"PAUL'S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL THEOLOGY: JUSTIFICATION"
1. 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. But you can also show your love without uttering the word "love." Turn to Philippians 3.7.
2. 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. But that said, the word "trinity" is never once found in the Bible.
3. 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 will deal 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.
4. In Philippians 3.7-8 we see that the Christian life, for the apostle Paul, was all wrapped up in knowing Jesus. Everything that Paul had once valued was, when compared alongside the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, so much dung. That was Paul's estimation of everything when compared to his Lord Jesus.
5. 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.
6. Let's stand and read Philippians 3.7-11, and then settle down on our text for today: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 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, 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: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."
7. In dealing with the subject of justification, if not the word "justification," Paul shows to us the prize and the predicate.
1A. AT THE END OF VERSE 8 AND THE BEGINNING OF VERSE 9 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. You see, when you come to know Jesus Christ, Whom to know is life eternal, you don't get it all right away. You get the forgiveness of sins. You get the eternal life. You get the earnest of your inheritance, which is the indwelling and sealing Spirit of God. But 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.
1B. First, The Realization Of The Prize Is Described As An Active Pursuit
"that I may win Christ"
1C. 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.
2C. Though Jesus 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.
3C. Jesus is his Master, not his father. Paul is His bond slave and disciple, not his child. But the picture of Paul fixing his gaze 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 the Christian life.
4C. "So run, that ye may obtain." "and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Later on, when the end of his life on earth was imminent, Paul would write "I have finished my course."
5C. So, on one hand, the Christian life, with its service and its worship, is an active pursuit of the One Who is already known as Savior.
2B. But On The Other Hand, The Realization Of The Prize Is Also Described As A Passive Result
"And be found in Him"
1C. 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? My friends, when it's 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.
2C. Turn to Ephesians chapter 1. To be in Christ is so important to Paul, and should be to us. As I read Ephesians 1.1-14, 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.
3C. Obviously, to be "in Christ" is to be saved, to be a real believer, to be adopted, to be one who is going to obtain a spiritual inheritance. On one hand it's 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."
4C. 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's the picture we are given with the phrase "that I may win Christ."
5C. In the end, when it's all over, saved people, people who have been justified through faith in Christ, will be those who have won Christ and who are found in Him.
2A. THE PRIZE IS WONDERFUL. FOR WE SEE THAT THE LORD JESUS IS THE PRIZE. BUT 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 Jesus face to face in heaven someday. Let's deal with each stage individually.
1B. First, There Can Be No Self Righteousness
Paul writes, "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness"
1C. 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 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 claim of righteousness.
2C. Folks, 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.
2B. Second, There Can Be No Law Righteousness
"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law"
1C. 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."
2C. 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.
3C. The first time we ever had an inquiry room at this Church, the week of July 4th in 1992, our youth director told me after the services were over what those who went forward had said when they were interviewed. He said, "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."
4C. My friends, each of those people, in one way or the other was expressing a reliance on self righteousness or law righteousness for their salvation, which Paul abandoned when he got saved. And which you'd better abandon too, if you ever expect to get saved.
3B. Instead Of Self Righteousness, And Instead Of Law Righteousness, Paul Was Counting On Christ's Righteousness Through 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"
1C. My friends, 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. But only the latter under- standing of those verses makes sense in appropriating Jesus Christ as your Savior.
2C. 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 Christ.
3C. 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.
4C. 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.
5C. 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.
4B. 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"
1C. 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.
2C. 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 get righteousness is by means of faith in Christ.
3C. 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."
1. Amazing! This is too good. What Paul is interested in is the prize of the ultimate salvation of seeing Jesus face to face in glory, having won Him and being found in Him. That's what Paul, the Christian, longed for and strove toward. That was his prize, as it should also be your prize.
2. But notice what was predicate to that prize. What was the attainment of that prize conditional on? No self righteousness. No law righteousness. But righteousness through faith in Christ, righteousness which is of God by faith.
3. What connects the believer's future of being united with his Savior with 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's something called the Christian life.
4. Are you living the Christian life? And is your life a race to win Christ? Is your life somewhat parallel to the little boy in the airport running 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.
5. Shall we stand, as brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song before this morning's sermon?
1. In Luke 13.24 the Lord Jesus Christ declared, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Many will seek to get through heaven's gate, and shall not be able to. In another passage Jesus said, "Many are called but few are chosen."
2. Despite the way most churchy folks behave, and despite the shallow facade of optimism that most people display about their own and about other people's eternal destinies, most people are yet lost in their sins and will go straight to Hell when they die. Thus is it presently and thus has it always been.
3. Remember, when God brought judgment on the entire human race during Noah's day, though men had been calling on the name of the Lord for centuries according to Genesis 4.26, when the end came only eight souls were saved from God's wrath. Eight. Out of an entire race of human beings only eight people saved.
4. My friends, it has always been the way it is today. The incomprehensibly vast majority of souls are lost and shall ever remain. Anyone who denies this simply refuses to pay attention to the words of the Savior in the Gospels. The great majority of your family members are lost and shall remain so. The great majority of those who through the years have passed through our doors are lost and shall remain so.
5. Down through the centuries, however, the reasons why the lost remain lost have changed somewhat. For most of human history lost men have remained lost because they never once, in their entire lifetimes, ever heard the Gospel. Not one time have most who have ever lived heard declared unto them the unsearchable riches of Christ.
6. But you wonder if that is true today. With radio and television and the print media, a huge proportion of the human race has had some contact with the truth that Jesus saves. Exactly how much of what they have heard is true and not a perversion, I do not know. Exactly how much of the truth is presented in a way pleasing to God, which is to say by the foolishness of preaching, I do not know.
17. But let me be so bold as to say that, at least in the United States of America, the reason why so many who are lost are lost is not because they have never been exposed to the truth, or some variation of the truth. The reason why so many, even the overwhelming majority of so-called Christians, are lost and will remain lost is because you do not comprehend that saving faith must have a saving Object.
1A. LET US LOOK, FIRST, AT SAVING FAITH
1B. What Is Saving Faith?
1C. Saving faith is faith which results in the person with faith actually getting saved. That may sound trite to you, but there are a great many people who are presumed to be people of faith, and they may be "people of faith" (whatever that means), but they do not have saving faith because they are not, according to the Bible criteria of salvation, saved. Let me tell you some things about saving faith to help you identify it as the real McCoy.
2C. Faith, saving faith, is given to sinners by God Himself: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2.8. And God does not give faith to sinners for them to just hang on to for the longest time. So don't think there are folks walking around with stagnant faith, ready to believe whenever they decide to. Nonsense. Paul also tells us that "all men have not faith," Second Thessalonians 3.2. So, generally speaking, lost people do not have saving faith and could not get saved if they wanted to.
3C. This is because God only gives faith to sinners by means of Gospel preaching: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," Romans 10.17. And a study of the entire tenth chapter of Romans will reveal how indispensable preaching is to imparting faith to a sinner. So, saving faith is a gift that God gives to sinners, #1, and He deigns to gives this gift of faith to sinners by means of Gospel preaching, #2.
4C. Third, saving faith is a faith that is alone and independent of works of righteousness. Romans 4.5 shows this very clearly: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." So, what faith is is a gift that God gives to sinners, by means of Gospel preaching, and it functions independently of man's efforts to save himself. That's what faith, saving faith, is.
2B. But What Is Saving Faith Not?
Sometimes you can more clearly understand what something is by seeing clearly what it is not. Let me illustrate for you what saving faith is not by providing for you two examples.
1C. Saving faith is not something you conjure up yourself in the absence of God's Word and Gospel preaching. Remember the gamblers riding the bus to from San Francisco to Reno who wrecked in the mountains several years ago? One lady talked about her thoughts while the bus was over on its side, before rescue workers came for them: "I knew we would be okay if we could just get everyone to believe."
2C. My friends, in the absence of both the Word of God and preaching, the faith that lady described was not saving faith, but some conjured up notion that people concentrating really hard could somehow alter reality. And, of course, their rescue convinced them it was the result of this so-called "faith."
3C. Neither is saving faith an intellectual conclusion drawn by someone who merely ponders things spiritual and then reaches a decision. So many in religion today exercise a faith that is nothing more than a logical conclusion. Such is the religion of evangelical crowd. But such is not saving faith which is given by God under the preaching of the Gospel. My friends, saving faith comes through or as the result of Gospel preaching.
2A. NOW WE LOOK AT THE SAVING OBJECT
1B. First, We Look At Who It Is
1C. We learned in the Old Testament that imputed righteousness comes by faith. The examples of both Abraham and David show this. In the New Testament our focus is sharpened, so that we might see what the proper object of saving faith is. And what do we clearly see? We clearly see that the only proper object of saving faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts 4.12.
2C. This is what Paul means when he repeats the phrase in his letters to the Romans, Galatians and Philippians, "the faith of Christ." This is what he and Silas meant when they responded to the Philippian jailor's question of "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" by telling him to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
3C. This, too, is what the Lord Jesus meant when He declared Himself to be the resurrection and the life, when He declared Himself to be the bread of life, when He declared Himself to be the water of life, when He declared Himself to be the door, when He declared Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life.
4C. This is Jesus, the second Person of the triune Godhead, the eternal, coequal, uncreated, Son of the living God. This is Jesus Who came from heaven's glory to be born of a virgin named Mary, Who suffered and bled and died for our sins, Who rose the third day victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave, and Who even now lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of the Father. This One Who is the author and finisher of the Christian faith is the only proper object of saving faith.
2B. That Said, It Is Important To Show Who Is Not The Proper Object Of Saving Faith
1C. First, let me say, reverently, that the Father, God, is not the proper object of saving faith. Believing in God is a wonderful thing, but no sinner will be saved by believing in God. It is God's Son Jesus Who is the Savior of sinful men, for He it is Whose blood was shed to cleanse you from your sins. To come to God is to denigrate the sacrifice of His Son and is a sign that your faith is not saving faith.
2C. Second, saving faith will not have for its object the Mary of Roman Catholicism. The Mary of Romanism is not the Mary of the Bible, the mother of Jesus, in my opinion. The Mary of the Bible admitted her own sinfulness and need of a Savior. The real mother of Jesus offered up sacrifices for her own sins. Saving faith will never look to Mary for forgiveness of sins and salvation, since the real Mary, the Mary of the Bible, pointed all to her Son, Jesus.
3C. Third, saving faith will not have for its object the infallible Word of God. The infallible Word of God points men to Jesus as the Savior, not to the pages of the blessed Book.
4C. Fourth, saving faith will not have for its object a deed or a historical fact. Titus 3.5 begins, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done." So, can a prayer save you? Can baptism save you? Can tithing save you? Can good deeds of any kind save you? No. Neither can reliance on a historical event save you. Jesus did die on the cross. But believing that saves no one. Catholics believe Jesus died on the cross for them, but that doesn't save them.
1. Most people will live out their lives and die and go to Hell. Most people, the vast majority, will never be saved. Now, it's true that each and every sinner who goes to Hell very much deserves to suffer the wrath of God, but it's a great tragedy, nevertheless, that every sinner has not heard the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. This is why we must bring the lost to Church to hear the Gospel.
2. An even greater tragedy, in my mind, is to ruin a perfectly good opportunity to preach the Gospel to sinners by confusing them with unscriptural notions about faith and Who to close with by faith for forgiveness of sins.
3. My friends, it is highly likely that I have attended a great many more Church services in a great many more different kinds of Churches than you have. I've been to Catholic services, Mormon services, Episcopalian services, Lutheran services, Brethren services, Pentecostal services, Charismatic services, Southern Baptist services, Independent Baptist services, military ecumenical services, Indian religious services called long house ceremonies, rescue mission services, convalescent hospital services, jail house services, Chinese language services, Thai language services, Spanish language services, Seminole language services, Korean language services, and Arabic language services. I've got more experience in this than you do, okay?
4. Additionally, those who know me know that I strive to be a human vacuum cleaner when it comes to gathering information about various beliefs and perversions of Christianity and doctrinal deviancy. I'm not bragging about being infallible. Those of you now know me know that I would never pretend to be infallible. My ability to forget and misstate and get confused about dates and times are well known to all.
5. But I am familiar with your spiritual condition and why you are probably not saved. The underlying reason, of course, is that you are a sinner and your depraved heart has demonstrated its capacity to deceive and delude you. That's common to all sinners throughout human history.
6. But what distinguishes you from those in times past, and those in many other countries, is your exposure to God's Word. You've heard Bible teachers and expositors, and you think you think you are saved. But you are not saved, and in all likelihood you will not get saved.
7. Let me tell you why: First, you do not have saving faith. Second, you do not have the Biblical Object of faith. I'm not striving to convince you of this. I only declare to you the truth. You do not have saving faith. You do not have saving Object.
8. You may think you do. Perhaps you're convinced you do. But you do not. If you did have saving faith in a saving object, if you did have saving faith in Jesus Christ, instead of what it is you do have, you would be saved and living a quite different life than you currently are.
9. But more importantly, if you were truly converted you would someday win Christ and be found in Him. But will this happen to you in your present condition? Not until you get saved for real.