Can You Testify?

Bible Book: Philippians  3 : 4-11
Subject: Testimony; Godly Living; Dedication; Salvation; Commitment

Can You Testify?

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
Introduction

Philippians 3:4-11: "...though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

A good testimony of salvation is said to contain three elements:

i. What I was before I met Christ
ii. How I came to know Christ
iii. What my life has been like since I met Christ

Every Christian should be able to share those three things in about 2 to 4 minutes. Can you testify? Paul could and Paul did! Paul has a testimony of his salvation, but his is slightly different. Yet, his testimony is powerful and passionate. Let’s look at the way Paul shared what Jesus meant to him in Philippians 3:4-11.

I. What Paul Had before Christ

Paul begins by pointing out what he had in his life before he came to know Christ. On occasion we hear testimonies from people who share infinitum about their sinful ways before being saved. It seems as though they are reliving their “glory” days in sin as they tell how terrible they once were. Certainly, it is okay to point out what Jesus saved you from, but you must now glorify your former sins. Paul certainly does not do that in his testimony. In fact, he is sharing about how good he thought he was before he found Jesus as his Savior.

We note three important elements of Paul’s life prior to his salvation.

A. Paul’s Fleshly Confidence

If anyone on earth could have put confidence in the flesh, Paul could have. He committed his body to God, but note that his commitment did not include giving his heart to Jesus - at least not yet! Paul was a man who felt that salvation was possible through his own deeds. He took great pride in his flesh and his attempt to serve God in the flesh. Paul is pointing out in his testimony that self-righteousness is as great a sin as any evil deed man can commit.

Note also in Paul’s testimony …

B. Paul’s Fiery Zeal

Paul was filled with a fiery zeal for God, even though it was misdirected. His failed former religion was no passive, run-of-the-mill stuff - he was a burning flame for the Lord prior to actually being saved. Listen carefully, you can be very busy for the Lord and yet be lost.

Some years ago, I had a deacon saved in the church I pastored. In one revival I preached a youth minister in the church was saved. A phone call came to me one day from a pastor who told me his wife had just accepted Christ. In other words, you can be busy in the church, working for the Lord, and still not know the Savior. Does that seem strange to you? It should not. Paul was doing the same thing before he was actually converted to Christ.

Again, we see …

C. Paul’s Faultless Legalism

Paul was a good man as far as morals go. He kept the law. He lived a rigid, faithful, dedicated moral life. He was a legalist and sought to keep every single law of God.

Paul was trying to live right, he was committed in body and zeal, but he was lost. His point is that what he had, what he was and what he was doing did not and could not save him. He had religion, but he did not have a Redeemer. He had the Law but not the Lord. He had self-righteousness but not the Savior.

Once Paul shared the life that failed him, he turned in the letter to the Philippians to share what actually receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior did for him.

II. What Paul Has in Christ

Paul’s testimony continues with his glorious experience of coming to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul turned his back on all the things he had in order to gain the one thing he lacked - a saving relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. This is not as easy as it sounds. Paul had spent his entire life up until his salvation, trying to be a faithful religious person. He was known far and wide for his godly behavior and zeal for God.

You know, I think it may be harder for a religious person to be saved than it is for an outright sinner to be saved. It is difficult to admit that you have been trying to do the right thing in your life but you have never trusted fully in Jesus as your Savior. I have seen many church members saved, and I know that they are filled with joy today because of that decision. But, I can tell you that it was not easy for them to make that decision. It is embarrassing to admit in front of others that you lack the thing needed most – a relationship with Jesus Christ. Oh, but the joy that comes once that decision is made! The freedom and joy are beyond description.

So, what do we have once we truly come to Christ? Paul tells us what he had in his life once he was saved.

A. The Surpassing Greatness of Knowing Christ

When Paul turned to Jesus for salvation, he lost his position within the community. He lost his prestige in Judaism, something that prior to salvation was a great source of pride. He lost his possessions on earth. He basically had to turn away from his career – his manner of earning a living.

Some people who come to saving faith in Christ, must walk away from friends they have known for years – even decades. I don’t mean that they don’t love those people, but once a person repents and leaves behind the lifestyle he once lived, he does walk in the same circles. One man who came to Jesus and was baptized in a church I pastored, told me that he felt he would have no friends once he was saved. He was ready to do so at any cost, but he actually found a world of god, godly and gracious friends in the church. He was so surprised at how wonderful God’s people are and what true friendship and fellowship really meant. To come to Jesus is to trust that He has a better life for you. Paul had to do that as well.

As Paul walked away for his former life, he gained a relationship with Christ. He called it the surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ. He found the friend closer than a brother. He also went on to discover the wonderful fellowship within the body of Christ – among God’s saved people. But, most importantly, a person who is saved discovers the living presence of God in the person of Jesus. It is a relationship that cannot be explained, but can only be experienced.

Note something else Paul gained …

B. The Saving Grace in Knowing Christ

Paul also speaks in our scripture passage today of the saving grace in knowing Christ. It was not a righteousness of his own, but the righteous of God in Christ. It was a gift. It was not something Paul had earned, it was something God had given.

Have you received some gifts in your lifetime? Sure, you have. We’ve all received gifts, either large or small. Gifts are exciting to receive because someone has to love you to give you something of worth. Dear friend, there is no gift that cost more, grants more and means more than the gift of grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for you and for me. Paul was overjoyed when he received that amazing gift!

But, also, what did Paul have?

III. What Paul Meant To Have through Christ

A group of friends who went deer hunting separated into pairs for the day. That night, one hunter returned alone, staggering under an eight-point buck. The other hunters asked, "Where's Harry?" The man told him, "Harry fainted a couple miles up the trail." The others couldn't believe it. "You mean you left Harry lying there alone and carried the deer back?" The man answered, "It was a tough call, but I figured no one was going to steal Harry."

Everyone has to make decisions regarding priorities in life. Those priorities determine what we will do, what we will become, what we will accomplish.

Now, let me give you a statement that you can keep all your lives:

“What you desire is what you will acquire!
What you obtain, you must maintain.”

For example, a person who desires fleshly pleasure may find drugs to bring gratification. Such a person will go out and acquire drugs through some means. Once that person obtains the drugs, then he has to maintain the drugs. That is, he must pay the price to keep up his habit. This is a divine principle. What you desire, you will acquire; and, what you obtain, you must maintain.

This is true of things that have no special moral issue. For example, most people desire to own a home. They scrimp, save and search till they find a home they can afford. They buy that home and the excitement is palpable; but, within weeks or months the facts set in. The payments, the insurance, the taxes, the repairs, the cleaning and all the other issues regarding home ownership create a rude awakening. What you desire, you will acquire, but what you obtain, you must maintain. This is a real problem when it involves sinful habits.

There is, however, a positive nature to this rule. On a positive level, this means that you need to have spiritual goals and be willing to pay the price for maintaining them. Believe me, the price on maintaining divine, spiritual goals is much lower in cost than the price on maintaining sinful goals - especially in the long run!

What was Paul’s desire? We determine our highest priority by that upon which we place the greatest value. This has nothing to do with what we say we value, rather it has to do with what we value in the way we live. Paul stated that he had lost all things for Christ. The word “loss” actually is much stronger. It means to be a “detriment.” Paul counted that which some would have called a blessing a “detriment,” something to be set aside lest it hold him back. In other words, there are some things which others will long to have, which you much give up, if you would know Christ better and more fully!

Paul “counted” some things as a detriment. That is, he considered them to be a disadvantage to his spiritual goals. He determined it in his heart! He counted all such things to be “dung.” What, pray tell is dung? The word in Greek is a neuter of a presumed derivative of three combined Greek words. The word is skubalon, which means, “the refuse which is thrown to dogs.”

You must value your walk with Christ above all other pleasures, all other positions, all other passions, all other people, all other practices of life! That is what made Paul a different kind of man. That is why the Lord came often to Paul and spoke to him and ministered to him.

Paul knew Christ as a Friend that is closer than a brother. As Paul counted all things loss for Christ, he placed value on two important facets of his life in Christ.

A. A more Personal Relationship to Christ

Paul’s desire was to know Him. He did not want to know more ABOUT Him. He did not want to know more FACTS. Paul wanted to know HIM!!! The songwriter penned:

“Just a closer walk with thee,
Grant it Jesus is my plea;
Daily walking close to thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be!”
B. A more Powerful Relationship to Christ

Paul wanted to live so close to Christ that he could feel a compassion for the world like that which Jesus felt when He wept over Jerusalem. He wanted to suffer with Jesus by taking the insults of men while saying, “Father forgive them they do not know what they are doing.” He wanted to die to Paul and live for God. That is what Jesus did. He died to self in order that He might fulfill the Father’s will. That is our need, that is our goal, that should be our desire.

Conclusion

Let us review our own testimony. Is it worthy of being heard? Will your testimony or mine cause others to see how important Jesus is to us?

Then, look into your heart and be sure that Jesus is truly your Savior. Religion will not save you. If you are not sure about your relationship to Christ, now is the time to turn to Him in full, trusting, saving faith.