All we need as a church is Jesus. We don’t need anything else. Jesus is the identifying mark. His death, His resurrection.
You know, normally, I thank Graham and Marsha and the band and I’m certainly grateful for their work. But I’m going to thank the congregation this morning for your worship. It is so good. It is so good. I think it’s been about 52 Sundays since we’ve probably been able to do that. So we’re certainly blessed to be able to worship this morning. So I had to bring my bottle of water. ‘Cause this is how I’m going to give a shout out to the men. They made me, forced it down my throat. Liver mush this morning. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but boys, it’s dried me out.
I also have and I know the East Rowan folks won’t like this after last week, but my high school letter jacket. Graham, don’t let me mess my microphone up. Did I just pull it out? Now for those in my family, namely my wife, who said I wouldn’t put it on this morning, pretty impressive. Don’t ask me to button it. Now there is a purpose for it. This letter jacket meant a lot to me in high school. I worked hard to get it. I got it as a sophomore because I was able to play varsity football as a sophomore and then at some point, I got this little track pin. Y’all can laugh at that if you want to. I couldn’t remember why. And then it came to me. We had the best Fatboy Relay team in the state. And then it occurs to me that, many years later, that that really wasn’t an event. And I think it was just for entertainment. But I earned my North Carolina scholar athlete. That’s for the athletes who are smart, but aren’t good enough to get any other patch, you know. And if you got one, that’s an accomplishment to get, so I’m not knocking it. I’ve got my three years of football, which that was really the important ones. But I remember when I got it, and I’m jealous nowadays, they’ve got the leather sleeves. I mean, this is old school, but I remember when I got it, I felt like somebody, right? I could put it on and walk up and down the halls of that school and I knew I was a part of something.
Now, you know, I don’t know how they do letter jackets now, but it was not easy to get back then. Oh, by the way, when we were having this discussion about me wearing it, Jennifer said I could wear hers. And she actually has a whole lot more hardware than I do. And like her sleeves are covered in those patches, so you know her letter jacket would have made the point a little bit better than mine, but I could walk around prideful. I could walk around and this identified me as a football player. In high school, I thought this is what gave me my identity. I thought this is all I needed to be accepted by my brothers on that team. And it was good to walk around like that. I mean, it was good to do it. You know where this thing’s been since high school? In a box or hanging up. In fact, I’ve wore it twice since high school. Now and the first time I ever preached this sermon about two years ago.
It’s occurred to me that as important as all these accomplishments are, I didn’t really need it to be a part of the team because I was a part of the team. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my brothers every Friday night and I was a football player. I didn’t need these accomplishments or these accolades to prove that it was my identity. It’s good to have accomplishments.
It’s good to work for those things and to strive for those things. But that wasn’t who I was. I was who I was because I did what I did. The church can fall victim to this same kind of identity crisis if you will. The church can fall victim to looking at what we’ve done and saying because I’ve done this, I’m a Christian. Now we got we fall into that same category as Christians where we can say, oh, I’ve been to church since I was in the womb, so I must be a Christian. Or I’ve read through the Bible 50 times cover to cover, I’m a Christian. Or I’ve never missed a Sunday. If the doors were open, I was there, so I must be a Christian. Or we could go into these other categories. Well, my mom and dad are Christian. They brought me to church every day. That’s what makes me a Christian. We fall into those traps all the time and we like to tout our religious accomplishments. And please don’t misunderstand. It’s good to read your Bible. It’s good to read it, Genesis to Revelation. It’s good to memorize Scripture. It’s good to be here when the doors are open, but that is not what makes us Christian. Those accomplishments don’t identify us, they are a result of being a Christian.
You know the message today really goes back to a couple weeks ago where we’re looking at, you know, Christ working in us so he can work through us. And Paul was pretty clear, but he wants to really clarify this today, that you are not saved by your religious accomplishments. There’s only one thing you need, and that’s Jesus. Our identity as a church, our identity as Christians isn’t in that we come to this building in worship. It’s not found in the music we sing. Our identity is not found in how much we’ve studied the Bible. All good things are. Identity is found in Jesus because all we need is Jesus. And if you’re not a Christian, I want you to listen to this message today. It’s really for you, because you know if you’re trying to fill your life with other things to be saved, you don’t have to. You just need to fill it with Jesus.
And if you’re a Christian, you need to listen so we don’t get caught up in the checklist of things. We don’t need to feel guilty if we skip a quiet time. We don’t want to skip it every day, but it’s not your quiet time that makes you a Christian. It’s Jesus. And so, what’s going on to give you the context of our passage, the Apostle Paul is writing to clarify some false teaching that has crept into the church. If you look in Philippians 3:2, he actually says “Watch out for the dogs, watch out for the evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh.” So he’s telling the church to watch out for false prophets false teachers. Now these are called Judaizes. They were a group of people that were coming into the church and here’s what they told the church at Philippi. They said for you to be a Christian, you have to participate in Jewish rituals. If you want to be identified as a Christian, you have to be circumcised just like the Jewish people. They’re coming in and they’re saying you cannot claim to be a follower of Christ unless you do X,Y&Z. And Paul calls these false teachers dogs. Be aware of dogs.
Now I know when I read that, I think of my cute cuddly pet dog, right? We love dogs. We have animals. They’re like cool little pets. Dogs in the New Testament time were not cute and cuddly. They were wild animals. They were dirty. They were unclean. They were vicious. And they had a tendency to work their way into areas they do not belong in, wreak havoc. These were feral dogs. They would destroy things. They would cause disruptions. Paul is using some really harsh language. He says watch out for those people who will infiltrate your church and preach a gospel that is not the right Gospel. Watch out for those dogs who are going to wreak havoc in your Christian community because they’re trying to give you a list of things to do in order for you to be called a Christian. And he’s going to correct it.
Now these Judaizes, they would have thought of themselves as pretty good. They would have accomplished all these religious accolades. They would have walked in and showed their religious resume and said “you should listen to me.” They would have done that. This is why you have to become Jewish because I am Jewish and so here’s what Paul says. I want you to just read this, ’cause Paul has one of the most impressive religious resumes we’ve ever read about starting in verse 4.
Philippians 3:4-11. “although I have reasons for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more.” He’s basically looking at the Judaizer. He says you think you’ve had accomplishments? You think you’ve done all these things? I’ve done more and then he’s going to list them. “Circumcised on the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”
Let’s pray together. Father, as we study Your Word this morning, may it be a light into our path and a lamp into our feet. Father, what we know not we pray You would teach us. What we have not, we pray that You would give us. And what we are not, we pray that You would make us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
So Paul had an impressive resume, but it was not enough to identify him as a Christian. I want to walk you through just some of the things that he says. He was circumcised on the eighth day. He was an 8-dayer. This was a Jewish custom. His parents took him to the synagogue or to the temple and he was circumcised identifying him as Jewish. His parents did all the right things to start him out on a path of Judaism. He was born of the tribe of Benjamin. At that time, it’s seen as the best tribe to be born into. The first King of Israel, Saul, who Paul may have been named after, came from the tribe of Benjamin. This was the only tribe that did not abandon King David and this would have been the upper class of Jewish people. To say it like this, he would have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. A Jewish person circumcised on the eighth day. His parents were, or at least one of his parents were, from the tribe of Benjamin. So he was the best of the best.
But he continues. He worked really hard to achieve a status known as a Pharisee. The Pharisees loved and devoted themselves to keeping God’s law. They loved the law so much they made more laws to help them keep the original laws. They were rule keepers. You know those people in school, right? They are rule keepers. If you break a rule, they are going to tell on you because they are rule keepers. Pharisees keep the law to perfection. That is who he is. He was devoted to securing his way of life. And he says, as for zeal, persecuting the church, he loved Judaism so much he tracked down, hunted down, and killed Christians who are disrupting their faith. That’s how zealous he was, but it’s this last line. He goes “as for righteousness based on the law, he was faultless.” That means, based on his family, his lineages heritage and based on his achievements, he was faultless. He was perfect, you know he was there when Stephen the first martyr died. He was on fast track to being one of the greatest Jews to ever live. I mean, he was the man. He had accomplished all of these things. He based on the law was blameless. He was faultless.
But one day, as he’s on a road to hunt down Christians, he meets Jesus. He meets Jesus. Jesus shows up and it changed his life forever. And in that moment, he realized all this religion, all these things that he had thought made him who he was, all of this stuff that he had worked so hard to attain, didn’t get him anywhere. And so he lost it all the moment he said yes to Jesus. But with all that he lost, he gained so much more.
Look at verse 7 again. “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss, because of Christ.” He talks about more the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Here’s what he says. Everything in his life, was dung, it was rubbish. It was garbage in comparison to knowing Christ. I want you to let that sink in. He really expands it. He uses that word everything. So he takes it even further than just his religious accomplishments. Everything in his life. The fast track that he was on. All of that stuff is garbage compared to knowing Christ.
Let me ask you, are you willing to give it all away to know Christ? Are you willing to lose everything to say yes for Jesus? He lost his family members. He lost his religious status. He lost his wealth. He was beaten. He was put in jail. He was shipwrecked. Read the life of Paul. Because of his decision to follow Christ, he went through a miserable stretch. And he says, everything I lost was worthless because I gained Christ. He gained something more important than religious accolades. He gained something more important than the fast track to success. He gained a relationship with God, the Father, that by the way he had been striving his whole life to have. He did all of that stuff because he wanted to be made right with God.
Paul had this idea before he became a Christian that I will stand before God give my list of accomplishments and be ushered into heaven. But that’s just not it. The only way for us to be identified or to be called Christian is through Christ. Paul received the relationship that he had worked so hard just by following Jesus by faith. Paul received this relationship by following Jesus Christ by faith. He says, I consider all of that stuff garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in Him. Not having a righteousness of my own. He couldn’t earn it. But that which is through faith in Christ Jesus, that comes from God on the basis of faith. He thought the source of his righteousness was following the law, but the source of righteousness is Jesus. All you need is Jesus. Let that sink in, church. All we need as a church is Jesus. We don’t need anything else. Jesus is the identifying mark. His death, His resurrection. We just need to say yes to Jesus.
You see, only righteous people. Only people who have been made right with God are going to go to heaven. I mean, that’s just that’s what the Bible teaches. When you stand before God, you will have all these sins lined up. Every mistake you’ve ever made is going to be poured out when you stand before God. And the only way to have a relationship with God. The only way to go to heaven is to be able to have those sins forgiven. And the only way to have him forgiven is through Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite songs growing up was by a man named Ray Boltz. It was a song called One Drop of Blood. It was this courtroom scene where you’re standing before God as judge and all your sins, you’ve got the scales of justice, and all of your sins have weighed it down. And then Jesus, one drop of His blood throws it all out of balance. If you want to stand before God and hear those words, well done, good and faithful servant, then you’ve got to say yes to Jesus. You’ve got to make a decision to believe in Him and to follow Him. Christ has done the work that we could not do.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” When Jesus is hanging on that cross, your sins are traded in for righteousness. When you say yes to Jesus, you trade your sins for His righteousness. And that begins the process of allowing Christ to work in you to work through you.
We live in a time, I think I’ve told this story before, but I had a professor in my undergraduate, who came into our class. We had just heard a Chapel sermon by one of my favorite pastors. He had said there’s one way to heaven and it’s Jesus. My professor, this was the last day I was a religion major at this school. My religion professor came in and she goes, “that was the worst sermon I’ve ever heard. Because there are many, many ways to get to heaven.” Folks, if you believe that, then you’re going to be in for a pretty rude awakening when you stand before God. Your sins can be forgiven. We’re never going to be perfect people. We’re never going to be sinless. Even Christians, today, you’re never going to live up to God’s standard. I make mistakes all the time.
You know what I did? Last week’s sermon was on not grumbling and complaining. But by Monday afternoon, after dealing with the bank over my house, I was doing a lot of grumbling and complaining. But you know what? I was convicted and I am forgiven. You can be forgiven too, but you have to step out on faith and say yes to Jesus. You have to believe. Now listen, this is the Gospel message. We’re all sinful people. You have to believe He is who He said He was. You have to believe that He was a real person, fully God, fully man. You have to believe that He was crucified. You have to believe that he was literally resurrected. And once you believe you have to make a decision to repent. And all repentance is you just turn away from the world, you turn away from your sins. You turn away from all of that and you just follow Jesus. Believe, repent and decide to follow. And if you’ve never made that decision, today’s the day.
Don’t leave here without knowing that you are a child of God. Don’t leave here without knowing that when you stand before God the Father, you are going to be righteous. Not by your works, not by your religion, not by your accomplishments but it’s going to be because of the relationship that you have with Jesus. Jesus is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins. It’s what we’ve been studying on Sunday nights. He is faithful and He meets you here. He is here today and He’s drawing you to Him.
I don’t assume that everyone is saved. If you’ve never been saved. If you’ve never decided to follow Jesus, you have heard the Gospel and He’s saying step out on faith today and follow Me. He saying come to Me, come to Me. Let Me take charge of your life. Let Me clean it up. Let Me forgive you. Stop chasing after things that are never going to fill you up and just let Me fill you up. Do you need to make that choice today? I invite you to come. We’re going to stand and sing and I want you to respond.
I know it’s a different altar than we’re used to, but there’s plenty of space up here for you to come and pray. There’s plenty of space where you’re at to pray. If you want to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you can come and we’ll pray together and we’ll talk about it. Maybe you’ve made that decision. The next step is to follow Jesus into the waters of baptism. Maybe you’ve made the decision to follow Jesus and you’re just wondering what’s next. You gotta go public. And we go public by baptism. It’s just a symbolic nature of us dying to self and being raised to life with Christ. You’re not going to be saved through baptism, it’s just a public demonstration of your faith.
Maybe you’ve been baptized and maybe you’ve been visiting and maybe you’ve been checking China Grove First Baptist out and you want to join this church. You see that God is working. I’m going to tell you something. Today starts my 7th month with you. And what I’m seeing God do started way before I got here, but God is working. He’s working in us and through us. If you want to be a part of that, if He’s calling you to be a part of that, come and join this church.
Maybe you just need to recommit your life to say all I need is Jesus. I’m a Christian, I’m following, but I just need Jesus today with whatever you’re going through. I just need Jesus. Will you make those decisions today? Will you respond to the working of God’s Spirit in your heart, today?
Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank You for the Word of God. We thank You for dying for our sins. Father, we know that we can do all these good things and they are good. It is important to read the Bible. It is important to study scriptures but that is not what makes us a Christian. We are Christians because of Christ. We are going to heaven because of Jesus. Our hope in the eternity is through faith in Christ alone, by God’s grace alone. Father, if there’s anybody here who needs to make that decision, draw them forward today so that You would change their life for eternity. Father just let them know that You love them, that You died for them, that You’re willing to forgive them. And help us as a church to take this message to the whole world. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.