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4-3-22 “That Which Is of Surpassing Worth”

“That Which Is of Surpassing Worth” (Philippians 3:8-14)

David Peterson / General

Knowledge of Jesus Christ / Philippians 3:8–14

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: We become united to what we ascribe worth to and this union brings this reality into our lives. By seeing Christ as worthy, especially through the cross, we’re united to him and are drawn into eternal life.


1. Paul wants to know (Philippians 3:10)

2. Elder brother in same house didn’t know.

3. Paul points to problem, what you deem worthy

I. Faith Unites Us with Its Object (Philippians 3:9)

1. Faith keeps something before us, in our thoughts, our words, our actions—it has our attention, shapes our priorities. It’s what is important to us.

2. Worth is the word for what we value/have faith in.

3. The worth we find in Jesus is called RIGHTEOUSNESS—he is in the right in how he lived (Philippians 2) and his RIGHTEOUSNESS counts for us. Faith causes us to be IN HIM.

4. Why his righteousness—doing right obeying the law that says do this and you will live (Luke 10:28), we don’t do so law bring wrath (Romans 4:15)

U.N. seeks record $4.4 billion for Afghans struggling under Taliban

World Mar 31, 2022 4:57 PM EDT

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the United Nations said Thursday that nearly all Afghans don’t have enough to eat and some have resorted to “selling their children and their body parts” to get money for food.

“Wealthy, powerful countries cannot ignore the consequences of their decisions on the most vulnerable,” the U.N. chief said. “Some 95% of people do not have enough to eat, and 9 million people are at risk of famine,” he added, citing UNICEF estimates that over a million severely malnourished children “are on the verge of death without immediate action.”

“Without immediate action we face a starvation and malnutrition crisis in Afghanistan,” he said. “People are already selling their children and their body parts in order to feed their families.”


The whole mood of Luther’s understanding of Christ’s work is extremely dramatic, emphasizing the tragic depth of Emmanuelism. Jesus experiences (and here we are reminded of Irenaeus’s notion of recapitulation) all that humans experience: anxiety, fear, anger over injustice, loneliness, abandonment, God’s wrath, death, and hell. How deeply this hurt Jesus is vividly expressed in the fourth word from the cross: “‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46). This is what Luther means by the descent into hell. So deeply does Jesus enter the human predicament that he experiences forsakenness by God, the curse of hanging from a tree.

Luther is not timid when it comes to the participation in sin by the sinless one. Christ takes possession of our sins and bears them. “Whatever sins you, and all of us have committed or may commit in the future,” he writes, “they are as much Christ’s own as if He Himself had committed them. In short, our sin must be Christ’s own sin, or we shall perish eternally.”[21] The value of this is that an exchange takes place. In addition to Christ’s bearing our sin, the righteousness and justice of Christ become transferred to us. Sometimes this is called the “wonderful exchange” or “happy exchange.” Luther describes it with a metaphor of marriage that can apply to the individual through faith or to the church as the bride of Christ: Faith . . . unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh (Eph. 5:31f). And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage—indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage—it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. . . . Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s.[22]

Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future (pp. 416-417). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

300 Sermon Illustrations from Charles Spurgeon (Becoming One with the Foundation (1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 2:6))

In the old Roman walls the mortar seems to be as hard as the stones and the whole is like one piece. You must blow it to atoms before you can get the wall away.So is it with the true believer. He rests on his Lord until he grows up into him, until he is one with Jesus by a living union, so that you scarce know where the foundation ends and where the upbuilding begins; for the believer becomes all in Christ, even as Christ is all in all to him.

II. Our Union with Christ results In Our Death (Philippians 3:10)

1. Knowing him in this way affects us, inevitably we begin to change. We’re not the same people. We no longer have the same priorities.

2. The old person were is not there in a very real way. It died.

The Cost of Discipleship Was Too High

Lord Kenneth Clark, internationally known for his television series Civilization, lived and died without faith in Jesus Christ. He admitted in his autobiography that while visiting a beautiful church he had what he believed to be an overwhelming religious experience. He wrote, “My whole being was irradiated by a kind of heavenly joy far more intense than anything I had known before.”

But the “flood of grace” as he described it, created a problem. If he allowed himself to be influenced by it, he knew he would have to change, his family might think he had lost his mind, and maybe that intense joy would prove to be an illusion. So, he concluded, “I was too deeply embedded in the world to change course.”

Source: Vernon Grounds, “Changed Lives Are Possible” Our Daily Bread (10-1-05)

III. Our Union with Christ will Result in Our Resurrection from the Dead (Philippians 3:11)

1. The power of his resurrection begins now. It is the newness of life we experience in him. The presence of God in our lives (Philippians 3:10).

This is firm testimony to the mystery of Emmanuelism, to divine involvement in the human condition at the level of deepest intimacy. As God binds Godself to us, we become unbound as we are born anew into the divine freedom. This is how atonement works for Luther. It is this happy exchange combined with the mysterious unity we share with Christ through faith that underlies the doctrine of justification. If Christ is just, and if his justice is exchanged for our injustice, then we become declared just on account of Christ. It is here that we find the heart that pumps life and new life throughout everything having to do with the Christian faith. It is the gospel. In the words of Philip Melanchthon, “The Gospel is, strictly speaking, the promise of the forgiveness of sins and justification because of Christ.”[23]

Peters, Ted. God–The World’s Future (p. 417). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

2. What staggers the mind is that it will be consummated in the future (Philippians 3:11).

3. Because we’re in him (Philippians 3:14).

In criticizing Christian symbolism, they talk much of dead churches and decaying creeds; they talk of a creed as a cant. But their own talk is itself a cant. They do not dislike the Cross because it is a dead symbol; but because it is a live symbol.

Source: G.K. Chesterton in The London Illustrated News (Sept. 20, l9l9). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 3.



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