Episode 6: Philippians Bible Study Questions: Pressing on Toward Perfection in Christ
September 06, 2018 | Andrew Davis
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00:04 Joel Harford: Hi. Welcome to the Two Journeys podcast. This is episode six of the Bible study questions in Philippians. Today we're going through Philippians 3:12-4:1. I am your host, Joel Harford, and I'm here with Pastor Andy Davis. Andy, I know this section of scripture means a lot to you in your ministry here at First Baptist. Can you give us an overview?
00:25 Andy Davis: Yeah, I love this section because here Paul talks about his own relentless passion to follow Christ, to pursue perfection in Christ, something that he's not yet attained, but he is utterly convinced he will be perfect someday in heaven, he will be perfect. And so, every effort he makes in this life toward Christ-like perfection is going to be rewarded. And so there's a relentlessness, a pressing, a driving here, which I think I want to see more and more in my life and in the lives of our people here, and anyone that might listen to this podcast. So yeah, I love this section of Philippians.
01:00 Joel: Well, I am excited to go through it with you. For the sake of our audience I will read chapter three verse 12 through chapter four verse one. And I'm reading the ESV.
"Not that I have already obtained this, or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way. And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us, for many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, and they glory in their shame with mind set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. Therefore my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved."
Okay Andy, so you mentioned in the beginning the drive toward perfection in the Christian life. Can you help walk through some of the language here of this pressing on toward the call? What is Paul talking about?
02:47 Andy: Well, he mentions in verse 12 perfection, and he says he hasn't obtained it yet. So I do not believe in the attainability of perfection, Christ-like perfection, in this life. However, I do believe that biblical Christianity (healthy Christianity) results in a relentless pressing after perfection. The Holy Spirit within us is pressing us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect all the time, though we will fall short because of indwelling sin. And so that relentless drive for perfection is what's laid before us here. And so Paul begins in verse 12 by saying he's not obtained it. He's not obtained resurrection, which is the last thing that he mentioned, neither has he obtained perfection. To some degree those two things come together as one. When we have been raised from the dead in our resurrection bodies, we will have been perfected in Christ, totally conformed to Christ in every respect. In body, soul, spirit, in every regard. And Paul says, "I yearn for that. I am driven to see that happen in my life." And so that's what he's talking about in this section.
03:55 Joel: So that's helpful for verse 12. "Not that I've already obtained this." The resurrection pointing backwards, but then he's pressing on toward perfection. So it would be safe to say in the Christian life that you will never achieve perfection, but you are to strive for perfection?
04:10 Andy: That's right. Honestly, we just need to have a proper view of sin. Anything short of perfection is sin. And sin is always damaging, it's always a disease or a poison. We should never ask, "Well how much disease do I want in my body?" The answer would be none. "How much poison do I want in my drink at dinner?" The answer would be none. And yet, sadly, as Jesus himself said, temptations are inevitable, sin is inevitable, and so we have to be realistic about this. We do not teach Christian perfectionism, but we do teach a relentless pursuit after it. So the Holy Spirit is never going to allow us to be conscious of a sinful thought pattern or behavior pattern and just be okay with it or put off 'til another day addressing it. Though I will say the spirit does not make clear to us all of the sin patterns in our lives all at once. But once he makes you aware of something, you should press after perfection like Paul did, and see it put to death little by little by the power of the Spirit.
05:09 Joel: So I know we talked about this last week, but you mentioned by the power of the Holy Spirit, but then Paul is pressing on.
05:16 Andy: Sure.
05:16 Joel: So what is the role of our effort in this perfection? But then knowing that only God can make is perfect.
05:23 Andy: Sure, well, we clearly see it in this language. He says, "I press on," in verse 12. He says, again, "One thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining or striving toward what is ahead." And then again in verse 14, "I press on toward the goal." So there's this strong sense of striving. In another place he likens the Christian life to running a race with endurance. That he says "in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize." And he says, "I beat my body and make it my slave." So there's this sense of an agonizing struggle to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and grow in Christ-like perfection.
06:07 Joel: Now in the second half of verse 12 he says, "I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own." I know there are different translations for that, but what does that mean?
06:19 Andy: Well, I like the NIV '84, the 1984 version on this one because he says this, "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." So it gives a sense of purpose in Christ that I think is a little bit missing from the ESV translation. There it just says, "Christ Jesus has made me his own." Yes, but for what purpose? The reason why Christ Jesus took hold of me is that I would be perfect like Him. That was part of God's overall purpose. In Romans chapter 8, "Those whom God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." And so that's the reason why God began this work of salvation in us, to conform us to Christ. And so Jesus, as a servant to his father for that purpose, took hold of us, that we would be made perfect in Christ's likeness. And so Christ, taking hold of us, has done so for a purpose. He's seized us, He's grabbed us. We're, as some writer called it, we're in the grip of grace. And he will never let us go. So it's a sovereign grip as he likens to in John chapter 10, that we are in the father's grip and we are in Jesus's grip, and no one can snatch us out of the Father's hand, or out of Christ's hand. And so there's a sense in which Jesus has seized us, He's grabbed hold of us, but for a purpose.
07:44 Andy: He's holding on to us to the end that we would be perfect in Christ. And what's interesting is that grip of grace transmits grace and energy and drive to Paul. So it doesn't make him lifeless like an unconscious victim that's just fallen over a cliff and Jesus reached down and snatched at the last minute and then pulls the individual up dead weight. But rather he gives energy to us to climb and to strive. And so this combination of God's sovereign grace and our energetic pressing is what's taught here. And so he says because Jesus has taken hold of me in this grip of grace to the end that I would be perfect in heaven, I am pressing on for that perfection every day.
08:32 Joel: Yeah, I think that's really helpful imagery to see Jesus laying hold of us for a purpose because he does have a purpose in saving us, he does have a purpose in sanctifying us. And as you were saying that, I was also thinking in chapter two where Paul already told us to have the same mind as Christ. And there he's talking about considering others more important than ourselves. But if Christ has made our perfection important to him, I think we should make it important to us.
08:58 Andy: Yeah, and it's so beautiful how he's wanting to give us energy, to give us life, to give us zeal. And that we would care, that we would not be hauled up dead weight to heaven, but that our climbing and effort is part of our own salvation. He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion. As it says in Philippians chapter two. He says, "As you have always obeyed…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to His good purpose." And His good purpose is our perfection. Another way to look at this is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 about his apostolic ministry. He said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am. And His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them. Yet, not I, but the grace of God that was with me." And so there's that sense that grace produces energy and drive. So I would just want to stop and say to any who are listening to this podcast, do you see that kind of energy in your life? Do you see that drive after holiness, that drive to think more like Christ did about everything, to feel and to love what Christ loves and hate what Christ hates? Do you see that energetic drive in your life? That's a great evidence that we are born again, that we're actually Christians.
10:15 Joel: Now, he says he doesn't consider that he's laid hold of it yet. Then he says this interesting thing, "Forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward or straining for what lies ahead." So this "forgetting what lies behind," what does this mean? Because there are other places in scripture where we're told to remember the deeds of the Lord, remember our Creator. But then also here we're supposed to forget. So how does that play into sanctification?
10:42 Andy: Yeah, I think that what Paul's talking about here is a really remarkable focus of mind and energy and effort. "One thing I do... " I'm going to zero in on this, this internal journey of holiness. Now, it's interesting he says here, "One thing I do." And here he's talking about his own personal holiness. But he also says in Acts 20 to the Ephesian elders, "I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me, the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace." That's the external journey. So he has a total focus on the internal journey of holiness here, one thing I do, and a total focus on the external journey of gospel advance there in Acts 20. He says that's the task that's been giving me, the race I am to run. They really go together. As he's growing in holiness, growing in Christ-likeness, he's going to be more and more passionate to win the lost. And so he's got this total focus and he says, "Forgetting what lies behind." I look on this as not that we're... Like you said, the things that we're supposed to remember always, like that Christ died for our sins. In 1 Corinthians 15, "I want to remind you of the Gospel…" And so Christ died for our sins, we want to always remember that God raised Him from the dead on the third day. We want to keep these things in mind, and many other such things.
12:02 Andy: All the things in the Bible we're supposed to be continually remembering them. Then what is he forgetting? I think he's forgetting both the bad and the good of the past concerning his own performance. He's not going to get bogged down in his past failures. He's not going to say, "Boy, that was a horrible day. I was really, really struggling with my flesh that day." And then it carries over into the next day, but each day has enough trouble of its own, Jesus said. And God's mercies are new every morning. He's just going to kind of sever the cord from yesterday's failures and weakness and defeats, if it was a bad day. And he's going to say, "No, today I'm going to live for Christ." If today you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.
But then the flip side is also true. Suppose it had been a phenomenal day. He really had an awesome day walking with the Lord, he's very fruitful in ministry.
12:49 Andy: He's going to forget that too, because he doesn't want to rest on his laurels, he doesn't want to say, "Hey I've achieved enough in the internal journey. I've gotten far enough." He's like, "No, you've got work to do today, we've got a journey to travel." So forgetting what lies behind in terms of my own past successes or failures, I'm going to drive today. Today If I hear his voice, I'm going to follow the Holy Spirit in becoming more and more like Christ.
13:10 Joel: So maybe the analogy of athletics would be helpful. Paul often uses the race for the Christian life. We could imagine a basketball player after a really bad game, the coach saying, "Hey, we just know our next game is coming. " Or the same after a really good game. So we can't live on that game. Got to play the next one.
13:25 Andy: Yeah, since we're talking about sports, one of the coaches says, "Next play." You throw the ball away in the basketball game, forget about it. Learn not to do it, but just next play, because you can get so bogged down. I think about like a closing pitcher in baseball who gives up a game losing home run the night before. Next night, the manager gives him the ball, he's got to forget that. He's got to go like a confident man saying, "I'm the closure of this team. I can win this game." So either way, yeah, there's this sense of, "Well, I'm not going to rest on my laurels and I'm not going to get dragged down by my failures, either."
13:55 Joel: I love it. Now, he says "The goal of the prize of the upward call of God." We've been talking about perfection, pursuing perfection, what is Paul trying to explain with this language here?
14:10 Andy: Well, this is really a purpose-focused life here, that there's something he's going after, he's ambitious. He wants to be as much like Christ as possible. He wants to get as far in his heavenly journey as he possibly can in this life. He knows that he'll never make it, he's already said that, "I've not obtained it." But he wants to get as far as he can, he wants to run this race with endurance right to the end. And so he's got this goal. There are crowns and victor's wreaths that are offered, and there's this image of having crossed the finish line. "I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I've kept the faith." That sense of a victor's crown waiting for him. And so he wants that. He wants to achieve the praise that God gives, such as, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." So he is after that. And there's this sense of upward call. I like that idea of an upward call, a sense of going upward or Heaven-ward. And there's always that sense of loftiness. God is above us, Jesus is high and lifted up. And we're low, and we were down in the muck and we're growing and going higher and higher in Christ. So that's an image of climbing, really, almost of rock climbing or cliff climbing and it's very dangerous because gravity is pulling on you all the time. But I've got this upward call of God in Christ Jesus, so I want to win the prize of making it to the end of my life still in Christ, still loving Christ, still growing in him until God calls me home.
15:34 Joel: Well, that's really helpful. Now, he says in verse 15 something that I think if I said it, somebody would think I'm pretty arrogant. But Paul says, "Let those of us who are mature think in this way. And if in anything you think otherwise, God will do that to you also." I guess he's saying, "Mature people think like this." Is he trying to talk against maybe some false teachers there, or what do you think he's saying with this verse?
16:00 Andy: Yeah, maybe so. Earlier in this chapter he talks about the dogs, the men who do evil. So he might have some false teachers in mind here. He just doesn't want them to be lazy in their Christian lives. The author to Hebrews says the same thing in Hebrews 6, basically, we don't want you to become lazy in your service to God. And so here, it's in terms of the internal journey of holiness. The more mature you are in Christ, the more eagerly you're goanna be pursuing perfection and running after it, the more aware you are, frankly, of your own corruptions and your own sins. It's actually the immature and the neophytes, the ones that are just beginning, that think they've mostly arrived. Now that their Christians and things are so much better in their lives, they're pretty much there. It's like, "No you're not, you have a long way to go." So the more mature you are, the more practiced eye you have concerning the scriptures and holiness, the more flaws you're going to see in your attitudes and your actions, the more you're going to see the gap between yourself and Jesus. And so he says, honestly, if you're mature, you're going to think like this. If you're not thinking, "I'm going to pursue after perfection, I'm gonna run with everything I have after Christ", then you're immature.
17:07 Andy: Or perhaps you're not even converted. So that's what he means by that. And he also says that if on some point you think differently, God will make that clear to you. And I love that. It sounds cocky. It's like, "I'm not wrong. If on some point you disagree, you'll find out. You'll find out." Because he's confident of who he is and his calling. His doctrine came from heaven. His vision of the Christian life came, it was given to him by God through the Holy Spirit. So he's not wrong about it. Imagine if he were not that confident. Imagine if he were to say, "I don't know, this is kind of what I've been thinking. I've been kicking this around." That's not the way an apostle talks. So he said, "If you think differently than me on some points, someday God will make it clear to you like he made it clear to me. He'll reveal it to you."
17:47 Andy: But then he goes on to say, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." So that's cool. Every day our doctrine... If we're in the word and we're hearing good sermons and we're reading good Christian books and we're around good Christian people that are mature, we're going to keep growing. And there's this body of doctrine, an understanding of the Christian life, that you already have received from God. Live up to that. Just live up to that. Live up to what you have already received and that will be good. But just keep expanding your knowledge-base, keep expanding your base of theology. If on some point of theology or aspect of the Christian life you think differently, God someday will expand your base to include that. But live up to what you have already been taught so far.
18:29 Joel: Yeah. I love it. Now verse 17, introduces just a huge part of the Christian life, and that is discipleship through imitation. He says, "Brothers, join in imitating me," and then he says this, "Keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
18:50 Joel: So what is the role of I guess both for the imitatee and the imitator of being someone who other people come along and imitate, but then also you yourself looking to imitate other mature Christians. Can you talk about that in the Christian life?
19:07 Andy: Absolutely, there are two patterns, basic patterns, of discipleship. There's the book learning aspect or the factual side of Christianity and then there's the experiential or life learning side and for the book learning side, obviously the primary book is the Bible, but then all good Christian books that come along that help us with biblical instruction, that's one pattern. And so discipleship is going to involve reading books and discussing precepts, discussing Christian doctrine and truth. That's a very important part of discipleship, but it's not the only part. We also have that, follow my example as I follow the example of Christ aspect, where there's some things that you just learn by example, like learning how in the next chapter to be content in any and every situation. You really can't learn that from a book. You can learn some aspects but you have to live it through and if you're with Paul, you go on a missionary journey and then you're included with him when you get arrested, like Silas was and you get beaten like Paul because you're side-by-side with him, and you're sitting in the Philippian jail and then Paul begins to sing and you just see his example and you join in and the two of you sing together.
20:06 Andy: That's learning by example. So I want to just say something very important that I noticed, and it comes from a Greek word which is translated "pattern" here. And we also see the same word used in 2 Timothy 1:13 there, Paul says, "What you have heard from me keep as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus." So there's that doctrinal side of discipleship, sound teaching. It's a pattern. Here though, he talks about a pattern of lifestyle, a Godly lifestyle, follow my example and take note of those who live according to the pattern you have in us. Now, this Greek word pattern, tupos, has to do with how coins were struck like silver or gold coins back in the day. Like a denarius or something like that. And it would have, let's say Caesar's likeness on it. And how did it get there? It got there under tremendous force. The coin would be struck and what would happen is a much harder metal, would have the Emperor's image inscribed on it, with highs and lows spots and then under great force the soft silver or gold coin would smoosh and fit the pattern of Caesar's face and the inscription, with the date maybe, or the Latin inscription about the People of Rome, or something like that. And it would be imprinted into the softer metal, the silver or the gold. This is a picture of discipleship, we are being conformed to Christ.
21:31 Andy: Our high spots, and low spots are being changed under great force, the force of the Holy Spirit. He is forcing us to be like Christ, but he does it by these two patterns, the pattern of sound doctrine and the pattern of Christian lifestyle. We're not going to be re-inventing these things every generation, this is what it looks like. And so what it means is, we have to not be stiff and hard-hearted or stiff necked, we have to be yielded, soft, if I could say it this way smooshable. And so what you want to do, what he's saying here is, imitate us, follow. Let your life, little by little, be conformed to our lives the way we pray, the way we studied scriptures, the way we did marriage and parenting, the way that we set examples of local church life, these kinds of things. So follow our example and look at other people. There's not just us, there are other people that are living like that they're ahead of you in the Christian life, there your mentors, both men and women are ahead of other men and women, and those are role models, those are mentors. It's a great description of Christian discipleship.
22:27 Joel: Yeah, I think that's huge. And that's one of the reasons that the local church is so important, is because it's the community gathering of all these believers, both young and old, many of whom have been walking with Christ for many years and those of us who're younger can then see them and imitate them, and those who neglect the church really cut themselves off from this mode of discipleship.
22:52 Andy: Amen, amen, it's true.
22:54 Joel: Now, there's some really sad things at the end of this chapter. In fact right after he talks about the example, you know follow those who walk in this example, he says, "For many of whom I've often told you and now I tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ." First of all what is an enemy of the cross?
23:18 Andy: Well, really this is just the way that Jesus sees everyone, you're a child of the devil, or a child of God, there's no other possibility. And so if you're not a believer in the cross and a follower of the cross, you're an enemy of the cross, that's what he's saying. And so Paul here is saying that many live like enemies of the cross, they might be indifferent to Jesus. They might hate Jesus but if they don't love Jesus, and believe in Him, they are his enemies. "He who is not with me is against me," Jesus said. It's really black and white, and so the cross represents Christ, represents Christianity, it represents also that crucified lifestyle that he had spoke of earlier, being conformed to Christ's death. And so these people are living for their earthly appetites, very tragic, and so they're living every day as enemies of the Gospel, and enemies of Christ and honestly, we're surrounded by people like that, too.
24:15 Joel: You talk about the worldliness. He says, "Their end is destruction." I'll get to that in a minute, but also "their God is their belly, and they glory in their shame." Let's talk about that glory in their shame. I think we see that very prevalent in our culture with people actually celebrating abominable practices and really glorying in those things.
24:35 Andy: Absolutely. People are celebrating lifestyles, like homosexuality and other things that are condemned in scripture, and we're called hateful, if we tell them the truth, that these are the kinds of sin patterns that will lead to destruction as Paul talked about. But they glory in it, they celebrate it. It says in the book of Isaiah, "They parade their sin like Sodom. They do not hide it. Woe to them." And so they're very actually very proud of things that they really should be ashamed of, and not just homosexuality. You see the same in other sexual sins like fornication or even adultery which are celebrated in certain shows, laughed about even though they destroy homes. You can see other aspects, just arrogance. I see that we both love sports. You see a lot of arrogance on the sports field, where somebody will just boast openly that they're the greatest, that they're the best ever, and they'll do these kind of things. They're proud of what they should be ashamed of, and so we see this all around us. These things are things that are shameful. And once you come to Christ, Paul says in Romans 6, "What benefit did you reap from those things of which you are now ashamed?" So one of the things the Holy Spirit does is makes us be ashamed of what we should be ashamed of.
25:47 Joel: Now, how do we adopt the same mindset as Paul, he says, "I tell you, even with tears." I wish I could have the emotional capacities as Paul. How do we cultivate a genuine care for those who are enemies of the cross where we're even willing to weep over them?
26:08 Andy: Well, I think Paul clearly had this. He says, with tears here he says it even more strongly in Romans 9.
26:16 Joel: For his people. Yeah.
26:17 Andy: Yeah, he's weeping, he has great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart. And so this was not an affect here, it's not something he put on, he was acting sad he really was broken-hearted. And I think one of the things is to just draw near first and foremost, to Christ in prayer and gain his heart for lost people. And then secondly, draw near to lost people in evangelism get to know them, befriend them, see how their lives are getting shredded by sin, feel what crushes them. Getting close to them, crossing the gap and getting involved will cause our hearts to be wrapped up in their grief as well, and so that we can really grieve on their behalf because they don't really see the danger that they're in. So he says it with tears. And so that's the whole thing when I said a moment ago, about homosexuality and people parading their sin like Sodom, there should be, and there actually is a great sadness in my heart. I don't think I'm at the level that Paul was. I want to be where there's tears coming down my face, because of this brokenness but he's got this terrible sorrow because of their lost-ness.
27:21 Joel: Yeah, this last phrase, his mind set on earthly things. You just think about the contrasting of setting our minds on things above, versus just being obsessed with the things of this world, and what an empty life that leads to.
27:36 Andy: Absolutely. He says, "their God is their stomach." The stomach represents earthly appetites, physical appetites. So clearly one of the most pressing ones is sex. People have an appetite for sexual pleasure. And so, the stomach here, is not just eating but eating's part of it, it's just all those earthly physical appetites. The flesh demands to be satisfied. I want to be pleased. I want to be comfortable. I want to have pleasurable flavors on my tongue and I want to feel happy in all these physical ways. That's what it means that you're God... And when you says "Your God is your stomach," it means that's what you're absolutely worshipping and living for practically that's all you think about, that's all that your life is about. And we are surrounded by people like that, every day and it's really heartbreaking.
28:28 Joel: Yeah, I want to talk more about that because I remember a sermon that you preached on Hebrews 11, where you talked about Isaac and how his taste for game had really clouded his judgment concerning the things of God.
28:42 Andy: Yeah. Well, he really loved, Esau, and even though his wife Rebecca had told him that Jacob was the chosen one of the twins, that the older will serve the younger, he didn't really listen to it. And really Isaac, and Esau were good friends, good buddies, hunting buddies, they each had a taste for game and how easy it is to develop a taste for earthly things and forget the things of God. And so, yeah, that's... I'd forgotten that, but that's a good example.
29:12 Joel: Now, Paul says though, "But our citizenship is from heaven, and from it we await a Savior." So how does this really just change everything for us knowing that our citizenship is not in this world?
29:24 Andy: Yeah, that's a very, very important verse that I think is a check to over-weaning patriotism. I mean we can see in history, some tragic examples of where Christians were too loyal to their own country, they were too loyal to their own government. So, a clear example is in Nazi Germany, where you had, I think genuinely born again people, who are also very zealous for the Fatherland, and zealous for the success of Germany and got swept into some things, not really knowing just how evil Hitler was, but that's something that we need to be very careful of. We here in America tend to think of America as a special country exempt from these kinds of concerns. We are kind of the world's priest nation, something I've heard some people say and I don't think that's taught biblically. I think we need to be mindful, that honestly we have far greater affinity and connection with Christians from other countries than we do with non-Christians from the United States of America for us as Americans.
30:25 Joel: Yeah, absolutely.
30:26 Andy: So our citizenship is in heaven. And that meant a lot. Paul was a Roman citizen, and that got him certain benefits, like he didn't have to get beaten anymore, at one point and he wouldn't get crucified when they executed him, they beheaded him.
30:39 Joel: Though sometimes he didn't tell them.
30:41 Andy: He waited to long I guess or something. So that's an honorary earthly title and it's got some benefits. And for me as an American citizen, I am blessed by being an American. I love this country. I love our governmental system compared to others in the world. I think it's a good one, but it's not perfect. And so for me to realize that my permanent home is Heaven, that's the thing, it's like my heart is on Heaven, not on earthly things, that's what that means to me.
31:06 Joel: It says, "From it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body." So let's talk about this transformation. This is the final end of our perfection, is when Jesus Christ transforms our body and gives us a resurrection body. Can you talk about this?
31:26 Andy: Yeah, I mean he is so adamant about the need to set our hearts on things above and things to come. Mainly the second coming of Christ, we're waiting a Savior from Heaven. And so I think we got to think about the second coming of Christ all the time. I think we need to be passionate about it. Think about it, talk about it, because when that happens, everything's going to change. Read about it in the book of Revelation. It's a massive issue when Jesus Christ returns.
31:52 Andy: And when he comes back, he is going to transform our lowly bodies and make those lowly, earthly, corruptible, mortal, dying, decaying bodies, to be just like his glorious resurrection, powerful body, and that's an incredible thing when you think about it. So Paul says I think about that all the time, when Jesus comes, He's going to take that power that He has, the power that enables Him to bring everything in the universe under His control, think about that. There's nothing spinning out of control. Jesus is in control and He has that kind of power from the Father. All authority in Heaven and earth has been given to Me, it doesn't have any independent power apart from the Father, but the Father gave Him this power and it enables Him to bring everything in the universe under His control. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, once He's done that, He's going to give the whole thing back up to God the Father anyway, so that God may be all in all. And so the idea is by that power, He's going to transform our corrupting, dying bodies, to be like His glorious body.
32:52 Joel: I can't wait for that one.
32:53 Andy: That's awesome.
32:54 Joel: It's going to be incredible. I think that gives Paul such joy. We talked about that, to live as Christ and die as gain. He knows his resurrection body is coming.
33:02 Andy: It is. It's exciting.
33:04 Joel: So then the encouragement to stand firm. "My brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm." So why this encouragement? Why do need to stand firm?
33:15 Andy: Well, it's actually kind of a bit of an odd image here because he has been talking about forgetting what lies behind and pressing toward what lies ahead, which is very dynamic. We've got this two journeys ministry here, we're wanting people to move. You got to move on now. Alright, we got to keep moving. Forget what lies behind, don't stand where you are. We got to keep moving in the Christian life. But now he's telling them to stand firm. So, I actually pondered this for a while when I preached on this text, and I think it's, you make progress by standing firm. First of all, it's just there's certain bedrock, unshakable doctrines they're not going anywhere, Heaven and earth will pass away, they'll still be there. So stand on the unshakable Bible, on the unshakable word of God. But also so that you have footing to make progress. So, like, if you're crossing a white water river, waste high water, you're going to need good footing under you. You got to make sure every step is solid and secure. Or another image, I watched a documentary on some men that we're climbing Mt. Everest, and they're going up this knife edge with death on either side and a strong crosswind and they have these crampons as they're crunching up every step they settled their crampon covered boots into the ice, so that it was good footing, so that they would not get swept off the mountain.
34:30 Andy: And so that's the image I have is of a terrifying dangerous journey for which we need remarkable stability and so stand firm and make progress. Stand firm in the unchanging doctrines, and make progress toward perfection in Christ.
34:45 Joel: Yeah, that's really good. Do you have any final thoughts on this section.
34:52 Andy: Well, I like what he says here, to the Philippians, "You are those whom I love, my joy and crown." Just the sweetness of Christian fellowship, of being around other brothers and sisters that have this kind of view of the Christian life. I want to be around people like that because we can lag in our heavenly journey, we can get tired. And to have brothers and sisters that come alongside us, lift us, pick us up one more weak, pray for us, that's so huge, but also fruit, evangelistic fruit, even he calls them my joy and crown. And so the idea of us trying to win some of these lost people to Christ. Some of these people who are surrounding us every day who we should be weeping for, to actually move out courageously with this Gospel, this Gospel of imputed righteousness, through faith in Christ, and progressive righteousness through faith in Christ, and sanctification, this is the Gospel, this is the cross of Christ that we would go and turn an enemy of the cross of Christ, in to a friend or a follower of Christ, by the Gospel.
35:50 Andy: That's something that I want to see happen. That you could say of certain people, you're the ones that I love and long for, you are my joy and crown. So I would guess my final word is just, are you doing these kinds of things in your Christian life? Are you forgetting what lies behind, straining toward perfection, putting sin to death by the Spirit, striving after Christ, is this part of your life? And are you active in the external journey of winning others who could be your joy and crown, on that final day? That's my exhortation to me and to all of us.
36:19 Joel: Yeah. That's a great exhortation. I will try to put that in practice this week.
36:22 Andy: Amen.
36:23 Joel: Well, thank you, Andy, I appreciate it and thank you for listening to the Two Journeys podcast. Next time we'll do the last episode for Philippians. We'll talk about unity, joy and contentment in Christ. But don't worry, it will not be the end of the podcast after that we will go into the book of Hebrews. Thank you for listening and God bless you all.
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