The TREE OF LIFE weekly teaching summary from THE WEEK ENDING:
November 28, 1999
The Humility of a Genius
We can see some very interesting principles coming up in Phi 3 that correlate with glorying in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ as noted in the Gospels and putting no confidence in the flesh.
Let's begin with a general description of Paul's human celebrity-ship. Then we will take a look at the celebrityship of Moses and the similarities in the realm of these two great men who both refused that celebrityship for the plan of God. This celebrityship can be a hindrance, it doesn't have to be but it can be. Paul was one of the great celebrities in Judaism of all time. It did not hinder him nor did it hold him back.
Paul is the Roman name of the Jew named Saul of Tarsus. He was a Jew by race but a Roman by citizenship, the greatest Roman. Next to him, the greatest Roman citizen was Gaius Julius Caesar, an unbeliever. Paul was a third-generation citizen of Rome. There have been many famous Roman citizens but Paul and Caesar are by far the greatest. We place Paul above Caesar because he actually did more for Rome than Caesar did. Caesar is responsible for the administration and the political advance of the Roman Empire. Paul is responsible for Rome becoming the first Gentile client nation to God. Between them, these two made it possible for Rome to be the greatest Gentile client nation in all of human history. The basic difference between them is that Paul was a believer with maximum invisible impact; Caesar was an unbeliever with maximum visible impact.
As Saul of Tarsus, Paul became the #1 man in the Sanhedrin. In fact, he held all the offices of the Jews except that of high priest, for which his tribe of Benjamin was not qualified. Paul was a Roman citizen who was also a Jewish Pharisee ACT 22:28; PHI 3:5. He was also one of the most successful young men in the Jewish body politic in Judea. At a very early age, he became a Pharisee.
The eleven apostles who were the apostles to Israel were all Jewish citizens and Jews by race. They did go to Rome, but they were not Roman citizens. So, when God appointed the twelfth apostle, He appointed a Jew by race but Roman by birth. Therefore, only Paul among the eleven had a ministry to the Gentiles, though the other apostles' still had a message for them. He was also a Pharisee, as a zealous Pharisee and an unbeliever, Paul was the greatest persecutor of the Church until his conversion,1CO 15:9; GAL 1:13. Paul was also the twelfth apostle. There are twelve names written down in the eternal state, REV 21:14. in genuine humility, Paul wrote that he was the worst sinner who ever lived, and that he was the least of all the apostles' 1TI 1:15,1CO 15:9. It's always shocking to the legalist that as an unbeliever, Paul murdered many Christians, yet he became the greatest Church-age believer of all time. From this we learn that humility is the secret to attaining greatness. No matter what the field, without humility, greatness cannot be sustained. However, even though he was such a great man with fantastic accomplishments, in Phi chapter 3, Paul is going to teach that it is a far greater thing that he is doing which is to ignore his human celebrityship, achievements, accomplishments and successes and move forward in the spiritual life. Paul will show us that our achievements, accomplishments and successes can be a hindrance to our spiritual life, it can be but if you have humility, it doesn't have to be. InPHI 3:4-8, we find why Paul had this confidence in the flesh and why he had this celebrity status. PHI 3:4-6; "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."
Paul describes what he was like according to the flesh. He doesn't talk about his failures, he talks about his strength and the confidence that he could have in the flesh. You see, his critics all claimed to be great in Judaism. But in the area of human celebrityship, Paul was the greatest of all people in Judaism. He is pointing out that none of those people have attained the ability that he attained in Judaism. All of his critics, his enemies, who were being used by Satan to try and stop his ministry were all wrapped up in the human celebrityship of Judaism, and therefore Paul discusses his human celebrityship quite candidly. He was also a great Roman as well as a Hebrew. This passage should now have so much more meaning to you since we studied some of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, because what Paul is describing is meaningless compared to Him and what we have seen in Him. Though to those who do not know The Lord Jesus Christ, they would be impressed with the genius and the accomplishments of the apostle Paul. In PHI 3:5-6 we find out why Paul had the Human celebrityship. He is going to say in effect, my critics can't even compare to what I was in the flesh. In verse 7, "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ." He could handle success! This man had confidence in his flesh but he threw away for knowing Christ!
Moses was very much like Paul in that he had great human celebrityship when he was young and great spiritual achievement when he was older. Moses and Paul are the two greatest ultra-supergrace believers in history. One is related to the great rewards of the Holy City and the other is related to three of the rewards of the Stephanos, the crown or the wreath. Three of the crowns of scripture are related to the maturity barrier.
1. The crown of righteousness, which is for the supergrace believer, 2TI 4:8.
2. The crown of life, which is for the ultrasupergrace believer, JAM 1:12.
3. The crown of glory which is for the pastor who leads members of his congregation through his teaching to supergrace or ultrasupergrace in breaking the maturity barrier, 1PE 5:4.
Similarities between Moses and Paul
Let's note some of the tremendous similarities between Moses and Paul as unbelievers and then believers. Moses as an unbeliever was a multi-genius but then so are a lot of people in every generation genius. Remember what the apostle Paul said in1CO 1:26 "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble." He doesn't say not any wise according to the flesh, or not any mighty, or not any noble; he says not many! Most individuals who are successful in life never become great in the spiritual life. It is very rare for that to happen. However, genius is no good unless you're oriented to life with humility. Now, both Paul and Moses were multi-genius! Moses was a musical genius and could have been one of the greatest people in music in history, however, he chose not to be. Some of the Psalms are written by Moses and some of the Pentateuch are simply quotations from his songs. He was also a military genius. He was being groomed to succeed Thutmose II, to be the ruler of Egypt. He was very accomplished in equitation; he loved horses and knew everything about them. He was also famous in archery, a great soldier, a literary genius and an engineering genius who built the two great treasure cities of the Thutmosian Empire. He did all of this when he was a very young man, before he was forty. And when he had attained celebrity status, he said, "No" to being designated the son of the daughter of Pharaoh or the new king of Egypt. Why? Because it was not a promotion from God.
HEB 11:25 "choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;"
He selected the option of undergoing adversity along with the people of God rather than to have the momentary stimulation related to the sin nature choosing against God. Like Paul, he refused human celebrityship. He did not want to fall short of his personal destiny as prescribed by God. He kept on looking forward to the things of God and away from all that distracts from being occupied with Christ.
Moses, like Paul, was a genius in human celebrityship and he walked out on it. As a result he cracked the maturity barrier and went all the way to ultrasupergrace. He eventually had one of the greatest deaths in the Old Testament under dying grace. We may safely assume that, Moses, like Paul, experienced providential preventive suffering to prevent arrogance in his life. Moses too, had passed through both providential preventive suffering as well as momentum testing with regard to people. Moses was in spiritual maturity, essentially free from the arrogance skills and was intensely aware of the invisible assets and occupied with Christ, HEB 11:26-27. These two great men regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of this world because they kept looking ahead to their reward.