Archive for May 6th, 2007

The Life of Christian Peace

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

The text of this morning’s sermon at the Lynden United Reformed Church, preached by the Rev. Chris Gordon, was Philippians 4:8,9:

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.

The pastor warned of three false ways of viewing these verses:

The Sentimentalist

The Sentimentalist focuses on how these verses make him feel. The Sentimentalist might put these verses as a motto upon the wall (a fine thing to do, really), and feel good about the verses. He doesn’t necessarily connect these verses to Christ, though, or think deeply about what the verses are teaching.

The Legalist

When the Legalist looks at these verses, he sees conditions that must be fulfilled in order that salvation from sin might really be accomplished. He sees the command to think about certain things as a necessary addition to the gospel of Christ. Galatians 3:11-13 addresses this error:

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. (Emphasis added.)

The Moralist

The moralist looks at Philippians 4:8,9 as a list of positive things to do. He has no need of Christ for salvation from anything, since he sees people as basically good beings who only need to improve their lives through the power of positive thinking. The preacher who is a moralist would address his congregation something like this: “You are good people. If you do these things, you will help yourselves to reach your full potentials.”

This erroneous approach is common in many modern-day churches. In such churches, the doctrines of grace have somehow been separated from sanctification, and Christianity has been reduced to a set of morals that, if followed, will produce a happy life. Heeding the Moralist puts people back under the law, rather than under grace.

What is the correct view?

The truly Christian preacher seeks to direct his people to the Lord Jesus Christ 100% of the time. He teaches them that it is gracious union with Christ that enables and motivates their actions. They are able to do what they do to the glory of God, because their hearts are changed

A true Christian realizes that he is not saved by observing a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts”. His obedience is a grateful response to Christ, Who alone dealt with his sins to the satisfaction of Divine justice. It is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that dominates the minds, hearts, wills, and lives of true Christians.

What, then, does the exhortation of Philippians 4:8,9 mean?

Christians are to be controlled by the truth of the gospel. Because they are truly, really and presently united to Christ, they are called to exemplify the mind of Christ:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. – II Corinthians 10:3-5

The true Christian works because God is presently working in him. This is the gospel mystery of sanctification.