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Philippians 3:4b-14 Its All Jesus

October 5, 2014

World Communion Sunday

Philippians 3:4b-14

“It’s All Jesus”

 

Children’s Sermon:  Jenga Blocks

Build a tower as they come up. 

If I had enough blocks do you think I could build a tower all the way up to heaven? 

What are some things people do to try to get to heaven?  All those things are like this tower.  But what would happen if I take this block out?  Or this one? (until it falls)

At the bottom of this tower is one block.  What is the name on this block?  Jesus.  All we need to go to heaven is Jesus in our heart.  All the other stuff we do is because we are grateful for Jesus in our heart.  We come to worship because we love Jesus.  We teach Sunday School because we love Jesus.  We are kind to people at school because we love Jesus.  We give our offering because we love Jesus. 

Having Jesus in our heart is the most important part of our faith.  We have to invite him to come in and right in he comes!  If you want to ask him in, you can do it right now.  If you already have, you can tell him thank you.  If you are not ready yet, you can just ask Jesus to make you ready for him.  Let’s pray.

 

Read Philippians 3:4b-14

 

On Christ, the Solid Rock (or Jenga Cube) I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.  This is the message Paul is trying to convey to the church as he writes the words in this letter.

 

We can get confused.  We can get the cart before the horse.  We can create what salvation is in our own image.  But whatever we imagine salvation to be, it is really just what Paul is saying in the words we just read.

 

No one was more righteous or pious than Paul.  He was religious.  If he were living in our time, he would be wearing the biggest cross, have a tattoo of the ten commandments on his back, he would write a blog on being holy, and he would be judging and putting down every person who did not think about faith the way he did.

 

But then something radical happened in Paul’s life.  He met Jesus.  And no longer was his life centered around a religion, it was now grounded in a relationship.  A relationship with the One who got his attention by blinding him so that he could listen to what was true.  And in coming to know Jesus personally – in the same way you get to know the person you’re married to, or the children you have, or your best friend – Paul figured out that all the “things” he did to be a good religious person didn’t matter at all.  They did not make him holy.  But Jesus did.

 

The understanding of this difference hit Paul so hard that he considered everything he had done before to be a good religious person was just garbage!  None of it mattered.  It was time spent in vain, wasted.  And he was willing to say so in order that he could know Jesus intimately.  He gave up his status as this really religious person.  He was willing to say to the ones he used to work with and for – “I quit and I don’t care if I lose my pension.  I’ve got eternal life insurance!”

 

But it wasn’t just the life insurance that Paul was excited about.  He was excited about the life he was entering into while he had breath.  Verse 9-11 says,

When it counts, I want to be found belonging to Him, not clinging to my own righteousness based on law, but actively relying on the faithfulness of the Anointed One. This is true righteousness, supplied by God, acquired by faith.  I want to know Him inside and out. I want to experience the power of His resurrection and join in His suffering, shaped by His death, so that I may arrive safely at the resurrection from the dead.

Paul was intent on knowing Jesus, on building a relationship with Jesus that would keep growing deeper.  The end result of that relationship would be suffering the way Jesus suffered so that more people could give up the pursuit of religion and join him in a relationship with the living Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

And this pursuit is what Paul lived and died for.  Nothing else mattered.  Fanatic? Absolutely.  He would have had the Ten Commandment tattoo removed and put Jesus there instead.  Paul was passionate about Jesus and he lived out his passion every day.

 

A disclaimer.  Paul had a particular personality that God used to proclaim the gospel.  Knowing Jesus intimately as Savior and Lord does not mean you are going to act exactly like Paul.  He did not have a personality change.  God continued to use him in the ways he had already been used to.  He did not make outgoing Paul into a quiet church mouse any more than he will take who you are and insist you be a street corner preacher.  Don’t be afraid to give it all to Jesus!

Don’t be afraid to give up your religious life for a growing deepening relationship with Jesus!!

 

We tend to see Paul as this spiritual giant.  But about himself he says, in vs. 12,

I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go.

 

Each one here can echo Paul’s words, “I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect.”  I don’t believe anyone gets to say that this side of heaven.  Not until we are in the presence of God are we made perfect, but once we ask Jesus into our heart it’s like we have this new outline we get to live into, to fill out.  And so we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Jesus and living into who he intends for us to be.

 

This is not something we do passively or without effort.  There is action required.  Listen for all the action verbs Paul uses to tell what he is doing as a non-religious person to live in relationship with Jesus (13-14):

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission.  I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.

  • Doing – Paul is active.  He’s doing something to enhance the relationship he has with Jesus.  For us that might mean developing a deeper prayer life – conversing with Jesus.  It might mean developing a deeper life in the Word – listening to God speak to us. 
  • Leaving the old life behind – Some of us have distinct “old lives”.  We know the difference between our before Christ life and our with Christ life.  We are very aware of how our lives were changed.  But many of us don’t have that distinct line.  We grew up in the church.  We’ve always believed.  But still, all of us have an “old life”.  It may not be a horrible one, but it is a life where we are at the center instead of Jesus.  If Jesus is not always at the center of every decision you make, every action you take, every thought you think, then there is still some “old life” in you that needs to be left behind.  I invite you to surrender it again as we encounter Jesus in Communion today.
  • Sprinting toward the goal – When we give our lives to Christ, we give up control.  We live on his time, not on ours and the desire is so intense to please him that we hold nothing back but race to do what he desires of us.
  • Hear God’s call to resurrection life – Resurrection life is not just for beyond the grave.  Resurrection life is what all of us in Christ are meant to live right here, right now.  It is a life that is fearless and determined.  A life that takes God at his word and lives in faith what eyes cannot see.  Is God calling you to resurrections life?  Has he in the past?

 

We are coming to the communion table this morning.  The place where Jesus meets us in a unique way through his body broken and his blood poured out.  The bread and the cup remind us of who Jesus is and that he died to save us and offer us a life beyond religion.  He offers us relationship. 

 

At the risk of creating chaos, I want to extend this invitation this morning.  The elders will serve communion to you in your seats, but if this morning you would like to come forward to receive communion, we will be here and we will pray for you to follow God’s invitation to go deeper, to refresh your commitment to run the race.  No pressure, but an invitation if you are hearing God speak to you this morning.  Come to the table.