T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S
What a happy place the world will be to live in when this shall happen! No wonder people who believe the words of the Bible are waiting for Jesus the King to come once more, just as the people of long ago waited for the little Babe in the manger to be borni That Bible promise came true, and we know that the promise that Jesus will come again is true, too. Golden Text Illustration Many efforts have been made to get along without God, but none has succeeded better than that made in Korea many years ago, when the h i g h c l a s s students of the royal college of Seoul, which opened in 1886, drew a pencil line across the word “ God,” and refused to pronounce it when they came to it in their reading. They thought they could live without God, but it is a most remarkable fact that, after twenty-two years, this country of Korea became God’s greatest mission field, and Seoul itself is now fling ing away its fetishes, while hundreds gather to the prayer services in a single church, and the “high class” people are found in large proportion seated in the church service and prayer meetings beside the lowest in social rank.— S elected . Paul had discovered that the great hin drance to the fullness of the Christian life was nothing less than the old nature, or “self.” Because o f this, he reminds be lievers that the object o f the Christian’s re joicing is Christ and not self. We are to rejoice, not in our spiritual attainments, or our gifts, or our experiences, but “in the Lord” (v. 1). What we have in the way of attainments, experience, and so forth, is always fluctuating, but we shall always be able to rejoice in Christ because He is the unchanging One (Heb. 13 :8). The more Christ is known, the more satisfactory and the deeper is one’s joy in Him. Then Paul gives a needed warning against manifestations of the flesh, or the old nature (v. 2). The “dogs” represent Gentile good, the old nature’s religion; the “evil workers” represent mixed good, the old nature’s sanctification; and the '“con cision” represent imitation good, the old nature’s garnishing. All have to do with what self is and can do, and all imply some confidence in the flesh. Then Paul gives needed instruction to worship God in, or by, the Spirit; to rejoice in Jesus Christ; and to have no confidence in the flesh. In whatever guise the flesh appears, it is always the enemy o f and the hindrance to the fullness o f Christ. It must be either self or Christ; they are mutually exclusive. Paul had discovered this, and he now exhorts Christians to be ware o f the flesh in any form. BLACKBOARD LESSON Outline and Exposition I. His E xhortation (1-3).
The word “rejoice,-’ in verse 1, means spiritual joy in Christ; the “rejoice” of verse 3 means to glory or boast in Christ. II. His L ife as S aul of T arsus (4-6). Paul reveals that he himself had much to boast o f in the flesh, but in comparison with Christ, all he had was as the refuse of the street. He had reached the topmost round on the ladder of human excellence and legal righteousness. He could say, “ If any other man thinketh he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more” (v. 4). He was not a proselyte, but had been cir cumcised the eighth day; he was of the stock o f Israel, not Jacob; he was of the tribe of Benjamin, the only one that stood with David o f old; he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, standing true to the tradi tions o f his nation.;; he was a Pharisee, yielding full loyalty to the law ; he was the most zealous o f his people; and as to the law itself, he stood blameless. But Christ was superior to anything that could be gained by natural generation, or anything that could be secured by efforts of the flesh, and all that Paul had, however good, was second best in comparison with Christ (vs. S, 6). Paul makes a marvelous claim in these verses. He was the chief of religionists; there was none higher than he on the hill of human goodness; but he was also the chief of sinners; there was none lower in the pit of ruin (1 Tim. 1 :15). He was the very best, so that no other legalist can boast; but he was the very worst, so that no sinner need despair. He was brought down from the heights and up from the depths to the feet of Jesus; and from that position, he was lifted to a position higher than human excellency could ever attain. His righteousness was no help, and his guilt was no hindrance to his salvation. He was no nearer to Christ when he could say, “ I more,” than when he had to declare, “I am chief.” The cross o f Christ was the only remedy for the “ I more” and the “ I am chief.” III. T he S upreme E ndeavor of P aul the S aint (7-14). To “gain” Christ, all else must be relin quished. It was not to “gain” Christ as Saviour that Paul aspires here, for he was already saved; he would win Christ as the “gain” for his life. To do this, he not only counted all things loss for Christ, but he suffered (that is, allowed to go) the loss of all things. Paul would be delivered from his own righteousness (v. 9), in order that he might have a superior righteousness, that is, the righteousness o f God by faith in Christ. It is easier for us to seek deliverance from our sinfulness than from our righteous ness, but it is the latter that hinders our ob taining the righteousness of God in Christ. In this lesson, it was not the sins o f Paul that drove him to Christ, but the excel lencies of Christ that acted as a magnet to draw his heart to the Lord. Paul would “know him and the power of his resurrection” (v. 10). To know Christ is the supreme object—not to get on in the world, or to make a name for one self, or even to acquire spiritual graces— but to know Christ, to enter into the power of His resurrection with victory over the body o f sin, into the fellowship o f His suf ferings, with Christ’s feelings concerning the world and its need; and into the out- resurrection from among the dead (v. 11), knowing practically in experience what was true judicially in the mind o f God. To obtain what he desired, there was just one thing that Paul would do. He would give himself and all his powers to that one
his tra v els. Ever since Jesus was born, men have celebrated His c o m i n g — the coming o f the Son of God. L e s s o n S to r y : Many years before Jesus was born, holy men o f God wrote ab ou t His coming. They told just how
and when He should be born—it was to be at Bethlehem and in a manger. For years people waited for this to happen. Then when the time came, it happened just as God had promised. Now the same prophets who told of the coming of Jesus, wrote of other things which should happen. One thing which they said was that Jesus should come again to this earth to reign as King. When this comes to pass, there will be no more fighting, no more quarreling, no more war—even animals will not fight with each other—“the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; . . . and a little child shall lead them.” Golden T ex t: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7 ). Paul’s Preparation I N the text of our lesson today, Paul speaks o f his early training as secured according to the flesh. Although he speaks o f it disparagingly, his success in his missionary work was in no small meas ure due to the influences o f his youth. We do not detract in the least from the power o f the Holy Spirit in Paul’s, life when we say that God used Paul’s training as a Hebrew education. All Jewish education, we may say to their credit, centered in their religion. The training in the home and in the synagogue was for the purpose of im planting the teachings of the law and the prophets firmly in the mind of the pupil. Even the vocation which the children learned was influenced by their religion, for it was usually taught by the rabbis in the synagogues. So thoroughly was Saul of Tarsus indoctrinated in the Jewish religion, that he acquired a zeal which he never lost. His early life in Tarsus fitted him to deal with the people of the many lands to which he later carried the message of salvation. W e have spoken before of Tarsus as the cultural center o f the Eastern Roman Em pire. Paul spoke Greek fluently, because it was only natural that a well-bred young man, raised in. Tarsus, should be familiar with that medium of literary expression. His experiences in Tarsus, and also in Jerusalem, where he studied in the Hebrew “ university,” brought him into contact with all sorts of people from all parts o f the world. These contacts inevitably gave him an understanding of men, which enabled God to use him in a remarkable way. means o f spreading the gospel of Christ.; H is e ar l y home and religious train ing gave him an in tense zeal, which he carried into his mis sionary efforts. He was “a Hebrew of the Hebrews,” and as such, he received a
DECEMBER 31, 1933 THE LIFE OF PAUL P hil . 3 :1-14
Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs