Recently the Tuesday Men’s Bible Study went through Philippians together. When we got to chapter three it struck me that vv. 9-11 are a nutshell summary of the three phases of our salvation in consecutive order: justification, sanctification and glorification. I thought, How many places can you go where in three simple verses the entire scope of salvation is laid out for us? It is amazing the things we learn as we look at Scripture afresh.
Verse 9 is Justification: that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
This is the wonderful truth that the gospel proclaims a righteous standing with God that is not earned by law-keeping, but is bestowed on sinners who trust the finished work of Christ on the cross for their salvation. This is the great truth that Martin Luther learned when he discovered that “the righteousness of God” in Romans 1:17 is not the righteousness that God demands, but the righteousness that God gives to those who trust in Jesus. That glorious truth relieved all of Luther’s anxieties about how he could be right with God and ushered in the mighty Protestant Reformation that has brought salvation to multitudes.
Verse 10 is Sanctification: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Sanctification is the second stage in salvation and is clearly a process of becoming more righteous in our behavior. It is becoming in practice what we are in standing before God. Note that verse 10 tells us how we grow in this ongoing process. First, we grow in our experience of Christ (by getting to know him better). This is clearly a life-transforming knowledge because it results in the power of his resurrection. Getting to know Christ directly and personally leads to sinning less and obeying Him more as He changes our lives thru our knowledge of Him. Second, we share his sufferings (which refine us and deepen us). One of God’s best tools for cutting away the works of the flesh is suffering because it humbles us and causes us to wait upon God and submit to His purposes. Charles Spurgeon said suffering is the best book in a pastor’s library. We learn things from pain we can learn in no other way. Third, we grow by self-denial as we take up our cross following Jesus, becoming like him in his death. Being conformed to Christ’s death is walking the costly way of self-denial by denying what hinders our growth and pursuing what helps it. A mentor once told me that the difference between most students is not ability, but self-discipline. That is true in sanctification also.
Verse 10 is Glorification: that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Paul is anticipating the glorious day when in a moment, the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed into Christ’s glorious likeness (see vv. 20, 21). Like justification, this is an event that happens instantaneously and we are just people finally made perfect. The uncertainty in v. 10 is not of arrival, but of means of arrival. Will Paul go by the Rapture or by death before Jesus’ returns? He did not know. But he did know it was certain, as it is for us too. PTL!
Your friend, in three amazing verses, Pastor Brian (:-}).