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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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 , And all our righteousnesses 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)
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