Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Philippians 3:15-17 (L32)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

                  Established November 2008                                      Published:  September 15, 2019                                              
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). 

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Let’s begin with a brief review of last week’s lesson.

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 (Philippians 3:13-14).

Paul’s desired to “forget those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” and his commands to “stand,” “walk,” and “run” our individual races remembering to keep our eyes focused on the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Paul’s goal in life was to know Christ intimately.  He desired to be all he could be, as God’s called apostle to the gentiles.  He strived to be counted faithful in all things related to “the revelation of the mystery” as long as life remained in his mortal body (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-3).

Before we pick up our Bible lesson from that point, I want to remind everyone we live in an imperfect world.  There is no area of concern in this world that Satan has not corrupted, and the churches or religions in existence today are included.  Not every church leader is looking out for your best interest or for your edification and that’s because greed (or covetousness) often disrupts the process, whatever form that takes. 

Therefore, please be aware when it comes to doing the Lord’s work, not every speaker behind the pulpit or in front of it is genuinely concerned about your spiritual welfare.  So it is invigorating when we come across a spiritual leader such as our Apostle Paul, who was sincerely concerned about all those God had entrusted to his care.  Thus, Paul has been divinely appointed as a pattern for all Believers to follow in both what he taught and the manner in which he lived his life.  We know this because of His encouraging statement to the Philippians in verse 3:17:  be followers of me…”

I have another Bible verse to show you with a similar message.  Please turn to 1 Timothy 1:15-16:  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (an example; a pattern or model for imitation).

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That verse is an ideal segue to today’s study.  Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:15-17.

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample (a pattern to imitate).”

“…as many as be perfect,” - it is important to understand the context of this Bible verse.  If you have believed Paul’s gospel, you are a saved individual, in Christ; therefore, you are perfect or complete, positionally speaking, in Him.  Let’s look at a similar message in Colossians:  And ye are complete in Him” (Christ Jesus) 2:10.  

If death were to claim you this very day, the real you (your soul and spirit), would be ushered instantaneously into the presence of God:  For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

God sees the true Believer as a perfect individual in Christ, not because of something they did or didn’t do, but on the basis of their expressed faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

While it is true each member of the Body of Christ is perfect, on this side of glory we still possess a sin nature; consequently, we will never reach a state of perfection.  But even though we will never fully realize it, like Paul, we are to strive toward this goal (mark) as long as there is breath in our bodies, and we’re to continue growing in knowledge of the Lord daily.  Paul had this thought in mind back in Philippians 3:12:

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.” 

Although Paul knew he would fall far short of reaching a state of complete spiritual maturity in this life, he still “pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  

When Paul stated “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded…” (3:15), he is in no way contradicting himself with regard to what he said in verse 3:12.  He is simply saying that, even though he was far from his intended goal, he was a mature Believer due to the fact he consistently applied the grace of God in his life and when Paul realized he had a long way to go to obtain that goal demonstrates his spiritual maturity.  Warren Wiersbe remarks on this teaching point: 

The dual use of the word ‘perfect’ in verses 12 and 15 explains his [Paul’s] thinking.  He has not arrived yet at perfection (vs. 12), but he is ‘perfect’ [mature] (vs. 15), and one mark of this maturity is the knowledge that he is not perfect!  The mature Christian honestly evaluates himself and strives to do better.”

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded, and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (3:15)

One of the marks of a mature Believer is that they have “the mind of Christ.”  This theme is found in Philippians 2:3-5.  We Believers are to be like-minded as we strive toward the goal of “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  However, some of the folks at Philippi had changed course, having disagreed with some of Pau’s instructions.  In doing so, they failed to follow after his pattern or example.  Although these Believers were possibly sincere, they were sincerely wrong in their thinking.  Consequently, Paul chose to leave this matter to the Lord – “and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Let’s look at verses 3:16-17:

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample (a pattern to imitate). 

Paul used three words in this Bible passage to help us walk in the right direction, so we don’t lose our way.  First, the word “rule” in Koine Greek means a standard, which in this case has the idea of a standard of faith and practice.  Next, “followers together denotes a co-imitator.  Thirdly, the term “ensample” means a type or pattern. 

When we put all of this together we learn Paul is God’s ordained pattern who received from the glorified, risen Lord, the standard of faith for today embodied in the teachings of grace.  Thus, we are to be imitators of Paul, his teachings, and his manner of life.

The verb “be followers” in verse 17 is not a suggestion it is a command of God to every member of the Body of Christ and they are to “conform” (Romans 12:1-2).  This is why Paul instructs these Believers (and us) to “mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”  In other words, we are to mark, (study closely) or observe the lives of other Believers to see if their daily walk with the Lord is according to Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16).  

I feel the need to insert a for instance here, so here goes.  If you heard a church leader say you are to follow Jesus’ marching orders as they pertain to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), it is obvious he or she has rejected or is unaware of Paul’s apostleship and special revelation.  While it’s true we owe other members of the Body of Christ their due respect, we are not required to place ourselves under their unsound teachings or realm of influence for they are “enemies of the cross” (3:18).

We’ll stop here for now and pick this up when next we meet.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Announcements September 14, 2019

I thank y'all for your faithful attentiveness to God's command to rightly divide the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15).  I am also grateful for your tenacity or your "persistence in purpose" in regard to this Bible study.  My personal problems (medical in nature) do not permit me to keep pace with regular publications of these Bible lessons, and I regret this deeply.  I fully intend to recover from this medical condition, in time, and pick up where we left off.

Please continue to pray for that recovery and for all the saints, in Christ Jesus.

GJ Heitzman  

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Philippians 3:13-14 (L 31)




Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

            Established November 2008                                                    Published:  September 1, 2019                                                  
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

*****
Welcome to HBS where the Light of truth is always on.  
I thank y’all for you patience and for your faithful attendance.

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  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 ” (3:11-12).

Our Apostle Paul was a new creature, in Christ Jesus, and had dedicated his life in service to the risen Lord, yet freely admits he had not attained to fully walking in the newness of life, as much as he desired to do (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This is an astounding statement coming from God’s called apostle (Romans 1:1-6).  Not long after his conversion we find Paul “filled with the Spirit” and preaching “Jesus is the Christ” to his countrymen in the Jewish synagogue in Damascus.   He received his special revelation from the risen Lord directly (Galatians 1:12).  He had been caught up to the third heaven “and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4) etc.  So, if Paul believed he had a long way to go to attain unto the resurrection of the dead, what does this say about our walk with the Lord?  Food for thought (See Ephesians 4).

Then Paul adds this statement “either were already perfect” (3:12a).   Here Paul used the term “perfect,” and in Colossians 1:12 he said we are complete in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:12), however, neither Paul nor we will reach perfection on this side of glory.  However, this should be the goal of every Believer, in Christ Jesus.  

So, this is what Paul meant when he said, “but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”  Last week I pointed out the term “apprehend” conveys the idea of seizing someone or something.  A police officer seizes the crime suspect for instance.  Paul desired to seize everything the Lord had for him to accomplish in this life, not to make a name for himself, but to bring honor and glory to God.  He sought to live up to every expectation the risen, glorified Lord had for him, as long as there was breath in his body.  He intended to fulfill his God-given responsibility as the apostle to the gentiles to make Christ Jesus known according to “the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-3).  In other words, the searchable riches of Christ were committed to the nation of Israel (Luke 24:25-27), but to Paul was committed the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?  for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 
(Acts 21:13)

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

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Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:13-14.

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 better, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Paul lets the Philippians know he has not yet attained his objective mentioned in 3:10-11.  That goal is to know Christ Jesus and all that is included in this knowledge, i.e. experiencing the power of His resurrection, sharing in His sufferings, and being made conformable to His death. 

Although Paul admitted to not having attained these goals, as yet, he obviously understood the importance of forgetting those things that were behind and pressed on toward the mark (or the prize - See 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7).  Said, differently, Paul didn’t dwell on those past successes or the failures.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.  Permit me to illustrate:  most cars or trucks I’m aware of have a rear-view mirror up front.  This is a useful driving tool.  By occasionally viewing the traffic behind us we can maneuver safely toward our destination.  So, we look back in order to move forward.  But what would happen if you focused solely on what’s going on in your rear-view mirror?  Is it possible to move forward if you’re overly focused on the traffic behind you?  I’m thinking not so much, and if you are, I prefer not to be behind you in that lane. 

So, “Forgetting those things which are behind” (in the past) means to remove them from your mind’s eye, instead of revisiting them or possibly parking on them, such as when Paul wrongly persecuted and wastedthe church of God” (ekklesia; a called-out assembly).    

For ye have heard of my conversation (behavior) in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the (religious) traditions of my fathers (Galatians 1:13-14).

Paul exercised wisdom when he chose not to dwell on those things “behind him” (see 3:5-6).  He understood to do so would hinder his enthusiasm and his labor for the Lord would suffer.  Plainly said, our Apostle Paul did not want to run his race in vain:

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Philippians 2:16).

So, Paul didn’t live in the past.  He didn’t permit those things to “puff him up,” or weigh him down, which they are prone to do.  Paul garnered wisdom from yesteryear and put it to good use, but he did not allow those things to alter his present course.  We know this because of his statement in 3:14:  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.    

The word “press” means to urge or strain in motion; to urge forward with force. 

The word “mark” means any object used as a guide, or to which the mind may be directed, which in this instance is “the prize of the high calling (or his vocation as it pertains to being entrusted with the Word) of God in Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 7:20).

In his letters to the grace churches, Paul described the true Believer’s life as “as “a stand,” “a walk, and “a race.”  They are not the same thing.  Many Believers have taken “a stand” for Christ Jesus.  They are truly saved, having believed Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16), and some of these folks actually experience, in some measure, the joy and assurance of salvation.  However, their daily “walk” (or their behavior) causes people around them to stumble.  Their ineffective walk actually hinders the gospel of grace:

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way (Romans 14:13). 

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (1 Corinthians 10:31-32).

Other folks in turn have learned “to walk” as saved Believers, living consistent, godly lives, but they don’t put enough effort into it so that it might be said of them they are “running” their individual races.  This is usually because they are ignorant of Paul’s exhortation to “run your race so as to win the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24), or they simply don’t view their new life in Christ as a race.

Standing Firm

By God’s grace we’re required to “stand,” to “walk,” and “run” our individual races so as to bring honor and glory to God.  We comply with these commands of God because of His free gift of grace and because of everything the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  Christ Jesus’s righteousness is imputed to everyone who believes the gospel of grace, and He lives in the saved individual (Romans 8:10-20).  Paul told the Believers in Ephesus “we have been accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), and in Colossians 2:9-10 said, “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him.”

Some people preach and teach the necessity of adding good works to God’s free gift of grace.  In doing so, these folks are saying “you are not complete in Him; work for it.”  Since God sees the Believer in Christ Jesus as “complete” let us take our “stand” for the Truth. 

But let us also “stand” for the faith.  In I Corinthians 16:13 our apostle goes a step farther in saying: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  It is good to know God accepts us “in the Beloved” and to take our “stand” in Christ, but it is also good to know why we’re to be “established in the faith,” to have “the full assurance of understanding.”  By “the faith,” of course, is meant the gospel of grace, the various related church doctrines, and the commands of the Lord in this dispensation, as revealed to Paul (1 Corinthians 14:37).  This information is only found in Romans thru Philemon or Paul’s epistles.  

In addition, you must bear in mind when Paul speaks of “the faith” he refers, not to the message of John the Baptist  (Matthew 3:1), of Christ on earth (Matthew 10:5-7), or Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38), but to “the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Galatians 3:23) - the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), which he calls elsewhere “my gospel” (Rom. 16:25), and “the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me” (2 Timothy 1:13).  It is the message of the Lord’s finished work of the cross, “which had been kept hidden in the mind of God since the foundations of the earth,” until the mystery (secret) was revealed to Saul of Tarsus (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26).  Satan and the world-at-large vehemently oppose Paul’s gospel of grace.  But all Believers are to stand for “the one faith.”

We are to “stand” fast in the fight as well.  Paul remarks on this in Philippians 1:27:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Believe this, wherever you “stand” for “the faith” you can expect a fight.  Satan will see to that.  So many of God’s people fail to realize this.  In fact, in the news recently I read where one of the Pope’s cardinals recently said, “Satan doesn’t exist, he’s just a symbol.”  One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is getting the world to believe he does not exist, and people like this Catholic cardinal are not only assisting him in this lie, they deny the truth of God.  Be advised Satan is not only real he’s your greatest adversary, if you are a child of God.  If not, Satan has you right where he wants you!

People generally accept God’s love and grace, but cringe and draw back when called upon “to stand fast,” as the spiritual battle unfolds around them.  They do not seem to realize or accept the fact God has committed to us His most precious treasure; the most glorious message ever proclaimed on earth, that is, Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), in which each Believer is called to “stand fast.”  Every Believer is obligated to guard and defend the gospel of grace.  Case in point our Apostle Paul confronted the Believers in Galatia because they were turning away from his gospel to “another gospel,” which included keeping the Law of Moses.  In plain language he wrote:  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 Corinthians 11:14).

Then, Paul had this message for the church at Corinth:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).

This treasure” Paul referred to is the light of the gospel of grace and God’s Church Age truths.  As children of Light, we are to stand firm in the midst of the fight, not surrendering an inch of spiritual ground to those who would distort or pervert the gospel of grace and the Grace Age Doctrines (Galatians 2:1-10; Ephesians 5:8). 

Satan’s infiltration of the churches have caused some people to adulterate, and deny the power of the gospel of grace (Romans 1:15-16), and there isn’t so much as a whimper from those in the pews.  In choosing to remain silent re: this vital matter reveals they prefer peace over conflict or ignorance over knowledge.   My friends Satan isn’t interested in your peace or anyone else’s.  We know this because our Apostle Paul encouraged every true Believer to “put on the full armor of God” each day in preparation for the fight:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to (do what) stand” (See Ephesians 6:10-18).

To the Philippians Paul wrote:


“And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.   What then?  notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:14-18).

We’re not to be “timid” when it comes to defending the gospel that saves today.  Young Timothy, Paul’s protégé, was an anxious/nervous individual and suffered stomach ailments because of it.  Paul addressed this concern in 2 Timothy 1:8:

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”

In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul exhorted Timothy to “Fight the good fight of (the) faith” and in  

2 Timothy 2:3 Paul told him to “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” We are all soldiers for Christ as this church hymn from yesteryear clearly indicates:    

Am I a solider of the Cross

Am I a soldier of the Cross – 
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?

In the name, the precious name,
Of Him who died for me,
Through grace I’ll win the promised crown,
Whate’er my cross may be.

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Since I must fight if I would reign,
Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Surely in this “present evil age” we must not withdraw from the fight of faith, but instead stand our ground, shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight, as it were, for the faith having “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Walking Worthy

The Believer’s life in Christ is not just a “stand” it is also a “walk.”  The epistles of Paul 
have much to say about the Believer’s walk, or how they conduct themselves as a “new creature, in Christ.”  Are you aware it’s possible to identify an individual’s father by their walk?  It’s a well-known fact young boys desire to imitate their fathers, i.e. their characteristics and mannerisms.  For instance, when I was very young, I put on my father’s shoes and flip-flopped around the house in them pretending to smoke a cigarette.  I learned many things from my father not all of them good.  I learned my first curse words from him.  I didn’t use them in the house but when I was out and about I pulled a “curse card” and used it whenever I could.  The other boys were awestruck by it and it made me feel older than I was.  I also acquired the habit of smoking cigarettes from my dad – same reason.

So, in a sense, Paul’s telling all Believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and walk (live their lives) so that the people they encounter each day will see Jesus Christ in them.  So, in plain language, we walk as adopted children of God and not as children of darkness (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5):

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13-13-14).

I think the reason why we do this is obvious, but I have no problem citing why this is so.  Our stand for the truth will mean little if our conduct is not in harmony with our testimony.  Walking differently in Ephesians 2:1-2 the apostle reminds us that we were once “dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked...  But in Romans 6:4 he said we have been raised to “walk in newness of life.”  So, there should be a radical change in our conduct and the way we think after our conversion. 

It is true that we are not saved by good works, no matter how many you perform, but it is equally true that we have been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:10). 

Then in his letter to the Galatians Paul wrote:  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).  This includes walkingby faith,” in love - “not after the flesh.” 

Then in Colossians 1:10 Paul said, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We have been accepted, in Him, given a position, in Him, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, in Him.  Surely it should be our constant prayer and desire to walk worthy of Him (Ephesians 4:1, 5:15-17; Colossians 1:9, 4:5, 12).  

Running Your Race

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). 

If you run for exercise, then you’re already aware running takes more energy than walking especially if you’re running a race.  In the Bible passage above the writer of Hebrews is referring to a marathon race and not a 100 yd dash, so Paul trained his body, accordingly:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (rejected, useless, of no value). 
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

In the Bible passage below Paul encourages the Philippians to be “blameless and harmless,” that is, above reproach because they are saved sons and daughters of God (2 Corinthians 6:18):

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life (the gospel of grace); that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Philippians 2:13-16).

Paul wanted every Believer to understand this new life in Christ is more than a stand and a walk it is also a race.  May we include in each one of our prayers the desire to cover as much spiritual ground, to accomplish as much as humanly possible, in the little time that we have and give God the glory:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:15-18).

Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, who was more than just a Man, we surely have no better example to follow than the Apostle Paul himself (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Speaking of “attaining to the resurrection of the dead,” i.e. knowing the power of His resurrection Paul said:  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting these things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, “I press toward the mark (strain toward the goal) for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

The Goal

This advice is important to all those who are positioned in Christ.  When a contestant in a race is foolish enough to look back or even to allow his or her mind to drift away from the goal, this distraction causes their speed to be reduced because they are no longer pressing toward the mark.  What’s more, they may  stumble and trip over their own feet because they have taken their focus off of the goal. 

So, this is all about keeping one’s eye on the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Believer must have the goal alone in mind as he or she runs their race.  If they dwell on past mistakes they become discouraged.  If they look back at their successes, this may “puff them up.”  Both are bad for you.  So, Paul encourages all those in Christ Jesus to be single-minded.  He said we’re to do “this one thing…,” “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” they are to press toward (strain) the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.”

Though our individual races are life-long, we must run the race set before us with patience, all the while, looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).   

The Prize

I would be short-changing you, so to speak, if I did not mention “the prize.”  In straining for the goal, of course, we do so for the prize:  

I strain toward the goal, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14).  

I don’t believe the “high calling” refers to the Rapture event but to Paul being called into the heavenlies and apprehending (taking hold of) all the spiritual blessings therein.

In this we are to follow Paul’s example, for in verse 3:17 he wrote, “Brethren be followers together of me.”  Think about this.  Experiencing the resurrection life of Christ and our position with Him in the heavenlies— is this not a prize worth running for; straining toward?  I pray you answered “yes.”  So then, let’s put everything we have into it.  Let us be single-minded, forgetting things behind, putting every other consideration aside, so as to win the race not just be participants or also-rans.  Let us live consistent, disciplined lives.   Let us “lay aside every weight”— everything that might retard our progress all to the glory of God.

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (I Cor. 9:24,25).

Now it’s a biblical fact in the Believer’s race more than one person may receive the prize, but Paul’s point is, “So run” as if only one were to receive the prize:  that ye may obtain.”  
Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while imprisoned in Rome again, and he knew he would not escape death this time around, prompting him to write these encouraging remarks to his son in the faith, Timothy:  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing (at the Rapture of God’s Church).”  

As long as we remain, in the flesh, we shall always have to say, as even Paul did: “I have not yet attained unto the resurrection of the dead,” but the return of our Lord and Savior draws ever nearer, and if we run with patience the race that is set before us we shall not only reach the goal, but will receive a crown of righteousness, His rich reward to all those who have showed, by the very fact that they entered the race, that they eagerly wait for His glorious appearing.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved




































Saturday, August 24, 2019

Philippians 3:11-12 (L 30)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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                      Established November 2008                             Published:  August 24, 2019                                                           
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). 
*****
Welcome to HBS.

Thank you for your prayers and faithful attentiveness to Gods Word – rightly divided, and thank y’all for being here today.  Let’s review:  the theme of Philippians 3:4-11 is justification by faith alone based on Paul’s remark in Philippians 3:9:  “…And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”  

The Bible speaks of two types of righteousness and only one pleases God.

1)      Self-righteousness which is related to legalism, is the idea that we can somehow generate within ourselves a righteousness that will be acceptable to God (Romans 3:10).  Although any serious Believer would recognize this notion is problematic from the get-go because of our sin nature, it is a constant temptation to all of us to believe we are, or can be, righteous in and of ourselves.  Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul came down particularly hard on those who attempted to live their lives self-righteously.

2)      The righteousness which is of God by faith.

The second option is the one Paul desired; it comes through faith in Christ Jesus’ finished work of the cross (alone) and speaks of Justification by faith (alone).

(See Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 9; Galatians 3:6)

In verse 3:8, Paul said he is no longer trusting in his personal achievements and his religious activity in order to please God.  Then in verses 9-11, he tells us what it means to gain Christ.  In verse 9, he said this means to receive His righteousness through faith.  Then in verses 10-11 he explains this further.  All of the things he mentions in verse 10 are the results of justification.   Justification is "the act of making someone right with God."  This is not something we do; it is of God. 

Paul "suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as “dung" in order that he may "gain Christ."  Gaining Christ means: "Receiving his righteousness. "  This expresses the idea of dying to self.  In Philippians 2, we learned Christ Jesus humbly emptied Himself of His divine attributes, set aside the glory that was His, in order to fulfill the will of His Father.  It was Paul’s desire to die to self, daily, so he might always be found in the center of God’s will (Galatians 2:20).  We should be of the same mind.

********
Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:11-12.

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  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

In order to properly understand this scripture passage, you have to consider the Bible verses preceding it.  Paul has expressed a sincere desire to know Christ Jesus, know the power of his resurrection, know the fellowship of his suffering, and be made conformable unto his death.  Then, he said, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (3:11).  

First, some people teach a Believer can lose his or her salvation and base that belief on verse 3:11 (among others).  They say, “See, even Paul was unsure he would attain the resurrection that will come after he dies.”  But this notion is dismissed by verse 3:12:

 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…  

If Paul said he hoped to attain unto the resurrection that would come after he died, would he in the next breath say he hadn’t yet attained it while he was still alive?  Of course not (Colossians 2:10).  But if he’s not talking about that resurrection, what resurrection was he hoping to attain?  Well, if we back up a couple of verses, we see that Paul wasn’t hoping to attain the resurrection that would come at the Rapture.  The context has to do with his desire to live the resurrection life now before he died.  So, from this we understand Paul wasn’t talking about attaining the resurrection that would come after he died.  He was talking about attaining the power of Christ’s resurrection in this life. 

To understand what Paul meant by that, we must first understand what he meant when he said he desired to know the Lord.  After all, he’d already known the Lord for about thirty years!  But now he desired to know the Lord more.  And the same thing applies when he said he wanted to know the power of His resurrection.  He had come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection when he was saved, as had the Romans, to whom he wrote, “Jesus our Lord… was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24,25).  Paul was justified by the power of the Lord’s resurrection, just as the Romans were.  But once he was saved, he wanted to know more of that resurrection power, and so should we.

So what power does the Lord’s resurrection have to offer us after we are saved?  Well, for one thing, it gives us the power to not only recognize sin it also provides the power to say “No” to sin no matter what form it takes.  That’s a power you didn’t have before you were saved.  Before your conversion, before you were baptized into the Body of Christ, you were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants and promises, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11).  Since you were not in right standing with God, i.e. justified by the Justifier (Romans 3:25-27), nothing you did pleased God:

An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Proverbs 21:4).

 But we are all as an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; ” (Isa. 64:6a). 

When a saved man plows his field, God considers it an act of obedience to His command to work for a living, not sin (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  That’s the power the resurrection of Christ gives us once we are saved, and that was a power that Paul wanted to experience more of.

Christ’s resurrection also gives you the power to serve the Lord, another ability you did not possess before you were saved (Romans 12:1-2).  The Bible passage below recorded a conversation Jesus Christ had with some Jewish men who believed they were serving Jehovah, but they had overlooked a very important detail, i.e. faith in what He has said (Hebrews 11:6; 4:2; Galatians 5:6):

Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22,23).

These Jewish men assumed they were serving the one true God, but they overlooked an important aspect of faithful service.  They weren’t saved, so their service did not please God.  But when you choose to serve the Lord after you are saved, the resurrection of Christ gives you the power for the things you do in His name and these “good works” are counted as serving the Lord.  Paul desired to experience more of that resurrection power in his life, and in the context, that’s what he meant when he said he desired to “attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”  Since this was Paul’s motivation, after his conversion, we should be likeminded. 

Here’s Something You Need to Know

While you might agree with Paul’s statement here about attaining that resurrection life now (I say might because some might not agree, but that’s a matter for the Holy Spirit.  He will bring them along in due time), are you willing to attain it “by any means?” 

Here Paul is reminding the Philippians (and us) “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).  This means if you’re willing to know more of the power of Christ’s resurrection, more of the power to sin less, and serve the Lord selflessly, you should be willing to say you want to know more of what it means to suffer for the Lord.  Paul experienced persecution and suffering as no other apostle while serving the Lord.  But even though he’s suffered greatly for the cause of Christ, Paul is saying 30 years of persecution and suffering for the gospel of grace doesn’t come close to matching the Lord Jesus Christ’s suffering.  So, this is what he meant in verse 3:10a, “…That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…

This is an astounding statement for Paul to make.  I mean, he had already come to know many of the Lord’s sufferings (Acts 9:15-16).  He chronicled an incredible list of them some years earlier (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) and had no doubt added to that remarkable list in the years since.  So, I find it amazing for him to say he desired to know more of “the fellowship of His sufferings.”  The Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life willingly for all.  Paul hadn’t experienced death for Christ Jesus, but that possibility certainly existed, as he awaited trial by Caesar (Nero) in Rome.  The outcome was uncertain, at this writing. 

If you’re not sure why Paul calls suffering for the Lord a “fellowship,” consider what he wrote in Colossians 1:24:

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Paul endured his suffering for Christ’s cause to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ for his body’s sake…  Now, the Lord didn’t leave behind anything that needed to be suffered to pay for our sins, of course.  But what other sufferings could Paul have had in mind?  To answer that question, I like to compare what Richard Nixon said when he retired from politics after losing the 1960 election to John F. Kennedy.  Addressing the press who had hounded him during his political life, he said, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”   In the same way, after the Lord rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, the unbelieving world didn’t have Him to kick around anymore, so they directed all their hatred and persecution toward His followers.  And that’s the only kind of suffering that Christ left behind, the persecution that He was no longer here to suffer.  And that’s why Paul calls it “the fellowship of His sufferings.”  They are His sufferings.  He’s just not here to suffer them any longer.

So when we experience His suffering, we share these sufferings with Him “in fellowship.”  There’s also an additional reason why our sufferings are called the fellowship of His sufferings.  We are members of the Body of Christ; a body of which Christ is the Head (Colossians 1:18).  In your physical body, when you stub your great toe on a hard object the pain radiates through your entire body, even your head.  That’s how it works in the Body of Christ as well.  As the Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus Christ feels the pain of everything you suffer for Him.  No wonder Paul identifies it as the fellowship of His sufferings!  

Now, your “old man,” the sin nature you inherited from Adam, doesn’t like to suffer for any reason, and that goes double for serving the Lord.  So for you to want more of the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, you’re going to have to die to self.  Paul knew this.  That’s why he went on to say, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (3:10).

What does it mean to be made conformable unto the Lord’s death?  Well, this book says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  What does that tell you about the Lord’s death?  It tells you it was a death He didn’t have to die.  He was no sinner, so He had every right not to experience physical death.  But He surrendered His right in order to die for all our sin. 

In the same way, you have every right not to have to suffer for the Lord.  There’s no law that says you have to suffer for Christ now that you are saved.  But if you want to live the resurrection life now, in this life, you have to give up your right not to suffer in order to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings.  That’s how we are made conformable unto the death of the One who didn’t have to die.  Living the resurrection life is actually the reason God saved us, as Paul went on to say in our text: 

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  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” (3:11,12).  

The word “apprehended” here is an interesting choice of words.  Permit me to explain:  If you’re one of the people who take the time to watch the daily news on T.V., who do they always say the police apprehended?  The bad guys, right?  It could be said Saul of Tarsus was a bad guy about 30 years ago – give or take; but the Lord apprehended him on the Damascus Road.  In God’s eyes, you were a bad person before you were saved.  You might not have been the cause of someone’s death or imprisonment, like Saul of Tarsus, but since everything you did as an unbeliever was sin, you were just as much a fugitive from the justice of God as he was.   But the Lord apprehended you, just as He apprehended Paul, that you might apprehend that for which the Lord seized you!  The express purpose for which the Lord saved you was so that you might attain unto the resurrection of the dead now, in this life.  Like Paul, none of us have yet attained unto that perfection.  But like Paul, I hope you’re desire to pursue this spiritual goal increases after studying this lesson. 

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved














Friday, August 16, 2019

Philippians 3:10 (L 29)


Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

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              Established November 2008                                             Published:  August 16, 2019                                        
                   
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

*****
Welcome to HBS.

It could be said in Philippians 3:4-11 Paul’s theme is justification by faith (alone), and the principle verse is located at 3:9:

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 

Paul wanted these Believers (and us) to understand there wasn’t one thing in his life he could boast to God about, especially his religious achievements (Galatians 1:13-14).  The “righteousness” Paul refers to here is understood to be the righteousness that was imputed to him on the basis of his faith in Christ’s finished work of the cross. 

The first time I heard the word imputed was in a legal setting (courtroom) and then in my accounting class.  For example, an employed teacher decides to return to school to earn their master’s degree.  During the period of time they are away in school, the imputed cost of this decision is the wages they might have otherwise earned had they continued to work as a full-time teacher.  Imputed is a form of the word imputation and means “to designate an action as reckoned to an individual.  Such as when the judge imputed (reckoned) financial costs to my ex-wife’s account and billed her.

Christ’s righteousness refers to His holy, perfect, state of being.  So, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to all those who believe Paul’s gospel or God’s good news for all in the Dispensation of Grace (Romans 16:25-26).  

Why is this important?  Where you’ll spend eternity depends on what you do or don’t do with Paul’s gospel.  Fence sitting is not an option (2 Corinthians 6:2).  The Bible states “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  No one is good enough to stand before God and boast of their good deeds or good intentions.

We learned last week if salvation is not of God, alone, by faith alone, through Jesus Christ alone then we are asking God to share His glory with us, and God will not do that (Isaiah 42:8).  

Since we’re all rebellious sinners by nature, we cannot be in right-standing with God based on anything we do or try to do.  Since this is the case, we need a perfect outside source that will make us right with God.  This is where the righteousness of Christ enters into the conversation.   Our Apostle Paul speaks of this issue in detail, in Romans 4.  He used Abram’s faith as an example.  I suggest you read the entire chapter when you have opportunity for the sake of brevity we’re going to look at verses 4:19-25:

And being not weak in faith, he (Abraham) considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it (Abraham’s faith) was imputed (to designate an action as reckoned to an individual) to him for righteousness.  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (See Genesis 15:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:6)

All our sin was imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ who knew no sin.  He willingly became sin “for us” and laid down His life for all so that we might (I say might because some might not) become the righteousness of God, in Him (See Galatians 2:20).  Each Believer has been “made” the righteousness of God (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:21-23).   This imputed righteousness is not our doing it is of God.

********
Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:10.

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship with his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

“…That I may know him” – here we have Paul stating the object of his faith.  Paul no longer put his faith in personal gains or assets, as before his conversion.  Now his heart’s desire is “That I may know him (Christ Jesus intimately).  We know this because of this statement in 3:9:

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Said differently, and I’m paraphrasing, “… in order that I may personally know Him, that I might both experience His resurrection power and share in His sufferings, and thus be more and more conformed to His death.

Building off of that Bible verse, Paul desired to acquire an intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is to say, a practical knowledge.  If you are following the Apostle Paul, as instructed by the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), you should be likeminded:    

I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:1-2). 

This is what Paul’s speaking about.  We’re to apply these words to our daily life, practically.  We are to renew our minds (repent) which includes the way we view sinful practices.  Sin should no longer reign in our mortal bodies:    

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Romans 6:1-6).

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:12-13).

What then?  shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?  God forbid.  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  (Romans 6:15-16).

Paul did not know the Lord Jesus Christ “after the flesh,” nor do we (2 Corinthians 5:16; Romans 15:8-9).  We know Him as the glorified, risen Lord Jesus Christ.  Nowhere in Paul’s letters to the churches does he speak of or deals with Jesus Christ’s birth, His childhood, or His life in any detail.  In all his letters, Paul begins with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, explaining their significance to both Jew and Gentile for the very first time in the Bible:

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God ( 1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity (1 Timothy 2:5-7).

Another truth Paul speaks of is our identification with Christ Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).  It is here the Apostle Paul desired to attain intimate knowledge, i.e. a deeper understanding of the love of Christ and all He accomplished on his behalf by His death, burial, and resurrection.    

These thoughts take us to Philippians 3:10:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship (communion; intimate familiarity) with his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 

Some people see this verse as Paul explaining his lifelong ambition and I’m in agreement.  Paul’s heart desire was “to know him” intimately.   What does this mean?  Notice what prompted Paul's comment about knowing Christ in Philippians 3:10.  He had already spent several verses describing his life before his conversion (Philippians 3:4-6).  He cited all the cultural and religious advantages he enjoyed as a Pharisaic Jew.  But then he declared he had discarded all those personal gains for Christ's sake: 

"What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8).  

As a Pharisee, Paul had sought to earn God's favor by legal obedience.  But he came to realize the law set a standard no one could ever meet.  So he scrapped all his own works of righteousness as if they were filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This does not mean that he ceased doing good works, of course, but that he gave up trusting in those works for his salvation.  Instead, he put his faith in Christ Jesus and was clothed in Christ's perfect righteousness instead of his own imperfect works. This is the doctrine known as Justification by Faith

The power of his resurrection – When we search the O.T Scriptures two demonstrations of God’s Awesome Power stand out.  1) In the beginning, God merely spoke, and everything seen, and unseen came into being (Psalm 33:6; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:16-17).  And 2) later down the road of time the next great display of His mighty power was visualized at the Red Sea by Moses and the Israelites, which provided deliverance for His chosen people from Pharaoh and his advancing army.  

Then in the N.T. we note in Paul’s letters to the seven Gentile churches he always refers to and directs the Believer’s attention to Christ crucified and His resurrection from the dead as a demonstration of God’s Awesome Power and the wisdom of God:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.  Where is the wise?  where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?  hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.  For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?  And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Hebrews 1:4-5)

Satan saw the Lord Jesus Christ perish on the cross and was certain he gained victory over God, insofar as he is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, and even controls the power of death. (Matthew 4:1-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). 

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he (the Lord Jesus Christ) also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  (Hebrews 2:14). 

Satan hasn’t been destroyed so don’t misunderstand this Bible passage.  He’s an eternal being and quite busy deceiving the church and promoting “the lie” today.  The same one he used to deceive the woman in the Garden of Eden, which is, you can be like God (Genesis 3:1-6).  Humans have swallowed this lie since the dawn of time.    

In Colossians 2:14-15, the risen Lord connects the defeat of Satan (and death) by His death, burial, and resurrection:

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 phrase principalities and powers occurs six times in the Bible, always in the King James Version and its spin-offs (NKJV, MKJV).  Other Bible versions translate it as “rulers and authorities,” “forces and authorities,” and “rulers and powers.”  The context of the Bible passages reveals its meaning.  But in most places where the phrase appears, the contexts make it clear it refers to the vast array of evil and malicious spirits who make war against the people of God.  These are those forces of Satan that wield power in the unseen realms to oppose everything and everyone that is of God (Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 3:10-11, 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Titus 3:1).

When Paul refers to the power of his resurrection he means His eternal state:

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:23-24).

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  (1 Corinthians 15:12)

When you put your faith in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), you experienced the power of his resurrection.  You most likely didn’t feel it, but in an instant you became a “new creature, in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  For the very first time in your life you were in right-standing with God the Father and now the same power that rose the Lord Jesus Christ up from the grave is the power residing and operating within you.   But here’s the thing, to truly know this power, you have to die to self and identify with your inner man:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (Ephesians 3:16).

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). 

Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him.  Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the world’s ways is now dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him.  This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensitive, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead.  Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, especially the sinful lifestyles we once pursued.: 

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).  

We once pursued selfish, sinful pleasures, of all sorts, without considering God or sin’s lethal effect upon us.  But now the true Believer in Christ Jesus pursues, with equal passion, those things that please God.

Therefore, we are to make a present application of Galatians 5:24 in our daily lives.  We are unable to live the life Christ Jesus desires for us in our own strength.  But thankfully the power of the resurrection will help us yield ourselves to God, as those made alive from the dead, and yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God (Romans 6:13).  Sin no longer has power over us unless we allow it (1 Corinthians 10:13; Romans 6:11, 8:1-11)!

Let’s look at verse 3:10:b:

“…and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

I’m sure most of you would agree with me when I say people want to be accepted.  I don’t know of anyone who desires to find themselves on the outside looking in.  If you’ve ever experienced censure, then you truly understand these words.  But if you’re a Believer, in Christ Jesus, the unbelieving world will always look upon you with contempt.  In fact, I’ve experienced persecution and scorn from Christians because I promote our Apostle Paul and his gospel over denominationalism (Romans 2:16, 16:25).  Having announced those truths, Paul chose to accept his lot in life with the Lord Jesus Christ so that he might understand more fully “the fellowship of his sufferings.”  There’s also a verse in Colossians that expresses this notion:

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”  (Colossians 1:24).

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you – These words were not meant for the Colossians only, but for the entire Body of Christ.  Paul regarded himself as suffering “for the cause of Christ” or his labors in preaching the gospel of grace to both Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1-6).  In fact, He was still “a prisoner of Christ,” in Rome, when he wrote Colossians.  He was falsely accused of being an insurrectionist by his Jewish opposition.  Paul’s gospel included the message “the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down” (Ephesians 2:14-16), meaning the gospel is to be preached to all mankind.  Many religious Jews disagreed, thus, the opposition. 

“…and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake…” or all that I lack with regard to experiencing the same kind of sufferings Christ Jesus endured for the Body of Christ such as persecutions, reproaches, and strong opposition, to name but a few, not just from religious Jews but the fallen world.  

Here Paul is saying although he suffered greatly for the cause of Christ in no way could his sufferings compare to the afflictions of Christ.  Paul labored and suffered more than any other apostle on record, but here he admits all those incidents combined did not equal the afflictions of Christ.  Furthermore, he’s saying he has a long way to go just to catch up to the Lord’s tribulations:

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Verse 3:10c:

“…being made conformable (having the same or similar manners, opinions or moral qualities) to his death.

Here’s the word conformable in a sentence “The Gentiles were not made conformable to the Jews, in that which was to cease at the coming of Christ.”  Paul’s earnest desire was to resemble Christ Jesus in all respects, so that ““If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (3:11).  We’ll examine this statement in depth when next we meet. 

When Paul used the word “conformable” he means to take on or assume the same form as His death.  He’s not saying we all need to be nailed to a wooden cross and die.  Only the sufferings and death of Christ Jesus (alone) could pay God’s sin debt in full.  Instead, he is speaking of the sufferings of Christ, i.e. the opposition, persecution, and reproaches he endured daily because he exposed men to the righteousness of God.  Believe me when I say if you’re sharing Paul’s gospel to others, operating in your uncomfortable zone, you will experience these sufferings.  But this is necessary because the cross addresses mankind’s sinfulness and God’s righteousness.  His righteousness was displayed publicly when they nailed our Savior to that Roman cross:

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:34-26).

If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  (Romans 8:32).

The unbelieving world hated Jesus Christ without a cause and the same persecution will be true of you and me if we stand for the truth.  People continue to reject the Lord today, so we Believers are to bear that lingering  hatred of Christ Jesus which still remains.   In doing so, we then experience, to a limited degree, what He experienced to the glory of God.  This is how we fellowship with his sufferings.

I determine all of these things in verse 3:-9-10 to be the results of “justification.”  Paul suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as dung, in order that he may gain Christ.  Gaining Christ means receiving his righteousness, knowing him, knowing the power of his resurrection, knowing the fellowship of his sufferings, and being made conformable to his death all to the glory of God the Father.

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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