True to The Cross

Philippians 2:1-4 ESV

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Sometimes we have to make concessions (compromises) with other people. We have to work with various people who have differing schedules and opinions on matters that are not foundational to our Christian faith. Yet, we should never make compromises on the essentials of our faith and doctrine and practice. But, sometimes we will have to all work together to make something work, and it will require all of us to bend some here or there.

So, the point here is not that we all have to think alike on every issue, but that we need to be likeminded with Christ on the essentials of our faith and practice. This includes us not being selfish and demanding our own way, but it involves all of us being willing to work with others towards unity, peace and harmony, as long as working toward peace and harmony does not mean compromising the foundations of our Christian faith and practice.

Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but he is God (See John 1). Thus, God (the Son) left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human form, and was born as a baby to a human mother. When he lived on this earth, he was fully God yet fully man (human). While on this earth, he suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted to sin in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. So, he can sympathize with us and help us in our weaknesses.

While on this earth, during his time of ministry, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, delivered people from demons, comforted the sorrowful, fed the hungry, and performed miracle after miracle. He also preached repentance and obedience for salvation of sin and eternal life with God in heaven. And, he showed people the way to his righteousness.

He was loved by some, but hated by many. He had a large following at the beginning, but a lot of that was people seeking after the miracles and having their bellies filled. But, when he taught them the hard stuff, and he explained to them the cost of following him, many deserted him never to return to him again, because they said his teaching was too hard.

Thus, they hung him on a cross to die, as though he was a common criminal when he did no wrong, but he only did the will of the Father in heaven. But, it was God’s will that he should suffer in this way, for in his death he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. In his death he put our sin to death so that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. And, he called for us to die with him to sin and to follow him in obedience if we wanted to be his disciples (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 8:1-17).

The Same Attitude

So, if we have the same attitude as Jesus did, then we should, too, be willing to be of no reputation, and we should be willing to humble ourselves and be willing to lay our lives down on the line in order to see others be free from their slavery to sin, and to be able to walk in obedience to their Lord.

We should not shy away from declaring the true gospel to people so that they can be saved from their sins and have eternal life with God. And, we should not worry about how people are going to respond to us, or if they will reject us or mistreat us in return. We need to care more about them and their needs than we care about what others do to us or say about us.

For, when we do share the truth of the gospel, many people are not going to like us, and they will reject us, and they may even verbally attack us or gossip about us or even slander us. And, these people who do this may not be non-Christians, either, but they may be those within the church who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and even some of them may be pastors and elders and deacons, too. For, it was the religious rulers in the temple of God who persecuted and who killed Jesus.

But, we must be willing to suffer such persecution for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in order to see people set free from their slavery to sin. And, in this way, we are having within ourselves the same attitude as Christ Jesus did when he emptied himself and became a man and he suffered persecution and then death because he told people the truth.

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

This is where a lot of people get hung up or they get confused. They think that God’s grace means that God does it all and nothing is required of us. But, that is not what his grace means. Yes! We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We are not saved by our own works. But, works of the Spirit, planned out for us before God even created the world, are part of believing faith in Jesus Christ (1 Co. 6:20; Tit. 2:14; Eph. 2:10).

A lot of people want to separate grace and faith, but they are married together, for it is by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, that we are saved from our bondage to sin and are set free to walk in obedience to our Lord.

Yes! None of us come to faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to Him. And, it is the working of the Holy Spirit which turns us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Ac. 26:16-18; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

But, Jesus’ purpose in dying for our sins was so that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. And, scripture teaches us that it is those who are walking in the Light, and by the Spirit, who have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God. So, we do have a part, and that part is faith, but that faith is not just emotion, but it is a change in lifestyle. It is us dying to sin and self and living to God and to his righteousness day by day, empowered and strengthened by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

So, our faith is action, and it is repentance and obedience, for it is God-given, and thus it submits to Jesus Christ as Lord. And, it can’t be separated from God’s grace which instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). The two go hand-in-hand.

Yes, it is God working in us, but we have to work, too, in submission to our Lord in accordance with his will and his good pleasure, but empowered of the Spirit of God, and not in our own flesh. And, we do have to obey our Lord, and we do have to leave our sinful lifestyles behind us, too, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God. And, when we teach this, which is what Jesus taught, then we need to be prepared to suffer as he suffered, too, but all for the glory of God and for the salvation of human lives.

The Old Rugged Cross

Words and music by George Bennard, 1913

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

*Copyright status is Public Domain

Saturday, July 13, 2019

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