The Chapel of Grace Unimaid Midweek Prayers 05-11-2020
Topic: *”FOUR TYPES OF CHRISTIANS”* (Philippians 3)
Minister: Venerable Dr Ifechukwu U. Ibeme
*FOUR TYPES OF CHRISTIANS in Philippians Chapter 3,*
Which one is yours?
Saint Paul wrote Phlippians from Roman Prison to encourage the Philippians. A congregation that gave to support his missionary work.
Using his exemplary experience as a mature and victorious Christian, St Paul exhorted the Philippians to stand firm in the faith of the Apostles as devoted IMITATORS OF CHRIST who presses on to maturity in seeking to know Christ more and more (Php_3:10; 2Pe_3:18) (not that Christ would give us more of Himself which he has fully done already). Paul was always depending on the effectual working of Grace (Eph_3:7-8) to race on to the goal of glory through grace, and safeguard themselves against three erroneous tendencies that easily befall Christian viz:
1. The mistaken confidence of CEREMONIAL LEGALISTS (vs. Php_3:1-11),
2. The immature complacency of CONCEITED PERFECTIONISTS (vs. Php_3:12-16) and
3. The depraved carnality of SELF-INDULGENT LIBERTINES (vs. Php_3:17-21).
*1. CEREMONIAL LEGALISTS in their mistaken confidence* (vs. Php_3:1-11) think they are accepted before God by the ritual ministrations they undergo and formal conditions they fulfil (such as circumcisions, sacraments, anointings, ministerial covers, levies/seeds, ceremonies, etc ) or formal recognition they have procured (such as offices, titles, positions, qualifications, ordinances, etc). These do not really depend on the grace of God through Christ nor do they submit their hearts to moral and spiritual transformation by the Spirit.
*2. CONCEITED PERFECTIONIST in their immature complacency* (vs. Php_3:12-16) think they have spiritually arrived or attained fullness for God’s glory, since they had once surrendered their lives to Christ, are manifesting signs of the power of the Holy Spirit, and have claim to have experienced ultimate sanctification or Spirit baptism. These do not strive to press towards the high calling which they have not yet attained, do not feel the need for confession of sin, but glory and boast in what they have already attained, claiming to have received everything they lacked and desired.
*3. SELF-INDULGENT LIBERTINES in their depraved carnality* (vs. Php_3:17-21; Jud_1:4) think that since Christ has freed them from the moral law through grace, they are free to do things as their heart desires or as the situation dictates. These permissive antinomian fellows do not accept the correction, reproof or rebuke of the Scripture nor do they accept any suffering, self-denial, regulations or standards, insisting that their personal sense of judgement, personal pleasures and personal choices are the leadings of the Spirit.
*4. COMMITTED CHRIST-IMITATORS in their consecrated maturity,* depend on the enablement of Grace to pursue victorious (battle-winning and crown-winning) Christian life which St Paul always pursued as “ONE THING” (v. Php_3:13) he “PRESSED ON” (v. Php_3:14) to do and wants all to pursue. Christ paid the Cost/Prize which qualifies us and gave Grace which empowers us to Run the Race to win the Crown/Prize. By this they would ensure safeguards against all the above errors.
In summary, this growing imitation of Christ rather seeks to:
i) Keep the joy of salvation aflame (v. Php_3:1).
ii) Worship God spiritually or inwardly rather than only ritually and outwardly (vs. Php_3:2-3).
iii) Count all attained temporal status and spiritual pedigree as loss and rubbish (vs. Php_3:4-8).
iv) Remain constantly determined and desirous to know more of Christ’s resurrection power, deny self more, suffer more for Christ, and know greater righteousness and purity through closer intimacy with Christ (vs. Php_3:9-11; cf. 1Co_9:24-27; Heb_12:1-2).
v) Understand that true perfection and maturity do not settle on past perfections but perseveres and stretches forth for the future and further perfections unto the end, till the goal of full perfection is reached to win the prize of glorious resurrection (vs. Php_3:12-17).
vi) Pursue eternal and heavenly citizenship (e.g. moral purity, penitence, etc) rather than earthly and temporal citizenship (e.g. material prosperity, pleasures, etc) (vs. Php_3:18-21; cf. Col_3:1-4).