Press on in His strength – a sermon on Philippians 3:12-16 by Rev. Craig van Echten.
Brothers and sisters,
Many of you have probably heard of the book: ‘Pilgrims progress’ by John Bunyan. It’s a classic allegory of the Christian life. And boys and girls you might remember one portion of it when Christian was going up the hill of difficulty. And as he’s climbing he comes to a pleasant arbor in the hill. This arbor is a nice sheltered spot to have a rest. And this refreshing place was put their by the Lord of the hill for weary travellers. And it provides opportunity for Christian to pull out his roll and read for his comfort, and to delight in the garments of Christ’s righteousness that he wears. So far so good.
But, then something bad happens. Christian falls asleep. The arbor was meant to refresh and enable him to press on. But, now it’s become a hindrance. He loses sight of the journey. He loses sight of his destination. He sleeps.
Maybe you’ve been refreshed by the gospel? Maybe the sermon last week gave you fresh joy? Last week we were reminded in bold and underline that Christ is enough. As verse 12 says, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that come from the law, but that which comes through faith in in Christ, the righteousness that is from God.” In other words, nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling.
Let me make it clear again this morning that your morals, your baptism, and your confessions cannot save you. It is rubbish, compost, even dung before a Holy God. There is no climbing to heaven. Our only hope in life, in death, and before judgment throne of God is Christ. For it’s when only when the Holy God sees we have the righteousness of Christ that He declares us as righteous. Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified (declared righteous) by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” How good is that! And the Lord refreshes us with that beautiful truth again and again. It’s our arbour in the hill. Our cool drink on a hot summers day. For that righteousness is peace, rest, acceptance, grace, reconciliation, freedom, favour, and blessing for all eternity.
But, now that we are refreshed by the perfect righteousness of Christ are you pressing on? Or have you fallen asleep? Maybe you are in between somewhere?
This morning is a reminder that our Christian journey is not finished. And so the encouragement from this passage is: press on in God’s strength.