Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PREPARING FOR A GRAND ENTRANCE

Philippians 1.20

Let me introduce two people, Betty and Bert. Betty and Bert are people who are described in God’s Word as sinners. Romans 5.12 declares that the sinfulness that contaminated Betty and Bert’s souls, from the moment of their conception in each of their mother’s wombs, was passed on to them. In fact, the sinfulness which so plagues mankind actually came from the first man, Adam. We have all inherited his sinfulness. That being true, what did Betty and Bert actually ever do to become sinful? Did they ever actually do anything to become sinful? When you consider sinfulness in light of scripture, it becomes clear that only two people ever became sinful, Eve and then Adam. Everyone else was conceived sinful. Is that not correct? Everyone except the sinless Savior. Therefore, Betty and Bert actually did nothing to become sinful. They were conceived and born that way. Though they are both in their late 30s, Betty and Bert really have little in common. You see, several years ago Bert was saved and his eternal destiny was forever changed. If Betty is an unsaved woman who did nothing to become a sinner (she was born that way), what did she do to become destined for Hell? She did nothing. Is that not right? You do nothing to become a sinner and, if you do nothing, you will someday die in your sins and suffer eternal torment. Bert, on the other hand, was saved several years ago, through faith in Christ. Since genuine conversion is through faith in Christ and since faith is something which is actually given to a sinner through the means of gospel preaching, and since salvation is through faith and not of works, in a real sense, what did Bert do to be saved?[1] He did nothing, did he? Therefore, Betty did nothing to be born a sinner and did nothing to remain a sinner on her way to Hell. Bert, as well, did nothing to be born a sinner. However, surprisingly to most people, Bert did not really do anything to be saved. Still, his eternal destiny is forever changed and he will someday go to heaven and be with the Father and with the Savior forever. Therefore, here we are with Betty and Bert. Both of them about the same age and with virtually the same sinful start in life, but with radically different lifestyles and destinies because one of them was saved and the other was not saved. Bert’s conversion cannot be explained in terms of what he did, since his conversion, from start to finish, was entirely a work of God through Bert’s faith in Jesus Christ. Two different destinies. So far, human effort and works have not really entered into the picture of either person’s life to affect or influence their eternal destinies.

Are we then to say that what you do means nothing? Are we to say that human energies are meaningless? Not at all. What I am pointing out is that human effort and human energies have absolutely no impact on where you will spend eternity. However, if you are a saved person, bound for heaven, you can very definitely affect and influence certain aspects of your eternal destiny. For example: As a Christian, as a person who is saved through faith in Jesus Christ, you can prepare your own grand entrance into heaven. In our text for today, we see the Apostle Paul informing his readers how he was preparing for his own grand entrance into heaven.

Turn at this time to Philippians 1.20. When you find our text, please stand and read along with me, you reading silently while I read aloud: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”

Notice three things the Apostle Paul mentions with respect to his eventual entrance into heaven:

AS TO PRESENTATION

Let me bring to your attention the Apostle Peter’s principle. The idea of affecting and influencing your own entrance into heaven may be new to some of you, so turn to Second Peter 1.3-12 and take a look at the clearest passage in the New Testament on the subject:

3      According as his power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge divine of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4      Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

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.

9      But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10     Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11     For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12     Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

Starting out in verses 3 and 4, with wonderful promises and partaking of the divine nature, and addressing the issue of Christian growth and maturity in verses 5-10, the Apostle Peter shows how a believer’s life, lived to its fullest for Christ, will result in an abundant entrance into heaven, verse 11. Therefore, it is established that a saved person can by God’s grace prepare for his own grand entrance into heaven. Is that not exciting for the child of God?

Peter’s principle established, we now look at Paul’s practice in our text, back in Philippians 1.20. We learn that Paul, from Roman imprisonment, so lived his life that he was assured of a grand entrance into the everlasting kingdom. However, we should ask ourselves; did Paul do anything to be saved? No. He was saved just like anyone else, simple faith in Christ. After he was saved, however, he could and in fact did live such a life of service to Christ, by God’s abundant grace, that he was able to write these words in verse 20: “that in nothing I shall be ashamed.” Recognize that the shame Paul was referring to was a reference understood by those of that culture to standing before a king. We already know that Paul had no shame for being in a Roman prison, but took that affliction completely in stride as God’s plan for his life.[2] Therefore, the shame to which he refers here has to do with his anticipation of standing before his Savior without any embarrassment associated with the kind of life he lived after his conversion. His own good works, then, had nothing to do with getting into heaven, but they had a great deal to do with the kind of reception he would receive once he arrived there.

AS TO PROPORTION

Ever notice how some people are extremely committed Christians and others are not so committed? The difference usually has to do with whether one is saved or lost. We recognize that the professing Christian who is not known for his commitment to Christ is unusually someone who is not really saved. However, among the saved, those who attend church faithfully, give, and evangelize; there are those whose level of commitment is so much higher than some. Why is this? Paul may give us a clue, since he explains his own commitment to Christ.

First, Paul makes reference to his earnest expectation. “Earnest expectation” translates a single Greek word that is found only one other place in the New Testament, Romans 8.19: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” In both places the word, which refers to “stretching your neck” in anticipation of something as a physical description of your eagerness, refers to things related to the coming of Christ and arriving in heaven.[3] A mental image that comes to my mind is a hurdler sprinting toward the finish line, leaning forward to edge out the competition. It is that leaning forward, that stretching out of the neck that is envisioned here. So, why did Paul exert himself so courageously to live for and serve Christ during his physical lifetime? Because he was full of “eager expectation” for heaven. He wanted heaven badly. How badly do you want heaven? Or, are you kinda happy here? We should be excited about heaven, should we not?

Next, Paul makes reference to his hope. We know that hope in the Bible is the confident expectation of future blessing, based upon the promises of God. Thus, we recognize that Paul did not wish he was going to heaven. He knew. However, his confidence was not based upon himself. His confidence was in what God had promised to do on behalf of those who had trusted the Savior, and Paul was trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, not only did Paul know that heaven was his home, which is associated with hope, but also he was actually longing for heaven, which is associated with eager expectation. Do you think that perhaps your service to Christ would be enhanced if your attention was directed more toward heaven than it is right now? I think so. A believer’s level of commitment to serving Christ is directly related to how eager he is for heaven and how well founded his hope is. Therefore, your commitment, if it is lacking, tells a great deal about your upward look and your hope.

AS TO PROCLAMATION

Paul was confident that his service to Christ following his own conversion would result in his entrance into heaven being a grand one. However, what produced such excellent devotion and commitment to the gospel ministry was his earnest expectation and hope. How, then, did Paul’s earnest expectation and hope actually show itself in his life? What did Paul actually do that guaranteed a grand entrance into heaven, an entrance that resulted from him being able to say, “that in nothing I shall be ashamed”? As you might have guessed, that activity which Paul was so motivated to perform, that guaranteed his grand and glorious entrance into heaven, was related to his proclamation of the gospel. So much of a Christian’s reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ is based upon his fruitfulness as a Christian.

Christian? Take note of the manner of Paul’s proclamation: “but with all boldness, as always.” Have I ever told you “the non witnessing Christian is a contradiction in terms?” Have I ever taught you that the work of faith, which is one of the key ingredients that shows someone to be genuinely saved, is endeavoring to get the gospel out? Have I ever reminded you that in the book of Acts believers filled with the Holy Spirit were bold in their witness?[4] My friends, as in Paul’s case, so in yours. What sets a saved person apart from a lost person, so many times, is his willingness to put forth the effort to bring folks to Christ, his boldness to overcome the natural shyness and inhibitions that the meek so often have, the determination to overcome fear and simply do what God has commanded to be done. Yes, what Paul did that guaranteed his grand entrance into heaven was boldly proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was his manner.

Christian? Take note, now, of the magnification of Paul’s proclamation. Paul wrote, “so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body.” You might imagine that a professing believer functions like a scientific instrument. You can function like either a microscope or a telescope. A microscope is that which takes something very small and makes it appear to be very big. Think of a carnal Christian focusing on minor matters and ignoring those things that God says are truly important. Such is not Christian witness, since our Savior is so glorious, majestic, and great that He is not to be compared to something small that needs to be made to appear big. Rather, the Christian’s witness is likened to a telescope, which is used to focus on that which is very big, to make it seem to be very near. Such is what Paul did, and such is what we do, with Christ. He is far away, seated at the right hand of the Father. However, through the preaching of the gospel, He is brought very near; near enough to save anyone who comes to Him by faith. Thus, Paul’s personal preparation for heaven, after he was saved, involved the proclamation of the gospel. He was bold in his efforts to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.

The manner of Paul’s proclamation, the magnification of Paul’s proclamation, and the means of Paul’s proclamation. How far will you go to exalt Christ? What will it take to stop you from doing your part to advance the gospel? A fine? Imprisonment? Persecution? Peer pressure? Fear of getting a door slammed in your face? My friends, Paul said that Christ would be magnified in his body, “whether it be by life, or by death.” In other words, there was absolutely nothing that was going to stop him from getting the gospel out. He was going to serve God. He was going to preach Christ. That is the kind of determination to serve God that is found among those who really know Christ.

Think about what Paul has told us in this verse. It is amazing. To people who know that salvation comes through faith in Christ and not of works that we have done, Paul shows how he plans to affect his entrance into heaven. Therefore, whether you go to heaven or not has to do with whether you are saved or not. For those who are saved, what you do after you are saved, how you live your life for Christ, particularly when it comes to your fruit bearing and your success in magnifying Christ in your body through life or through death, you affect your eternity.

Secondly, what kind of determination do you exhibit in your Christian life and ministry? Is it anything resembling Paul’s determination? What will stop you from magnifying Christ in your life? Fatigue? Discouragement? A hangnail? Fussing with your spouse? Motherhood? Fatherhood? Paul knew that his entrance into heaven would be grand. He knew he would not be ashamed. How did he know? Because he knew that nothing would stop him. Not anything in life and not death. As always, Christ would be magnified in his body. May God find us faithful to serve Him in the same way. Amen?

By the way, I hope, if you are one of those professing Christians who never joins with others in seeking the salvation of the lost, who never agonizes over lost souls in prayer; I hope all of your kids are already saved. I hope your mom and dad are saved. I hope your brothers and sisters are all saved. For you see, one of my desires in seeking to bring the lost to Christ is that I will be used of God to bring someone else’s loved one to the Savior, as I pray someone else will be used of God to bring my family to the Savior. Selfish motives? Yeah.

While you are deciding whether to obey the Great Commission and join with us Saturday night, I would like you to imagine a turtle, or a tortoise. Are they not the ugliest creatures God ever made? They are hideous, but they serve as a great object lesson for the Christian. When a turtle has hope, he shows it by stretching out his neck and stretching forward in his cumbersome and difficult way. However, when that same turtle’s hope is gone, what does he do? He jerks his head back inside that shell he calls home and all progress stops. Do you see the connection between the turtle’s hope and his earnest expectation? When he has hope, he shows it by stretching out his neck. When he does not have hope, because someone has bopped him on the nose, he pulls that neck and head back and shows his lack of hope by demonstrating no earnest expectation. With the turtle, then, there is always a correlation between his hope and his earnest expectation. When he has hope, his neck is stretched out. When his head is pulled back, it is because he has no hope. You never see a turtle making progress with his head pulled back and you never see the turtle’s head stretched out without some progress of some kind being made.

I wish people were that way. I wish there was a better correlation between what people said and what they did. I wish people who claimed to be Christians, who expressed in some way a hope of heaven, did some of the turtle stuff and stretched forth to the promise of heaven. However, you just do not see much of it these days. These days you see all these people who claim to be Christians, who insist they are saved, who strenuously object to anyone doubting for an instant that they are saved, but who never seem to stretch the neck toward heaven, who never seem to strive through this life, in service to God, to arrive at their final destination able to say, “in nothing I shall be ashamed.”

Do you claim to be a Christian? Do you say that you are saved? Did you come forward, say the sinner’s prayer, and subsequently get baptized? Please excuse me if I am not overly impressed. It is just that I have been around for so long, and I really do have a great deal more experience in these matters than many people do. I have seen so much, have been burned so often, and have been disappointed so frequently, that though I do not doubt your sincerity and conviction that you are saved, I am convinced that you may not, in fact, have a reasonable expectation of heaven. If that offends you, I am sorry. If that angers you, so be it. If it irritates you, you will get over it. However, if it provokes you to thought, reflection, and consideration that I may know what I am talking about, then maybe you will be saved after all. Would not that be wonderful?

Let me explain to you why I do not think you have a reasonable expectation of heaven, why I do not think you are going to heaven when you die, as things stand right now:

First, BECAUSE A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF HEAVEN WOULD REQUIRE HOPE, AND YOU HAVE NO HOPE

Please understand that when I use the word hope I may not be using the word the way you are using it. When I use the word hope, I am using it the way the word is used in the Bible. Though you use the word “hope” to express wishful thinking, I use the word “hope” to refer to a confidence of future blessing based on the promise of God. In other words, you wish you are going to heaven, but you have no Biblically based confidence on which to ground your desires. Let me illustrate:

Romans 5.5 says that “hope maketh not ashamed.” Where are you on Saturday nights? Where are you when the dying neighbor needs to be witnessed to? Where are you when the infidel relative is blaspheming? You say you expect to go to heaven, but I say you may well be mistaken. I say you may well be mistaken because the Bible says that hope, which is Bible-based confidence of heaven, maketh not ashamed. However, you seem to exhibit the characteristics of one who is ashamed. You are embarrassed. So much so that you will not tell folks about the Savior. So, I suggest that you have no hope.

Here is another one. Romans 5.2 says that saved people “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 12.12 reads, “rejoicing in hope.” Romans 15.13: “the God of hope fill you with joy.” You say you expect to go to heaven, but you have no apparent joy. Yet scripture shows a vital connection between those who really do have the hope of heaven and also having both joy and rejoicing. Excuse me, but you may think you are going to heaven, and you may wish to go to heaven, but do you have a reasonable expectation of heaven? Why? Because such would require real hope, and you do not seem to have hope. Not Bible hope.

Third, turn to First John 3.3: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Do you see the connection between purity and hope, between holiness and hope? Understand, purity does not mean you come home from work and crash, and because you do not go out and party and commit vile sin you can claim purity. No. Purity does not mean only that you do not do wrong. It also means that you do do right. However, since you do not do right, you do not serve God, and you do not seek the salvation of the lost, you cannot reasonably claim to have hope. Therefore, because you do not have hope (not real hope anyway), you have no real expectation of heaven.

Second, BECAUSE A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF HEAVEN REQUIRES HELP, AND YOU HAVE NO HELP

Two of many possible passages:

Acts 26.21-22:   21     For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

22     Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.

“Pastor, you better be careful using a passage from the book of Acts. The book of Acts is history, not doctrine.” My friends, I know that the book of Acts is history. However, notice what it is a history of here. In this passage, it is a history of Paul, while in prison, telling King Agrippa how God helped him, in the midst of great opposition, to continue trying to reach the lost. What kind of help from God to get folks saved is seen in your life? Yet you claim to be saved. This saved guy had God’s help to do God’s will. Do you?

Hebrews 4.16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Do you have a meaningful prayer life? In order to have hope you have to have help. However, you do not have any help from God presently that provides for you a basis for hope eventually. You exhibit no help from God in bringing anyone to Christ, and you exhibit no help from God in any other answers to prayers. You only get the kind of general answers to prayers that relate to a fortune teller’s predictions coming true. It was going to happen anyway. Therefore, because you have no help from God that you can reasonably point to, you have no hope. And because you have no hope, you have no real expectation of heaven someday.

Finally, A REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF HEAVEN REQUIRES HUMILITY, AND YOU HAVE NO HUMILITY

James 4.6 and First Peter 5.5 declare that God gives grace to the humble. Grace for what? Grace for living, grace for giving, grace for serving, and grace for submitting. However, you have no grace for any of these things, though you claim to have saving grace in your life. How can you have grace without humility, when God says that He gives grace only to the humble?

Further, James 4.10 and First Peter 5.6 command you to humble yourself, yet you do not and will not, in stubbornness and proud rebellion. How can you be saved and be this way? If you insist you are humble, pray tell who are you humble to?

Psalm 9.12 tells us God forgets not the cry of the humble. Psalm 10.17 acknowledges to God that He hears the desire of the humble. Where does that leave you, O proud woman, O proud man, O proud child? Where does that leave you? It leaves you with no reasonable expectation of heaven.

What do you have to say, my friend? On what do you base your expectation of heaven? Do you think you will go to heaven for no other reason than because you want to? No one will ever be in heaven simply because he desires to be. You have no hope, you have no help, and you have no humility. Lacking these things strongly suggests one thing if it shows nothing else, that you are not saved, that you are lost, and that you need to come to Jesus and be saved. So come.



[1] Romans 10.17; Ephesians 2.8-9

[2] Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter To The Philippians - NICNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 136.

[3] See footnote for Philippians 1.20 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1821.

[4] Acts 4.31



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org