Friday, May 29, 2015


     Fox Television Network has green lighted a new show called Lucifer.  This new series will depict Satan, bored with being "lord of hell", taking a vacation, of sorts, in Las Angeles.  A major plot line of the show will be Lucifer helping the police punish criminals while an angel, sent from God, attempts to convince him to return to his place in Hell.  Lucifer becomes an anti-hero with a likable personality, more of a lovable rogue than the hater of men's souls. 

     This theme of traditionally evil characters being rebooted as heroic and virtuous seems to be a new trend in Hollywood.  Disney's Maleficent reinvents the evil character from Sleeping Beauty as a creature of beauty and grace who was turned bitter by lost love and betrayal.  In the end, Maleficent regains her wings and returns to being a creature of goodness and light, restoring peace to the world. Dracula Untold was the next film that recently retold the tale of an overtly evil character who was really a misunderstood good guy, forced to embrace an evil persona to accomplish good. In Dracula Untold we find the story of a man who is forced to become a powerful creature in order to save his family and kingdom from Islamic invaders.  A character who is traditionally referred to as "the prince of darkness" and whose name literally means "son of the devil" gets a makeover and is revealed to be more than good as he sacrifices himself for those he loves.  In essence, we have Dracula being recast as a Messiah rather than a blood thirsty agent of hell.  

     Lucifer is one of a slew of comic book based television shows and movies that have been flooding American culture in recent years.  Executive Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has been quoted as saying, "We are in the transportation business. We transport audiences from one place to another", in referring to the film industry.  Where exactly is Mr. Bruckheimer attempting to transport us with Lucifer?

     With the current trend of reinventing evil characters, Lucifer goes beyond mere entertainment as this production deals with a non fictional entity who is evil personified.  There seems to be an agenda to cast Sastan in a positive light, especially to younger generations who are all but Biblically illiterate.  Isaiah 5:20 states: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Maleficent and Dracula are obviously fictional characters and reinventing them for entertainment purposes is perfectly acceptable.  One does have to wonder who or what is ultimately inspiring these ideas.  I dealt with this topic in a previous blog that can be accessed by CLICKING HERE THE BIBLE IS INSPIRED BY GOD - WHO INSPIRES OUR ENTERTAINMENT?

     At some point in the future, Satan will come to world power through  the person the Bible refers to as the "beast" traditionally known as the Anti-Christ. This is clearly stated in Revelation 13:5-8 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  Obviously, if Satan showed up today, the world would not accept him or worship him.  Something must fundamentally change in the way the world views God and Satan for the above scenario to take place.  Television shows like Lucifer are the beginning of what must take place in order for there to be a paradigm shift tremendous enough for the world to embrace Satan and actively reject God.  People must be conditioned to accept the idea that Satan is good and God is evil.

     In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God, talked with God, had fellowship with God, yet Satan was able to convince them that God was lying to them for His own selfish purposes.  If Adam and Eve could be convinced of lies about God, how much more is a world that has no regard for the Creator susceptible to such a great delusion. In fact, the Apostle Paul warns us of this very thing in II Thessalonians 2:8-11 -  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,... Satan's perceived persona must change in order for the world to accept him as a ruler.  Current culture and entertainment is attempting to accomplish just that.  Through conditioning, society may come to view Satan as a heroic, even victimized, persona that wants what's best for everyone.  This idea transcends the idea of sympathy for the devil, even the Rolling Stones' song by the same name cast Satan as a villain.  Casting Satan as a sympathetic villain is not enough to bring forth the cultural shift that must take place before Revelation 13 can become a reality.  

     As believers, we have a great challenge and responsibility to present and defend truth.  We cannot afford to speak about faith and not actively practice it in our daily lives.  The onus is on us, now more than ever, to educate the younger generations in Biblical truth.  The Word of God has been marginalized in our post modern society and is not tolerated in the marketplace of ideas because, in a relativistic society, there is no place for a book that claims authority and absolute truth.  We need to be careful, now more than ever about our entertainment choices and the example we are giving to our children and grandchildren.  Hypocrisy is one of the largest factors in why young people are rejecting Christ in record numbers.  When we say one thing and do another, it tells those around us that we really do not believe what we claim to believe.  

     We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of darkness.  We must be prepared for battle and we must understand that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but of the Spirit.  Scripture memorization, obedience to God's word, and prayer. We must have the mind of Christ.  Philippians 4:8 tells us to focus on good things and not to dwell on evil: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Time is short, and we know that the world will grow increasingly evil before the end of all things.  We can do our part by being aware that evil influences will be growing as well, and responding to these influences properly.  We must be wary, as believers, to not participate in or support anything that glorifies the enemy of God.  Lucifer should be on our "do not watch list" but it should be part of our conversation.  We are called to be prepared in season and out of season to give an account for our faith.  A show about Satan may just be a good conversation starter and we can take something that Satan meant for his glory and use it to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


  Today, the Boy Scouts of America convened it's annual convention in Atlanta GA.  President Robert Gates addressed the convention and urged the BSA to reverse it's ban on homosexual scoutmasters. As part of his remarks, Gates claimed that court challenges to the ban would be inevitable, costly and ultimately lead to the collapse of the organization.  Gates went on to explain that, though he had planned on not addressing the proposed policy change, the culture and laws had changed so dramatically and so quickly over the past year, he felt he had no choice.  Gates did address the concern that many churches serve as charter organizations and would not continue to sponsor a program that allowed openly homosexual men to serve as scoutmasters.  In concession, Gates suggested that each charter would be able to determine it's own policy concerning who would be able to lead within that charter.  Gates also claimed to have no hidden agenda, only the best interests of Scouting going forward.


    This pronouncement comes on the heels of an historic policy change 2 years ago, when the BSA voted to lift the ban on gay scouts.  Citing financial concerns, BSA voted to reverse it's 103 year policy to ban homosexuals from the organization.  Many major donors threatened to withdraw funding if the BSA continued to exclude membership based on sexual preference, or so the leadership council claimed.  In 2013, BSA voted to allow gay youth to join as scouts, but did not address the issue of gay leaders, leaving the ban on gay scoutmasters in effect.  Some families viewed this change as an endorsement of a lifestyle they believed to be morally wrong and withdrew from membership, my family included. click here for my blog on the 2013 policy change

    The vote did not have the desired effect, as many of the donors that were threatening to withdraw funding felt that the council did not go far enough by not allowing gay leaders to join the organization.  Some churches withdrew support and charters due to the policy change, leaving troops to find new charters and meeting places.  Though few people believed that the vote in 2013 was the end of the matter, the change managed to anger those on both sides of the issue and accomplished no real benefit to Scouting as a whole.  


     Robert Gates seems to be an unlikely choice to lead the Boy Scouts of America.  Gates came to national prominence when President George W. Bush appointed him to the position of Secretary of Defense in 2006. Gates served in that position until his retirement in 2011.  Prior to that appointment, Gates served as a high ranking official in the CIA and withdrew his name from consideration for the post of CIA Director in 1987, due to his role in the Iran-Contra affair.  Gates also served on the Council on Foreign Relations as a task force co-chair.  

     Robert Gates' ties to both Bush presidents and the current administration, together with his membership in the CFR leaves little doubt that he is a globalist.  One major goal of the globalist agenda is to destroy the foundation of family values in order to usher in a New World Order under a centralized government.  Globalists aim to undermine faith and Biblical truth, believing these to be obstacles to achieving world dominance.  Interestingly, in 2010, Robert Gates was named MTV University's Man of the Year, while Nicki Minaj was named Woman of the Year.  MTV U cited the fact that Gates led the way to ending the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the United States Military as one of the reasons he was chosen for the honor.  


     One major result will be open access to young boys by sexual predators.  The Guide to Safe Scouting is the main safeguard against predators, but the Guide only protects from predators who have been previously caught.  Putting men in charge of a Girl Scout troop would be unthinkable as common sense dictates men have no place leading girls in an overnight outing such as a campout or backpacking trip.  Why would the same common sense not apply to not allowing men who are sexually attracted to males from being banned from Boy Scouts?  

     Financial stability and strength is cited as a probable result of policy change.  There may well be an initial influx of money from godless donors with progressive views, but the cost, in the long run, due to decreased membership and loss of support from major faith based institutions such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the Mormon Church could very well offset any financial benefit.  Churches will be forced to kick Scout troops out of their buildings. 

    A major consequence to this proposed policy change will be to the spiritual aspect of scouting.  Faith in God is foundational to scouting.  Spiritual instruction will be monitored and ultimately abolished in fear of offending those who have chosen to engage in activity that is plainly condemned in the Bible.  Currently, Christians, Jews and Muslims co-exist in the scouting community, all of whom condemn homosexual behavior due to religious convictions.  People of faith will be forced to accept sin or leave.

    The Bible teaches that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Scouting, which requires a belief in God and declares a scout must be "morally straight" cannot allow open homosexuals in place of leadership without creating an identity crises.  How can an organization have leaders whose very lifestyle contradicts the tenets of that organization.  This is a recipe for disaster and can only lead to the BSA collapsing in on itself.


    Gates claimed that he is trying to preempt debilitating court challenges to BSA's current policy.  Gates is being disingenuous at best, as he must know that in 2000, the BSA won a Supreme Court decision allowing them to ban homosexuals.   Gates' claims to not have a hidden agenda is also questionable as he presided over the United States Military's transition from "Don't ask, don't tell" to open service for homosexuals.  According to a study by the Pentagon, sexual assault has increased in the U.S. Military 64% since 2006.  Remember, 2006 was the year that Robert Gates became Secretary of Defense, a very interesting coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.  
     According to GQ magazine, men in the military are increasingly falling victim to same sex sexual assault. click here to read GQ artilce
According to GQ, more than half the sexual assault victims in the military are men.  This is directly related to the military's policy change on homosexual behavior. Is this the same kind of change that Scout President Gates wants to bring to the Boy Scouts of America?  For a man that claims to "not have a hidden agenda", Gates appears to be the right man to preside over these destructive changes in the BSA.


   As I consider what the response should be for people of faith, I cannot help but think of Revelation 18:4 ...Come out of her my people that you will not share in any of her sins.  Christians cannot remain in an organization that claims to be of God and blatantly spits in God's face.  Churches and people of faith must take a stand against any policy change that would allow homosexuals to serve as scout leaders in the BSA.  Churches and people of faith must cut ties with the BSA if it chooses to remove the ban on gay leaders.  This should be a non negotiable issue.  God calls us to be in the world, but not of the world.  As society's mores and values continue to slide farther and farther from God, His people will have to make tough decisions to not participate in organizations that promote sin. Our primary agenda as believers is to honor God.  The Boy Scouts of America cannot honor God if it changes policies to allow homosexual men to serve as scoutmasters.  Our primary agenda as parents is to protect our children and allowing openly gay men an opportunity to go camping with your boy does not seem like the best way to protect your child.  Pray for the BSA and the families that are involved.  Pray that Robert Gates is not successful in promoting his pro gay agenda. Pray for Robert Gates that he may have a personal experience with Jesus Christ and that he may come to salvation and a changed heart.  God loves all people and Christ's blood was shed for all sinners, myself included.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This is a study in the book of Philippians that is being held at Berean Bible Church in Knoxville TN.  As we study each week, I will add the study notes from which I am teaching.  If you are in Knoxville, check out our church at Berean Bible Church - click here  Please share any comments or questions you may have in the comment section below.



V.1-2 - Paul and Timothy are writing to all the believers in the city of Philippi, both Jew and Gentile. Paul is giving credibility and authority to Timothy as a spiritual leader. Paul established Timothy as pastor of the church at Ephesus as a church planter, as we see Timothy, in latter years traveling to other locations and visiting Paul in prison.

Timothy is most likely taking dictation from Paul.

Philippi was established as a city in Macedonia in 356 BC by the Grecian king Philip II. The city was destroyed and abandoned in the mid 1300's by the Ottoman Turks. The city is still in ruins and archaeology ended in 1978.

It was in this city that Paul was jailed for casting a demon out of a slave girl and ultimately led the jailer and his family to Christ. Philippi is the city that began the Christianization of Europe as it was the first European city Paul preached in.

V.3-5 – Paul is assuring them of his prayers which also demonstrated to them the importance of intercessory prayer. It is very important that we pray for one another.

Paul also calls them partners in the Gospel, which shows that when it comes to serving God, we are all called to minister in our own gifting. The work of the great commission is not the work of the “leaders” or a gifted few, it is the work of all of us.

People like to say, “the church should...” and they are right, but the church should, but what they fail to realize is that we are the church and “we” should.

    1. This is a great passage of hope. We are told that God will not leave us unfinished. We will, however, be in a state of becoming until Christ comes and redeems us physically. The term here for day in Day of Jesus Christ is haymera and is used exclusively in the NT as a reference to the return of Christ. In fact, Peter makes this point emphatically when he declares in 2 Peter 3:10 – The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. We are a work in progress.
There is within Christiandom a group call the holiness movement. They actually believe we can attain perfection through life in the
Spirit. I had a friend who got hooked up with this group and he told me about the leader of his study group who claimed to have been sin free for 12 years. Imagine deluding yourself with the thought that you have been sin free for even a day!

This passage shows us that God will continue to work in us until Christ returns and that is when we will achieve our perfection and that is when we will truly attain the righteousness that has been credited to us through Christ.

This is why we cannot get discouraged when we fail. We should have a healthy remorse and heartfelt repentance should follow, but we must be careful to avoid discouragement as this will lead us to ineffectiveness. He who has begun a good work will complete it -
God begins the work in us and we cooperate with the Holy Spirit within us to continue the work of sanctification and transformation

Romans 8:29 – Those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...

We are in process and we will continue to be in process as long as we draw breath.l

V.7-8 – Partakers of grace – when we come to Christ, we become partakers of the grace of God. If the Law is the requirement, and the perfection of Christ is our standard of measurement, we are doomed without the grace of God.

MAY 27, 2015 - 

VERSES 9- 11 - Much of Philippians is a letter of thanksgiving. Many of Paul's letters are written as rebukes or doctrinal instruction, but most of this letter is uplifting and positive. Last week we saw that we are unfinished business in the hands of God. We should continue grow and learn our entire lives.

  1. 9 – Paul is encouraging the Philippians to continue to grow in 3 specific areas
First and foremost is the charge to grow in love, notice Paul says to abound in love more and more.

Love is the glue that holds the whole program together, love is the grease that keeps all the parts moving properly. Love is the primary goal. The amount of love we have for others will dictate the effectiveness we have in ministry. Effectiveness is not necessarily based on numbers of converts or material success, spiritual effectiveness is more to do with your walk with God that then manifests itself as an outward expression of your faith.

Loving God should lead to spiritual growth. As we grow in love toward God, we must also grow in our knowledge of Him.
Zeal with out knowledge leads to what Paul was when he was Saul. Saul persecuted the church thinking he was serving God. He was ignorant of the truth, so his love was not demonstrated. Saul was unable to please God because he did not have the knowledge of the truth.
We worship, we study, we grow and we learn to discern.

What is discernment?

Discernment is being able to distinguish between truth and error. It is recognizing that which is of God 's Spirit and that which is of the flesh or of evil origins. We cannot understand deep spiritual truth until we have learned discernment. Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Discernment is not something that takes place naturally, it comes by surrounding yourself with God's truth so that you are able to recognize it when you see it. It would be impossible to learn all the false doctrines in the world or all the false ideas about God and His nature and work. It is far easier to become so familiar with His truth that we immediately recognize when something is not of God.

John was given a vision of the future. Imagine a man whose greatest technology was a wheel. He sees a time that is probably not too far into the future from now. John must have been horrified and mystified by the things he saw, yet he knew them to be true because he was so familiar with Christ, he recognized Him when he saw Him. That is the point we want to come to, that we instantly know the voice of the Shepherd and can tell the difference when we hear a counterfeit voice.

      v. 10– we do this that we might be inoffensive to God. Aproskopos in Greek means inoffensive or not lead into sin. It is a passive purity, where we remain blameless because we are not heading down a sinful path. By abounding in love, growing in knowledge and discernment, we naturally avoid sin. We do not become perfect, but we should demonstrate a holier lifestyle than when we first came to Christ.

As believers, we are transformed, we become a new creation. If that is not reflected in our lives, we need to reexamine our commitment to Christ.

Paul reinforces this idea in the next verse:

v.11 – The idea in this verse is that we are not just filled with righteousness, but literally crammed full of righteousness. Righteousness here also denotes a righteousness derived from justification. To really expand this passage it could say, “be crammed full of the fruits of righteousness that you have gained from justification that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

Our Christian lives should show evidence every day and in every setting, not just in church or around other believers. Spiritual growth leads to holiness which is evident to those around us. Not a self righteousness or legalistic lifestyle but a gentleness that comes from the Spirit of God.

The key is remembering that our righteousness is not something we have attained on our own but something that is imputed to us through the justification we gain from faith in Christ. My righteousness is really Christ's righteousness, not my own. On my own, I seek my own good, but through faith in Christ, love, knowledge and discernment I am lead to a path of purity and true righteousness that comes from Christ. It begins with Christ and ends with Christ.

Heb_12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

JUNE 3, 2015

VV. 12-18 -

  1. 12-13 – That Paul is imprisoned while writing this epistle is without doubt. Scholars differ as to where he is imprisoned. The three places that are posited are Rome, Ephesus, and Caesarea. There is only anecdotal evidence that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 is cited as possibly referring to an Ephesian imprisonment. It is probably safe to say we can rule out Ephesus.

Paul did spend 2 years in a Caesarean prison, prior to being sent to Rome. Logistically, the travel by Paul's visitors from Philippi and back would be very difficult to accomplish in the time frame of his Caesarean imprisonment due to the distance from Philippi to Israel. Also, at the end of the book Paul mentions believers in the household of Caesar.

Due to the reflective nature of this epistle, and the fact that Paul is concerned about the possibility of dying, as we will see later in this chapter, and the mention of the imperial guard and the household of Caesar, I would be willing to say, confidently, that Paul was imprisoned in Rome at the time of his writing this letter.

Now, Paul states, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” If, indeed, Paul is writing from Rome, then we can find the account of what has happened to him in Acts 21-28.

Basically, after Paul left Ephesus, he made his way back to Jerusalem where he was falsely accused of bringing gentiles into the Temple. A angry mob tried to kill Paul but he was rescued by Roman soldiers. Due to a plot to kill him, Paul was secreted off to Caesarea where he remained imprisoned fro 2 years, until he appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome. On the way to Rome, Paul's transport was shipwrecked and he was very close to being executed by the guards. Upon arriving in Rome, Paul was place under guard for 2 years where he was given the freedom to receive visitors and to share the Gospel with all who would listen.

Paul's attitude is foundational. A natural reaction to this happening to someone for serving God would be devastation, anger toward God, confusion. We expect God to bless us for behaving well and serving Him, yet we see that many times the servant of God coming to what the nonspiritual person would call ruin.

Paul sees his misfortune as a opportunity to advance the Gospel. When we face something that we might characterize as failure, our perspective must be: how can God use this to further His kingdom?

Paul is so outside of self and ego here that he does not sit and lament his predicament, but instead, he is joyful that he is able to share the Gospel with an audience that he would not have been able to otherwise.

What type of situations have you found yourself in that would be considered a setback, an inconvenience or even a catastrophe, but later you were able to see how God used that that event for good?

    1. As Paul recognized that his obedience encouraged others, we will see our obedience inspire others to be obedient as well. Our attitude in opposition will speak to others and encourage them in their walk.
      I remember a time in my early Christian walk when a guy moved his family across the country to serve at the church I was attending. Promises were made but not fulfilled yet this guy still showed up every week and served with vigor and joy. I saw his reaction to what I felt was a raw deal and was encouraged by his faithfulness to God in the midst of what looked like a punishment for trusting God.
I am sure that Paul's imprisonment was not the thing that encouraged the brethren, but Paul's attitude and reaction to his imprisonment served to encourage the work and faithfulness of others.
We may not realize who is watching us or who is aware of our circumstances or who is influenced by us. When I told my friend that he was an inspiration to me because of his situation, he was surprised because he had no idea that his predicament and behavior was something that others were aware of never mind something that might impact someone.

v.15-17 – It would appear that even in the early church there were those who were using the Gospel to gain a following in order to enrich themselves or to create a power base. There are those who would serve for the purpose of having numbers to brag about.

Some churches are more interested in the census than the Gospel, but the Gospel is a means to their end. As long as there are men with ambition and as long as there are people who are willing to blindly follow a person with a powerful personality, there will be those who are successful at selling the Gospel to their own enrichment.

I remember back when the health, wealth and prosperity gospel was in it's heyday, many people were getting saved in spite of the excess and bad doctrine. What happened, is as these people grew in their faith and understanding of scripture, they migrated out of heretical churches to more grounded Bible believing congregations. People were getting saved and sanctification was taking place despite the questionable motives and practices of the prosperity teachers.

  1. 18 - Even in this, Paul is able to rejoice because the Gospel is being proclaimed. We can see guys like Joel Osteen and his wife teaching nonsense about God wanting us to worship Him because worship makes us happy and God really just wants us to be happy, and we can know that though the Osteen's are getting rich promoting their form of faith, Christ is being proclaimed and people are getting saved. God will deal with those who teach out of impure motive.

Paul is a able to find things to rejoice about in the midst of terrible affliction because he has placed everything in the perspective of eternity. Paul recognizes that this world is temporal but we are promised eternity in the presence of God, and one day, nothing we suffer here will have mattered.  

JUNE 10, 2015

VV. 19-27

As we continue looking at this letter written by Paul to the Philippian believers, we find Paul in prison, not sure if he will live or die. Paul had been betrayed by his own countrymen, falsely accused, beaten and imprisoned for years. Paul was serving God, planting churches, equipping the saints for works of service and suddenly he is in chains for a crime he did not commit and wondering if he will be executed. We pick up this week's study in verse 19.

  1. 19-20 – Paul is so sure of the reality of the sovereignty of God, that he is confident that whether he lives or dies, it will bring glory to God. Paul is not pleading with God to change his situation but accepts that God will use his situation for the Glory of Christ.
As Paul places his confidence in the sovereignty of God, he no longer frets about his fate, but is able to find peace of mind even in facing death. Nero was the Roman emperor that Paul appealed his case to. Nero executed his own mother and Nero was credited as being the first to persecute Christians. Nero's torture and killing of Christians is legendary. History records Nero as having dipped Christians in oil and burning them to light his garden. Paul knew that being in Nero's hands could have been devastating, yet he did not sit and feel sorry for himself, but accepted God's sovereignty in the situation.

As we have seen and will continue to see, joy is a major theme of this epistle. Paul exhibits peace of heart and mind as we read his words. Paul's circumstances are not such as to engender peace and joy. This is a supernatural result of Paul's faith and relationship with God.

We have this same joy and peace available to us as believers, and it transcends our circumstances. By having the benefit of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we have access to supernatural manifestations such as unexplainable joy and peace, even in life or death situations.
  1. 21 – This is a well known declaration by Paul, and seeing it here in the context in which it is written gives the statement much more impact and meaning. As Paul is facing a possible death sentence, he recognizes that living means total submission to Christ in the sense that he loses his very identity as an individual and to die is gain as he then goes to be in the presence of God and glory.
Paul's statement “to live is Christ” is pregnant with meaning. Paul understands that his life is no longer his to live for himself, but he belongs to Christ. As believers, we take on new identity and our old self should fade away. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated that as believers, we are to be transformed into the image of Christ. This means we become something different than what we were before, this is an every day thing, a life consuming thing, a personality altering thing. To meet Christ and walk away unchanged means rejection of Christ. We cannot claim the name of Christ and not experience some level of transformation.

Our ultimate goal as believers is to be consumed by God's Spirit to the point that we are no longer operating as a person seeking their own interests but as a person who is committed to kingdom of heaven. This is a journey in which we are confronted and convicted of sin, we should see our worldview change to a Biblical worldview and we begin to find our spiritual gifting. As we see these things take place, we will have opportunity to serve God in our specific gifting and calling and we will notice that our concerns and pursuits look far differently than they did in the past.

  1. 22-26 – As Paul contrasts his desire to die and be with Christ vs his role as shepherd to the people, he resigns himself to the fact that he will continue in life and service to God.
It is interesting to not the fact that Paul views his possible execution far differently than Christ viewed His impending execution at the hands of Rome. Christ prayed in anguish that the cup might pass from Him because His death meant separation from God, if even only a temporary separation. Remember Christ's cry from the cross, “why have you forsaken me?” Paul recognized that death for him would bring him closer to God. Paul welcomed death due to the fact death meant standing in the very presence of God. Living was the hardship for Paul, death meant freedom and glorification.

Our perspective of death should be affected by our relationship with God. Death should hold no fear for us. Facing the prospect of death takes on a whole new perspective when we view it through the lens of salvation.

    1. in light of all we gain from our great salvation, Paul encourages us to live lives that are worthy of our salvation.
This is not a call to work for salvation but a call to live in obedience because of salvation. We are encouraged to work together as believers to further the Gospel.

Each of us here have specific gifts and abilities from God. None of us were created to operate in a vacuum or independently, but rather we are to join forces and work together, complimenting each other's gifts and helping one another.

Name a body part that you deem unnecessary and would be willing to give up right now. - So too, each of us is a necessary part of the Body of Christ.

We are called to work side by side each other. My work for the Lord is not solitary and should compliment your work and mission. As we see the church as a body made up of specific parts, we recognize that the heart cannot beat without a central nervous system sending commands from the brain. The hand cannot function without the support of the wrist. Each of our individual parts are interconnected and necessary for the proper function of the body. Each of us is essential for the health of the Body. When you neglect your gift and role, someone else, whom you may never even know in this life, may be hindered in their work because a key component is missing.

This is not a light command that we should live a life worthy of the Gospel, this is really what our commitment to Christ should be leading us to. Everyone has a role and a function.

This helps us get rid of ulterior motive and that protective instinct we have over our little area of service or ministry. When I recognize that I am a part of a whole and that I am nothing without the empowerment of God, I tend to have a much healthier view of my role and ministry and will hold on with a much looser grip than if I think I am independent of others and threatened by others in ministry.

June 17, 2015
VV. 27-29, 2:1-2

Last week we left off on verse 27. We talked about living a life that is worthy of the Gospel standing side by side as believers working towards the same goals. We talked about how we are a partnership and that we all need each other to be effective in our calling.

The point is it is not my work or ministry, but God's and if I come to an end the work will continue through others who are called, indwelt and empowered by God.
Look at verse 28 -
    1. even as Paul is facing the prospect of death at the hands of godless people, he has no fear of them because he understands that people can kill him, but not the work that has been done. Though Paul is killed, the work of the Body continues because God is doing the work through His chosen vessels and God will always have a chosen vessel to do His work.
Having no fear of the opposition is probably the most frustrating thing we can do to the enemy. Satan has to know that he will ultimately lose. When we walk fearlessly in Christ, we remove his power from our lives. Undoubtedly, there are people in high places who are purposely working against the Gospel of Christ and who are working to a human utopia in which God and faith have no place.

The Beatles sang about it in Imagine and numerous religious groups exist to promote a world free of the influence of Christ. We have nothing to fear from these groups or faith systems because we know that God told us how it all ends and in the end, He wins.

Even though we will eventually be victorious, we can expect suffering in this life. We will face opposition from a world that refuses to submit to the authority of God.

  1. 29-30 - again we are reminded that as believers, we will suffer for Christ, we live in a world that is diametrically opposed to God and we are in opposition to the system of the world around us. Paul shows us how to respond to suffering and to maintain peace and joy in the midst of that suffering by remembering that we are God's and that God will have His way regardless of whether we live or die, and even if we should die, we will be with Christ.

V.2:1-2 AS we move into chapter 2 we see that the theme of unity of the body of believers is essential. Remember, when Paul wrote this letter, he did not write it in chapter and verse, he wrote it as a letter the way we would write a letter. 2:1 flows right out of 1:30 and continues in the same theme.

JUNE 24, 2015

VV. 2:3-4

Last week, we looked at the subject of suffering for the sake of the Gospel and as believers. We talked about the fact that we live in a world that is diametrically opposed to the truth of God and how that creates challenges for us as believers living among people who have opposing world views to our own. AS we finished chapter 1 and looked at the first two verses of chapter 2, we also discussed the continued exhortation to unity within the body of Christ.

Now, as we move deeper into chapter 2, we will look at the concept of humility, motive and how Jesus modeled that for us in His humanity.

  1. 3 – imagine a world in which the church is obedient to this verse! Imagine the good we could accomplish if we were living up to this command. Imagine if we demanded this from our spiritual leaders. If we could remove the human factor from our service, we would be tremendously more effective in doing the Lord's work.
Even the apostles suffered from this problem as they walked with Christ. James and John were vying for positions of prominence in he kingdom, and so disillusioned was Judas when he realized his plans for power were about to go up in smoke, he betrayed his master.

Christ is the ultimate example for us in this. At the last supper, we see Christ strip down and stoop down to wash the disciples feet.

The cultural significance of this act is lost on our western understanding. Washing the feet of guests was the role of the lowest of slaves. Jewish slaves were not permitted to wash feet as it was considered the lowest of the low jobs for a household servant.

Don't answer this out loud but consider what you would be willing to do if you put these verses into practice. What is a soul worth, is it worth humiliation, is it worth going without that others might have. Often, in our pursuit of the American dream, a soul isn't even worth inconvenience. We don't mind helping others when it fits in with our plans or schedules. When we are asked to move out of our comfort zones, we are often not so zealous to serve.

Imagine if all the people who claimed Christ would put just this verse into practice.

How do we change this paradigm? How do we as a church get this concept into practice?

Verse 4 builds on verse 3 -
  1. 4 – We are not told to completely forsake ourselves, we are commanded to look to others interests as well as our own. We still need to maintain our health and provide for our families. We are not to forsake others in our pursuit of happiness.
Serving others must be a primary goal and we sustain ourselves that we may be able to serve others. If we neglect our health, if we neglect our basic needs of hygiene and upkeep, we will repulse others rather than have an opportunity to serve them.

The main point here is, however, others.

In 1910, Salvation founder William Booth was unable to meet with his ministry leaders due to failing health. He was asked to send a telegram to address the assembly. Booth sent one word, “others.” Booth recognized that when we give our lives to Christ, we are giving our lives to His work, Christ life was sacrificed for others. We are to follow His example of giving what God has given us to God by serving others.

Vv. 5-11 – This is probably one of the most important passages of scripture concerning the person and nature of Jesus Christ. As I studied this passage in numerous English translations, the Greek construction, and in light of other scripture(which gives the most weight, in my opinion), I have to say that I prefer the KJV translation of this passage over the more modern translation.: Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Php 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The reason I favor the KJV in this case is v. 6. In most modern translations, v. 6 says that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. This would lead us to believe that Jesus did not consider Himself equal to God. KJV says He did not consider it robbery to be equal to God, meaning that Jesus did consider Himself equal to God.

How could there be such a discrepancy in our translations? The Greek word ARPAGMON can be translated in a passive or active sense. In the passive sense has a positive connotation and leads us to the translation of the more modern Bibles while the active sense has a negative connotation and leads us to the KJV translation. The determination of sense is generally left to the context of the passage, which in this case, cannot be determined solely on context as ARPAGMON has not point of reference in this passage if the passage is taken alone. In this case, we have to appeal to scripture itself to determine the meaning of the Greek word. We have to ask ourselves, “did Jesus view Himself as equal to God during His earthly ministry?” The answer is emphatically yes.

  1. John 10:30 - “I and the Father are One.”
  2. John 14:9 - “...anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
  3. John 8:58 - “before Abraham was, I AM.”
  4. Mathew 21:9 shows Jesus accepting worship which would contradict His own words in Mathew 4:10 where He tells Satan that only God is to receive worship.
The Gospel accounts clearly demonstrate that Jesus considered Himself equal to God and thus v. 6 should be translated in such a way as to agree with the whole of scripture. Both possible translation methods, in and of themselves, are acceptable, but when challenged by the clear teaching of scripture, the method that is employed in the KJV is the obvious winner.

July 1, 2015
Vv. 5-11

Last week we began looking at the Kenosis of Christ. The fact that He emptied Himself of His deity or more simply stated, Jesus did not exercise His power, but rather allowed the Father to work through Him. This limited Him to all the weaknesses and limitations of a man. Jesus, even though He was fully God, experienced life as we do, hunger, thirst, emotions, frustrations, temptations – the whole deal.

We looked at verses 5-11 as a whole, we can now look at these verses one by one -

    v. 5-7 – this links our behavior and attitude to that of Christ in light of His self imposed servant hood. If we are to be Christ-like, that means we must emulate His behavior, which in this case we will see that Jesus lowered Himself in order to reach the lost. Last week we saw that we are to think of others better than ourselves and to not only look to our own interests, but to look to the interests of others.
      Last week, we also demonstrated that Jesus is God and considered Himself to be God, yet He made Himself nothing or more accurately, emptied Himself or divested Himself of the power of His deity and took on the form and limitations of a man.

Why would Jesus do that?

Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus became just like us, experience all of our limitations and weaknesses. Jesus got hungry and thirsty, He had to travel as we travel, He experienced temptation to sin, He felt pain and sorrow. In Luke 8, a woman touches His garment and is healed, yet He does not know who touched Him until He inquires of the crowd. The Father healed through Him.
  1. 8 – In the past, we have asked the question, “what is a soul worth?” Here we see what our souls are worth to God. God was willing to suffer a very painful and humiliating death on a cross for our souls.
    Psalms 22:1-18 - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
"He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet--
I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
This is what Jesus submitted Himself to for us – He served us in the most lowly of ways possible, by accepting the death that was due us.

This also destroys the argument of old earhters who would like to claim that the days of creation are really ages, years or epochs of time rather than the 7 literal days of creation that the Bible describes.

In order to have an old earth theory, you have to have physical death prior to Adam's sin. Millions of years of death must have taken place before man was even created. The problem with this idea is that Romans 5:12 states: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

If death entered the world through the sin of Adam then you cannot have millions of years of death prior to the fall, and the argument for old earth falls apart. The old earthers answer this by saying the death brought by the fall was spiritual death, not physical which always existed, as shown in the fossil record.

If spiritual death is the penalty of sin, how could the physical death of Christ satisfy the requirement demanded of by sin. It is obvious that Christ's physical death on the cross paid the penalty for sin, thus the penalty for sin has to be physical death and you cannot have millions of years of time between the Biblical days of creation.

    V. 9-11 – Here we see that even as Christ lowered Himself to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice for those who did not deserve it, he is then exalted above all creation. Hebrews tells us that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels in His human incarnation. Now we see that He is exalted to the highest place in all creation. Not just in our immediate world, but in the unseen world that we will have access to when we die.

Because Jesus was willing to lower Himself, He is elevated above all the angels, above all the living and above all the dead of all time.

This has practical application for us as well. - James 4:10 tells us Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. God promises to exalt us if we submit ourselves to Him in what ever capacity He calls us to.

Job 5:11
The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.Proverbs 29:23
Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.Ezekiel 21:26
this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.

1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

We are told throughout scripture that we must submit and humble ourselves and that God will lift us up. We see many scriptures calling us to expect suffering and to emulate Christ in His suffering, but here we see the other side of the coin – as much as we can expect to have rough times in this life, on the other side, we can expect great things.

Though we are going to go through hard times in life and may be going through hard times right now, if we keep our eyes focused on the prize to come, we can endure anything that this world has to throw at us. We will be exalted, we will be glorified we will share in the glory of Christ, who is our example in life and also our example in the life after death.


Vv. 12-

The last couple of weeks, we looked at the kenosis or Christ in His humanity. We also looked at humbling ourselves before the Lord as Christ humbled Himself on our behalf and even as He is exalted, so shall we be, when we enter glory.

It is with this in mind that Paul adds the instructions that we will look at this week.

v.12-13 – Here we see the exhortation to work out our salvation which seems like a contradiction especially when coupled with the verse 13 that tells us that God who works in us. The Greek word for work out is katergadzomahee which denotes finishing something.

The Greek word for work in v. 13 is energheo which literally means active. So the picture we get is that Paul is encouraging his audience to finish well, to behave properly because God is active within them.

So from this passage, we see that we are to behave, when no one is looking, we are to finish well and that God is active in us, empowering us to be obedient.

  1. 14 – This verse may not be far easier said than done. Not grumbling is by far the easiest part of this verse to obey.
As believers, we are to have an attitude of trust and acceptance towards God's providence. When Job was first informed that all he had was wiped out in a day, he accepted God's providence without grumbling or complaining, remember his response, Job 1:21 And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

It was only when Job was afflicted in his health that he reached his breaking point and began to grumble and question. God's response is revealing - “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 45:9-12 

Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

Romans 9:20

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

The word questioning in this passage may not be the best word. Some translations say disputing or even doubting.
This reminds me of Moses disputing with God about not entering the promised land. Moses led the Israelites for forty years and was not allowed to enter the promised land because he sinned. I sure that was a bitter pill for Moses to swallow. God had good reasons to not allow Moses into the Promised land, which for us looking back, have an easier time understanding than Moses who was in the thick of it.

In hindsight, we can understand that God was demonstrating His holiness by not allowing Moses to enter the land and we also know now that Moses, to the Jews, represents the Law and the Law cannot bring God's people to the promised land. The Law does not save. Moses had no way of knowing the legacy he was leaving behind and the spiritual ramifications of that legacy. As it turned out, the Law(Moses) was unable to bring the God's people into His land, but a guy named Yeshua was. You may know him as Joshua, but in Hebrew, his name is the same as Jesus. No coincidences.

So as we struggle with our predicament or current circumstances, we do not know what legacy we are building, we do not know what future events we are part of, we do not know what God is doing all the time, because, as we saw in the verses we looked at earlier, we do not know the mind of God, nor can we comprehend it.

God's sovereignty dictates that nothing is for nothing, everything has purpose, we may just never get to see it in this life.

In 404 AD, a Turkish Monk named Telemachus went into the Roman Colosseum and cried out “in the name of Christ, forbear!” He was killed for his interference, but the Roman Emperor was so moved by his martyrdom, he ordered the end of the gladiator fighting. Those who knew Telemachus may have wondered why a man of God would suffer such a terrible death, but God used his sacrifice to end a brutal practice and many lives were spared.

We may not understand everything that happens and some things may never make sense to us in this life, but as we place our trust in the sovereignty of God, we can know that all things work towards His glory.

  1. 15-16 – By serving God without grumbling and fussing about our predicament, we are able to demonstrate our faith to others and allow them to see that we are different. By holding fast to the Word of life, we are able to accomplish this. In our flesh, we have expectations of how things should be. When things do not go according to our plan or as we expected, we have an opportunity to display our faith in the midst of our disappointment. If we commit a matter to prayer and truly seek God's will in a certain situation, and things do not work out like we expected or wanted, we have to remember that God is good, that God knows best and that He has a plan, and we need to be as grateful towards God as if He answered our prayer according to our will. .
Vv. 17-18 – Remember, Paul is writing from prison, were his awaiting to learn his fate at the hands or Rome. It is a very real possibility that Paul will be executed, as he writes his letter, yet he tells us to not complain or argue with God about circumstances. What more can be done to Paul besides execution, yet he knew that he was sealed in Christ and that even if he was killed, he was heading toward great reward. Paul chooses to rejoice in the midst of his predicament and he calls us to, by God's inspiration, to do the same, as difficult as that may be at times.

July 22

Last time we met, we started looking at verses 19-21

  1. 19-22 – Paul is endorsing Timothy and hoping to send Timothy as his Representative. Timothy is Paul's main disciple, in the sense that Paul has invested his life in Timothy and invested time and effort to raise Timothy up as a man of God. Paul understood that the great commission was not just leading people to Christ but actually making disciples.
As believers, we should be either investing in someone's life, allowing someone to invest in our lives, or both.

Paul gives Timothy a strong endorsement by stating he is the only one that is genuinely concerned for the welfare of the Philippian church. Paul can say these things about Timothy because he has gotten to know Timothy on a very deep level. That is what discipleship does, it builds more deep relationships and not superficial acquaintances.

Later, we see Paul installing Timothy as the pastor of the church of Ephesus. That is another very important component of discipleship, developing leaders within a group. Not everyone is called to lead, but those who are in leadership positions should be involved in some level of discipleship in which they are developing leaders to either go off and minister in other places or to take over their own ministry.

Paul moves around a great deal but he seemed to have leadership installed in the churches he established meaning he took the time to develop the leadership skills of those who are called to lead.
  1. 23-24 – Remember, Paul is in prison awaiting his fate. In verse 23, he is realistically waiting to see what God's will is in his situation, but in verse 24, we see hope.
We are called to hope as we live out our lives. We all face obstacles in our lives, but we all know that God is all powerful and that He loves us and is capable of doing amazing things that we may consider impossible. Paul knows he is awaiting a decision on his very life, yet, he is hoping that he will be released and be able to visit this church right behind Timothy.

Hope is an integral part of our lives as believers, but we must be careful that we do not allow hope to become an expectation of entitlement, or worse a demand. When be begin to expect certain outcomes because we think we deserve them, we will become discouraged at best or even depressed at worst, or we may even begin to question our faith.

Billionaire Ted Turner, grew up believing in prayer. When he was 15, his 12 year old sister developed an illness that led to insanity and death, a very painful death. Turner reported that he prayed for an hour per day for his sister and she still suffered and she died at the age of 17. That was when Turner turned his back on God. One of Turners' more well known quotes is “Christianity is a religion for losers.” Jane Fonda even cited her conversion to Christianity as a major factor in her divorce from Turner.

Turner had unmet expectations and put a demand or ultimatum on God, and because God did not do what Turner wanted, Turner not only abandoned his faith, but has become a worker against God.

I am reminded of the lyrics of the Newsboys song, Lost the Plot:

Headaches and bad faith Are all that I've got. First I misplaced the ending Then I lost the plot.

Out among the free-range sheep While the big birds sharpen their claws. For a time we stuck with the shepherd But you wouldn't play Santa Claus. Sigh Let's be blunt. We're a little distracted. What do you want? Once we could follow,Now we cannot. You would not fit our image So we lost the plot.”

This song is about believers who have grown cold in their faith because they set expectations on God and based their obedience on getting what they thought they deserved.

God loves us tremendously and I believe He wants to bless us spiritually, but we are not entitled to anything. The other day, I was feeling a little discouraged and I heard God speak to my heart, “I gave you salvation, what are you entitled to?” and I could only respond, “nothing.”

We are to never give up hope, but we must also realize that when God tells us “no” or “wait”, it is for our own good. Romans 8:28...

After all, faith is the substance of things hoped for!

  1. 25-28
  2.  – Epaphroditus came from Ephesus to minister to Paul and became ill, so Paul is sending him back to Ephesus with the letter we are reading. Paul is happy to send him back to allay the concerns of the people who had heard he was sick. This is a good example of short term mission trips. Some are called to long term missions, some to short, and others to remain home and minister in their gifts.

v. 29-30 - Paul calls us to honor those who put their lives at risk for the sake of the Gospel. We can honor them through prayer, through giving financial support and by giving an encouraging word. Those who are involved in ministry overseas may see little results and can become discouraged. 

August 5, 2015
Philippians 3:1-6

As Paul has extolled the virtues of those who serve God out of a pure heart, he now turns his focus on those who will come into a church and lead others astray through false doctrines or impure motives.
  1. 1 – in transitioning from speaking of the godly to the ungodly, Paul takes a moment to remind us to his readers to rejoice. In the midst of imprisonment and uncertainty, Paul is able to rejoice in the Lord, who is good when we are happy and is good when we are not happy
Happiness and joy are not the same thing, as we have noted before. Repetition is one of the best methods for learning something or making a point. Paul repeats the call to rejoice or mentions joy 16 times in this epistle. It is not trouble for him to repeat it and it is safe for the readers to receive the message repeatedly as it is an important lesson to learn.
  1. 2. - one of the biggest dangers the early church faced was false teaching by a group called the Judaisers. This group is mentioned sarcastically, in 2 Corinthians as “super apostles”. Apparently, these guys were very well spoken and very persuasive in their argument that the gentile believers were required to live according to the law and must submit to circumcision.
This came up originally, while Paul was on the mission field and encountered men who claimed to be believers from Jerusalem. These men were attempting to force the new gentile believers to submit to the Law of Moses and be circumcised. Paul, desiring to be accurate in his teaching, traveled back to Jerusalem and met with the apostles, who at the time were being led by James, the half brother of Jesus. Acts 15 records the event. The council met and determined that the gentile believers would not be required to submit to the Law of Moses but would be commanded to abstain from meat polluted by idols, to not eat meat of strangled animals, to not eat blood, and to avoid sexual immorality. Gentile believers are exempt from the Sabbath regulations, from circumcision, and from dietary requirements.

One other point on the circumcision issue, if woman are saved through faith and Christ, as the New Testament clearly demonstrates, how could circumcision be a requirement? Galatians 3:28 specifically states that “there is ...neither male nor female... in Christ.” If there is no distinction between men and women in the case of salvation, it would be impossible for circumcision to be a requirement of salvation as this would make a distinction between men and women and men would have an added step to be saved that women, by biology, would be exempt from.

Today, there are many who would like to add to our salvation requirements. Seventh Day Adventists insist that we live by the Law and observe the Sabbath. Some Adventists insist that if one does not observe the Sabbath, they are disobeying Christ and therefore cannot be saved because Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands.”

Some in Charismatic circles believe that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of salvation and anyone who does not speak in tongues does not have the Spirit of God and cannot not be saved.

The Roman Catholic Church has added veneration of the saints, the taking of communion, baptism and indulgences as necessary to admittance into heaven. Though, officially, indulgences have been done away with, the practice continues under a different name. Mass cards have taken the place of the indulgences by charging the bereaved for a mass or masses, depending on how much one spends, for the deceased in order to help get them out of purgatory quicker.

The Church of Christ, DOC, Christian denomination and others require baptism for salvation and claim that salvation is the point of salvation.

Knowing what we believe and why we believe it is fundamental to our not being deceived.

Back in the early 90's, my wife and I, as babies in the faith, attended a Christian denomination church which taught baptismal regeneration. For a brief time, we bought into the false doctrine, but as we studied and grew, we quickly realized that baptismal regeneration was wrong. I then became an expert on the subject of baptism as I wanted to know the truth and to be able to defend the truth. I studied the early church practices and teachings and discovered the origins of the false doctrine.
Having said all this, the point is, there are people who come into churches with bad doctrine, these people usually have an ulterior motive and will want to push an agenda. This is why doctrine is important and you should know what you believe and why. How you view the days of creation will shape your view on the rest of scripture. How you view end time doctrines will shape your understanding of other scriptures. How you view the doctrine of salvation will shape your view of other scripture.
We cannot come to the Bible with preconceived ideas and then look for passages to support our view, we must come to scripture as almost a blank slate and allow scripture to shape our understanding of life and death.

August 11, 2015
VV. 3-11

    1. Last week, we looked at false teachers with false motives entering the church. We looked at some specific false doctrines that have come to define certain denominations. Many of these false doctrines took hold because watchmen were not diligent to protect the flock from false teachers and these false teachers were able to gain positions of power within an organization or to create a split in an organization creating an offshoot with aberrant or heretical theology.

      Now we move on to look at what power we do have, vs. the false power we perceive that we have in the flesh.

      V. 3  As believers, we are not able to put any confidence in anything other than the redeeming work of Christ. No matter how smart we are, no matter how rich we are, no matter how popular we are has any bearing on our degree of rightness with God. We are either saved, or we are not, this is done by the work of Christ on the cross and our placing our faith in that work. Everything we do after that should be done because of our salvation, not done as unto our salvation.
        1. In this case, Paul is referring specifically to circumcision and making the case that the truly circumcised are those who have placed faith in Christ and the circumcision is of the heart, not the type commanded in the OT.
          We can do nothing to increase our grace, there are no degrees of salvation. This is the difference between sacrament and ordinance. A sacrament is a religious observance meant to infer grace to the person who practices it.

      We refer to baptism as an ordinance of the church, a command to be observed by a born again believer. The person observing this practice has already received all the saving grace needed to be considered righteous before God. Those who see baptism as a sacrament believe that there is grace unto salvation granted to the person being baptized. The same holds true for the Lord's Supper. Communion is for the born again believer who has already received all the grace needed unto salvation. Those who believe in sacraments believe that grace is given by receiving communion, that is why some churches offer communion every day of the week.

      Vv. 4-6 – Here Paul recounts all of his qualifications that would appear to make him right with God. Amazingly, all these things were worthless in the eyes of God when it comes to salvation. Paul had reached the pinnacle of Jewish piety, he had attained the epoch of Judaism, yet it was worthless when it came to salvation.
      Paul, himself, was indeed circumcised on the eight day of life,as was commanded in scriptures: Gen 17:12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,
      It is on the eighth day after birth that a Jewish male is presented at the Temple and circumcised. Jesus was circumcised according to this command.: Luk 2:21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

      Why the eighth day? Our bodies produce vitamin K, which in turn produces a compound called prothrombin. Prothrombin is a natural blood coagulant which prevents hemorrhaging. On the eighth day after birth, and only on the eighth day after birth, prothrombin levels are above 100% making the eighth day the safest day for a male baby to undergo a surgical procedure like circumcision. God knew the liver produced this chemical and which day it was in abundance in a time when mankind was barely aware that the liver actually existed, never mind had a function! This was God's design to protect His people, even in circumcision.
      Paul was trained under Gamaliel, the premier Rabbi of his time, this is equivalent to a Harvard law degree. On top of all that, Paul managed to live his life perfectly under the letter of the Law, although not by the spirit. It is possible to live according to the Law and yet sin as Paul persecuted the church because of his devotion to the Law.

      As I have been reading this passage for the last few months, I cannot help but wonder if Paul was the rich young ruler who Jesus sent away sad after commanding him to sell all he owned and give to the poor and then to follow Him. The passage states: And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” I have always found it interesting that the passage stated, specifically, that Jesus loved him. Paul seems to fit the description pretty well based on this passage.

      V. 7 Paul recognized that all these things did not amount to anything in light of his salvation through faith in Christ. These things did not help his faith, they did not bring him closer to God, they did not make him more saveable or more righteous, in fact, many of these things were the very things that were keeping him from God. Paul was self sufficient and self righteous. Even if he were not the rich young ruler, he still relied on the things that the young man in the gospel accounts relied on for righteousness.
      Paul counts it as loss and the word for loss zemiah has a connotation of violence to it, in the sense of damaging. Paul recognized that all his human achievements were damaging to his spiritual life. These were things that any religious person would commend, would look to and laud, but in reality, religiosity harms our spirituality and damages our chances of true righteousness.
      We have a culture in which we live, we have culture in which we identify and want to fit into so we do not seem weird. Many of the cultural things church members struggle to identify with in order to fit in with society are the very things that are hindering their relationship with Christ. How many believers will never reach their full potential because they are too concerned with how others will perceive them or are too concerned with maintaining a certain image or persona.

      Even in the church, we create codes of conduct which are a litmus test for spirituality and as long as we can maintain a certain level of outward piety, we are good.

      Paul understands and demonstrates that the kingdom of God is not rules and regulations, nor is it an appearance of religiosity but a deep relationship with Christ.

      Notice verse 9 – Paul realizes that the only true righteousness comes from knowing and trusting Christ, not in following religion. The fact that righteousness of God comes from faith cannot be disputed as Paul specifically states that in this verse.

      Dale Thomas, of the Christian band Bride, made this statement: “You can be clothed by the righteousness of God or the corruptness of this world, and when Jesus comes back, he better see himself standing there, because if he sees you … trying to make it all by yourself, you're not going to make it.”
      Paul understood this.

      Vv. 10-11 Paul values knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection as worth any suffering he may endure in this life. Paul is not saying that suffering is necessary for salvation, but he is saying that we identify with Christ through suffering for the Gospel. As we identify with Christ in His suffering, we have assurance that we will be identified whit Christ in His resurrection! We have been predestined to be transformed into the image of Christ so when we do stand before God in the last day, He will see Christ and usher us into eternity and glory.  

      1. 8-11 – Paul gladly gave up all that he had and all that identified him with his culture and religion in order to gain Christ. That which his culture valued above all things, Paul saw as garbage, because it kept him from true relationship with God.

      We have a culture in which we live, we have culture in which we identify and want to fit into so we do not seem weird. Many of the cultural things church members struggle to identify with in order to fit in with society are the very things that are hindering their relationship with Christ. How many believers will never reach their full potential because they are too concerned with how others will perceive them or are too concerned with maintaining a certain image or persona.
      Even in the church, we create codes of conduct which are a litmus test for spirituality and as long as we can maintain a certain level of outward piety, we are good.
      Paul understands and demonstrates that the kingdom of God is not rules and regulations, nor is it an appearance of religiosity but a deep relationship with Christ.

      Notice verse 9 – Paul realizes that the only true righteousness comes from knowing and trusting Christ, not in following religion. The fact that righteousness of God comes from faith cannot be disputed as Paul specifically states that in this verse.

      Dale Thomas, of the Christian band Bride, made this statement: “You can be clothed by the righteousness of God or the corruptness of this world, and when Jesus comes back, he better see himself standing there, because if he sees you … trying to make it all by yourself, you're not going to make it.”
      Paul understood this.                                             
      Vv. 10-11 Paul values knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection as worth any suffering he may endure in this life. Paul is not saying that suffering is necessary for salvation, but he is saying that we identify with Christ through suffering for the Gospel. As we identify with Christ in His suffering, we have assurance that we will be identified whit Christ in His resurrection! We have been predestined to be transformed into the image of Christ so when we do stand before God in the last day, He will see Christ and usher us into eternity and glory.  

    2. August 19                                          Vv.12-15

      Last week we saw, in verse 11, that Paul spoke about attaining resurrection from the dead. That is the goal for all men, to have a good resurrection and the only way to accomplish this is through faith in Christ. Paul wrote about his past and how all his perceived accomplishments kept him from attaining perfection. Now we are going to see Paul looking ahead, and not allowing the past to hinder his spiritual growth.

      1. V12 – Paul knows that he is not perfect and he knows that he has yet to be transformed into glory, but he lives his life in the knowledge that he will attain these things because Christ has made him whole. We can have victory over sin in our lives when we recognize that we are bought for freedom. The more we keep our eyes on Christ and His work on our behalf, the less we will be inclined to sin

      this does not mean that we will, or even can, attain perfection in this life, but we have assurance that we will one day attain perfection in glory and that takes the futility out of living right.
      We may ask ourselves, what's the point of doing right, of standing for truth, of being alone in the battle of morality and the answer is that one day we will be able to attain all we are striving for now and every doubt we have as to the relevance of our obedience will be erased when we stand in the presence of God and see His victory over sin and death.                                                        
      One thing the enemy uses to neutralize us is the past – V.13-14 – people often speak of fearing the future and being intimidated by the unknown, but I think one of the biggest detriments to our spiritual lives is the past. We look back with shame, we look back with guilt and we forget that all those things are forgiven and cast into the deepest sea by God.                                                                        
      Micah 7:19 tells us - He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. This verse is speaking of the future state of Israel when Christ returns and restores His people, but it also pertains to us as we have been forgiven through the blood of Christ. The point of this verse in Malachi is that when God forgives, He keeps no record. I Corinthians 13 tells us that “love keeps no record of wrong” and we know that God is love and we can experience that love through forgiveness and we can be assured that God is not holding onto our old sin, nor is He bringing it to our attention.
      We tend to think of past failures and allow them to discourage us from moving forward. Imagine if everything you ever did was victorious, what would you be afraid to do if all of your past experiences were successful? We are successful in Christ. Job 42:2 says - I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. If none of God's purposes can be thwarted and we know that God wants to accomplish His work through us, we have the history of God's victories to spur us on, to encourage us in His work.
      In a few weeks, we will look more closely at verse 4:13 which says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Our past is debilitating, but God's past record is victorious and we are working under His power.

        V.15 – Paul also recognizes that these things come with spiritual maturity. As we grow in the Lord, we will begin to overcome many strongholds in our lives, whether it be blatant sinful behavior or negative attitudes. One sign of spiritual health is spiritual maturity and this should be recognizable. If you are the same person you were 6 months ago and you are still struggling with the same things that you always have, you have probably reached a point of spiritual stagnation and need to reevaluate your plan for spiritual growth
      We have all heard the definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.” I like the way he put it that is a little less well known, “If yo always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” If you have been implementing a plan for spiritual growth and have not seen any real growth, then God is giving you a signal that you need a new plan.


      Last week, we looked at spiritual maturity leading to our understanding greater truth and our ability to accept and apply deeper truth to our lives. I remember a time when a newcomer to church introduced himself to me as an alcoholic in a 12 step program. I responded to him that God is not in the recovery business but the healing business and that eventually he could be free from the 12 step program. This man was disturbed by what I told him and he went to the pastor about the matter, the pastor agreed that the goal was to be set free, not recovering. The man was not yet at a place of spiritual maturity to accept this truth of I Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
      Even as Paul calls us to maturity and he recognizes that some are not yet mature enough to accept deeper truth, he encourages us to hold on to the truth and growth that we have attained.
      1. V.16 – Sometimes, God reveals truth to us that is difficult for us to understand or accept, especially truth about ourselves. It is dangerous for us to be confronted with truth and to reject that truth, and sometimes when we are confronted with truth that we reject, it causes us to reevaluate things we have already accepted as truth in the past. Part of our spiritual growth is seeking truth and acting on it. Paul concedes that there are things which we will find difficult to accept at first but that will come with maturity, and he is encouraging us with that knowledge in V.15 but also warning us in V.16 to hold on to the truth that we have already accepted. Don't backslide just because the next step is too hard.
       V.17 one key component of the pursuit of spiritual maturity is to look to those who are mature in their walk. Paul is much braver than I am, inviting people to watch his life and to imitate him. This is a call to discipleship. We should have someone we can learn from. Sometimes that person may be an historical figure whose life we choose to emulate to a degree because of their spiritual contribution. There are men in this church that I look to for examples, but in the past much of my spiritual examples came from men like Chuck Smith or John Wesley, people I had never actually met. I can say that my spiritual growth is far more pronounced when I have a tangible example.
      V.18-19 – We will come across people, both in and out of the church, who are enemies of the cross. What better way to destroy something than to get on the inside and work against it. We could name denomination after denomination that has become spiritually irrelevant, even as they have become socially relevant, due to bad practices that have led to bad doctrine. A church will practice sin for a long time before it becomes a doctrine. Right now, the only thing keeping the American Methodist church from embracing gay marriage is the Methodists of Africa. Those who work against God are motivated by desire and emotion. Emotionally, we can be lured into accepting lies because our emotions lie to us and are not based on truth, but feelings.
      This type of behavior is what led to the destruction of Jerusalem during the days of Ezekiel and Jeremiah – Ezekiel 13 recounts how false prophets came to the people and lied in the name of God saying there would be peace and safety, even as God was pronouncing destruction through Ezekiel. These false prophets may have had the best of intentions and “felt” that what they were saying and doing was right, but because they were influenced by their feelings and emotions, and not God, they prophesied falsely and led many to destruction.
      This is why it is so dangerous for churches to allow nonspiritual and untested people into positions of leadership, though they may have the best of intentions, they will ultimately be influenced by the flesh, whether it be greed or emotion, and lead many to false hope in something other than the blood of Christ.

      V.20-21 + 4:1 – the good news is what we touched on last week, we will attain perfection one day in the presence of God, we will be glorified and we will transformed into something so amazing, we cannot even imagine it! For this reason, we battle against discouragement and we stand firm in Christ, knowing we will not be put to shame.


As we come to the end of the letter that Paul has written, he has some housekeeping in the church that must be dealt with. First he deals with division and then he deals with the topic of provision and giving. As long as the church is made up of people and people have personalities and points of view, there will be opportunity for disagreement and division.
  1. 2 – We do not have any real background into why Paul is calling Euodia and Syntyche (soon too khay) be in agreement. We do have the experience of having lived among other people and having had an occasional disagreement from time to time.
Whatever the disagreement was about, Paul wants these ladies to find common ground even if the only common ground they have is their faith in Christ. We hear much about multiculturalism and how we need to celebrate each other's differences. I think we can get far more accomplished if we focused on our areas of commonality. In any healthy church, we have people from all different backgrounds and cultures. We have many people mixing with others of whom they may have had stereotyped. The way to overcome that is to focus on what we have in common, and that is only Christ, then that is where we start.
  1. 3 – sometimes, people need a little help getting to common ground and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to actively try to heal rifts and disagreements. If you know that two people in the congregation are having a disagreement and you have a relationship with them, try to get them together and resolve their differences, and if not, at least help them find common ground so that they do not have animosity with one another. It is ok for us to disagree on minor things, but we need unity on essentials and we need to do all things in love.
Our disagreements cannot become disruptive or damaging to the work of the ministry. Satan can neutralize anything good with even a little dissension. Let's do our part to not contribute and take sides, but to be peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 – blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Galatians 5:20 - Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
Also, Paul tells us in I Corinthians that division sometimes serves another purpose – I Corinthians 11:18-19 for, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 
Sometimes, a person comes to church to be disruptive and destructive and divisions can also serve to expose such people. In the case of a person who is divisive and not willing to get along, church discipline must be initiated. People sometimes come with ulterior motives and division is often a tool they will use.
Satan used this strategy in the Garden with Eve...”Did God really say?” A half truth, rumor or strategically placed gossip can go along way in disrupting an organization
  1. 4 – Again, Paul calls us to rejoice, in the midst of disagreements, we can all agree on the fact that God is good and worthy of our praise.
  1. 5 – When I was going through training to become a mediator, they told us that our primary job I dispute resolution was to bring people back to reasonableness. If we behave reasonably, if we do not allow our emotions run away with our minds, we can overcome division.
When someone feels slighted, their first inclination is often revenge. As believers, we know that this is never an option, but when we are emotionally driven, we are often not behaving reasonably. We do not have the luxury to behave foolish when the Lord's return is at hand and the lives of those who are lost are fleeting.

  1. 6-7 – Most of what causes us to behave unreasonably is fear or anxiousness. We fear the future, we fear out present situation will lead to bad things, we become anxious about things over which we have no control. Here, Paul is telling us that we need to bring our troubles to God and, in the midst of making our requests, to remember to give thanks. Giving thanks helps us remember God's goodness and provision in the past and allows us to rest in the goodness of God and His promise to never leave us nor forsake us.
When we bring our issues to God in an attitude of trust and thanksgiving, we will experience supernatural peace that only God can give. As I am typing this, the song It Is Well With My Soul is playing on my computer and the very origins of this song is a testimony of this verse being put into practice.

  1. 8 – This verse is especially meaningful to me – After having tried for 5 years to have children, we had reached a point where we needed some spiritual counsel. We met with our pastor and he quoted this verse to us and it has always stuck with me. These are the things that we are to be focused on.
We are quick to have thoughts of doom and gloom. The “what ifs” start and can take their toll on us emotionally. When we focus on truth, on honor, on justice, on excellent things, we can avoid worrying ourselves into being into ineffectiveness.
God wants us to be encouraged in discouraging times. Our immediate circumstance does not define us, nor does it represent our ultimate future.

V. 9 – Again, Paul is referencing discipleship. A godly example is something that we should intentionally seek out. Also, a godly example is something we should intentionally be.  


VV. 10-23:

Paul was dealing with some specific issues that were plaguing the church in Philipi and now, as he wraps up this letter, he gets into some personal business...

    1. Paul is thanking them for sending a care package to him while he is in prison. Paul is wanting to show gratitude, but at the same time, he does not want to seem desperate for their giving, rather, he is demonstrating his reliance on God
  1. 11- Paul understands that his provision does not depend on man, but on God. We have all heard guys on TV or radio pitch for funds, and use guilt or coercion to get donations.
There was a guy I used to listen to many years ago who would say things like, “no one is doing what I am doing and you need to give to this ministry so it does not go away.” He was exposed for financial and sexual misconduct and lost his radio show, only to resurface on TBN a few years later.
The contrast between these two men is striking, one served God for God's sake and was able to find contentment in knowing that God would never leave him nor forsake him and the other served God for personal gain and lorded it over those to whom he was supposedly ministering to, in order to perpetuate a sinful lifestyle.

V.12-13 – Paul has learned to accept his circumstances whether good or bad by realizing that his strength comes from Christ. As we heard the last two weeks in church, V. 13 is usually taken out of context. Paul is referencing the fact that he can endure times of want without discouragement and times of abundance without becoming conceited or feeling self sufficient.

  1. 14-18 – Paul then recounts the kindness of the Philippians, and letting them know that he is grateful for their support and kindness. It is important for us to show gratitude to God and to those through whom His blessings come.
    Verse 17 demonstrates the difference between Paul and his receiving gifts for his ministry and guys like Creflo Dollar who is currently raising money buy a $65million Gulfstream airplane. Paul is not looking to enrich himself or to make his life easy, he is looking for support so his ministry can continue to produce fruit. Paul was not looking for a new chariot or a faster horse, he was wanting to spend the time he would have spent earning money, ministering to people and sharing Christ.
    V. 19 – I believe this passage applies to us as well as the Philippians. Throughout the Bible, we see God telling us that He will provide for us when we place our trust in Him. Notice that the key word is needs, not wants...
One of the most well known verses is:
Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”
Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  1. 20 – the last nugget of wisdom that Paul wants to impart is that we are to glorify God. That is our ultimate purpose and we do that by living obediently to His word and plan for our lives. Paul does this by leading people to Christ and then declaring truth in his teachings and writings. We can do this by submitting ourselves to God and seeking first His kingdom.
    Vv. 21-23 – simple greetings and blessings as is typical in any letter.
This concludes our study in Philippians - please feel free to comment below. I hope, if you read through this and were not actually part of the live study, you were blessed, and I would like to encourage you to find a good study group that teaches the Bible.  Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ!