Category Archives: Bible

Help Wanted – Part 2 – Matthew 9:35-38

During a recent conversation with my boss, I was informed that a certain area of the country had a lot of potential. According to him, we could be doing much better but were limited by the amount of employees we had in that area. This led me to place help wanted advertisements on the internet to find more people who could fill the need there.

As we have been looking at Matthew 9:35-38, we have already seen the compassion Jesus had toward the needy people around Him. As he worked with them, his heart was moved with emotion because they were weary and harassed by their religious leaders. We ought to follow His example by being compassionate toward the lost around us. But there is something else we should do as well.

2. Take note of the needs (37).

Before we get to praying for more laborers, we need to stop and take note of what the needs are. Have you ever been asked to pray and then stumbled about because you didn’t have anything to say? I have felt that way before. It is best to know what you are needing before asking for help. This is what Jesus did before telling His disciples to pray. He showed them what the need was.

a. What is the status of the harvest?

Define harvest.

Mounce defines θερισμὸς as “a harvest, the act of gathering in the harvest, reaping, Jn. 4:35; met. the harvest of the Gospel, Mt. 9:37, 38; Lk. 10:2; a crop.” In normal language, a harvest is the grain or crop in the field which will eventually be harvested for food. But Jesus was using the word to describe the spiritual situation where He was. He saw this group of people as a crop ready to be harvested.

When I am hiring drivers, I have to balance the desire for workers with the amount of work that is available. Imagine if there were 33 taxi cabs in Willard. Do you think there would be enough work for all of them? Probably not. But when Jesus looked at the spiritual harvest at that moment, what did he see?

Define plentiful.

Mounce defines πολύς as “great, large; more than, greater than; the most; very large.” The idea was that the spiritual crop around him was larger than normal. When harvested it would include a great number of people. Grandpa Plikerd of Delphos, Ohio showed me pictures of a field of corn that was 8 feet tall by the Fourth of July. It was the biggest crop he had experienced. Jesus told his disciples that the spiritual crop around them was very large.

Can you think of another time when Jesus used this idea of a crop needing to be harvested? “The figure of reaping a harvest he had employed before (perhaps a year before, at Jacobs’ well (John 4:35 ff.)” (Broadus 211). At that time, Jesus was referring to the many people coming from Samaria to talk with him after his conversation with the woman at the well.

John 4:35 – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”

The status of the harvest is not always the same. Jesus did not speak this way at every place he spoke. But in this instance, he saw the great possibilities. Do you take note of the status of the spiritual harvest field around you? There is often a need wherever we go. Yes, there are places where people are especially hardened against the truth. But there are often others whose hearts the Lord is working in. Take note. Explore the possibilities. If we don’t take note of what is around us, we may have a wrong impression of the status of the harvest field.

b. What is the need of the harvest?

The ultimate need of people is to be saved. But Jesus does not address that specifically at this moment. Instead, he looks past the people to the need that He saw. He told the disciples that there were not enough laborers to work with the people.

Define laborers.

Mounce defines ἐργάται as “a workman, laborer, Mt. 9:37, 38; 20:1, 2, 8; met. a spiritual workman or laborer, 2 Cor. 11:13; an artisan, artificer, Acts 19:25; a worker, practicer, Lk. 13:27.”

This reminds me of Jesus’ parable about the workers who were hired at different times of the day but paid the same amount. The workers there were hired by the land owner to go into the field and specific work. They would have been people who were capable, trainable, and willing to do the work.

When I hire people, I ask questions that will reveal whether they have the ability to drive long distances, to wake up at night to take trips, and to stick with the job. There are some things that can be taught, but there are other characteristics that the worker has to have already. Otherwise, hiring them would be a mistake.

In order for a spiritual crop to be harvested, spiritual workers are needed. What makes a good worker? A good worker must first be a Christian. God is not calling people from the world to be workers. He is calling Christians to step up and start working. What else makes a good worker? A worker must be willing to do the work. Someone can have a lot of training, character, and experience, but if they are not willing to do the work, they are not useful. A worker must be persistent. When working in God’s harvest field, a worker must keep working. The work is often hard and there are times when the results may not be satisfying.

Define few.

Mounce defines ὀλίγοι as “little, small, short; (pl.) few.”

I recently had someone ask to borrow some money because things were a bit tight financially. He was short of needed cash. This is the idea of the word Jesus used. The spiritual harvest was plentiful but the amount of workers was few. They were short a few workers.

It is interesting that Jesus said this to disciples here and also to the 70 who were sent at a different time (Luke 10:1-2). How could there be too many people for 12 to handle or for 70 to handle? Well, think about it this way. How many people can one person effectively talk to at one time? Usually, people want a one-on-one conversation when talking about spiritual needs. So, twelve people could only handle 12 at a time. Even 70 (a greater number) would be limited to 70 people at a time.

When we traveled with the Explorers team in Wisconsin, I remember one evening where we helped talk to people who responded to a gospel invitation. The young man I spoke with was a bit distracted. Instead of responding to the gospel, he asked what we thought about aliens. While we were talking, I am sure that there were others who could have been dealt with if I wasn’t tied up with this person. But there were only so many people available to help.


Tonight, we have looked at the status of the harvest field. Jesus noted that the field was plentiful. God had been working in people’s hearts and there were plenty who were ready to respond. We also looked at the need of the field. Jesus noted that there were few laborers to work with the people in this area. Together we see a great harvest, few workers, and this leads us to what Jesus says in verse 38. We will look at this next time. But for now, take a look around you and look at what God is doing. Then get busy in the harvest field.


“ἐργάτης” as viewed at on 3/22/2023.

“θερισμὸς” as viewed at on 3/22/2023.

“ὀλίγος” as viewed at on 3/22/2023.

“πολύς” as viewed at on 3/22/2023.

Lenski, R. C. H., Interprestion of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Columbus: Wartburg, 1943, pp. 384-85.

Plummer, Alfred, Matthew, Minneapolis: Colormaster, n.d., pp. 144-46.

How advanced were the civilizations before Noah’s flood?

This afternoon, I looked for articles or videos about technology before Noah’s Flood. You are probably not surprised to learn that there are a lot of people talking about this. Unfortunately, very little of what I saw was helpful. The fact is that we don’t know a lot about pre-flood technology. As far as we know, nothing survived. The only believable record we have from before the Flood is found in the Book of Genesis.

But… we still like to wonder about what it must have been like. Did the pre-flood people have cars, phones, computers, airplanes, the internet, or even spaceships? Let’s take a look at what the Bible tells us and see if we can come away with a better idea.

  1. The Bible says that people developed technologies before the Flood.

    a. Cain and Abel were farmers (Gen. 4:2).

    Many evolutionary discussions about the past state than man started as hunter/gatherers and did not start organized farming until many years later. The Bible says things were quite different. Cain was a produce farmer and Abel was a shepherd soon after man was created.

    b. Cain built a city (Gen. 4:17).

    After Cain killed Abel, he moved to another location and built a city. Building a city involves construction, organization, and administration. Someone had to build houses, shops, and parks. Someone had to keep things organized for trash, water, and septic. Someone had to be in charge to police, tax, and keep order.

    c. Jabal was a nomadic herdsman (Gen. 4:20).

    While this does not seem like a big deal, we do learn two things here. Jabal knew how to make tents and how to herd animals. Jabal had to figure out how to make tents out of skin or some other material. He had to figure out how to make the animals stay together and breed, and to produce milk and make him a profit.

    d. Jubal made harps and flutes (Gen. 4:21).

    One of Cain’s descendants was called the father of musical instruments such as the harp and flute. This would have taken some trial and error, I am sure. But Jubal did become known as an instrument maker. Within 7 generations from Adam, he had learned how to make these instruments and had perfected them.

    e. Tubal-Cain made bronze and iron items (4:22).

    Have you ever heard of the stone-age, bronze-age, etc.? These ages have been determined by archaeologists who have unearthed tools, weapons, and other things made out of different materials. They theorize that ancient people were very primitive and were incapable of making anything out of metal. To these archaeologists, ancient people were dumb and didn’t evolve into what we are today until recently.

    Tubal-Cain made bronze and iron items. He became so good at it that he could instruct those who worked with these metals. Within seven generations of Adam, people were making things out of metal—much sooner than expected by modern archaeologists.

    What we learn from the Bible is that pre-flood man was not dumb. They were able to do many of the things that people do today. But how advanced did they become? Let’s consider another fact before attempting an answer.

  2. The Bible says that people lived longer before the Flood.

    Genesis 5 gives us a genealogy of Adam’s children through his son Seth. What is most notable about these men is how long they lives. Except for three of them, most of them lived to be over 900 years old.

    a. Several people lived over 900 years.

    5:5 – Adam lived 930 years
    5:8 – Seth lived 912 years
    5:11 – Enosh lived 905 years
    5:14 – Cainan lived 910 years
    5:20 – Jared lived 962 years.
    5:27 – Methuselah lived 969 years.

    b. What have modern people accomplished in their shortened lifetime?

    Today, people are expected to live about 70 years. During that time, most of us don’t accomplish anything noteworthy until after high school. So, of those 70 years, 18 are preparatory. If you include college as preparatory, then we need to add four more years. But then you have to consider that most people retire about 65. So, between 22 and 65, we have 43 years to accomplish something. What has been accomplished by people in that amount of time?

    Ancient inventions include the wheel, the calendar, the clock, paper (Egyptians), concrete (Romans), the compass, and gunpowder (China). Modern inventions include the printing press (Gutenberg), light bulb (Edison), automobile (Benz), telephone (Bell), personal computer (Blankenbaker), cell phones (Motorola), and the airplane (Wright Brothers).

    All of these were invented by people who were actively inventing for less than 100 years. It is amazing what God has allowed man to invent and use during our short lifespan. But this leads me to my next question.

    c. What could have pre-flood people accomplished during their longer lifetimes?

    Because the Flood was so powerful, it is most probable that anything built before it has been completely destroyed. There has been some talk about the pyramids surviving the Flood, but this is probably based on a misunderstanding of when they were built. We have already seen what the Flood did in creating the Grand Canyon, so how could a man made pyramid survive so much water?

    We don’t have evidence of anything made before the Flood. But we can imagine that given the people’s long lifespans they probably made great strides with science and technology. Just think what Edison could have accomplished if he had lived for 900 years. He lived to 84 years old and had 1,093 patents. Could the pre-flood people have accomplished more than us during their long lives? We don’t know. But one of the factors that may have limited their accomplishments is our next point.

  3. The Bible says that people were wicked before the Flood.

    One of the things that affects the way a civilization turns out is their sinfulness. Civilizations that excel in sin often have a downward turn at some point. Sadly, Adam and Eve got everything headed in a wrong direction when they sinned against God. And their children followed in their footsteps.

    a. Cain killed his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8).

    How would you like to know that your child was the first murderer in the world? Cain was an angry man who didn’t like the fact that God had accepted his brother’s offering instead of his. So in a fit of anger he killed Abel. He then tried to lie his way out of it, but God confronted him. Sadly, there is no record that Cain ever repented of his sin.

    b. Lamech bragged about killing a man (Gen. 4:23).

    One of Cain’s grandchildren followed in his great grandfather’s footsteps. He took two wives and then bragged to them about killing a young man in revenge for hurting him. He then went on to indirectly tell God to avenge him if he was killed in revenge. What audacity!

    c. Man became extremely evil (Gen. 6:5).

    By Noah’s time, there weren’t very many people who were not evil. From God’s perspective, their wickedness was great. He described their thoughts as completely evil on a constant basis. They couldn’t think of anything good at all. It was always evil. People had become so degraded that God was sorry he had made them. And he made plans to destroy them with the Great Flood.

    While people before the Flood could have become technologically advanced, there was one thing that held them back… their sin. Sin often keep people from advancing. When people are all looking out for what is best for them and not for anyone else, things don’t go so well. Look at civilizations like the Mayans or Aztecs who excelled for a time but eventually fell apart because of their wicked human sacrifices. But when I compare our current post-Christian society, I see the makings of a future downfall as well.


While discussions like this are interesting, they don’t usually lead to more than speculations. We really don’t know anything more than the Bible tells us. And that is not very much. If the pre-flood people made it to the moon or further, what does it matter? What really matters is that we consider how we respond to God during our lifetime.

1. Be prepared for the future.

As you consider the people who lived before the Flood, you might consider how similar their lives were to our own.

Matt. 24:38 – “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.”

Jesus used the example of the people before the Flood to show how they were unprepared for God’s judgment. Despite their wickedness, they enjoyed eating and drinking, and marriage but they were oblivious or willingly refused to listen to Noah’s preaching about God’s righteousness. Sadly, they rejected the opportunity they had before their lives ended.

2. Use your time wisely.

If you are a Christian, this next point is for you.

Eph. 5:15-16 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

A preacher once used a yard stick to represent the typical lifespan of 70 years. As he talked about the teen years, he would break off a portion. As he talked about the young married years, he broke off a portion. As he talked about mid-life, he broke off a portion. You can imagine how the people thought about that illustration. They were waiting for the last snap and the end of their life.

How have you used your life? And how are you using your life today? Christians are supposed to be using their lives to do God’s will. That involves living a holy life as an example to others. It involves meditating on what God says in the Bible. It also involves speaking for the Lord regardless of the response. Did you know that Noah was a preacher of righteousness to his generation (2 Pet. 2:5)? And the only people who listened were his wife, three sons, and their wives. But he still spoke for the Lord.

Some day we will all stand before the Lord. Those who have rejected the Lord will receive their eternal punishment. Those who have believed will answer to how they lived. Some will receive a reward. In either of those cases, will you be happy to stand before the Lord?


“15 Amazing Examples of Ancient Technology” as viewed at on 3/19/2023.

Confident in What? Part 2 – Philippians 3:9-11

March Madness has begun. The best men’s college basketball teams have faced off in the NCAA tournament and some have been brutally surprised by their opponents. Purdue was the #1 seed in the East, but they lost to #16 seed, Fairleigh Dickinson. Another surprise was #2 Arizona being beat by #15 Princeton. Most of the higher ranked teams probably had confidence that they would easily beat the lower ranked teams. But where is their confidence now?

In the last message, we started a conversation about our confidence toward God. Paul had listed many good things that he could be confident about in verses 4-6. But he had considered all of those good deeds as loss and rubbish because he had found all that he needed in Christ. He was confident in what Jesus had done for him instead of being confident in himself.

Paul’s words should cause all of us to ask ourselves a few questions. Are we confident in the good things we have done? If so, we would say, I am confident in myself and my achievements. I am a good person who should be allowed to stand before God on my own merits. The other question is this. Are we confident in what Christ has done? If so, we would say, I am confident in Christ. I am not a good person, but I am trusting in what Jesus did for me instead of my own good works. Today we will consider the second type of confidence.

2. I am confident in Christ (Philippians 3:9-11).

This statement summarizes what our confidence should be in. God did not ask us to become righteous enough to earn His favor. We find all that we need in Him by trusting Him, knowing Him, and being ready for Him.

a. Are you trusting Him? (9)

Someday each of us will stand before God and we will be found in one condition or the other. Paul says that he wanted to be found in Jesus as opposed to his own righteousness. This means that he was trusting in what Jesus did for him on the cross. Jesus paid for his sins and now Paul was trusting in Jesus alone as his confidence.

Paul was not confident in his own righteousness.

What is righteousness? “Its leading idea evidently is that of acceptance, satisfactoriness, however secured, to law” (Moule 92). In other words, righteousness is what we cling to when trying to be accepted by God.

Paul looked at all of his character and achievements. While they might have impressed some people, he realized that his own righteousness was not impressive to God. Perhaps Paul was thinking of what the prophet Isaiah said years before.

Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

All of the good things we have done do not cover up our sinfulness. God knows it all and is not impressed by the few good things we do. Paul knew that it was futile to dress himself up in his own good works hoping to impress God. It would be like a dirty beggar trying to impress a wealthy king with his rags.

If Paul, an impressive, religious man, was not confident in his own righteousness, what was he confident in?

Paul was confident in the righteousness of Christ.

We all have that natural desire to do something to make God think better of us. We do it when we go to court wearing a suit and tie—hoping to impress the judge with our good character. But God is perfect and holy and is not at all impressed. The only righteousness he will accept is that of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, who never sinned, became a man and willingly gave His life on the cross to pay for our sins. He gave his perfect life for our sinful lives so that we could become righteousness in Him.

You may have noticed that there is no action needed on our part. Paul says it is the righteousness which is from God by faith. “‘By faith’ is the important word. That is the only way in the world you can get it. You can’t work for it; you can’t buy it; you can’t steal it. You just trust Him” (McGee 314). Do you see that? God doesn’t want you to work to become righteous. He simply requires faith.

What does faith mean? “The leading and characteristic idea of the word is personal trust… It is certainly not mere assent. … The word ‘faith’ consistently conveys in Scripture the thought of personal reliance, trustful acceptance of Divine truth, Divine work, of the Divine Worker and Lord. …a bringing of nothing in order to receive everything” (Moule 93-4).

Paul was confident in Christ. He didn’t come to God with his merit badges on display. He came to God knowing that he was undeserving of being right with God. But he knew God’s promise to save those who put their faith in Jesus. With that in mind, he put his confidence (full reliance) in Jesus’ righteousness being given to him simply… by faith.

Are you confident in Jesus? Because if you are, this faith is just the beginning of a relationship with God. As we continue, you will see that Paul wasn’t satisfied to just be made righteous by faith. He wanted to develop his relationship with Jesus even more.

b. Do you want to know Him better? (10)

When I am hiring a new driver for the company, I often use stories to convey ideas. If the person is interested in sports I tell them about someone I know who plays in the NBA. But when I do that, I often pause because the “friend” is more of an acquaintance. He is someone who played basketball in middle school with one of my sons. If you were to ask me anything personal about the athlete, I would know very little. So I have to admit that I really don’t know that person very well.

If I were to ask you if you know the Lord Jesus, what would you say? You might say, yes, but what would that mean? What do you know about Him? Do you know Him well? Do you have a good relationship with Him? Can you tell me a little bit about Him? Paul, who wrote a large part of the New Testament, knew the Lord. But he states here that he wanted to know Jesus even more. This ought to be the attitude of every Christian.

A well-known radio preacher writes that “Today some saints give me the impression that they have complete knowledge and they only need to polish their halo every morning and are ready to take off at any moment. Yet Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever seen, said at the end of his life, ‘My admission is still to know Christ…'” (McGee 315).

Paul wanted to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

When we attend a funeral service, we are painfully aware that we have no power to help the deceased loved one. But God raised up Jesus from the dead after three days. That same power is available to us to serve Him and endure what may happen daily.

“The power that raised Jesus from the dead—is the power that is at work in us to make us holy, to make us a fit place for Jesus to dwell, to enable us to grasp the limitless dimensions of God’s love for us (Eph. 3:14-19), to strengthen us so that we have great endurance and faith and lives constantly characterized by thanksgiving (Col. 1:11-12). It takes extraordinary power to change us to become like that. in fact, it takes nothing less than the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead” (Carson 87).

As you get to know the Lord better, there will be opportunities to see God’s mighty power at work. While we enjoy hearing powerful testimonies of people who were miraculously saved by God, delivered from bad circumstances, or healed from diseases, the most personal knowledge of Jesus is found when He is working in our own lives. Have you seen His power at work in your life? And do you want to see Him continuously working in your life?

Paul wanted to know the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings.

This part of the Bible may be a bit difficult to understand at first. How can we have fellowship with the sufferings of Christ? When we think of fellowship, we think of friendship, church dinners, and fun times. What do these have to do with the sufferings of Jesus?

Paul wasn’t talking about suffering on the cross with Jesus. That would be impossible. What he was wanting was to be so close to Jesus that he would go through some of the same troubles Jesus went through. He wanted to live out what Jesus told the disciples they would face. If they hated Jesus, they would hate his disciples. Paul wanted to know the Lord so well and to be so close to Him that he was willing to suffer for the Lord.

Did Paul ever suffer for the Lord? Yes, he did. And this was part of God’s plan for him. When the Lord sent Ananias to newly converted Paul, God told him that he would “show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” As you read through the Book of Acts, you see that Paul did suffer for the Lord. It wasn’t that he wanted to be hurt. His desire was to have such a close relationship to the Lord that he would willingly suffer with Christ.

Do you love the Lord so much that you would be willing to suffer with Him? This was not only to be part of Paul’s life but also part of our own lives.

Philipians 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

As we faithfully live godly lives for the Lord, we are promised that we will face persecution. The world hates Christ and those who follow Him. But we love the Lord and when we suffer persecution, we grow closer to Him and understand some of what He went through when on this earth. This is probably what Paul meant by us “being conformed to His death.” As we suffer for Christ, we are becoming like Jesus by facing the same things He did.

c. Are you working for Him? (11)

This part of the passage may be difficult to understand. Paul has already told us that he was trusting in the righteousness of Christ. He has also told us how much he wants to know Jesus better including suffering for Him. We know that he was not seeking to gain God’s favor by doing things. But what he says in verse 11 is a bit confusing.

Philippians 3:11 – “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Paul wanted to attain something.

Keep in mind that Paul is no longer talking about attaining righteousness by his own works. Here is he is talking about attaining something during his Christian life. While we do not work to become righteous, we should work for the Lord after we have been saved. Consider several other Bible verses:

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

2 Peter 1:5-8 – “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In each of the above passages, we see that God wants Christians to do good works, to work to show their Christian lives, and to add character to their faith. This is what Christians do. They don’t think they have “attained” a top degree at some point and then quit living for the Lord. Real Christians keep working for the Lord. They keep striving.

So what was Paul still trying to attain?

Paul wanted to attain the resurrection from the dead.

The meaning of this phrase is not explained by Paul. If you look through Bible commentaries on this verse, you will find many ideas regarding what this passage means. Some say that this is talking about the Rapture. “Perhaps he was using this word to refer to the Rapture, thus expressing the hope that the Lord would return during his lifetime” (Lightner 661). But Paul has already told the Thessalonian church that all believers (dead or living) will be resurrected when Jesus comes back (1 Thess. 4:13-18). It was not something they had to attain to. Others think this refers to someone attaining a spiritual resurrection out from the spiritually dead around them. But this doesn’t make sense either because we are raised to new life by faith in Christ not by doing something else.

While I don’t really know exactly what Paul was talking about, I have an idea (see Barnes and Clarke). We know that he is not trying to attain acceptance by God or to attain the Rapture that all Christians will experience. However, there is a possibility that there will be a difference in resurrection depending on how each Christian has lived. Consider what the apostle Peter says:

2 Peter 1:10-11 – “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Peter was not telling Christians to earn their way to heaven. He was telling them to add character to their faith by living for the Lord so that their entrance into the kingdom would be abundant. If they were to follow Peter’s advice, their welcome into heaven would be extra special. Think of the “Well done faithful servant” that Jesus talked about.

With that in mind, Paul may have been saying the same thing that Peter was. He wanted to live faithfully for the Lord so that when Jesus returns, he would have that extra special welcome when he is raised from the dead. That is something that we all can work toward—receiving God’s approving smile when we finally go home.


During this message, we have looked at the right idea of being confident in Christ. We considered this idea with three questions.

First, are you trusting Him? This is a question that only you can answer. Are you putting your confidence in what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you? This is not just knowledge of what Jesus did. Instead, it is full reliance on what He did for you.

Second, if you are trusting Him, do you want to know Him better? Every Christians should have the desire to get to know the Lord better every day. We should never think we have arrived with nothing more to learn. And as you get to know Jesus better, you should be willing to share in His life including suffering and even death if needed. He did so much for us, how can we hold back for Him?

Third, are you working for Him? It ought to be our desire to faithfully do God’s will every day. And while you may not care about trophies or lapel pins, you will be happy to hear God say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That commendation from the Lord ought to motivate each of us to work faithfully for Him this week.


Barnes’ Notes on the Bible as viewed at on 3/18/2023.

Carson, D. A., Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996, pp. 86-88.

Clarke’s Commentary as viewed at on 3/18/2023.

Lightfoot, J. B., St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975, pp. 149-51.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 660-61.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 314-15.

Moule, H. C. G., The Epistle to the Philippians, Cambridge: The University Press, 1889, pp. 91-97.

“What does Philippians 3:10 mean? as viewed at on 3/18/2023.

Confident in What? Part 1 – Philippians 3:4-8

When I was young, a friend and I drove my car to the short north of Columbus. I was looking for a used tuxedo to purchase for the junior senior banquet at our high school. As we passed the store, we quickly turned into an alley between the buildings to get to the parking area behind the store. All went well. I found an affordable tuxedo, went back to the car, and drove down the alley behind the store. It was then that I noticed two things simultaneously: (1) the police car, and (2) the one-way sign. That situation was eventually resolved when I went to court and spoke to the judge.

When you are given a traffic ticket that you feel was undeserved, you are given the opportunity to stand before a judge and to contest the ticket. If this has ever happened to you, you know that everyone has an opinion of how you ought to go about it. Some tell you that you should be respectful but firm. Others say that you should show confidence because any show of doubt will influence the way the judge rules. However, no amount of advice will really prepare you to stand before the judge. You just have to do it and hope for the best.

Standing before a human judge can be intimidating. But think what it would be like to stand before God. Someday, we will all stand before the judgment seat and we will have to answer for our lives. As you are probably aware, God’s standard for righteousness (goodness) is holiness (no sin). None of us can meet that standard. But despite this fact, there are still some who cling to their own righteousness expecting God to be impressed with how they have lived their lives.

This seems to be the case with some of the people who were influencing the Philippian church. They made the Jewish rite of circumcision so important that they believed it was required for someone to be made right with God. Paul addressed this several times in the previous verses and in other parts of the Bible. But in the verses that follow, he showed the foolishness of trusting in your own achievements to be considered righteous by God.

  1. I am confident in myself and my achievements (Philippians 3:4-8).

    This statement summarizes the idea that Paul was fighting against. The Judaizers’ idea of having to go through the rite of circumcision was a confidence in their own achievements. To make his readers think, Paul listed off some of his own achievements to show the foolishness of trusting in their own righteousness. He was saying, in other words, if you are going to brag about your accomplishments, then see if you can match mine.

    a. Paul’s record (4-6)

    What was Paul’s record? It was very good from the perspective of someone who is trying to make himself look good to others. It seems that he came from the perfect Jewish family and had lived according to all the standards imposed by the Pharisees. In these verses, Paul lists seven things that made him an ideal candidate to boast in his own accomplishments.

    “If anyone could have been saved by religion, Saul of Tarsus would have been the man” (McGee 312).

    “Two kinds of advantages are enumerated. First are those things which the apostle had by birth, apart from his choice. Four of these are listed—circumcision, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a Hebrew son of Hebrew parents” (Lightner 660).

    He had been circumcised the 8th day.

    Remember how the false teachers were making circumcision to be the evidence that someone was right with God? Well, Paul told them that he had been circumcised when he was only 8 days old. This indicated that he “was neither a proselyte, circumcised as an adult, nor an Ishmaelite, circumcised (as Josephus tells us… ) at thirteen, but a member of the covenant from infancy” (Moule 87).

    He was an Israelite.

    The false teachers were making a big deal about Jewish customs because of what parts of the Old Testament says. Because the Israelites were the special people of God, selected out of all people to be God’s own people, Paul mentioned that he was not a proselyte who converted to Judaism. He was actually from a Jewish family. He was one of the people of God.

    He was from the tribe of Benjamin.

    Many of you know that I love animals. A few years ago, I found out that there are certain specialty cats that have a high pedigree. Some are bred with wild cats from Africa and are almost like having a dog. The only thing is that these cats go for about $15,000 each. Now if you were going to buy a cat for that amount of money, I would imagine that you would want proof that it was actually one of these special cats.

    When people start making a big deal about spiritual pedigree, it can get to be ridiculous. They think that their genealogical roots prove that they are of better stock than others. Paul mentioned that he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Being from that tribe may not seem special to us today, but to Jewish people, the tribe had provided several national heroes: Ehud the judge, Saul the king, and Mordecai during the captivity. Paul was related to these great heroes.

    He was a proper Hebrew.

    What is a Hebrew of the Hebrews? At the time that Paul was writing this book, a number of Jewish people had moved away from Israel and had been assimilated into other cultures. Jews who lived outside of Israel often spoke Greek as their primary language and were much like any other person in their country. Although Paul was from Tarsus, he had parents who taught him the Hebrew language so that he would be a proper Hebrew. There was no compromise of his Hebrew-ness despite being born outside of Israel.

    Summary: None of these characteristics were things that Paul had accomplished by himself. So, it seems silly to boast about them. But that is what happens when someone starts bragging about himself. They start taking credit for things that they didn’t even do. And I think that is the subtle point that Paul is making. All of these things were important to the false teachers, but none of them were impressive to God.

    While the first four statements were things that Paul received by birth or the choices of his parents, the next “brags” were things that he did accomplish himself “—being a Pharisee, being a persecutor of the church, and having a flawless external record of legalistic righteousness” (Lightner 660).

    He was a Pharisee.

    Someone who is impressed with associations would have been impressed by Paul’s association with the Pharisees. This group was “the strictest sect among his people. In addition to the Law of Moses the Pharisees added their own regulations which in time were interpreted as equal to the Law” (Lightner 660). You may recall that the Pharisees often clashed with Jesus because He did not follow the extra laws they had come up with.

    So why would the false teachers by impressed with the Pharisees? Remember that the false teachers were big on doing things to become righteous. So were the Pharisees. This was the common link. Both wanted to impress God with the amount of laws they kept and the things that they did. Paul’s former membership in the Pharisee group should have impressed these people.

    He was very zealous.

    We are often impressed by people who are zealous. These are the people who put their whole life into what they believe. They spend enormous amounts of energy doing things to show how much things mean to them. Before Paul met Jesus, he was very zealous as a Pharisee. “Paul thought he was doing God’s will when he persecuted the church. The other Pharisees were willing to relax when they had run the Christians out of Jerusalem, but Paul was determined to ferret them out all over the world” (McGee 313).

    Paul was an example of zealous service to God. Although he was not doing what was right at the time, could anyone doubt that he believed he was doing what was right? As they saw him fight against Christians, there were few who matched his intensity. He was like the zealous Muslims who are willing to go to great lengths to show their dedication to their false god. Could any of the false teachers match his intensity?

    He was a blameless person.

    The false teachers were very insistent on personal righteousness. Because they were trying to showcase their accomplishments to God and people, they should have been impressed with Paul’s former religious life. He was blameless “from the point of view of the Pharisaic legalist” (Moule 89). This doesn’t mean that he believed himself to be perfect or without sin. Instead, he was saying that any Pharisee would have looked at his life and marveled at how well he obeyed religious law. From the outside, he was blameless.

    There are times when people today come up with a list of things they have achieved to make themselves feel righteous. These things don’t make them right with God but they do build some type of confidence. What do people have on their list? They were born into a Christian family, baptized as a baby, confirmed by their church, attended Sunday School, attended a Christian high school, attended a Christian college, went on a missions trip, sang in the choir, taught a Sunday School class, served as a deacon or trustee, gave money to the church or a missionary, helped the poor, etc.

    The list could go on and on but is it worth anything to God? Look at the next two verses to see what Paul thought about his list of previous achievements.

    b. Paul’s response (7-8)

    Paul had taken a moment to brag about his past accomplishments. He wasn’t really confident in his previous accomplishments but he wanted to contrast those things with what he found in Christ.

    He viewed his achievements as loss (7-8a).

    Paul was a big deal with Pharisees. They looked up to him as a zealous defender of the truth. He was the type of Pharisee who would have won the MVP trophy every year. But all of this didn’t matter to Paul. He considered all of these accolades as a loss. But what exactly did that mean? The term is “used for a loss at sea (Acts 27:10) and used in the papyri of a commercial or business loss” (Rienecker 557). It is as if Paul had invested time and effort into doing things that never brought any spiritual profit for him.

    At one point, I invested a small amount of money into General Motors stocks. My goal had been to invest in something I believed in and being a car guy, this seemed like the thing to do. But around 2008, I quickly realized that this investment was not going to profit me anything. I sold my stocks at a loss. Most of the money I had invested was lost.

    As you consider the background and accomplishments of Paul, you might think that he was the most likely to succeed in the game of life. However, Paul had a different view. He viewed all of those things as a loss. They were not worth investing in when compared to Christ. Why is that? Putting your confidence in yourself will never work when it comes to pleasing God. He knows us better than we do ourselves. Our actions or pedigree don’t impress God. What we really need is not more action but simple faith in Christ.

    If you have come to know Jesus, you know this to be true. When you understood that God is not looking for your goodness but that He has provided everything for us in Jesus, you probably let out a sigh of relief. “It’s not my righteousness but Christ’s righteousness!” Knowing that makes all the difference.

    He viewed his achievements as rubbish (8).

    In polite society, there are certain words that are not to be used. When I was growing up, we knew that using these words would get us in trouble. Paul didn’t seem to know this. If you are reading from a KJV Bible, you will see the word “dung.” If you are reading from the NKJV, you will see the word “rubbish.” Which is it?

    The word used by Paul “refers either to human excrement … or it refers to the refuse or leavings of a feast, the food thrown away from the table” (Rienecker 557). I suppose that it doesn’t matter which word is used. Whether it is the contents of an outhouse or the worthless trash left over after a meal, neither is something that you would bag up and take home with you. Instead, you would be very eager to get rid of them. Why? Because they are worthless.

    This was Paul’s point. When he looked at all he had accomplished as a Jewish zealot, he didn’t think any of it was worth presenting to God. All of it was like something smelly you might bag up and toss in the garbage. All of his accomplishments were rubbish to Paul when he found all that he needed in Christ.


    So many people are trying to impress God with their actions or so-called pedigree. They think that they are special in God’s eyes because of their family or their hard work for the church. But what they fail to recognize is that none of that is something asked for by God. He doesn’t care about your actions. He doesn’t care about your family background. What He wants is for you to realize that there is nothing you can do to make yourself righteousness enough to overcome your own sin and guilt.

    This is why God sent Jesus to earth. Jesus was God in human form. He came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died in our place. Why did He do that? Well, one thing is certain. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for your sins so that you could live a good life and impress God. If God wanted each of us to try really hard to become good enough, why would He have sent Jesus to die in our place? It wouldn’t make any sense. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. And now all who put their trust in Him are forgiven and viewed according to Jesus’ righteousness and not our own.

    Do you understand that? If you understand that, then God wants you to stop trusting in your own good deeds. Instead, He wants you to turn from your sin and place your faith in what He accomplished for you through Jesus. Will you do that today?
    become righteous enough to earn His favor. Instead, He provided the righteousness of Christ to cover our sinfulness.


Lightfoot, J. B., St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975, pp. 145-49.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 659-60.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 312-14.

Moule, H. C. G., The Epistle to the Philippians, Cambridge: The University Press, 1889, pp. 87-91.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, pp. 556-57.

Why did God give us prophecy?

While working through our new doctrinal statement about the End Times, I asked our church members why God gave us prophecy? In other words, why did God feel the need to tell us what would happen in the future? The group came up with several good ideas which we wrote on the chalk board. In this message I would like to expand on those ideas by looking at specific reasons listed in the Bible.

  1. God gave us prophecy to show us who He is (Isa. 46:10).

    When I was young, I delivered the newspaper to my neighborhood. The first newspaper was the Citizen Journal and the second was the Columbus Dispatch. I remember one customer often complaining that I delivered the newspaper too late for him to read it before leaving for work. To this man, reading the newspaper was an important way to start the day.

    Imagine if you were given a newspaper that told you what would be happening next week, next year, or even hundreds of years before the events happened. This is what Bible prophecy does. It shows us what will happen in the future. Eve was given prophecy about her future child. Abraham was given prophecy about his future descendants. Daniel was given prophecy about the future empires.

    While prophecy reveals events that will happen in the future, it also shows us something about God.

    a. It shows us that He knows the future (10).

    God told the Israelites that He declared the end from the beginning. And many times these prophecies were given many years before they were fulfilled. While some might be able to guess what might happen with the stock market or political races, none have been able to predict what will happen hundreds of years in the future. Only God does that. This is because He is God and is not limited by time as we are. He declares what will happen in the future, because He knows what will happen.

    b. It shows us that He plans the future (10).

    God also told the Israelites that what He desires to happen will happen. His counsel (meaning what he decided to do) will stand. His pleasure (whatever He wants to do) will be done. By this we understand that God is in control of what happens in the universe in the past, present, and future. He is in control.

    Some years ago, there were some theologians who taught Open Theism—that God doesn’t plan the future, He only reacts to it. This doesn’t jive with real prophecy. Just think about the first prophecy mentioned in the Bible. God told the serpent that the seed of the woman would crush his head (Gen. 3:15). Was this something God was hoping would happen or something that He had planned all along. When you consider that Jesus is called the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), you realize that God had everything planned even before Adam and Eve were created.

  2. God gave us prophecy to warn us (1 Thess. 5:2-3).

    As I was studying the End Times, I was happy to be reminded that God cares about people enough to warn us of the future. Think about the Book of Revelation. It is an entire book dedicated to telling the world what will happen in the future. At the end of it, God shows to us His desire for people to leave their sin and come to Him.

    Rev. 22:17 – “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

    This shows that God does love the world and wants people to turn from their sin. But this is not the only place. We also find some warnings in 1 Thessalonians 5.

    a. It warns us of an unexpected future (2).

    As you may recall, this epistle contains several mentions of future events. In 5:2, God warns us that the coming Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) will come as a thief in the night. A thief doesn’t schedule his arrival but comes at a time that you are not expecting.

    During lunch today, we had a delivery driver ring our front doorbell. He tried to deliver a bag of McDonald’s food to us. This was totally unexpected because we hadn’t ordered any. After talking things through, we found out that he was at the wrong address.

    The prophecy given by God warns that judgment will happen not in our timing but at a time that the world will not expect. So they should listen and ready themselves before it happens. Why? Take a look at the next verse.

    b. It warns us about coming destruction (3).

    God’s prophecy in this verse warns that this unexpected event will not be the “peace and safety” promised by some. Instead, it will be sudden destruction filled with pain and those for whom it is intended will not escape. That sounds like a serious warning. But why would God tell his enemies that these things are going to happen? He warns them by prophecy so that they can turn from their sin to Him before it happens.

  3. God gave us prophecy to motivate us (Matt. 24:45-51).

    When you think of motivational speakers, you usually think of people who can talk you into doing better. They use moving stories and clever statements to make you want to do what you did not before. These can be helpful at times but they don’t have the same value as the motivations given by biblical prophecy.

    When Jesus talked about the end times, He used examples and stories but they were always designed to motivate us in our response to God. Think of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins or the parable of the talents. In both cases, Jesus was motivating people to be ready. He also used another story to motivate us about His future return. This story was about a master who left two servants in charge of his household while he was gone.

    a. It motivates us to be faithful (45-47).

    The first servant was considered faithful and wise because of how he responded. While the master was away, he took care of the household and made sure there was enough food for the family. When his master returned, the servant was rewarded by a promotion within the household.

    The thought of Jesus returning should motivate us to be more faithful. We know that the Lord could return at any moment. And that thought makes us want to do what He would be pleased with. We want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And this is one of the reasons why God gives us prophecy.

    b. It motivates us to avoid judgment (48-51).

    The second servant was considered evil because of how he responded while his master was away. Instead of taking care of the household, he beat his fellow servants, became a drunkard, and was unprepared for the master’s return. When he did return the servants was severely disciplined.

    The thought of Jesus returning should motive people to avoid punishment. Because of the description of the punishment, I think that this part of the parable is best applied to unbelievers. But the point is still valid. The prophecy involving Jesus’ return ought to motivate people to escape the coming judgment.

  4. God gave us prophecy to comfort us (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

    When a Christian dies, we face grief because we loved that person and wish that he or she was still with us. But is that grief inconsolable? For a Christian it is not. And the reason why we have hope is the comfort given to us by biblical prophecy. Consider what Paul reveals in 1 Thessalonians 4.

    a. It comforts us about dead Christians (13-16).

    From what Paul says, it appears that the Thessalonian church was unaware of what happened to Christians when they died. They knew about the coming return of Christ, but they didn’t know what happened to Christians who died before it happened. Paul cleared this up in these verses.

    He told them that the dead in Christ would not be left behind. The fact that they had already been buried would not keep them from being taken to heaven with Jesus. When the Lord descends from heaven, when the archangel’s voice is heard, and when the trumpet of God is sounded, all dead Christians will be resurrected and will rise to be with Jesus before those who are living. But what about Christians who are still alive?

    b. It comforts us about our future (17-18).

    Paul reveals here that after the deceased Christians are raised, the next in line are all living Christians. We who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And following this, we will be with the Lord forever. What a wonderful time that will be.

    Is it any wonder that this knowledge of the future would comfort a Christian today? Not at all. Paul tells us to comfort one another with these words. I think that this is good advice for both those who have lost a Christian loved one or who are looking forward to the future with the Lord. God gave us biblical prophecy to comfort us today. As we see what God has in store for us, we can set aside our worries and we can rest in the knowledge that we will someday be with the Lord forever.


What have we learned tonight? We have learned that biblical prophecy was not just given to us to know what will happen in the future. God has specific reasons for giving it to us. Can you remember what these reasons are?

1. God gave us prophecy to show us who He is (Isa. 46:10).
2. God gave us prophecy to warn us (1 Thess. 5:2-3).
3. God gave us prophecy to motivate us (Matt. 24:45-51).
4. God gave us prophecy to comfort us (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Each of us came to this message with different thoughts and experiences. There is no way that I could know what you were thinking before hearing what was said. But the God who plans the future does know. And I am sure that as you heard the message, He reminded you of something that you needed to hear. Whatever your need was, I hope that you can see God’s goodness in what He has revealed about the future.

Philippians 3:1-3

How do you tell if someone is a Christian? That question may take a while to answer. For some people, a Christian is defined by what they experienced in a church. If the experience was bad, a Christian is a hypocrite, a judgmental person, or a goodie two shoes. For others, a Christian is defined by what they see on television. When they see an evangelist shouting from behind a pulpit and asking for money, they think that a Christian is a greedy loudmouth. In both cases, the definition is made by what the person experienced. Sadly, this is true for many people.

Click the link below to listen to the message:

In today’s message, we will be looking at the difference between a true Christian and a religious person who is not a real believer. The descriptions are given in the Bible in Philippians 3:1-3. There Paul warns about those who claim to be Christians but who reveal their true character as completely opposite. Then he shows what character qualities should be evident in those who are true Christians. As we look through this section of Scripture, think about which describes you better.

  1. Necessary Warnings (1-2)

    a. These can come across as tedious.

    On every flight, an airline stewardess has to explain how to buckle your seatbelt, how to exit the plane, and how to prepare for a crash landing. The first time I flew on an airplane, all of this was new to me. At the beginning, I listened eagerly to the announcements. But as I grew accustomed to the same message given each time, I stopped paying attention.

    Someone has said that “Repetition is a vital part of learning” (Lightner 659). As Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Philippi, he wanted them to know that he would not be lazy about repeatedly teaching them. He didn’t consider it a burden to do this. He actually wanted to prepare them for what they would be facing.

    b. These are meant for your safety.

    Paul wanted the Christians in Philippi to have a strong foundation for what they believed. He taught them God’s truth and wrote it in epistles so they would have a paper copy to look back on when he was not there. As they heard, read, and thought about God’s truth, they would be kept safe from competing ideas that were different from what God wanted them to know and do.

    c. These are necessary.

    One of the things that can turn some people away from good, Bible-believing churches is their unwavering stand for the truth. People want churches to be more accepting, loving, and welcoming. While these things can be good, there are times when God does not want us to be accepting, loving, and welcoming. Paul listed three examples of people who they were to “continually be on the lookout for” (Rienecker).

    Look out for dogs.

    What is a dog? Nowadays, many families have a dog and think of it as part of the family. However, “the Jews considered dogs to be the most despised and miserable of all creatures… Perhaps it was because of the herds of dogs which prowled about eastern cities, without a home and without an owner, feeding on the [refuse] and filth of the streets, quarreling among themselves and attacking the passerby… Paul uses the term here of those who prowl around the Christian congregations, seeking to win converts” (Rienecker 556).

    The term “dog” is used at least twice in the Bible to refer to bad people.

    The first I will mention is found in Isaiah 56:10-11. There it is used to describe religious leaders who would not help the people. They were dumb dogs that would not bark a warning. They were also greedy dogs who always wanted more for themselves. In this case, these people were like useless dogs that didn’t warn the people of trouble and were only interested in their own desires.

    The second I will mention is found in Revelation 22:15. There it is used to describe those who do not “do His commands” and who will not be inside “the gates of the city” of God. “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” While the passage doesn’t tell us what these dogs are, it is clear that they are not believers and that they keep company with those who rebel against God. Because of this, these dogs are kept out of the city of God.

    To sum things up, we need to look out for dogs—people who claim to be religious leaders but who by their actions show that they are actually the enemies of God. Don’t be fooled!

    Look out for evil workers.

    What is an evil worker? These are people whose actions show that they are evil. They may talk a good game, but when you watch how they act, you soon realize that they are actually evil. Remember what Jesus said? “By their works, you shall know them.”

    Jesus told us that the harvest is great and the answer is to pray that God would send more laborers/workers into the harvest. However, He also warns us that there will be people who are evil workers. They work but not for the same purposes. They are actually accomplishing the opposite of what God desires. They may look good for a moment, but their actions eventually show their true character.

    Paul mentions them another time in an epistle to the church at Corinth:

    2 Cor. 11:13-15 – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

    If Satan has been a liar from the beginning, should it be any surprise that he is influencing others to believe his lie and to rebel against God? These evil workers can be tricky just like Satan. But as we ask God for discernment (James 1:5), He will give us the wisdom to see through their trickery. How will we know the difference between a good worker and an evil one? We simply compare what they are saying and doing with what God has revealed in the Bible. If they are turning people away from what God has said, then they are an evil worker. Watch out for them and avoid them.

    Look out for the mutilation.

    What is the mutilation? There were people in Paul’s day that were very dogmatic about being circumcised. As you may recall, God introduced this practice to Abraham as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham’s family. The Jewish people continued this practice as sign of their dedication to God. However, at some point, the ritual became more important to them than their inner dedication to God. They considered themselves blessed by God for having been circumcised despite the fact that their hearts were far from God.

    “One particular group in Paul’s day was especially guilty of putting confidence in the flesh. These were the Judaizers. They plagued Paul and his converts constantly. Confused about the gospel, they added works of the law to faith in Christ, both for salvation and for Christian living. The Old Testament rite of circumcision was of special concern to them. They insisted that it was necessary for salvation” (Lightner 659).

    How does a person become a Christian or obtain God’s salvation?

    First, let’s talk about why we need to be saved by God. The New Testament makes it clear that we are sinners who have broken God’s laws. “There is none righteous, no not one. … All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The sad fact is that each of us is a sinner from God’s perspective. And since “the wages of sin is death,” each of us is headed for judgment from God for our sins. The ultimate judgment for sinners who rebel against God is eternity in the Lake of Fire.

    Second, let’s talk about how we can be saved by God. The New Testament makes it clear that we can’t save ourselves because we are already guilty. The Bible says that we are not saved by “works of righteousness which we have done” and that it is “not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So the work of being circumcised isn’t the answer not is doing any number of good things. Instead, God sent His only Son Jesus to die in our place. God judged His Son for our sins on the cross so that we would not be judged. Having accomplished that for us, God sets down the terms. What are they? Do you need to be circumcised? Do you need to memorize large portions of the Bible? Do you have to feed the poor and help the sick? No, God says that “whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” When you recognize your sinfulness and place your faith in what Jesus did on the cross for you, God promises that you will escape the coming judgment and will be given eternal life. That’s it.

    Now let’s get back to Philippians 3. Paul warned the believers in Philippi about dogs (self-serving religious leaders), evil workers (those who by actions opposed God), and the mutilation (people who trust in what they do to be made right with God). Each of these people were a danger to those who have believed in Jesus and who want to do what God says.

    This leads us to the next point.

  2. True Christian Character (3)

    In this section, Paul contrasts the false teachers with what a true Christian should be. After talking about those who have a wrong view of the Jewish rite of circumcision, Paul describes himself as the true circumcision. He is not meaning that this rite is necessary for Christians (see Gal. 6:15) but is merely showing that what was considered so important to the false teachers was not accomplishing what God desires. It is not the action itself but the heart behind the action that God desires. Even Old Testament believers would have known this.

    Deut. 30:6 – “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

    This is what God wants. He wants people who will “cut away” sinful thoughts and actions from their lives and who will lovingly obey His commands. This would be a truly “circumcised” person to God.

    With that in mind, what distinguishes true Christian character from what these false teachers were pushing? Notice that Paul mentions three things that are inner attitudes and not outward actions.

    a. Christian character is distinguished by true worship.

    True Christians are characterized by true worship. It is not the outward show that others can see, but the inner worship of God from the heart. A good example of this is found in Luke 18:9-14. There, two men went to the temple to pray to God. The first man was a religious Pharisee who talked about himself and compared himself with others to make himself look good to God. What he did or did not do make him feel right with God. The other person was a despised tax collector. As he prayed to God, he knew his sinfulness and simply asked God from his heart to be forgiven. Jesus made it clear that God forgave the tax collector instead of the religious man.

    What was the difference? The difference was each person’s heart. One was trying to impress God with his actions, while the other was coming to God with a right heart. This is what God desires in worship. He is more interested in the inside than the outside. Remember what God told Samuel? “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The point is that true Christians worship God from the heart without trying to impress Him with their actions.

    b. Christian character is distinguished by true boasting.

    Paul says that true Christians rejoice in Jesus. The word rejoice can be defined as “to boast, brag about; to rejoice in, glory in” (Mounce). To put it another way, what is it that a true Christian brags about? Paul says that we should be bragging about Jesus instead of ourselves.

    If you think about it, what did we do to save ourselves? We did nothing. And we could do nothing. Because of our sinfulness, there was nothing that could have said or done that would have moved God to overlook our reputation. In fact, the Bible describes even the good things we do as filthy rags. God is not impressed with our good deeds.

    There are times when I look back on my own record. God knows the many times I have sinned against Him. I am ashamed to think about the sins I have committed against God. But when I think about what Jesus did for me, my whole attitude changes. Jesus gave His life for me. Jesus died for my sins. Jesus loved me. Jesus has changed me. So, if there is anything to brag about, it isn’t me; it is Him.

    c. Christian character is distinguished by true humility.

    Apparently, the Judaizers and false teachers were not very humble. They had become so concerned about their outward reputation that they soon put their confidence in themselves instead of Jesus. One might have said, “I have been circumcised, so I am right with God!” That doesn’t sound like someone who is trusting in Jesus to be saved. Someone today, might mention that they have been baptized, have memorized many portions of the Bible, have attended many church services, or any number of other things. But is this what God wants? Is He looking for pompous loud mouths to announce how great they are? I think not.

    Paul pointed out here that true Christians are different. They don’t put confidence “in the flesh.” Instead, they humbly acknowledge that everything they are is because of Jesus. Humility is the opposite of pride, right? Instead of thinking about ourselves, we don’t think of ourselves. This is not something we come by naturally. But when someone is born again, changed by God, he knows that the changes were made by God and are not something produced by himself. This is humility.


In our study today, we have only looked at three verses. But there was a lot there. First, we saw a necessary warning. Paul had to warn the believers about dogs, evil workers, and the mutilation. Each of these were false teachers who showed their dangerous influence by their wicked character and actions. Next, we saw what true Christian character is like. It involves true worship, true boasting, and true humility. A true Christian is much different than the evil workers mentioned earlier because he has a right attitude toward God.

As you think about the two types of people, you can see a real difference. The evil workers were all about themselves. The true Christian is all about Jesus. Which one describes you better? Have you been living your life with the desire to make yourself look good in order to impress God. If this is your motivation for doing things, you are in the wrong category because God is never impressed by our good works. Have you been living your life in humility, thanking Jesus for all that He has done in your life? Then you are in the second category. You are someone who through faith has found what God truly desires.

One other thought: If you are in the first category, you are in the wrong place. You are still under God’s judgment and in need of being rescued by Jesus. Will you turn from your sins today and put your faith in Jesus. He will forgive you and change you from the inside out. And if you are in the second category, but you have drifted a bit, there is hope for you as well. If you have not been worshiping God from the heart, or if you have become proud, stop and repent. Change your mind and get back to where you belong. God wants each of us to love Him and to serve Him but He first wants our hearts. Does He have yours?


Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 658-59.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 310-12.

“ἀσφαλές” as viewed at on 3/24/2023.

“ἐργάτης” as viewed at on 3/4/2023.

“καυχάομαι” – as viewed at on 3/24/2023.

“κατατομή” as viewed at on 3/4/2023.

“κύων” as viewed at on 3/24/2023.

“ὀκνηρός” as viewed at on 3/4/2023.

“πείθω” as viewed at on 3/4/2023.

Should Christians always obey government?

What does the Bible say about a Christian’s relationship to civil government? We who live in the US of A have it a bit easier than believers who live under oppressive governments. I recently heard that a 16-year-old in Canada was arrested for speaking out against trans-gender males going into the girls’ restroom. That seems strange to us. But things get worse in other countries. Some Asian Christians are not allowed to meet for church services because they are outlawed by their government. While there is quite a difference between the elected government in the US and the oppressive dictatorships in some countries, what God says about civil government applies to both.

Below, I have listed four statements about our relationship to civil government. These statements are not necessarily based on our geographical location and political situation. Instead, they are based on what the Bible says and what God wants believers to do in any given situation. So consider these following four statements.

  1. God has ordained civil government for the good of society and the punishment of evil.

    a. God makes the rules (Gen. 9:6Rom. 13:1-2).

    It is an interesting project to follow a topic through the Scriptures. After tracing a topic through the Bible, you get an idea of what God’s mind is about that subject. The first mention of human government seems to be found in Genesis 9:6. There God prescribed the death penalty for murder. When you move to the New Testament, you come across Romans 13:1-3. In that passage, Paul makes it clear that God is the authority behind human government. Since God is the one who gives them authority to govern, disobedience against government is actually disobedience against God (in most cases).

    b. God has reasons for government (Rom. 13:3-5).

    If you are like most people, you might have a few questions at this point. In fact, I have heard that the communist police in China like to point Christians to Romans 13. “See, you have to obey us!” We will talk about this a little later, but we should consider the reasons why God gave us Romans 13.

    One of the reasons for government is to hold back evil. Government is given the authority to have police and military to protect us from criminals and enemy combatants. Because of that we should look at government in a different way. They are provided to keep us safe and to keep order. Are you familiar with how nasty some large cities have become? The lack of morals has led many people to lie, steal, cheat, and many other things. And that has led to a need for more police officers.

    Keep these things in mind as you consider what your attitude should be toward the police, inspectors, or state highway patrol. They are doing their job to protect us from harm. And if you remember that this is God’s plan, it may go that much better.

  2. We should honor, obey, and pray for government officials (Acts 23:5Titus 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:1-41 Pet. 2:13-14, 17) and pay taxes when required (Matt. 22:15-22Rom. 13:7).

    a. God wants us to respect government.

    In Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-14, 17, we are told to submit to rulers and authorities, and to honor them. It is not always easy to have this attitude. When there is obvious corruption or officials are pushing an anti-God agenda, it is difficult to want to submit to anything the government enforces. However, it is God’s will for us to not only obey but to honor government officials. As we show proper respect, we show our reverence for God’s authority and those He has placed in positions of leadership.

    Must we honor wicked government officials? There are several instances in the Bible where believers have not been respectful toward government officials. First, there is Elijah who confronted King Ahab saying, “you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 21:20). His God-given mission to confront the king about his sinfulness was more important at the moment than showing him honor. Second, there is John the Baptist who confronted King Herod because “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). Again, the need to confront the king was more important than honoring him at the moment.

    In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, we are told to pray for our government officials. When we think of praying for our officials, we should consider two things. First, pray that we can live peacefully and in a godly manner. This can only happen if the Lord is holding back opposition. But thankfully, we have had that opportunity here in the US. Second, pray that God would save these officials. He wants all men to be saved and wouldn’t that make a big difference? Imagine if one of our most recent presidents (Obama, Trump, Biden) had repented of his sin and put his faith in Jesus. Let’s pray that God would save them today!

    In Acts 23:1-5, we have an example of how Paul honored the high priest even after he commanded Paul to be struck on the mouth. Paul rightfully confronted the high priest for unlawfully commanding him to be struck. But when he learned that he was the high priest, he apologized for his comments (which were not incorrect) because he knew God’s desire for us to honor our leaders.

    b. God wants us to pay taxes.

    This is one of those topics that you could argue about for a long time. In our country, it seems that the government has been squandering our tax money and investing it in things that are not important. And yet, God tells us to pay taxes whether we like it or not. The classic passage is found in Matthew 22:15-22. There, the Pharisees and Herodians tried to trick Jesus by asking whether they should pay taxes. Jesus’ clever answer caused them to marvel. What did Jesus say? He said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money. So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, Whose image and inscription is this? They said to Him, Caesar’s. And He said to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

    Later in the New Testament, we are told to pay taxes, customs, and dues (Rom. 13:6-7). While we would like to fight against excessive taxes (and our forefathers revolted against government partially because of taxes), God tells us to pay taxes and to be model citizens in whatever land we live in.

  3. We must respectfully disobey laws and commands from civil government that contradict the clear teaching of Scripture (Ex. 1:15-21Dan. 3:13-18; Daniel 6Acts 4:19-205:29).

    a. God wants us to love and obey Him.

    When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He said that the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind (Luke 10:27). This ought to be what motivates us every day. Because we love Him, we do what He says we should. This is why we submit ourselves to government because we love God and want to please Him.

    But what happens when a government official commands us to do something contrary to God’s commands?

    b. God wants us to disobey laws that contradict Him.

    In Exodus 1:15-21, the Pharaoh of Egypt commanded the midwifes to kill any male babies born to Israelites. Should they have obeyed this order?

    In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar commanded all people to worship a golden statue which he had erected? Should Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego have obeyed this order?

    In Daniel 6, King Darius signed a decree that nobody could pray to anyone but him for thirty days. Should Daniel have obeyed this order?

    In Acts 4 and 5, the religious leaders told Peter and John not to speak about Jesus. Should the disciples have obeyed their order?

    In each of these examples, the proper response was an exception to the rule. While, in most cases, we are commanded to submit to government, there are times where we should respectfully disobey if obedience would cause us to disobey the clear teaching of Scripture. Peter said it best: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

    Note that this doesn’t mean that we should be spiteful or disrespectful. But if it comes to a decision between obeying God or government, what should you do? From these examples, it seems clear to me that God wants us to respectfully choose to obey Him when government demands disobedience to God.

    Note also that this is not to be applied willy nilly. We don’t disobey the law and park in a handicap parking spot so that we can preach the gospel on that corner. We can choose to park elsewhere and not have a conflict. We don’t stop paying taxes because we don’t like something the government is doing. No, we pay the taxes and speak out about the problem and hopefully vote out those making bad decisions. But when government demands something that is very clearly against what the Bible says, then we must disobey.

  4. Because not all government officials are just or God-fearing (Ex. 18:21; 2 Sam. 23:3), we should use discernment so as not to be unnecessarily taken advantage of (Acts 16:35-3925:9-11).

    a. God wants government officials to be just.

    God’s desire for government is spelled out in several Old Testament examples. Those who were chosen to help Moses govern the people were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness” (Ex. 18:21). David repeated this idea with his last words in 2 Samuel 23. He said, “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” This appears to be something God Himself had told David. This then is God’s design for leadership.

    However, we all know that not all government officials are able, God-fearing, honest, and content people. In fact, many politicians are known for being unable, blasphemous, lying, and covetous people. Someone in our church said, “Do you know when a politician is lying? When his mouth is open.” Sadly, politicians have earned this description by a consistent track record.

    On the rare occasion that you find a government leader who is honest and able, what should you do? Besides praying for them, it wouldn’t hurt to write them a letter. Thank them for their faithful service. There may be other ways to support a godly government official as well. But with all the bad examples, why not honor those who do a good job?

    b. God wants us to use discernment.

    In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were wrongfully beaten and imprisoned. After spending an eventful night in jail, the city officials told the jailer to let them go. But Paul wouldn’t leave! He instead told the jailer to tell the magistrates to come down and explain why they had beaten and imprisoned Roman citizens contrary to the law. That would have been an interesting conversation to have heard.

    In Acts 25, Paul was on trial for accusations made against him by the religious leaders from Jerusalem. Even though he had done nothing wrong, the governor tried to convince Paul to go to Jerusalem to face the charges there. Paul knew that the governor was trying to do the Jews a favor at the expense of his own safety. So, he used his rights under law to appeal to Caesar where he would hopefully receive a fair trial.

    In both of these situations, a believer used discernment to decide what to do in regards to government officials who were not doing what was best. While we are to obey government, we are not required to unnecessarily put ourselves in a bad situation. The reason we are to obey government is because God has placed it there for our good and the punishment of evil doers. So, if we can help it, we should use discernment to avoid personal harm if at all possible.

    We are not called to blind obedience. Jesus told his disciples: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). They knew that persecution was coming. And in some cases, it would happen no matter how they responded. But they were still instructed to use discernment in each situation. Being in jail led Paul to lead the Philippian jailer to Jesus. But resisting the invitation to stand trial in Jerusalem also kept him alive and able to minister in many places during his journey to Rome. So be wise.


When Daniels’ co-workers wanted to find something against him, they couldn’t find anything to accuse him of… except for something involving his God. That ought to be our modus operandi. We should be so conscientious and honest that we leave nothing for any enemies to point out. And we should be so involved in doing God’s will that His purposes are accomplished regardless of what our government is doing.

A Christian’s relationship to civil government is somewhat complex. On the one hand, we ought to submit to government because it is God’s design for the proper order of society. As we do, things should go well and we should maintain a good reputation for the Lord to those who are watching. On the other hand, most governments have problems. So, we struggle with wanting to obey—especially in a country where “we the people” have the opportunity to voice our opinions.

May I suggest that sometimes we get too involved in politics. As Christians, our main goal should be to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). It is not wrong to be involved in politics or even to run for office. But let’s not allow “our rights” and “our country” to become so important that we waste our lives on things that will not matter in eternity. Instead, let us be model citizens who obey the laws (including traffic laws), who honor government officials (even the bad ones), and pay taxes (even when they are too high). In so doing, we will honor God and show the change He has made in our lives.

“In Him” Part 3 – 2 Corinthians 5:21

In the previous two messages, we looked at three results of a Christian being “in Him.”

First, we are dead in Him (14-15). Since Jesus died for all, then all of us have died in Him. God now views every believer as having died on the cross with Him. We no longer deserve to die for our sins because we are dead in Him on the cross. Because of that, we ought to live for Him instead of ourselves.

Second, we are a new creation in Him (17). As a result of being in Him, we have become a new creation. Our old lifestyle has passed away and we have become a totally different person.

Third, we are reconciled to God in Him (18-20). In Christ God has reconciled us to Himself. Our sins are no longer held against us and we are viewed as friends instead of enemies. God now sends us out as ambassadors to the rest of the world, calling for them to be reconciled to Him.

But that is not all that we have in Him. Our final result is found in the last verse of the chapter.

4. We are righteous in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).

How could we sinful people be considered righteous by God? We know our lack of righteousness and are well aware of God’s omniscience. Since He knows everything, how could God consider us to be righteous? Do you consider yourself to be righteous?

The Bible makes a clear difference between the righteous and the wicked. Consider a few examples from the Bible. Abraham considered his nephew Lot to be righteous despite his serious flaws (Gen. 18:23). God considered those who feared Him, meditated on Him, and served Him to be righteous (Mal. 3:16-18). John linked himself with those who were of God (the righteous) and not controlled by the wicked one (1 John 5:19). Finally, Jesus referred to those who did His will as the righteous and those who did not as wicked (Matt. 25:34-46). In these examples, those who are doing God’s will are considered righteous, while those who are not are considered wicked.

While these examples are true, they don’t explain how the various people became righteous. Were they considered righteous because of their good works? I find that hard to believe because of Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:5-6. Our right relationship to God is not a result of what we are naturally or what we have done by some point in our lives. Instead, the Bible makes it clear that we are guilty sinners (Rom. 3:9-20) who need to be born again (John 3:3-6), forgiven (1 John 1:8-10), and reconciled to God (Col. 1:21). On our own, we are not righteous but wicked people.

So how is it that a sinful person could somehow become a righteous person? Here is what happened. Knowing our sinfulness, God the Father planned an exchange between Jesus and ourselves. He caused the perfect Son of God to become sin for us despite the fact that He had never sinned. He also caused us to become righteous in Him. Because of that exchange, God makes a wicked person who is guilty of sin to be considered righteous in Jesus.

a. Because of us, Jesus became sin.

The first thing we must consider is our own sinfulness. If we don’t understand that, none of this will make sense. To many people today, sin is an old-fashioned term that doesn’t apply today. As a society, we have become enlightened and now consider terms such as sin to be worthless. As long as it is consensual, it isn’t sin. But this view of sin does not address the person whom we sin against—God. God defines what is sin and we don’t have a say in the matter.

1 John 3:4 – “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

Sin is rebellion against God’s law. The Ten Commandments, nine of which are repeated in the New Testament, are a good example of what God’s Law says. God tells us to worship him exclusively, to honor his name, to honor our parents, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to lie, and not to covet. All of us have broken these commandments at some point in our thoughts, words, or actions. And because of this, God has decreed that we who have broken his laws deserve death. We are sinners who deserve to die for breaking God’s laws.

The second thing we must consider is Jesus’ lack of sin. If we don’t understand that, we won’t understand how He could help us. We know that God is holy and sinless. But when we consider that God became a man, we are a little confused. Could sinless God become a man and still be sinless? The short answer is yes. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read that Jesus “knew no sin.” The word know “expresses knowledge gained by experience” (Rienecker 470). The Bible often uses the word “know” to describe the intimacy of marriage. A married couple knows each other intimately by experience. This same idea translates into this description of Jesus. He had no intimate knowledge of sin because He never participated in it. While we are intimately aware of sin, Jesus never has been nor will ever be acquainted with sin. He is sinless.

The third thing we must consider is what God did. If we can understand that, we will understand how we can be considered righteous. Our verse tells us that God made Jesus to be sin for us. We were the sinners who deserved to die. He was God the Son who had never experienced sin. God made Jesus to become sin for us. What does this mean?

I think this goes back to what John the Baptist said about Jesus. He said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” When the Old Testament believer brought a lamb to the altar to pay for his sins, that lamb became sin for him. The lamb took the punishment that the sinner deserved. In God’s eyes, the sinner’s sin and guilt was transferred to the lamb which had done nothing wrong.

This is what God did with Jesus. He brought Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, to pay for the sins of the world. On one side, we have all the people who have ever lived on this earth. They are vile, wretched, and rebellious. They are guilty sinners who are worthy of death. On the other side, we have God’s sinless Son, who became a man and never thought, said, or did anything wrong. There is no comparison between the two. What did God do? He transferred the sin of all the world from them to Jesus.

Why did God do all of this? The second half of the verse explains the results.

b. Because of Jesus, we can become righteous.

We can become righteous to God. The righteousness of God is a high standard. As humans we can place ourselves on a list that makes us look better than thieves, murderers, or adulterers. Perhaps a Gallup poll might find that we consider ourselves to be in the top 50% of people—not perfect but not as bad as some. But this verse says that we can be made the righteousness of God. What does that mean?

This statement does not mean that we are righteous. We have already seen that we are sinful people who have rebelled against God’s laws all of our lives. We are not naturally good. But what God did, by transferring our sin to Jesus, is that we can become righteous instead of wicked. Have you noticed the word might in the statement? It is a possibility. God made it possible. But how?

We must become righteous in Jesus. The final two words in the verse are the key. Our possibility of righteousness is found “in Him.” In God’s perfect plan, the sinless, righteous Son of God took our place. Our sins were transferred to Him and His righteousness to those who are in Him. God no longer looks at our sinfulness because it has been transferred to Jesus. Instead, He looks at Jesus’ righteousness that has been transferred to us. But… this righteousness is only for those who are in Him. How can a person be in Him?

God requires simple faith for a person to be in Him.

John 3:15 – “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 – “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:18 – “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
John 6:40 – “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

What we see in the Scriptures is that being In Him is not based on the things that we do but by our faith in what Jesus has accomplished for us. We tend to want to do something in order to get a reward from God, but His plan is different.

Romans 4:5 – “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”

God doesn’t ask us to become righteous. He makes us righteous when we place our faith in Jesus. At that point, as we are trusting in Him, we are “in Him” and considered to be righteous by God. He transfers the righteousness of God to all who believe.


Whenever a teacher has completed a section of material, he takes the time to test his students as to whether they have understood what was taught. Please allow me to ask you a few questions.

1. Do you deserve to be called righteous? The answer should be no. We are all sinners who are guilty of sin against God and who deserve a different description. We should be called the wicked because of our rebellion against God.

2. Does Jesus deserve to be called sinful? The answer should be no. Jesus never experienced sin or desired it. As the perfect Son of God, He lived His life on this earth and never sinned against God the Father.

3. What did God do to make sinners righteous? God the Father caused our sin to be transferred to Jesus who never sinned so that his righteousness could be transferred to all who believe.

4. How can you become righteous in Jesus? Sinful people can become righteous in Jesus by faith. When you believe what God did (He transferred our sin to Jesus and His righteousness to us), you instantly are made righteous by God.

The last question is the most important.

5. Have you become righteous in Him? This is something that only you and God know. If you have believed in Him, then you are righteous in God’s eyes. But if you have not believed, you are still considered to be sinful and deserving of judgment despite all that God has done for you. As God works in your heart, will you turn from your sin and believe in Him?


Hodge, Charles, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, Carlisle: Banner of Truth, orig. 1857-1859, reprint 1974, pp. 508-27.

Lowery, David K., “2 Corinthians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 567-68.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1976, p. 470.

“What is the definition of sin?” as viewed at on 2/18/2023.

“γινώσκω” as viewed at on 2/18/2023.

“In Him” Part 2 – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

This morning, we looked at the first two “in Him” statements from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. First, we learned that we are dead in Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Since Jesus died for all, then all of us have died. In other words, since Jesus was dying as our representative, God now views every believer as having died on the cross with Him—we no longer deserve to die for our sins because we are dead in Him on the cross. And since Jesus died for us, we ought to live for Him instead of ourselves.

Second, we learned that we are a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). As a result of being in Him, we have become a new creation. Our old lifestyle has passed away and we have become a totally different people.

While these are wonderful statements of what we have been given “in Him,” they are not all. Tonight we will look at the third benefit each believe has in Jesus.

3. We are reconciled in Him (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

Summary: In Christ (in Him) God has reconciled us to Himself. Our sins are no longer held against us and we are viewed as friends instead of enemies. God now sends us out as ambassadors to the rest of the world, calling for them to be reconciled to Him.

In verses 18-20, there are two thoughts. First, God has reconciled us to Himself. Second, God has sent us out as ambassadors of reconciliation to the world. However, the thoughts are mixed together in the verses. You will notice that the first thought is mentioned in the first half of verses 18 and 19 while the second thought is mentioned in the second half of 18 and 19 and all of 20.

You should also notice that all of these things are because of God. He is the mastermind behind all that we have in Christ. So keep in mind that God the Father is behind all that God the Son has done for each of us.

a. Because of Jesus, we have been reconciled (18a, 19a).

What is reconciliation?

In the English language, reconciliation could involve two friends reestablishing a close relationship, a married couple getting back together after a separation, someone finally bringing himself to accept the facts about something, or making ledger entries agree.

The word used here can mean “restoration to favor” (Mounce) or “to remove enmity between parties at variance with each other” (Hodge 518). In context, the reconciliation was necessary because we were at odds with God due to our sinfulness (see v. 19).

What was the problem? Our problem was not just a list of sins against God; we had been declared to be enemies of God. We usually think of the devil as the enemy of God, but “Any person who disobeys the Lord’s commands is declared to be God’s enemy. Sin sets us against God” (GotQuestions).

Colossians 1:21 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”

At this moment in history, there is a rift between the USA and China. The recent “spy balloon” situation has led to a discontinuation of talks between our ambassadors. We don’t trust what the other country is doing and are not on good terms despite our good trade relationship. Reconciliation with China would only be possible if they admitted their wrong and we accepted their apology. But that enmity between our countries will probably continue until things are resolved somehow in the future.

The need for reconciliation between God and man is much more important. On one hand, we have our perfect Creator who has setup the way we should live. On the other hand, we have sinful people who are not interested in what God thinks. Read through the end of Romans 1 to see how serious this has become.

What could be done?

Notice what the beginning of verse 18 says. “All things are of God.” When it comes to reconciliation between holy God and sinful man, there is no hope for man to turn from his son on his own. Sinful man is not interested in being made right with God because he loves his sin and is spiritually dead toward God. So, “in this case God is the reconciler. Man never makes reconciliation.” (Hodge 518).

Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

The point of that passage is that God was the one who acted when we could have cared less. It is the same point made here. All of the reconciliation is because of God. He reconciled us to Himself through Jesus (18). He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (19a). He chose to not impute our trespasses to us (19b) but instead punished His own Son Jesus for what we did so that we could be reconciled to God.

Colossians 1:22-22 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”

All of this means that God has done everything needed to reconcile the sinful world to Himself. We who were enemies of God have been reconciled to Him through Jesus. Now what should our reaction to this be?

b. Because of Jesus, we want others to be reconciled (18b, 19b, 20).

In the second half of the above verses, we see that God has called us to be involved in telling the world about His desire for reconciliation. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation, a word of reconciliation, and the position of ambassador of reonciliation.

The ministry of reconciliation (18b)

Whenever a new president begins his role, he surrounds himself with people who will help him to accomplish his agenda. Our current president’s cabinet are in charge of “15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General” (White House). They each have their different “ministries” or areas of responsibility.

When it comes to God’s agenda, He has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. The people who surround us in our neighborhoods, work places, and neighborhoods are the people to whom we are to minister. We are to tell them about God’s desire to reconcile them to Himself. We have this ministry, but what are we to say to others?

The word of reconciliation (19b)

Whenever we need to understand what a word means, we go to the dictionary. Just for fun, I went to the dictionary to look up the definition of “word.” It defined it as “a sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning” (American Heritage).

In 2 Corinthians 5:19, this “word” is more than just a single word. It can also mean “a thing propounded in discourse… a message, announcement” (Mounce). It is an idea that has a specific meaning. There is history behind it. It needs to be explained in a way that can be understood.

God has given us the meaning of the word reconciliation with two objects. He wants us to understand what this word/idea means and then explain it to others. Do you think that you could explain what biblical reconciliation means to someone who doesn’t know? If not, take some time to study it for yourself so that you can. We need to do this because God has given us an important position.

The ambassador of reconciliation (20)

In verse 20, we see that God had appointed Paul and his ministry team as ambassadors of reconciliation. They had been sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel so that people could be reconciled to God. But is this limited to just preachers, evangelists, and missionaries? I don’t think so. “All believers should serve Christ as His ambassadors” (Lowery 568).

What exactly is an ambassador? He or she is “an authorized messenger or representative” (American Heritage). A country’s ambassador is a diplomatic representative who “does not act on his own authority. What he communicates is not his own opinions or demands, but simply what he has been told or commissioned to say” (Hodge 522).

This is true of God’s ambassadors. Each of us has been given the words to say to those who have not yet been reconciled to God. And on top of that, we know God and have experienced the blessing of being at peace with Him. Who better could be chosen to represent the Lord to the sinful world than one who has been saved out of it?

Do you feel like you are qualified to be an ambassador for the Lord? This is like asking you if you feel like a righteous person. Most of us would humbly recognize our own limitations and say that we are not qualified to serve God as an ambassador. But think about this. You already have a relationship with other people that I don’t have. To those in your sphere of influence, you are the best person to speak to that person. They know you and trust you as opposed to someone from the outside. You can probably be a better ambassador to your family than I can. Please use that opportunity. But also remember that God can use you to speak to strangers as well. You are not limited to representing the Lord only to those you know and are comfortable with.


In this section, we have seen that in Him (Jesus) we have been reconciled to God. We who were sinful and enemies of God were not overlooked and left to perish. Instead, God took the effort to make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. Instead of us being punished for our sins, Jesus paid for them. And when we turn from our sin and put our faith in Him, our relationship with God is reconciled.

The experience of being reconciled to God is something others don’t know about. They are still at odds with God because of their sin. They don’t know that they need to be reconciled to God or that He is interested in being reconciled. Who will tell them? It is up to you and me to speak as God’s ambassadors so that the world can know and believe and be reconciled to God. Will you do that this week?


“καταλλαγή” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“λόγος” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“Ambassador” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

Hodge, Charles, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, Carlisle: Banner of Truth, orig. 1857-1859, reprint 1974, pp. 508-27.

Lowery, David K., “2 Corinthians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 567-68.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 110-14.

“Reconcile” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“The Cabinet” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“What does it mean to be an enemy of God?” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“Word” as viewed at on 2/12/2023.

“In Him” Part 1 – 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

During our Wednesday night Bible study, we have been going through our church doctrinal statement. After many months, we are close to being finished with our revisions and amendments. For me, this has been a good time to study what we believe and to compare it with what God says in the Bible. Our most recent study covered a section called “the righteous and the wicked.” This part of our doctrinal statement shows the distinction the Bible makes between righteous and wicked people.

In the middle of our proposed statement, we have this. “God considers those who are in Christ to be righteous (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and those who continue in sin and unbelief to be wicked (Col. 1:21John 8:23-24).” As we studied through 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, I was amazed at Paul’s teaching on the subject. We sinful people are considered to be righteous… even though we are not.

I later posted my thoughts online and had a number of responses that emphasized how uncomfortable people are with claiming to be righteous. We read the Scriptures and see the difference between the righteous and the wicked but know ourselves too well to want to claim to be righteous. And yet, God says that we are. But He adds an important thought to the explanation with the words, “in Him.”

That “in Him” statement is used multiple times in 2 Corinthians 5. In each case, it is used to show us that what we have as Christians is all because of Jesus. We are dead in Him. We are a new creation in Him. We are reconciled in Him. We are righteous in Him. You get the idea that we wouldn’t have anything if it were not for Him. This is true.

As we look at each of the statements, consider what God is saying and what you have in Jesus.

  1. We are dead in Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

    Summary: Looking at what Jesus did for us tells us two things. First, since Jesus died for all, then all of us have died. In other words, since Jesus was dying as our representative, God now views every believer as having died on the cross with Him—we no longer deserve to die for our sins because we are dead in Him on the cross. Secondly, if Jesus died for us, we ought to be compelled by His love to live for Him instead of ourselves.

    Before this death in Him and life for Him can make sense, we need to backup and think about our spiritual situation without Jesus. According to God, as revealed in the Bible, each of us is a sinner against God who deserves to die. And this rebellion against God comes with a cost. The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” How did this come about?

    It all goes back to Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve sinned against God and were sentenced by God to eventually die. That sentence was given not only to them but was passed on to all of the human race. “When Adam was … in the garden of Eden, he was our federal head… . Adam deliberately disobeyed God. He came under the sentence of death, and when he did that, he took the entire human race down with him, for all were represented in him. You and I have been born into a family of death. All mankind now is under the sentence of death” (McGee 110-11).

    With that in mind, we sinful people need God’s help to escape the judgment we deserve for our sins against Him. So let’s look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

    a. Because of Jesus, we died (14).

    The first thing he tells us is that Jesus died for all.

    That should be a comforting statement. Jesus, when He died on the cross, was “dying for all (not just the elect, as some suggest; cf. 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2)” (Lowery 567).

    1 Tim. 2:5-6 – “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”

    Heb. 2:9 – “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”

    1 John 2:2 – “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

    So, when you look at these statements and compare them with 2 Corinthians 5:14, you quickly realize that Jesus died for all people.

    The second thing he tells us is that we all died.

    This statement took me some time to fully understand. It is easy to understand that Jesus died for all, but what does it mean that all died? People are living today and they were living when Paul wrote these words. So how could someone have died if they are alive?

    “The simple meaning of the passage is, that the death of one was the death of all” (Hodge 512). Paul was communicating what the effect of Jesus’ death was. In Him (our representative), each of us is reckoned to be dead with Him. In God’s eyes, Jesus’ death is viewed as our own. This is why Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20). Paul had not been physically crucified at that point, but in God’s eyes, he was dead in Christ. “His death is taken in the place of ours so as to save us from death” (Hodge 511).

    To sum things up: Jesus died for all, and all who believe in Him are considered to be dead with Him. This means that in God’s eyes, we are viewed as guilty sinners whose punishment had been paid in Jesus. This is a fact.

    b. Because of Jesus, we should live (15).

    You may recall that verse 14 began with the love of Christ compelling us. What does it compel us to do? The simple answer is that each one of us—who recognizes what Jesus did for us and who recognizes His great love for us—we ought to live our lives for Him.

    Wait a minute! I thought we were dead! Okay, let’s talk about this.

    Yes, in Him each believer died. His death paid the price for our sins. But did Jesus stay dead? Did He remain in the grave? No, He rose from the grave the third day. When the women came to the tomb to place spices around his dead body, they were surprised to see the stone rolled away and the body gone. The angels told them that Jesus had risen from the dead, meaning that He was no longer dead but was alive. It’s true. Jesus came back to life.

    Verse 15 ends with an allusion to His resurrection: “Him who died for them and rose again.” He uses Jesus’ resurrection to show us that we should live our lives for Him because of what He did for us. Although we consider ourselves to have died with Him on the cross, we ought also to consider ourselves to be alive with Him in His resurrection. What should that look like?

    “Now our lives should be devoted to Him” (McGee 111),

    Instead of living for our own desires, we should live for Him who died for us and rose again. This means that every day we should think about how we can serve, represent, and speak for Him. We should be so thankful that He died for our sins that we never stop living for Him. He ought to be the theme of our daily life.

    I recently heard from someone who was saved through a Christian treatment center. After going through some hard times, he wanted someone to help him get his life back together. Although he was looking for a different kind of help, he found what he needed in the Lord. And now he is happy to tell others about what God has done for him.

    Think about your own life today. Do you understand that Jesus died for your sins? Do you understand that He took your place and died instead of you? Think about that. You could have spent eternity in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels, but Jesus died for you so that you could escape that terrible judgment. How do you think that you should live your life now? Are you living your life for Jesus or for yourself? Let Jesus’ great love for you motivate you to live for Him.

    We died in Him but now live for Him.

  2. We are a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17).

    Summary: To be “in Him” means that your faith is in Him and what He has accomplished for you by dying and rising from the dead. You are trusting in Him as the completed payment for your sins so that, according to God, you are no longer guilty. As a result of being in Him, you have become a new creation. Your old lifestyle has passed away and you have become a totally different person.

    a. Because of Jesus, we are a new creation.

    The new creation is something that only God could do. As the Creator, He has taken sinful people—who were spiritually dead to Him and with no desire to please Him—and made them a completely new person. This is called the new birth. Jesus spoke about this in John 3 when talking with Nicodemus. He told that religious man that “most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Basically, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he couldn’t change himself. It was something God would have to do.

    When God got your attention about your sinfulness and your coming judgment, did you just flip a switch and change into a good person? No, you couldn’t do anything. But God could. As He convicted you of your sin, brought you to repentance and faith in Jesus, He then caused you to become a new person. You were born again spiritually. This is what “a new creation” means. God gave you new spiritual life.

    Can you think of any example of people whose lives were transformed when they believe in Him? “No one was more able to reflect on that transformation than Paul who switched from a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ (Acts 9:5, 20-22)” (Lowery 567). You may also think about the demoniac of Gadera, whose life was drastically changed by Jesus.

    b. Because of Jesus, everything has changed.

    When working with children, we used to sing, “The things I used to do… don’t do them anymore. … There’s been a great change since I’ve been born again!” That is true and is what Paul is saying here in verse 17. Old things have passed away and all things have become new.

    Before someone is born again (or made into a new creation), his or her actions and attitudes are opposed to God. We read about them in…

    Galatians 5:17-21 – “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…”

    While sitting on one of the swings on the porch of Ashbrook Hall at Peniel Bible Camp, a woman came over and introduced herself. During the conversation, she shared with me how her life was changed by God. The attitudes she had before her new birth had caused lots of problems with people she worked with. But after God changed her, the same people noticed a big difference.

    This is what Paul is talking about. The old life with its sinful attitudes and actions have passed away and have been replaced by a new way of thinking and acting. Instead of the works of the flesh, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.

    Gal. 5:22-23 – “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

    God has spoken through the Bible. And He tells us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that there will be a definite change in the life of someone who has become a new creation in Him. Have you seen these changes in your life? Has the Holy Spirit been changed you into someone who is different than before? Have you noticed it? Have others noticed it? When God changes a person there will be evidence of that change because the old is gone and is replaced by the new when you are “in Him.”


    The things we have talked about so far are both deep and comforting. We have seen that because of our sins we deserve death. But in Jesus, in Him, we have died. The price for our sins has been paid. That ought to give us something to talk about. We are no longer deserving of death because in Him we have already died. So how should we respond? We should live our lives for Him. Every day ought to find us singing, talking, and acting in ways that show our thankfulness for what Jesus did for us.

    We also saw that in Jesus, in Him, we have been made a new creation. As you think about your former life before Jesus, you may cringe or be ashamed. This is a right reaction but not one we should meditate on for very long. We know that we were sinners who lived according to our sinful desires and attitudes. But in Him, we are completely different. We aren’t perfect, but what a change God has made in our lives!

    I want you to think about this. Have you been changed by God? If not, there is still room in Him to be saved and made into a new creation. But it all must begin with repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you recognize your sinfulness and turn from it to Jesus, He will forgive you and change you from the inside out.


Hodge, Charles, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, Carlisle: Banner of Truth, orig. 1857-1859, reprint 1974, pp. 508-27.

Lowery, David K., “2 Corinthians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 567-68.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 110-14.