Friday, 19 September 2014
What I need first of all…
“What I need first of all is not exhortation, but a gospel, not directions for saving myself but knowledge of how God has saved me. Have you any good news? That is the question that I ask of you. I know your exhortations will not help me. But if anything has been done to save me, will you not tell me the facts?”
J. Gresham Machen, Christian Faith in the Modern World, 57 from Of First Importance
Our next section of Philippians, Philippians 1:17-2:11, begins with the first exhortation of the letter so far, “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” If you are like me, you want to pounce on that phrase with a sense of “at last! now I know what I am supposed to be doing!” Then I will spend the rest of my week trying to figure out what it looks like, feeling bad every time I forget to think about it, and feeling either pride or condemnation depending on how I am doing with remembering and obeying at the present moment. Now more than ever I need to keep my obedience grounded in the gospel. I need to see that my sanctification flows from faith in Christ every bit as much as my justification does.
The good news is that our passage ends with one of the most magnificent sections about Christ in the whole Bible. So even though a chapter division seems to separate the two thoughts, don’t let that keep you from connecting them.
To blog or not to blog.
I know that even though we are only a few weeks into our blog experiment, some of you are already feeling behind and may be tempted to give up. Or you may be thinking, I like reading the stuff other people say, but I don’t really know what to post. Or even, I would love to jump in the discussion, but by the time I’ve gotten to the computer, it seems like it’s too late. Allow me to release you from any sense of needing to keep up. This is a tool, not a rule, remember? The main thing is to feed on Christ in his Word. If stomach flu or unexpected guests or a broken washing machine put you on overload, be assured that Jesus wants to draw near to you even in that…and he will satisfy your hungry soul even if you only have a brief moment to turn to him.
Discussion Question of the week:
OK. We are up to question #3 in our systematic use of the Feasting On Christ Daily Worksheet. Even though this question may not seem to be the best one to focus on this week in order to open up the passage, I think you may be surprised by what you will find. What do I learn about the people in this passage? Expanded version: What are their circumstances? What are they doing or not doing (observable behavior)? Why are they acting this way (what is motivating them)? Where have they placed their trust? How are they just like me?
It’s such fun to hear what God is teaching each of you…and to hear you encourage each other. Keep up the good work!