Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Banner UK 2017 Session 6 S Ferguson


Having looked at the conversion of Paul we came tonight to his communion with Christ. He may well be saying in Philippians 3 that he was actually disinherited. He actually knew loss. It is possible to lose something and still highly value it. With Paul he both lost everything and willingly lost it. Here, said Dr Ferguson, Paul homologates (express agreement with or approval of) his loss. He shows a detachment that Calvin expresses as a "contempt for this present life" without despising life itself.
Thomas Chalmers speaks of the "expulsive power of a new affection" that lies behind this great change.
What is to have communion with Christ? Three things
1. Coming to know Christ
This is at the heart of New Covenant faith. In Galatians 4 he speaks of not knowing God and then coming to know him. In the Sermon on the Mount it is not that the false believer is refused entry because he does not know Christ but because Christ does not know him. This is not a reference to election bu the whole idea of being known by Christ. It is the same in Galatians 4.
His use of my Lord in verse 8 is a reminder that this is not really about Paul but about the Lord Jesus, the one to whom every knee shall bow.
If Christ is my Lord then it will show. He must be at the centre of Christian ministry not other things. We must truly be Christ centred.
Here is an encouragement and a challenge then.
2. It is rooted in a communion with Christ that involves being found in him.
This is exepegetical (explanatory) of knowing Christ and being united to him. The being found in him here is for justification. The importance of faith is that it is all of grace. Faith itself is not a contributory factor.
The importance of this is that this righteousness is not in us but in him. It is imputed to us but it remains his. Therefore it cannot be added to or taken away. When we grasp this it delivers us, at a stroke, from the idea that progress in sanctification contributes to our justification.
When we see this we see what an impact the Roman view had on Luther and then what an even greater impact the true Protestant doctrine had.
Luther
"I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: "The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: 'The just person lives by faith.'" I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: "The just person lives by faith." All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light."
If we are righteous in Christ we are as righteous as Jesus Christ himself! This is why we boldly approach the eternal throne and make our claims.
3. It means becoming conformed to Christ
10, 11 I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul begins with the risen Christ. That is where the Christian life begins. Here he is speaking about the outward change that comes to the Christian (as well as within). There is no suggestion that he is going to contribute anything but he has this idea of greater and greater service and suffering in order to share in the fruit and triumph of Christ. Even in the Old Testament we see it. Take Joseph as an example or Ruth and Naomi. Daniel.
You embrace Christ in his totality,Paul sees. There is an imprinting by the Spirit according to the pattern with the Son. Think of the oil of suffering and glory flowing down from the High Priest's head to the people.
Paul speaks of this too in 2 Corinthians 12 - strength made perfect in weakness. There is not just a strength that comes from being in Christ but a weakness too. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
There is a cruciformity principle that will produce life in others. Where did Paul learn this? We come back to Stephen. This is the single clearest illustration (apart from Christ himself) of death producing life
We closed with an illustration where a converted Arab recently knelt for baptism (sprinkling) just as others have been seen kneeling to be beheaded. At ordinations the new minister often kneels - again a pointer to our calling.
Once again superb!

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