The Necessity of Repeating – Philippians 3:1

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Most of our purchases are with a credit card. There is a convenience because we don’t need to carry large amounts of cash, but we also do it to accumulate points to use for free airline tickets. Recently, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment over the phone, and they required a deposit with a credit card to secure my appointment. After reading off the card number, I repeated it again for clarity. Sure enough, the listener had recorded it incorrectly. I anticipated this possibility. That’s why I repeated the number just to be sure they got it right. It was the safe thing to do.

As we read through Scriptures, it is easy to see that God often repeats the same instructions over and over. Why does He do so? Paul tells us why in Philippians 3:1: “To write the same things [again] to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” It didn’t bother Paul to repeat important doctrine. He knew believers easily forget, and that the truth doesn’t always register the first time. Three subjects were often repeated to Paul’s converts: circumcision, baptism, and forgiveness. Freedom from the Mosaic Law was hard for many to embrace. In part, this was because false teachers constantly sought to impose this legalism on those Paul led to Christ. They also had not fully grasped the principle of rightly dividing between instructions to Israel and to the Body of Christ. So, Paul warned the Galatians that circumcision avails nothing. They needed to stand fast in liberty (5:1-2). Then he explained to the Colossian believers that they had a far superior spiritual circumcision (Colossians 2:10-11). Water baptism was confusing for many, because God once required this to accompany faith in order for Jews to be saved (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). In our new Dispensation of Grace, Paul explained we have salvation by faith alone. Water baptism would detract from the cross, and today we have a superior spiritual baptism (Ephesians 4:5; I Corinthians 1:14-18; I Corinthians 12:13). Many are also confused about forgiveness. God required Israelites to confess their sins for forgiveness (Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5). But believers today are given full forgiveness of all sins at the moment of salvation (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 1:7).

Paul knew forgetfulness and lack of comprehension made repeating key doctrines the safe thing to do. When we read these verses, may we be, as a hymn describes: “hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.”

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."