"Rejoice In The Lord"; Philippians Chapter 3
January 1, 2019

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2019

"Rejoice In The Lord"
Philippians Chapter 3


      If, indeed, the whole book of Philippians is best described as "Paul's Epistle of Joy," then the opening lines of Chapter Three belie it. "Rejoice in the Lord" is more than a figure of speech repeated in chorus; it is a talisman to be clung to when the evaluation of the earthly church falls prey to evil, confusion and sin. "Rejoice in the Lord," is a shield against apostacy and error. It is a fortress against satan's interjections. It is what sustained an apostle who was incarcerated in a Roman prison, for even in the Philippian jail his songs rang out in the night-along with those who joined his praise. God's earthquakes of deliverance flow through such praise. Salvation is planted in the heart of the unbeliever who encounters such rejoicing. "Rejoice in the Lord" incorporates more than what is often called "worship." Overflowing hearts render a better note than orchestrated programs. "Rejoice in the Lord" requires no script, despises scrutiny, has no boundaries, knows no limits and fields a glory attained by no other means! It becomes a portal where angels tread and heaven opens wide. Children and ancients stand on common ground within its gates, for it knows no nationality, gender or age and encounters no strange language. Regardless of numbers, all who enter its doors find themselves in heaven's front row, for it erases distance and welcomes everyone who loves the Lord. Indeed, the Lord occupies the praise of His people.

"Rejoice in the Lord" is not an optional suggestion, it is a command. All the while, it cannot be manufactured mechanically, for it is the product of a "welling up on the inside that must be vented on the outside." It is Spirit directed. It abandons earthly pursuits. It regards no time limits. Its exponents are David in reckless dance before the living God-he cared not about decorum. Its spontaneity is its character and its domain is a realm defined by burden removing power. The Lord inhabits the praise of His people.

Paul declared he was not going to be slothful or timid, for he wanted the Philippians to be aware of certain invaders. Hence, he launched three "Bewares" and boldly denounced their practices.

     1. Beware of the dogs. In the past, the Jews castigated the Gentiles by calling them "Dogs." Some Pharisees called the "half breeds" of Samaria the same. Now it is reversed, for Paul deemed those seeking to make Jewish religious practices a necessity for the early church were, in his eyes, despicable "Dogs." These are the same "Dogs" that crucified Jesus!

Psalms 22:16-18:
16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots. NKJV

Because of these "crucifiers," much havoc came to these early congregations. How did these "dogs" come to such power in their home country and why did they seek to proselyte the saints? The reason is simple: "their leadership failed to correct them as they looked the 'other way' when they encountered trespasses." (Apply the following Scripture to today's religious scene.)

Isaiah 56:9-12:
9 All you beasts of the field, come to devour,
All you beasts in the forest.
10 His watchmen are blind,
They are all ignorant;
They are all dumb dogs,
They cannot bark;
Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
11 Yes, they are greedy dogs
Which never have enough.
And they are shepherds
Who cannot understand;
They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain,
From his own territory.
12 "Come," one says, "I will bring wine,
And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink;
Tomorrow will be as today,
And much more abundant."

The characteristics of dogs are sometimes nauseating. Though they seem to be good companions and love their master---yet, they remain dogs. They will return to their own vomit. They will often bite the hand that feeds them. They will breed indiscriminatingly. They will sometimes turn on their owners. They will fight with little provocation. The growling, guttural warning along with bared teeth and raised lip is not a show of love. They are shown in the Old Testament licking the blood of Ahab and Jezebel, as well as lapping the blood of fallen prey. Almost in the same moment, they run to lick the face of a child. Beware the hypocritical smiling face which soon turns to a challenging growl!

In the closing words of Revelation, there appears a remarkable passage.

Revelation 22:14-15:
14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

     2. Beware of evil workers. This too is an interesting prohibition. In this sense, it refers to teachers with a criminal intent. They masquerade as genuine, but seek to make replicas of themselves through indoctrination. Quick to infiltrate all manner of positions within the body, their intent is to rule their adherents. Even today, there are groups who clandestine themselves and seek to direct the decision-making processes of their constituents. The captives who were once set free by the Anointed One find themselves slaves again. Paul had seen their handiwork in other churches and sought to give the Philippians a "heads up." (The Roman Catholic hierarchy is a prime example, as are other religious frameworks-all of which proclaim they speak for Jesus when in reality they labor for control of parish or territories. Even in evangelical circles, there are hoops to jump through for credentialism and ladder-like stations of preeminence. Missions become an attempt to stratify one's mission field with endless "pastor's conferences" where "training sessions" turn into attempts to mold the leadership into clones of their model congregations.)

Luke 13:25-28:
25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Paul, in another place, assailed such evil workers.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

     3. Beware the concision (the mutilators--those demanding all Christian males be Circumcised). Adherence to certain rules and regulations has always been the hallmark of Judaism, as well as denominationalism of various kinds. At this point, Paul waxes eloquently about his credentials and how he counts these accolades as rubbish.

Because he had two separate lives, the great missionary bared his inner man to his fellows. Once a Hebrew of Hebrews, he studied under Gamaliel, the strictest teacher of the Levitical Law and he excelled to the highest degree. HE was trusted by the Temple authorities to the extent of being the chief eradicator of early Christians. Cruelty beyond belief was meted through the man who consented to the martyrdom of Stephen. He loosed the pit of hell upon all who crossed his path with the utmost commendations from the established religion in Jerusalem. Then, he encountered the Great Separator. In one fell sweep, Jesus changed everything in his life.

The same zeal he used in persecuting Christians was now used to bless them. His old life of pleasing the Establishment faded in a moment through the glory of seeing Jesus. Now the Establishment persecuted him. He hit back with the sword of the Spirit and declared covenant Israel lay not with the Jews, but with born again believers.

Philippians 3:3-6:
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Honestly, he claimed ignorance of the truth while being ranked at the pinnacle of religion (Does this apply today?). Credentialism oozes from every corner of the fleshly church. It would seem the modern church is flooded with "confidence in the flesh." It is in this aspect that Paul addressed in this passage. Is allegiance given to the Law or to Christ is the question at hand (It still is a major issue in congregations who must decide "is it to my church or is it to my Christ I owe allegiance?" Sadly, one faces the same dilemma today the Philippians faced.)

Here is Paul's answer.

Philippians 3:7-10:
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Look at what entails such a statement. Paul suffered the loss of his income, his place in society, his reputation, his wealth accumulation and a portion of his health. Whatever one could name as personal possession, he lost it. He valued knowing Christ and following the Spirit to be more valuable.

Is one's retirement program, 401k or IRA greater than following the Spirit? (Pastor's face this issue.) Is one's family greater than following Christ? One's accumulated wealth? One's place in society? Rushing through Paul's mind must have been a myriad of things that mankind relegates as "their rights," and he answered them all.

Matthew 19:28-30:
28 So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The latter portion of Paul's answer bears heavy scrutiny: "that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness…. but that which is through faith in Christ." Faith is the antithesis to legalism. To be "in Christ" is all one needs to function in earth or in heaven. Paul found the righteousness of the Law could not compare to the righteousness found in Jesus. The "Jesus righteousness" is from God by faith-not from religions rule. It still is!

Philippians 3:10-11:
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Three elements flow from these two verses:

     1. "That I may know Him." The power of personal relationship supersedes Religion's, "I know about Him" or the public understanding of who He is.

ginosko (ghin-oce'-ko); a prolonged form of a primary verb; to "know" (absolutely) in a great variety of applications and with many implications.

To know Christ contains the element of intimacy. Pillow talk is different than "talking across the fence." He already knows all about us, so our task is to know all about Him. The Song of Solomon (Solomon's Secret) portrays the progression of the Shulamite as she learns about the King-it is a picture of our own journey.

     2. The power of His Resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave and became the "first born of the resurrection," he opened the door for all of us. Romans talks about our confession to salvation with two elements: Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead.

Romans 10:8-13:
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Just a tertiary study of Romans reveals "the power of His resurrection."

Romans 4:23-25:
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Romans 6:1-4:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:8-11:
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord

Romans 7:4-5:
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Romans 8:11:
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Next is,

     3. The fellowship of His suffering: Relishing suffering is foreign to many Christians, but the road ahead tells of a coming time when we shall know firsthand this fellowship. Perhaps this is why our ministry is with missionaries, many of whom have suffered much for their Lord. There is a fellowship among them that goes beyond comradery to a deep understanding without words. That is the fellowship Paul was describing. Those who ministered with him knew the beating, shipwreck, stonings and imprisonments that could only be seen as the "fellowship of His suffering."

Philippians 3:10-11:
10 and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

"Conformity to His death" was a vital part of Paul's reality (Observe Charles Spurgeon's essay on this subject).

"I am crucified with Christ." - Galatians 2:20
The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what He did as a great public representative person, and His dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all His people. Then all His saints rendered unto justice what was due, and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ's chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally, he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ's death, he had satisfied divine justice, and found reconciliation with God. Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ, and feel, "I am dead; the law has slain me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in my Surety I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute the whole that the law could do, by way of condemnation, has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ."

But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ's death, and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself, causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, "I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them." Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can, at the same time, exclaim with the apostle, "Nevertheless I live." He is fully alive unto God. The Christian's life is a matchless riddle. No worldling can comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Saviour, and death to the world and sin, are soul-cheering things. (End of quote)

Paul emptied his soul and spirit in a flood of passion, ripping aside any self-aggrandizement and revealing his inner person as he stood spiritually naked before God and man. Rare are these occasions among modern churchmen. His self-appraisal was not a review of his achievements, but of sincere revelation of his goal in life.

Philippians 3:11-14:
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Verse twelve should yield a song in our hearts. "Somethings got a hold of me, that you can plainly see." Such a song ought to be a realization in all our lives. As the believer yields himself to that which Christ yearns to lay hold of in his life, a new maturity dawns in his spirit. This is covenant!

Psychological counseling declares that sequestering life experiences acts as a form of self-denial. Verse thirteen is suspect to the unredeemed world, but Paul relegated his past to "a place that no longer affected his present or future." (The "albatross of the past" often hinders and torments, causing inaction and low self-esteem-not so with Paul.) The curtain had dropped over the faces of myriads of crying children, wailing wives and saddened men caused by Paul's persecution of the saints. The curtain had dropped over the many hardships he had endured for the gospel and "what might have been."

His eye was on the prize.

Philippians 3:14:
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

This is what has been lost in Christendom today! This is not the goal of the church around us. The "upward call hasn't gotten hold of us!" Dead pews and sodden pulpits choke that which should beat in our hearts and beckon to our spirits! Who dares raise up his head and declare, "follow my example?"

Philippians 3:17:
17 Brethren, join in following my example.

Beginning with "Therefore," Paul addresses those who have attained a degree of understanding beyond that of a beginner. He challenges them to have the same mind he had regarding the issues at hand and join him in being unified with him.

Philippians 3:15-16:
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Knowing the divisive methods of some who ventured into the early congregations, Paul exits this third chapter by warning, once again, about interlopers who position themselves among the flock. His comments mimic Peter's epistles and Jude's treatise. Their descriptions are lucid and leave no rock unturned.

Philippians 3:17-21:
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame - who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Observe Peter's warnings.

2 Peter 2:1-3:
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

2 Peter 2:18-22;
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

Because there was a proliferation of these false ones, Jude abandons his "common faith" message to warn about them.

Jude 12-13:
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Are there some among us today? I believe the answer is, "Yes." Though they are subtler than in Paul's day, once again we must "beware." Let Paul's warning be our guide.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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