Many Christians are self-satisfied because they compare their “running” with that of other Christians, usually those who are not making much progress. Had Paul compared himself with others, he would have been tempted to be proud and perhaps to let up a bit. After all, there were not too many believers in Paul’s day who had experienced all that he had! But Paul did not compare himself with others; he compared himself with himself and with Jesus Christ! The dual use of the word “perfect” in Philippians 3:12 and 15 explains his thinking. He has not arrived yet at perfection (Phil. 3:12), but he is “perfect” [mature] (Phil. 3:15), and one mark of this maturity is the knowledge that he is not perfect! The mature Christian honestly evaluates himself and strives to do better.
Philippians 3:12–16 (ESV)
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Often in the Bible we are warned against a false estimate of our spiritual condition. The church at Sardis had “a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1). They had reputation without reality. The church at Laodicea boasted that it was rich, when in God’s sight it was “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). In contrast to the Laodicean church, the believers at Smyrna thought they were poor when they were really rich! (Rev. 2:9) Samson thought he still had his old power, but in reality it had departed from him (Jud. 16:20).
Self-evaluation can be a dangerous thing, because we can err in two directions: (1) making ourselves better than we are, or (2) making ourselves worse than we really are. Paul had no illusions about himself; he still had to keep “pressing forward” in order to “lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold” of him. A divine dissatisfaction is essential for spiritual progress. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1–2).
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Php 3:12). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
As our blessed Lord approached the cross the horizon darkened for him more and more. From earliest infancy he had suffered from man; from the beginning of his public ministry he had suffered from Satan; but at the cross he was to suffer at the hand of God. Jehovah himself was to bruise the Saviour, and it was this which overshadowed everything else. In Gethsemane he entered the gloom of the three hours of darkness on the cross. That is why he left the three disciples on the outskirts of the garden, for he must tread the winepress alone. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful,” he cried. This was no shrinking horror in anticipation of a cruel death. It was not the thought of betrayal by his own familiar friend, nor of desertion by his cherished disciples in the hour of crisis, nor was it the expectation of the mockings and revilings, the stripes and the nails, that overwhelmed his soul. No, all of this keenest anguish as it must have been to his sensitive spirit, was as nothing compared with what he had to endure as the Sin Bearer.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while! go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:36–39).
Here he views the black clouds arising, he sees the dreadful storm coming, he premeditated the inexpressible horror of that three hours of darkness and all they held. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful” he cries. The Greek is most emphatic. He was begirt with sorrow. He was plunged over head and ears in the anticipated wrath of God. All the faculties and powers of his soul were wrung with anguish.
St Mark employs another form of expression—“He began to be sore amazed” (14:33). The original signifies the greatest extremity of amazement, such as makes one’s hair, stand on end and their flesh to creep. And, Mark adds, “and to be very heavy,” which denotes there was an utter sinking of spirit; his heart was melted like wax at sight of the terrible cup.
But the evangelist Luke uses the strongest terms of all: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). The Greek word for “agony” here, means to be engaged in a combat. Before, he had combated the oppositions of men and the oppositions of the devil, but now he faces the cup which God gives him to drink. It was the cup which contained the undiluted wrath of a sin-hating God.
This explains why he said, “If it be possible let this cup pass from me.” The “cup” is the symbol of communion, and there could be no communion in his wrath, but only in his love. Notwithstanding, though it means being cut off from communion he adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yet so great was his agony that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
We think that there can be little doubt that the Saviour shed actual drops of blood. There would belittle meaning in saying that his sweat resembled blood, but was not really that. It seems to us the emphasis is on the word “blood.” He shed blood—just like great beads of water in ordinary cases. And here we see the fitness of the place chosen to be the scene of this terrible but preliminary suffering. Gethsemane—ah, thy name betrayeth thee! It means the olive-press. It was the place where the life-blood of the olives was pressed out drop by drop! The chosen place was well named then. It was indeed a fit footstool to the cross, a footstool of agony unutterable and unparalleled. On the cross then, Christ drained the cup which was presented to him in Gethsemane.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Pink, A. W. (2005). The seven sayings of the Saviour on the cross (New pbk. ed.) (91–93). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
This post is going to hopefully be a number of posts on the same general subject.
Missiology, the study of the mission of God, extends into every area of our lives. Every choice we make, at every interval of our lives, touches on the mission of God or runs from it.
Where we buy our coffee, how…
Once upon a time, there was a boy.
This is my testimony. My words and heart and history spilled out on page like a black coffee stain. It’s taken years for me to write and here in a mere, few moments, all my deepest secrets will be revealed. I don’t care about who reads them or how they affect…
If you know what He has done at infinite cost to himself—He’s put you into a relationship so that you’ll never be rejected by Him—then your motivation when you sin is to go get Him. You want fellowship with Him. When the thing that most assures you is the thing that most convicts you, you’ll be okay because when you’re convicted of sin in a gospel way it drives you toward God.
Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin. Without the gospel we’re motivated through all sorts of awful fear and pride to change and it doesn’t really change our hearts; it just restrains our hearts.
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."—John 6:37.
We have no permission to pare down either sentence, nor is there the slightest need to do so. The first sentence appears to me to say that God has chosen a people, and has given these people to Christ, and these people must and shall come to Christ, and so shall be saved. The second truth declares that every man who comes to Christ shall be saved, since he shall not be cast out, and that implies that he shall be received and accepted.
Marriage Sermons or Family Sermons make me depressed.
I have not heard one (in the churches I’ve been a part of) that didn’t make me hold my head in my hands and sigh.
I want to get married, I want to have a family, but it hasn’t happened yet. There are obvious things I need to get in order first such as getting my own place and being able to support myself. I got that, I understand that, and I am on the road to getting there.
But, it seems as if marriage sermons and family sermons just rub it in. I don’t mean to be snippy, but it frustrates me on a few fronts (besides the personal reasons).
I don’t go to church to get married. I don’t go to church to get advice for when/if I do get married and I don’t go to church to worship marriage. I go to church to worship Jesus Christ. Marriage must be thought of in the context of the Scriptures, not culture. Marriage is beautiful, marriage is awesome, and right now those who are part of the church are married to Christ.
I’d love to hear that in a marriage sermon or family sermon. I’d love for the sermon to be more than stories and jokes. I’d love for my generation to see that Christ is faithful and that He loves us unconditionally.That when we sin, we are cheating on God. That when we sin, we commit spiritual adultery. The non-believer knows nothing but this. But, that Christ in His love and His mercy died to forgive us conditionally and that we are now part of the church who will tell the world about Him.
Am I asking too much?
Maybe I’m wrong and just peeved at hearing the same sermon over and over again on marriage and family. That could definitely be a possibility.