Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Personal appreciation of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:4-9)

Paul had been a Christian for thirty years when he wrote this letter. Since his conversion, Paul had been through a lot, indeed he refers to his sufferings, which had the potential for causing him to change his mind. But he had not, and he mentions two reasons for his ongoing appreciation of the One he called ‘Christ Jesus my Lord’.

The first reason was that Paul knew he would need Jesus on the Day of Judgement. Despite the fact that he had enjoyed a prominent role in the church, that he had become a writer of biblical books, that he had spread the gospel far and wide throughout the then-known world, Paul also knew that these post-conversion activities would prove as ineffective on the Day of Judgement as his pre-conversion activities. 

Paul realised that when he would stand at the Great White Throne and be judged, along with the rest of the world’s population, he would need Jesus Christ. Although he had become a saint, he remained a sinner in need of forgiveness. But he also knew that the Saviour he had met on the Damascus Road would be his Defender on that future Day.

The second reason why Paul still thought highly, indeed exclusively, of Jesus Christ was because he realised that, even after thirty years, he had only just begun the most wonderful relationship possible, of knowing Jesus Christ in an increasingly intimate and developing way. During these thirty years he had discovered the great power and wisdom of Christ. He had also discovered the great grace and love of Jesus through the many times he had been forgiven, through the various restorations he had enjoyed, through the mountain-top experiences he had known. And he realised that great as those had been, he was still like a person paddling on the shore with an entire ocean waiting to be explored. 

His experience so far of Jesus Christ made him conclude that he would never abandon his hope in Jesus. Therefore, he was prepared to regard everything that would hinder that relationship as nothing but dung (the word he uses means offal, the filth that wild dogs would eat. In making this description, Paul may be saying that the Judaizers, whom he has called dogs in 3:2, can only provide the equivalent of filthy food for people).

Paul now was completely Christ-centred. His life can be summarised as Jesus in the past taking care of his need of righteousness, Jesus in the present maintaining a wonderful relationship, and Jesus in the future befriending him on the Day of Judgement. Jesus meant everything to him. He was his Shepherd, his Friend, his Teacher, his Helper, his Master. Paul lived in order to please Christ. This was the principle that was behind his every decision, and it was the goal to which he aimed his life.

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