Gary Flynt

Things That Hinder Fellowship
I John 1

Last week we saw that the theme of I John was fellowship. But we can let things into our lives that defraud us of fellowship.

Billy Graham told of a little boy who went into a drugstore and asked the druggist if he could borrow the telephone. The druggist told him that would be fine. So the little boy dials the grocery store and asks, “Do you need a stock clerk?” They said, “No, we already have a little boy who does that for us.” He said, “Does he do a good job? Maybe you need someone else.” The grocer said, “No, we are very satisfied with the little boy we have.” He said, “Thank you,” and he hung up.

The druggist said, “I’m sorry you didn’t get the job.” The boy said, “No, you don’t understand. I already have the job over there: I was just checking up on myself.”

Today I want you to check up on yourself and see if there’s something in your life that’s keeping you from enjoying the sweetest fellowship this side of Heaven. If there is, that something is likely sin……secret faults that can cause moral earthquakes.

We’re going to talk about secret faults today…things we hide that keeps us from fellowshipping with God. Look at I John 1:5-2:6. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not the commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: herby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”

The way to deal with sin is to recognize sin for what it is. We have a generation today that doesn’t even like the word sin. It seems that the only sin today is to call sin sin. We rather call it a mistake, or a misjudgment, or an error, etc. But Jesus didn’t die for mistakes; He died for sin.

We live in an age of behavioristic psychology. Psychologist tell us that we are just the sum total of our genes and chromosomes and our environment. They say that man isn’t wicked; he’s just weak. He’s not sinful; he’s sick. He’s not evil’ he’s ill. Therefore, we never deal with the real problem.

We’ve been spurred on by evolution. We’ve been told that man wasn’t created, but he evolved from some primordial soup. Of course, they never tell us where the soup came from! But if what they say is true, we’ve come from soup to nuts!

Man didn’t evolve. He was created in the image of God. Man sinned willfully. Sin isn’t an accident; it’s high treason against God. If you don’t understand sin for what it is, you never deal with sin or understand the remedy for sin which God has provided. If you think sin is a problem to be fixed, you’re going to be looking for a cure rather than for forgiveness. Thank God for this epistle that tells us how to deal with the sin problem and how to have fellowship with God.

People have lost the concept of sin today. The evolutionist says that we’re on our way up and that time will kill the beast that’s in us. You can believe that if you want to, but King Kong is not my cousin!

Education says that if we get more learning we’ll be able to deal with the sin problem. Is that true? What about Nazi Germany? The Nazi’s were highly educated. And today our universities have become cesspools of sin.

Science says that we can just breed sin out of man by genetic engineering. And parents are trying to prearrange the birth of their children today.

Sociologists tell us that if we can just change our environment man will be better. But I want to remind them that man fell in the best environment ever created…..the Garden of Eden. Sin is no respecter of persons. It will come to the high rise just as easily as it comes to the ghetto.

Psychologists tell us that these are feelings we’ve generated inside ourselves and that we just need to get rid of these guilt feelings. But it’s not the guilt feelings we need to get rid of; it’s the guilt!

The only place you’ll find the answer for the sin problem is in the Word of God.

How does God deal with sin? When you repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are born again. Judicially and legally sin is dealt with forever. God said in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” When you get saved, every sin (past, present and future) is buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness.

Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” That’s good news! That is the gospel of grace.

Jeremiah 31:34 says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

When God says He’ll remember our iniquities no more, does that mean He can’t recall them anymore? No. He’s saying, “I won’t remember their sin against them anymore.” He only remembers them as sins that have been forgiven…and therefore forgotten as sins.

Intellectually, I can never forget the sins I’ve committed. But when I do remember those sins, I remember then as a sin that’s no longer held against me. They are sins that have been forgiven by the grace of God.

That’s how the Lord deals with us judicially. “Blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin.” If God ever put one half of one sin on my account, it would be enough to damn me forever. I can’t behave myself into Heaven. If I’m going to be saved, then I have to be saved by the grace of God.

But how does God deal with our sins day by day? If I’m saved by grace and kept by grace; if no sin will ever be brought up against me anymore; if my sin is buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness, then how does God deal with me day by day? How does He deal with me when I’m proud, or arrogant, or when I tell a lie, or when I have a lustful look? Well, He doesn’t deal with me as a Judge, but as a Father. In this chapter we’re not talking about legal judgment; we’re talking about God dealing with us in a parental way.

When I’m born into the family of God, a son-ship is established. Son-ship never changes. I was born into the Flynt family and nothing can ever change that. When the sun, moon and stars have grown cold, I’ll still be a Flynt. It’s the same way when you’re born again.

Son-ship can never change. But there’s another relationship that can change. It’s called fellowship. When I was growing up, I always had relationship with my father, but I didn’t always have fellowship. There were times when I didn’t do what my father told me to do, or I did what he told me not to do. That’s when he would apply the board of education to my seat of knowledge!

The Bible says, “Whom the Father loveth, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

Son-ship is established by birth, but fellowship is established by conduct. When John talks about the cleansing of our daily sins, he’s talking about the fact that God is not dealing with us as Judge, but as Father.

I want us to see how we can restore our fellowship with the Father…how we can rid ourselves of those secret faults and hidden sins that divide us from the Father’s smile and rob us of sweet fellowship with God.

First, I want us to see how the Father convicts of sin. Look at I John 1:5-7. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Look at all the times he mentions lying here. He says, “If we say…, If we say…, If we say…” In other words, we’re saying one thing and doing another. He’s talking about the evolution of a lie.

First of all, we lie to deny sin (verses 5-6). Look at the people around you this morning. Do you think everyone here has their heart right with God? People can come in here with a Bible in their hands, they can sing songs, they can nod their heads and say, “Amen,” but their hearts are not right with God. John says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie.” There are some living lies sitting on the pews this morning. You know in your heart that you’re playing a game.

That’s what happens when we get sin in our hearts. We come to church and sing in the choir, or teach a class, etc., but there is that secret fault.

After you do that for a while, you get to believing your own lie. The next step is in verse 8. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” When you set out to deceive someone else, you deceive yourself most of all.

The man who deceives himself is on the verge of a mental breakdown. When a man can’t even believe himself, when he blurs the distinction between light and dark and between the truth and a lie, he’s on the edge. He begins to think, “Maybe it’s not sin at all. Maybe I’m all right.”

First we deceive others, then we deceive ourselves, and then we lie to God. Verse 10 says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar.” When we call God a liar, we’re the ones who are lying. God cannot lie.

God brings us under conviction and we say, “Oh, no, God. You’re wrong. It was just a mistake. It was the environment. It was just righteous indignation, etc.” And we don’t let the Holy Spirit convict us of that sin in our lives. Then we have the audacity to lie to God.

We lie to deny sin, we lie to deceive self, and we lie to defy the Savior. When we do that, fellowship is completely broken. We’ve stepped out of the light and over into darkness.

How does God bring us back? God won’t bring us back unless we expose ourselves to the light. If you stay in the darkness, there will never be any conviction. But if you step back into the light, God will shine the light of His holiness upon your life and bring you under conviction.

It’s extremely important that the child of God learn the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and satanic accusation. The devil is the accuser of the brethren. The Holy Spirit loves us and convicts us.

Before you sin, the devil will say, “Go ahead, you can get away with it.” But after you sin, the devil will say, “You’ll never get away with it.” He’ll entice you to sin and then condemn you because you did it.

When the Holy Spirit shines His pure light on you, you’ll come under the conviction of God. If you’ll just turn and face the light, He’ll pull the veil of darkness back and expose those lies that you’ve been telling others, telling yourself, and telling God.

The Holy Spirit will convict you legitimately. He’ll never convict you of sin that has been confessed and repented of. If it comes up again, it’s not the Holy Spirit; it’s the devil. He goes back into your past and brings up some sin that’s been cleansed and forgotten.

A man told his pastor that he couldn’t get peace. The pastor asked him why. He said, “I did a horrible thing.” The pastor asked, “Have you confessed it to God?” He said, “I’ve confessed it a thousand times.” The pastor said, “That’s 999 times too many.”

If it comes up again, the devil is trying to bring you into double jeopardy. The devil will accuse you of sin that’s already been forgiven and cleansed, but the Holy Spirit will convict you legitimately. He’ll never bring up something in your past that’s already been dealt with.

But not only will the Holy Spirit convict you legitimately, He’ll convict you specifically. If the devil can’t go back into your past and drag up something that’s already been dealt with, he’ll just convict you vaguely. He’ll just make you feel unworthy.

Sometimes you’ll hear Christians pray, “God, I know I’m just a poor, old, unworthy sinner.” Where’d you get that nonsense from? You aren’t a poor, old, unworthy sinner; you are the righteousness of God in Christ! You’re a child of God! You’re a prince! You’re next of kin to the Holy Trinity! Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brother!

But the devil tries to make you feel bad all over…and you don’t have to take it!

The Holy Spirit will convict you specifically. He’ll say, “That was a lie you just told.” And like a good doctor, He’ll put His finger on the sore spot and push!

But not only will He convict you legitimately and specifically; He’ll convict you redemptively. Accusation discourages and drives you away from God. Accusation says, “Woe is me! There’s no way out. I’m done for. I might as well quit.” But Holy Spirit conviction says, “Here’s what you’ve done. But if you’ll confess it to Jesus, He’ll forgive you and cleanse you. Come back into the fellowship of the Lord.”

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If we don’t stonewall God, but genuinely confess our sins and turn from them, He’ll cleanse and forgive us. This isn’t the judicial cleansing we got when we were saved; this is God dealing with us as His children.

The word confess means “to say the same thing about.” Confession is an agreement with God. It’s saying what god says about that sin. If you say, “Yes, I did it,” that’s not confession: that’s an admission.

How do we confess our sin? We need to confess it immediately. When it says, “If we confess our sin…” it’s written in the present tense. It’s not talking about something you’ve done: it’s talking about something you do. It literally says, “If we continually confess our sins.”

If you get a speck of dust in your eye, when do you get it out? Do you get it out at the end of the week? No! You get it out immediately!

Most of us live down on a very low plain. Then we hear the preacher preach, or we’re in a revival meeting, or we read some great book, and we just have a religious spasm! We get on a high….but it doesn’t last very long. Then we’re back down in the valley. Then we’re up again. Then we’re down again. Have you ever ridden that roller coaster? That’s not the Spirit-filled life.

The victorious life is not living without any temptation, without any fault, or without any failure. We all sin. That’s what John has been telling us. But when we learn these truths and get up here on a higher plain and start living in the light, then, when the Holy Spirit says, “You did wrong,” you confess it immediately.

You may be at the dinner table and nobody even knows what you’ve done. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. But you say, “God forgive me.” And He does.

You do it immediately and specifically. He doesn’t say to confess our sin; He says to confess our sins. We’re not talking about the sin nature anymore; we’re talking about what you did particularly. Call it by name. That’s the painful part.

Have you been in a prayer meeting where someone says, “Oh, Lord, if we’ve sinned, forgive us.” Or they say, “Forgive us all our sins.” As far as I’m concerned, you’re just wasting your breath when you pray that way. If you want to do business with God you say, “God, forgive me for reading that filthy book, I won’t do it again, Lord. Please forgive me.” Or you say, “Lord, forgive me for the lie I told.” Or, “Lord, forgive me for my pride and selfishness.” Name it and nail it!

Do it immediately and specifically. But also do it confidently. The devil will try to tell you that what you’ve done is so bad that you can’t get forgiveness for it. That’s a lie! I John 1:9 says that God forgives us from all sin. There is no sin that Jesus’ blood can’t cleanse. That’s what verse 7 says. Jesus doesn’t just forgive; He cleanses. He washes out the stain. His blood washes whiter than snow!

There is the conviction of sin and the cleansing of sin, but there’s also the conquest of sin. Do you think that because cleansing and forgiveness is by grace, and that all you have to do is ask for it, that God is encouraging us to sin? No! He’s encouraging us not to sin. Chapter 2 and verse 1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not! And if any man does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” The word “Advocate” is just a fancy word for lawyer. I have a Savior who is interceding for me. The Bible says that He ever lives to make intercession for us.

Jesus is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. That’s why I don’t believe the nonsense of limited atonement. He died for everybody! And He satisfies the righteous demands of a holy God.

But you are not to be cavalier about your sin. In a few more verses He talks about living in us and how the love of God is perfected. A slave serves because he has to; an employee serves because he needs to; but a child of God serves because he wants to.

To think that God would save me to begin with, and then cleanse me……do you think that encourages me to sin? No, it encourages me not to. But if I do sin, thank God I have an Advocate who is the propitiation…the satisfaction for my sin. His blood satisfies God.

Don’t we have a wonderful Savior? If people really understood what we have in Jesus, you couldn’t keep them away from here with a machine gun! But the stubborn hearts of so many people just stonewall themselves against God.

John said in verse 4 that he was writing this so that you could have fullness of joy with God and with one another. It’s the sweetest fellowship this side of Heaven. Do you have it?

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Gary Flynt

*** Source ***

  • The Sweetest Fellowship This Side Of Heaven
    I John 1

    The theme of I John is fellowship. John wrote five books of the Bible. He wrote the Gospel of John to convince sinners…to lead them to faith in Christ. Then he wrote the Book of Revelation to comfort saints…to help us to understand the days in which we live and to have the hope of the Second Coming of Christ. Then he wrote these three epistles, First, Second, and Third John, to confirm the saints.

    Look at I John 1:1-4. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”

    The fellowship John speaks about comes through the life we have in Jesus Christ. Not everyone in this building has life. You say, “If we didn’t have life, then how could we be listening to you right now?” Look, you can exist without having life. The Bible speaks of an unsaved woman and says, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she lives.” Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” He said that to some folks whose hearts were beating, but He’s saying, “You don’t have life: you have existence.”

    We want more than existence: we want life. If you spell the word live backwards it spells evil. Too many people are living their lives backwards. Rather than having a glorious life, they have an evil life. They don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior.

    First, John tells us that there is a fact that is established. Verse 1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” The devil loves to distort things. From the beginning Jesus has been the greatest Truth, so from the beginning the devil has tried to distort who Jesus really is.

    In John’s day there was a cult called the Gnostics. That’s a word that comes from a Greek word which means “to know.” The Gnostics felt that they had superior knowledge over everyone else. We might call them the know-it-alls. They thought they were too sophisticated to believe the God could have come to earth in the flesh. They believed that everything material or physical was evil. Therefore, they believed that the true Messiah could never have had a physical body. They believed that when Jesus was here He was just a ghost…a phantom….but that He didn’t have a material body. But John is going to knock Gnosticism right in the head. He said, “Jesus literally walked on this earth and I saw Him.”

    There are false cults today just like there were in John’s day. Every cult is wrong about Jesus. That’s what makes them a cult. And if you’re wrong about Jesus it doesn’t matter what you’re right about.

    For example, Mormons don’t believe that Jesus is God in the flesh. They don’t believe that Jesus is do-eternal or co-equal with God. Every cult is off on the person of Jesus.

    The Bible says, “If any come to your house and bring not the doctrine of Christ, don’t receive them into your house, neither bid them godspeed.” II John 9 says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” That’s as plain as it can be! If a person is wrong about Jesus, he doesn’t know God. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.”

    John starts by declaring that Jesus is a fact established: “That which was from the beginning…” Jesus is the Christ of the eternities. John starts his Gospel by saying, “In the beginning was the Word…” Before anything began to begin, Jesus was already there.

    A word is an expression of an invisible thought or idea. Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. Jesus articulates God. He is God’s first Word. “In the beginning was the Word.” He is God’s full Word. He is the Alpha and Omega…the first letter and the last letter of the Greek alphabet. If He were talking to us He would have said, “He’s the A and the Z.” Everything God has to say He will say through or by Jesus.

    Jesus is God’s first Word, Jesus is God’s full Word, and Jesus is God’s final Word. The Book of Hebrews says, “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” When you’ve said, “Jesus,” you’ve said it all! All the revelation of God is wrapped up in Jesus. He is an eternal fact.

    He’s also a physical fact. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” He wasn’t a ghost. John says, “We had audible evidence….we heard Him.” If they would have had tape recorders in those days they could have taped the voice of Jesus.

    Not only was there audible evidence; there was visible evidence. John tells us that they looked upon him It’s the word theaomai, which we get our word theater from. It means to look carefully. John was with Him for three years and he says, “I watched Him.”

    But there’s not only the audible and visible evidence; there is the physical evidence. John says, “We handled Him.” In other words, “We touched Him.”

    It is as much a heresy to deny the humanity of Jesus as it is to deny the deity of Jesus. If you deny the humanity of Jesus, you are denying Christianity. Jesus is an eternal fact and a physical fact. Apart from His humanity no one could be saved. Apart from the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of sin. Apart from His humanity, I have no example. But because He was human, I can walk as Jesus walked. Jesus didn’t pull rank on me when He was here on Earth. When He did miracles, He did them as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He depended on the same power that you and I depend on day by day.

    He is my Redeemer because He is a man. He is my example because He is a man. He is my comforter and friend because He is a man. He can be touched with the feelings of my infirmities because He’s a man. He was tempted in all points like I am because He was a man. He knows, He cares and He understands because He’s walked in our shoes.

    So, when John talks about this Word of life, he’s talking about an established fact. He’s an eternal fact, a physical fact, and a spiritual fact. He’s not now here in a physical body. Now faith becomes the eye, the ear and the hands of the soul. Look at I John 5:9. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” God sends His Holy Spirit to testify through the words of the Apostles.

    There was an atheist college professor who loved to ridicule his students. He asked them if they had ever heard God. Nobody answered. He asked them if they’d ever seen God. Nobody answered. He asked them if they’d ever touched God. Nobody answered. He said, “See, there is no God.”

    The class just sat there cowering until one student stood and asked the class, “Has any one ever seen, heard, or touched the professor’s brain?” Nobody answered. He said, “Then according to the professor’s logic, we can assume that he has no brain.”

    John says, “That which we have seen, and heard, and touched….that’s what we declare unto you.” Then the Bible says, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.” The Holy Spirit is here to convince you that the written Word is true. That’s the witness of God.

    Jesus is an eternal fact, a physical fact, a spiritual fact…..and the Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus.

    This Word of life is a fact established. But it’s also a fellowship experienced. Verses 2-3 says, “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…” John says, “I saw Him, now I want to share Him.”

    Anybody who sees Jesus wants to share Jesus. That’s why we’re called witnesses instead of lawyers. A lawyer argues the case, but a witness just tells what they’ve seen and heard. The only person who can’t witness is someone who hasn’t seen or heard anything.

    John says, “I do this that you might have fellowship.” Folks, fellowship is not coffee and donuts. Fellowship comes from the word koinonia which means to hold things in common. Verse 3 says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son.”

    What do I have in common with the Father? Absolutely nothing. He is holy and I am unholy. He is Almighty and I am a worm. How can I possibly have fellowship with God? Look at verse 5. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” He is light and I am darkness, so how can I have fellowship with God?

    Here’s how. God, who knows there is a chasm between me and Him, sent Jesus to take that which is common between us (human flesh) without forsaking His deity. Jesus takes on the nature of man so I can take on the nature of God. II Peter 1:4 says that we have now become the partakers of the divine nature. The word partaker in II Peter is exactly the same word translated fellowship in I John. Jesus became like I am that I might becomes like He is. Therefore, I have fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

    But not only do we have fellowship with God; we can now have fellowship with one another. If we’re both born of God, then the Jesus in me is the Jesus in you. We’ve both been born from the same womb of grace. That’s what Philippians 1:5 calls “the fellowship of the Gospel.” In Philippians 2:1 it’s called “the fellowship of the Spirit.”

    How many of you in this room are unmarried? Let me see your hands. Listen to me. Don’t you ever marry an unsaved person!! The Bible says that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. The Bible asks, “What fellowship has light with darkness?”

    You are a twice-born child of God and they are a once-born child of the devil. You talk about in-law problems! You’ll have the devil for a father-in-law!

    If you marry an unsaved person, you’ll want to go to church on Sunday, but they’ll want to sleep in on Sunday. It’s hard enough to get to church when you’re both saved! Amen?

    The Christian wants to give a tithe, but the pagan doesn’t. The Christian wants to make Sunday a holy day, but the pagan wants to make Sunday a holiday. The Christian wants to pray when a crisis comes, but the pagan ridicules prayer. The Christian wants the children to be taught the things of God, but the pagan could care less about such things.

    Before long you’ll be acting like the pagan rather than the pagan acting like you. You’ll have division in your home. Divorce comes because there is no koinonia….no fellowship. If both of you are a true Christians, you are three times less likely to get a divorce. The Bible says that a three-fold cord is not easily broken.

    Don’t ever marry a lost person. Don’t ever think you’re going to reform them after you get married. Don’t even date a person that you couldn’t marry if you fell in love with them. If you have the Divine nature in you, then you are to seek out a person who has that same fellowship in them.

    Do you know what holds this church together? The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you; therefore we can love one another. This fellowship is a fact established, it’s a fellowship experienced, and it’s a fullness enjoyed. Verse 4 says, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” There is no joy like the joy of knowing one another in the Lord because we all want joy. John says, “I wrote this letter that your joy might be full.”

    A lady looked all over the house for her car keys and couldn’t find them. Finally, she looked in her purse and there they were. Do you know why she couldn’t find her keys? She wasn’t looking in the right place. You can look everywhere for joy, but you’ll never find it until you find it in Jesus. Joy is the by-product of fellowship with God and with His family. Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

    Sin promises joy, but it never delivers joy. Some of you may have 200 TV channels coming into your home right now. We have more entertainment, more amusements, more restaurants than ever before. We also have more loneliness, more depression, more alcoholism, more drugs, more divorce, and more suicide than ever before. Why? Because there is only true joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I’m not talking about happiness. You can be lost and experience happiness for a while. I’m talking about joy. Happiness depends on what happens. Joy depends on the Lord. The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord.”

    If you live for happiness, you’re going to be a prisoner of your circumstances. If your circumstances change, you’re not going to be happy anymore. But Jesus never changes. Happiness is cosmetic…it’s on the outside. Joy is character…it’s on the inside. Happiness meets your surface needs, but joy meets your deepest needs. Happiness is like a thermometer: it just registers conditions. Joy is like a thermostat: it controls the conditions. Happiness evaporates in a crisis: joy often intensifies in a crisis.

    John says, “This life comes from God. It’s real. It’s a fact established which results in a fellowship experienced. Then there is a fullness of joy.

    Jesus is that Word of life and He’s who you need. He’s the fullness of joy.

    Would you receive Him today?

Philippians 4

*** Pastor Gary Flynt ***

Pattern For Perfect Peace
Philippians 4

Take a look at Philippians 4:6-9. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Maybe you’ve heard about the bricklayer who had to take a leave of absence from his job. He made a written report as to what had happened to him. Here’s what he wrote in the report:

“I left too many bricks on top of the building. To get them down, I rigged up a contrivance with a pulley and rope fixed to the top of the building. I tied the rope to a barrel on the ground and hoisted the barrel up to the roof. I filled the barrel with bricks then went back down and untied the rope. That’s when I realized the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was. When the barrel started down, I started up. I didn’t have the presence of mind to let go of the rope. The barrel and I met in the middle and it gave be quite a laceration on the shoulder. I managed to hold on though and went all the way to the top where I wedged my fingers in the pulley.

About that time the barrel hit the ground and the bottom came out of the barrel. Now the barrel is lighter than I am, so I started down and the barrel started up. Again, we met in the middle and I got a laceration on the shin. I managed to hold on until I hit the ground on the pile of bricks. That’s when I finally had the presence of mind to let go of the rope and the barrel came down and hit me on the head!”

I think we can all relate to this guy at some time or the other. We don’t know whether we’re coming or going. Sometimes we’re up; sometimes we’re down. We’re getting hit from every side and we don’t know whether to hold on or let go! But the good news is that we can have peace in the midst of a perplexing world.

I want you to notice the five steps for perfect peace that I’ll give you in this lesson. The key to understanding this passage on peace is in the word “things”. Count up how many times the word “thing” or “things” is used in the passage we just read. Then, in *verse 9 Paul says, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Peace is having a proper relationship to the things you come in contact with. It’s in knowing how to deal with the things that come into your life. When you learn how to deal with all those things as God would have you to deal with them, you’ll have God’s perfect peace.

The first principle for peace is to worry about no thing.  *Verse 6 says, “Be careful for nothing…” You say, “Pastor, it’s easy for you to tell us not to worry about anything while you’re standing there in the pulpit.” Hey, it’s not me standing in the pulpit that’s telling you these things; it’s the Apostle Paul in prison who’s telling you this.

There are at least 3 reasons why none of us should worry. First of all, worry is wasteful. You’re wasting on worry the energy that should be used to solve the problem. Worry has never solved a problem, or dried a tear, or lifted a burden. Jesus said, “Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature?” The best thing you can say about worry is that it’s wasteful.

Also, worry is harmful. It’ll harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Worry does to you what sand does to machinery.

It not only harms you; it harms others. We need to have a place where we can put all the worry warts in quarantine! Worry is contagious. Worry even hurts God. When you worry, you’re calling God a liar when He says, “All things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

Also, worry is sinful. Worry is the opposite of faith. There was a man who was known for being a worry wart. But one day he appeared with a bounce in his step and victory in his voice and a smile on his face. His friend asked, “What changed you?” He said, “I don’t worry any more because I discovered a professional worrier that I’ve hired to do my worrying for me.” His friend said, “That’s wonderful! What does it cost you?” He said, “A thousand dollars per week.” His friend said, “Wow, that’s a lot of money! You don’t have that kind of money. How are you going to pay for that?” He said, “That’s his worry.”

Well, there really is someone we can cast all our cares upon. The Bible tells us to cast all our cares upon Jesus, for He cares for you. It doesn’t cost a thousand dollars per week either!

So, the first principle for having perfect peace in a perplexing world is to worry about no thing. How are we going to do that? The second point tells us. Pray about all things. When I say “all things,” I mean small things as well as big things. By the way, some things don’t have to be prayed about. You don’t have to pray about whether or not you ought to be a witness for Christ. That’s a command. It doesn’t have to be prayed about….you just do it.

Someone asked G. Campbell Morgan, “Mr. Morgan, do you think we ought to bother God with all those little things?” He said, “Lady, what’s in your life that you think is big to God?” It’s all small stuff to Him! Compared to His might and glory, the only things we have to bring to Him are small things.

When we come to God in prayer, we come receiving peace. We sing about it. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

The place of prayer is not only the place of power and provision; its’ also the place of peace.

“I met God in the morning, when the day was at its best, and His presence came like sunrise, like a glory to my breast. All day long the presence lingered, all day long He stayed with me, and we sailed in perfect calmness o’er a very troubled sea. Other ships were blown and battered, other ships were sore distressed. But the winds that seemed to drive them, brought to us a peace and rest. Then I thought of other mornings, with a keen remorse of mind, when I, too, had loosed the moorings with the Presence left behind. So I think I know the secret, learn from many a troubled way, you must seek Him in the morning if you want Him through the day.”

If we would get up in the mornings and saturate our souls with Jesus and learn to pray about everything that needs to be prayed about; if we would just put our arms on the window sills of Heaven and gaze into the face of our Lord in prayer, what peace we would have!

Worry about no thing, pray about all things; but then be thankful for everything. *

*Verse 6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” We not only need to learn how to say, “Please,” but we also need to learn how to say, “Thank you.”

You can’t have a thankful spirit and a worried spirit at the same time. You say, “I can’t thank God for the bad things!” Listen, you don’t thank God because things are good; you thank God because God is good.

When things go bad, just start praising God and watch what happens!

Worry about no thing, pray about all things, be thankful for everything, and think on the best things. *Verse 8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

You are what you think. You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are. Jesus said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If you’re thinking the wrong things, it will be impossible for you to have peace. If you are thinking impure thoughts, you will have impurity in your life. But if you’re thinking pure thoughts, you will have purity in your life.

You say, “Pastor, I can’t control my thoughts.” Oh, yes you can! Let’s do an experiment. For the next five seconds I don’t want you to think about an elephant. Don’t do it! Whatever you do, DO NOT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT! You’re saying, “Well, if you’d just shut up!” Hey, I’m just you’re inner conscience telling you not to think of an elephant.

Listen, the Bible says, “Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” God has made you so that you can’t think two thoughts at the same time. If you’re thinking about what’s right, you can’t be thinking about what’s wrong. If you think right, you’ll be right. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

You say, “So what are those things which are true, and honest, and just and pure, and lovely, and of good report, and worthy of virtue and praise?” Folks, this is probably the shortest biography of Jesus anywhere in the Bible. This is the sum total of the character of Jesus Christ. “Keep your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face!”

Saturate your life with the things of God and you’ll have peace. Some people only look at the negative side of things. And they go about trying to rid themselves of those negative thoughts in the wrong way. Listen, you can’t beat the darkness out of a room with a broomstick! But you can turn on the light. You can’t drive those thoughts out of your mind but you can put good thoughts in there to replace them.

You can choose your thoughts just like you can choose your friends. “Two men looked through prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Think on the best things. Fall in love with the Word of God. Make friends with the people of God. Surround yourself with the things that will make for peace.

Here’s the last way to have peace in a perplexing world: do the right thing. *Verse 9 says, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Draw a circle around the word “do.”

One cure for worry is work. If you’re just sitting around going through morbid introspection, no wonder you don’t have peace! But when you refuse to worry about anything; when you pray about all things; when you’re thankful for everything; when you do the best things, then it’s time for you to get up and start to live the Christian life.

When we’re busy doing the right things, we’re too busy to worry about wrong things. Your actions and your attitudes are linked together.

Impression without expression leads to depression. If you come to church and hear a good Sunday school lesson or a good sermon and don’t do anything about it, you’ll become depressed. Paul says, “What you’ve seen, heard and learned; do. And if you do that, God’s peace will be with you.”

Jesus said in *John 13:17, “If you know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” You can turn that around and say, “If you know those things and don’t do them, you’re headed for unhappiness.” It’s better not to have known the way of truth than to know it and not do it.

God’s best psychology is right here in His Book. But what are the results of this peace? First, if you do these things, the peace of God will guard you. *Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The word “keep” is the word for “guard” or “to garrison about.” Paul says, “You don’t keep this peace; this peace keeps you.” It guards you.

When Paul wrote this, he was being guarded as a prisoner. He’s saying, “Just like this man guards me, the peace of God will guard you.” If the peace of God guards us, then that helps us to understand why he says it’s the peace that passes all understanding. This world doesn’t understand what peace is. This world thinks that peace is the absence of problems. This world thinks that if you have good health and no enemies and a healthy bank account, then you have peace.

But Jesus says, “Not as the world giveth give I unto you.” He gives a peace that the world can’t give. Therefore, it’s a peace that the world can’t take away. The world can’t understand how Paul can be in prison writing about joy and peace.

Do you have a peace that passes all understanding? We’re to worry about no thing and praise Him for everything. Why? Because it’s all in God’s hands.

Peace is not the subtraction of problems from your life; it’s the addition of power to meet those problems. If it was the subtraction of problems, you wouldn’t need a guard, would you? The reality is that the problems are there….but so is the guard.

There is the peace of God to guard you, but there is also the God of peace to guide you. Verse 9 says, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

If you have the peace of God and the God of peace, what more do you need? You can have them both if you’ll apply these principles to your life.

“God’s people ought to walk in perfect peace before Him, because His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

May the God of peace be with you.

The PassOver Lamb

*** Pastor Gary Flynt ***

I Corinthians 5:7, I Corinthians 5:8Exodus 12:1-6verse 11, verses 5

verse 6Exodus 12:7Exodus 12:8-11Jeremiah 31:31-32I Peter 1:19

Luke 22:19

The Passover Lamb
I Corinthians 5 and Exodus 12

This is the week that Christians celebrate Resurrection Sunday and it’s also the week that the Jews celebrate Passover. Mary’s Lamb was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses’ Lamb.

The Jews were slaves in Egypt. God redeems them and frees them and brings them into the Promised Land that flowed with milk and honey. How will He deliver His people from the land of bondage and into the land of victory? He is going to do it with a Lamb.

A lamb is the epitome of weakness. When you slaughter a lamb, you almost feel guilty. A lamb just seems to present itself to death. As a lamb before its shearers is dumb, so Jesus opened not His mouth.

The lamb says, “Are you hungry? Eat me. Are you cold? Shear me.”

Pharaoh was a typology of Satan and Egypt was a typology of bondage. The emblem of Egypt was a serpent. Look in your history books at the crown Pharaoh wears on his head and you will see an adder…a poisonous serpent. But God delivers His people with a lamb…and it’s the lamb that will slay the serpent.

Look at I Corinthians 5:7. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” Passover was kept without leaven. I Corinthians 5:8 says, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Leaven, which is yeast, is a symbol for sin.

Now I want you to go to Exodus 12 where we’re going to look at the symbolic promise that was in Moses’ lamb, and the saving power that was in Mary’s Lamb. Look at Exodus 12:1-6. “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of the month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house: and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” Now look at verse 11. “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover.”

The first thing I want you to see is the character of the lamb. Verses 5 and 6 tell us about the character of the lamb. First, it had to be a male. Christ is the Son of God. Number 2, the lamb had to be without spot or blemish. It was chosen on the 10th day of April. It was examined for 3½ days. They would go carefully through the wool, they would examine the inside of the mouth, and they would even examine the eyelids of this little lamb. It had to be a perfect lamb…picturing the spotless Lamb of God.

Not only is there the character of the lamb, there is the condemnation of the lamb. In verse 6 it says that this innocent lamb is to be slain. The father of the family would pull back the neck of that little lamb and draw a sharp knife across its neck. The blood would be caught in a basin. This serves to remind us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Some people say, “I don’t believe in this bloody Gospel. I just follow Jesus as my example.” Folks, salvation is not in learning lessons from the life of Christ…it is receiving life from the death of Christ.

There is the character of the lamb and the condemnation of the lamb, but then you see the confession of the lamb. Exodus 12:7 says, “And they shall take the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” They would take a common weed called hyssop and dip that weed in that basin of blood. Then they would strike the doorposts of their houses on the sides and on the top. In doing that, they would make the sign of a cross. Everyone that went into and out of that house did so under the blood. They were confessing that a lamb had been slain for that house. There was no way they could hide it and they were not to be ashamed of it.

Next, you see the communion of the lamb. Look at Exodus 12:8-11. “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover.” Not only is the blood to be applied, but the lamb is to be consumed. It is to be roast with fire which pictures the Lord Jesus Christ who took the fires of hell for us. He did that for you.

Can you imagine what the Egyptians must have thought as a quarter of a million lambs were being roasted in one night? Can you imagine the aroma? While all of this is going on, a bunch of slaves are becoming a nation. They are feasting together on a lamb. The lamb that died for them is now the lamb that is in them.

And the scriptures said that they were not to leave any of it. So many times people want to leave a little of Jesus around. They say, “Well, I’ll take Jesus as my Savior….and later on I may make Him my Lord.” Oh, no! We are to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ….we are to feed on all of the Lamb.

They would eat the lamb with bitter herbs. That speaks of the brokenness and bitterness over our sin. So many people strut down church aisles like they are doing God a wild favor…but they have never fed on the bitter herbs. They have never seen the hellishness of their sin.

Then it says that they are to eat of it with unleavened bread. Leaven is a symbol of evil. Not only are we to be broken over our sin…we are to be broken from our sin. Unleavened bread was a way of saying that they were done with the old way.

This is the first day of the new year for these people. They eat it with their staffs in their hands and with their clothes on. They are ready to travel. Why? Because when you receive the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s not the end of your journey; it’s the beginning of it.

When they walked out of Egypt and out of bondage, a lamb walked out inside of them. It was the beginning of a new life. That’s Moses’ lamb and all of this is symbolic.

But now let’s look at the saving power of Mary’s Lamb. The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ. Whether you’re in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, it’s all about Jesus. Moses’ lamb only prophesied Mary’s Lamb.

Jeremiah told the people that there was coming a day when God would make a new covenant with them. Jeremiah 31:31-32 says, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord.” He says, “I’m going to make a new covenant…not like the one I made with the old Passover in Egypt. Now I’ll write my law in your hearts. You’ll have an intimate knowledge of Me and I will remember your sins no more.”

The Jews kept this celebration every year. They’d take 3 pieces of unleavened bread and put them in a matzo tash….a bag that they kept the unleavened bread in. The middle piece was taken out and broken and given to the people at the table. There would also be a cup of wine there….and an empty chair. This cup would be Messiah’s cup. The empty chair would be for Elijah…the prophet who would prophecy the coming of our Lord.

They were hoping that Elijah would come and say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” They would send a child to the door and say, “Go look! See if He is coming.” They still do this today. It breaks my heart that little Jewish children are still saying, “He is not yet come.”

John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” He’s the Elijah who has announced that our Messiah has come 2,000 years ago.

There are several things I want you to notice with me about Mary’s Lamb. Remember that we had talked about the character of Moses’ lamb? Let’s talk about the character of Mary’s Lamb. He, too, was a spotless Lamb. I Peter 1:19 tells us that Jesus is a Lamb without spot or blemish.

By the time of Christ, the Jews had begun to raise Passover lambs in Bethlehem. That’s something, because God’s Passover lamb would be born in Bethlehem. In the fields of Boaz, they would not just be raising lambs for commerce, but lambs for Passover. A special breed of lambs would be raised right there. These were special lambs because they were born to die. They would bring those lambs to Jerusalem at Passover through a gate called the Sheep Gate. On the same day that the shepherds were bringing those lambs from Bethlehem to the temple to be sacrificed, God’s Lamb was coming through the Eastern Gate to the same temple area.

The people would be saying, “Hail Him! Hail Him!” But before long that same fickle crowd would be saying, “Nail Him! Nail Him!” Up on that temple mount they would be examining the Passover lambs to be sure they were spotless and perfect. At the same time they were examining God’s Lamb. Have you ever wondered why so much time was given in the Gospels to the last week of Jesus’ life? Almost a third of the Gospels are given to this last week. It’s the time of examination. He was examined by Herod, He was examined by Pilot, He was examined by Caiaphus and by all those who were there. They were looking for some fault, but they had to gather false witnesses because there was no fault in Him.

Pilot had to say, “I find no fault in Him.” They had to say, “Never a man spoke like this Man.” He was God’s spotless Man.

You see the character of the Lamb, but then you see the conviction of the Lamb. The people said, “Let Him be crucified.” The Jewish sundown begins at 6 p.m. The last old covenant Passover was conducted by Jesus Himself. He and His disciples are sitting at the table when Jesus took bread and broke it. Luke 22:19 says, “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

Jesus took the same bread that the Jews take today. He took the middle piece out of the matzo tash and broke it and said, “This is my body.” For centuries the Jews have held the Trinity in their hands without knowing it.

If you were to take a piece of matzo bread and look at it, you would see that it’s both striped, and pierced, and baked in fire. “With His stripes we are healed. He was pierced for our transgressions.” The fires of God’s wrath burned themselves out on the Lord Jesus.

They make matzo out of unleavened bread. With leavened bread there is always some of the old bread in the new bread. The woman of the house would always reserve a piece of the dough for the next loaf. Leaven represents sin. But when Jesus took that middle piece of bread and said, “This is my body,” it was unleavened. There was no sin in it.

All the way down from Adam, we have inherited the sin of Adam. But thank God there is a new Adam…a new Passover. There is a brand new start in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the New Covenant.

He took Messiah’s cup and said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, drink ye all of it.” The old Passover is finished.

When the New Passover was established He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, and from there He went to the temple mount. Do you know where He was crucified? It was Mt. Moriah. That’s where the Jewish temple was built.

Years before Jesus was born in the flesh, God came to the father of the Hebrew nation, Abraham, and said, “Take your son, Isaac, your only son…the son of promise, the son of miracle, the son of your love and all of your hopes and sacrifice him upon a place that I will tell you of.” It was the same place where Jesus died.

Isaac said, “Father, here is the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb?” He didn’t know that he was the lamb. But a broken-hearted father said in faith, “God will provide Himself a Lamb.”

When we see Jesus Christ go up there to Mt. Moriah, then we can understand what Jesus meant when He said,
“Abraham saw my day and was glad.”

There on Mt. Moriah at 3 o’clock in the afternoon…the lambs were there…and God’s Lamb was there. The priests took their lethal knives and cut the throats of those lambs and the blood began to flow. God’s Lamb is hanging on the cross. The sun hides its face and it becomes as dark as midnight. God’s Lamb cries out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” I’ll tell you why…it was because He was bearing my sin and your sin. God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity and He had to turn His face away from His Son who bears all our sin.

Jesus cries out, “It is finished.” Levites, you can go home now. Lambs, your job is over….we don’t need you anymore. That was all a picture. John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

We see the character of the Lamb, the condemnation of the Lamb and the confession of the Lamb. Did you know that in the old Passover, had they not openly confessed the Lamb, there would have been no hope?

Suppose they had said, “We are going to kill a little lamb, but we don’t want the Egyptians to know that we are believers. We are going to kill this lamb in a back room and not let anybody know.” You can’t do that. The Passover angel came through the land of Egypt. If there was a house that did not have the blood on the doorposts, judgment came to that house. Friend, you can’t bootleg a blessing. Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you.” You are openly and publicly to confess the Lamb.

Hyssop stands for faith. Take that faith and strike it on the doorposts of your heart. Jeremiah said, “This time I will make a new covenant and write it on their hearts.”

There is the confession of the Lamb. But do you know what they did then? There was the communion of the Lamb. They fed on the lamb in Moses’ day. What do we do? We feed on the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the Lord’s Supper. Passover has been transformed into a memorial feast where we remember God’s Lamb.

Are you ashamed of the Lamb? Have you confessed Him? Do you have communion with Him? Have you fed on Him? We are what we eat, you know.

You see, He doesn’t just forgive your sin. When you place your life under the blood, there is strength and power in this One who is heaven’s bread. And not only is there the shed blood, there is the shared blood. There is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in us.

I want you to imagine 3 boys in Egypt under Moses’ lamb. First, there was Pharaoh’s son. He comes to his father and says, “Dad, do you know what people are saying? They say that everyone has to kill a lamb and put the blood on the doorposts. If there is no blood on the doorposts, then something called a death angel is going to come through our land and the firstborn of every family will die. Dad, I’m the firstborn. Don’t you think we ought to get us a lamb?” Pharaoh says, “Son, listen, I’m fed up with these Hebrews and their superstition. Son, we have the best religion that money can buy. We have thousands of gods. I myself am a god. Son, your daddy is very strong and powerful. Don’t you worry about this blood of the lamb business. Go to bed son, daddy loves you.”

There is another boy…a Jewish boy. He says, “Dad, did you hear what Moses said? I don’t want to die, dad.” The father says, “Son, we are going to do just what Moses said. Come with me.” They kill the lamb and apply the blood. The boy says, “Thank you, dad. I don’t want to die. Dad, do you think it’s going to work?” “Well, Moses says so.” “Dad, do you think I’m going to be saved?” “Yes.” “But, Dad, the death angel is coming.” “Son, we’ve done everything.” “Yes, Dad, but I’m just concerned.” All night long that boy tosses and turns…but the blood is on the door. The death angel passes over that house.

There is another Jewish boy who says, “Dad, are we going to make a Passover sacrifice?” “Yes we are, son. Here is the blood on the doorposts.” The boy says, “Dad, isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t it glorious what God has promised? Dad, thank you for obeying the Lord. Have a good nights rest, Dad, I’m going to bed.” He sleeps soundly.

The first boy perishes because the blood was refused. The second one worries all night…but he makes it. The third boy has a good nights rest.

Folks, it’s the blood that makes us safe and it’s the Word that makes us sure. Not only can we say that we are saved, but why should we go to heaven second class? There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb!

When you get over to the Book of the Revelation, do you know what you will see on the throne? A Lamb as it has been slain. And do you know what the people in heaven are going to be doing? They are going to be singing throughout all the ages, “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

Everyone in this building will either walk out under the blood or over the blood. Either you will apply the blood of Jesus to your heart and be saved, or you will trample His blood under your feet. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me.” You cannot be ashamed of the One who died for you.

Would you confess Him today?

Philippians 3, The Things That Really Count

*** Webb Church, Pastor Gary Flynt ***

The Things That Really Count, Philippians 3

Philippians 3:1-9, verse 2,  verse 4, verse 5verse 7Verses 8-9,

Romans 4:5Romans 4:6Romans 4:7-8

Take a look at Philippians 3:1-9. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Tonight we’re going to talk about things that really count. Many Christians are spending their lives on things that don’t really count. If you’re living a life of legalism, you’re living a life that doesn’t count.

Paul had lived a life of legalism, but now he’s had enough of it. Jesus saved him on the road to Damascus. Now he’s going to fight legalism with everything that’s in him for the rest of his life. In verse 2 he said, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

Who are these dogs he’s warning about? They are the Judaizers….the legalists, who would come after Paul had preached the Gospel and say, “You can’t be saved by just believing in Jesus; you have to keep the law of Moses. You have to go through certain rituals and ceremonies.” Paul says, “Beware of those dogs!”

In his own way, Paul is telling us that religious people can be some of the meanest people in the world. Remember, it was the religious crowd that crucified Jesus.

Don’t get fooled by people who are just performing religious acts. Some people may act very religious, but they are cruel and ferocious. I heard about a missionary who was cornered by a lion. He didn’t know what else to do so he prayed, “Lord, make this a Christian lion!” The lion stood up and folded his paws. The lion’s lips were moving and it appeared that he was praying. The missionary thought, “God has heard my prayers!” But then he heard what the lion was saying, “Lord, bless this food I’m about to eat.”

Some people may act very religious, but they’re cruel and ferocious. Legalists are in that group. Paul says, “Beware of dogs and evil workers and those of the concision.” The word “concision” means “mutilators.” Paul’s making a play on the word circumcision. He’s trying to show them that legalistic circumcision can save no one.

When Paul got saved, he realized that religion doesn’t save anybody. The world doesn’t need more religion; the world needs Jesus. There are millions of religious people who are lost. They’ve never been born again.

Paul was a very difficult person to win to Christ because he was so proud of his religion. I may be preaching to two classes of people tonight. Some are sinners and they know it…and they won’t come to Jesus because they think they’re too bad. But then there’s the self-righteous folks who won’t come to Jesus because they think they’re too good. They think religion is for the drunkard and the prostitute and the murderers, etc.

It’s much harder to reach a religious person than it is to reach an out-and-out sinner. That’s why Jesus told the religious Pharisees of His day, “The harlots and publicans are going to heaven before you.” Why? Because at least they knew they were sinners.

Most people in America are ego maniacs who are strutting their way into Hell. They think they’re too good to be damned. They don’t understand that they have to be born again.

Paul is warning against self-righteousness. He’s telling us that religion can’t save. He’s telling us that legalism can’t save. He’s telling us that ritual can’t save.

Paul opens the book on his own life. He’s trying to find a balance. He looks at his life before Christ and realizes that he was bankrupt in spite of all his religion. But after he found Christ (I should say, “After Christ found him…”), he took stock of his life again and found that he was fabulously wealthy.

We are going to see the bankruptcy of the old man and the wealth of the new man tonight. First, the bankruptcy of the old man. Paul was dealing with people who were always talking about how good they were. So in verse 4 Paul says, “If you want to get into a bragging contest, I’ll get in one with you. Do you think you’ve got something to boast about? I have more to boast about than any of you!” Then Paul goes on to tell of the things he could boast about in the flesh.

First, there was the pride of ritual. Verse 5 says, “Circumcised the eighth day.” Paul had all the rituals performed on him from the eighth day of his life forward. Some people still think that ritual will save them. Some people think they’re going to Heaven just because they’ve been baptized. But baptism, whether it’s a spoonful or a tank full, won’t save anybody. You don’t get baptized to get saved; you get baptized to demonstrate that you are saved.

But not only did Paul have the pride of ritual; he had the pride of relationship. He says, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel…” He had a fine family tree. He was from the Jewish aristocracy. But Paul finally came to the realization that God doesn’t have any grandchildren….only children. Your mom and dad may be right with God, but that doesn’t make you right with God. You may come from the finest family in this church, but that’s not the issue. The issue is this: Have you been born again? Your parents may be right with God, but that doesn’t make you God’s grandchild.

Then Paul had the pride of respectability. He says he’s from, “…the tribe of Benjamin.” The other tribes had gone astray, but not the tribe of Benjamin. You may be the most highly esteemed and respected person in your church, but you may also be just as lost as a bootlegger! Family tradition can’t change a sinful heart.

Next, he had the pride of race. He says he’s, “…a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” There was no Gentile blood in his family. His family didn’t take on the ways of the Greeks. There were no Helenists in his family. But Paul discovered that it’s not race, but grace that gets a man into Heaven.

Then he has the pride of religion. “As touching the law, a Pharisee.” You talk about belonging to the right church! He was intensely orthodox. He had zeal! He had defended his religion. He persecuted the church because he was standing up for his religion. People can talk religion and be very mean!

A little boy came running into the living room holding a dead mouse by the tail. He said, “Mamma, look! I beat him with a broomstick, then I ran over him with my tricycle, and then I stomped on him!” About that time the boy saw that the minister was in his house and he said, “And then the Lord called him home.”

So religious….but so mean! That’s the way the Pharisees were. Paul was a Pharisee, but he spent the first part of his life persecuting the church.

Next, he had the pride of reputation. “…touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” If you would have followed Paul around before he got saved you would have said, “My, what a good man!” Paul had enough sense to know that he wasn’t sinless before God, but he was blameless before men. No one could have pointed a finger at Paul and said, “He’s a thief, or a liar, or a pervert.” No, sir! He was blameless.

If religion could get a man to Heaven, then it would certainly have gotten Paul to Heaven. But Paul said, “I took all of this wealth of heritage, and religion and reputation and such and it all added up to zero!” In verse 7 he said, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”

It’s like the guy who tried to deduct his wife’s beauty parlor treatments off his income tax. The IRS agent said, “You can’t do that!” The man said, “Why not? It was a total loss!”

That’s what Paul is saying here. “All my goodness and all my heritage was a total loss. They didn’t do one thing to bring me closer to Jesus Christ.”

Good deeds don’t save us. But the people of the world don’t know that.

Not only is there the bankruptcy of the old man; there is the wealth of the new man. Verses 8-9 say, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

You are only saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul had listed his race, his religion, his self-righteousness, etc. Those things aren’t bad in and of themselves. He wasn’t ashamed that he was a Hebrew. He remained grateful for that fact. He was grateful that he was a Roman citizen as well. There’s nothing wrong with trying to keep the Ten Commandments. But Paul is saying, “Even a good thing is a bad thing if it becomes a substitute for the best thing…..the new birth.”

Suppose you are a camper with a knapsack. You put your Boy Scout knife in there along with your canteen, your fork, your knife, your blanket, etc. You’re in an airplane that starts to go down. Rather than grabbing a parachute, you grab your knapsack and jump out. There’s nothing wrong with the knapsack…..it’s just not a parachute. That knapsack is counted unto you nothing but loss. Do you understand?

Paul says, “I count all these things but loss.” He wasn’t saying that they were bad things. But the worst form of badness is human goodness when it becomes a substitute for the new birth.

Paul had human goodness. He said, “If you want to brag, I can brag right along with you. I’ve got the pedigree. I’m a blueblood and a religionist, but I count all those things but loss that I might gain Christ.”

It’s so hard for some people to admit that they’re sinners. Eddie Martin was one of my favorite evangelists. He was giving an invitation one time when a dignified lady came down and took him by the hand. She said, “Mr. Martin, I should like to become a Christian.” He said, “Wonderful! Pray after me. Dear God…” She said, “Dear God.” “I’m a sinner.” She didn’t say anything. He thought she didn’t hear him, so he started over. “Dear God.” She said, “Dear God.” “I’m a no good sinner.” (He embellished it a little this time.) She still didn’t say anything.

He said, “What’s the matter, madam? I thought you wanted to be saved.” She said, “I do want to become a Christian, but I’m no sinner.” He said, “Madam, the Scriptures say that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” She said, “Well, if I’m a sinner, I’m a good sinner.”

He said, “Madam, there are no good sinners. I don’t think you’re sincere and I don’t think you really want to be saved. Go back to your seat.”

She drew herself up in a huff and started back to her seat. But suddenly she broke. The mascara started to run. She turned around and started to pray, “God have mercy on me, I’m a no good sinner.” Eddie said, “Now, madam, you can be saved.”

Some people just don’t realized how lost they are….and many of them are religious. Many of them belong to good churches. They give their money to those churches. They’ve been baptized. They have their names on the church roll…..but they don’t have their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They’ve never been born again. Jesus told Nicodemus, a better man religiously and morally than any of us here today, that he had to be born again. So do you.

Instead of admitting our lost-ness, we want to strut into Heaven saying, “Lord, look at what a prize package you’re getting today!”

When I was a boy, if we found something that didn’t belong to us we would say, “Finders keepers, loser’s weepers.” Paul changed that to, “Keepers weepers, loser’s finders.” Jesus said, “Whosoever shall save his life, the same shall lose it. But whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel, the same shall find it.”

That’s what Paul meant when he said, “I count all these things but loss.” He turned from his sin, but he also turned from his self-righteousness, which God sees as filthy rags. Paul wrote, “If righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

One of the first things Paul gains after being saved is “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” Not knowledge about Christ, but knowledge of Christ.

But in verse 9 we see that he gained “the fellowship of Christ.” And in the same verse he says he’ll be “found in Him.” That’s a safe place to be, isn’t it? I am in Christ and He is in me. You talk about fellowship! You’ll never be lonely again. You may be alone, but not lonely, because Jesus is in you.

Paul exchanged a set of rules for a friend. Before he got saved all he had was the law: now he has the Lord.

But there’s not only knowledge of Jesus and fellowship with Jesus; there is the righteousness through Jesus. Verse 9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

Paul says, “I’m tired of trying; I’m going to start trusting. I’m going to quit trying to work myself into Heaven.” What a terrible taskmaster legalism is! Legalism doesn’t bring joy; it brings bondage. In Romans 4:5 Paul said, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Paul had been counting up some things. Remember, we’re talking about things that really count. His faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:6 says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”

The word “impute” means to put on ones account. When I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ apart from my works, apart from my baptism, apart from my church membership, apart from trying to keep the Ten Commandments, He puts righteousness on my account.

That’s great news! Listen to Romans 4:7-8, “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Yes, I’m a sinner, but God doesn’t impute it to me anymore. I’m not righteous, but He imputes it to me. He writes “righteousness” on my account.

An old washer woman worked for a man who was cruel and mean. She got saved. She was so happy, but he hated her happiness in Christ. He tried to ridicule and belittle her. Finally he said, “Betty, you say you’re saved. How does it feel to be saved?” She said, “I don’t think I can express it in a way you can understand it, but it feels as though I’m standing in Jesus’ shoes and He’s standing in mine.”

A theologian can’t explain it any better than that! “He who knew no sin, God hath made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

When God looks at Gary Flynt today, He sees me as righteous as His Son. You say, “Who do you think you are?” I’m a Christian. I don’t have any righteousness of my own: I only have the righteousness that’s been imputed to my account…the righteousness of Christ Himself.

But don’t get the idea that because salvation is easy and free that it’s cheap. Jesus had to die in agony and blood to buy it for you. On the one hand is your self-righteousness and legalism, and you’re trying to be saved. On the other hand is the righteousness of God that comes by faith in His Son on the basis of His shed blood. Which do you choose?

You may be a good person, but have you ever seen yourself as a lost sinner? Have you understood that you need to be born again?

Some may think that they are so sinful that God can’t save them. But the Bible says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The blood of Jesus can wash away every blur, every blot, every blemish, and every stain. You can never be too sinful to come to Christ.

On the other hand, some are cultured, religious, moral, and well mannered. But if you’ve never been born again, you’re lost. If the Apostle Paul needed to be saved, so do you.

Jesus is coming back very soon. “And when He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found, dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”

Amen?

Philippians 3, The Four Keys to Success

*** Webb Church, Pastor Gary Flynt ***

Philippians 3:12-14, Philippians 3:12, Philippians 3:13, 14, Romans 8:18Psalm 27:4,

The Four Keys To Success
Philippians 3

Take a look at Philippians 3:12-14. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

I want to speak to you about The Four Keys To Success. Outside of Jesus, the Apostle Paul was one of the greatest men who ever lived. So, I want to talk about what made Paul the great man that he was.

Paul gives us the secret to his success in the background of the Olympic Games. He says that life is like a race. He often uses athletics to illustrate spiritual truth. I’m glad he did because I like athletics. I think this tells us that the Christian life ought to be exciting.

Some of you folks can go to a ball game and yell like a Comanche, but then you come to church and sit like a wooden Indian! Folks, we are involved in something that’s far more exciting than any athletic event!

I’m going to give you some principles which will help you to be a success in any realm of life. But first, you need to know what success is. Some people think success is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. That’s not success. You can be fabulously wealthy and still be a failure.

Some people think success is found in pleasure…in having everything you want. But pleasure is like snow falling in a river: it’s white for a moment, but then it’s gone forever.

Success is simply finding and doing the will of God. Paul says, “Oh, if I could just apprehend why I’ve been apprehended!” The Lord arrested Paul on the road to Damascus and set him on a new road. Now Paul wants to know and do the will of God…to know success in the fullest sense of the term.

The first key to success is to have a sincere dissatisfaction. Verse 12 says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

Paul wasn’t satisfied. Oh, he was satisfied with the Savior and with salvation, but he wasn’t satisfied with self. A growing Christian is someone with a sincere dissatisfaction. He knows he hasn’t attained. He knows he hasn’t apprehended. He knows he’s not yet what God wants him to be. Someone said, “I ain’t what I ought to be and I ain’t what I’m going to be; but thank God I ain’t what I used to be!”

Paul knew that there was so much more yet to come. He knew he wasn’t perfect yet. Some people believe in the doctrine of sinless perfection. There was a man in a testimony meeting who stood up and began to talk about his sinless perfection, but his wife stood up in the back of the auditorium and said, “Remember John, I’m here.”

You know, and your wife knows, and the Lord knows that you’re not perfect. Not only should you admit that fact, but there ought to be a divine dissatisfaction with that fact. When you become satisfied with yourself, you cease to grow spiritually. You cease to be successful. You cease to learn.

A 14 year old boy dropped out of school and said, “They can’t teach me no more there.” He was probably right! He thought he knew everything there was to know.

If you’re going to have success as a Christian, there must first be a sincere dissatisfaction. One way you can always be satisfied is to compare yourself with other people. Just go out and find a lukewarm, carnal, good-for-nothing, lackadaisical, good Lord, good devil, type of Christian. Then you can lay down in the gutter along side of them and come up satisfied with yourself.

Or, you can become very discouraged if you measure yourself with someone else. They may be so much more talented and have so much more ability than you have.

Stop measuring yourself with other people! The Christian life is a race, but it’s not a race between one another. As far as our brothers and sisters are concerned, we’re not in a race; we’re on a pilgrimage. We’re traveling together, not trying to outrun each other.

The Bible says that we are to run the race that is set before us. Your body may be sick and weak, but you can run your race right there in your hospital room. But when you find out what God wants you to do, don’t get satisfied with where you are now. The moment you get satisfied and begin to think you’ve attained, that’s when you’ll cease to grow and you’ll never be a successful saint.

We sing a song that says, “I am satisfied with Jesus, but the question comes to me, as I think of Calvary, is my Master satisfied with me?” Well, if you’re satisfied with you, then He certainly isn’t.

The first key to success is to have a sincere dissatisfaction. The reason I use the word “sincere” is because some people will say, “Oh, yes, I’m not what I ought to be.” But they’re not sincere. The truth is that they’re perfectly smug and complacent about it. They think they’re pretty good.

Are you content with what you are? Do you intend to grow more? Or do you think you did God some kind of wild favor by showing up here at church? Do you show up here with a sign around your neck that says, “Please do not disturb?” That kind of person will never be a successful saint.

But not only must there be a sincere dissatisfaction; there must be a single desire. Verse 13 says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do…” Paul had brought his life into such sharp focus that he had one burning desire. Everyone who’s ever made a mark in this world has done the same thing. They’ve brought they’re entire life into one focused, burning desire.

If you want to be a success, you have to be single-minded. You have to say, “This one thing I do.” Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters.” James said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Paul is thinking about running toward a goal. Can you imagine a runner trying to reach two goals at the same time? Do you think he’d ever win a race? Of course not! If you’re going to run the Christian race, you’re going to have to narrow your interests. Have you ever heard the expression: “He’s a jack of all trades, but a mater of none?” That’s the way many Christians are.

People say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” But a successful person says, “Yes, put all your eggs in one basket….and watch that basket!” Get focused!

A river has great power because it’s channeled between the banks. But many people don’t have channeled lives. Rather than being a mighty river, they’ve become a stagnant swamp. Are you focused like a ray of sunlight in a magnifying glass? Are you saying, “This one thing I do?” If not, you won’t be a success in any realm.

You say, “I’m getting by, Pastor Gary.” Yes, that’s your problem. You don’t have a sincere dissatisfaction. You say, “Nobody can do just one thing. You have to have a job, you have to eat, you have to take care of your family, you have to rest and have some kind of recreation, etc.” Oh, I agree. But your job, your friends, your family, your rest…..all that you do….should move you toward one single goal in your life.

Your job ought to be part of reaching that goal, your family ought to be part of reaching that goal, your recreation ought to be part of reaching that goal, etc. That’s why Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.”

In other words, “There are many things I can do which there is no law against, but they don’t help me reach my goal, so I don’t do them.” The word “expedient” comes from the same word as “expedition.” An expedition is something that’s going somewhere. It’s journey with a destination in mind. So Paul says, “I’m not going to do anything that doesn’t help me reach my goal.”

The way to test everything you’re involved with in life is to ask this: Does it move me toward my goal? Have you ever brought your life into focus and asked, “What matters to me more than anything else?”

Paul was a great man because he said, “This one thing I do.” Jesus said, “If thine eye be single, then is thy body full of light.”

You say, “That’s too narrow for me. I want to be able to fish in many ponds.” Well, that’s your privilege, but I’m telling you the secret to success. You must have a sincere dissatisfaction and a single desire.

I’m not telling you that you have to be a preacher or a missionary, but you’d better know what God’s will for your life is. That’s the only way you’ll ever apprehend that for which you’ve been apprehended. Have you prayed about it? Have you found God’s will for your life?

The third principle is a strong determination. It’s not enough to have a single desire if you’re not determined to fulfill that desire. In verse 12 Paul said, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…” Underscore that phrase “follow after.” In verse 14 he said, “I press toward the mark.” The same Greek word is used in both phrases. It means “to pursue.” It’s like a hunter pursuing an animal. It carries with it the idea of intense effort and strong determination.

Paul uses the example of a runner who’s staining every nerve and sinew in his body to reach his goal. Some of you won’t succeed because you don’t have the determination. You have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude….therefore you leave it.

Have you ever noticed that when people start talking about liquor someone will say, “Oh, I can take it or leave it.” Big deal! That’s all anyone can do!

But when I talk about determination, I’m not talking about the strength of your flesh; I’m talking about the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Paul knew what it was to be determined. He fought with lions, he was ship-wrecked three times, he was stoned and left for dead, he was whipped with 195 stripes, he had a long prison record, etc. Now he’s an old man and he’s in prison again.

Let’s talk to him. “Paul, you’ve been on this race track long enough. Why don’t you quit? After all, some of the people here in Arlington have quit. Some of the folks that use to attend faithfully aren’t here anymore. Paul, why don’t you just quit before you reach your goal? There are some people who used to be tithers, but they wanted some luxuries so they quit tithing. There are some who used to teach Sunday school, but they wanted to go fishing for fish on Sunday rather than fishing for men. They didn’t want to be tied down. Paul, there are a lot of modern day Christians who’ve just quit. Why don’t you quit? After all, you’ve had it pretty hard, Paul.”

The old Apostle looks at you like you’ve lost your mind! He says, “I want to let go, but I won’t let go. There are battles to fight by day and by night for God and the right; and I’ll never let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I will never yield. What? Lie down on the field and surrender my shield? No! I’ll never let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I’m sick, tis true, worried and blue, and worn through and through, but I’ll not let go. I want to let go, but I won’t let go. May this be my song amid legions of wrong. Oh, God keep me strong. I’ll never let go!”

That’s the way the old Apostle was. He says, “I press on.” So why aren’t some of us more successful? Some have never become dissatisfied with who and what they are. Others have not gotten that single desire. Others have that single desire, but they’re not determined enough to reach that goal.

Here’s the fourth principle: a steadfast destination. Paul kept his eye on the goal. In verses 13-14 he said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…”

Paul had enough sense to know that you can’t win a race if you’re always looking over your shoulder. So he says, “I forget those things that are behind.” There may have been times when he turned a corner real well, or times when he passed other runners. There may have been times when he even stumbled and fell. But he says, “All that makes no difference. I can’t change the past. If I want to win this race, I’ve got to forget the past. That part of the race has already been run. You can’t win a race by looking over your shoulder.”

That’s why some people won’t win the race today. You’ve got your headlight on the rear bumper. You don’t have your eye on the goal.

Paul forgot about his past glory. It doesn’t matter what you were yesterday: it only matters what you are today. So put away all your press clippings because today is a new game.

Not only is there past glory; there is past guilt. Some of you have made some bad mistakes just like I have. The Apostle Paul had made some bad mistakes. He was the one who held the garments while they stoned Stephen to death. But he buried that sin in the grave of God’s forgetfulness and refused to be haunted by the ghost of guilt.

Maybe you’ve stumbled on the race track, or gotten completely off the track. Get back on it and forget the past!

Not only is there past glory and past guilt; there is past grief. Some of you have suffered terribly. So did Paul. But he refuses to drink from the intoxicating cup of self-pity. He refuses to sit around and lick his wounds. He said in Romans 8:18, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Not only did he forget past grief; he forgot past grudges. If there were such a thing as a right to hold a grudge, Paul had it. He had been mistreated, lied about, falsely accused, misrepresented, etc. As a matter of fact, he’s writing these words from prison. He wasn’t there for what he’d done wrong; he was there for what he’d done right! But he refused to be resentful. Rather than resenting, he said, “I have learned in whatsoever state I’m in therewith to be content.” He wouldn’t let his past grudges keep him from reaching his goal. “Forgetting those things which are behind…”

Then, “Reaching forth.” He kept reaching for his goal. There’s a little country church cemetery at the foot of the Alps in Switzerland. A young Englishman, who died while mountain climbing, is buried there. His name, birth date and date of his death are on the headstone along with these words: “He died climbing.”

I think we’d have to say that about the Apostle Paul. He didn’t quit!

Do you have a sincere dissatisfaction? Are you satisfied? Or, do you hope to do more? Do you want to be a better Christian, or are you content to limp into Heaven like you are?

Is there a single desire in your heart? Do you have any goal in life? Or are you just drifting through life? Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after…”

Do you have the determination to reach the goal? Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to drop anything that’s not expedient out of your life?

Are you willing to forget what’s behind you and to start today to press toward the mark? Are you going to press for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?

There’s nothing more exciting than being in the race. I feel sorry for people who are just drawing their breath and drawing their salary. They have no purpose, no goal, no focus and no ambition in their life.

Before I close, I want to make something abundantly clear. When I talk about winning the race, I’m not talking about winning salvation. Salvation is not a reward at the end of the race; it’s a gift that puts you in the race. Paul is talking to people who are already saved.

Until the Lord takes you to Heaven, you can have a wonderful, thrilling time running the race that is set before you. Will you do it?