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Read Introduction to Philippians

 

“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee.”

 

We have before us an autobiography of an intensely religious man. Paul was a capable, confident man. He was confident in his education, family, skills, and job. Religion gave him a veneer, a religious image. Paul depended upon his religion, character, and morality. He thought religion would commend him to God.

“of the stock of Israel”

This is the second in Paul’s lists of accomplishments. He came from good stock. To come from good stock is not in itself bad. A family where noble ideals are steeped into children is of great account. It is good to come from a fine family stock, a family that prays together, reads the Word together, and reaches out to others. But it is another issue to rest on our family roots to impress God.

Some people feel they are right with God just because they are Canadians or Americans. Others sense an acceptance with God because they came from a good religious background. But good roots do not gain God’s approbation.

“of the tribe of Benjamin”

Benjamin was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. When the tribes split, Benjamin stayed with Judah in the south. The temple was located in Judah. The only tribe that was loyal was little Benjamin, the smallest of all the tribes.

“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Romans 11:1)

Paul was proud of his heritage. This is pride of family. But it is another notion to think that this amasses brownie points with God. Family connection will not gain God’s approval. The thesis runs something like this: “If I amass enough points with God, then God will be under obligation to accept me into heaven.”

“a Hebrew of the Hebrews”

The fourth area he was convinced commended him to God was his ancestry. Paul had no Gentile blood in him at all. Both his father and mother were full-blooded Jews. He came from a long line of pure Hebrew stock.

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites, so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.” (2 Cor. 11:22)

When it came to his background, he had all the credentials in the world.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with ancestry. We should be proud of our family tree. In other words, this is not to insinuate that we might find someone in our family tree hanging by their tail but we might find someone hanging by their neck!!! However, God sidesteps ancestry, environment, and heredity on the principle of pure, unadulterated grace. That is the only way to find acceptance with God.

PRINCIPLE:

Human credentials cannot give us God’s approval. 

APPLICATION: 

We gain God’s approval only by grace. Do you think that God accepts you by your background? Do you truly throw yourself on the grace of God for His acceptance?

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