During this month, at Iglesia de Cristo en Torrijos Carter, we have dedicated our Bible study to the Book of Philippians. One chapter each Sunday. Yesterday we studied chapter three. The title for this article is not only the title of one of the hymns that we sing as part of our praises to our heavenly Father, but also the title was given to the class that we had yesterday.
The Spanish hymn is titled “Firmes y Adelante”, which translated means “Firm and Forward” and it is a translation made by Juan Bautista Cabrera of the English hymn “Onward, Christian Soldier” written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1864. The fourth stanza of this hymn says,
Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane;
But the Church of Jesus
Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never
’Gainst the Church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise,
Which can never fail.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the brethren at Philippi, exhorting them to rejoice in the Lord, which according to many, including this author, the central theme of the letter. In chapter three, the apostle exalts Our Savior as the most precious possession we can have in our lives. This reminds us of the parable said by our Lord,
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).
It is in this chapter where the Apostle exposes who he was before Christ, and who he was after Christ. His lineage within the Jewish tradition was of admiration among the Jews, but, as his own words say, once he met Christ and the Truth, he counted everything else as dung (Philippians 3:7-8). In the words of the writer of the hymn, “Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane.” When the Judgment day will come, it will not matter to God how many PhDs we have, how many companies we have founded, how many books we have written, or how many possessions we have. The most powerful man on this earth, if he did not obey God’s will, in simple words, instead of being in power will be in perdition. Back to the words of the hymn, “Gates of hell can never ’Gainst the Church prevail; We have Christ’s own promise, Which can never fail.”
In the final verses, Paul shows us how to follow our way to heaven. In simple words he says, “We are with Christ or against him.”
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things)” (Philippians 3:17-19).
Paul was one of the great soldiers of Christ. He left a life that, from the point of view of the Jews, was very good. Today we do not need that Christ appears unto us and blinds us to believe in him. That already happened to Paul and the Bible says so (Acts 22:6-16). The Word of God is the complete source of all that we need to know about life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Once he obeyed the gospel, he put his life to the service of the Lord. Every Christian must have this kind of attitude. It is the hope and prayer of this writer that this is the desire and will of every Christian, including himself.
Paul in this letter urges the brothers in Philippi to think like Christ, to act like Christ, and to live like Christ. Today those same teachings are the ones we read in this Epistle And we must understand that this is the way we should live once we are baptized by the forgiveness of our sins and added by the Lord to his body, which is his church (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22-23).
Sadly, there are several types of people out there,
- Those who have never heard the gospel.
- Those who have heard part of it but do not believe in it because they believe in what their Pastor/Priest/Leader teaches (without searching the Scriptures).
- Those who heard it, obeyed it, disliked it and decided to return to their previous beliefs and traditions.
- Those who heard it, obeyed it, and remain in the church, but do not practice what they have learned.
- Those who heard it, obeyed it, and live according to what it teaches.
Certainly, everything Christian must opt to be the last type of this listing. All other types of people need the last type to approach them and can show them that Jesus is certainly the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), not only by their words, but also by their actions.
None of this will be possible if the Christian does not develop the habit of Bible Reading regularly. Not superficially, but by paying attention and understanding what God is saying to us. It is not enough just to read, but the study is necessary. Hence it is important that we study our Bible daily, and in this way, we can be sure that we can remain firm and forward according to the will of our Father.
As the apostle Paul writes, be our words and our attitude,
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
If you want to study more about this topic, or some other topics concerning your salvation, do not hesitate to approach a congregation of the Church of Christ, or to contact us, we will be more than glad to help you to be part of the family of God.
God bless you!