78th Homecoming, 2010
I am glad that we can be here together today and I know that we will be ready to eat in just a short amount of time, but I have an important message to deliver. This sermon is simple, yet it is of great concern for Christians under our current circumstances. There is a problem that isn’t exactly new, but it has grown in recent decades among churches in this country. What the Apostle has to say in Philippians can begin to cure the problem when we realize that we are not where we need to be just yet, even the most mature Christians among us.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 1: The Problem
In a 1949 book a Christian writer stated the problem clearly when he wrote, “The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless… Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God… We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him.”
It is a mistake first to think that we have found Christ. Christianity teaches a doctrine that says that God has first sought after people, God has first loved people. Before we can do anything there is what is called prevenient grace, that is to say that God did and always will act first and people act secondly in response.
*1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”
*Genesis 3:6-9 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
*Luke 19:10 “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
It is another mistake to think that once Christ has been made known to you and that you have responded appropriately that you have been made perfect instantaneously. With this mind you will not hunger nor thirst for anything. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” The Apostle says in our text, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected” and then “I do not count myself to have apprehended.” Something more is needed. A hunger and thirst for something more…
This problem is found in individual hearts of people, including Christians, but it is also found in our churches as a whole. Found among American churches today are programs, entertainment structures, and a load of anxious activities that fill a gap of time and steal our attention, but these things can never satisfy our souls.
Point 2: The Answer
What we need is a longing for more, for greater, for something higher…
What we need is a longing for God, a longing for Christ Jesus.
The Apostle had gained the knowledge of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the power of Christ, the fellowship of Christ and the glory of Christ, but says that he was not finished. There are great blessings given to us when we first are united with Christ, but that is only the beginning of what is life eternal studying Him, loving Him, worshipping Him, and treasuring Him.
In verse 8 the original language shows that the Apostle deliberately chose one phrase over another. Instead of saying “these things” he used “all things.” All things that could rival the surpassing greatness of Christ, including what has previously been named, can in no way be equated. All things are rubbish in comparison to Christ. In verse ten he says that he wants to know Christ. Well, Christ has already been known to him. What does he want now? He wants to know more of Him, he wants to know Him better, more fully, all of the power of His resurrection and His death and His life.
Moses, a man that knew but wanted to know:
Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.” This wasn’t the first time Moses spoke with the LORD and surely he had already found grace, yet he wanted more. And in verse 18 Moses says, “Please, show me Your glory.” We must be people that have walked with the LORD for years, seen marvelous things, known Christ, experienced His faithfulness, and want MORE!
V14 The question is, what are we reaching forward to? What is the prize? What is at the end of the race? The answer is Christ Jesus! We are forward to Him, He is the goal and the prize, He is at the end of the race. He offers salvation, life, love, blessings, all of the treasures of God are in Him. The upward call of God is possibly the picture of a winner being invited to the elevated stage to receive the prize. God stands in the person Jesus and ushers us into His presence.
We all have a past that is filled with both short-comings and accomplishments, but we should not let either control our future. If we are constantly revisiting our faults from the past we will never progress into the future with any sort of joyfulness. If we exult in the successes of the past and never prepare nor work into the future we will never know that there are greater victories ahead. Now, does this mean that we blot out our pasts? Certainly not! We should let our past mistakes teach us and our past successes encourage us, yet we are fully aware that there are better triumphs ahead. Learn and be encouraged by your past, but don’t let it control your life now or into the future. The same can be said of Fort Trial Christian Church. There have been some short-comings, but there have also been some great things done in the many years of its history. Let us learn and be encouraged by our history with full attentiveness to the fact that God has even greater things ahead for those who love Him. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Paul, and all of Scripture for this matter, view Jesus as having riches bound up in Him that are endless (Col 2:3). We will spend all of eternity getting to know Him better and the better we know Him, the better we know God.
We must all live up to what we already know. If you don’t fully understand the treasures of Christ now continue to seek knowledge of Him, continue to seek the power of his resurrection, and continue to seek to fellowship with His sufferings even being conformed to His death and the Scripture says that God will clearly reveal to you the beauty of His Son, the splendor, wonder, and riches that are only found in Him.
1. Have a willingness to take risks (faith adventures).
2. Develop our spiritual gifts so that we can serve better.
3. Dream out into the future of how we can use our lives to glorify God.
4. Have a willingness to sacrifice in the present for a prize in the future.
5. Be satisfied, yet not satisfied at the same time.
Fort Trial Christian Church will press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God and we will do so by looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.