My Memory Moleskine: Jesus Plus Anything Equal Nothing

Memory Moleskine - Image by Tim Brister

This week’s section of Philippians finds Paul doing some amazing setup. He begins by writing:

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

So far so good, right? Seems like this is going to be a great encouragement. Next verses:

Look out for the dogs. Look out for the evildoers. Look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—

And there it is. Paul lets this outstanding warning fly—look out for dogs, evildoers, mutilators of the flesh… Here, Paul’s talking about the Judaizers who plagued his ministry—those who were trying to say that salvation was through faith in Christ plus keeping the Mosaic Law.

And as we know from reading Paul’s other writings, Christ plus anything equals nothing.

So Paul lets this this fly and then reminds his readers that if it were a question of confidence in the flesh, “I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.”

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day; of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Let those credentials sink in for a second.

Paul was serious business. A Hebrew of Hebrews; a Jew by birth, able to trace his line back to Abraham. A pharisee, a persecutor of the church, blameless in his keeping of the law.

That’s a tough act to follow. And if that’s what we were to have to do to be saved, we’d all be completely lost.

Fortunately, it’s not the end of Paul’s rebuke against the Judaizers and encouragement to the Philippians. All this is just set up for what comes next:

But whatever gain I had, I counted it as loss for the sake of Christ.

Jesus plus anything equals nothing.

How’s your memorizing been this week? What’s God been teaching you through it?

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  • Keystone

    Christ + Anything = Nothing.
    This must be new math.

    At a modicum, Christ + Anything = Christ.
    Otherwise, your equation diminishes Jesus Christ to Nothing.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Not sure if that’s the case, that the equation diminishes Christ to nothing. If we look throughout Acts and his epistles, whenever someone tried to add something to faith in Christ for salvation, it equated to nothing, because it was essentially saying that Jesus is insufficient to save.

  • Keystone

    That’s a whole other paradigm and thought, and may lead to reader confusion.

    Now, the math equation proposed is:
    Faith in Christ = Salvation

    NOTE: there is no addition quantity to either side; they stand alone. They happen to be true.
    But then,

    Therefore,
    Nothing = Salvation – Faith in Christ.

    Regrettably, these are poor expressions of Biblical truths, though mathematically correct.
    Indeed, they balance whether you add Catholic Doctrine of Good Works to both sides (to maintain math accuracy, or add / subtract whatever you desire.

    Perhaps the magnamity of Jesus Christ is so great that the rules of mathmatics are superceded.

    In any case, the title of : “Jesus Plus Anything Equals Nothing” has a visual appearance of diminishing Jesus, rather than make a true equation as desired.
    On the other hand, maybe a college refresher course on math would change my mind, but not my eye on this phrasing.