Approve What is Excellent

Because of Your Partnership
Philippians 1:3-6 ESV

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

This last verse here, verse 6, is often quoted by those who believe in the doctrine of eternal security, i.e., that once we are saved that we can never be unsaved. But is that what this is teaching? Let’s look at the context.

Who was Paul addressing here? He was addressing the saints in Christ Jesus who were at Philippi, at that particular time in history. He was thanking the Lord for them because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day until that present moment when he wrote that. And this partnership was an alliance (a cooperation) with the gospel.

And what gospel did Paul preach? He preached that we must repent of our sins continually, i.e., we must turn away from our sins and follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). He taught that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (conduct our lives in practice) no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

He taught that Jesus died on that cross so that we would die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And he taught that if we continue living in sin, making sin our practice, we will die in our sins. We’ll not have eternal life. For, he said we are slaves of the one we obey, and if it is sin, it will end in death, but if obedience to Christ, it ends in eternal life with God.

So, Paul did not teach OSAS. He taught that our faith must be genuine, that it must produce the fruit of righteousness, that we must walk in obedience to our Lord, and if sin is our practice, we will die, not live with Christ. And he taught that we must continue in this faith (and practice) until the very end, or we will not have eternal life with God.

Also, if our salvation is genuine, it is God who began that work in us, and he is the one who will bring that good work to completion at the day of Christ, for this is not something we can do apart from God’s Spirit living within us. But we have a part in this. We must partner with God. We must cooperate with that work and do what he says, or we don’t have eternal life.

Pure and Blameless
Philippians 1:9-11 ESV

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

The Fruit of Righteousness

Wow! This is what the Christian life should be all about. The love this is speaking of is not human love, but it is agape love which prefers what God prefers, which chooses his choices, which are all that is holy, pure, moral, upright, honest, righteous, faithful, obedient to God, and kind.

And this love is to be coupled with knowledge (truth) and discernment (discretion). It is to be exercised in much wisdom and understanding of God’s will and purposes for our lives. And this is so that we can approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.

Do you see what this is saying? We aren’t pure and blameless just by a mere one-time confession of Christ as Savior of our lives. We are pure and blameless when we walk in his love, and in his truth, and in his righteousness, and according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh.

And what is excellent is what God calls excellent, which is the gospel, and which is dying with Christ to sin and living to him and to his righteousness. And it is forsaking our lives of sin to follow our Lord in obedience to his commands. And it is to love God and to love our fellow humans.

Other Options

But this is not what is primarily being taught in today’s modern church, at least here in America. Many people who say they want to “believe” in Jesus, and to have eternal life with him, are being given other options to the gospel taught by Paul, which they teach end with the same results, but they don’t.

Those who buy into these “other options,” who then bear fruit not in keeping with righteousness nor repentance, are usually those who are self-indulgent and who are intoxicated to sin, and who are looking for other options other than the true gospel, because they don’t like the truth.

So, they are far removed from the truth of the gospel, and thus they are separated from the Lord. Although they may make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, they are apart from God. They do not belong to him because they have not been crucified with him in death to sin.

They hunger after something which will appease them in their sin and give them permission to keep living in sin, only now without guilt. So, they approve, not of what is excellent, but of what is a half-truth (lie) flesh-driven gospel which promises freedom while it leaves people still dead in sin.

They are not walking according to the Spirit, for they are still walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh. They are still living in adultery, idolatry, wickedness, unrighteousness, immorality, and impurity while covering up their wickedness with lies they tell themselves and others.

For, what they are believing and approving is a cheapened grace gospel, which does not put its adherents’ sins to death, but it allows them to thrive and to survive. This cheap grace gospel is being taught widely as though it is the true gospel, but it is a fake gospel with no real authority to save lives.

But it is being passed off as the “real deal,” and the lies are being hid so that people will fall into the trap, thinking they are saved and bound for heaven, while they are still dead in their sins and headed to hell. And those who created this cheap grace gospel are out to destroy you, not to save your life.

And the fruit that you will produce from believing in this cheap grace is not the fruit of righteousness, but it is the fruit of those who are intoxicated to sin, and its end is death, not life eternal. For, there are no shortcuts. We either walk (in practice) according to the Spirit, which brings life, or we walk according to the flesh, and that results in death (eternal punishment and eternal separation from God).

Thus, those who are teaching what Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles taught about our salvation and eternal life with God are being attacked by many of those who are promoting this cheap grace gospel. They are opposed to us because they are opposed to the true gospel of grace. For, this cheap grace is a creation of Satan who wants the gospel and us silenced.

But love for God and for our fellow humans does not include us continuing to sin against God and other humans deliberately, habitually, and premeditatedly, for love does no harm to others. Love for God and for others should not be based in our human emotions and our fleshly desires, but love is how we treat others, and how we treat God. So, love is what we do.

Anniversary Song

By Ann Aschauer

…Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So, it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.

And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”

c 1987 Ann Aschauer
Used by permission

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