Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďREAL CHRISTIAN CONQUESTĒ

Philippians 4.13; Luke 14.25-33

 

We first began our study of Paulís letter to the Philippian Church on July 29, 2012. So, for the last two plus years we have been examining, on most Sunday evenings, a letter in the New Testament written specifically to facilitate unity in a congregation such as ours. Those believers in the Philippian congregation were like us in a number of ways. They were doctrinally sound, and I think we are a doctrinally sound church. They had gone through some financially difficult times, and we have gone through financially difficult times, though not nearly so rough as their experiences had been. They were a giving church, and we have demonstrated our generosity as a church to missionaries and visiting preachers for years. And they were a church that had pretty much gotten along with each other, which we by and large do, as well. However, the time came when Paul was moved by the Spirit of God to pen a letter calling for them to cinch things up a bit, to make some decisions as private individuals, and to sacrifice some of their personal prerogatives, all for the purpose of creating an environment where God could instill in them an even greater degree of spiritual unity than they had previously known.

I submit to you that we have been brought by Godís good providence to do the same. The basis that Iím going to plead with you from is the verse we will once again look at, Philippians 4.13. I have emphasized for years that the brand of Christianity that is believed and imperfectly practiced within these auditorium walls is quite different than what is typically found among professing Christians out there, what is found on Christian radio, what is found on Christian television, and what is found in Christian book stores. I am convinced they for the most part worship a different Christ. I am persuaded they bow to a different god, or should I say, they try to make God bow to them. For the most part, they read a different Bible. They preach and believe a different gospel. And they have beliefs and views about sin and the way of salvation that bears little resemblance to the true gospel found in the Word of God.

Let me emulate the Apostles Paul and John in naming the names of some I believe to be dangerous:[1] Billy Graham, the aged proponent of compromise, decisionism, and ecumenical evangelism (willing to direct those responding during his crusades to Roman Catholic counselors!) throughout the 20th century.[2] Robert Schuller, the apostle of neo-orthodoxy, which is the practice of using Bible words to convey profoundly unbiblical doctrines. John MacArthur, foremost in sewing confusion amongst conservative evangelicals about the blood of Jesus Christ.[3] Bishop Jakes, the Pentecostal who denies the Trinity. John Hagee, who has claimed the Jewish people do not need Jesus Christ as their Savior. Then there are Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflow Dollar, and Frederick K. Price, who advance a prosperity theology. My friends, if those men preach the gospel and the blood of Christ then I do not. If I preach the gospel and the blood of Christ then they do not. Notice, I am not yelling. I am not preaching right now. I am stating facts for you to consider while using all the intellectual and spiritual resources that you have at your disposal.

I propose to show you something in Godís Word quite aside from the gospel and how to become a Christian. In this message from Godís Word I purpose to show you something that is taught in the Bible which shows, as well, that these men that I have listed for you, insofar as I am aware of their teachings, not only are wrong about how to be saved, but they are also completely wrong about what it means to live the Christian life after you are saved. And what do I want you to do in response to this message? I want you to stop supporting them. I want you to stop giving them money. I want you to stop watching them on television. I want you to stop reading their books. In short, I want you to stop subsidizing those who misrepresent not only the gospel and how to be saved, but also how to live the Christian life after you are saved. Their ministries can do you no good whatsoever, and watching them only brings confusion into you home and into the minds of your children, because of the truths they impart that leave you open to their errors. Of course, I canít make you do anything. Iím only one man. However, I am your pastor. And I can tell you that I will not knowingly use anyone in this church ministry who is not committed to Godís Word and who supports, either financially or with your attention and interest, someone not true to God, someone who dishonors by his writings or by his sermons Godís Son Jesus Christ.

Okay, then. Iíve announced to you ahead of time what I want you to do if I can show you something in Godís Word that reveals them to be wrong about living the Christian life. I want you to quit those guys. Let lost people support those guys. Let religious people support those guys. I exhort you to support the ministry of this church and no other ministry. Thatís the Bible way, the Baptist way, and the right way. Please now turn in your Bible to Philippians 4.13. Once you are there, stand and read with me silently, while I read aloud:

 

ďI can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Ē

 

Most of you are familiar with the error of the secularists and the humanists, who say ďI can do all things.Ē Thatís the claim of someone who believes in limitless human potential. Such is the power of positive thinking view of Anthony Robbins, and even some of the most liberal of the so-called Christian guys, like Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, and his now dead mentor, Norman Vincent Peale. But such nonsense as this deceives virtually no one who claims to be a Christian. Even the most lax among the new evangelicals would never tolerate an ďI can do all thingsĒ philosophy of life. They would insist, as you would, on Paulís qualifier. ďI can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.Ē And perhaps the Charismatic and Pentecostal crowd would allow something along the line of ďI can do all things through the power of the Holy Spirit which strengthens me.Ē So, none of you, and most of those out there who are church goers, would never fall for a rewording of this wonderful verse of the Bible. But what if I can show you how they completely alter the meaning of the verse without in any way altering the words of the verse? What if I can show you that this verse does not mean what those guys I have mentioned say it means? What if I can show you that this verse means what the rest of the Bible means? Will you do right if I can show that to you? I hope so.

The issue with this verse is not whether or not human potential is limitless. Of course, itís not limitless. Neither is the issue in this verse whether or not the Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely powerful. Of course, He is. The issue in this verse is the meaning of victory in Christ. What Paul is declaring here without actually using the word is that there is victory in Christ. I submit to you that virtually every Bible teacher you have ever heard or read misconstrues what victory in Christ really is. And when they distort what Paul means they cause great harm in the lives of Christians everywhere who read this verse, who commit this verse to memory, who make this verse their life verse, but who do not understand what this verse really means. Granted, there is victory in Christ. This verse promises victory in Christ. But what is victory? It depends on how you interpret this verse. Two portions comprise my exposition leading to this eveningís sermon:

 

First, LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT THIS VERSE DOES NOT MEAN

 

The common interpretation stated to reflect what most Christians have come to believe is: ďAs a child of God, there is nothing that I set my mind to do that I cannot do through the power of Christ.Ē Of course, you certainly do not attempt to live your own life like this, but this is what you have believed this verse actually meant. And why do you believe this verse means what I just stated? Because what I have stated as the common interpretation of this verse is what human beings want this verse to mean. Itís what those television guys want this verse to mean. It has ever been the desire of man, since the Garden of Eden, to be able to do what he wants to do. The serpentís enticement of Eve was so effective when he said to her, ďye shall be as gods.Ē So effective that she grabbed for the brass ring and straightway disobeyed God. Listen carefully to the guys on television. Whether it be Kenneth Copelandís outrageously obvious teaching that asserts that Christians can be just as sovereign in their exercise of power as Jesus Christ, or the more subtle but equally erroneous Charles Stanley who basically teaches that there is no problem for which there is not a simple solution that cannot be expounded during the course of the television broadcast. Whether stated in an extremely obvious way or in a subtle way, the position that is popular is that Philippians 4.13 means that ďAs a child of God, there is nothing that I set my mind to do that I cannot do through the power of Christ.Ē Folks, that is nothing short of God-enabled (you might label it God-sanctioned) human sovereignty.

However, is this view true? Letís take some time to refute this common interpretation. If the common notion is that victory in Christ means achieving, through the strength Christ gives to you, what you set out to achieve, then there should be some scripture to support this belief. But what do we find instead in Godís Word, where there are no contradictions? Consider John 21.15-17. We all remember that Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ three times before His crucifixion. And he wept bitter tears of remorse over what he had done. After the resurrection, however, listen to what the risen Savior said to Peter:

 

15    So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16    He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17    He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 

Do you think right then and there Peter made a personal commitment to never deny his Savior again and to always faithfully preach Him and proclaim the gospel? I do. However, what do we find in Paulís letter to the Galatians, but an inspired declaration that Peter had compromised the truth of the gospel? His conduct compromised the sufficiency of Christís crucifixion as the only necessary ground for a sinnerís salvation. I read Galatians 2.11:

 

ďBut when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.Ē

 

So you see, Peter set out to achieve something he was not able to achieve. Consider next Second Peter 1.5-7:

 

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.

 

This passage shows that there is growth in the Christian life, that your capacities and skills and abilities in the spiritual realm develop over time. But has not Paul told us in Philippians 3.12-14 that he had not arrived at spiritual perfection?

 

12    Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13    Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14    I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

So, not only was Paul not able to achieve everything he set out to achieve, like Peter, but we learn from Peter that it isnít even hypothetically possible to achieve everything you set out to achieve. Listen to me, beloved. What those guys on television preach is not true. And the reason it isnít true isnít because you havenít enough faith, or you donít know enough, or you are not committed enough. They set themselves up as men who are either so knowledgeable, or so anointed, or so committed, that spiritual principles work for them which donít work for you. However, that simply is not true. The reason what they preach and say they practice doesnít work for you is because it isnít true! And it doesnít work for them either, as John Hageeís and Charles Stanleyís divorces and Jimmy Swaggartís many adulteries clearly attest. What they declare Paul to have meant he didnít mean. What they suggest Paul to have meant he didnít suggest. And what they purport Paul to have practiced in his own life he did not practice. Why not? Because they do not teach what this verse really means. And the reason they donít teach what it really means is because they donít know what it really means.

 

Now, LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT THIS VERSE DOES MEAN

 

The correct interpretation stated to reflect what Paul was really declaring is not that ďAs a child of God, there is nothing that I set my mind to do that I cannot do through the power of Christ,Ē but that ďAs a child of God, there is nothing God has His mind set on me doing that I cannot do through the power of Christ.Ē Do you see the subtle difference that exists here? The issue here is sovereignty. The wrong interpretation of this verse reflects the view that the Christian is sovereign in his will, and that God will empower the sovereign Christian to do what he has set his mind on doing. However, the correct view of this verse reflects Paulís realization that it is God who is sovereign in all things, and that whatever experiences God has purposed Paul or you to pass through, there will be a corresponding strengthening in Christ for you to deal with that experience.

Now, how does Godís Word support this correct view of Philippians 4.13? In a number of ways: First, consider the context in which this verse was written. The Philippians were concerned about Paul. Why? He was in prison. Obviously, no matter what Paul had set his mind on doing, he was facing charges that could conceivably lead to his execution. Additionally, in the immediate preceding context, verses 10-12, Paul has specifically commented on how he had learned to deal with each circumstance he found himself in, with money or without, abased or abounding, full or hungry. So, the context of this passage does not support the popular misconception that you can do anything you set your mind to with Christís help. Next, consider James 1.2-4:

 

2      My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3      Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4      But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

Isnít it pretty obvious from this passage that you cannot do whatever you set your mind on doing, simply because unforeseen things come upon each of us without warning and without anticipation? There are many other similar passages that parallel these concepts. But two more passages will serve to show that this interpretation of Philippians 4.13 is the correct one. The third consideration is First Corinthians 10.13:

 

ďThere hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it

 

There is nothing in this verse that supports the notion that God is bound to empower you to accomplish whatever youíve decided to set your heart on accomplishing. This verse does indicate that God will give you the grace to deal with whatever He allows to come your way, which is a completely different idea. Finally, James 4.13-16:

 

13    Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14    Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15    For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

16    But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

 

This passage shows the wickedness of the television evangelists for what it is. The evil sin of presumption. Anyone who thinks Philippians 4.13 authorizes and underwrites autonomy and personal sovereignty has stood Godís purpose for the human race on its head. This passage shows that godliness has nothing to do with Christ empowering you to do whatever you choose to do. Rather, godliness is submission to the will of God and the recognition that He alone is sovereign.

So, Philippians 4.13 teaches us that we do have victory in Christ. However, victory in Christ is not what the natural man thinks it is, or would like for it to be. There is no human sovereignty in our text. There is no idea that you are to decide what you want to do and the Lord Jesus Christ is somehow obligated to empower you to accomplish your goals and objectives. What we do have in this verse is the child of God promised that, while God is sovereign and will do what He chooses to do with the Christianís life, with wealth or want, with power or puniness, with sweetness or sorrow from suffering, in Christ you will be enabled, you will be empowered, you will be blessed with grace sufficient to worship God, to serve God, and to glorify God, no matter what.

So, the ďall thingsĒ of Philippians refers not to whatsoever you decide you want to do, but whatsoever God decides to take you through. Itís a verse that has ramifications similar to what our Lord Jesus meant when He said, ďI will never leave thee, nor forsake theeĒ and when He said, ďLo, I am with you alway.Ē[4] This being true, let us not strive as the religionists and the popularists do to try and make God bow to human sovereignty and choice. Rather, let us consciously bow to God and yield to His sovereignty. Based upon the great error of those I have mentioned to you, I advise you to cut them out of your life. Send them no more support. Buy no more of their books. Listen to no more of their broadcasts. Instead, let us immerse ourselves in the truths of Godís Word and let us listen to those true men of God who seek not a God to serve them, but who seek to serve the true and living God.

 

SERMON:

 

My friends, the passage before us does not say what unsaved people, and indiscriminate readers of the Bible, and most popular Christian leaders, want it to say and say that it says. Far too many these days superimpose their beliefs and desires onto the Word of God and strive to make God in their own image. However, the Bible clearly teaches that Godís plan is for saved people to be conformed to the image of Christ. And what did our Lord Jesus say to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane?

 

ďAbba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt.Ē[5]

 

Do you understand what the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, was doing in that garden, my unsaved friend? He was bowing to the will of the Father. But you donít want that, do you? You want to have your fun. You want to smoke your weed. You want to sneak around behind your parentís backs and commit sin. You want to be independent and autonomous. The reason the television evangelists and the popular Christianity crowd are so well liked is because they offer the kind of Christianity that gives what people want most, the promise of heaven when you die and personal sovereignty until then. However, it doesnít work that way, my friend. Not with God. God will not allow you to gratify your lusts at His expense. He will not sit by and watch the blood of Jesus Christ trodden under foot while people sin willfully and indiscriminately while claiming to be Christians. And He will not draw sinners to His Son to be saved just so they can continue their autonomous and independent lifestyle. Oh, no.

Here are the facts: Your sin condemns you in Godís sight. Because of the condemnation of your sin, the wrath of God awaits you, and would crash down upon you right this moment, but for the fact that God is long-suffering and merciful, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. To demonstrate His goodness, His mercy, and His grace, God gave His Own Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. But do not be deluded into thinking that Jesus Christ saves sinners so they can continue in their sin without interruption. Oh, no. Jesus Christ does not save sinners in their sins. Jesus Christ saves sinners from their sins.[6] And personal autonomy, personal self-sufficiency, the idea that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it, is one of the sinful attitudes Jesus Christ saves sinners from.

Turn to Luke 14.25-33. You want to be saved? Have you been convicted of your sins under the preaching of the gospel, but you donít really understand what Godís terms are? Listen to what the Son of God said to a great multitude who followed Him:

 

25    And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

26    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

27    And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28    For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

29    Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

30    Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

31    Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

32    Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

33    So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

 

Sure doesnít sound like anyone on television, does it? Sounds like very few preachers and evangelists I know, as a matter of fact. Before you decide that you really want to be saved from your sins, before you decide you want to press toward Christ and strive to enter in at the strait gate, as Jesus commanded in Luke 13.24, there are some things in this passage you need to consider:

 

First, YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST INTENDS IS FOR SAVED PEOPLE TO BE HIS DISCIPLES

 

Donít think that the deal will be, ďJesus, you save me from my sins and then I will live for you and serve you when itís convenient for me, if I feel like it.Ē Folks, thatís not the deal at all. This is all about becoming a disciple. He will only save you by grace through faith to make a disciple of you.

This notion of being saved and then spending most of your life carnal and rebellious is not scriptural. Read this passage again sometime. There is no room for turning back here, unless you are lost. If you are lost you will turn back. And if you are lost you can turn back.

 

Second, THE LORD JESUS INTENDS FOR SAVED PEOPLE TO COUNT THE COST

 

If you do not hate your father and mother, your wife and your children, your brothers and sisters, and even your own life, forget it. If you are not committed to carrying the cross given to you and following Him, forget it. And to reinforce the seriousness of what He meant, the Lord Jesus Christ, in verses 28-32, made a powerful case for the importance of counting the cost ahead of time. And what does it mean to count the cost? It means that the decision to give it all for Christ is made at the time you are saved, not later. There is none of this two-tiered Christianity in the Bible, with those on one level sold out for Christ, and those on a lower level being lackadaisical in their life and ministry and service.

ďBut Pastor, what does it mean to hate mother and father and brothers and sisters?Ē It means that the saved personís loyalties to the Savior are so pronounced that your unsaved family and friends may misunderstand your love and devotion for Him, and they will think you hate them. But what does it matter what it means? Are you willing to suffer the torments of Hell for preferring family over the Lord Jesus Christ? I hope not.

 

Finally, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST INTENDS FOR PEOPLE TO TURN AWAY FROM THE OLD LIFE AND ITS SINS WHEN THEY TURN TO HIM FOR SALVATION

 

Look at verse 33 again. If you will not forsake all that you have you cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This means you cannot be saved without forsaking everything for Him. And part of what you forsake when you are saved is this idolatrous notion of self-determination, this repugnant idea of self-autonomy, this wicked delusion of personal sovereignty, this hideous perversion that God will empower you through Jesus Christ to do anything you set your mind and heart on doing.

 

Do you see now why I try to be careful to make sure that people who say they want to be saved are really convicted of their sins? No sinner would ever want to be saved under these conditions, unless he was powerfully convicted by the Holy Spirit and certain of the horrible fate that awaited him. And do you see that the spirit of Biblical Christianity is markedly different than the spirit of this worldís pseudo-Christianity, which retains the right of self-determination while pretending to worship and serve God?

The Lord Jesus Christ was very open and honest with people. The sinner who comes to Jesus Christ will suffer for it, will be lonely for it, and will be persecuted for it. The price you must pay will be high. Thatís why you must carefully count the cost. You may even lose your father, as I effectively have, or a brother or sister or husband or wife, as some in this room already have. Be sure to consider these things when you count the cost. But also consider the blood that Jesus Christ shed. Consider also the forgiveness of your sins. And consider the joy unspeakable and full of glory. Finally, consider that you may very well reach for Christ those who you initially lost for Christ.

If youíve considered all these things, along with the fact that you may never in this lifetime have another opportunity to respond to the Saviorís directive to come to Him, and you would like to discuss the subject of your salvation, please see me after the service.



[1] 1 Timothy 1.20; 3 John 9

[2] Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.

Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner's standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.

[3] John MacArthur has made some astonishingly unscriptural statements about the blood of Christ that are unparalleled in the history of Christian orthodoxy, John F. MacArthur, Hebrews: An Expository Commentary, (The Moody Bible Institute Of Chicago, 1983), pages 260-261. For more information about this vital subject see R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Preaching To A Dying Nation, (Los Angeles, CA: Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles, 1999), pages 171-186. To read three sermons about the blood of Christ see http://www.rlhymersjr.com/Online_Sermons/08-18-02AM_TheBloodOfChristPI.html, http://www.rlhymersjr.com/Online_Sermons/08-18-02PM_TheBloodOfChristPII.html and http://www.rlhymersjr.com/Articles/02-16-03EternalBlood.html

[4] Hebrews 13.5; Matthew 28.20

[5] Mark 14.36

[6] Matthew 1.21


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