Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PAUL’S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL THEOLOGY: JUSTIFICATION”

Philippians 3.8c-9

Is it possible to communicate love to someone without actually saying “I love you?” Of course it is. Tell your loved ones that you love them, obviously. However, you can also show your love without uttering the word “love.” Turn to Philippians 3.7.

Does the Bible teach that God is a triune being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Yes, it does. Again and again and again, in a whole host of ways, scripture teaches and reinforces the doctrine of the triunity of God. However, that said, the word “trinity” is never once found in the Bible. So you see, it is possible to deal with the subject of love and to deal with the subject of the trinity without using those precise words. In our text for today, the Apostle Paul deals with the subject of justification without once using the word. And how does he deal with justification without using the word? He describes the concept of justification without using the word justification.

In Philippians 3.7-8 we see that the Christian life, for the Apostle Paul, was all wrapped up in knowing Jesus Christ. Everything that Paul had once valued was, when compared alongside the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, to him so much dung. That was Paul’s estimation of everything when compared to his Lord Jesus. In today’s text, Paul gives to us one of the many details related to his personal autobiographical theology found in Philippians. Specifically, this man whose comprehension of the gospel came to him by direct revelation from Jesus Christ shows us that justification is by faith alone.[1]

Stand and read with me Philippians 3.7-11, and then settle down on our text for today:

7      But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8      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 do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9      And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10     That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11     If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

In dealing with the subject of justification, if not the word “justification,” Paul shows to us the prize and the predicate.

AT THE END OF VERSE 8, AND THE BEGINNING OF VERSE 9, THE APOSTLE PAUL REVEALS TO US THE PRIZE EVERY MAN SHOULD AIM FOR

“. . . that I may win Christ, And be found in Him . . . .”

Recognize that this is Paul’s description of the ultimate salvation that a saved man looks forward to. When you come to know Jesus Christ, Whom to know is life eternal, you don’t get your entire salvation right away. You certainly get the forgiveness of sins right away. You get the eternal life, which begins immediately and never ends. You also get the earnest of your inheritance, which is the indwelling and sealing Spirit of God. However, you haven’t gotten it all until, in a glorified body suited for timeless eternity, you get to meet Him face to face, He Who, not having seen, you love. Notice how Paul describes the realization of the Prize.

First, the realization of the Prize is described as an active pursuit. “that I may win Christ” Do you see how very personal this is with Paul? My friends, this is not about going to heaven so much as it’s about encountering the Lover of my soul. Paul does not portray himself, here, as having trusted Christ and then simply waiting patiently and passively until he gets to heaven. Though Jesus Christ is not my father and I am not His child, imagine the picture of a little boy long separated by reason of necessity from his father who loves him and who he loves. They rendezvous in the airport by previous arrangement. And what does the little boy do when his eyes fall upon his father? He runs and runs and runs until he finally throws himself into his daddy’s arms. Jesus Christ is Paul’s Master, not his heavenly Father. Be clear about that. Paul is His bond slave and disciple, not his child. However, the picture of Paul fixing his gaze by the eyes of faith on his Savior and running, running, ever running toward Him, so he can throw himself into His loving arms, is exactly the picture here. What many do not realize, however, is that this scene of the Christian racing toward his Savior is very much the proper Christian life. “So run, that ye may obtain,” First Corinthians 9.24. “. . . and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” Hebrews 12.1-2. Later on, when the end of his life on earth was imminent, Paul would write “I have finished my course,” in Second Timothy 4.7. Done running, he was just about there. So you see, on one hand the Christian life with its service and its worship is very much an active pursuit of the One Who is already known as Savior.

However, on the other hand, the realization of the Prize is also described as a passive result. “And be found in Him” Is it not amazing that the phrase “that I may win Christ” uses an active voice verb to describe something the believer does, while the phrase “and be found in Him” uses a passive voice verb to describe something that someone else does?[2] This is because, when it is all over, when all is said and done, to be found (by God) to be in Him, to be in Christ, is where you want to be found. Turn to Ephesians chapter 1. To be in Christ was understood by Paul to be so important, and should also be to us. As I read Ephesians 1.1-14 at a steady pace, I want you to see if you can locate the 10 different places that reference is made to being “in Christ,” and the 2 places reference is made to being in the Father:

1      Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2      Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

4      According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5      Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6      To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

7      In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

8      Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

9      Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10     That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

11     In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

12     That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

13     In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

14     Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Obviously, to be “in Christ” is to be saved, to be a real believer, to be adopted, to be one who awaits delivery of a spiritual inheritance. On one hand it is a matter that is entirely the doing of God through His Son Jesus, Who shed His blood for the redemption of our sins. For that reason, realizing the prize is shown to be a passive thing that is the result of nothing that a believer does; to “be found in him.” On the other hand, believers are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. And the child who misses his daddy will run to meet him, though he is already his child. That is the picture we are given with the phrase “that I may win Christ.” In the end, when it is all over, saved people, people who have been justified through faith in Christ, will be those who have both won Christ and who are found in Him.

THE PRIZE IS WONDERFUL, FOR WE SEE THAT THE LORD JESUS IS THE PRIZE. HOWEVER, BEFORE THE REALIZATION OF THE PRIZE IN THE FUTURE THERE MUST PROPERLY BE THE PREDICATE

Through the rest of Philippians 3.9, Paul lays out a four stage predicate, what is required before there can be any possibility of seeing the Lord Jesus Christ face to face in heaven someday. Let us deal with each stage individually:

First, there can be no self-righteousness. Paul writes, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness.” What Paul means here is that, in and of himself, he had no claim to be a righteous person. He had no claim to have standing of any kind before God. Think of it. The greatest example of godliness and spirituality the world has ever seen recognized that if he was ever going to win Christ, if he was ever going to be found in Christ come Judgment Day, he had to give up any and all claims of righteousness. That means no claim of personal merit. No claim of achievement of any kind. None of this, “I changed my life around” stuff. For, you see, there can be no personal recognition for attainments by someone who claims that Jesus paid it all, all to Him you owe. This is because you are destitute of personal worthiness.

Second, there can be no Law righteousness. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law.” Some might have said, “I know that I am nothing, but at least I keep the Ten Commandments, at least I tithe, at least I worship, at least I pray, at least I don’t bow to idols, at least I go to church, at least I conduct family devotions, at least I work around the church house.” Do you realize that as helpful as those things might be, as proper as those things might be, they do you absolutely no good in establishing for you any kind of righteousness that will stand you in good stead come Judgment Day? Those things will not help you to win Christ or to be found in Him when you die or when He comes, whichever occurs first. I remember the first time we ever had an inquiry room at this church, the week of July 4th in 1992. I was told after the services were over what people said when they were interviewed. I was informed, “Preacher, so and so said she was going to heaven because she was good. So and so said he was sure he was saved because he was baptized. And this other one said he was saved because he had asked Jesus into his heart.” My friends, each of those people, in one way or the other, was expressing a reliance on self-righteousness or law righteousness for his salvation, which Paul abandoned before his own salvation, and which you’d better abandon too, if you ever expect to be saved.

Instead of self-righteousness, and instead of Law righteousness, Paul was counting on Christ’s righteousness through the instrumental means of faith in Christ. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.” You can look up all the verses which contain the phrase “the faith of Christ” or its near equivalent, and you can study them as thoroughly as you choose. Study Romans 3.22 and 26, as well as Galatians 2.16 and 20, and you will see only two options. The phrase must either refer to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ or to faith in Jesus Christ. However, only the latter understanding of those verses makes sense in appropriating Jesus Christ as your Savior. Therefore, the righteousness which Paul was counting on for a good standing before God, the righteousness which Paul was counting on to win Christ by running his race, the righteousness which Paul was counting on to be finally and ultimately found in Him, was the righteousness that was imputed to him, that was assigned to him, through faith in Jesus Christ. Incredible! This most amazing and spiritual Christian who ever lived was not counting on being amazing, or being spiritual, to stand before his Savior in heaven someday. He was counting on a righteousness which was given to him through faith in Christ. Astounding! My friends, that’s different than Hinduism. That’s different than Buddhism. That’s different than Mormonism. That’s different than 7th Day Adventism. That’s different than Catholicism. That’s different than Pentecostalism. That’s different than Charismatism. That’s different than evangelicalism. That’s different than what most independent Baptists I’ve talked to believe. Listen to me now. Faith in Christ, righteousness of Christ. You don’t find anything remotely like that in any religion known to man. That’s only Bible Christianity, something foreign to Christian radio, foreign to Christian television, foreign to contemporary Christian music, foreign to Christian bookstores, and foreign to Christian organizations. Absolutely foreign. Found only in God’s Word and in a few churches.

Finally, pointing out the source of this righteousness which comes to the believer through faith in Christ, this is “the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Consider. A man, having no righteousness of his own, either by innate merit or by obedience to the Law of Moses, can actually appropriate a righteousness which is real righteousness, which is saving righteousness, through the means of faith in Christ. That means you don’t have to be good, because you’ll never be good enough. You don’t have to be righteousness, because you will never be righteous enough. The way you obtain righteousness is imputation by means of faith in Christ. But that’s not all. Since it is the righteousness which is necessary to give you standing before God, it is a righteousness which must in every way measure up to God’s Own righteousness. That’s good, since this righteousness which comes by means of faith in Christ is, we see in this last phrase, “the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Astounding! This is too good. What Paul is interested in is the prize of the ultimate salvation of seeing Jesus Christ face to face in glory, having won Him and being found in Him. That is what Paul, the Christian, longed for and strove toward. That was his prize, as it should also be your prize. However, notice what was predicate to that prize. What was the attainment of that prize conditioned on? No self-righteousness. No law righteousness. But righteousness through faith in Christ, righteousness which is of God by faith. What connects the believer’s future of being united with his Savior to his past of being justified through faith in Jesus Christ and having the righteousness which is of God imputed to you by faith? That is, what is in between those two events? It is something called the Christian life.

Are you living the Christian life? And is your life a race to win Christ? Is your life somewhat comparable to the little boy in the airport running and overcoming obstacles to throw himself into the arms of his daddy, who he loves but has not seen face to face for too long? “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure,” First John 3.2. If you are a Christian and this is not how you live your life, make a change today and adjust your lifestyle. If you are not a Christian, then you need to recognize the urgency of your situation and the absolute need to embrace Jesus Christ by faith.



[1] Galatians 1.12

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 557.



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