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About this series
Trusting Jesus No Matter What
How to Build an Unshakeable Faith
In many cities around the world, there are buildings specifically engineered to withstand severe disasters - like hurricanes and earthquakes. In this series, Chip plays off that idea by helping us build an unshakable faith that can endure any challenge. Learn why the strength of our faith has nothing to do with our determination or resolve, but in getting an accurate view of God. Discover through various New Testament verses why we can completely trust in Jesus, no matter what comes our way.More from this series
Here’s the first of two questions I want to begin with.
What is it that qualifies us to come to Jesus, the Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, and Sovereign, all-powerful King of the universe? And the answer is our need, our struggle, our brokenness, our sin.
Jesus loves us just the way we are and He invites us, though He is so exalted.
And for some of us, it’s harder than others. We have different backgrounds. Because of my background, my dad was a schoolteacher, but before that a Marine and pretty tough guy. And in a good way. But just you had to have your act together. I mean, you got up, your bed was made, you got, you know, four As and a B, “We’re going to talk about that B.”
And I carried that over and I’m sure some of you have. Your family of origin issues where somehow you get thinking God is like that. And so, I always felt like I had to measure up and if I haven’t read my Bible or prayed or if I’m struggling with a sin that somehow God is down on me. Could I just pause?
If there’s one thing I wish I could really communicate to you and it has been, I mean, a forty, fifty-year journey for me to really believe just as you are, right where you are that invitation is to come. You’ll be greeted with love and tenderness and forgiveness.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that, you know, Jesus is sort of like open ended, don’t worry about how you live. Because, in fact, after He says to come, He talks about the yoke.
Biblical faith, the kind of faith where power and grace and life-change occur in you and through you is when Jesus has the same place in your heart, in your life, in your priorities that He holds in the universe.
Now, let’s go back to Colossians 1. What is His role in the universe? Ruler, Sovereign, King, Creator. What is His role in us? He is a part of the re-creation. He purchased us for Himself. And so, He wants the same place in your heart, and in my heart, as He has in the universe. And in Romans 12, he makes it very clear what this looks like. After eleven whole chapters of, “This is who I am, this is what I have done, this is how much I love you, this is what grace looks like, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, here’s my command. Offer your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. This is your spiritual service of worship.”
So, here’s what I want you to get. Faith is not simply trying to be a good person, having some religious activity. A faith that says, “No matter what, trusting Jesus,” the faith that builds, that changed the world that you want to have and that I want to have - is not a passive thing. There is a moment in time.
That word in Romans chapter 12 where it says “offer.” It’s in a tense of the verb that means on a certain day at a certain time, by faith you say, “My life, my future, my family, my relationships, my money, all that I am, all that I have.
And, now, that gets fearful, right? Because we just don’t know how things are going to come out. See, faith always involves risk, but the confidence is not what you can conjure up. The confidence is who Jesus is.
And the apostle Paul is going to give us another one of those classic passages, a picture of who Jesus really is, like nowhere else in all the Scripture, about what did He actually do?
But you’ve got to get the context, okay?
I want you to get your mind recalibrated about when I say “faith” and when the Bible says “faith” or “trust in God,” it may be quite different than we are used to, we have this casualness.
He is intimate, but He is exalted and He demands our worship and He is worthy of our worship. And our worship isn’t singing songs alone. It’s not simply giving of our money. It’s this living-sacrifice-life where I trust Him, I have faith no matter what.
And so, in chapter 1 of Philippians, we have Paul writing a letter to a group that he really loves. It’s a thank you letter because they sent some money to support his ministry. When he got writing the letter, he found out there’s some conflict with the church in terms of, you know, interpersonal relationships between really good people, but they’re not seeing things eye-to-eye. A little bit of disunity.
And so, he writes them and he tells them in chapter 1 that, “I’m in prison, I don’t know whether I’m going to live or die,” and then he models for them this kind of faith. In chapter 1 at the end he goes, “I don’t know whether I am going to die or whether I’m going to live.” And then he says this. He says, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In other words, “For me, trusting Jesus no matter what. If I die, I die. I’ll be with Him. And I am living with that kind of perspective.”
And then toward the end, he wants them to understand that this isn’t just him. This is for all Christians. There is a gift. We don’t usually think about these two things as a gift. But notice toward the end of chapter 1 what he says. Chapter 1, verses 29 and 30, “For to you,” Philippian church, and to us, “it has been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear to be in me.”
You know, put a little line if you have your Bible open or in the notes, “…. granted for Christ’s sake.” And then put a circle around the word “believe” and a circle around the word “suffer.”
He is saying, “I am all in. I don’t know if I will live or die. I am going to follow Him.”
And here’s what you need to know. There is a gift. We get our same root word for grace. It has been granted for Christ’s sake that you get to believe, eternal life, trust, faith, and also, you get to suffer. Because it is in suffering in the process of a fallen world that God often creates a dependency and a character development and that’s how He makes us more and more like Jesus.
Candidly, I don’t like it. You probably don’t either. But I can look back and realize some of the deepest things God has done in my life were times when I suffered. Some of it was brought on by myself, sometimes by other people, sometimes a fallen world.
But then he goes on, in Philippians chapter 2, and he is now going to instruct them about unity in their relationships and then we’ll get to the key passage.
He says, “Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by,” one, “being of the same mind,” two, “maintaining the same love,” three, “united in spirit,” and four, “intent on one purpose.”
And that little word “if,” “if,” “if,” grammatically it means: Since you have encouragement, and since there’s consolation of love, and since you have obviously had great fellowship with the Spirit, and since you have experienced affection and compassion from Jesus - here’s what I want you to do. I want you to be united in love and one mind and one spirit so when the world sees these followers of Mine, they realize Jesus really did come and save the world because of how we love one another.
Unity is when people from different backgrounds, with different opinions, and different political persuasions, and different experiences racially come together under the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the CEO of the universe and the Creator and the Sustainer and live in such a way that those things are secondary.
And then in the very next line, he’s going to teach us how to do that. How do you ever pull that off?
Look at the command in verses 3 and 4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The supreme example of the relational attitude and behavior that God wants us to follow Him in. When He said, “Peter, follow Me,” the apostle Paul says, “This is what it looks like to, ‘Follow Me.’ I want you to follow this example of humility.” We are going to see in this text Jesus literally descends into greatness. And he says, “You know what faith is? You know, biblical faith. Trusting Jesus, no matter what. It’s living like this in our relationships.
Now, let’s walk through the passage, because again, here’s the grace side of it. Never miss this. Don’t get so caught up of the cost and that’s too high and I could never do that. I’ve got news for you. Of course you can’t do it and I can’t do it either. This is when the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and it births grace in us – when? When we sit around and think about it and…
When we obey and take that step, then the grace of God allows us to love people that are hard to love.
Following Jesus into God’s best plan. Jesus had a very specific mindset of humility. Notice what it says in verse 5. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Humility is, it just flies in the face of what I call the Big Five Ps. You know, in our life and in our world, what makes you a somebody is power, possessions, position, prestige, and productivity. And what you’re going to see in this passage that Jesus’ upside down kingdom is going to look at each one of those things differently than the world does and what, the way we tend to do it.
And so, power, okay – let me give you a quick definition – is who and what we can control.
Possessions: what and how much we own.
Position: our rank in the pecking order. You know, what office you have or how much power and who reports to you or who doesn’t.
Prestige is: who and how many look up to us? Or maybe it’s a like or what they post or what they say about us.
And productivity is: what and how much we accomplish.
Those five Ps, by and large, are how, left to ourselves, we say, “I’m a somebody.” And if you looked at your life and your time and your finances and your energy and your relationships and if I look at mine, an awful lot of it we have been brainwashed, brainwashed, brainwashed to say, “You know what? You need to be a somebody, so you need to accomplish this. And you need to be, by this age, you need to have this role. And you need to own so much stuff and it needs to look like this,” right? We are all in this.
And I want you to watch when Jesus said to Peter, “Follow Me,” and when He says to you and me, He is going to cut across those five Ps and show us a different way, a powerful way, a counterintuitive way to become great in God’s eyes. To, by faith, experience the joy and the peace and the power where God changes us. And then to our shock and amazement and joy, actually uses us to change the lives of other people as His grace flows through us.
You see, grace always flows downhill. God is gracious when He sees humility and He’s opposed to the proud. And so, the direct application here is to some women in the church that were having a fight. But the broader application is this is Jesus’ example for all of us. Follow it.
So, follow along if you will.
We follow Jesus when we embrace His mindset toward power and possessions. Now, think of this. Power. He’s the ruler of the universe. And possessions; He owns everything. But what did He do? “Who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Key word here is the word “form.” In Greek it’s morphe.
We think of form as, like, an outward exterior or you kind of form up a building. This word morphe means the actual essence or substance. In other words, although He existed in the form, the actual person of God, One with the Father, He didn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.
Literally, the phrase is He didn’t regard it as something that He must not allow to slip out of His hands. It’s a picture of humility. It’s a picture of: I don’t have to be in control. It’s a picture of releasing those things. Trusting that as I trust God, He will work it out. I don’t have to make everything happen. I don’t have to manipulate; I don’t have to do the politicking.
This is where Jesus says, “Possessions - they don’t make you a someone.” How many hours and how much time and how much damage is done as we chase things that, “If I have this kind of car or this kind of house or…” It goes on and on and on. And we are all guilty of it. But He’s saying, “Wherever you are, if you’re going to follow Me, you’re going to have to look at power differently. You have to realize that as you trust My control and you trust Me, that I have a lot more power and I will work things out better than you ever could.”
When we look at possessions, He goes, “I promise you’re always going to have what you need.” But to work crazy hours and to invest your life and somehow think that the more you accumulate is going to bring you happiness, He says, “It’s a lie. Don’t buy it.”
Notice he goes on. Following Jesus, we don’t only embrace His mindset about power and possessions, but we follow Jesus when we embrace His mindset toward position and prestige. Not only did He not think equality with God a thing to be grasped in terms of position, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men.
Put a circle around that word “emptied.” It’s a big theological word. Some of you with Bible study backgrounds, it’s kenosis. It means He veiled His deity. He didn’t lose it, but He veiled His deity and some of His voluntary access for a season so that He could be fully man and fully God. And so, He’s taking this position, instead of all the angels worshipping Him, and the prestige and the honor that has come from time past, He didn’t lose it, but He veiled His deity.
And it says in the likeness of men. We get our word schematic. It’s the external picture.
So, He’s fully God but as He walked upon the earth, His likeness, the externals, He was as fully human as anybody. Perfect humanity.
And then notice, we follow Jesus when we embrace His mindset toward productivity. The text goes on to say, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
So, again, he emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, the deity of Jesus, and then when he looks at – what did He do? He humbles Himself and this is how we humble ourselves: obeying God, obeying what the Scripture says.