READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l We may have had mentors and role models in our lives. Let us look to St Paul as a role model to understand what are the marks of a disciple in full-time ministry such as theologians, missionaries, church ministry staff and pastors.
1.Counts it all as loss. (v8) In this scripture passage we learn of Paul’s exemplary religious heritage/his fanatical zeal for the Jewish laws but here he says he counts it all loss compared with the surpassing worth of knowing Christ as Saviour. Are we like this, achieving much even in church, only to discover it was the wrong standard of measurement?
2. Seeks to gain Christ through Christlike Character. We live in conflict because worldly values don’t align with Christian values. We need to apply our minds to truly live out our faith and allow the Word of God to direct and shape us. Those in full time ministry especially must approach the Word with pure hearts in order to serve and lead with Christlikeness. They must love the truth of Christ more than their congregation’s affection.
3. Cross-bearing Service and Suffering. (v10) Paul says he wants to participate in the suffering of Christ. A theologian once said that one of the greatest sins of the Evangelical Church is the belief that we can be a Christ follower without suffering for his name. We must take up our cross daily. Loving difficult people is not easy but this is what we have been called to by Christ. When an individual chooses full time ministry their whole family is affected. John Wesley’s marriage suffered because of his constant travelling. William Carey, often known as the father of modern missions, made a personal decision to abandon his family and pregnant wife to commit his life to serve in India. A call to full-time is not just an individual’s call to serve God, but also the call of the person’s family to serve God and carry the cross as well. Families have to make sacrifices to enable someone to stay in full time ministry. However, there are blessings too!
4. Strains Forward. (v13) Those in full time ministry get tired and may try to do everything forgetting that they are not the Messiah. They are at risk of burning out and losing sight of their calling. In Matt 11:28 -29, Jesus invites us to come to him and He will give us redemptive rest and imaginative ways of fulfilling our purpose. George Whitfield was a friend of John Wesley who struggled to follow God diligently. He eventually felt the assurance of salvation by God’s grace.
5. Not because of his own efforts. He was finally able to enter God’s redemptive rest.
(Sermon notes by Frances Lim)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Read Philippians 3:2-11. How did Paul contrast himself from those persons mentioned in verse 2?
2a. What were the gains that Paul as referring to, in verse 7? How did these ‘gains’ benefit him?
2b. What does it mean to now count them as loss?
2c. What things are you hesitant to lose or count as rubbish for the sake of Christ? Why?
3. In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul expressed a desire to know Christ, the power of his resurrection, and to share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
3a. According to these verses, what does it mean to know Christ? How is this observed in your personal life?
3b. What is Paul’s understanding of sharing Christ’s sufferings by becoming like him in his death? Is suffering (eg poverty and persecution) necessary for Christians?
3c. In what way does sharing in Christ’s suffering help us to know Christ better? Share a personal experience.
4. Read Philippians 3:12-14. What does it mean to press on? What is Paul pressing on towards in verses 12 to 14? What does he need to do to keep pressing on?
5. What kind of suffering is Christ inviting you to, for His sake? Or what practical actions will you take to press on today? Share and pray.