INTRO: Because of the things Paul has written from verse 12 through our text this evening, I wonder if there may not have been some disciples either in Philippi or in the knowledge of the Philippian church which were a little swelled up with their own importance. Perhaps they had been disciples longer than others and were lording it over their brethren younger in Christ. Perhaps they were Jewish Christians who felt themselves just a little further along than the Gentile Christians. Whatever the case may have been, there are some excellent thoughts in our text about what mature discipleship really is. Spiritual maturity is...
I. IN KNOWING WE HAVE NOT BECOME PERFECT (3:15a)
A. Between v. 15 and v. 12 seems to be a conflict
1. but v. 12 speaks of that divine dissatisfaction with progress...v.15 explains that real maturity is in knowing there is growing to do
2. certainly maturity is a goal which seems to be further away the closer we get...maturity in Christ is lifetime process
B. Think of some points in which growth continues
1. 1 Thes 3:12 in love...and the many elements of it
2. 2 Cor 8:7 in giving...as we constantly reorder our priorities
3. 2 Pet 3:18 in knowledge...the real wisdom of our lives is in the treasure of Gods word
4. Phil 1:9,10 in discernment...which really is the result of growth in other spheres
II. IN ACCEPTANCE OF GODS WILL (3:15b)
A. Isnt this really a problem area for most of us?
1. God reveals His will in His word
2. and, really, such a vast array of subjects is treated therein
3. but what will we do with the subject matter? this is the issue
B. Lets mention just three possibilities
1. outright disobedience...not a comfortable response most if us would rather avoid this
2. grudging acceptance ... Ill do it ... but not like it
3. Ps 40:8 willing, cheerful acceptance which knows it is not only right ... but best and wants the best
III. IN AN ORDERLY WALK (3:16a)
A. The word walk is not the ordinary word for walking
1. this one means to go in a row, to go in order ...to follow a prescribed path ... to walk along a line
2. thus, we find more evidence that discipleship is not ones doing his own thing it is not life in the wild
B. The basis of the structure is, of course, the word
1. this does not produce mindless robots in lockstep!
2. but it does produce a pattern of life which is predictable because the same rule is applied by all disciples maturity is in our accepting that structure in our lives which keeps our lives from inner turmoil and sin (Gal 5:25 with Rom 8:6b)
IV. IN CONCERN FOR UNITY WITHIN THE BODY(3:16b)
A. The church in Corinth was divided
1. its condition was obvious from almost word one
2. now, look at 1 Cor 3:1-3 and walk as men
B. Maturity is concerned for and promotes unity in the body
1. because the body cannot function with division because the existence of division reflects badly on Christ because division saps the strength of the body
2. I think a fellowship of minding the same thing would be such a sweet and powerful fellowship
V. IN WILLINGNESS TO BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE FAITH (3:17)
A. How willing are we to be an example for others ... to accept the fact that others are following in our footsteps?
1. this verse indicates that Paul and others of the church in the church in Philippi were willing
2. but an important point ... 1 Cor 11:1
B. There is a great responsibility here - Heb 13:7
1. obviously, highly visible disciples must feel the weight of that responsibility (1 Tim 4:12) ... yet, all of us are an example to someone
2. can your example be followed safely to heaven?
CLOSE: In such a few words Paul has left us some sobering things about which to think. Maturing spiritually will make better, more useful people of us!
Cecil A. Hutson
09 July 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)