by Mike Ratliff
8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω 9 καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, 10 τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων αὐτοῦ, συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ, 11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶ. (Philippians 3:8-11 NA28)
8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Visible Church in our time has continued with what Charles Spurgeon referred to as The Great Downgrade. That was, of course, the move to liberalize the doctrines of the Church so as to make the individual churches become more “user friendly” to people, that is, to not be so offensive by being so forceful with moral stands against “certain sins” while, at the same time, giving up adherence to long held statements of faith such as the Five Solas of the Reformation: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).
It has been clearly shown that once a group of believers gives up on adherence to Sola Scriptura that it isn’t very long, perhaps one or two generations, that that group becomes irrelevant (apostate) as a religious entity. However, this is not the primary focus of this post. Instead, we are to look at the exact opposite. What happens to those who absolutely refuse to compromise when the pressure comes to do so? In our time, that pressure will come from the secular humanists to be sure, but, sadly, it comes most often from professing Christians who are on the wrong side of the dividing line, that is, they have already compromised. They are apostate yet they demand to be counted as Christian. However, the genuine Christian, the one who has not compromised and refuses to do so, stands as an accusation against them. They see one who stands for all they have turned from. The genuine Christian, the uncompromising Christian as Paul describes in Philippians 3:8-11 (above) is willing to suffer loss of all the world holds dear, even seeing all of it as σκύβαλα or skybala or dung, saying clearly to us, “in order to gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul was Saul the Pharisee before he became Paul the Apostle. He was a very important person in the Jewish Religious Elite. However, God had other plans (Acts 9:1-30). When God saved Paul he did, over the rest of his life, indeed find out how much he was to suffer to for our Lord’s sake (Acts 9:16). Paul never flinched from it. As he become the Apostle to the Gentiles he suffered the loss of all he had before and he was persecuted everywhere he went, but he said boldly to the Philippians in the passage we are studying that he considered all he had before to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, on account of whom all things he suffered loss and he considered all that to be dung.
Can we say that or do we still cling to what the world offers or even what our religion offers in place of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord? Those who suffer loss on His account are those who stand firm and never compromise. Are you there or are you too afraid of offending someone with the truth?
The powerlessness of most of what see as the Church in our time is that most of it is not genuine. That which is solid and uncompromising must not waiver. We must never give in. The pressure is coming and in some places is already boasting that it has overcome Christianity. I heard a secular humanist say the other day that in her state Christianity was dead. Is it?
Soli Deo Gloria!