Bible Study for Feb. 12: Growing with Joy

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Philippians 3:12-21
Scott McVey, associate pastor
Northside Baptist Church, Brunswick

Like Nicodemus, everyone needs to be born again. One thing true for physical birth is also true for spiritual birth, i.e. birth is just the beginning. Birth is always to be followed by growth.

In Luke 2:52 we discover Jesus, as a young child, continued to grow in four ways. He grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. As a Christian, you, too, are to mature in all four of these ways. Of the four, the most important way to grow is spiritually.

A continual journey toward Christlikeness – Philippians 3:12-14

Maturity is a journey not to be completed until you see Christ. Paul reminded the Philippians that Christ is the only one who can initiate and complete the good work of their maturity (Philippians 1:6). Even though some people may think they have arrived, nobody will arrive at complete maturity while in this life.

Paul was forgetful of what was behind. In some places to which Paul journeyed there were revivals. In other places there were revolts. Why did Paul forget these? Because he could not run the race God had given him successfully while looking backwards.

Not only was Paul forthright and forgetful, he was also focused. Unlike the enemies of the cross who were focused on earthly things, Paul was focused on his purpose to fully mature in Christ. This effort was provoked by Paul’s realization that maturity was the reason Christ grasped ahold of him on the Damascus road. This provocation led to his pursuit of maturity.     

The example of mature believers – Philippians 3:15-19

There are, in this text, at least five evidences of a Christian maturing. The first indicator is humility. Paul states that maturing Christians are humble, knowing God is not finished with them yet. Additionally, mature people are discerning. They are discerning because they listen to God and act on what God shows them.

Mature people also arrive at truth. Jesus said that people who abide in His Word will know the truth. A fourth evidence is they are steadfast. Mature Christians continuously walk in the truth they have learned. Finally, you know that a person is maturing in that they are compassionate for lost sinners. Paul’s compassion was evidenced by his weeping over the enemies of the cross.

Paul continues with an exhortation for the Philippians to be observant and obedient. They were to observe the example of mature Christians. Likewise, they were to observe the enemies of the cross. Concerning these enemies, Paul writes, “their end is destruction, their god is their stomach, their glory is their shame. Their focus is on earthly things.”

Our glorious transformation in heaven – Philippians 3:20-21

In the concluding verses, Paul reminds the Philippians of their heavenly citizenship. Citizens of Heaven are called to do two things. They are to energetically work for the Savior as earthly ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). They are also called to eagerly wait for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. You are to be laboring and looking.

Paul does not stop here, but concludes this section by speaking of the change we will one day undergo. When Christ appears to take us home, our bodies will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye. We will arrive at the end of this journey into maturity only to discover that this is just the beginning.

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