Calvary Road Baptist Church

“INTELLIGENT CHRISTIANITY”

Philippians 1.9

Those of you who were here last Sunday evening may remember that Paul’s introductory remarks to the Philippian church, in Philippians 1.3-12, dealt with the way things had been in the past between Paul and those folks, the way it currently was at the time he wrote to those folks, and in verses 9-11, the way he anticipated it would be in the future for those folks, in answer to his prayers to God on their behalf.

Ever wonder why Paul was the man of God he was? It might have something to do with the fact that this guy was a prayer warrior. The Apostle Paul was a man convinced that in and of himself he was good for nothing and could accomplish nothing.[1] Therefore, he resorted to prayer to plead with Someone Who could do something about the problems and situations of life we face. Whether it was bringing to God his complaints about the way the unjust were treating him, or the way he wanted to see beloved Christians grow in the faith and in their effectiveness for Christ, Paul knew that the first thing to be done, before anything else was to be done, is to go to God in prayer, and go to God he did. In Philippians 1.4, he mentioned to the Philippians that he prayed for them by name every time he went to God in prayer at one of his scheduled prayer times. Beginning in verse 9, he jotted down for the Philippian’s own benefit the substance of what he asked God for in their lives. As I mentioned last week, Paul asked for two things in order to effect two things. He asked God to accomplish two things in their lives in order to achieve two notable goals in their lives. The first thing Paul asked for was “that your love may abound yet more and more.” The second thing Paul asked for was that their love would abound within the context of being “in knowledge and in all judgment.” We need to briefly look at this aspect of Paul’s prayer.

From Paul’s First Corinthians chapter 13 description of love as charity that “Doth not behave itself unseemly,” verse 5, we remember this means that real love is not without structure and direction. The free love movement of the 1960s was not only wrong because they were drug users and fornicators, but also because they denied that love must have structure and guidelines in which to be properly expressed. The knowledge and judgment that Paul asked God to give those believers are two such kinds of guidelines along which love can both grow and be expressed. Just what was Paul talking about here? “Knowledge” translates a word that refers to an intensive form of knowledge that grasps and recognizes concepts thoroughly.[2] This is not knowing about something that Paul is referring to, but to having a comprehensive understanding of spiritual things. It is one thing to read books about scuba diving, but it is quite another thing to scuba dive. It is one thing to read about warfare, but it is another thing to be a fighting soldier in the middle of a killing field. It is one thing to know certain facts about the Christian life and living for and knowing God, but it is quite another to actually live for God, serve God, and know Him by the experience of communing with Him. This latter type of knowledge is what Paul wants the Philippians to gain more of. To accompany such knowledge, Paul asks for “all judgment.” Insight, perception, discernment, would be good synonyms of this word.[3] Similar in concept to wisdom, this word “judgment” has to do with the skill of making practical application of your knowledge. In Hebrews 5.14, where we are told that spiritually immature believers need to have “their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” the word “discern” is the same as here. It is somewhat like a child learning to coordinate his motor skills. This is what the Apostle Paul prayed for on behalf of his beloved Philippians. Let us not forget that Paul prayed to God for these things to be added to the Philippian’s lives. How often the practical atheist is exposed by his forgetfulness that in matters of change and growth God has a role to play. After all, God is the real Author of change in a person’s life. How ridiculous it is, then, to criticize and berate someone for a fault when you have never prayed that God would correct the fault. As well, how futile it is to recommend a course of action for someone you want to see improving without asking God to bring it to pass. Why is this so? There are two ways of responding to such interest. First, you need pray to God on behalf of others, as Paul did, because God is the real source of all blessings. Such blessings as you want for yourself or for another you must ask God for, James 1.17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Additionally, you must ask to have an expectation of seeing your desire fulfilled, James 4.2: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” God is the One Who grants and bestows all blessings. Failure to pray to Him, or prayer directed to another, then, is a foolish waste of time that reveals a tragic misunderstanding of spiritual reality. However, there is another, more specific, reason why Paul prayed to God to so bless those Philippians. They were God’s children, and it is God Who grows His children. From Romans 8.29, we know that God’s goal for each of His children is conformity to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, from the time of conversion, we know that spiritual growth and maturing is determined for us. God, then, being our Father and being a perfect Father, engages to educate us, train us, and correct us through the instruction of His Word and the experiences of life to become more like our Savior. So you see, God is central for what Paul desires for such as you and me. Though the request came from Paul and the role of bringing such to pass is God’s, do not think you and I are without responsibility. The Father for the course and conduct of our individual Christian life will hold each and every child of God accountable. Let me wrap up this exposition with just three of the responsibilities you and I have before God as believers:

First, you and I have a responsibility to grow. Spiritual growth is not automatic in the believer’s life, as is physical growth. Therefore, God commands, and you are obligated to obey His commands to grow spiritually. Three verses of many in the New Testament bear this out:

First Corinthians 14.20:    “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

First Peter 2.2: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

Second Peter 3.18: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

Second, you and I have a responsibility to become useful. As effective as little children are at a construction site, so are spiritual babes at times serving God. New Christian, babe in Christ, you have to mature so you can function and be more effective for the Savior:

Hebrews 5.13-14:  13     For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14     But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Second Peter 1.5-8:  5      And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6      And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7      And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8      For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Last, but by no means your final responsibility, is the responsibility to be in place to grow. Turn to Ephesians 4.11-16:

11     And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12     For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13     Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14     That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15     But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16     From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Notice the tie-in that takes place between the ministry of a pastor (verse 11), spiritual maturity developing (verses 13, 14, and 15), and love (verse 16). What Paul asked for in the lives of his beloved Philippians, love and knowledge and all judgment, do not come into the lives of people who are not faithful in attending church and serving God under the leadership of their pastor. In short, your responsibility, to see God fulfill His role of answering the request made by Paul, is to be here during preaching time, to be here during teaching time, to be here during testimony and fellowship time, and to be here for evangelism. Turn your attention at this time back to Philippians 1.9, where Paul prayed that those church members in Philippi would have more love, but with an increase in knowledge and judgment, as well.

At this time, I would like to direct my remarks most directly to those of you here this evening who are not Christians, to those of you here are not saved. I suppose there are many things that could be said about the reasons why you are not saved, but at least one way of examining the reason you are not saved is related to your process of thinking, which is related to your knowledge and judgment. Please listen very carefully to what I am about to say so you do not misunderstand my words. I am not challenging your intelligence, but to the direction of your thinking. Some of you are going to die and go to Hell for no other reason than because most who are in your situation give little attention to reflecting about truly important matters. Others of you are going to die and go to Hell because you spend too much time reflecting and thinking about the wrong things. I do not suggest sinners are saved by thinking, because that is certainly not the case. Salvation comes to those who trust Jesus. Salvation does not come by thinking. However, neither does salvation come to those who do not think.

We know, from Matthew 13.23, in the parable of the soils, that the person who is saved is that person who hears the Word and who understands its message. Thus, we know that some thinking is required in order for a person to be saved from his sins. However, those who are foolish, including the simple, the empty, and the hollow, are quite unlikely to be saved.[4] On the other hand, First Corinthians 1.26-29 declares to us that very few people of prominence and position are saved:

26     For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27     But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28     And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29     That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Why are so few such people saved? Perhaps they think too much about the impact of their profession on their position, and they are lifted up with a pride and self-sufficiency that admits no need of a Savior. Such thinking puts anyone on dangerous ground, because of a tendency toward pride and egotism that resists any call to submit to Jesus for salvation. On the other hand, a fool is also on dangerous ground because he typically has not developed the tendency to think, leaving him without the necessary understanding of his predicament and need of a Savior. Understand that both extremes lead to final damnation. Therefore, I want to bring to you a message that appeals to your willingness to think, but not to think overmuch about matters that distract. Remember, Jesus told His disciples to “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”[5] Little children are capable of thinking, and their approach to thought is generally basic and can at best remain uncluttered by inconsequentials. Thus, smart people can be saved, average people can be saved, and even the young and immature can be saved. However, in order to be saved a certain approach to thinking is required. It cannot be irrational thought, Isaiah 1.18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” Neither can it be corroded with doubts and skepticism, lest your thinking not be like the thinking of little children. When matters of sin and salvation are at issue, it is surprising how few people exhibit clarity in their thinking.

With that said as a way of laying some groundwork, let me now preach to you about intelligent Christianity, seeking to persuade you that you cannot be saved without intelligent thought. Consider trusting Jesus in light of three things related to thinking:

First, THE REQUIREMENT OF REASON TO BE SAVED

One of my great beefs with the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements is their appeal to stupidity. In order to be Pentecostal or Charismatic you really do have to park your brain. How do you account for so many people supposedly being healed of terminal illnesses, but you have never personally known one? How do you account for their bizarre methods of interpreting the Bible? How do you account for Jan Crouch, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Benny Hinn, except in terms of being for all intents and purposes brain dead? Many years ago, a Pentecostal preacher in Torrance was waxing eloquent when he suddenly grasped his chest and declared he was having a heart attack. The audience was shocked and concerned. Moments later he regained his composure and announced that God had miraculously healing him of his heart attack, causing the people to rejoice, whereupon he straightway resumed preaching his message as if nothing had happened. That is just one illustration of an audience’s capacity for stupidity.

Neo-evangelicalism, on the other hand, is just as faulty, but for a different reason. With their pride of intellect and haughty snootiness toward God-ordained gospel preaching, there is no better example in the world of last days apostasy and an unwillingness to endure sound doctrine, and running after teachers because of their own lusts and their itching ears.

My friends, God will stand for no folly and He will stand for no pride and arrogance. What He will do is meet with ordinary sinners who are willing to think. Look at Isaiah 1.18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” That God will reason with you, a sinner, requires that you be willing to and be capable of thinking. However, His demand that the starting place in His dealings with you be the scarlet, the redness, of your sins, means He will brook no argument, will stand for no proud denial of sinfulness, will tolerate no arrogate presumption of equality with Him. In short, if you want to be saved you had better be ready to think, but do not dare to presume you can outthink God.

Second, THE RECOGNITION OF REASON TO BE SAVED

If you are willing to think, and if you are willing to abandon any foolish notions of trying to outthink God, there are some things you must reasonably recognize in order to be saved from you sins:

First, recognize that God is sovereign. There is someone who is bigger, smarter, stronger, more sophisticated than you can ever imagine being. He created the heavens and the earth, and you, by the way. He is the Potter and you are the clay.[6] He is absolutely in charge of everything and you will resist that and fight that to the eternal destruction of your own soul. This same God has also chosen to love you and to provide for you the means to be saved from your sins. Recognition that God is sovereign is beyond the foolish person and is repulsive to the person who thinks he is smarter than anyone else.

Second, recognize that sin is your problem. You were born in sin.[7] This means, the real problem is what you are, not what you do. What you do only compounds the problem of what you are in the sight of a holy God. Being a sinner, you are spiritually dead and incapable. Being a sinner means you are distorted and twisted in your perceptions of God, the things of God, and spiritual reality in general. Being a sinner means you are helpless and, quite simply, hopeless. Again, this is beyond the foolish person and repulsive to the proud intellectual.

Third, recognize that your sentence is death. “The wages of sin is death.”[8] That is, both the immediate and the ultimate consequence of being a sinner, of being what you are, contrary to God by nature and by thought and by deed, is spiritual death. Negatively, spiritual death is separation from God, both now and forever. Positively, spiritual death is suffering through a mortal lifetime without the blessedness of communion with God, and throughout eternity in the awful torment of the lake of fire. You are dead, sir, and someday you will burn for eternity as a consequence. The stupid man soon forgets what I have said. The intellectual snob convinces himself otherwise through rationale and false reasonings.

Fourth, recognize that the scriptures are God’s Word. The things I have related to you about the sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of man, the sentence of man for your sin against God, that is all found in God’s Word, the Bible. So, please, accept God’s Word as true. Believe the Bible. For to deny the accuracy, the authenticity, the authority, of the scriptures is to deny the integrity of God, Himself. As Paul wrote, “Yea, let God be true but every man a liar.”[9] One final thing about God’s Word before I move on to my final point: In God’s       Word, we are told that because God loves you, despite your sinfulness, He sent His Own Son, Jesus Christ, to leave heaven’s glory and become a man so that He might suffer, bleed and die, so that He might rise from the dead after three days and nights, and so that He might go back to heaven and sit at the Father’s right hand, prepared to save anyone who comes to Him by faith for the forgiveness of his sins. Think about what Jesus did, my friend, and why.

Finally, THE RESPONSE OF REASON TO BE SAVED

Why does the Bible teach that the “fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom?”[10] Why did Paul write, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men?”[11] Why did someone write in the Bible, “It is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God?”[12] Those things are found in the Bible as warnings to sinful men that the soul that sinneth, it shall die.[13] When you die, should you die without Christ, you will suffer all the pent up rage of One Who loved you, Who sent His Son to die on the cross for you to pay for your sins, but who you dismiss through lack of thought or because of the pride of intellect. Dying without Christ is not reasonable, my friend. Think. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?[14] Let me tell you what a thinking man will do:

First, the thinking man will flee from the danger of sin. Just as a thinking man will run as fast as he can from a time bomb that he knows is about to go off, so a man who is thinking about sin and the consequences of it will flee from sin. Maybe in the stupidity of the movies a character will try to defuse a ticking bomb. In real life, thinking people do not do that. Flee from sin.

Second, flee to safety in Jesus. In reality, you cannot flee from sin without fleeing to Jesus, and when you flee to Jesus, really, you flee from sin. Flee to Jesus, my friend. You do not have to be mature. Remember, the little children are invited. You do not have to be sophisticated. Remember, also, not many wise. All you have to do is think. Think enough to be able to reason, but do not over-think so that you are distracted by inconsequential matters. Think enough to be able to understand that without Christ you are damned for eternity.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Your sins are scarlet. What can make them as white as snow? The cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Think. Come to Jesus and be saved.



[1] The lost man is “without strength,” Romans 5.6, with the believer having the same “infirmity,” Romans 6.19 (same Greek word in both verses), with Romans 7.18 being Paul’s admission about himself.

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 545.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See discussion of “fool” in Psalm 14.1 by C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament, Vol 5, (Peabody, MA: reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 126.

[5] Mark 10.14

[6] Isaiah 64.8; Jeremiah 18.6; Romans 9.21

[7] Psalm 51.5

[8] Romans 6.23

[9] Romans 3.4

[10] Psalm 111.10; Proverbs 9.10

[11] 2 Corinthians 5.11

[12] Hebrews 10.31

[13] Ezekiel 18.4, 20

[14] Matthew 16.26



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org