The Twelfth Man On The Team
Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9).
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth," (John 4:24)
THE TWELFTH MAN ON THE TEAM
On January 1, 1922, on the Dallas Fairgrounds, where now stands the Cotton Bowl, Texas A&M College (Now University) played an important football game against a prominent national team, known as Center College of Kentucky, or “The Praying Colonels.” At that time Center was coached by the very famous “Uncle Charlie” Moran. The underdog team was definitely Texas A&M, and their difficulties began to multiply immediately.
By half-time the Aggies were not only on the short end of the score, but were also very short of players. Dana X Bible, who at the time was coach of the Cadets from College Station, had not only started with an undermanned squad, but had also had so many men hurt in the game, he realized that in the second half he would be able to field a team of only ten men. A very discouraging day was in prospect for Texas A&M College.
Up in the stands was a young A&M student by the name of King Gill. (Now a medical doctor in Corpus Christi, Texas) King Gill had gone out for the team; and though he was too small, he maintained a tenacious mental attitude and determinedly stuck with it. So all year, in spite of the fact that he was not even accepted as a member of the team, he continued to work out with them. He learned the plays, stayed in condition and kept up with them.
Finally, on this particular day, when the Texas A&M squad ran short of players. Coach Bible called King Gill out of the stands and told him to get into uniform — he would play in the game — and play he did! As a result, the Texas A&M team was so inspired that they won the game by a very close margin. It is a never-to-be-forgotten event in the football annals of that school!
Afterward, of course, one of the heroes was King Gill. He was called the “TWELFTH MAN.” He had moved from the stands to the playing field as the twelfth man on the team. Out of that particular game and situation came the famous tradition and song of Texas A&M University — “The Twelfth Man on the Team.” The entire student body is now regarded as the Twelfth Man. One of the finest types of school spirit found anywhere, is on the campus of Texas A&M University. Some of you know that the Aggie student body stands up during the entire game and the students never stop cheering for the team. They never stop pulling their team in! (Encouraging them) This splendid tradition now becomes the background for the passage under discussion.
In bringing this analogy over into the Spiritual realm, let us first of all introduce the Team. The Team is made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father has provided a tremendous plan of Salvation for lost and sinful man. The Son, Jesus Christ, is the One who executed Salvation’s plan. The plan is based on GRACE: billions of years ago, the Father loved us and desired fellowship with every member of the human race. Jesus Christ came to this earth to fulfill that plan by going to the cross and being judged for YOUR sins and MINE. He took OUR PLACE; He provided this “so great Salvation.” (Heb 2:3)
Now that He is risen, ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father, He has made it possible for us to operate on this earth today, by sending God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as the Third Member of that Team, He dwells INSIDE every believer to honor and glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. (John 14:17 John 16:14) Everything that we will ever need, as children of God, has been provided for us. He did all the doing; we do all the receiving! The moment we believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, He becomes our Lord, and the Father provides: “...Abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph 3:20) beginning with the gift of God the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38; Acts 11:16-17) Everything depends on God!
ALL BELIEVERS ARE ON THE TEAM
In, (Php 2:12-16) we find that every believer in Jesus Christ is the TWELFTH MAN on the Team.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Php 2:12)
The phrase “my beloved” refers to our position as the TWELFTH MAN on the Team. Technically, the word “Beloved” is used only of One Person the Lord Jesus Christ; The Father loves the Son with an infinite amount of love; and yet this term is now given to EVERY BELIEVER in Jesus Christ.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1Jn 3:2)
It doesn’t make any difference how UNLOVELY you may be from the standpoint of the world, or how undesirable you seem to other people; as far as God is concerned, we are beloved. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the Beloved One, and we are IN CHRIST! As believers in Christ, we are in union with the Son of God — in union in such a way that His life becomes our life.
And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1Jn 5:11-12)
In this wonderful position “in Christ,” “Therefore there is now no condemnation...” (Rom 8:1) We have Salvation because we are “accepted in the beloved.” (Eph 1:6) God the Father could not accept us until Jesus Christ was accepted; after His resurrection and ascension.
Why did Jesus Christ need to be accepted? As God He has always been accepted; but as Man He had to fulfill the Father’s plan. When the plan was completed, (Heb 2:9-10) Jesus Christ entered into heaven and was accepted as the God-Man. The Father said to Him, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.’’ (Heb 1:13) Now everyone who puts his trust in Jesus Christ enters into union with the Son of God and becomes bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, (Eph 5:30) a partaker of the Divine nature, (2Pe 1:4) members of the body of Christ, (1Co 12:27) the TWELFTH MAN on the Team. Are you on the Team?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who BELIEVE in His name. (John 1:12)
For you are all sons of God through FAITH in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26)
Now it is as though all believers are “standing by” today. Part of the Team is in heaven, (And in every believer) the Father and the Son; God the Holy Spirit indwells every believer; and we, as the Twelfth Man, are representing Jesus Christ here on this earth. Therefore, if we are to represent the Person of Jesus Christ, we must first of all be coordinated.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col 3:3-4)
(Php 2:12) begins with the words “so then,’’ which has a connective meaning “so then.” It connects us with verse 27 of the previous chapter.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner [Thought pattern] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith [Spiritual life] of the gospel. (Php 1:27)
This verse epitomizes Twelfth Man coordination. Many times people have lost a position on a team, or have failed to qualify for a team because of lack of coordination.
A man may be strong, he may be big, he may be physically powerful; but if he lacks agility and coordination, he does not have the qualifications for a good athlete.
The same is true in the Christian life. Very often we find people who know the gospel and who verbally proclaim it, but they lack COORDINATION. They do not have the coordination between life and testimony. They do not have the filling of God the Holy Spirit that gives them the real power to animate the gospel and make it clear. Our “manner of life” as believers in Christ should be coordinated with what we have to say about the gospel. The life must declare the truth of what the lips say. If the lips say that Jesus Christ meets every need of the life, that Jesus Christ is the answer, that Jesus Christ is the only One who can save, that Jesus Christ IS “the way, the Truth, and the life,” then the life should also demonstrate that fact. The life should prove it!
This coordination can be brought about only through the filling of God the Holy Spirit, (“Standing firm in one Spirit” — through application of, (1Jn 1:9) and knowledge and application of Divine Thinking. When you are filled with God the Holy Spirit and you are constantly in the Word and Occupied with Christ, your life becomes a living demonstration of what is SAID — and you have coordination.
In addition to coordination, there must be a mental attitude in playing a game — the desire to play; the desire to win; but above all, the desire to make it a team effort. Mental attitude, as you should know, is all-important in the Christian life. Believers should have “ONE MIND — THE MIND OF CHRIST” — and should pull together as one team. “One Mind” is the result of knowing “the Mind of Christ,” (1Co 2:16) which is the Word of God. The Bible, therefore, shapes the mental attitude. (1Pe 4:1)
THE TWELFTH MAN IN ACTION
Conditioning. The words “striving together” mean to work out, to be in condition. Many times an inferior team with better conditioning is able to defeat a superior team which has had poor conditioning. The best athlete in the world, out of condition, isn’t going to be a winner. No matter how great a man is by way of strength, coordination or agility, he must be in condition; otherwise, he will not be able to take it when the maximum pressure is on. Believers are conditioned by suffering, by testing, by trial. Then, in the midst of that suffering and testing and trial, we become Occupied with the Person of Christ as we trust Him. We “roll with the punch” — we keep moving in spite of all the difficulties, in spite of the problems of life. And the result? SPIRITUAL CONDITIONING!
“Striving together” not only has to do with the conditioning which must accompany coordination, but also with competing as an athlete on a team. Paul was interested in athletics and used many athletic terms. He undoubtedly attended at least one of the four great contests of his day — the Olympic, Isthmus, Pythian and Nemean Games. Therefore, thoroughly conversant with athletic terminology and tremendously enthusiastic for athletics, he often compares the Christian life with the athletics of his day. That is exactly what he does in, (Php 2:12) and following.
Confidence. The words “my beloved” also convey another Thought — confidence! The Twelfth Man in action must have confidence. Regardless of whether he seems to be winning or losing, a player must have confidence that his team will come through. The believer must have confidence IN THE LORD. He must use faith-rest. He must see his position in Christ; he must KNOW that he is on the winning side and that he CANNOT LOSE! It is impossible for him to lose because he is in Christ.
Do you have confidence today? Do you realize that “The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms..?” (Deut 33:27) Do you have the assurance of your Salvation? (John 10:28) Do you recognize the fact that you belong to Christ, that you are one with Him — that this situation can NEVER be changed? Do you know today that you are a member of the family of God and a child of God, and that God the Father loves you just as much as He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ? (Rom 8:16-17) Do you know that you are in “full-time Christian Service” and that God has a plan for your life? KNOWLEDGE GENERATES CONFIDENCE! (2Co 5:6-8)
OBEYING THE RULES
Then we notice from the next phrase of, (Php 2:12) that the Twelfth Man in action must be obedient, just as an athlete must obey the rules of the game. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence...” When a believer becomes Spiritually mature and self-sustaining, he obeys the Word of God, regardless of who is present or absent.
Obedience in Witnessing. We are Commanded by the Word of God to be witnesses for Christ. (Acts 1:8) We ought to be VIGOROUS in witnessing for Jesus Christ. (Mar 5:19) How has it been with you this week? Have you been obedient? (If and when there is someone who wants to know) As the Twelfth Man on the Team, have you made Christ known? Have you spoken a word? The greatest joy in the world is to see someone receive Jesus Christ as Savior and or see someone want to learn Truth.
I was talking to a nurse in the hospital recently, and she wasn’t walking on the floor she — was bouncing along in the clouds! She was so happy that she was beaming as she went down the hall. When she saw me, she rushed up, bubbling all over, and she exclaimed, “You know, I gave a man some Scripture, and HE ACCEPTED CHRIST AS HIS SAVIOR! I want you to come down and visit him.”
I followed her to his room, and that man had the same expression on his face — he was bubbling over, too! Although he was dying, he was rejoicing in the fact that he had found Jesus Christ as Savior, He KNEW where he was going — HE KNEW THAT HE HAD ETERNAL LIFE — HE KNEW that his sins were blotted out!
Why was that nurse so excited — so bubbling over? Because, you see, as the Twelfth Man on the Team, she was witnessing for Christ Her obedience was fulfilled, and it produced an inner joy that manifested itself in reflected glory on the outside.
Obedience in Our Relationships.
We are Commanded to be obedient in the matter of relationship to other believers. Believers are Commanded to “love the brethren.” (1Th 4:9; (1Pe 1:22; (1Jn 4:14) Oh, the joy and the strength and the impact and the united testimony of the Twelfth Man on the Team when they are all together in the matter of love! Remember that love is a mental attitude produced by the filling of God the Holy Spirit and by the knowledge of Divine Thinking. Love is freedom from mental attitude sins toward others, such as envy, bitterness, hatred, lust, competition, vindictiveness, implacability, etc.
Obedience in Rebound.
Unconfessed sin among the members of the Team can stop the Team cold! In any game, an infraction of the rules demands a penalty and sets the team back. Believers who do not rebound (1Jn 1:9) hinder the entire work and testimony of Christ, and God cannot let it go. Divine discipline must come into play before the Team can get moving again. (Heb 12:6) cf. Jos 7:1) thru (Jos 8:35) and (Acts 5:1-11).
Obedience in Learning the Word.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of Truth. (2Ti 2:15)
Obviously we can’t obey the Word if we don’t know it. Knowledge of the Word is of necessity the most important requirement of the Spiritual life! (Php 3:8) There is no production, no stability, neither peace nor happiness apart from knowledge of the Word of Truth.
No game can be played without rules. The Bible is the rule or absolute Standard for the Twelfth Man of God’s Team. (2Co 10:13) How much time did YOU spend in the Word of God this week? “Living in the Word” is one of the five basic techniques of the Christian way of life. (Others are: rebound — 1Jn 1:9; the filling of God the Holy Spirit — Eph 5:18; faith-rest — Heb 4:1-3; Occupation with Christ. Col 3:1-2)
Obedience in Prayer
The Twelfth Man on the Team must spend time not only in the Word but in prayer. If you were to go out to Rice Stadium or to the Astrodome right now, I’m sure you would find them empty. Sometimes I’m afraid that the condition of prayer meetings in the United States of America is like this much of the time — empty. But the Twelfth Man should be out there . . . down on the field . . . constantly on the firing line! (1Th 5:17)
Now, there are two types of prayer: public prayer together with other believers, and private prayer. Our public prayer, to some extent, indicates our private prayer life. What kind of a prayer life have you had? LACK OF PRAYER is the reason for many failures in the Christian life today.
In a military or a tactical situation, no body of men can move forward without artillery support without a barrage out in front of them. Many times a military organization, which has been in serious trouble, in a tactical situation, has been delivered by artillery support. For example, suppose you were a member of “Baker Company.” The rest of your battalion has been sliced to bits, and you are out there with your company with no protection from the flanks. Everything else is drawn back . . . chewed up. Now as you are sitting out there looking over some kind of a parapet, you see something coming down the road . . . a lot of tanks . . . infantry troops . . . all kinds of equipment moving in on you . . . and there you are — one company with maybe a couple of automatic rifles, a couple of BAR’S, possibly one light machine gun, but primarily just a group of riflemen!
Now, what do you do? Well, you get on your walkie-talkie and call back to the Command post, “This is Baker Company; we need artillery support!” You give them the coordinates: “Out there are so many tanks, so many infantry . . . and so on.” When the support comes, you say, “Off target about fifty yards to the right.” You keep on giving them corrections for your artillery until they knock out that stuff coming at you. So, then, Baker Company can sit tight and be perfectly comfortable in spite of everything that is coming their way because of artillery support.
But suppose when someone calls back there to get some of that stuff to help you out of a jam, the answer comes back, “Well, we have the best equipment in the world . . . we have this battery and that battery . . . we have a lot of 90-millimeters back here . . . a lot of great equipment . . . we’ve got the men who know how to use it . . . they can deliver a lot of stuff in a hurry . . . BUT sorry OUT OF AMMUNITION! What happens then? Baker Company gets chewed up, too!
There are a lot of people today out on the mission field who are in dire straits right now. Letters asking for help come back every day. When I see them, I some- times feel like taking those letters and sending them back written across the envelope — SORRY, but NO AMMUNITION! Oh, how we need that barrage of prayer!
No ammunition! How we need to pray for our missionaries! The problems with which they are confronted today are tremendous. We cannot even imagine all that they are facing out there. Then when they send back a call for help, we are out of ammunition! We have the equipment here . . . we have all kinds of people . . . all kinds of potential . . . BUT we’re out of ammunition. No prayer barrage! God help us! As the Twelfth Man on the Team, WE MUST BE OBEDIENT ON THE FIRING LINE OF PRAYER!
CARRYING THE BALL
Now, the next phrase of, (Php 2:12) “work out,” is an athletic term in the Greek, which means to pass the baton in a relay race or to carry a ball over a goal line. It actually has the meaning of moving forward with something that has to be carried forward. This could be translated today, “So then, Twelfth Man, as you have obeyed, not in my presence only, but much more in my absence, carry the ball for the touchdown, [To reach Spiritual maturity] of your own Salvation...” We do not work for OUR Salvation, (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5) but we are to produce or let out that which we already possess. (Eph 2:10)
This is quite different from the Twelfth Man tradition of Texas A&M University. There the entire student body roots for the man with the ball; but here the Twelfth Man IS the bail carrier! On the Spiritual Team, every believer carries the ball. And every Spiritually mature believer should score! Every time God leads us to witness for Christ or to lead someone to the teaching of the Word; WE SCORE!
We need a lot of ball carriers today. The tragedy is that most Christians have gotten away from the Concept of carrying the ball. We have the ball — the precious gospel of Christ and Divine Thinking, which is the MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THE WORLD. We ought to be carrying it to the rest of the world. We should be telling other people that Jesus Christ died for their sins, “So that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.’’ (John 3:15)
“Work out” is in the perfect tense in the Greek, which means that we should not only carry the ball in the past, (Since the day we accepted Christ) but continue to carry the ball with results that go on forever. Every time you lead some person to Christ, the results will go on forever. That person will be in heaven; that person will go out and win others for Christ There will be a tremendous chain reaction from carrying the ball . . . leading someone to Christ and or Truth . . . they will lead others to Christ and His Thoughts, and they in turn will carry the ball.
You never know when you lead some person to Christ how far the chain reaction will carry. But we do know God has Promised:
So will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isa 55:11)
So we need this tremendous ball-carrying action from the Twelfth Man on the Team!
THE ALL-OUT EFFORT
The next phrase, “Fear and trembling,” (Php 2:12) is the phraseology of athletic hustle. The Twelfth Man must HUSTLE! But behind this hustle, there must be a mental attitude. The mental attitude of an athlete can make the difference between a good and a great athlete. What is the mental attitude that produces hustle in the Twelfth Man? FEAR! Not fear of the action but fear of NOT SCORING! Fear of fumbling the ball . . . fear of not carrying the ball . . . fear of not making the first down . . . of not moving. . . MOVING … MOVING!
This is the only kind of fear we can have in the Christian life — a fear of NOT DOING THE JOB for the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the kind of fear that the Marine Corps instilled in its personnel during World War II. When the Marines went into action — it wasn’t fear of death: it was fear of NOT doing the job! Well, that’s the kind of fear that we need as believers the kind that produces a sense of responsibility with regard to Phase Two.
Then the word “trembling’’ is the Greek word for over exertion — for muscular reaction from extreme exertion. Have you ever experienced a “muscle quiver’’ from extreme exertion? Maybe as a spectator at a game you’ve wondered why the players stay so long in the huddle, or why a runner remains immobile for a minute or two after the race. Well, he has just run fifty yards down the field, or a mile around the track. He has been exerting and exerting until his muscles start to quiver. Those muscles have been overworked, and the reaction is an involuntary trembling.
The “trembling’’ of an all-out effort in the Christian life is the kind of trembling of which God approves. However, this exertion is NOT THE ENERGY OF THE FLESH, but comes through the work of God the Holy Spirit in the life, as we shall see in the next verse.
CALLING THE PLAYS
In, (Php 2:13-14) the Twelfth Man is back in the huddle. You have seen him in action; now the play is over, and we go back to the huddle. Back in the huddle, we are introduced to the Divine Signal Caller — the Quarterback.
For it is God [The Holy Spirit] Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Php 2:13)
Football teams always face the problem of a quarter-back, because a quarterback has to be so many things. Since it is the quarterback who calls the plays, you need a man who can think on his feet, a man who can spot defensive weaknesses, a man who can recognize the way a defense is set. A quarterback should know whether the defense has been setting for passing or for the climax running of a left halfback . . . for the buck-lateral series . . . for the pitchout series . . . or for the fullback trap up the middle.
Since the defense usually has to set for at least one or two types of offensive action, the quarterback begins to watch the opposing defense. He notes how they are set up, and he receives information from the other players . . . the tackle is out too far . . . the tackle is in too close . . . the linebackers are in too close . . . the linebackers are too far back. Then he sets up his plays accordingly.
So a good quarterback has to have the ability to keep coming up with the good plays.
God the Holy Spirit is the “Quarterback.” He calls the plays; He calls the sequence. And when those plays are properly executed, the result is a change of life in many people in this world as they come to know Jesus Christ as Savior; and grow to Spiritual maturity!
Now, a quarterback has to be something besides a play-caller, although this is one of his primary functions. But more than that, the quarterback is actually the PLAY-MAKER. This is especially true of the split-T and quarterback option plays. It is the way he handles the ball in the first few seconds after the ball is snapped that very often makes the play. This fools the defense enough so that they can be brushed-blocked, or moved out of the play so that the holes can open up.
A quarterback who habitually makes a high hand-off slows down the team in two ways: first of all, when he hands off that ball too high, the runners have to go to the line standing up when they ought to be down low — crouching — moving in hard. In the second place, he gives the play away! It’s so easy to give a play away when the hand-off is high. Thus the actual play making is in the hands of the quarterback.
The believer’s “play making” is in the HANDS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He is the One who starts the play going. He is the One who provides for every situation and makes it possible for us to score on EVERY PLAY! “Work” is operational power, which is a specific reference to God the Holy Spirit, who is the working power for the execution of Phase two in The Christian way of life. His hand-offs are ALWAYS low and perfect; if there is any fumble, it isn’t His fault. Whether we go into the line as a fullback, or are making our cut as a halfback; whether we go into the game in the wrong position or the wrong attitude — regardless of how we go — He makes the play perfect for us. We have a wonderful Quarterback calling the signals back in the huddle!
A quarterback should be a team leader. One of the most important things about the huddle, aside from getting the signal, is the time it affords to relax for a half-minute . . . so that you can keep going for the next play. So the quarterback encourages the team, calms them down and gets them ready for the next play. We have a Quarterback who tells us through the Word:
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isa 41:10)
Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1Pe 5:7)
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:19)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Who keeps pouring the power into me) (Php 4:13)
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You! (Isa 26:3)
He constantly pours out comfort and strength. He brings the Word to our memories so that we might move forward.
DELAYING THE GAME
Just as the entire team must follow the signals given in the huddle for the play to be successful, so the Divine signals must be obeyed. Therefore, we read in, (Php 2:14) “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” If there is ANYTHING that will RUIN a team in a hurry, it is to get back in the huddle and engage in a hassle.
In the first place, there is no time for a good hassle; there’s no time to stand around back there and criticize what some other boy did in the last play: so-and-so didn’t make his cut right . . . so-and-so didn’t go down fast enough on the secondary . . . so-and-so didn’t buttonhook . . . so-and-so didn’t block . . . he didn’t let that guard go in or he didn’t trap him . . . so-and-so didn’t run across and knock him into the stands! There is no time to go into all that! Now listen! No matter how great the football team, the saddest thing in the world is for them to get back there and have a debating society. THEY ARE THERE TO MOVE THAT BALL FORWARD!
In too many churches today, the Twelfth Men are spending all their time in the huddle debating; and they have been penalized time after time for delaying the game. WHY? Because everyone is running everyone else down . . . they knife each other in the back . . . they criticize . . . they spend all their time maligning other believers.
Any team where one teammate starts to run down another has had it! Suppose one of the backs has been overeager and held the ball slightly wrong; he was so anxious to get to the hole at the right time and to make his cut properly, he forgot about the ball, and it slipped out of his hand. Do the other guys go over there and jump on him or clobber him? No! If a fellow has flubbed or fumbled or made some mistake, why they usually pat him on the back and say, “that’s okay; we’ll get them next time”
But when a believer fumbles the ball, what happens? The other believers all go over and “beat the tar out of him.” but this verse says, when you get back in the huddle, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Nothing stops the forward movement of Christianity so quickly as bickering and fighting among believers!
(Php 2:14) is designed to get that Twelfth Man out of the huddle. The play has been called get out there and WIN SOULS FOR CHRIST! HELP OTHER BELIEVERS move along the way! Help them to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...” (2Pe 3:18)
THE TWELFTH MAN IN TRAINING
So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. (Php 2:15)
The players on a football team must qualify for their positions. After a period of intensive training, the coach places the best qualified on the first string, second best on second string, etc.
God also trains the Twelfth Man for his position on the Team.
(Php 2:15) presents four characteristics of the believer’s purpose for which he is in training. First, he must be “blameless and innocent.” The word “blameless” means to be free from censure, while the word “harmless” means unmixed or unadulterated. It was used of the ancient huckster who diluted his wine with water. The believer is not to be a huckster; that is, he is not to dilute the TRUTH. He is not to adulterate the Divine Viewpoint of the Word with human viewpoint.
Secondly, as “the sons of God,” the Twelfth Man is QUALIFIED for the team. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, as a child of God, you ARE qualified to serve Him. And if you are qualified, then the thing to do is to get into good Spiritual condition . . . to get into shape . . . to keep in training.
Thirdly, we are to be “Above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation...” “Above reproach” is literally without spot or blemish, and is a reference to the inner life of the believer. Though he is qualified by merit of his position as a son, he must keep in shape for service through the use of, (1Jn 1:9) whenever necessary. He must be ready to move at all times by maintaining fellowship with the Lord and daily “inhaling” Divine Thinking.
The word “crooked” is anything that does not hew to a straight line. “Perverse’’ is another word for twisted, distorted or mixed up. (Literally)We are in the midst of a MIXED UP GENERATION . The only way we can unscramble the situation is by moving forward . . . by moving that ball . . . by carrying the ball . . . by making Christ known . . . by witnessing for Him.
Fourthly, the Twelfth Man is to shine as a light in the world. HOW? By reflecting the glory of Christ through the filling of God the Holy Spirit. (Eph 5:8-18)
RECOVERING THE FUMBLE
This passage has one more word of admonition to the Twelfth Man on the Team — the believer in Jesus Christ: DON’T FUMBLE!
Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Php 2:16)
One of the greatest offensive weapons for the opposition is to fumble! More damage is done by fumbling the ball without recovery of it than perhaps any other single mistake.
We as believers are likewise to HOLD ONTO THE BALL — to “holding fast the Word of life!” If you go through life as a believer in Jesus Christ in ignorance of the Word of God, without using the Word, without absorbing the Word, without Thinking with the Word, without believing the Word, then you are going to have FUMBLITIS! We can certainly do without fumblitis today!
Why is it that any well coached team doesn’t simply tackle the MAN? That is just part of the job. How is the defense played today? They tackle the BALL! The object is to jar the man loose from the ball. That is one of the greatest objectives in a well-coached team — to hit that ball! Go for the ball!
Now listen: the Devil is going to tackle the ball. (To stop us from the DAILY MAXIMUM intake of Divine Thinking) The Devil is going to go for the ball. And he has given thorough instructions to all in his camp — Make them fumble! MAKE THEM FUMBLE! MAKE THEM FUMBLE! I’ll take care of ‘upstairs’ all right . . . I’ll go up every time they fumble and say, ‘Look, Lord, so-and-so fumbled today.’ (Rev 12:10) So God has made provision for our fumbling. He has made a way to overcome our failures.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
That is the way you recover your own fumble. If you have to fumble, the best thing you can do is to RECOVER IT, Don’t let the enemy get it! So we recover the fumble EVERY TIME we confess our sins and get back into temporal fellowship. Now we still have the ball WHAT SHOULD WE DO? KEEP MOVING! MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! And the only way to move is THROUGH THE WORD!
Pay close attention to yourself [Your own Spiritual growth] and to your teaching; persevere in these things, [Divine Thoughts] for as you do this you will ensure salvation [Deliverance] both for yourself, [From Satanic viewpoint and Divine discipline] and them that hear you [Those you have influence over] (1Ti 4:16)
You must have Spiritual knowledge of the Word to become Spiritually self-sustaining and adjusted.
MOVING OVER THE GOAL LINE
If the back can keep those knees high and his head down, and he keeps moving right on through the opposition, he will cross the goal line. Have you ever seen a boy make a touchdown and just throw the ball up in the air and jump up and down? He’s the happiest kid on the field at that moment, and the whole team joins in the rejoicing!
That is what we have here — “Holding fast the Word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ...” (Php 2:16) The day of Christ is a future day when we will stand in His presence for either reward or loss of reward. And, if I keep moving as a believer in Jesus Christ — no matter how difficult the opposition — no matter how much the pressure — then I’m going to be able to stand before Him and hear these WORDS.
Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, [Divine Thoughts] I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. (Matt 25:21)
I hope you understand that it isn’t the one who reaches the mountain top in the Christian life. . . it isn’t the one who has had some great experience . . . or a series of great experiences . . . it is the believer, wherever he is, whatever his circumstances, who can MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! Every time he gets tackled, he gets up and MOVES again. Every time he fumbles the ball, he recovers it he REBOUNDS . . . he uses, (1Jn 1:9) . . . he gets back into temporal fellowship.
Furthermore, according to, (Php 2:16) it is UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE to move WITHOUT THE WORD OF GOD! If, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are going to be in condition as the Twelfth Man on the Team . . . if we are going to carry the ball . . . if we are going to move the ball toward the goal line . . . if we are going to accomplish that purpose for which the Divine Quarterback is calling the signals, WE MUST UTILIZE THE DIVINE DYNAMICS; the power of God the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the Word of God. Then we will not have “run in vain” (Energy of the flesh) nor “labored in vain.” (To no purpose)
Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law [Thinking] of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:7-8)