Boasting in Jesus Christ
Pastor Oliver explains why we can and what it means to boast in Jesus Christ.
Many of us serve in Grace Baptist Church in some capacity. What is our goal for our church as a result of our ministry? What do we desire and aim for our fellow church members? I suggest we can learn from the apostle Paul as we look at Philippians 1:25-26:
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
What was Paul's goal for the church at Philippi? Paul writes in verse 26, "to glory in Christ Jesus". Or as the NIV translates it, "boasting in Christ Jesus". Paul's goal was that the church boasts in Christ Jesus as a result of his ministry to and for them.
"Boasting" in our context sounds terrible, doesn't it? It brings up images of someone proud and arrogant—someone "sounding his own horn". So, there is a kind of boasting that is not commendable, and there is a kind of boasting that the Bible endorses. Boasting here is not negative, but instead, it goes back to Jeremiah 9:23–24.
Thus says the Lord:
"Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,
let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches,
but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things, I delight, declares the Lord."
This is a kind of boasting that understands and knows God. It is a boasting that knows and understands God in Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to boast in Jesus Christ?
Firstly, it means we have confidence that Jesus, through His work on the cross, has saved us and will save us from judgment. The opposite of boasting is shame, and God promises that "the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame" (1 Pet 2:6; see Isa 28:16; Rom 9:33; 10:11).
Secondly, Paul wanted to visit the church at Philippi to serve them and help them "for your progress and joy in the faith". Paul wanted them to grow and progress in maturity, finding their pleasure and joy in Jesus Christ. And in this joy, it overflows into boasting about Jesus Christ.
I'm not a soccer fan, but if you observe any Manchester United or Liverpool fan, they are always talking about their football club. You almost don't have to invite them to talk about or "evangelise" about how good their football club is. Their joy in their football club overflows into a "boasting" of the club. This flows into the last point. In common with how we use it in English, "boasting" is vocal: to boast means to give voice to something. Give voice to what? It is to provide verbal affirmation of our confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not only our trust of the gospel of Jesus Christ but also an eagerness to preach the good news (Gal 6:14). It is to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.
What motivates and grounds Paul to encourage us to boast in Jesus Christ?
If we look at the verses before, Paul talks about the joy he has in Jesus Christ. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil 1:21) In verses 20b-21, Paul anticipates two possible outcomes for himself: death as a result of his imprisonment and trial or life if released. For Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Huh? What do you mean, Paul?
In verses 22-23, Paul explains that living means he will continue in fruitful labour in the gospel ministry for Christ's sake. Dying for Paul is gain—it is in his words, "far better" as it means Paul can depart and be with Jesus Christ. It is not that Paul had suicidal tendencies, instead, he considered that if he died as a result of his trials and imprisonment—that result would be better. This latter outcome—dying and then dwelling in Christ's presence would be far better, and it was Paul's desire. Indeed, Paul expresses this same desire in Philippians 3:8-10, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." Paul counted everything—all things as loss, because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Dying for Paul is gain.
What makes death "gain" is not the earthly misery that it puts behind us but the heavenly delight into which it will usher us, the delight of being with the Saviour who loved us and gave himself for us. Paul's desire to depart from life on this earth is ignited by longing to be as near to Christ as possible. If his personal longing were the deciding factor between life and death, Paul would gladly choose the martyrdom that would bring him swiftly to his King of grace.
Because of this gain in Jesus Christ through the gospel, we can with full courage, honour Him as gospel partners in our witness and our service to the church. Paul's ultimate goal for building up the Philippian church in the faith and cultivating their joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ is not for himself. It is so that "boasting in Christ Jesus will abound"—so that you will live lives worthy of the gospel. My beloved family and friends in Christ, may you find the joy and freedom of serving the great cause of Christ's glory in the gospel, boasting in Jesus Christ. And may you can make Paul's prayer your own heart's cry, and Paul's affirmation the theme of your life: "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Amen!
1. We will be welcoming 10 new members via baptism and transfer of membership this Sunday! You can read their encouraging testimonies on how God is working in their lives here. We have also with their permission included their email addresses, so do drop them a note to welcome and encourage them!
2. Members of GBC are invited to our next Quarterly Congregational Meeting at 11am on Sunday, 4 Oct 2020. Do come and hear of what is happening in the life of the church and to encourage one another as we support and pray for one another. The Zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/qcm-4oct2020
3. Equip: What is the mission of the church? (3.30–5.30pm Saturday, 10 Oct 2020) What in the world are we to do? In this Equip session we will respond to what Scripture says about our obligation to the Great Commission. The Zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/equip-10oct2020
4. There will be an English Congregation Meeting at 11am on Sunday 18 Oct 2020 to affirm Tan Chong Tien as an elder. Do note that the only way to vote is by proxy:
5. Starting this month, we will be enclosing the prayer needs and updates of our missionaries in Grace eNews for us to remember and pray for them. Do take the time to go through! And given the sensitive nature of their work, please do not disseminate the update without permission from the Missions Committee.
6. Join us at 9am this Sunday for our Worship Service livestream as we look at Luke 12:35-48 “Be Ready for the Master”. Pray for God’s Spirit to prepare our hearts even now as we read the scripture passage a few times before Sunday.