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August 10, 2020 4:00 am
The any time a Christian struggles with sin. There are people who are quick to point out the apparent hypocrisy. How can someone claim to be committed to Jesus if they continue to stumble in some way today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg explains that even the apostle Paul viewed growing in Christian maturity as a lifelong process. Philippians chapter 3 in verse 12, Paul says not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that to God will make clear to you only let us live up to what we have already attained father we pray that with our Bibles open before us that in the mystery of your purposes beyond the voice of a mere man we might hear your voice through your word, the Bible, by your Holy Spirit's power for Jesus sake on that listening to children talk is more often than not fascinating and it is frequently rewarding, especially if they are talking, not knowing that they are over her and there is probably nothing quite so fascinating as to listen to youngsters go into great flights of fancy and making unrealistic claims either about their parents. You know my dad can do this for my mom can do this or about themselves. For example, the two boys are standing at a swimming pool once as the other and how far did I get is from this site. To that side. There we boy hasn't got a clue. He combines numbers and and words and he says I I think is about 498 yards and the other kid goes I can jump in your list. The other has ridiculous the other kids got will that's nothing I can. I can stand at the plate, take a pitch hit a baseball drop the back run out into the outfield and catch the ball before it hits the ground's friends is no you can't, and then it just goes on and on from there. And somehow or another in the development of life. We understand that that is actually quite endearing.
It's playful and it's tolerable, but not of the people are 19 and 20 1:25 PM and there is a point in which you're not supposed to talk like that anymore and that is perhaps nothing quite as painful as being told that one is immature. You're acting in a bizarre way for your years, you shouldn't be different from what you are just in the same way as we understand that there are all kinds of indications in the physical and emotional and mental realm of what it means to be mature, so there are within the realm of spiritual living, and it is with this matter of spiritual maturity that Paul is concerned in the verses that we just been reading. That's why in verse 15 he actually uses the word mature and he says it is all of us who are mature, who should take such a view of things, JB Phillips, as all of us who are spiritually adult should set ourselves. This sort of ambition.
So if I am a mature individual.
There are certain characteristics and dimensions to my life in my walk with God and that to which unit affairs is of course the little paragraph immediately above verse 15 which comprises verses 12, 13 and 14 Paul's Christian beginnings in his experience, take us to the Damascus Road.
We noted last time that when on that occasion, the truth dawned on him. It was that he was unworthy of God that he was unfit for heaven and that he was unable to rectify his situation. What made it so amazing was the fight that despite he knew that true of himself.
He recognized that Jesus had sought Jesus had humbled him, and Jesus had saved him and that is the experience of genuine Christian advance Calvin who says there are only two things that are necessary to be known for salvation. One is that I am a great sinner unworthy of God unfit for heaven and unable to rectify my circumstances. The other is that Christ is a great Savior. He is the one who stuck his eyes out. He is the one who humbles us and he is the one who saves us, and it is in this that we make the first baby steps along the journey of Christian living now. By the time that Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, he has gone down that road some way, and as he affirms his commitment to Christ. He says in verses 10 and 11. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. So, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. It's a staggering statement. It is a quite amazing affirmation and aspiration. I want to know Christ.
He says not only personally, but I want to know them progressively and I want to know him without passionate commitment know if you think about that for a moment, imagine that you are in the company of this individual making that kind of affirmation. There is a potential for discouragement that accrues from I might be held to for figuring this by using an illustration I already mentioned baseball so stay in the realm of baseball. As you know, it's a subject about which I know a great deal but actually find that I know very little about it serves to my purpose insofar as let's suppose that you invite me somebody to play on your baseball team and you give me all the necessary finery and you put me in your rotation and in order to encourage me you send me up behind your best hitter who stands up and just smites the ball right out of the arena and he has a grand slam and then it's me, and I am not sure whether you hold the bat with a thick bed of the thin I'm not sure whether you hold it up here or down here.
I'm just not sure at all and the fact that the fellow who went in front of me was so good and so effective actually made me feel like sneaking out.
If I possibly could.
Because he was so good and I knew that I was going to be so bad that I would rather not be anything at all and be found out to be such a miserable person standing to try and hit a baseball it's the spirit.
Incidentally, of Abrams captured in chariots of fire after the fictitious race, with the average little because Abrams never raced little in his life, but the Hollywood made a race just to dramatize it and after the race is little they shot the scene in the rugby stadium and down in Edinburgh after the race is little and he loses, he sits.
If you recall the film up in the stands all by himself, sulking and his lady friend appears into the stadium and walks away along the chairs and sits down beside him. He says nothing. Eventually, he breaks the silence and declares if I can win.
I won't run to which she replies. If you don't run you can win and in the race of the Christian life.
It is possible for some of us who feel ourselves to be just on the starting blocks just getting going to be surrounded by the kind of individual who likes to make these dramatic statements about who they are and what they're going to do and so on. Not that Paul is doing that, but the aspiring aliment in it is such that for the Pilgrim, the early pilgrim they might be tempted to say, well, if that's what it's really about. And if that's how you really live for Christ. And if that's what you're supposed to know I'm not even sure that I'm a Christian at all because I haven't got any of those! At least I can make those dramatic state that you see is why Paul follows verses 10 and 11 with verse 12. That's why Paul says now listen, whether he wrote it with that he dictated it. He probably paused at the end of what he did, written in 10 and 11 and said you know I better just to have something here just in case any of these readers get the wrong idea last the thing that what I'm saying is that I'm perfect sister is secretary.
Let's imagine. He said listen I are letting you. Let me give you another couple of verses here just before move you any further.
Write this now.
Tell them not that I have already obtained all this, or am already made perfect in other words, is a wise pastor, Paul quickly adds this. He says I want you to know dear ones in Philippi that I'm a pilgrim.
I want you to know that I'm still in process. Still on the journey that I still have plenty of ground to cover the responsibility of Christian leadership because the danger in Christian leadership. The danger in being a pastor or a teacher is that we can. Saul said before people idealistic standards as to make them believe that we actually are living them and then to make the disparity apparently so great between our listeners and ourselves when in point of fact, we may be deluding ourselves as well as diluting that the excess comes across very clearly in CS Lewis's little booklet for labs as he writes in these four areas of love, affection and friendship in Eros and charity. He finally draws it all to a close and in a wonderful statement of helpful honesty.
He says this and with this where a better book would begin mine must end. I dare not proceed. God knows not.
I whether I have ever tasted this love you been describing this experience is. I'm not sure that I've actually tasted what I'm writing to you about, and then listen to this. Those like myself whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached if we describe what we have imagined. We may make others and make ourselves believe that we have really been so you think that because you taught it you did it you thing that because you understand your living you think that because you can write it on your wall or stick it in your wallet or quoted in your car or announce it to the people around you that is actually your experience when in point if I do.
Maybe nothing other than your imagination you dream about golf. If you play golf. Can I ask you do you do you ever dream shooting 112 I tell you, you don't you dream part in subpar rounds. I know that you imagination you like the wee boy.
The swimming pool 498 yards. I can jump that you can why you saying that makes you a better Christian getting that helps the people around you know it makes you crazy and discourages them.
That's why the issue is a call to resolute obvious commitment to the basics know what an encouragement.
It must've been for verse 12 to bounce out in the first reading of this letter. Imagine a couple, Aaron and Sarah Levi 247 Bridge St., Philippi, very zealous for God very interested in being passionate about things, and very open to anybody who can tell them how they can really go for Mr. Levi leave Sarah his wife behind to go and attend a meeting which is been advertised as taking place in such and such a street in certain persons house who is known to be a very perfect person he is in the terms of Philippians I Judaizers and he is offering to people. Indeed he is demanding of people. The notion that if he truly love Christ then they will experience a die mention of living which actually introduces them in the present. To that which the apostle is saying is a prospect along the journey and reaches its fulfillment in heaven. But these individuals in their meeting, gathering a crowd and tell them that if they will add to Christ if they will add to what they know all these other things, then they may actually be made perfect, so Mr. Levi goes in the addends and he comes back and he tells his wife and as he tells his wife. They both sit and look at one another across the kitchen table and they say, you know, it seems to me absolutely hopeless. I understand the zeal I understand what the follows on about, but I can't possibly see that it can be done and they are discouraged and disputed so within a matter of days that in the congregation of Philippi and the letter comes from Paul begins this is from Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi and Mr. Levi and Mrs. Levi are sitting out there on the benches and they are they are listening to it read and as it proceeds and it would have been read in one listening as they get to verses 10 and 11 of Philippians 3 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the passion and the suffering and everything else Mr. Levi nudges Mrs. Levi, his wife, Sarah, and he says here we go depends both his ears back, as verse 12 comes in is verse 12 comes. He slowly slides off his seat and lands on his bottom in the middle-of-the-road because he hears that what Paul has written down is not only his aspiration to know Christ in this way passionately and progressively, but he is immediately added. Not but I have already obtained all this, or am already made perfect. I'm not perfect. He says Mr. Levi fantastic because if Paul is not perfect that I don't know what these jokers are on about Donna that guys house but I'm not going down there again because if there was anyone he was going to be perfect.
After all, it would be somebody who was a Hebrew of the Hebrews it was somebody who had a background such as Paul's. It was a somebody who was from the tribe of Benjamin on the people of Israel and eight-day as far as circumcision goes, a Pharisee in relationship to zeal, persecuting the church and focus and relationship of legalistic righteousness, and the same guy who had that marked his life that I have not already obtained all this around all wonderfully must or the six cranes. Why so that he could adopt a spirit of complacency so they could see lights flying at don't have to do anything or worry about any no, not at all, but so that the truth of God's word to dawn upon his soul in such a way as to make sense of the Christian message. The man or woman of spiritual maturity is aware of what they are not is aware of what they are not. Most of our society is constantly urging us to be aware of what we are and what we have achieved and what we have done, and so on. But maturity in Christian living is actually hasn't as its beginning and awareness of what I'm not Christian maturity is not exemplified by high sounding talk, but in a life of humble steady consistency. It is a sign of immaturity to think of ourselves more highly than we ought maturity rejects exaggerated claims maturity is marked instead by assaying estimate of our spiritual progress in the old fable of the tour toys in the area. Remember that here goes fly and 1/2. The tortoise is just will you know what they're like those things that did the funny looking little head sticking out the front like that in those things and the hairs are gonna find that here is so convinced that he's he's got this race one that he decides you sit down and rest and relax and fall asleep. And as the fellow with a dramatic start falls asleep. Three. Gary comes same pace slowly slowly till eventually, the tortoise is a winner in the here is nowhere to be found speaking as her torturers.
Do you know what a pain in neck it is to be surrounded by spiritual hears, always leaping and bounding about always making great aspirations always saying where they're going. What they're doing what they're achieving how well they're doing quoting all the various verses they learn letting everybody know how well it's all going and how they're on their journey and how dispiriting it is as you just try and keep along the Christian life you find yourself saying I don't even know if I'm in this Christian life. I don't even know if I want to wear this uniform.
I don't know if I want to stand up to the plate but the wonderful wisdom of the apostle Paul.
He says now listen guys, let me just tell you here, let me tell you the things that are fundamental to me and I want to summarize it for you in this way, called And pressing on.
What is the call come from other comes from God, look at what he says I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Paul is referring to the summons of God which produces its desired effect on like some of our calls. Richard would you get up but nothing happens. Would you come for your meal and nothing happens, but this call of God is an authoritative call. It is a life engendering call. It is the call of Christ outside the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus, come out and out he comes.
He speaks and listening to his voice new life. The dead receipt it's Romans 828 we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Two Timothy 19 Timothy let us bless God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ to us seemed us and called us to a holy life. The call of God came to Saul.
Certainly, the voice was clear on the Damascus Road.
Paul reiterates this truth many times he gives his testimony says and I have a voice and I had a voice from heaven say is you never begin the Christian journey into you hear God's voice to understand receipt you mean audibly you're asking me no not audibly will then how is God's voice narrative.
It is no longer Herod audibly.
It is paired when the word of God is brought home to our hearts by the spirit of God. Have you hear God's call and that way is God called how to use.
He has today.
If you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts called heavenward in Christ Jesus, called upward called on upward and onward toward Christian maturity. That's the call today from Alastair big on Truth for Life as believers in Christ all of us would affirm that our desire is to live our lives according to God's will. And of course one of the greatest steps toward that goal. Is Alastair just said is for us to pay attention to what God teaches us in his word, but it can also be immensely helpful to have real life examples we can follow as well and it's with that in mind that we want to recommend to you a book, a biography titled running the race. It's available today from Truth for Life. This book chronicles the story of a famous athlete and missionary Eric Lytle provides a stunning picture of an ordinary man who humbly serve God in extraordinary ways. First when he refused to run in his strongest event in the 1924 Olympics all the way to his eventual death on the mission field in China. This biography is thorough and it's engaging. It includes historic photographs. It's a great choice for summer time reading. Would love to send you a copy as our way of saying thanks for your donation today Truth for Life is funded entirely by listeners like you, so your support is actually a gift to your fellow listeners. It's quick and easy for you to give online Truth for Life.org/donate or call 888-588-7884. Remember to request your copy of Eric Lytle's biography called running the race when you get in touch with us. I'm Bob Lapine tomorrow. Alastair continues his message about Christian maturity sure to join us again.
The Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life or the Learning is for Living