This whole passage is an exhortation – an encouragement that builds to the following verse in Philippians 4:1: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” Today I want to also encourage us – yes, to produce an emotional effect on our hearts.
“The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by the impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered.”
1. LOSE EVERYTHING TO GAIN THAT WHICH IS THE MOST VALUABLE
What are you going to give up when you become a Christian? Your girlfriend? Going to the pub? – Everything . . . your whole life.
Not “Are you telling me I will have to give up my girlfriend?” but rather “Are you telling me I will gain Christ?”
God has a way of asking everything of us; then when He has given us Himself we say, “It was no sacrifice” and THEN God gives us so much more in return – Like Job – God gives; God takes away – like Abraham with his son.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? (Matthew 16:24-25)
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-34)
- Two weeks ago two people had their anxieties healed and found they could sleep as a result.
- One week ago God healed someone’s stiff shoulder – what will He do today?
- He is no fool to lose what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose. ~ Jim Elliot.
2. WHAT CHRIST OFFERS – A RIGHTEOUSNESS INFUSION
As important as this is, note that it is not the goal, but rather a means to an end . . . the end is point 3.
3. THE JOURNEY OF KNOWING JESUS
This is striking. God is offering us a relationship. There is a parallel passage to this one which gives us a clue about how we can know Christ. Galatians 3:11-14: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
Thus this relationship is available through God’s Spirit, who we can receive, as well as through the Book – the Book is what we test all experiences by.
WE ARE TO EXPERIENCE God by his Holy Spirit . . .
GOD IS KNOWABLE – He wants to be known and reveals Himself to every open heart. God wants to show His glory. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . .”
In 1 John 1, John elaborates this and says, [that] “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”
Jesus says, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.”
Does our experience of the Spirit mean that it is truly better for us if He is not here?
The Spirit is sent to empower us, to illuminate Scripture to us, to witness to us that we are believers, but all of that is subsumed in this – that we might KNOW GOD.
The relationship is a journey, and thus the challenge is not to feel we have arrived – since even Paul could say he had not!
He wanted us to long for more, but live up to what we have attained . . . .
Don’t say, “Well, I am a Christian,” or “Well, I received the Spirit already.” We need to have a hunger for more – as Spurgeon said:
. . . Does any man know what the Spirit of God can make of him? I believe the greatest, ablest, most faithful, most holy man of God might have been greater, and abler, and more faithful, and more holy, if he had put himself more completely at the Spirit’s disposal. Wherever God has done great things by a man, he has had power to do more had the man been fit for it. We are straitened in ourselves, not in God. O brothers, the church is weak to-day because the Holy Spirit is not upon her members as we could desire him to be. You and I are tottering along like feeble babes, whereas, had we more of the Spirit, we might walk without fainting, run without weariness, and even mount up with wings as eagles. Oh, for more of the anointing of the Holy Ghost whom Christ is prepared to give immeasurably unto us if we will but receive him!
We should be looking for our experiences of God to reflect His awesomeness, holiness, and otherness from us – He is separate from us and there should be a fear about it, yet He is immanent, loving, near to us, full of joy, forgiving and -
A big difference exists between Christians and other religious people. The Christian: God is near not far away, we have a God who has stepped into history to help us rather than merely leaving us rules to obey – He comes to us. Has He come to you?
Has He come to you ever?
Has He come to you lately?
What do you rely on that you know for sure?
Health? No, you might lose that.
Job – the same.
Relationships – the same.
God is sure and will be reliable.
Let’s come to Him ag
SONG: All Once Held Dear