The Reading: Philippians 3:1-11
“… that I may gain Christ …” (v.8) RSV
Amidst all the social and ethical issues of seeking to be a person of faith we must not neglect the heart and soul of it all: Salvation. This ‘big’ word contains many strands which include salvation of a people (not just individuals) and salvation of the earth (nature). But it also definitely includes the salvation of the individual. Each one of us is able to know a personal blessing and deliverance from God.
Paul did not only speak in the first person plural, ‘we’, but also in the first person singular, ‘I’. Thus our text today reads, “… that I may gain Christ” (v.8). Whatever our future salvation contains it will not be the absorption or disappearance of the individual.
Paul’s personal salvation was so important to him that he described it as “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. This is why some people correctly affirm that God has no grandchildren; each of us needs to come into that saving knowledge of Christ Jesus for ourselves. As far as he was concerned everything else by comparison was “refuse” (v.8).
This is also why he was so furious when anybody had a message that effectively robbed people of their salvation in Christ. In today’s passage he refers to the ‘circumcision party’. These preachers would not allow faith in Christ alone to be the means of salvation; they had to make people into Jews (by circumcision) and impose Jewish rules and regulations upon them. Paul explained that he himself had tried to be saved/justified by those means. It simply had not worked!
Through his Damascus Road experience he had come to realise that the death and resurrection of God in Christ Jesus was the only means of salvation: forgiveness and new life – a gift. This same gospel is for us too. We cannot add to or make more secure our acceptance with the Father.
Thank you, Lord, for the great gift of salvation in Jesus. May my life be one of honouring and praising you. Amen.
1 How shall each of us be saved?
2 Note that salvation is resurrection now and in the hereafter.