When I moved to Texas I had to learn all about the “big three” schools. Places such as “Lubbock” and “College Station” and “Austin” were legendary cities because of the large schools located there. These were the cities of the “big three” colleges in Texas: Texas A&M (College Station), University of Texas (Austin), and Texas Tech (Lubbock). While Texas might have it’s “big three,” Paul writes about the “big three” in the lives of believers in Philippians 3:9-11.
First is justification. This is the teaching that we have righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. He writes, “and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Phil 3:9, NLT). The basis and grounds for Christians be counted as righteousness depends on faith.
Second is sanctification. Once a person has placed his faith in Jesus Christ and committed to follow Him, the next step is sanctification. Sanctification is the daily act of becoming more like Jesus. “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,” (Phil 3:10, NLT). The Christian life is not always warm and happy. Here Paul reminds his readers that if they are to become more like Jesus, then they are going to suffer along the way. This suffering was predicted in the book of Acts, “And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16, NLT). That suffering was lived out as Paul has shared, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Phil 1:29, NLT) and “through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Cor 4:10, NLT). Sanctification includes joy as well, but suffering seems to be a big theme of sanctification for Paul.
Third is glorification. After a person has experienced justification and participated in sanctification, there will be a glorification for all believers at the end of their lives in heaven. “So that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Phil 3:11, NLT).
While it is easy to get caught up into the worldly view of things (as I learned about the big three in Texas), we should be reminded of the “big three” that Paul describes for believers: (1) justification, (2) sanctification, and (3) glorification.