THE LAW OF FAITH
"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:21-28, NASB)."
Devotion 3 of 30
THE KEY PHRASES
Related to the expressions found in Philippians 3:7-14
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of KNOWING CHRIST JESUS MY LORD, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I MAY GAIN CHRIST, and may BE FOUND IN HIM, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH COMES FROM GOD on the basis of faith, that I MAY KNOW HIM, and THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION and THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I PRESS ON in order that I may LAY HOLD of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND and REACHING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD, I PRESS TOWARD THE GOAL for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:7-14, NASB).
Those key phrases (capitalized) are speaking of becoming aware of Divine approval--of coming into the realization of God's acceptance. They also reveal the effects of that awareness--the realization of a confident effort to appropriate all of the benefits accruing from Christ's propitiation. While our effort is not the cause of our Lord's approval, it is both the evidence of it, and the means through which that acceptance is realized. In addition, it becomes the impetus for hearty and consistent involvement in the will of God.
Faith is the personal basis of our affiliation with God, and is the means through which we appropriates the glorious benefits of Christ's vicarious atonement. Few passages of Scripture describe the energy of faith as the passage before us--Philippians 3:7-14.
FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST--This refers to the appropriation of Christ. More precisely, to the fellowship of Christ, into which God has called us (1 Cor 1:9). Fellowship--conscious involvement with Jesus--is no more automatic now than it was when Jesus dwelt among men in the flesh. To enjoy His fellowship some had to leave their fishing nets, others their tax tables, and some their families. Faith knows that to have Christ, anything competing with Him must be left behind.
KNOWING CHRIST JESUS MY LORD--This is the grand objective of salvation. It is, in fact, eternal life, for eternal life is knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
COUNT THEM BUT RUBBISH--Matters that were of personal benefit, but had no association with Jesus, are considered contaminating and obnoxious rubbish, or "dung" (KJV). They are so designated when compared with the Lord Jesus Himself.
I MAY GAIN CHRIST--To gain Christ is to experience Him dwelling in your heart by faith. Some stilted theology imagines this occurs automatically, requiring no personal attention. The Holy Spirit, who searches out the deep things of God, speaks quite differently. He affirms we must be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man," in order that Christ can "dwell in our hearts by faith" (Eph 3:16-17). To "gain Christ," therefore, is to have a confident grasp upon His Person and the benefits He brings.
BE FOUND IN HIM--This refers to being found in the Lord, when He descends with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God (1 Thess 4:16). To be found "in" Christ at that time is everything!
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH COMES FROM GOD--Settle it in your mind that God recognizes no righteousness that does not come from Him! In the great and notable day of the Lord, that will be the only righteousness He receives. Faith strives to be found in possession of God's righteousness when Jesus comes.
I MAY KNOW HIM--Knowing the Lord Jesus is being intimate with Him--sharing His life and being consciously involved in His purpose. Knowing the Lord is here seen to be the highest of all personal involvements, and worthy of the forfeiture of all else. That is how faith reasons on this matter.
THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION--This refers to more than the ultimate resurrection from the dead. The "power of His resurrection" is experienced in measure right now. This is power that enables recovery, recuperation, and revivification. It causes the righteous to get up when they fall, and recover themselves from the snare of the devil (Psa 37:24; Prove 24:16; 2 Tim 2:25-26).
THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS--Every person must suffer, for man is "born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). But to suffer with Christ is a great benefit, for it is written, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim 2:12; ROM 8:17).
ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD--While all will be raised from the dead, all will not profit from the experience. It is written, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29-30). Attaining to the resurrection is being eternally profited by the resurrection, being made perfect, with the work of God being brought to its completion in us.
I PRESS ON--The bane of Western world Christianity is its wretched casualness. Hearty effort is relatively unknown in the professed church, as men continue to defer to convenience. But this is not the manner of faith. Faith presses on, pushing through obstacles, and refusing to be deterred by the devil's devices. It speaks as David did, "For by Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall" (Psa 18:29).
LAY HOLD--Christ took hold on us for a reason. He did not lift us up simply to get us out of sin and the curse. That is the appointed means to the end, but not the end itself. There is a predetermined inheritance that is reserved in heaven for us, and faith is determined to take hold of it (Eph 1:11,18; 1 Pet 1:4).
FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND--Faith cannot live in the past. It is constrained by hope, or the joyful anticipation of the future. Past experiences--or things that were "gain" to us--are unsuitable to build upon. Faith is so enamored of the glorious future, it cannot dwell upon the past.
REACHING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD--This is stretching forward, like a runner leaning forward to cross the finish line. Faith so anticipates the future it stretches, as it were, out of this world into the next one. All of our ransomed powers are pushed and stretched to "finish the course" that has been set before us (Heb 12:1-2).
I PRESS TOWARD THE GOAL--Pressing toward the goal is running toward glory when it rains or when it is dry and thirsty. In the storms of life, we "press toward the goal." When the heart is broken because of life's circumstances, we "press toward the goal." Whether it is up hill, or plodding through a dark valley, faith pushes forward to the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
The thrust of faith is to obtain Divine approval and all that goes with it! In a sense, we already possess it, but it is in its initial, or first fruit, stage. That is what life in Christ is all about! That is the heart of the matter! No person of sound spiritual mind dares to affirm such energetic effort can be realized independently of Divine influence. That is where faith comes in, and faith is the principle thing. Salvation, while it is "by grace," is realized "through faith" (Eph 2:8). Any attempt to experience what is related in Philippians 3:7-14 in human energy alone, will be utterly frustrated. It is the unique--absolutely unique--prerogative of faith to enable this kind of activity to be found in us.
It grieves me that so very little is said today about these things. It indicates a state of alienation exists in the professing church. It is not busy in the proper arena, but is spending its energies on peripheral matters- matters that would be effectively addressed were they to deal with the central matter.
PRAYER POINT: Father, I know Your strength is required to do what You have commanded. By faith I acknowledge that You give this strength upon the basis of my faith in Your Son. In the name of Jesus, I thank You for this arrangement. It is most excellently adapted to my situation.
-- Tomorrow: FAITH IS THE PRINCIPLE THING --