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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men (and women) to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS.
Greetings, one and all, I stop short of saying, “I’m back full-time.” Please know personal issues remain unresolved. My desire to serve the Body of Christ has not changed just the ability to perform on a regular basis.
The next Bible lesson in line was already in the can, so to speak, it just needed some editing before I published it. I don’t know if I can produce Bible lessons weekly, as before. I will try to keep them coming on a regular basis. Please check the website for future lessons. I will update y’all re: my progress from time to time.
Let’s review the previous lesson before we begin:
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more” (3:-4).
Why did Paul offer this challenge to the church in Philippi?
#1 the Pharisees (Judaizers) were attacking Paul’s apostleship and his gospel of grace.
#2 these religious Jews didn’t deny Christ Jesus died and rose again. They were teaching more needed to be done for your salvation then just believing He died for the sins of all, was buried, and resurrected on the third day. They said to be “right with God” one must obey the Law, which included the rite of circumcision.
In response to this false teaching, Paul recalled his former life (before his conversion) to drive a verbal stake through the heart of their religious beliefs. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ applied this principle to His finished work (John 19:28-30):
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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; (Colossians 2:13-14).
What changed Paul’s thinking? Paul found something priceless on the road to Damascus. Not only did he find the Truth, he came to the point of understanding every human accomplishment he attained amounted to nothing. Paul used the word “dung.” He’s saying one’s salvation in the Grace Age has nothing to do with what you do or don’t do for God; i.e. following a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead, “the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38-39, 11:6).
Faith in what? Faith in what God has said re: salvation by grace alone and God alone:
Now to him that is of power to stablish (to fix; to settle in a state for permanence; to make firm) you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God. only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen (Romans 16:25-27).
When God speaks, He expects people to listen and obey as though their very life depended on it because it does. I mention this now because according to the Scriptures when Paul speaks (or writes) he speaks for the risen Lord; thus his epistles are the very words of God (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 14:37).
Please open your Bible at Philippians 3:7-9.
“But 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 to count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through (what) the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (plus nothing else):”
The word “But” (or behold the underlying truth) speaks of a change in Paul’s life, His direction, and his thinking, i.e. his transition from who and what he was to who and what he is now, in Christ Jesus, a new creature, saved by the grace of God:
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do (Acts 9:1-6).
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
“What things” speaks of all the things he mentioned in 3:5-6 and once valued, that is, circumcised the eighth day, a Benjamite, an Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, zeal in persecuting the church, and in regards to the law righteous and blameless.
The word “gain” is the Koine Greek word Kerdos, (plural) which means gain, profit, or advantage. Paul, at one time, considered everything he mentioned in verses 5-6 to be his gains or his assets.
All those things he once counted an asset (gain) he now counted loss for Christ. In the previous Bible lesson, we learned Saul/Paul was well connected socially, politically, religiously, and monetarily. He seemingly had all he could possibly need or want. Then, his mindset changed after the risen Lord found him on the Damascus RD. Note: Paul didn’t find the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ found him and saved him as he was, a sinner, right then and there. That’s “grace” folks (Romans 5:8-9). After that, he realized those seven things he mentioned in 3:5-6 were liabilities not assets. All his religious privileges for salvation and his human accomplishments did not bring him one step closer to God.
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 to count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Here Paul speaks as though he knows the ins and outs of operating a business, as it pertains to assets and liabilities/profits and losses. There are two columns in his spiritual ledger before his conversion. Under assets or gains he sees a list of things and we found them in 3:5-6. I think he could have listed others, but we’ll work with the ones we know of. Under liabilities or losses he doesn’t list one single thing; the column is blank. This tells us in his self-righteousness, Paul pats himself on the back, so to speak, because he believes nothing more needs to be done to obtain Jehovah’s favor.
Picture a set of scales; the old-fashioned ones not its digital replacement. The Jews believed if their good works outweighed the wrong things they do, the LORD God would accept them. Please note the Jews had no concept of going to heaven. You won’t find that message anywhere in the Prophetic Program; all their divine promises were of the earth. Heavenly promises is a Church Age revelation and our Apostle Paul is the administrator of all the Church doctrines. Still, I know people today who believe what Saul of Tarsus and every other Jew believed. They’re trying their best to keep the Ten Commandments, the moral and civil laws, and they are trying to be the best person they can be hoping God will see their gains (religious assets) far exceed their liabilities, that is, their sin and open the gates of heaven to them.
I point out Paul’s thinking changed on that faithful day he met the risen Lord on his way to Damascus. He essentially moved everything he mentioned in 3:5-6 (his assets) to the liability column, exchanging them for “the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” This is his only asset now. Everything else is a liability or loss. He’s sure his salvation (and ours) is based upon what a person does with the gospel of grace. Not one more thing needs to be added. Let’s look a few Bible verses:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 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 (and not ours): that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:23-26).
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God (Romans 6:9-10).
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 10:1-18).
After reading these Bible passages, I pray you understand why Paul said, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” Although Paul listed seven accomplishments, he now counts them as “dung.” He wanted people to see he did not have any righteousness he could claim as his own, as a result of trying to keep all of God’s laws. He spent many years traveling that winding road and discovered it’s truly a “dead end;” literally. Why? The things we do hoping to gain God’s favor (self-righteousness) are nothing more than “filthy rags:”
But we are all as an unclean , And all our righteousnesses as filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6a) - See Leviticus 15:33, 20:18; Lamentations 1:17.
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through (what) the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
There are a few things I need to point out to y’all before we close this lesson beginning with Isaiah 42:8: “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
Salvation unto the : Thy blessing upon thy people. Selah (Psalm 3:8).
In verse 3:9 Paul explained the righteousness he desired, and he could not produce it; it only comes by faith in Christ Jesus. He’s speaking of one’s justification by faith alone:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).
Paul is saying human achievements amount to “dung,” as far as salvation is concerned. Faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus, apart from the law, saves people today. When discussing the righteousness of Jesus Christ for one’s justification, you may or may not have heard about the doctrine of His imputed righteousness, so permit me to introduce an article written by Stephen Nichols:
“In the 1990s, a group of evangelical theologians and church leaders held talks with a group of Roman Catholic theologians and church leaders, and together they produced a statement titled Evangelicals and Catholics Together (). In the aftermath of , much discussion ensued regarding the Roman Catholic understanding of the gospel and how it relates to the understanding of the gospel historically affirmed by evangelicals, the heirs of the Protestant Reformation. The subject of justification by faith alone came up. This was, of course, one of the central issues of the Reformation.
We see how essential the doctrine of justification by faith alone was in the Reformation planks of (faith alone), (grace alone), and (Christ alone). These stress salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We must also see, however, that the Reformers emphasized a word that they found to be absolutely essential to the Doctrine of Justification by faith alone, which they in turn saw as essential to a right understanding of the gospel. That word is .
During some of the talks around , the historic differences between evangelicals and Roman Catholics over imputation came to the surface. Reformed theologian Michael Horton likened imputation to chocolate chips in the making of chocolate chip cookies. If you set out all the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies but leave out the singular ingredient of chocolate chips, then you don’t have chocolate chip cookies when you pull the tray out of the oven. Likewise, you can have most of the key ingredients of the gospel. You can have the understanding that we are sinners. You can have an understanding of God as holy and just. You can have an understanding of Christ and His work on the cross. But if you leave out imputation, you don’t have the gospel. This is why the Reformers considered this word absolutely essential to a biblically faithful proclamation of the gospel.
What does the word imputation mean? The word comes directly from the Latin. It is an accounting term; it means “to apply to one’s account.” Expenses are debited and income is credited. The KJV Bible translates this as “reckon.”
In theological terms, we speak of a double imputation that takes place in justification. This double imputation is taught in texts such as , where Paul says plainly, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Here we read that our sin is imputed to Christ. We are the offending party. He is guiltless. He perfectly kept the whole law. Yet, on the cross, God poured out His wrath on Jesus Christ. Why? Because our sin was imputed to Christ. Christ took upon Himself our sin. Our great debit was put on His account. Christ paid the horrific penalty as the cup of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him.
There is also a second imputation. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. He not only takes our debit, but we also get His credit. Christ paid the penalty we could never satisfy, but He also kept the law perfectly, which no man or woman can do. Consequently, God credits to us His righteousness. We stand before God clothed in Christ’s righteousness. We can actually say we are saved by works—not at all by our works, but instead by Christ’s works, His perfect obedience, on our behalf. One theologian said that two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are . Jesus lived and died—and rose again—for us. All of His work was done on our behalf.” (See 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 1:17, 3:21-26, 4:5-6)
Summing up, Paul is saying the only thing in life that matters, as far as salvation is concerned, is faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on the third day, according to the Scriptures. Any other personal achievement you trust in for your salvation is a liability not an asset.
I don’t seek theology in the Christian hymnal. That’s what the Bible is for. However, I appreciate some of the language. The hymn “Rock of Ages” came to mind after reading verse 3:9. In the O.T., Jesus Christ (Jehovah) is the “Rock of Ages.” When Moses smited the rock with his staff, as instructed, the rock was a picture of Christ. Christ (the Rock) smitten is a future picture of Him crucified. Out of the cleft rock flowed the water of life and the Israelites were refreshed.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law's commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.