We RISE through the Application of the Gospel.

The second message in the series entitled RISE.
(Find the other messages from this series here)

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This past Christmas we travelled to VA Beach where my parents and Nicole’s parents live. We would much rather fly because the trip is 750 miles, but we couldn’t find plane tickets for less than $400 each and now that Lincoln is over 2 it takes 4 tickets because I’ve checked into it and they won’t let me ride in the cargo hold.

So after Christmas Day worship we hopped in the car and got started. We were prepared too. We took these little DVD players, we took toys that the kids could play with in the car, we took these huge coloring books that Drew and Angie gave to the kids for Christmas. On top of that we also packed some really great snacks.

Nicole doesn’t mess around when it comes to road trip snacks.

Now we knew that we had to pack snacks because driving on Christmas Day there would be nothing open except for gas stations and gas station food is not a good idea any day of the week, but especially bad when you gotta be in a small enclosed space with other people for several hours afterward.

So we were prepared, but nonetheless the kids were over the trip. In Louisville Haven started asking, are we almost there? She probably asked every 20 minutes that she was awake. So I kept saying, not yet but we’re getting closer.

In Philippians 3:12 & 13 Paul says, I have not arrived so I keep plugging away. Take a look with me-

12Not as though I had already attained,

either were already perfect:

13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

Last week we touched on this in verse 12 as we wrapped up on message and looked at the fact that Paul was reaching forward to apprehend what had apprehended him- that he wanted to “Get” what got him. Paul was chasing after the Savior that had chased him down. But I want you to see his motivation and attitude here-

Paul says, I’m not there yet. I haven’t arrived. I keep plugging away and I’m not there yet… Paul had been on the journey for a long time… Paul had been chasing after Jesus for quite a while, and he wasn’t there yet. He tells us what the destination is in verse 14

Paul is telling us that it is His great to desire to RISE up to the high calling of Jesus Christ and he tells us how he is doing this…

  1. To RISE to the high calling of Jesus Christ,
    Paul forgot the past.

We often cling to the past because we are trusting in it. We often cling to the past because we are believing that the good deeds and righteous acts we have done has bearing on our standing with God…

The argument that Paul was having in the beginning of this chapter was with people who were saying that you need to be circumcised and keep the jewish holy days to be saved and he was arguing with them, but these were people that believed in Jesus…

They believed Jesus was the Son of God and had risen from the dead, but they also believed that they had to be good by doing the right things and staying away from the wrong things to be saved.

J Gresham Machen:

“The central point at issue between Paul and the false teachers concerned merely the … order of three steps. The false teachers said: 1) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and 2) keep the Law of God the best you can, and then, 3) you are saved. Paul said: 1) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ 2) at that moment you are saved, and 3) immediately you proceed to keep the law of God”

If your mindset is I’m saved because I obey instead of I obey because I’m saved, it negatively impacts your heart and life- If you believe you are saved because YOU obey, you will give yourself all the credit instead of God.  You are the object of your religion.You are the hero of the story. But you are also the villain, because you are robbing yourself of great joy and peace… Let me show you how-

If your mindset is that you obey to be saved, then when you do noble deeds such as care for the stranger, fight for the oppressed, and abstain from evil- you’re doing it to get something and suddenly your good deeds have selfish ends and motives and they’re not joy filled, but rather filled with guilt and obligation…

However, if your mindset is that you obey because you are saved, then you do noble deeds and they not for you or prompted by you but rather they are prompted by the love that chased you down, the God who forgave you…

Tim Keller said,

What if you believed that you had love, grace, and God’s goodness? What if you believed that you had it all? Then you could live out of joy and obey out of love. You would say, what can I do to delight the one who has given me everything.

He went on to say, 

Two people can sit in church, worship God, read their Bible, obey the 10 commandments and have vastly different experiences. One is constantly anxious that they’re doing well enough. They’re touchy because if anyone criticizes them it hurts because it’s so important for them to see themselves as a good person because there’s a lot riding on how good they are.The other person is joyful. They have a peace because though they want to live for God and grow closer to Him, they know He has done all the heavy lifting. They’re not sensitive or clamoring for acceptance because they’ve already been accepted by God. The difference between the two people is the order in their hearts….

When Paul said forgetting what is behind, he was speaking of the all the righteousness and law abiding that he mentions in verses 4, 5, & 6 where he says if anyone had reason to put their faith in obedience, it was me. I kept the law, I followed all the Jewish customs from the day I was born, I had zeal, I was a teacher and judge of the law…

When we were back in VA I got together with some buddies that I had been in youth group with that are now serving in ministry in different states. We were doing some reminiscing about when we were in youth group and we had this program where they would take us teenagers out to neighborhoods and send us door to door giving people invitations to church and sharing the gospel… We were laughing about how little we knew when we did that- we didn’t have any training, but they gave us this little handout and on the handout were questions that you could ask. The most powerful question we would ask was this,

If you were to stand before God and he asked you why should I let you into heaven, what would you say to him?

People typically answered with “I’ve tried to be a good person or I pray everyday or I was confirmed when I was a child.” The answer to that question is not anything you’ve done. Forget that, the answer is what Jesus has done.

Forget what you’ve done, focus on what Jesus has done!

You can know that, and forget it. You can know that, and not live accordingly. You can know that and act as if you don’t. In Galatians 2 there is this powerful moment when Paul comes together with some of these guys that he had been dealing with that said to be really saved you need to follow these laws and customs.

Peter is there too and Peter has had no problem eating meat with the gentiles. That might not sound like a big deal to you, but it was to Peter. You see Peter had lived a certain way his entire life and even after he came to know Jesus he found himself still dedicated to those traditions, so much so that God to him in a vision commanding him to eat of meat that previously had been considered unclean.

So it had been a powerful transformation for Peter. But then something crazy happens, these people come into town for this meeting and suddenly Peter will not eat with the non-jews because of what the Jews might think (Galatians 2:12 says he was motivated by fear), and Paul says that even some of the other Jews that had been eating with the gentiles follow his example…

So in Galatians 2:11, Paul says,

11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

He goes on to say in verse 14,

when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all…

Paul says when I saw that he did not walk according to the gospel… Paul says when I saw that Peter was walking according to the gospel, I challenged him to his face before them all… Now think about this for a moment. This is Peter, the guy that was Jesus through it all…This is Peter, the guy that preached at Pentecost when 3,000 people trusted Christ and were baptized… This is Peter, the guy that God gave a vision…

And Paul challenges him in front of everyone because he wasn’t walking according to the gospel… All that had happened in Peter’s past, all of those wonderful things that he had done didn’t give him a pass on erring from the truth of the gospel…

What Paul saw in Peter was a man who knew the gospel (he watched Jesus die and some raised from the dead), had preached the gospel (he spoke as thousands came to Christ), and who knew doctrine (it was Peter that God gave the vision about the meats and the gentiles too!), but was erring from the truth.

Paul challenged Peter because instead of rising up, he was shrinking back. 

Instead of moving forward, he had settle back into an old routine because it was comfortable and less scary… Paul challenged Peter because though he knew the gospel, he wasn’t living it out in that moment. The gospel had touched many other areas of his life, but not this one.

The gospel needs to reach and touch and be applied to every area of our lives, every area of our hearts… Grout Float…. Where are the gaps where the grout needs to be pushed into? What are the spots that are bare?

  1. To RISE to the high calling of Jesus Christ,
    Paul reached for something greater.

Paul forgot the past so that he could reach for what was before him, what lay ahead of him. To be transformed, Paul had to let go of what he had been trusting in so that he could reach forward, so that he could reach for Christ.

There’s a great moment in the Old Testament when Hezekiah was king of Israel. But to appreciate the moment, you need to understand something about Moses and Jewish people on their journey through the desert. At one point in the journey they were complaining once again and God sent serpents among the people. It was a reminder that God had been protecting them and providing for them every step of the way and if for a moment God took away His hand of protection they were doomed.

The people learned their lesson and they cried out to God for mercy. So God had Moses construct a serpent of brass and put it on a pole and all people had to do to be healed from the venomous snake bite was look at the serpent on the pole. It was a symbol of looking to God to be healed…

The people were healed, it was a powerful turning point for the people…so they kept this serpent as a reminder of what God had done for them in the wilderness and desert.

Fast forward many, many years and 25 year old named Hezekiah becomes king of Israel. At this point the people have started burning incense before the serpent, they started worshipping the object. When they faced trouble in the present, they worshipped and prayed to this object from the past instead of calling out to the God who gave it to them.

So Hezekiah took the serpent and broke it into pieces. Apparently he smashed it or threw it to the ground.

Why? Did Hezekiah hate the history of the people? No. On the contrary Hezekiah would lead the people back to their relationship with God. He didn’t hate what God done for them, he hated how they worshipped what God had done instead of trusting in God to do a new thing in the present.

The reminders God gives in the Bible are to prove what He can do in the future!

Hezekiah didn’t hate the past, but he did love the idea of what God wanted to do in Israel in the future. He wanted the people to stop idolizing the past and to start trusting God for today.

Stop looking back and start reaching forward. If you do look back, do so just to be reminded of how much God can do today.

If you’re reaching for what’s ahead, you’ll get passionate about it… You press towards it. That’s what Paul did…

  1. To RISE to the high calling of Jesus Christ, Paul pushed himself toward the goal.

JC Ryle said,

The child of God has two great marks about him. . . .  He may be known by his inward peace as well as his inward warfare. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians.
But you never see any “fight” about their religion!  
Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and warring they know literally nothing at all.  Such Christianity . . . is not the Christianity of the Bible.  It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached.  True Christianity is “a fight.” 

Late in the evening on Christmas Day the kids and Nicole were sleeping and I was driving through the Shenandoah area. Lincoln woke up and was pretty displeased that we were still driving, so he said, I want to go home! I want to go home! “Buddy, we’ve come this far. We’re closer to grandma and grandpas house than our house now. We’re going to go the rest of the way.” Some of you, you’re just starting out. Others, you’ve been on the journey for many years and your closer to the finish line than the starting line…

All of us, no matter where we are at, we need to face the finish line and move forward. We rise by pushing the gospel deeper and deeper in our hearts and moving farther and farther along the path with Christ. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer.