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Standing Firm in the Lord Part 2

February 10, 2019 Speaker: Brian Wilbur Series: Philippians

Topic: Rooted in Christ Passage: Philippians 3:15– 4:1


An Exposition of Philippians 3:15–4:1 Part 2

By Pastor Brian Wilbur


Date:   February 10, 2019

Series: Philippians: Gospel Partnership on Mission in the World

Note:   Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard   Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Philippians 3 is written to people who are following Jesus on the path of obedience that leads to everlasting glory, in order to encourage us to stay close to Jesus and keep our feet on the glory-bound path. There is a path to glory, and there is a path to ruin! Our Lord Jesus Christ says:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Philippians 3 instructs us to keep walking according to this way (Philippians 3:17), to “hold true” to the good work that God has already done in us (Philippians 3:16), to “press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14), and to “stand firm… in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1).

This call to ongoing spiritual maturity (Philippians 3:15) and growth (Philippians 3:10-14) requires of us that we be attentive. Following Jesus on the path of humble service that leads to final glory cannot be done by coasting: you cannot set your spiritual life on ‘cruise control’ and forget that you must deliberately drive to the finish line. This summons to pay attention is especially evident in verse 2 and verse 17.

Philippians 3:2 says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” (Philippians 3:2) Notice the exhortation to look out, to be on the lookout for evildoers who teach a false gospel and who want to undermine your walk with Jesus. We must be on our guard. We must be firmly established in the truth of God’s Word and therefore able to discern false teachers whose twisted words threaten to corrupt the church. “Look out”! Pay attention! Resist the encroachments of falsehood! Stand firm in biblical truth!

Philippians 3:17 also summons us to spiritual attentiveness: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17) Here the focus of our attention is the way that mature Christians live. Notice the phrase “keep your eyes on”: the same eyes that look out for false teachers in order to resist their influence, those same eyes are to look out for faithful brothers and sisters in order to welcome their influence. One way that you must stand firm in your walk with the Lord is to recognize godly Christians who are not settling for talking a good talk but who are actually walking the walk, who are eagerly offering the entirety of their lives in humble service to the Lord and to the Lord’s people. And the point of recognizing such godly servants is not to put their name on a list but to follow their example.

Now the call to “keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example” that Paul and others have modeled for us obvious requires deliberate attention and careful discernment. But as we shall see, the required level of attentiveness is heightened when we turn to verse 18.


This sermon is a continuation of last week’s sermon about “Standing Firm in the Lord.” Whereas Part 1 focused on Philippians 3:15-17, the focus of Part 2 is Philippians 3:18­–21. In order to keep the larger flow of thought in front of us, let me read Philippians 3:12–4:1. Holy Scripture says, through the apostle Paul:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 3:12–4:1)   ­


In the last sermon I identified five aspects of standing firm in the Lord: first, by being mature in your spiritual outlook (v. 15); second, by showing grace to the immature (v. 15); third, by not losing the ground you have already gained (v. 16); fourth, by having an eye for godly people and imitating their example (v. 17); and fifth, by being a godly person who is worthy of imitation (a straightforward implication of v. 15-17). In this sermon we consider three additional aspects of standing firm in the Lord.


So sixth (continuing the number sequence from Part 1), stand firm in the Lord by realizing that there are many people who do not follow Christ – and you must avoid their influence and example. One of the reasons that it is so important to “keep your eyes” on godly people, is because there are many ungodly people vying for your attention. Notice the flow of thought from verse 17 to verse 18:

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

The word “For” at the beginning of verse 18 indicates that verse 18 is a reason for the instruction of verse 17. Here is the idea: It is so important that we keep our eyes on those who are faithfully following Jesus in order that we might follow their example (v. 17), because many people are not following Jesus (v. 18). And if we are not careful, if we get into a coasting mentality, then our walk can be corrupted and undermined by the influence of the ungodly.

Let us be clear: there are two and only two ways to live. There is the way of trusting and loving obedience to the Lord on the one hand, and the way of unbelief and disobedience on the other. In verses 17-18 the contrast is set forth in terms of the word walk. Some people “walk according to the example you have in us.” Other people, many people in fact, “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Do you see the contrast?

This word “walk” involves a person’s entire “manner of life” (Philippians 1:27). Paul instructed us earlier in the letter: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). In other words, we are to walk as faithful friends of the cross of Christ; we are to eagerly and gladly let Christ and His gospel shape our “manner of life,” our conduct, our walk. We are to “walk in [Christ Jesus the Lord], rooted and built up in him” (Colossians 2:6). We are to “walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6). In our everyday life, and in our life together as a congregation, we are to follow Jesus on the path of humble obedience.

Choose Your Running Partners Well

But remember this: many people are not following Jesus – and we do not want their negative example to undermine our spiritual walk. Therefore we must take care and exercise discernment. We must be uncompromising when it comes to discerning whether or not another person is heading in the right direction, so that we know whether or not to let them be a pace-setter for our spiritual walk or to let them be our ‘spiritual running partner’. If they are truly living in and for Jesus, welcome their life as a pattern to follow. But if they are not following Jesus, then you must not follow them – even if they profess to be a Christian, even if they are a fellow churchgoer, even if they have a media platform within the Christian world.

Let this truth sink in: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) Walk with the friends of the cross, and do not be a companion of the “enemies of the cross”. Parents, lead your children to walk with those who truly love Christ, and protect them from Christ’s enemies who will do them harm. Children, the Bible says that you are a precious gift (Psalm 127:3) and the Bible also says that foolishness is bound up in your heart (Proverbs 22:15): therefore I urge you to forsake the fellowship of fools and choose the company of Christ’s no-nonsense disciples, that you might become wise beyond your years and useful to the Lord, “ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

There is another connection to see between verses 17-18. The very fact that many people “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” highlights how important it is for us to be strengthened in our Christian walk. In this present world we are, spiritually speaking, surrounded by negative influences. John Piper has put it this way: “true Christianity is like swimming upstream in a river of godlessness.”[1] In terms of Philippians 3, one of the reasons that we keep our upstream momentum, one of the reasons that the “river of godlessness” doesn’t reverse our upstream movement, is because we have each other to help us. We “are standing firm in one spirit” (Philippians 1:27), and the more mature saints show the less mature saints how to keep pressing on and keep growing into Christlike maturity, and so we make progress together.

A Brief Biography of Unbelievers

In verse 19 Paul gives us a brief biography of the “enemies of the cross of Christ” – Paul doesn’t just introduce the concept (v. 18) but he proceeds to describe what it means (v. 19). Before we read it, though, let’s take to heart that Paul is not uncaring about the fact that so many people are at odds with Jesus. Paul cares deeply about them and talks about them “with tears” (v. 18). God doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked, and neither does Paul. Jesus wept over the lostness of the people in Jerusalem, and Paul does likewise. At the same time, Paul cares deeply for his fellow Christians and he doesn’t want them to make a shipwreck of their faith. So not with intellectual detachment or academic predictability, but with urgency and “with tears” Paul gives us a brief biography of the people who are at odds with Jesus. He writes:

“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

Over and over again in our series on Philippians I have attempted to make it clear that there is the God-appointed pathway of humble service to Christ that leads to the God-appointed goal of resurrection glory. To be clear, walking on the path of humble service to Christ is not how a person becomes a Christian. A person becomes a Christian by the soul-converting power of God’s Spirit, in which the sinner turns away from his or her sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient and all-satisfying Savior. This Holy-Spirit-generated faith inevitably results in a transformed life, and so your walking on the path of humble service to Christ demonstrates that you are a Christian and, at the same time, ripens you for the glory to come. This instruction about the God-appointed pathway of humble service to Christ leading to the God-appointed goal of resurrection glory needs continual reinforcement, and here it is reinforced by way of contrast. Those who are “enemies of the cross” are on a very different path than the one that faithful Christians are on, and the very different path that they are on leads to a very different end. To put it clearly: unbelievers are on the pathway of sin that leads to the tragic end of destruction.

Paul uses three phrases to describe the way that sinners live. First, unbelievers worship the false god named “belly”. The point isn’t that all unbelievers are gluttonous when it comes to food. The point rather is that unbelievers are enslaved to their own appetites, their earthly cravings, their ungodly desires. The person who is obsessed with physical fitness and is ruled by the health gods is as much guilty of ‘belly worship’ as the person who is obsessed with eating and is ruled by food. It doesn’t matter whether the allurement is food or health or romance or money or success or fame or smartness or social power, unbelievers are ruled by their desires, and their desires are not ruled by Christ.

Second, unbelievers “glory in their shame.” Instead of being humbled and brokenhearted and repentant on account of their sin, unbelievers take pride in their sin, and their sin is – objectively speaking – their shame. They don’t see it that way yet, but that doesn’t change the fact that sin is fundamentally shameful. It is shameful to put money first, it is shameful to think highly of yourself, it is shameful to think that your morality is good enough for God, it is shameful to twist the truth to serve your own interests, it is shameful to gossip about everyone else’s business, it is shameful to boast in your possessions, it is shameful to steal sex away from the bonds of holy matrimony and co-opt it for your own purposes, it is shameful to care more about getting ahead than knowing God, it is shameful to worship and serve any part of the world that God made instead of worshiping and serving the One who made the world, it is shameful to operate on the assumption that everyone else exists to serve you and your agenda. And yet, all this passes for normal among the ungodly as they find joy in their sin, as they “glory in their shame.”

Third, unbelievers have their “minds set on earthly things.” Christians understand that the earth, in and of itself, is a good thing: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The earth and earthly life and mankind’s call to live as God’s stewards on earth are all good things. The problem comes in when men and women seek to block out God’s perspective on things and instead set their hearts and minds “on earthly things” without reference to God’s sovereignty over all things and God’s purpose for all things. The problem comes in when men and women do not want the Father’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Unbelievers think about “earthly things” without reference to the truth that God has revealed in the Bible; unbelievers think about stuff without consulting the One who made the stuff; unbelievers think about the gifts without considering the Giver who gave the gifts; unbelievers think about physicality without understanding the foundational spirituality that must guide our course; unbelievers think about this present life without taking into account future realities. After all, if they truly understood that “[their] end is destruction,” they would not bow down and worship the belly of their ungodly desires. But they are blinded by sin, and therefore they cannot see the truth and beauty of the kingdom of God. And therefore they “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

This phrase – “enemies of the cross of Christ” – gets at the heart of their rebellion against God. To be an enemy of Christ’s cross means, in the first instance, that you are an enemy of the gracious salvation that God gives through the cross, through the atoning sacrifice of His Son. Moralistic unbelievers, some of whom help to populate American church buildings on Sunday mornings, think that their morality is good enough for God; they put confidence in themselves that they are the kind of people whom God would love to have up there in heaven; they think that their religiosity or good works will buy them passage through the pearly gates.  Unlike these “enemies of the cross,” we who believe in Christ do what? We “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). We do not glory in our shame, instead we glory in the One who took our shame, who “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Equally, we do not glory in our own righteousness, but we glory in the righteousness “which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9). To be an enemy of Christ’s cross means you are an enemy of the redeeming grace that flows from our Lord’s death and resurrection. To be a true friend of Christ’s cross means that you glory in the Savior who died for your sins and rose again for your justification (Romans 4:25).

Being an enemy or friend of Christ’s cross involves something else also, something that cuts right to the heart of Philippians 3:19 and indeed the whole letter. Being rightly related to the cross means that you welcome not only its saving power but also its shaping power. Recall the instruction of Chapter 1: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” In other words, Christ’s gospel is supposed to shape our daily life, our walk, the way we live. Christ’s gospel is set forth in Chapter 2, in which Paul tells us that Christ “made himself nothing” and “humbled himself” as an obedient servant (Philippians 2:7, 8) – and Paul’s point in telling us this is to impress upon us that Christ’s attitude of self-giving love is to be our attitude: “in humility [we are to] count others more significant than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3), and in love we are to look “to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). This cross-shaped life of humble service is evident again in Chapter 3 when Paul describes his aim in life: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10)? Do you see? Christ suffered in order to bring the riches of heaven to poor sinners on earth – and Christ calls His people to join Him on this path of suffering, that we too might be involved in advancing His kingdom and building up His church. Christ died in humble obedience to the Father’s will, and with His blood He purchased His bride and made her holy – and Christ calls His people to join Him on this path of self-denial, of dying to self, of being completely abandoned to the Father’s will, that we might do whatever it takes to help one another “press on” and “hold true” and “stand firm.” When we understand that this is also what it means to be a friend of Christ’s cross, then it comes as no surprise why belly-worshipers live as enemies.

To “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” means that you refuse not only its gracious salvation but also its call to die to yourself. Jesus says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) And the enemy of the cross says, ‘Then I will not be your disciple.’ Why? ‘Because I love my money. I love my sexual freedom. I love my ungodly friends and don’t want to change sides. I love my earthly comforts. I love calling the shots and serving my own interests. I love the wonderful plans that I have for my life. I love my belly and my shame and my sin and myself, and I have no interest in dying to any of these things. Please leave me alone.’ Scripture says: “When the [rich] young man heard this [that he had to give up his possessions in order to follow Jesus] he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:22) He valued his earthly possessions more than he valued the promise of “treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21); he worshiped the god of material abundance and therefore would not worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unlike the rich man and unlike the “enemies of the cross,” the apostle Paul shows us that the better way is to give up every other possession in order to possess the “one pearl of great value” (Matthew 13:46), namely, Jesus. “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him….” (Philippians 3:7-9) “[Knowing] Christ” involves dying to self in order to walk with Christ on the path of suffering, on the path of loving one another and offering humble service to the cause of Christ. The friends of the cross say ‘Yes and Amen’ and continue to walk as followers of Christ. But the enemies of the cross say ‘No’ and, like the rich young man, walk away.

There are only two ways to walk. And these two ways have two radically different ends. For those who “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ,” the end that awaits them is “destruction.” In due course they shall meet with God at His judgment throne, and it will not go well for the person who thought more of his belly or his bank account than the righteous God to whom he owed heartfelt obedience. “For you may be sure of this,” Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:5-6) Ongoing disobedience is the indisputable evidence of a heart that doesn’t love Jesus, for Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) The matter is stated simply and soberly at the end of 1 Corinthians: “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.” (1 Corinthians 16:22) Those who walk in disobedience to our Lord shall meet a bitter end as they are cast “into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30)

Perhaps you have come to service this morning as a man or woman who is at odds with Jesus and you are walking contrary to the truth of God’s Word. My message to you is not gleeful anticipation of your demise, but rather repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:32) Infinite riches are offered to you at the cross of Jesus – the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, the transforming power of God’s Spirit at work in your life, entrance into the spiritual fellowship of Christ’s church, and the promise of everlasting joy with God and with God’s people forever! Don’t be like the rich man who refused to believe and “went away sorrowful,” but rather be like the Ethiopian man in Acts 8 who received “the good news about Jesus” and as a result “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:35, 39).

Brothers and sisters, stand firm in the Lord by distinguishing those who walk obediently (v. 17) from those who walk disobediently (v. 18-19): follow in the footsteps of the faithful who are “[pressing] on toward the goal,” and resist the influence of the unfaithful whose “end is destruction.”


Seventh, stand firm in the Lord by remembering that your citizenship is in heaven. Unlike the “enemies of the cross” who set their minds “on earthly things” and are headed toward destruction (v. 19), our minds are taken up with heavenly things and we are headed toward glorification (v. 20-21). Two different ways of life, two different mindsets, and two different destinies.

Fellow believers, ponder this truth: “our citizenship is in heaven.” The concept of citizenship gets at the issue of our identity, our true country, and the governing reality under which we live. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our fundamental identity is that of belonging to Him and His kingdom. To become a Christian is to be brought out of “the domain of darkness” and to be transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Baptism signifies this change of citizenship: the new believer is baptized into “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), indicating that now he or she will live as a citizen of the city of God: “For here we have no lasting city,” writes the author of Hebrews, “but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)

What does it mean to set our minds on the reality of our heavenly citizenship as we are following Jesus in our everyday earthly lives? It means is that our life is not shaped by the here and now, but by the eternal. Our life is not lived for short-term gains, but for everlasting joys. Our life is not ruled by the politics of this present age, but by the politics of God’s forever kingdom. Our life is not governed by the opinions of mortal men, but by the righteous decrees of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our life is not patterned according to popular culture, but according to the way of the cross. Our life is not directed toward human applause, but toward the “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23) that the Lord shall speak to His faithful people on the last day. Our life is not about maximizing comfort and protecting ourselves from suffering, but about maximizing service to Christ on the costly path of love. We don’t turn away from suffering and death, but rather embrace it: “that I… may share his sufferings, becoming like [Christ] in his death” (Philippians 3:10), and why? Because Christ is our life (Colossians 3:4)! We are not seeking our own little golden paradise on planet earth, but instead we are pouring out our lives for Jesus’ sake. As we lay down our lives for the cause of Christ and the growth of His church, our confidence and goal and longing is the promise of resurrection glory. As citizens of heaven, we embrace the reality that right here and right now on planet earth we are foreigners, pilgrims, strangers. But the passport in our hand says ‘kingdom of heaven’, the passport is backed by the full authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who paid for it with His very own blood, the passport assures its possessor of entry into everlasting glory in the day of resurrection, and the passport-holder lives differently as a result: you walk in a way that honors the Savior, and you wait for His return from heaven!

Christian, don’t forget your homeland! Don’t forget your heavenly country! Don’t forget the eternal city! Don’t forget that the age of sin and suffering shall soon pass away, and the age of righteousness and glory shall be ushered in forever! Don’t forget! Remember! Look forward to that day! Let it anchor your hope and shape the way that you live!

Having confidence, therefore, that “Christ Jesus has made [you] his own” and has called you to a glorious destination, “press on” (Philippians 3:12): “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

Brothers and sisters, stand firm in the truth of your heavenly citizenship.


Which leads straightaway into an eighth way of standing firm, namely: stand firm in the Lord by waiting eagerly for the Savior to come again and complete His transforming work in your life. Paul says,

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

We need to understand that the glorification of verse 21 is the end goal of the pressing on that Paul described earlier in the chapter. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus – Philippians 3 and Romans 8 are unmistakably clear about this. In Romans 8 Paul wrote,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29)

Isn’t this clear? God has predestined His chosen ones to resemble Christ – “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Now in Philippians 3 it is clear that this conformity to Christ proceeds in two stages. The first stage is what happens now as we follow Jesus on the path of suffering: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10, italics added). Now at the present time we follow Jesus on the path of costly love, and as we do so, “the power of his resurrection” works powerfully in us so that we become like Him in humility, in self-giving love, in costly service, in sacrificial obedience.

This first stage of transformation (“becoming like him in his death” v. 10) is the pathway to the second stage: “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:11) As we still find ourselves in the first stage, we “[strain] forward” and “press on toward the goal.” And yet, we do not strain forward and press on as if the second stage transformation will be accomplished by us. Yes, we must strain forward and press on as “God… works in [us], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) Yes, we must live so as to anticipate our future resurrection and lay hold of the promise and be ripened for the day of glory. But when by God’s grace and strength we have finished our course, the final transformation will be accomplished by the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ. The same Christ who transforms us now by the power of His Spirit will transform us on the last day – and when He does it, we will no longer be like Him in his death, for death will then be “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54); and on that day we will become like Him in His resurrection glory: “[He] will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”

Some people misunderstand the doctrine of our future resurrection. There are people who give the impression that believers are going to get a new body, as if God is going to create a brand new body out of nothing. But where does that idea come from? That is not what the Bible teaches. Other people may not care whether they even have a body, but that is equally misguided, for the Bible teaches that to be properly and truly human is to be embodied. Our resurrected Lord is embodied and will be embodied forever, and so shall His people likewise be embodied – not with new bodies from nowhere, but with their present bodies raised up and glorified and perfected.

What does verse 21 say? It says that your “lowly body” – that is, your present “lowly body” that you now have – your “lowly body” is going to be transformed. Whether a person’s body decomposes in the ground or is cremated into ashes or is burned in a fire or is lost at sea is irrelevant when it comes to the glorious day of resurrection. Trust your sovereign Lord! It will not be difficult for the Lord to reconstitute a body that returned to the dust five thousand years ago or was burned into smithereens five days ago. Not difficult at all! We must never allow what we don’t understand to override what we do understand, and God’s Word is clear about this: you’re not getting a new body, instead the body that you now have is going to be resurrected (John 5:28-29), redeemed (Romans 8:23), transformed and glorified (Philippians 3:21), and clothed with immortality and indestructible power (1 Corinthians 15:42-55). In other words, your embodied-ness will receive the most wonderful upgrade imaginable!

Brothers and sisters, the present age is an age of lowliness and weakness, but we look forward to the age of glory and power. This future and eternal age of glory and power has already broken into our present world through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of His people. But death could not hold the Son of God (Acts 2:24), and on the third day He rose again and now He lives forever in “the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16; see also Romans 6:9-10). Death has no power over Him anymore (Romans 6:9)! He is “highly exalted” (Philippians 2:9) and he reigns forever at the Father’s right hand. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and in due course all things will be brought into proper subjection to the beautiful and benevolent sovereignty of Jesus our King. That which is now unruly shall be ruled, that which is now disordered shall be reordered, that which is now broken shall be mended. The heaven and earth shall be purified from all that is unholy and unclean, and then there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, full of righteousness and glory. The ungodly shall be banished from God’s kingdom forever, and the humble ones who trusted Jesus shall be lifted up and glorified with the Lord. We who know the Lord and who are now becoming like Him in suffering and death, shall on that day become like Him in resurrection and glory. Lowliness shall give way to divine exaltation, weakness shall give way to divine power, suffering shall give way to divine glory, and death shall give way to divine resurrection. On that day, the redeemed of the Lord shall walk with Him in the land of the living – and “[what] a day of rejoicing that will be!”[2] And the eternal day shall never end!


This is what our Savior will do when He brings to completion the salvation of His people. Believe the promise! Let the promise of glory encourage you to stand firm and fill you with freedom and hope. You now live in a present world full of so much sin and human idiocy, of suffering and pain, of brokenness and weakness. But as Christians we do not pin our hopes on this present world. We live in it, but we are not of it. We have an anchor, a hope, a promise that directs our gaze to the eternal city, and this frees us from bondage to earthly things. Standing firm in the promise of resurrection, we are free to live as Christ’s people at the present time, to give all that we are and all that we have for Him and for His mission and for His people, not calculating short-term gains, but resting in the confident expectation of eternal joys.

Brothers and sisters, await His coming with eagerness and patience! And walk toward the everlasting glory to which you have been called!

“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” 

Let us pray.



[1] John Piper, “True Christianity: Inexpressible Joy in the Invisible Christ.” Published by Desiring God, November 14, 1993. Available online:

[2] From the hymn “When We All Get to Heaven” by Eliza E. Hewitt.

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Greeting Every Saint

April 28, 2019

To Our Great God Belongs Eternal Glory