INTRO: When I first set out to prepare this lesson, I entitled it So You Want To Brag. Certainly we could listen to the text, understand its background and see that Paul could say to Jews, I know whereof I speak. I know what you think being a Jew means. I am more Jewish than most of you. But as I looked at those words Id already written on my pad, I realized that the real help for me here was to see the change in perspective, in values which occurred in Pauls life. The impact of Christs coming into his life was dramatic and definite. If there was ever a man for whom there came an about face in his life, it was most assuredly Paul. Everything he had considered important seemed to lose that importance!
I. HIS FORMER BOASTING? THE FORMERLY IMPORTANT THINGS?
A. Circumcised the eighth day the right birth!
1. Lev 12:1-3 this was the manner of the law
2. but it said hed been born into faith of Israel
3. Ishmaelites were circumcised at 13 years proselytes as adults ... but Paul was born a Jew!
B. Stock of Israel purity of race and descent
1. Israel was a special name for true Jew
2. others could trace lineage to Abraham to Isaac (Ishmaelites and Edomites)
3. but israel - the name given by God (Gen 32:28) and was a unique identification for Jews ... Pauls lineage was pure!
C. Tribe of Benjamin elite of the Jews
1. Benjamin - only son born in Caanan (Gen 35:16-20)
2. this tribe gave Israel first king; only tribe to remain faithful with Judah when nation divided; Benjamin had place of honor in Israels battle line
(Hos 5:8); Mordecai (of the book of Esther) was of Benjamin
3. Paul no ordinary Jew was of tribal aristocrisy
D. Hebrew of Hebrews absolute loyalty and love
1. the Jews were spread throughout the world
2. most did not retain Hebrew language and customs but Paul did though reared in Gentile city (Acts 21:40)
3. this was obvious sign of his loyalty to Moses, Israel
E. A Pharisee the strictest segment of Judaism
1. committed to keeping smallest detail of the law
2. according to one writer there were never more than 6000 of them the separated ones ... rigorous, unbending devotion (Acts 26:5)
3. Paul knew Jewish religion from most demanding peak
F. Unquestioned zeal persecutor of the church
1. how fervent, aredent was his religion! (Gal 1:14)
2. went far beyond what Jews would have done in order to stamp out opposition to Moses, to Israel
3. few could equal boiling zeal of Saul of Tarsus!
G. Touching the righteousness ... blameless ... above criticism
1. where the demands, ceremony of the law were concerned, Paul had been meticulous in observance
2. all of these things had been terribly important to him for many years - Phil 2:7a
3. if anyone could boast or have confidence in the flesh and fleshly attainments, Paul certainly could
II. BUT HUMAN ATTAINMENTS, PRIVILEGES MEAN NOTHING - Phil 2:7b
A. One thing was important - a right relationship with God
1. neither heritage, burning zeal nor a wrong religion sincerely believed and fervently practiced could being that to Paul!
2. he had certainly tried that course and found it empty
3. it had dawned on him that without Christ everything else was really vain--note how he puts it in Col 2:8,9
B. And only one thing remains important
1. it is still that life with Christ at the center
2. without this view or perspective of life, sooner or later life is just going to be totally empty, disappointing--yet, we still tend to put our confidence and trust in unimportant, perishing things
3. ours will not become a living faith and a faith with life until our values, our perspective change to put the Lord, His word, His church, His service as the very most important thing in life
CLOSE: The issue is that Jesus came into the world to save sinners...of whom I am chief. But sinners cannot be saved until they are wiling to count all things loss in order to win Christ.
Cecil A. Hutson
21 May 2000
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)