LOOK FORWARD TO THE GLORY OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 APRIL 1995
In my typical fashion of teaching, I would like to begin our Bible message for this morning with a few questions.
Can you see this altar and this pulpit?
Of course you can; but do you have a personal relationship with these objects?
We cannot have a personal relationship with these objects, but only in Him to whom these objects point us, correct?
You can see me, and you can also have a personal relationship with me, but that personal relationship is what we ourselves make it, correct?
But we cannot see and talk to God in the same manner as we do with each other, can we?
Yet, our relationship with God can and should be even stronger than our relationship with each other.
In a parallel example, we can relate much more easily to the present and the past events in our life than we can to the future; for the future contains many unknowns, while the present and the past are something we have experienced.
And because we can relate much more easily to the present and the past than we can to the future, we tend to live our lives only in these two areas.
We can only live in the future by faith and hope, and it is this same faith and hope that is the basis for our personal relationship with the Lord our God.
In Philippians chapter 3, Paul gives us an example of this from his own life. Let's take a look at these verses, beginning at verse 1.
1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
We can't always rejoice in the present because of various problems that confront us.
We also may have trouble rejoicing because of the past that haunts us.
And Paul knows this, too; then why is he calling us to rejoice?
Because Paul's call is not to rejoice in this world, but in the Lord.
To be able to rejoice in the Lord requires us to have a personal relationship with Him, and also to live in the future.
Then Paul warns us of why we have trouble doing this.
2. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
The dogs are not real dogs, but people who bring unclean things and practices into our presence.
In that day, the Jews referred to the Gentiles as "dogs"; thus Paul seems to be using this reference to indicate those Jews and Gentiles, alike, who rejected the message of Jesus Christ, as Paul further explains:
3. for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
4. although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
5. circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
6. as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
What Paul is saying is that his life, before his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, was based upon the Law, which was of the past, with its application in the present.
He never saw the Law pointing toward the future in such a way as he could relate to living in that future.
He had locked himself in a rigid envelope, and anything outside, he considered evil.
God and His grace go way beyond the relatively few things contained in Scripture, a thought which John expressed at the end of His Gospel, 21:24-25.
24. This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true.
25. 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 which were written.
Paul says that he didn't understand these things until he met Jesus Christ, but once He met Him, he began living in the timeless realm of heaven, which contains our future.
His conversion resulted in a change, as should everyone else's.
7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8. 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 in order that I may gain Christ,
9. 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,
10. that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11. in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
This is living in the future and, thus, Paul can rejoice always.
And in his rejoicing he calls upon us, who know Jesus Christ, to let go of the past that troubles us and to live joyously in the future.
It's not that Paul doesn't see all the pain and suffering and sorrow in the world around him.
He all too well knows that its there, as we also know, but he is focusing upon the time when it will all end, and what he can do to bring it to pass.
But we can't stop there, as Paul reminds us.
12. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
If this sounds like double-talk to you, or you don't understand, then you need to call out to Jesus to save you.
You need to put your faith and trust in Him, confess your sins, and ask Him to give you the new life that Paul and this preacher are talking about.
And together, we will press on toward the future higher ground where humans and animals will no longer hurt or destroy in all of God's creation. For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).
Your Comments are welcome
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