing Christ
He will give us a picture of justification through Christ
He will give us a picture of sanctification through Christ
Lastly, he will give us a picture of glorification through Christ
With that outline in mind, lets read
Read
Pray

It is all Rubbish

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Philippians 3:8 NASB95
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
In this one verse Paul drives a stake deep into the heart of the notions of the carnal Christian and the doctrine of infused righteousness
Philippians 3:7 NASB95
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
In verse 7 he says “those things i have counted” - this is the perfect tense of the verb meaning that the action is completed
In verse 7 he says “those things i have counted” - this is the perfect tense of the verb meaning that the action is completed
Anything he had counted as gain prior to that moment in time he had counted as loss
Here in verse 8 he says I count - the same verb translated in the present tense - meaning and ongoing action
Anything that he could do now or ever would do he would continue to consider as a loss - he recognizes that he brings nothing to the table in order to gain his righteousness

all the meritorious works that Paul had counted on to earn God’s favor, and any that he might do in the present or future, are but loss.

All the meritorious works that Paul had counted on to earn God’s favor, and any that he might do in the present or future, are but loss.
This is an attitude that is all too sorely missing in churches today.
We will go forward at altar calls and pray a prayer thinking that one moment in time makes us right
but with no real change in our lifestyle that demonstrates any real effect such as Paul demonstrates here
We approach the Gospel as a ticket to be punched and then think we keep ourselves saved by doing good works or attending church or reading our Bibles
Mind you these are good practices and ones that we should certainly practice
But they cannot save us - only in counting what we would consider our most righteous acts losses and relying solely on the blood of Christ can we be saved
Paul is saying that none of those things ever counted for righteousness and they are never going to count for righteousness
He’s saying that we cannot rely on ourselves - that we have to vigilantly kill our own tendency to revert back to our own efforts for salvation
In Paul discusses the duality of natures that lie within the heart of man after being saved
I think this tendency to rely on our own efforts for our salvation is built in to what he writes in
Romans 7:15–16 NASB95
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
And again in
After we become Christians our fervent desire is to rely on Christ and serve Him alone
And yet we consistently try to justify ourselves through our own strength and our own actions
And again in Paul says
Romans 7:18–20 NASB95
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Romans 7:18–19 NASB95
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
It is Paul’s perspective that helps him maintain his view of the cross and the power of the God-man who hung on it
He counts all things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus “my Lord”
Calls to mind the parables of Jesus found in
Matthew 13:44 NASB95
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:45–46 NASB95
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
:
This knowledge is far more than just an intellectual knowing or assent to the truths of who Christ is.
It speaks of the intimate relationship that a believer can have with our Lord.
John 10:14 NASB95
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
John 17:3 NASB95
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Christ says that the very essence of eternal life is to know the one true God and to know Jesus Christ.
Like the characters in both of Christ’s parables Paul would have had to give up everything for the sake of the call of Christ
He likely would have been disowned by his family
The Pharisees (his former colleagues) immediately sought to kill him following his conversion
Acts 9:23–25 NASB95
When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.
Acts 9:
He had been severely persecuted throughout his journeys
2 Corinthians 11:23 NASB95
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
2 corinthians 11:
He goes on to enumerate other perils
2 Corinthians 11:24–28 NASB95
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
Yet he still considers everything to be loss - even to the extent of calling all things dung so that he might gain Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:24-
This is literally to call all of his own attempts at righteousness putrid, rotting flesh - something to be thrown to the dogs
Isaiah 64:6 NASB95
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
For Paul the prospect of what he could gain through Christ was worth far more than anything he had experienced through his own efforts.
Though he had felt justified by his own legalistic actions - through Christ he actually would be justified.
Though he thought all of his righteous acts would bring him favor with God and closer to God - through Christ he actually could gain favor and grow closer to God (sanctification).
Though he thought all of his efforts would lead him to glorification - only through Christ could he truly attain the glory of a Christian’s resurrection.
Now Paul will turn his attention to each of these “gains” that could only be found in and through Christ

Justification

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Philippians 3:9 NASB95
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
The concept of being found in Him is a distinctly Pauline expression
Galatians 2:20 NASB95
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
This is an important concept for modern Christians to grasp.
- the fact that if we’ve been saved we have a new identity that is wrapped up in the person of Christ and the fact that we are His.
We confuse our roles with our identities - allowing the role that we fill to consume our identity.
Too often we confuse our roles with our identities - allowing the role that we fill to consume our identity
If I ever write a book I think it’s going to be on the identity crisis the modern church is facing
We fill roles in the body - mine would be as a husband, a father, a pastor - but all of those will fade when Christ returns
At that time I’ll only be a son of the Living God - my true identity
Colossians 3:3 NASB95
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
We need to learn how to move through our roles but live in our identity
Paul revisits the idea that we have no righteousness of our own making by adhering to the requirements of the Law
Romans 3:19–20 NASB95
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Galatians 2:16 NASB95
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Galatians 2:16 NASB95
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
The Law can only bring the knowledge of sin and condemnation - and any attempts to gain righteousness through adherence to the Law are futile
Righteousness can only be found in one place - through faith in Christ Jesus
“faith,” in its strictest sense, therefore, is not intellectual assent to a series of propositions about Christ but the act of personal trust in and self-surrender to Christ.
Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, vol. 43, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2004), 195.
“Faith,” in its strictest sense, therefore, is not intellectual assent to a series of propositions about Christ but the act of personal trust in and self-surrender to Christ.
The righteousness Paul is speaking of here is not one based on the faithfulness or loyalty of Christ to the Father in carrying out His plan of redemption
It is a righteousness found in God Himself and given to a person to be appropriated through faith in Christ
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB95
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NASB95
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
This faith does have requirements - in that we now keep the Law and do good works not out of an effort to justify ourselves but out of allegiance and gratitude to the justifier
Ephesians 2:10 NASB95
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
In this one verse Paul describes the entire doctrine of Justification:
Man is alienated from a relationship with God.
Man cannot do anything to restore this relationship through his own efforts.
God had to take the initiative to restore man’s relationship with Him.
God demonstrates His initiative through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
His initiative must be met with a human response - placing one’s faith in Christ for His righteousness.
Now Paul turns his mind towards Sanctification - the process by which we become more like Christ

Sanctification

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Philippians 3:10 NASB95
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
John 17:3 NASB95
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Philippians 3:10
The greatest passion of Paul’s life after his conversion was to know Christ more
It is an inexhaustible subject
John 21:25 NASB95
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:2

The purpose of life in Christ is personal, intimate knowledge of Christ.

The purpose of life in Christ is personal, intimate knowledge of Christ.
For Paul there were two avenues through which he could gain a greater knowledge of Christ
the power of His resurrection
the fellowship of His sufferings
These are really two sides of the same coin - it is impossible to experience the power of His resurrection without participating in the fellowship of His sufferings
Luke 9:23 NASB95
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Luke 14:27 NASB95
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Knowing Him in the power of His resurrection more than just knowing that Christ lived as a physical human being but recognizing Him as the risen, living Lord and Savior.
2 Corinthians 5:16 NASB95
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
We know Him:
a. as the sovereign Lord risen from the dead.
b. as the Lion of Judah and yet the Lamb who appears to have been slain.
c. as the Alpha and Omega.
d. as the figure of Revelations 1 walking through the lampstands of His churches tending to their needs.
To know Him in His resurrection also means to know the freedom from sin that the resurrection purchased
Romans 6:4 NASB95
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
2 Corinthians 4:6 NASB95
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
This passage in Romans specifically explains that not only are we freed from sin through Christ’s resurrection but that we walk in a newness of life - the sanctification of the Christian experience
Sometimes though sanctification can be hard
It is often the pruning away of dead or decaying branches that would cause our Christian life to be less than pleasing
Hebrews 12:5–6 NASB95
and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
Hebrews
Hebrews 12:7 NASB95
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Yet we can also suffer for our association with Christ
John 15:18 NASB95
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
John
In our spiritual disappointments, in our frustrations, in our struggles with the flesh and with the powers of darkness - we can rest knowing that no trials come into the lives of those who are not being conformed into the image of Christ

The stinging reality of Christian suffering is our reminder that we have been united with Christ.

And the great promise of our sanctification is that one day it will culminate in our glorification
Romans 8:17 NASB95
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Glorification

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Philippians 3:11 NASB95
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Some translations render this verse as “if by any means” or by “any means possible”.
leaving open the view that it is possible to not attain to the resurrection from the dead
This could not be further from Paul’s mind
For Paul the glorification of the Christian is never an issue for doubt.
Romans 8:38–39 NASB95
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:
Paul is anticipating his next statements (which we will look at next week) and looks with fond anticipation toward that day when he will attain the resurrection from the dead.
Ignatius of Antioch said:
300 Quotations for Preachers “Let Me Attain to Jesus Christ”

Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Look with me again at how deeply Christological this passage is - for Paul it is always about Christ.
The great passion of his life was to know and to glorify Christ
Philippians 3:8–11 NASB95
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:8–11 NASB95
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Is that the great passion of your life tonight? Is it to know Him more, to know His power in your life?
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