Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Christ Has Made Me His Own

Devotion: Philippians 3:12

In our passage this week the Apostle Paul takes a moment to make a distinction that many of us are not expecting in our current context. We have no suspicion or inclination that the resurrection of the dead has already taken place. How do you know? We can visit a cemetery and see first hand that people who have died are still dead. Yet in the Apostle's day, with the freshness of the faith and eschatological hopes running high, there was a real suspicion by some that the general resurrection (as opposed to the specific resurrection of Jesus) had already taken place. We catch hints of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 2 Timothy 2:14-19 How does the Christian think about death? In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle is challenging the notion that those who die are somehow being judged unworthy of eternal life and that it is living who have been resurrected already and will live eternally. Instead, the Apostle keeps intact the Jewish notion of the general resurrection (of which Christ's resurrection was a foretaste, a future event brought into the present as a guarantee of sorts and source of hope) and dismisses the idea that those who die are somehow to be found outside of the Kingdom of God at the final judgment. Instead, death, as an enemy defeated by Christ, for the Christian, is a death to sin and death, but a welcome into glory. What's more, the general resurrection will mean the dead in Christ will live anew and eternally with him. To teach that the resurrection had already taken place (as the heretics named in 2 Timothy 2 taught) was to exclude those who had died in the Lord from eternal life and to privilege the living as the only true faithful. This is to fall into the trap that G.K. Chesterton identified as the "oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."
The Apostle, in rejecting and refuting any claim he had to righteousness based upon his own works, put himself completely into the arms of Christ Jesus for salvation.
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." -Philippians 3:12 ESV
Paul did not consider his present circumstance (suffering in prison) to be resurrected and glorified life. Instead, he saw his own resurrection and perfection in the future. To be sure the resurrection of the perfect God-man was a sign and seal that the Apostle would, through faith and the subsequent righteousness of Christ in that faith, obtain resurrection and perfection. It is the Christ who enables this pressing on toward resurrected perfection because through faith, Christ Jesus has made the Apostle his own.
And that is where we all must stand today. In faith, Christ Jesus claims us as his own. Through faith the atoning work of Jesus Christ upon the cross is applied to our lives consistently and constantly by the Holy Spirit. We have hope of resurrected perfection because we belong to Jesus. In the end, this is the only hope that can last and be assured. So, no matter the circumstance, it is our belonging to Christ that enables and empowers us to press on toward him.

News for You:

  • We are in need of a few good workers March 20-25. We are changing lights in the sanctuary and fellowship hall and could use plenty of help to construct and move around some scaffolding. In addition, we are doing some work to update our system of projection in the sanctuary.
  • A Rummage Sale to support Camp Chelan will take place March 31-April 1. We could use items to sell and help to sell them.
  • Holy Week services are as follows:
    • Maundy Thursday (4/13): A service of confession and communion at CPC 7 p.m.
    • Good Friday (4/14): Community worship service at Cornerstone at 7 p.m.
    • Resurrection Sunday (4/16): A service of celebration at CPC 10 a.m

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