Pressing Forward to the End

Philippians 3:13-14 KJV

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

What a unique outlook is the apostle’s considering that he was in prison facing near certain execution. Under such circumstances a person might have spent his time looking back. Indeed, in Paul’s second letter to he does glance back to recall;

2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:[1]

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul did not view the end of his life on earth as the end of anything. Nor did he, in the shadow of his own gallows as it were, give up. He continued

  • to press forward
  • to think ahead
  • to set a mark and reach for it.

 

Hope in Christ changes how we view the final times of life. It makes every moment of breath matter. There is no time when we view life as invaluable and meaningless because the last moment on earth is one that may still be used toward the eternal moments of heaven. We live in a state of constant progression rather than reaching a point where we begin to decline because we know that, for the believer, there is no end; only a new beginning.

[1] But even in this there is a forward-looking turn as the apostle announces and for the sake of other promises.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Eternal Rewards

Obedience Over Compliance

Philippians 2:12 KJV

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

 

There is a principle concerning obedience here that needs to be more often emphasized; obedience isn’t only what is done in the presence of an authority or of others; obedience is what is also done when no authority is there to make us and no others are there to inspire us. Genuine obedience is summed up in the words, “always obeyed”. Any other form of obedience is not actual obedience.

  • The child who only cleans their room when a parent is watching
  • The employee who only does his job when a supervisor is pushing them
  • The student who only studies the material when the teacher is looking over his shoulder
  • The adolescent who only behaves when a guardian has him on a leash

These are not truly obedient. They are only ever compliant.

 

The word “obeyed” in this verse is one that means “to hear under” or to “subordinate oneself”. It is to place ourselves below another in rank or order. The Apostle Paul would have been the first to insist that he was above or better than no one else. It wasn’t obedience to him, but obedience to Christ he sought.[1] By such obedience as to subordinate ourselves to Christ in all things and at all times we “work out [our] own salvation.” Not that we are not that we are saved by this obedience but that this obedience is an expression of our salvation.

[1] We might view Paul, or any other preacher, similar to how we would view a work foreman. The foreman does not own the business but is hired by the owner to see that other employees do their jobs. By obeying the foreman the employee is actually obeying the owner.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Making Choices

Philippians 1:22 KJV

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

 

The apostle was in a prison at this point in his life. Some scholars believe he was subsequently released and continued his ministry for some time before he was again arrested and executed. While I have some strong personal motivations for hoping that is so,[1] the Bible doesn’t give any evidence that it actually happened. Paul may or may not have been released from prison to return one more time to Philippi.

 

The point I want to stress at this time is that, whichever way it went, Paul was perfectly willing to leave that in the hands of the Lord. Not knowing which way to choose, he left this choice in the hands of the Lord.

 

This in no way implies that Paul was wishy-washy or double minded. Just three verses down he speaks of his confidence. But confidence and assurance in no way means that we always know which way is the best way.

  • Sometimes we have no choice
  • Sometimes we have a choice and make the wrong one
  • Sometimes we just do not know what to choose

Only God knows the beginning and the ending therefore those sorts of choices are best left to God alone.

[1] It gives Paul opportunity to travel and preach in the British Isles, supporting my belief that the apostolic gospel was preached there before the end of the first century – and giving credence to an unbroken chain of non-Catholic, non-Protestant churches all the way back to the Apostles.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

To God Alone

Deuteronomy 13:4 KJV

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

 

I would call this verse the pivot of all of Deuteronomy 13. The chapter offers three possibilities in following after false gods:

  • A prophet might bring a true sign
  • A member of the family might tempt you privately or
  • Certain men (this might be a political party in our day) might lead a whole city away from god

 

The point was that, no matter what, you do not turn from God to idols.

  • Even if the prophet tells a dream that comes true or performs a miracle and it is proven genuine
  • Even if it is you your parents your spouse or your children
  • Even if is the direction your whole country is heading towards

We who are God’s people are to:

  • walk after God
  • fear him and keep His commandments
  • obey His voice
  • serve Him and
  • cleave unto Him

 

If anything tends to draw us away, especially if they are emotionally compelling things, we should view that as a test from God to prove, try and strengthen our faith.

 

Our allegiance is to God alone.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Proving the Acceptable

Ephesians 5:10 KJV

Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

 

We prove those things that are acceptable unto the Lord by practicing them, by doing them and thus observing their resulting consequences.

Gill writes, “There are many things that are acceptable to God, as

  • the person of Christ, 
  • his righteousness, sacrifice, sufferings, death, and mediation;
  • the persons of his people, 
  • their services, sufferings, sacrifices of prayer, and praise to him, and of bounty and liberality to the poor;
  • their graces, and the exercise of them; and 
  • the actions of their lives and conversations, when they are becoming the Gospel, are according to the will of God, and are done in faith, and are directed to his glory: 

… are acceptable to God…”

 

By walking as children of light we become an experiment serving to test, try and prove those things that are acceptable unto God.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

 

Christian duty

The Biblical Use of Emotional Appeals

Ephesians 4:1 KJV

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

 

Paul had said in Ephesians 3:1 that he was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ “for you Gentiles”. Here he uses that as a motivation for both his plea and their doing of it.[1]

 

Appeals based on emotional and heart rending circumstances are often criticized in modern Christianity. It is, however, undeniable that:

  • They can be effective
  • They were used effectively by Christ and Apostle Paul
  • Therefore they may be used in a Scriptural, effective and ethical manner

[1] The argument can be made that the “therefore” of this refers the reader to the great doctrinal truths of Ephesians chapter three. I do not deny this to be the case but only add to it that Paul’s mention of being a prisoner at the beginning of chapters three and four must have “hit home” in the hearts of these first century believers to whom Paul originally addressed this letter. Therefore his being a prisoner must have relevance in his “therefore”.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

emotional appeals

Confrontational Preaching

Ephesians 3:1 KJV

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

 

There is a popular radio talk show host[1] who frequently refers to his audience as “you people”. I have always gotten the impression that it is a derogatory and demeaning phrase; at least in the sense that he uses it.

 

Paul used a similar phrase in the word, “you Gentiles”. He was in prison and it was for the Gentiles. He wanted them to sense the personal responsibility, the weight of effect of taking the Gospel outside of Israel and to them.

  • It had cost him politically
  • It had cost him in his career
  • It had cost him his reputation
  • It had cost him his own blood kinship

 

In obeying the Lord to take the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul had distanced himself (though not of his choosing but theirs) from the Jews, including those Jews who had accepted Christ as Saviour. Though they[2] knew what he preached was true, his preaching it placed a burr under their beast’s saddle. Paul made Christianity uncomfortable for them.

  • His outreach into the Gentile populace had exposed him to great danger and
  • His stand had placed him in the middle of a controversy between the unbelieving Jews and the Gentiles at Jerusalem.

This controversy would lead eventually to his execution.

 

But notice that Paul’s intent was not accusative. Paul was not angry at the Gentiles. Being confrontational[3] was not the same as being hateful or mean spirited. It was direct, intended toward conviction and the sort of personal responsibility that leads to action.

 

This, I would say, is the correct use of preaching:

  • Direct
  • Bold
  • Confrontational and
  • Purposeful

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

[1] I assume he is still popular, I haven’t heard his program in years but see reports with his name from time to time.

[2] The believing Jews

[3] “you Gentiles”

preaching

Understanding Our Victories

Deuteronomy 9:1-3 KJV

Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,

A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!

Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.

 

I observe immediately that the book of Deuteronomy offers no possibility of Jewish defeat by the Canaanites. It is as if, before the first battle, the war has already been won. Judging from Rahab’s response to Joshua’s spies the conclusion of the war was already decided on both sides. The Canaanite understood they had no hope of winning this war.

 

In the light of this assurance, Israel was to understand that this was God’s battle and God’s doing. They were also to understand that the victory they would achieve was not because they deserved it but because the Canaanite’s did not. Their victory would be an act of grace.

 

This is the foundational truth for outreach and evangelism today. Paul said that he (and by implication we) was a debtor. He did not deserve the grace he had received and therefore owed it to others to share that grace with them. Our place is to reach out to anyone and everyone that God enables us. Whether they respond positively and become saved or respond negatively and remain condemned is a matter entirely between them and God.  The battle is the Lord’s. We merely follow Him.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

 

humility

What If A Man Is Something?

Galatians 6:3 KJV

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

 

The thought came to mind today, “What if he is something?” Herein lies the problem. The implication of the text is that he is nothing regardless of who he is:

  • The celebrity
  • The athlete
  • The successful
  • The powerful
  • The wealthy
  • The popular

 

Fact is; all of us are nothing. Gill writes, “…he is nothing: of himself; not even as a creature, but owes his being and preservation, and all the mercies of life, to another, even to God; has no grace nor gifts of himself, but what he has received, and can do no good thing, not think a good thought, or perform a good action, of himself, and much less of himself procure eternal life and salvation.”

 

Truly we are prone to deceive ourselves. Even when we are in this world, “something” we are without Christ, “nothing”.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

 

pride

A License to Sin?

Galatians 5:16 KJV

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

 

Baptists are frequently accused of giving people liberty or license to sin. Our insistence that the Bible teaches eternal security; that once a soul is saved, that salvation can never be lost, has led our detractors to claim that means the saved person can live in sin and still go to heaven. No such thing is true.

 

What we do claim is that the cross is sufficient so that all sin is paid for in Christ. There is no sin for the believer to be judged of because every sin has been judged at Calvary.  To preach a man may lose his salvation by committing certain sins is to preach that the work of Christ on Golgotha falls short of complete perfection.[1]

 

So what about that license to sin? The Bible answers the license with the Spirit.The one who walks in the Spirit has no desire to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We do not give a soul the license to sin. We give to them the liberty to walk in the Spirit.

[1] (This is also my argument against mid wrath and post tribulation rapture).

 

For more of Pastor McKenzie’s Daily Visits with God go to his blogger page. There you will find archived more than 3000 personal devotions dating back to 2007.

 

eternal security