The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
February 19, 2012
1) Philippians 3:9-17 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
We last closed with Paul speaking of his fleshly "credentials" if he
wanted to excel in Judaism. But since he had now come to
Christ to find salvation in Him -- and not in the Law of Moses,
which could not provide it -- Paul had a new goal. Notice what
he goes on to say about this in Philippians 3:9: "and may be found
in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which
comes from God on the basis of faith." As we saw earlier, no
one could be justified by the Law; and if one could, then Christ
died needlessly (Gal. 2:16,21).
True righteousness springs from one's faith in God. So this
kind of faith is one that must be responsive toward the Lord's
righteous requirements -- and continually. "For just as the
body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is
dead" (Jms. 2:26). "BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH;
AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM" (Heb.
10:38). Faith, therefore, is to be more than a mere
belief. For it is to be the basis for our way of life,
governing our every thought and action.
Paul certainly lived by faith -- diligently and righteously -- and
gives a reason for that in Philippians 3:10,11: "that I may know Him
and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain
to the resurrection from the dead."
What greater hope can a man have then to be able to live a quality
life beyond the grave? When Job was giving one of his replies
to Zophar in Job 14:14, he rhetorically asked, "If a man dies will
he live again?...." Would not this be a question in the mind
of many an atheist or agnostic today?
Different views have been held toward this. Some folks, for
example, believe in reincarnation, in which the soul is supposedly
to come back to inhabit another body. But the Bible says,
"...it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes
judgment" (Heb. 9:27). Though there have been some exceptions
to this when God manifested His power by resurrecting some people
from the dead, during the Old and New Testament Periods, the general
rule is that we are born, we live for a while, we die, and then we
face the final judgment. We can also point out that even in
the case of those who were resurrected, they did not come back in
some other body; but, rather, in their own. The Jehovah
Witnesses' view on life after death is that only the saved will
exist in the hereafter, while all who are the lost will undergo a
"total annihilation" of the soul and simply cease to be. The
Sadducees, however, did not believe that even the righteous would
exist after death (Matt. 22:23). But God's word shows that the
saved, as well as the lost, will continue on after this earth life;
but only the redeemed will enjoy the quality life of heaven.
So no one will ever cease to exist. All who are, all who have
ever been, and all who will ever be will continue throughout
Getting back to Job, he then followed his rhetorical question with a
remark that well indicates his view concerning life after
death. He states, "All the days of my struggle I will wait
until my change comes" (Job 14:14). The reward of eternal life
can make all of man's trials and challenges worthwhile. Consider,
for instance, how Paul himself viewed his earthly hardships:
"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is
decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For
momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of
glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things
which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are
eternal" (2 Cor. 4:16-18). In 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, Paul refers
to the human body as an "earthly tent" in which we groan and are
burdened, while we long for an eternal dwelling in heaven. Job
declared that he was going to wait until his "change" had come, and
this is what Paul is also talking about in these previous
passages. He also speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:
"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will
all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must
put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on
immortality." It was this hope of the resurrection and
receiving a glorified body that helped Paul to strive manfully
onward to attain to this great transformation.
There is much we can learn from the life of Paul, which we should
also incorporate in our own lives (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1); such as in what
he goes on to say: "Not that I have already obtained it or have
already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of
that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I
do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I
do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies
ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call
of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14).
Paul knew that the only way one can have eternal life in the present
is by promise. For the Christian now has "the hope of eternal
life" (Titus 1:2). So there is that need to continually seek
after it. Consider, for instance, the following: "Do this,
knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from
sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed"
(Rom. 13:11). Or, as some other versions render this, "salvation is
nearer to us now then when we FIRST believed." "For God has
not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our
Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:9). In 1 Peter 1:3-5,9, Peter
speaks of the "living hope" the Christian has; of the obtaining of
"an inheritance," which is "imperishable and...reserved in heaven";
of "a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time," and of an
"obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your
souls." So we can easily infer the need to persevere toward
that wonderful goal of heaven so that it will eventually be our
Is there a discrepancy between verses 12 and 15 of Philippians
3? In the former, Paul acknowledges that he had not yet become
"perfect" (teleioo); but in the latter he seems to imply the
possibility of being so. In verse 12, Paul means by "perfect"
that he had not yet experienced all that God had for him.
Therefore, he pressed on to obtain it. In verse 15, the term
"perfect" (telios) is used in the sense of being "mature" or
"complete." In that regard, the Christian is to strive to be
that way. Consider, for example, Hebrews 5:12-14: "For though by
this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone
to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and
you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone
who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of
righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the
mature [teleios], who because of practice have their senses trained
to discern good and evil." According to Matthew 5:43-48, the
Christian is to also be "perfect" (teleios) in the sense of being
impartial in his love for the world -- for this is how God is.
In Ephesians 4:13, Paul declares, "until we all attain to the unity
of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature
[teleios] man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the
fullness of Christ." The KJV renders "mature" as
"perfect" in this verse. Though some people view this passage
to be speaking of heaven, it is obvious from verses 14 and 15, it is
not. For heaven will have no false teachers who would attempt
to lead astray from the truth by their trickery, craftiness, and
deceitful scheming. But while on earth, we especially need to
be mature in the faith so that we can discern between good and evil
and not be led astray by the many false doctrines that abound.
The context also shows how this perfection or maturity is to be
obtained -- through God's revelation, which also corresponds with 2
Timothy 3:16,17: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in
righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate [perfect,
KJV], equipped for every good work."
As we have seen, being perfect or mature in Christ also denotes the
idea of being "complete," which is how it is also seen in Colossians
1:28: "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man
with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete [perfect,
KJV] in Christ." Here, "complete" or "perfect" is from the
same Greek word (teleios) as is used in Philippians 3:15 and defined
by James Strong as "complete (in various applications of labor,
growth, mental and moral character, etc....."
How thankful we should be for the word of God that helps us to be
complete in Christ. The simple thing of obtaining God's word today
in a language that the reader can understand has not always been the
case. It's been said that there was once a time when a Bible
would cost an individual an entire year's wages. And
concerning God's word in the English language, this wasn't brought
about until 1380, when John Wycliffe, who lived from 1320 to 1384,
made an English version of the New Testament; and a couple years
later, in 1382, did the same for the Old Testament. It was the
first English Bible. He gathered together a group of men to
travel across England taking these Bibles; while those in opposition
disparagingly referred to these men as Lollards," which literally
means "one who mumbles." Wycliffe stood opposed to the Roman
Catholic Church, and his influence caused an estimated half of
England to join him. Arundel, the "Archbishop of Canterbury,"
decreed that any person be jailed who read Wycliffe's Bible or his
writings in the province in Canterbury (1408). Six years later
(1414), a law was passed that would cause all to lose their lands,
cattle, goods, and their lives...from their heirs forever, if they
read the Bible in English. In 1428, Wycliffe's body was
exhumed, his remains cremated, and the ashes scattered on the River
Swift by order of "Pope Martin V," which has been referred to as
"the most final of all posthumous attacks on John Wycliffe"
(Wikipedia). And to think that this was made on a man who
simply wanted the people to have a Bible that they could read and
understand in their own language. So let us never take God's
word for granted; but, rather, continue to grow in the grace and
knowledge of it and to press on to eternal life, as the apostle Paul
We can truly admire Paul's perseverance. Rather than allowing
the past to drag him down, he set his sights on the goal of eternal
life (as noted in Philippians 3:13,14). This is good. For
looking back can sometimes get us into trouble. For instance,
Jesus says, "...'No one, after putting his hand to the plow and
looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'" To try to make
a straight furrow when farming, one must keep his eyes ahead of
him. Sometimes farmers have used a marker to do this.
The Christian has a "marker," too: "Therefore, since we have so
great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside
every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let
us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our
eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy
set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat
down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him
who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that
you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to
the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin" (Heb.
12:1-4). Jesus not only shows us of the right way to live, but
He also encourages us to do so by the life He set forth. So
when life becomes challenging for us (or difficult), we need to
consider Jesus. But, of course, we really need to think of Him
all the time -- whether we are feeling down in the valley or high on
the mountain top. For Christ is our example for every
situation or circumstance we are in.
Not everyone, however, looks ahead as they should. With just
three words, Jesus warns of this in Luke 17:32. He states,
"Remember Lot's wife." What do we remember about her?
What is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it not
that she looked back; and, as a result, sinned against God and was
turned into a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26)? It was a simple
command, easy to understand and seemingly easy to obey: "...Do not
look behind you..." (Gen. 19:17) -- but Lot's wife disobeyed.
Some people -- rather than looking ahead -- become consumed by the
things of the present time. Jesus shows of this type of
problem and its detriment in Luke 8:14: "And the seed which fell
among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go
on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures
of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity." So, instead, we
need to set our affections on things above (Col. 3:1-3) and keep
determined to seek after God's kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), which
implies that we allow His word -- above any other -- to govern us by
our submission to it.
As Christians, there is a need for us to be continually striving
toward the goal of eternal life and exhorting one another to do
likewise. Hebrews 6:1 urges, "Therefore leaving the elementary
teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity...."
And Paul exhorts Timothy to "Pay close attention to yourself and to
your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you
will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you"
(1 Tim. 4:16).
After speaking of those things he had going for him in his former
life of Judaism, to be nothing but rubbish, in view of the future
goal of eternal life in Jesus Christ that Paul was now striving for
-- and exhorting others to do the same -- Paul then states in
Philippians 3:16, "however, let us keep living by that same standard
to which we have attained."
The word "standard" is in italics -- so not in the original -- but
it well expresses the meaning of this verse. We need to
continue living according to the standard of God's word. The
RSV renders this as, "Only let us hold true to what we have
attained." Of all the things that one could attain to in life,
what could be more important than our knowledge of God's word and
putting that word into practice? Even in the secular realm,
there is a great need for a common standard. We especially
realize this when we buy things by the ounce or by the pound, or by
the foot or by the yard. There needs to be a common standard
so that an ounce, a pound, a foot, or a yard is always the same; and
the consumers will not be cheated. Industries, manufacturers,
scientists, building designers, construction workers, bakers,
peoples of various walks of life realize the need for a common
standard of weights and measurements or else we'll be dealing with
mass confusion and failure in output. The assemblage of parts,
without a common standard in measurements, can lead to the
proverbial square peg in the round hole -- it just won't work.
And many things of our time require standards that are precisely
accurate in order to function as they should.
But while these standards of weights and measurements pertain to
this temporary earth life, we need to be even more concerned with
those standards of a spiritual nature that are not only essential
for now -- but that which is the only standard that can lead to
heaven itself. Paul instructs, "Retain the standard of sound
words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are
in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in
us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you" (2 Tim.
1:13,14). Also, 2 Timothy 2:2: "The things which you have
heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to
faithful men who will be able to teach others also." The
"things" that Paul is referring to would be the teaching of God's
There are some people today, however, who no longer believe that the
Bible sets forth divine examples or patterns for us to follow, but
look at what Paul goes on to say in the very next verse (Phil.
3:17): "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those
who walk according to the pattern you have in us." Here, Paul
uses both terms -- "example" and "pattern" -- as to what one is to
observe and do. So may it be that we will each do that as well
-- to observe and follow the examples we are to carry out --
and so that we, too, as Paul declares, "...may be found in
Him...having a righteousness...through faith," that we "may know Him
and the power of His resurrection," which involves our "press[ing]
on toward the goal" (Phil. 3:9-14).
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
* Mike Dubose
who is continually undergoing cancer treatment.
* Roy Fenner who will be
having stitches removed February 28th and should then also receive a
pathological report. He also has 3 other spots on his neck and
one behind his ear that have been diagnosed as basal cell cancer
(the most common type of skin cancer) to still be removed. On
February 27, Roy will also be receiving an injection in his eye, due
to trouble that he has been having with it.
* We have several of our own who are not able to be with us at
church, due to their health: Geneve
Wilson, Jean Calloway,
and Cheryl Crews. For
about two months, Cheryl
has had an infection in her head. We also want to mention Shirley Young, who is often with
us, but "accompanied" with the pain of fibromyalgia.
* Let us also be
remembering some of the elderly, such as Mozelle Robertson (Ken's mother) who at 91 years of
age is still healing from wrist surgery; and Clifton Trimble whose health has
* Let us also pray that Anthony
Webb, Andrew Robertson,
and Cheryl Anderson will be
able to find new employment.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)