TV Transcripts

“Paul’s Passion” Part One
Broadcast #1559
August 21, 2022

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1559 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: As is so often the case, I feel like I probably am not going to say anything absolutely new, but I’m praying that the Lord will make it new and make it fresh.

But I guess, a place to start would be to ask a simple question. What was it that got Paul up in the morning? You know, you think about when we say something like that, we’re talking about, what’s your purpose, what’s your passion, what is the thing that really defines what your life is about?

What would you say was Paul’s life about? I mean, it would be easy to say, well, he was a great teacher. He was the one God used in the New Testament to really flesh out what the Gospel, what the New Covenant was all about, and how…what the Christian life was about, the principles that govern it, the principles of building churches, and he demonstrated that as an apostle.

I mean, he could say, well, my passion in life is to go out and start churches. My passion in life is to preach the Gospel. My passion in life is to…win souls, or is to write…is to become the…is to probe the mysteries of God and just be able to expound them and help other people. I mean, you could…there are a lot of things that he did as part of his ministry and part of his life.

But I think there was something else that got him up in the morning. And we find it, I believe, in Philippians, chapter 3. And I would remind you of the general historical context of Philippians, because Paul is not early in his ministry. Paul is late in his life. Okay?

Paul has already been miraculously converted. We know the story of how the Lord met him, miraculously, when he was setting out to persecute Christians. And he met the Lord, and the Lord absolutely opened his heart, shined the light, as Paul said, into his heart, which is what has to happen to anybody. God has to shine something down in here, or we don’t know. But God did. God called him, turned him around.

We know he spent something like three years on the backside of the desert, undoubtedly getting to learn to know the Lord. He went back to Jerusalem and boldly preached until they were about to kill him, and so the disciples sent him off to…back to his hometown of Tarsus.

And sometime after that, the Lord began to reach out among the Gentiles, first through Peter. And, then there was a church that was founded…my mind just went blank, but anyway, there was a…you all know what it is. There was a church that was founded where they were first called Christians and a whole lot of Greeks began to come in. Gentiles began to come in, and the disciples, or the apostles, sent Barnabas to go and to begin to help these people and teach them.

Well, the first thing Barnabas did was to head off to Tarsus. And he found Saul, as he was known then, and brought him and they began to minister over a period of years. And it was out of that fellowship that the Lord said, separate me Paul and Barnabas, “…for the work to which I have called them.” (NIV).

And their story then began to go out into the mission work. And you remember how many things that Paul went through, including at Philippi. One of those places he was stoned, left for dead. He was persecuted in every possible way you can think of, and yet, there was a persistence of carrying out the Word of God.

He was faithful to go back and establish the churches. He was faithful to write to the congregations in Corinth. We have all those early letters. And then, of course, he took the offering back to Jerusalem. I mean, it’s a big story. I won’t go into, obviously, all the details.

And there he ran into trouble. He was persecuted, arrested, sent before Roman governors, and spent…this is over a period of years, now.

And finally, he felt like the thing he needed to do was to appeal to Caesar, and so that set him on a course to Rome where…and on the way they were shipwrecked…had to spend the winter on a heathen island. And you know, one thing after another and he finally gets to Rome, and then he’s in his own hired house…at least they didn’t put him in a prison, but he was in a hired house, under Roman guard, for like three years.

So, I mean, this is a real easy life, right? One thing after another…that’s just skating over the surface of what his life was like. And so, Paul is writing, not from the perspective of a new, zealous believer who’s just been excited to meet Jesus, and now I’m gonna go forth and serve Him. Here’s what my life is gonna be about.

This is a seasoned veteran. This is one that God used to unfold and unlock what matters in the Christian faith. And I believe that he unlocks the passion, the one thing that is the center…you know, we…back in the old day they used to have cartwheels. And the ones I’m thinking about were the wooden ones, you know with a center?

( congregational response ).

The hub. Thank you. And they had spokes coming out. And in a way, I feel like the things that I mentioned, like serving God, witnessing, establishing churches, winning souls, writing, teaching, all these things are like spokes. They all are part of the wheel. But they’re not the hub, they’re not the center. What is the center? Okay?

So anyway, I’ll go ahead and backtrack because I want to…the beginning of chapter 3, because I want to just touch on the alternative here, because Paul is looking back on his background as a Jew.

And he’s partly doing this, in this context, because there were people running around, trying to bring people under the Law, to the point of circumcising the men, to the point of dietary laws and all kinds of things, so he’s warning them against that. And he says in verse 3, “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who…” Do what? “…Serve God by his Spirit.” By the way, how do you serve God?

( congregational response ).

Ah! A little secret dropped in there, isn’t there? Because there’s no way you and I have the power to serve God. We don’t know what to do and we haven’t the power to do it if we did know! We need supernatural help!

The Gospel is not religion! The Gospel is supernatural! It is a divine invasion. These are things we’ve talked about many times, but I feel like it just…the Lord wants to emphasize this in a little different way this morning. But anyway, “...we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus…” That’s the only thing I’ve got to boast about.

( congregational amens ).

I can’t look in the mirror and see a single thing that I can say, yeah, that’s good! I can see Jesus! I can see One who gave everything to save a sinner like me! To Him be the glory!

( congregational response ).

Praise God! All right? “…Who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Oh, folks, we can read that all day and think we’re good. It’s not that simple. We are complex creatures who, by default, put confidence in our own natural abilities. And it is part of…it is central, I would say, to the journey of life that God has got a job to do to change us, and to make us fit to actually be lights in this world. Praise God, he’s just talked about being a light, I think, in the previous chapter.

But anyway…so, he says we, “...put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence.” And then he lists all of his credentials, in the Jewish faith. “…Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin…” and so forth. His, “…zeal…righteousness based on the law….”

There wasn’t anything that anybody in the Jew’s religion could point to and say, you’re guilty. He kept it, zealously, all of his life. Folks, there is a lot of religion out here, that is outward. And I feel like that’s one of the things that the Lord is wanting to steer us away from, because you can “do it right,” you can believe all of the right things, you can do all of the right things, and be as lost as the worst sinner, anywhere, in a heathen jungle or skid row, you name it, or the red light district, you name where you think the sinners are.

Folks, the biggest sinners, in this world, are probably sitting in pews this morning. And I believe that God wants to get to the essence of what the Christian faith is about, because there are a whole lot of people…you walk in...what’s your faith about? And they’ll give you a doctrinal statement. They’ll give you their history. They’ll give you the things they stand for and their ways of doing things.

And, you know, you grow up in that, you can believe all that, you can do all that, but Jesus pointed out the simple fact that there are going to be many on that day who will say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name….” Didn’t we cast out devils? Didn’t we do many wonderful works? And what’s Jesus gonna have to say?

( congregational response ).

Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. “…I never knew you….” Never knew you! It’s not, I knew you and then you lost it. I never knew you. And the word ‘iniquity’ there, in the Greek, is lawless, meaning they were in charge. Nobody tells me what to do. That’s the bottom line, is nobody tells me what to do.

Now, you can give me a religion to practice, and I will do it. I’ll decide and I’ll do it and I’ll decide how I’m gonna do it. But there is…I mean, I’ll tell you, the danger of anything, I don’t care how much life it may have, at some point in history, the danger of that becoming religion is real.

And the essence of what it means to serve God is not all of the spokes coming off, but it’s the hub. And I believe Paul had a…had it down in what he says here. All right? So, he lists his credentials.

But then he says, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

You could go through a whole lot of people’s lives, and you would ask them what’s your passion, what is it that gets you up in the morning? And based upon what Paul said, every bit of it, if it’s not what he’s talking about here, every bit of it is garbage! The hub, the center has to be what Paul…what got Paul up in the morning. What is it that got him up in the morning? All right? What did he say that was the most important thing?

He says, “I want to know Christ.” I want to know Him! Think about, again, the context of this! This is late in Paul’s life! You’re gonna say, well, what’s the matter? I thought you knew the Lord!

You know, there is such a superficial view of “knowing the Lord” out there, in many places, not everywhere, thankfully, but in many places. You know the Lord? Well, what they mean is, they had some sort of event, where they prayed a prayer, and maybe it was real. Let’s just suppose for a moment it was real. But their idea is okay, now I know the Lord. And that kind of is almost like the end of it. Now I’m gonna do the right stuff and I’m gonna just sort of wait for heaven one day.

Oh, my God! Is that what it’s about? Here’s Paul, at the end of his life, and he’s not sitting there in a rocking chair, looking back and saying, whew, I’m so thankful for all the Lord’s done. This has been a wonderful life. I did this, and I did that, and He used me to do this, and used me to do that.

Paul is looking forward, isn’t he? You can go ahead a few verses and he talks about forgetting what is behind and reaching for…there’s something that was before Paul. There was something that got him up in the morning that was more important than anything else.

Even writing to these people, he wanted to communicate the core of his being and his value system. Is it ours? Is it mine? God wants us to get this in a deeper way, what it means to know the Lord, and knowing the Lord is not just knowing ‘about’ Him.

( congregational amens ).

It is so easy for us to have a faith that basically believes a whole lot of stuff about Him, accurate as it may be. And we might rejoice in those truths and say, oh, isn’t that wonderful! But there’s something deeper that Paul is talking about here.

I think everyone here is well aware of the difference between knowing someone and knowing ‘about’ someone. You could have a wonderful, encyclopedic knowledge about some figure that is not here, that you’re not interacting with on a personal level. And you might know a whole lot of stuff about them, but do you know them? The reality is, no, you don’t. The kind of knowledge he’s talking about here can only come from one-on-one interaction.

And here’s Paul, late in his life…surely, he knew so much, and he experienced so much. He’s expressed it through his letters, out his whole life. And yet, he’s come to a place where he says, I want to know Him!

Think about the implications of that. If Paul had not arrived, as he says in a few verses…I count not myself to have laid ahold of all this, but one thing I do…this is the thing that got Paul up in the morning. My life is defined by this simple thing: I want to know Him.

I want to so walk in harmony with him, on a personal level, one-to-one, that He can steer me through life. He can walk through it with me. I can see myself and He can change me. He can do everything He needs to do in my heart, but it only happens when it’s a very personal, intimate thing.

Boy, there’s so much related to this. I just…Lord, You say this how You want to do it. And it would be easy to suppose, on one level, that knowing the Lord would be like walking through a meadow, and having Him show you all the flowers and all the birds, and the breezes are warm and pleasant, and He’s explaining all of this. Oh, it’s some euphoric experience where I’m just…isn’t this wonderful?

Was that how it was with Paul? No, it wasn’t. Paul went through all kinds of suffering, all kinds of difficulty. I mean, the testimony we just heard is exactly on point. Our path is a winding one. Our path is one designed by God, personalized to our needs and to His purpose.

It’s very simple, but very profound truth. It’s awfully easy for us to blunder through life, sort of having a little bit of mental acquaintance with this, but without really appreciating it in the moment.

Now, listen to what that meant to know Christ. “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection…” Oh, that sounds great! Power, yes! There are a whole lot of people out there that are just all about power, power, power, more power.

Well, I thank God for the power, and there is. It’s real. There is a power. The same power that brought Him out of the grave is available to us, through Him! But in order for that to work, there’s some other stuff that’s got to happen. That’s the stuff we would just as soon bypass. Okay?

I want, “… to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings….” Whoops! That’s kind of…He did all the suffering, we don’t have any of that. Folks…it goes on and says, “…becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

You know, the first time I read that, I’m wondering what in the world. Do you mean Paul was uncertain as to whether he was gonna be raised from the dead one day? No! Paul’s talking about the ability to walk in the world in resurrection life.

It doesn’t happen just because you believe the right doctrines, and you go to church, and you sing songs, and you do all the right stuff. It doesn’t happen because of that. It happens with people who walk with Jesus and are willing to die to obtain that life. There is a cross to bear and it’s a cross that we carry daily.

And Paul…things we’ve taught so many times…how many times did we see Paul talking about the reality that in order to fulfill the calling of God on his life, in order to be able to impart life and blessing to others, he had to do some dying, because there’s stuff in Paul that got in the way.

Anything in your life gets in the way of what our sister was talking about? The answer is yes. You can shake your head this way. Yeah! Every single one of us has got stuff that we were born with that’s got ahold of us and we don’t even understand it.

Think about the testimonies of Paul that we’ve referred to so many times. The time, in 2nd Corinthians 1, where he thought he was gonna die, and he finally, the Lord helped him to realize, hey, I was trusting in myself, and the Lord wanted me to trust in Him.

You know, mentally, that’s not a complicated thing. Spiritually, psychologically, that’s major, because our default is to trust in ourselves and rely upon what we got in Adam! And it takes more than classroom theology for us to get that.

And think about what it took for Paul to be able to come to a place like this and realize what got me here was not better theology, and more zeal for God, it was knowing Jesus personally, walking with a Person. Oh, my! God help every one of us. This is major, folks.

I want you think, for a second…well, let me refer again to the Scripture we’ve used so many times in 2nd Corinthians 9, 10, somewhere along in there, where the Lord allowed him to go, for a period of time, through a time of great distress, and he said it was a demon, basically. He called it a thorn in the flesh, but it was a spirit that was allowed to harass him and make his life miserable.

Now, the Lord allowed this and did not explain it right away. And of course, Paul, with this relationship with the Lord, he prayed. He talked to the Lord about it. He talked to the Lord. And the Lord allowed him to go through a period of questioning, wondering, and feeling like, Lord, I want to serve You. This is getting in the way, and I don’t understand.

How did Paul come to understand that? Well, I’ll tell you one way he came to understand it is very simple. He didn’t get mad at God over it, and go pout. How many of you have done that? I won’t ask for hands. Lord, I don’t understand. What did I do? And yet, here he is, humbly looking to God with a genuine desire to be used of God.

And finally, his ear is so sensitive, so tuned to the One with whom he was walking and getting to know, that when it came time, the Lord was able to whisper in his ear and he was able to hear it and receive it. “…My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (KJV).

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