by Mike Ratliff
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:1-3 (NASB)
There is much controversy within the Reformed Theology ranks at this time. I have written about this some and referred to it quite a bit. Many of former Reformed leaders have now become leaders of the Critical Race Theory and Social Justice movements within what used to be what Christians referred to as Conservative Christianity. It is troubling to be sure. Of course, there are those who have not “taken the bait” and remain firmly grounded in God’s truth and have not compromised their ministries with the ways of our culture. Many in the CRT and SJ movements complain that the Biblical Gospel divides. Yes, God’s truth, especially the Gospel, divides, but those who are truly in Christ are called continually in Sacred Scripture to come together, to unite in love and humility as exemplified by Christ himself. On the other hand, what I see in those who are compromising is a co-opting of a genuine restoration of Reformation Theology by those who are attempting to blend it with the seeker sensitive, cultural relevance, and gospel contextualization which are all corrupting influences that move the focus back to the mis-direction mainstream evangelicalism was going, but with the hope or desire of “getting a pass” because they proclaim themselves to “be reformed.” As those in the Seeker Sensitive paradigm have found though, emotionalism and getting people to work through motivations other than the genuine moving of the Holy Spirit will work only for a short period of time. Why? It’s all of this flesh and that means, of this world. That is not what Christians are called to do.
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11 (NASB)
Here we have Paul’s exhortation for believers to live out their lives in Christ in the Spirit by living in unity. Who is our example? It is Christ! Christ’s humbling himself to become our Saviour is our example to serve one another. We are to consider other people’s interests first. Jesus did not come and set up a huge church or ministry to rival the Temple et cetera. He did not instruct his disciples to do that either. No, that sort of religiosity is not what we should be about. I hope you noticed that throughout this exhortation by Paul, that he focused on our worship and service of our Lord and that was lived through the sacrificial love for each other.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. Philippians 2:12-18 (NASB)
Paul was no antinomian. What does it mean for believers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling? I confess that I have fallen into the mistake of becoming content with spiritual successes. We can’t do that, but instead, we need to demonstrate our faith each day as we nurture our relationships with God. God’s justice is indeed a cause for sober living, something the YRR need to learn. Also, Paul is not telling us that we can never be good enough to merit God’s favor. Instead, it is God’s love and enabling grace that will see us through our spiritual growth and maturing. We know this is so because it is God who works in us, not just for our benefit, but for His good pleasure. That is only terrifying to those who have no trust of our perfect God. Instead of trying to fit into this perverted culture as the YRR guys do with their “coolness,” we are to shine as lights in it and we can’t do that if we look just like it does. Notice also, that if we do what is right, and are separate from the world, it is as if our lives are poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and priestly service of those whom we serve.
19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly. 25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me. Philippians 2:19-30 (NASB)
Why is Timothy suitable for Paul to send him to Philippi? He is not concerned about himself, but for them. He is not self-centered. That is a true pastor’s heart. Epaphroditus was from Philippi and his concern was that the Philippians would be concerned about his health since he had been sick to the point of death. In v30 Paul alludes to the reason he became ill was in bringing Paul the gift from the Philippians for his support which we see in 4:10. This was in no way a complaint by Paul that they were not caring for him, but that it was difficult for Epaphroditus to get the funds to him.
Compare this exhortation by Paul to humble service with what we are witnessing in our time. Look at the “rock star preachers” with their skinny jeans full of holes. Their rat’s nest hair cuts. Their sloppy shirts and their sneakers. Look at their “church services” that are more of a “rock concert” event. Who is the center of attention? Is it Christ with every knee bowed because He is Lord. Is His Word the source of our Truth or are we placing the words of men and their special revelation above it? What I just described are just a few of the “evidences” I have seen in some the SJ and CRT elements that I have examined and I say take what they say and do and line those up with Sacred Scripture and look at their focus. Are they grabbing the attention or are they humbling themselves as drink offerings poured out on behalf of those they serve in the name of Christ?
Soli Deo Gloria!