Real Joy in Real Life: Life Group Study
Sometimes we have an experience or a change of perspective that cause us to reevaluate a previously held value, or belief, or way of living. Have you ever had an experience or change-of-mind like that? Describe what it was like to experience that shift.
- Read Philippians 3:1-11. What do you think the phrases “rejoice in the Lord” and ”boast in Christ Jesus” have in common (esp. vv.1-4)?
- Why do you think Paul used such strong language to describe false teachers (Vs. 2)?
- Paul is referring here to a different kind of circumcision than physical circumcision as commanded in Genesis 17:12 (See Colossians 2:9-15). Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) are both welcomed into God’s family through faith in Christ and what he accomplished through his death and resurrection, not by adherence to the Mosaic Law that, under the Old Covenant between God and his people, included physical circumcision. I recently read that there are people in most Christian denominations who truly believe that they in some way contribute to their salvation.
a. Why might people today make the same error as the false teachers in this passage – making salvation dependent on our own record or performance?
b. How can we keep ourselves from taking that same wrong turn?
- Paul said that if anyone could put confidence in the flesh (their heritage and personal attainments) he could (vs 4-6). Paul, however, believed that putting confidence in such things was totally misguided. According to verses 7-8, how did Paul come to reevaluate his heritage, privileges and attainments?
- To “know”, in the Jewish understand from which Paul is thinking and writing, it not equivalent to our common understanding as ‘intellectual understanding’ or ‘assent to an idea.’ To “know” someone was to have an intimate, personal experience with this person. We can distinguish the difference as simply knowing about Christ, and truly having a personal experience of Christ.
a. How did Paul come to evaluate this personal experience and “knowing” Christ (v.8)?
b. If you have had a similar experience of coming to have a personal knowledge of Christ, describe what it felt like?
- How would you describe the things Paul really wanted for himself as mentioned in verses 10 -11?
- We need to remember that Philippians 2:1-11 – where Paul instructs believers to follow the same pattern of thinking, feeling and acting that Jesus himself had – stands at the center of Paul’s thinking in this book. For Paul, he understands that “knowing Christ” includes adopting the same pattern of life that Jesus himself had. One scholar rightly notes: “this sort of fellowship in Christ’s sufferings provides a way of ordering Paul’s life and our lives so that we seek the benefit of others in willed self-emptying and obedience to God.” (S. Fowl). According to this logic, why should suffering to be seen as a natural part of the Christian life? Asked differently: how does following in the ways of Jesus become costly for believers?
- Read 3:12-14. What do you think Paul’s goal was? (Notice how the previous verses provide the context to answer those questions).
- As mentioned in verse 12 why do you think Jesus took hold of Paul?
- What do think were some things Paul wanted to forget?
- In regards to Christian living, what is Paul modelling for us in verses 12 -14?
Take time as a group to pray for one another, especially for areas of your lives where following Jesus might be costly.