Hey everyone! Nice to be back. I’m back in the saddle again, and I want to thank Father Dave for putting this service on. My name is Joel Jamal. If you want to follow me on social media, it’s ‘Joel Jamal’ or Turning Point Australia’.
Today’s reading is from Philippians chapter 3, verses 4b to 14. It’s written by Paul, the Apostle, to the Philippians (obviously):
“if anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more – circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin – a Hebrew born of Hebrews. As to the law, I’m a Pharisee. As to zeal, a persecutor of the church. As to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet, whatever gains I had; these I have come to regard as a loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as a loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and I regard them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him – not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through my faith in Christ – the righteousness from God, based on faith, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, and if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved. I do not consider that I have made it on my own, but this is one thing I do – forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on towards the goal for the prize of the Heavenly call of God in Christ. Jesus.”
That’s, again, Philippians 3: 4b-14.
Why? What is Paul saying here? You know, in my opinion, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but one of the things that’s perhaps not as evident is Paul is someone that, you know, he used to be a persecutor of the church – a Pharisee, someone that came after the church and hunted these people down, killed them, got the Romans to do his dirty work, and obviously he turned his life around. He used to be ‘Saul’ and then became ‘Paul’ when Jesus appeared to him on the way to Damascus and blinded him, and he turned his life around, and he became one of the most zealous Christians, even on the same level as Peter, and … it’s kind of fascinating because what he’s saying here to the Philippians is, ‘if there’s anyone that outranks you guys in in terms of zealousness and being the best Pharisee, being the best Jew, it’s me!
I’m from the tribe of Benjamin (a very honoured tribe), I’m someone that persecuted the church, I’m someone that outranks all of you. I’m a Roman citizen, I’m someone that actually is a very prominent person in the Jewish community and respected, and yet he says all of that counts for nothing because true faith, true salvation, comes through Christ Jesus – through a faith in Jesus alone – and I think that’s an amazing verse because it shows that it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what your background is. You can all have faith. It doesn’t matter how bad it was. It doesn’t matter if you’re persecuting Jesus’ people himself, to the point that Jesus appeared to you on the road to Damascus.
You are someone that has value, and someone that can be saved through faith and through believing that Christ Jesus (in John 3:16) is the way to salvation. “For God, so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him will have eternal life” – the most famous verse in the world other than maybe, you know, “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1).
It’s an amazing story – Paul’s story – and I think that it goes to show that even back then in the early church they were having these kinds of debates about, you know, works over faith and to what extent the Old Testament has passed away and Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, but, more importantly, the New Testament shows a different side of Jesus – of God – and of what God’s plans are for us, and the only buy-in for those people out there that perhaps are gamblers, the only buy-in on this is that you have faith. You don’t have to do any hard works like all that stuff Paul did. You just have to have faith, accept Jesus Christ into your life and to ask him into your life and to give him, you know, your life over to him – ‘It’s yours now, Jesus’ – and I think that’s a truly liberating thing.
That’s my take on the verse. I hope you guys enjoy it, and it’s good to be back. Thank you again, Father Dave, for doing this, and remember, guys, shoot him a few bucks to support his work. He’s doing God’s work and please ensure you share this stream so more people can hear the word of God.
God bless you, and thank you, Father Dave,