“Leavin’ On My Mind”

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Phil. 3:17-21

The most important thing that I want us to consider in portion of scripture is Paul’s attitude towards the gospel of Jesus Christ contrasted with preachers in his day whom we would equate with today’s prosperity-gospel preachers. The latter were men whose motive in the gospel was material fulfillment. Even in our modern times, the truth is that what is called ‘church’ under the prosperity gospel – and it increasingly consists of a large portion of the Body of Christ – is not Christ’s church at all, but it is simply that some hungry, wrongly-motivated individuals have taken it upon themselves to trouble and mislead God’s people (Gal. 1:7).

These kinds of preachers preach a gospel that has absolutely no relation with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and in real life there are many tragic stories in people’s lives that are directly connected with the activities of these preachers.

Any gospel that minds “earthly things” is a low-life, spiritually abhorrent gospel. It is a ‘gospel’ that has been brought in by men who simply want to fill their bellies!

The Apostle Paul was so grieved in his spirit by the bearers of this materialistic gospel that he wept.

Paul knew these people were dangerous, because they purposely avoided the cross of Jesus Christ, and they taught God’s people to do so. These people were enemies of the cross of Christ!

But Paul had been taught by Christ that the cross is the only gospel that can perfect men in the Spirit (2 Cor. 12;9).

But God is extremely patient and it appears as if He gives these false preachers all the rope they need. But the Apostle Paul warns that, one day, the Lord will deal severely with them. Their “end is destruction” (v.19).

Paul, on the other hand, did not preach a worldly gospel, nor did he live a material life. When it came to the material life, Paul rolled with the times. Sometimes he was full, other times he had nothing. And if he was in really dire straits, he could always rely on his friends, the brethren from Philippi (Phil. 4:15-18).

Paul states the gospel that he preached in verses 20-21:

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Paul’s gospel focused on God’s heavenly Kingdom. Paul himself lived a life that was fully in preparation to living the eternal life with Jesus Christ. It was a life of self-denial, of the denial of the world and its ways and attractions.

And so the apostle wept. He wept for the church because he saw people who took advantage of God’s patience to preach a gospel that drew God’s people away from the heavenly vision to an earthly one. Paul, the man who was given the mandate to perfect Christ’s bride through the cross of Christ found himself at war with people who were bound enemies of this very cross!

Now, surprisingly, and pleasantly so, Paul says there were people in the Philippian church who obeyed exactly the same example of life that he lived and preached. There were people in the church at Philippi who followed the example of Paul!

And Paul tells the church: “Mark these people”.

In other words, “Set your goal to be as them; follow after them”.

These were men and women who took up their cross daily and followed Christ, with their sights set, not on the fleetings material things of this world, but on heaven.

This is God’s cry for the modern church: that we may catch a revelation of heaven through the gospel of the cross.

[Is leavin’ on our minds? Jessy Dixon]

A Life is Required

During his first meeting at the Nairobi Leaders’ Conference tonight Brother Miki Hardy spoke about relationships, drawing from the fact that this was a leaders’ conference, and there is no way we can talk about church leadership without there being true, solid relationships.

He read from Philippians chapter 1 verse Php 1:3-7 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”

Miki said he would be talking on Paul’s words, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all…”

Paul could not have carried that kind of heart if he had a judgmental, critical attitude. It was not as if the Philippians were perfect. But Paul had faith for them, even if they were weak. He could see ahead and have patience with their weaknesses, trusting God for them. It was the same with his relationship with the Corinthians. Most striking was Paul’s attitude towards the Galatians who had backslidden completely and for whom he had every reason to despair. But we see him willing to start with them from scratch as he declares in Gal 4:19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”.

As Miki spoke the Holy Spirit quickened me and I saw clearly why Abraham was called the father of faith. The faith of Abraham had nothing to do with material things! It had a lot to do with his Godly character. It had to do with his being a patient man, as we see him in his dealings with his nephew Lot. He surrendered all his rights to Lot. Abraham’s faith also had much more to do with how we see him sacrificing his life by going to rescue Lot from his captors.

That is what Biblical faith is all about! It is about laying down our lives so that others may gain life! It has nothing to do with material prosperity at all – for those who harbor such thoughts about Abraham’s faith! Personally, I would hate to think that God would consider someone a great man of faith simply because he owned a herd of smelly camels!

I prefer to think that there was something else, much more profound, that made God to consider Abraham a great man of faith. And since God is spirit, that means that Abraham’s faith was spiritual. It had to do with matters of the heart, not material things. Otherwise, scripture would contradict itself!!

I could see that it was for the same reason that Paul, too, became a spiritual father to many, including Timothy. It was not just because he preached to them the gospel, but it was due to the manner of life that he lived among them, being an example himself of the Godly life.

If there is one thing lacking in Church today it is men and women of God who are willing to lay down their lives and be an example for others to follow. There are too many “servants”, but few “fathers”. Fathers give their lives. In many of the cases where preachers decide to become examples it is all in the wrong things: prosperity, success, etc. But Paul became an example in the things that pertain to Godliness. He says in 2Ti 3:10-11: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured…”

If there is a preacher today who can stand up and claim the words of Paul for himself through the life that he lives then we can begin to see the beginnings of the Church of Christ.