If you were raised in a religious home, and you have trusted in the fact that you were raised in a religious home by spiritual parents, then you're going to need at some point to tear up your religious resume.
And here's why. Because God has no grandchildren. He only has children. As many as received him, John chapter one tells us, he gave them the right to become children of God. To those who believe in His name.
In a letter to Titus, Paul warned him that people can talk like Christians, but their actions may tell a different story. Today on Connect with Skip Heidziger, Skip shares how the first step to building your testimony of what Jesus has done in your life is to shred your religious resume so His grace shines through. But first, a trip to Israel is a life changer.
Your Bible study will never be the same. Skip has lived in Israel and led tours many, many times. Here he is to invite you on his next tour. You know, there's always something new to see and experience in Israel. And I'm so excited to let you know that I'm taking another tour group to Israel next spring in 2022. You're in for an incredible time as we travel throughout Israel and experience the culture that's so unique to that country. We'll start on the Mediterranean Sea and head north, seeing places like Caesarea and Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. We'll spend several days in and around Jerusalem and see the Temple Mount, Calvary, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Mount of Olives, and much more. This remarkable itinerary is made richer with times of worship, Bible study, and lots of fellowship. Now, I've been to Israel a number of times over the years, and I can honestly say that visiting the places where the events of the Scriptures unfolded, where Jesus lived, taught, and healed, it just never gets old. I can't wait to see you in Israel. Start planning and saving now to tour Israel with Skip Heitzig. Information at inspirationcruises.com slash c-a-b-q.
That's inspirationcruises.com slash c-a-b-q. Now, we're in Philippians chapter 3 as Skip Heitzig starts today's study. In the Christian world, a testimony is the story of how a person comes to believe in Christ. You've heard people say, let me share my testimony with you, or you've done that. It's how a person has come to believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. Now, there are some churches that have testimony meetings or testimony times before a meeting.
Typically, they're smaller when you can hear everybody out. But sometimes a testimony includes not only how a person came to Christ, but how God was faithful in a particular situation. Maybe they went through a trial or a sickness and they want you to know what God did for them, through them, during that time. And I've always found that personal testimonies are uplifting and very inspiring, usually. Sometimes testimonies can seem to drag on and on and on as more details are given. And sometimes testimonies morph over time.
They change. And it's like, if I've heard a person's testimony, I've noticed that there's a tendency, not always, but sometimes, to make those stories grow bigger than they really are. Sort of like fish stories. You know, every time you tell a fish story, the fish keeps getting bigger and bigger until pretty soon, you know, you're out on the ocean and you caught Moby Dick or something. And so testimonies can be like that.
And that's because as human beings, we typically like to talk about ourselves and we like to outdo other people's stories. So it's like, oh, wait till you hear my testimony. So there was an old guy who loved to talk about how he was delivered from a local flood, the Johnstown flood. And he loved to tell the story about God's deliverance and told it in great detail. And he always looked for testimony meetings where he could share. Well, this old guy died one day and was taken to heaven. And Peter introduced himself and said, well, I just want you to know that tonight we're getting everybody together in heaven.
They're going to tell their testimonies, their stories. Well, his eyes lit up. He thought, man, I died on the right day. He said, Peter, you got to let me tell the story of how I was delivered by God, my testimony, how God saved me from the Johnstown flood. It's a great story.
Everybody's going to love this story. And Peter hesitated a moment. He said, sure, you can tell your story about the flood, but just remember, Noah will be in the audience tonight. As we think of our personal testimonies of how we came to Christ, let's just imagine Paul the Apostle is in our audience today. Because in the verses that we're about to read, essentially Paul gives his testimony. He talks about his past and then something that happened to him.
He mentions that or he points to that with a word and then how things have changed. So what I want to share with you today in principle form are three ingredients in building an effective testimony. Three ingredients on building an effective testimony. First, you need to shred your religious resume. Number two, you need to have a spiritual encounter.
And number three, you need to learn how to count. Let me explain once we get into our text. Let's look at verse four of Philippians chapter three. Paul continues his thought. Though I also might have confidence in the flesh, if anyone else thinks that he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so circumcise the eighth day of the stock of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews concerning the law of Pharisee, concerning zeal persecuting the church, concerning the righteousness which is in the law blameless. But what things were gained to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
That is Paul's personal testimony in a nutshell. I'll never forget my high school reunion. I only went to one. That was my ten year reunion, but I remember it because I was saved and I wanted to share my testimony with people, which I did.
They were kind of shocked. You're a what? You preach the gospel?
You're not loaded anymore? But I remember at my high school reunion a guy by the name of John Booth. Now John Booth in my high school was like the jock, the football hero. Everybody loved him and looked to him. What I noticed when I went into the reunion was John Booth across the room with a big smile on his face. And I never saw him smile in high school. He never needed to.
He just sort of grunted his way out to the football field. But he's smiling and I was talking to him and he started telling me his personal testimony, how he came to believe in Jesus Christ and it was awesome. He was going from table to table sharing his testimony. What do you think it would be like to go to Paul the Apostle's high school reunion? So imagine yourself at Tarsus High. That's where Paul graduated.
It's the ten year high school reunion. There's Saul of Tarsus. And you know him so you walk up to him and go, hey Saul, so are you still into that rabbi thing?
You still going to Jerusalem with Gamaliel and all that? And Paul might look at you and say, well, a funny thing happened to me on the way to Damascus. And he would talk about an encounter that he had with the Lord Jesus Christ and now he's traveling the world and preaching the gospel.
Today what I want you to do is take off your 21st century glasses and put on your first century glasses. Instead of just thinking of Paul as the great Christian apostle, remember that he had a Jewish religious background. He was very well educated and he was very well trained in a religious system.
But he had an encounter with Christ that changed everything. I have a book called The Jewish 100. It was by Michael Shapiro, that's the author. And this is a biographical study of 100 of the most influential Jewish people of all time.
Now what's interesting to me is who's in the top tier. So number one in the book, the number one influential Jew of all times according to Michael Shapiro in his book was Moses. Moses is the number one on the list. Now I understand that because Jewish people look back to Moses as the great law giver, the covenant giver. Number two on his list is Jesus Christ. Because even as a Jewish person he recognizes that Jesus changed history.
So he gives them the number two slot. Number three on the list is Albert Einstein, interestingly. Number four, Sigmund Freud, I wouldn't put him in the top tier but he did. Number five was Abraham and number six on the list of most influential Jews of all time according to Michael Shapiro in his book, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the apostle.
Very interesting background. We know that Saul was a Roman citizen. That's huge because it meant that he had the right to have a trial before Caesar. And he pulls out that card when he is on trial in Caesarea. He said I appeal my case to Caesar. We know that he was born in Tarsus of Cilicia which was a Roman province.
If you were to look today on a map you'd have to look to southeast Turkey to find Tarsus. The area he was born in was known for its black cloth called cilicium. And cilicium was used to make tents and other items. And we know that Paul professionally was a tent maker.
He could go from place to place and make these black and leather tents that were sold on the marketplace. But what makes him so unique is his testimony. So let's look at it a little more carefully and notice these three ingredients. First of all, if you're going to have a real testimony, at some point you're going to need to shred your religious resume.
Now I need to explain that. Because some of you have had no religious background at all so this isn't really an issue. I mean it wasn't an issue with my wife. My wife had no spiritual baggage whatsoever. She was raised an atheist. And so she just came out of atheism to an encounter with Christ. But if you were raised in a religious home and you have trusted in the fact that you were raised in a religious home by spiritual parents, then you're going to need at some point to tear up your religious resume.
And here's why. Because God has no grandchildren. He only has children. As many as received Him, John chapter 1 tells us, He gave them the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name. You can't go to heaven because your parents took you to church and they themselves had a personal relationship with Christ.
It always has to be personal. It's always one generation at a time. So Paul has a huge religious resume and what we notice here in the text is he tosses it out the window, throws it away. Now in looking at his resume, we want to look very carefully beginning in verse 5. There are six words that would describe Saul of Tarsus and his spiritual religious resume. Number one, heredity.
Heredity. Notice what he says in verse 5 concerning himself. Circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel. In other words, he wasn't converted as a Gentile into Judaism. He wasn't a proselyte. He was a Jew by birth and by ritual.
Circumcised the eighth day of his life. So he could say, I'm a true blue Jew. I'm a Jew by birth.
I was born into this. And my circumcision wasn't as an adult proselyte but it came when I was in that covenant relationship as a child. And it's funny, if you do make it to Israel with us and when you go to Jerusalem and they take you to the western wall and you see that enclosure of where the temple once stood at the time of Jesus, the locals will tell you to go up and pray at the western wall.
And they sort of say this tongue in cheek but I think they kind of believe this at the same time. They say, you know, we understand you can pray to God anywhere in the world but here it's a local call. You're in Jerusalem, man. You're in the holy city. You talk to God here and it's just a little bit better.
It's a little bit closer. Paul could boast that he was circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel. He had one time trusted in that. And there's a lot of people like Saul who trusted in some ritual of their past to be right before God.
We mentioned this last week. It could be baptism. It could be confirmation. It could be christening. And I've even noticed that people say, not only was I baptized but I was baptized by this person in this church.
Like there's some special form or formula. So there was a little boy who was going to a Baptist church and he decided to turn his cat into a Baptist. So he filled up the bathtub and he was going to do it the Baptist way, full immersion baptism. You know, you're going all the way under. Not sprinkling.
I'm going to put you all the way under. So he filled up the bathtub. Well, you know how cats fill about water. So as he's filling it up and he accidentally sprinkles just a few drops on his hand the cat.
The cat freaked out and ran down the hallway. And the little boy yelled after him and said, fine, be a Methodist then. Paul would say, I'm not a Methodist or a Baptist. I was circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel. That's his heredity. A second word that would describe him is nobility. For he says, I was of the tribe of Benjamin. If you know your Jewish history, you understand that Benjamin was one of the noble lines because the very first king of Israel came from the tribe of Benjamin. His name was King Saul. In fact, it could be that Saul of Tarsus was named after Saul, the first king of Israel, who was also a Benjamite.
Also, the tribe of Benjamin was the only tribe loyal to the tribe of Judah when the kingdom split. So heredity and nobility. Third word that would describe him is pedigree. For he says, I was circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel of the tribe of Benjamin. Now notice the next phrase, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. In other words, I was a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents. I wasn't raised a Hellenistic Jew, a Greek cultured, Greek speaking Jew. I was raised in the Hebrew style.
Let me just explain it this way. In ancient times in that Greco-Roman world, there were Jewish people in the diaspora, the dispersion, where you had Jews all over the world. They were raised in that culture and often with pagan customs. But those who learned Hebrew by Hebrew parents in Hebrew speaking synagogues felt themselves to be a little bit more superior than the rest. A Hebrew of the Hebrews. Now I'm going to give you a quick little biographical sketch of Saul of Tarsus growing up in his educational background. As a toddler, he would have learned to recite the Shema.
Have you heard of the Shema? Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 4, he learned it in Hebrew. So imagine little Saul as a toddler saying the words out loud, Shema Israel Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. He learned that as a toddler. At age 5, he would begin studying the scriptures. At age 6, he was sent to the synagogue to learn to read and write the scriptures. At age 10, Saul would already have memorized large portions of the oral law.
That is, not just the scriptures, the traditions of the elders. At age 12, he would be preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, which would take place at age 13. Bar Mitzvah means son of the commandment. It was a rite of passage where you were now considered an adult member of the Jewish community.
At age 15, he would have more rigorous study where he would study the codified oral traditions, the Talmudic writings, and somewhere in those adolescent years, shortly after that, he was sent to Jerusalem for five to six years of rabbinical study. So heredity, nobility, pedigree, he's giving his background. A fourth word that would describe Saul of Tarsus is piety, because notice what he says. He says at the end of verse 5, not only Hebrew of the Hebrews, but concerning the law, a Pharisee. Now I know, I know that you as a Western Christian in this modern era, you have read enough of your New Testament to know that Pharisees weren't great people.
You're thinking, oh, why would he put that on his resume? Because Jesus spoke against the Pharisees, right? He called them whitewashed sepulchers, he called them hypocrites. However, the original word Pharisee, parashim, means to be separated. And when they started around 200 BC, they continued into the first century, they believed that they would give their whole life to studying and obeying the written law as well as the oral law.
They started off really good, they just evolved into a hypocritical group. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, the Pharisees were the leading sect among the Jews, the most accurate interpreters of the law. As a Pharisee, he studied under a very particular mentor. Do you remember his name?
It's given in Acts 22. Gamaliel was his mentor. Gamaliel is one of the most famous scholars in Jewish history, regarded even to this day. What Gamaliel taught him to do was to argue. There was an ancient form of discourse called the diatribe, a question and answer format to learn how to think and talk on your feet very persuasively. He would have had to memorize large portions of the Old Testament, which would become very profitable as time went on in his ministry. So heredity, nobility, pedigree, piety. A fifth word that would describe him is intensity.
This dude was intense. Look at verse 6. Concerning zeal, if you want to talk about my zeal, persecuting the church. Saul of Tarsus, as you know, was a zealous defender of Judaism. Now, why it's important to understand a little bit about Gamaliel is understanding that he sat under Gamaliel's mentorship helps you understand him. Because Gamaliel was hateful toward the Christians. He called Christians, Christian heretics. And a very famous prayer uttered by Gamaliel goes this way. Let there be no hope to them who apostatize from the true religion, and let these heretics, how many so ever they be, all perish in a moment.
He prayed that concerning Christian heretics, those who left Judaism and turned to Christ as their Messiah. No wonder, then, we read about Saul in Acts 8, verse 3, these words. Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church.
He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail. He learned that in part from Gamaliel. No wonder we read Acts chapter 9 about Saul breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. So this dude was so intense that he measured his religious zeal by his hatred.
You know you're bad off when you're known more for what you're against than what you're for. That's Skip Heitzig with a message from the series Technicolor Joy. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will help you grow stronger in your faith. You know those times you hear a sermon that really speaks to you? It's almost as if the pastor knows what you're personally going through, and he teaches a message like you're the only one listening. Well, it's not that the pastor knows you personally. It's that God knows you personally. Here's Skip Heitzig. In nearly 40 years of expository teaching, I still love hearing that one of my messages spoke to someone personally, that it urged them on to know God better or become more like Him.
But that's not because of me. That's just the power of the Word of God doing the work of God in the hearts of the people of God. Get to know the God who knows you with Pastor Skip's Picks, a collection of some of Pastor Skip's most memorable teachings, including Is the Rapture Real?
and Overcoming an Anxious Mind. This four-DVD collection is our thanks for your gift of $25 or more to help keep this ministry connecting more people to Jesus. Call now to request your copy of Pastor Skip's Picks, 800-922-1888, or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. The Apostle Paul urged us as believers to stay in top spiritual shape, and we want to help you do just that by keeping you connected to God's Word through these broadcasts. And through your generosity, you can help many others experience the same vibrant spiritual growth so they can boldly live out their faith. Here's how you can keep these messages going out. Call 800-922-1888 and give a gift today.
That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Tune in again tomorrow as Skip Heitzig talks about Paul's encounter with Christ and how Jesus can use you to do amazing things for His Kingdom. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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