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Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The Tree of Life for May 28, 2000

In the first ten verses of Phi Chapter 3, Paul writes to the Philippians about having inner happiness through the doctrines being repeated, "Finally, my brethren, keep on having inner happiness in the Lord. On the one hand, to be writing the same doctrines to you is not troublesome to me, while on the other hand, it is a safeguard or a basis of security for you."  Verse 2 warns about legalism "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;"   Then in verses 3-8, he talks about the vanity of human achievement and grace orientation as it relates to salvation, living the adult spiritual life "for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.  But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,"  In PHI 3:10, we have. the doctrines of getting to know Him, knowing the power of His resurrection and participating in His sufferings and then being conformed to His death. "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death"  Now in PHI 3:11 Paul talks about what he wanted to attain from this, the result "in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

This verse does not refer to something we have to do in order to be raised from the dead.  Rather there is a dual meaning: first to experience that resurrection life now, in time and then secondly to have all that God has in store for us in the eternal state. 

The first phrase of verse 11 from the original language should be translated "if, in some way,"  The next part of the verse "I may attain" means to attain or to arrive at a location, to achieve an objective or goal.  Then we have the final phrase in the verse which should be translated "the resurrection away from the dead ones."

This last phrase refers to two categories of dead ones, the loser believers who live in temporal death and the unbeliever who will live in spiritual death both in time and in the eternal state if they do not become born again before they die.

The entire verse then says "if, in some way, I may attain to the resurrection away from the dead ones."

Resurrection means a person returns from the dead in a body that is incorruptible and never again dies.  Anyone who dies during the Church Age has an interim body in heaven until the resurrection of the Church at the Rapture, 2CO 5:1-8.  This resurrection life or newness in life that Paul desires to attain is found in ROM 6:4 "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."

Resurrection life refers to an extraordinary peace that God desires for us to experience right here on earth.  This sense of peace will ebb and flow because this new life is given little by little.  However, in the eternal state, this peace will fill you entirely.  The point is that God has a plan for our lives.  This plan enables us to embrace an inward death to self, despite all of the natural opposition.  As a part of that plan He also gives us the experience of resurrection life or newness of life.

If you stay with the plan of God, you will have times when you will experience death to the self-life and then the experience of the newness of life, resurrection life.  The dangerous trap that many fall into is to get discouraged when things are not going right.  This is why we are to have that peace that goes beyond understanding.  JOH 14:27"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

As God strips our human strength, loss of the things of the earthly life will be deep.  But once going through getting to know the Lord, knowing the power behind His resurrection, and as we participate in His sufferings and are conformed to His death by experiencing death to self, we then experience resurrection in time and it is then we can realize PHI 4:7  "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

We do not always understand the will of God, but to trust His sovereignty completely is what leads us to the experience of this resurrection life within.  As we deepen in this relationship with Christ, outward things (caused by persecution, injustice, and even what is perceived to be the unfairness of God and the displeasure of God) are things no longer perceived nor reacted to.

The issue is "His will or yours?"

There comes a point in our relationship with the Lord where He desires to give us some spiritual blessing, some experience, or perhaps even some material thing.  Here is where the understanding of prayer is so important.  The Lord prepares the heart of the believer to receive the blessing, then He puts this desire upon the believers heart,PSA 37:4.  The Spirit of God, who dwells in you, begins to make intercession in you; and that intercession is for you and it is according to the will of God.  He intercedes and He requests (from within you) the very thing which is His Will!  ROM 8:26-27  "And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."   Now it is no longer only the desire of God and the Spirit, it also has become the desire within the heart of the believer.  The request actually comes from the Holy Spirit, the desire actually comes from the Father. 

In our relationship with the Lord there  will come a time when the question that must be answered will be "What is our motivation?"  For us to experience resurrection life our ultimate motivation must be Him and Him alone.  If we have this attitude then we will not be in bondage to the things of this world.  In chapter 4 we will see that this resurrection life will allow us to ultimately go through this life be totally content in any and every circumstance, PHI 4:11-13.

This is truly escrow blessings in time, perhaps not wealth and overt prosperity but an incredible superb inner peace with God.  We will experience deliverance from the bondage of the world and the stronghold of the cosmic system.

This does not mean we cannot enjoy this life and the things of the world, but it means we are not in bondage to those things. 

This is why the apostle John put it like this, 1JO 2:15-17 "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love for the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever."

This is why it is so important, when the Christian begins to encounter sufferings in this life, that they do not run from those sufferings, but accept them.  The believer must come to a point when he is no longer blown away or about by these winds.  EPH 4:14  "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming"  To leave God, after coming to this state, would be the most miserable thing in the universe for there is no real pleasure from exterior sources.  All else will appear pointless in comparison to a relationship with almighty God and this experience of the resurrection life.  Little by little, the believer is brought to this secure state.  Death to self, then resurrection, little by little.  This is what the apostle Paul is stating that the Spirit of Christ ministers resurrection life out of the death that we experience in verse PHI 3:10.  This principle is also taught in MAT 10:39 when our Lord said "He who has found his soul-life shall lose it, and he who has lost his soul-life for My sake shall find it."

It is comforting to know that when you are faced with any problems or difficulties, remember that there is a resurrection side of the Cross where we leave behind the old self-life for the new Christ-life, the resurrection life.  This is the life that is filled with the fruit that God produces in our life GAL 5:22-23.

To live in Him who is our Life, is to be in the power of God and is to have these characteristics and manifestations that money can't buy.

We are not in union with the life of Christ as He lived on earth in His perfect humanity; we are in union with the life of the resurrected Christ in Heaven.  We have the privilege to partake of that spiritual life that He took possession of for us at His resurrection, and thereby we are enabled to bring forth the fruits of it.  Resurrection life is a peace in the mind and spirit, and it means that we are free from worrying, free from anxiety and frustration.  We can experience JOH 10:10 "I came that they might have life, and might have {it} abundantly."

Paul is bringing forth a principle in our main passage in PHI 3:11 when he says  "if, in some way, I may attain to the resurrection away from the dead ones," that there is a difference between living the spiritual life and experiencing resurrection life. God not only rewards those in the eternal state who diligently seek Him but he also rewards them in time.  The lack of overt prosperity is not a lack of spirituality.  There have been millions of born again believers who have made an impact in Christianity who would be classified as poor by the average individual today.

We can think like The Lord Jesus Christ and reach a state of total reward in our mental attitude from the fulfillment of the plan of God.  We will still sin and fail in our thought pattern but if we continue with the plan of God, we will experience times when the peace of God is such a reality in our lives that the problems and difficulties we are facing have no control over us whatsoever.  This is the experience of the life within that we receive because of our union with the resurrected Christ.  GAL 6:8 "For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life."  If we keep on living the spiritual life we will keep on reaping more and more of the experience of our eternal life in time, the ultimate being.....what Paul was after, resurrection life. 

It all really begins at spiritual self-esteem with certain characteristics.

1.  Tranquility of soul.  You begin to relax in your soul.

2.  Stability of mental attitude, including never feeling threatened by others and avoiding inordinate ambition and competition.

3.  Composure marked by self-assurance, which is the correct and accurate application of doctrine to life.

4.  Grace-orientation to life which includes giving others the benefit of the doubt.

5.  Doctrinal-orientation to reality, which is based upon genuine humility, objectivity, teachability, spiritual common sense, and the avoidance of inordinate ambition and competition or inordinate self-esteem.

6.  Good decisions from a position of strength, which includes motivation from personal love for God the Father plus divine viewpoint thinking.

7.  Personal control of your life.

8.  A personal sense of destiny, which includes solving the problems related to God, self, others, and things.

9.  Self-confidence from wisdom, which means the function of doctrinal purity or the application of metabolized doctrine to experience.

10.  Poise.  This is the believer under spiritual self-command.

All of these characteristics improve and become stronger at the next two stages of spiritual growth, spiritual autonomy and spiritual maturity.  When a believer reaches spiritual maturity and goes on to supergrace and ultrasupergrace, which is what the apostle Paul was after, then he will have the privilege of  experiencing the ultimate spiritual life, resurrection life.

Our Lord did not teach that if we believe in Him that when we die then we will have eternal life.  He prophesied that we could have this life now!  JOH 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."  JOH 7:38-39  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet {given,} because Jesus was not yet glorified."

This takes time, the Holy Spirit seems to be so slow, and at times outright inactive.  But that is never the case, even when He is grieved, or quenched.  If we only realized the magnitude of the desires of God for your life, you would relax and enjoy every day, living one day at a time.  If we lived like this we would not have any doubts about the thoroughness of the work of God the Holy Spirit in our life. You would not be puzzled at the extent of His preparation and tansformation as He brings you from glory to glory, in time.

Only a few believers will, quietly and calmly, continue to seek after God in this manner.  Only a few will want to say with the apostle Paul that "if, in some way, I may attain to the resurrection life away from the dead ones."   These will be hidden, humble, unnoticed, the ones expecting nothing, except that God be blessed!  Not the creature, But God the creator.

There will come a sense that whatever the Lord does in our lives, it is just!  The believer realizes that, whether it is an attack from the kingdom of darkness or simply his own natural weakness exposed, or from unjust treatment from others, whatever is about to take place, it is justified.  He will realize he is being prepared for something.

Before Paul died he made a great statement about this principle, 1TI 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

It is not difficult to identify the power of His resurrection life: it is the almighty power of love, the power of gentleness, the power of goodness, the power of faithfulness the power of meekness, and the power of self-control,GAL 5:22-23.

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