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Philippians 1:1-30
Philippians 2:1-16
Philippians 2:17-30
Philippians 3:15-21
Philippians 4:8-23

 

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Philippians 1:1-30

 

“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops [Greek: overseers] and deacons:  grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:  even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace [margin: partakers with me of grace].  For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:  the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:  but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.  What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.  For I know your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful of you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.  Only let your conversation [Greek: “conduct”] be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:  that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries:  which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.  For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.  Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

 

Paul’s First Visit And The Founding Of The Philippian Church

 

“In the course of his second missionary journey Paul set sail from Troas, accompanied by Silas (who bears the full name Silvanus in 2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1), Timothy and Luke, and on the following day reached Neapolis (Acts 16:11).  Thence he journeyed by road to Philippi, first crossing the pass some 1,600 ft. high which leads over the mountain range called Symbolum and afterward traversing the Philipplan plain.  Of his experiences there we have in Acts 16:12-40 a singularly full and graphic account.  On the Sabbath [which yes, the apostle Paul was observing], presumably the first Sabbath after their arrival, the apostle and his companions went out to the bank of the Angites, and there spoke to the women, some of them Jews, others proselytes, who had come together for purposes of worship.  One of these was named Lydia, a Greek proselyte from Thyatira, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor…she accepted the apostolic message and was baptized with her household (Acts 16:15), and insisted that Paul and his companions should accept her hospitality during the rest of their stay in the city [of Philippi].”  [For a full background history of Philippi see, http://bibleatlas.org/philippi.htm] 

 

“Introduction to the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians”

 

“As Paul was writing his letter around A.D. 62 to the church in Philippi (which was located in present-day Greece and was a capital city), he was in prison in Rome, waiting for his final appeal before Caesar.  He was in the Mamartine Prison, down in the lower dungeon, and was chained to a prison guard.  Epaphroditus and Timothy were both with him, helping with his writings, and waiting to carry his letters to the various churches. Epaphroditus would deliver the letter to the church at Philippi, and Tychicus would take his letter to Ephesus.  This letter to Philippi is a very special letter.  Paul had obvious love for this church and he wrote to them to thank them for a gift they had recently sent to him.  He used this occasion to thank them and also to give them some instructions on unity within the church.  The theme of the book is joy, which is especially notable since he was writing from an uncomfortable and ominous position in prison, awaiting his fate at the hands of Caesar.  Despite the terrible circumstances, Paul had learned the secret to contentment and joy and wanted to share this with a church for which he had so much affection.  Paul had founded the church in Philippi on his second missionary journey.  He and Silas had been thrown into jail there and were miraculously delivered by the Lord, which let to the conversion of the jailer.  Acts 16 tells this story, as well as Paul’s encounter with Lydia and of the girl who was delivered from demons.  These people comprised the early church at Philippi, and the church grew into a healthy body that supported Paul more than any other church.  It was appropriate that Paul would write to them from prison, exhorting them to have the joy of the Lord, since he had been in prison in Philippi and was singing while in chains there years earlier.  These Christians had seen firsthand how joy can come while in the most difficult of circumstances, and Paul was encouraging them so they would know that nothing had changed and that God was still in charge.  Philippians is a special book that shows us how to live above the present circumstances, rising above adversity not just by surviving, but by thriving in the joy of the Lord.” [p. 1559, The WORD FOR TODAY, NEW KING JAMES VERSION, opening commentary on the letter to the Philippians, by Pastor Chuck Smith]

 

“We come to this Epistle to the church at Philippi, very emotional Epistle, very warm.  Paul doesn’t open defending his apostleship, he doesn’t address them about any particular heresy in the church, he calls them his beloved.  The personal pronoun “I” is so many times mentioned, I start to count, but Paul just sharing his heart with this church.  There are some problems.  Chapter 4, verse 2, there’s two women there [laughter], that are at each other’s throats, causing a division.  That hasn’t happened in 2,000 years, but there was there at Philippi.  [he’s being facetious]  Now that’s not, in the realm of problems, that’s not bad, just two.  And in the end of chapter 3 Paul quickly mentions those that were trying to spread false doctrine, the Judaizers, but there’s no sense that it had taken root in Philippi.  It speaks of them saying their god is their belly.  In chapter 2 he mentions a problem with Epaphroditus, who was coming to Rome, to bring probably the fifth offering from the church at Philippi to Paul, and became sick on the way, to the point of death.  And evidently he recovered then in Rome, and Paul sent him back to the church at Philippi with the Epistle that we have this evening.  And in the first chapter Paul talks about the fact that whether he lives or dies, he’s waiting to appear before Caesar, that it doesn’t make any difference to him.  He’s ready for whatever the Lord has for his life.  So it isn’t that there aren’t problems touched on throughout.  But there’s no major particular theme like there was in the Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians or so forth.  So, a very warm letter.  Paul on his second missionary journey with Silas and Timothy had desired to go into Asia Minor and do a work in Turkey, and it says there that the Holy Spirit forbid them.  And then it said the Spirit of Jesus specifically forbid them to go to Bithynia.  It’s very interesting in Acts 16 to see the Holy Spirit both opening doors to the mission field, and closing doors to the mission field.  We normally wouldn’t think that way.  But the whole Spirit of Jesus forbid them to preach the gospel in a particular area.  But we see the Holy Spirit in charge of opening mission doors and closing mission doors in Acts chapter 16. And Paul was frustrated, because he was zealous, and he wanted to move forward, and at night he was given a vision, and a man from Macedonia, calling Paul to come over into that area of Macedonia.  It’s interesting, it’s a man from Macedonia calling, and Lydia [a woman] is the first convert.  And so often we use the Macedonian call in the wrong way, that was part of Paul being forbidden going in other areas, and then this Macedonian call.  And it’s through that Macedonian call that you and I are here.  It’s through that, that the gospel goes to Europe, the first preaching of the gospel in Europe, and the spread of the gospel westward, was because of this set of circumstances in Acts 16.  And that’s primarily why so many of us at least are here this evening, the gospel spreading westward from there.  Paul comes to Neapolis by ship, and then ten miles inward is the city of Philippi.  When he comes to Philippi there’s no synagogue there [Paul usually evangelized in the local synagogue first whenever he arrived in a new location], so on the Sabbath day he hears there’s a place of prayer down by the river, the Gangities river [or also called the river Angites], a mile outside of town.  He goes down, and there’s a few prominent women there, one named Lydia who was from Thyatira.  She wasn’t even a European [i.e. she wasn’t a Macedonian, a Greek], she’s from back in Turkey, but she’s there, and she is selling scarlet garments [as a living, not today on the Sabbath, where they’ve gathered to worship], scarlet dyed garments, there was a particular type of a shellfish that produced a red dye in its throat, and they would, I don’t know how you grab the throat of a shellfish, but anyhow, however you do it, you get that out of there, and of course in Rome scarlet robes and so much of the garb, the coloring very important.  And evidently she’s wealthy, and they receive Christ, and then she asks Paul, Silas, Timothy, and by the time we get there [in Acts 16], the personal pronoun “we” is being used, so Luke is with Paul there in Philippi.  [This would be on Paul’s first visit to Philippi, on his second missionary journey.]  As Paul then goes into the city to share, a young demon-possessed girl begins to follow Paul through the town, screaming “These are the servants of the Most High God come to show us the way of salvation.”  They’re much more orthodox than some denominations today, the demons are orthodox, they believe there’s one God.  And it’s very interesting, for three days she follows Paul around screaming this out.  Now that would have given me a headache.  And it’s very interesting to see Paul doesn’t immediately react by saying ‘I bind you, I do this, I do that, I put chains on you,’ you know, all that deliverance stuff.  Three days [you know what, it was free advertising, and the advertising was accurate].  Until it finally says ‘He’s grieved in the spirit.’  Finally the Holy Spirit gives Paul leave, and he turns around and in a word he rebukes the demon, the demon comes out of the girl, the girl falls down, delivered, and her owners are now mad, because she had the spirit of divination, you know, like Jean Dixon, Nostrodamos, you know.  She had her own psychic hotline I guess, I don’t know.  Now their means of income is gone, so they lay hands on Paul, these guys, and Silas and get them, and they beat them, because they delivered this girl from a demon.  So they’re getting beat for this, and handed over to the prison-keeper in Philippi, who when he hears what they’ve done, and it’s interesting, they say ‘The thing that these guys are teaching is not proper for us to give ear to, because we are Romans.’  Very interesting, in Philippi.  They put Paul down in a dungeon with Silas, down in the basement, and they would be changed spread-eagle, sitting down, legs spread as far as possible, extremely painful.  And they’re chained down there in the prison, and Paul says to Silas, ‘You know any good worship songs?’  Now if you and I were there with Paul he may have been singing solo, huh?  But Paul says, ‘I know that one,’ so they start singing, down in the blackness.  Now, you have to understand, Paul’s not singing saying, ‘Wait till you see what happens, this is great, we’re gonna start to sing, there’s gonna be an earthquake, we’re gonna get out.’  He never read the chapter.  It isn’t like he’s singing with an ulterior motive other than he loves Jesus.  So, with that kind of heart he begins to sing, and Silas is singing, and all of the prisoners are listening, and God starts to listen, starts to tap his foot, Philippi shakes [laughter], not a normal earthquake because all the prison doors open and all the chains fall off everybody’s wrists, great earthquake.  The prison-keeper grabs a sword, he’s going to kill himself.  Paul says, ‘No, no, we’re all here, don’t do that.’  Because Philippi was a Roman colony, Philippi has all the rights of a Roman city, the soil is considered Italian soil.  Philippi named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who had a victory there about 360AD, changes the name of the city to Philippi.  And by now there’s a long Roman name, it’s four names, it’s long, but it’s Philippi.  42BC Cassius and Brutus, who murdered Julius Caesar, I’m catching up, mustered their troops there and fought with the Roman troops and were defeated.  When they were defeated the Caesar who took the throne for Julius asked a large number of the soldiers to stay in Philippi, and in 31BC it becomes a Roman colony, which is just Italica, that is considered Rome.  And it has all of the privileges of Rome, the official language is Latin.  I’m sure most of them spoke Greek.  You weren’t allowed to flog someone there, you’re not allowed to scourge someone, you couldn’t touch a Roman citizen there without being put to death yourself.  So it’s a military colony, it’s considered part of Italy itself, of Rome.  So they cry ‘It isn’t right for us to listen to these guys, because the stuff they’re spreading isn’t right for us to listen to, because we’re Romans.’  So the problem is, when the prison opens up, and the prison-keeper thinks the prisoners are escaping, in Rome, back in Italy, if a keeper let someone escape, he was put to death in their place.  So he immediately takes a sword and he’s going to kill himself, and Paul says, ‘No, no, no, no, we’re all here.’  And then the prison-keeper comes down and starts to talk to him.  No doubt the prison-keeper knows the earthquake was extra-ordinary, heard the girl following Paul around for three days [like I said, free and accurate advertising, which did serve a purpose], and says, ‘OK, what’s the deal?’.  Paul shares Christ, he’s saved, along with his household, they’re baptized [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm].  They clean up Paul and Silas’ wounds, because it says he had been beaten, the word is “flayed”, there skin had been ripped off.  He puts them back in the prison, he goes to tell the magistrate, ‘Hey, these guys, we need to get them out of here, you beat them, they’re Roman citizens.’  The magistrate hears that Paul is a Roman citizen, they come to him and say ‘Hey, get out of here, leave town.’  Paul says, ‘No way.  I’m a Roman citizen.  You beat me, you threw me in prison, you could be put to death for this.  I think I’m going to wander around Philippi for awhile.’  [laughter]  Now you know that not only is that Paul’s nature, but he does that for the sake of the church that he knows is going to be born.  I mean, the three prominent characters in the church right now are Lydia, a girl that was demon possessed is delivered, and the prison-keeper and his family.  And Paul wants the magistrate and the civil leaders to recognize that there is no law against Christianity, that they have no right to beat any other Roman citizens who live in the town, and he stays for awhile just for the sake of this newborn church. 

 

Everybody Is A Slave To Something, Has A Master

 

Now, this is ten years later, when he’s writing this Epistle to the Philippians.  They have sent him at least four, possibly five offerings.  He never asked for it, and they were poor themselves.  They sent him one or two in Thessalonica, one in Corinth.  They had sent him a number of offerings.  And now he’s in Rome, he’s chained to a Praetorian Guard, he’s awaiting his first appearance before Caesar, they have word of that, they remember when Paul was incarcerated in Philippi, so they’re sending an offering to him again.  And through the years Paul has had an extremely warm relationship with this church at Philippi.  He mentions it in Romans, and he mentions it in the end of 2nd Corinthians chapter 8.  So as he writes there’s a lot of warmth to what Paul has to say to this church that is so beloved to him.  “Paul and Timotheus,” which was Timothy (I wonder how Timothy felt about being called Timotheus?), “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops [Greek: overseers] and deacons:” (verse 1)  Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ.  Now you notice he’s not saying ‘an apostle by the will of God,’ he’s not going to defend himself.  This church has not challenged who he is, they haven’t attacked him, they haven’t said he’s small, his voice is squeaky, we like Apollos, none of that is going on, this church loves Paul.  ‘Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ,’ is how he begins.  The doulos [Strongs 1401, a slave...:--bond(-man), servant] servant sounds bad enough, if somebody’s hiring, somebody’s working in their house as a servant, you might consider it if they paid enough.  You can call me whatever you want if you pay me that much.  But this is a slave, a bond-slave, someone whose owned, no rights.  Paul and Timothy, bond-slaves of Jesus Christ.  And he’s going to reflect that attitude throughout this Epistle.  I mean, Paul’s going to say, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  His life is completely given over to Christ.  Now, everybody here is a slave to something.  Everybody here has a master.  There’s only one Master that sets you free.  When I took drugs, it was a master.  It was a cruel master.  It did you in, it gets you involved, and then it wants to take control, it doesn’t want to set you free.  Lust and sexual sin, pornography, cruel master, seeking to gain complete domination over someone, not set someone free.  Alcohol [the abuse of it], the same thing.  Gambling, the same thing.  There should be no sense of grating on us when we hear ‘Paul and Timothy the slaves of Jesus Christ.’  You know, the beautiful picture of that is in Exodus 21.  Exodus 20 gives us the 10 Commandments, the next chapter talks about someone whose a bond-slave whose sold to be a slave into the household of a man, and it says, ‘if he stays there, and he loves his master, when his seven years is up and it’s time for him to be set free, if he says in his heart, ‘no, since I’ve come to serve this master, I’ve got a wife, I’ve got children, I’ve got a life, there is greater freedom serving this master than I had when I was out on my own.’’  But then he was taken to the door of the house, and they put his ear against the door and took an awl and pierced a hole through his ear, you know, just like they do at the mall today, only with a door and a big piece of iron.  They poked a hole in your ear and put a golden ring in your ear, and it meant that you would never leave now, that master, you would be his slave willingly for the rest of your life.  Because that slave had fallen for him, ‘In this master’s house I have found blessing.  I have found a family, I have found life, I never want to go out again.’  And Paul is committed to his Master, Paul and Timothy bond-slaves, servants of Jesus Christ. 

 

What Is A Saint?

 

And he’s writing to the “saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi.”  Now again, those that are separated, hagion, hagios [Strongs #39 and 40, a sacred thing, one] those that are set aside.  We have an idea of sainthood today, primarily from the Roman Catholic church, and that would be someone like Mother Theresa that’s lived a life self-sacrifice and that’s exemplary in some way, drawn the attention of a lot of people, and somewhere after that there are people praying somewhere near where she’s entombed, or interned or someone touching her casket, there’s a number of miracles then that are, you know, recorded, and that are bonafide, genuine, then there’s a possibility they might make you a saint, and then you get to be in somebody’s front yard or on their dashboard.  And you know we have this idea of sainthood, that you have to do it perfect, you kind of have to float off the ground a little bit, and if they’re really a saint you can tell, because if you see somebody you think they’re a saint, you turn the lights out and if they glow in the dark you’re probably a saint.  But the New Testament doesn’t know anything of that.  If you want to know what a New Testament saint looks like, look at the person next to you.  Look around.  Now, ok, look, you don’t have to go tell your religious relatives they aren’t saved, that you’re a saint, they’ll want to put you away.  The Bible recognizes that you’re a saint, by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, you’ve been saved, you’ve been sealed by the Spirit of Promise, your life has been set aside.  And it is on the merit of God’s completed work that he calls us saints, not on the merit of your performance.  Now that’s no excuse to live carnally [Paul in 1st and 2nd Corinthians covered that subject pretty clearly and thoroughly].  But here we are, Wednesday night, saints.  Feels good, doesn’t it?  I like it, here we are.  I’d much rather be here than on a dashboard, I’ll tell you that, especially on a day when it’s this hot, you know what I mean [laughter].  OK, I’m sorry. 

 

The Simplicity Of The Apostolic Church Structure

 

“with the bishops and deacons:” (verse 1d) there, so the church has taken some structure there at Philippi, there are “overseers” [Greek for the King James English word “bishops”] and “deacons.”  The only particular office of church government that Jesus prescribes is the “pastor”, the poymay, the pastor.  Lightfoot says by the end of the first century there were already Episcopal, Congregational and Presbyterian forms of government.  Now that’s hearing right from the apostles who heard right from Jesus [that the only particular office of church government that Jesus prescribes is the pastor and of course, under them, the deacons, cf. Acts 6].  So, it didn’t take the Church long to get confused.  But the [early] Church does recognize that those with spiritual gifts of oversight, and often through the New Testament, whether it’s saying that an elder, a presbytus, is the office of the overseer is the function, or whether there is an overseer in the sense of a senior pastor with those assisting.  Ah, certainly the spiritual care of the Church is dependent upon those whom the Lord calls and equips to oversee, and to watch, and to tend and to feed the flock of God.  A spiritual gift, it can’t be earned, you don’t get it at graduation, it isn’t something that man confers upon you, it has to come from the Lord.  [That, for instance was the job of Calvary Chapel’s senior Pastor, Chuck Smith, overseeing more than 1,600 Calvary Chapel’s worldwide.  He was a wonderful man whom God used greatly, right up to the time of his death on 3 October 2013.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm.  All Calvary Chapels are semi-autonomous, as the early churches of God were that Paul and John established throughout Asia Minor.  They try to emulate and follow the early Church governmental structure as much as possible, and have thus avoided the dangers and pitfalls of the Catholic model, that of hierarchal church government.]  What’s probably destroyed the Church in America is ordination being lowered to something that somebody can earn by so many years of academic work.  But ordination has never been that.  It’s by the hand of God.  And no doubt there are those that are called to take that route, and then it’s a great asset to them if they go in that direction.  But it’s all dependent upon the calling of God.  So there’s some form to this church.  [But it’s simple, pastors and deacons.] 

 

Grace & Peace, Charis & Shalom

 

Verse 2, he begins as he so often does, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  You know it’s always this order, you’ve been here for years, you’ve heard this many times, I’m going to say it again.  Because repetition is always the best way to learn.  It is always “grace and peace”, it is never “peace and grace.”  People who seek for peace in this life without knowing the grace of God first, never find peace.  Peace in this world is dependent upon experiencing first the grace of God, and that is the unmerited favor of God given to us through his Son Jesus Christ.  It’s certainly, charis would reflect so much the Greek way of welcoming or saying hello to someone, the greeting.  Peace, would reflect the Hebrew shalom.  But the order is always “grace and peace.”  We remember, you and I, that Jesus died on the cross and said “It is finished.”  He didn’t say ‘it is almost finished,’ he didn’t say ‘it’s gonna be finished, pretty well finished,’ he said, “It is finished”, the work of salvation is finished, that comes to us now through God’s grace.  Religion is ‘It is started, and it keeps going,’ that’s religion.  Grace is, “it is finished.”  Religion is people continually trying to be religious, trying to be holy saints, trying to be something in their own effort, and then constantly living frustrated lives because they don’t measure up to the standards that they set.  Grace is something that God has pronounced upon us judicially, and now we are growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And what we believe in, what God has pronounced upon us, is becoming, as time goes on, should be becoming more and more a reality in our lives.  So grace, then peace to the saints at Philippi that he loves.

 

They’ve Been Partners With Paul From The Very Beginning

 

Verses 3-6, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”  Paul says, ‘I think of the Corinthian church, ah, you know,’ he loves them, he thinks of the Galatian church, you know, there they were, they were Gentiles, they started circumcising themselves, he thinks of the church in Thessalonica, he told them about the 2nd coming, they all quit their jobs, staring around looking up at the sky.  You know, when he thinks of this church in Philippi, they’ve had a koinonia, a partnership from the beginning.  Not just in financial support, that was part of it, but the idea is they have stood with Paul, they have been committed to be partners with Paul in his missionary endeavors.  And remember, Paul as an apostle was not just a missionary going from place to place preaching, he was a church-planter.  He would go somewhere, share Christ [usually in a synagogue, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm], unless he was driven out of town then, he would do his best to see a church planted and leave that behind.  And he said, ‘They have been partners with him,’ and he said, ‘I have sweet memories, you know,’ thinking back to the beginning.  In fact, he says ‘I’m here chained to a guard right now, it reminds me of Philippi, I’m thinking about you guys all the time, that was my first experience there with you all.’  And he says, “I thank God upon every remembrance of you,” no doubt that vision, no doubt ‘Thank you Lord, you didn’t let me go to Bithynia.  That you Lord, that your Spirit forbid us from going in that direction.  We didn’t understand at first, Lord, we were frustrated, but Lord I see your wisdom now, as I think of these saints in the church at Philippi again, Lord how I thank you.’  ‘Longing’ he says, ‘to fellowship with them,’

 

God’s Committed To Continue The Work He’s Begun In Us

 

But in verse 6 he says this, “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”  ‘I long to see you, it’s been years,’ Paul would see them again, but he has no certainty of that, he said ‘I long to see you,’ he didn’t say, ‘Whether I see you or not,’ he’s going to say that at one point.  Paul says, ‘You know, I have this confidence when I think of you.  I long to see you again, I always give thanks when I pray for you guys.  But I know this, that he who began a good work in you, is gonna complete it unto the day.  I know I’m going to see you again, sooner or later, here there or in the air,’ he’s saying to them.  Because he knows they’re saved, that’s what, he’s professing his confidence in the fact that they’re saints.  Paul knows there’s two groups of people, the saints and the ain’ts [laughter].  And he knows that those in Philippi are the saints, and he’s saying ‘I have this great confidence that he who began a good work in you is going to complete it till that day, I’m going to see you again.’  Now look, that flies in the face of so many deists and deist theology, who say, you know, God set the world in motion, and he’s uninvolved, since, and lets everything roll out however it rolls out.  No, Paul says, ‘No, no, he’s concerned with our spiritual birth, and then after that he’s concerned with our spiritual growth and maturity.  That he is a Father and a Shepherd, he is our Lord, that he never takes his hand off of our lives, we are his blood-bought children, and he is intimately involved with us every day of our lives.’   He’s not standing at some distance.  See, when he died on the cross, he said “it is finished.”  But the Bible doesn’t say ‘he is finished,’ it just says “it is.”  The issue of sin and death and salvation, that’s finished.  But he’s not.  He’s committed to continue the work that he’s begun in us, in each of us as individuals, and complete it to the day of Christ.  What a great thing.  We’ll get to see those Philippians soon. 

 

You Can Do The Work Of God Without Doing The Will Of God

 

“Even as it is meet [fitting] for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.” “in my heart,” not just in his mind.  “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Christ.” (verses 7-8)  Paul says, ‘he prays this way, and he thinks of them, because he loves them, because it’s in his heart.’  No wonder they’re such a great…you know, sometimes we think of Paul as a pragmatist, the theologian [and he was all of those], you know we see Paul, he’s got that edge, ‘God will smite you, you whitewashed tomb!’, you remember when he got smacked there in front of the Sanhedrin, you know, he forgot Jesus said “turn the other cheek”, and he said to the high priest, ‘God will smack you, you whitewashed tomb.’  And then you remember at the end of his life, in 2nd Timothy there [we’ll get there, God willing], where he’s passing off the scene, emotional, ‘everybody’s forsaken me, Demas hath forsaken me for the world, Luke alone is with me and I’m here.  When you come bring those parchments from Troas, and my cloak, it’s cold here in prison, I just want to sit with the Bible, and that Alexander the coppersmith, God will get him…’  I mean, he’s got that edge to him.  But evidently he has a very tender edge too.  And he says he loves, that he loves these saints, that they’re in his heart, and he says he yearns for them with the very bowels of Christ.  You know, it’s interesting, we can do the work of God without doing the will of God, and I’ve seen it.  And I can fall into it.  You know it’s the will of God, first and foremost, for us to love one another, ‘as I have loved you,’ that’s what Jesus says.  And that our motivation for serving should be  serving Christ, and not serving man, not to get attention, not to be seeking recognition, not just moving in empty momentum, ‘Oh this is the right thing to do, so I have to do it…I signed up for Sunday-school so I have to go today.’  You know, you can do the work of God, without doing the will of God.  The will of God is to serve him with a right attitude, out of the right heart.  And part of the greatness of Paul, as he says this, and he’s not saying this lightly, that they’re in his heart, and that he’s yearning after them with the very bowels of Christ, remarkable. 

 

He Wants Them To Grow In The Grace And Knowledge Of Jesus Christ, Without Compromise

 

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ;” (verses 9-10)  Look what he says here.  ‘And this I pray,’ after he yearns after them, as he thinks about them, give thanks for them, ‘this I pray, that your love may abound more and more,’ agape, now what it’s telling us is, the fruit of the Spirit is love, agape:  joy, peace, longsuffering, meekness, temperance, patience and so forth, against such things there is no law.  But what it’s saying is, Paul says, ‘I want the agape that you have to abound more and more until the day of Christ.’  [What is God’s agape-love?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm]  So whatever measure of agape we have today can be increased.  And he doesn’t want them just to grow in agape, but to grow in ipignosis [Strongs 1922, ipignosis:---recognition, full discernment, knowledge…] knowledge and understanding also.  In other words, just a foolish and open love without understanding causes all kinds of problems in the Church.  If you look at some of the strange doctrines and some of the cookooboos in the Church today, and you know, because people think, ‘Well we’re supposed to love one another…’ and they see somebody doing something crazy and they say, ‘Well, I don’t  know, doesn’t seem right to me, but we’re supposed to love one another.’  Now wait a minute, he wants them to grow in [agape]-love and in knowledge, in love and in knowledge.  Very important.  [One of my best friends has a saying, “Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”]  Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He says here, “that” the reason being, “ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ;” (verse 10)  ‘I want you to abound more and more in love and in knowledge, and in all judgment,’ which is discernment, understanding, the reason, ‘that you may approve,’ that’s a word for trying metals, putting them in a crucible and trying them, to see whether they’re pure or whether there’s an alloy there, where there’s dross.  ‘that you may approve,’  and for a church to be a church that is discerning, and a church to be a church that is not just a loving church, but a church that is knowledgeable, that has the Word of God at the center.  And look, there are a lot of churches that have other things at the center, holy laughter, health & wealth, seeker-friendly drama, experience [over the Word of God], money.  No, no, the Word of God is supposed to be at the center of the Church.  ‘That you grow in love, and in knowledge, that you might be discerning, and thereby you should be able then to approve, to try,’ he says, ‘the things that are excellent.’  Now that’s a very interesting word, it means “to differ”, try the things that are “excellent, the things that differ.”  But it’s “differ” in this sense, “try the things that are excellent,” the things that differ.  But it’s “differ” in this sense, what is our goal?  What is our standard?  Our standards should be excellence, not just ‘I’m gonna mope my way through this world, get into the Kingdom of heaven by the skin of my pants,’ no, we should make a difference.  There are things that are expedient and there are things that are not expedient, that’s why he uses the word “to differ.”  Excellence is based on my ability and your ability to divide [i.e. properly divide the Word of God, properly interpret the Word of God] and say, ‘That’s carnal,’ or ‘That’s not carnal, it’s not wrong, but it’s not expedient.  This is the more excellent way for my life, for my family, for my church, for my walk, for my thoughts, for my meditation, for my health, this is the more excellent way.’  And that should be our standard.  And he says he wants them to grow in love and in knowledge (verse 9), and he wants them to be discerning so that they might try, like they’re trying metal, the things that differ (verse 10), the things that are excellent…Now we want excellence to be the measure of our lives.  I’m not content, I want more of Jesus Christ.  I want every last drop, I want the things that are not Christ-like in me that are selfish and carnal, I want them to be lessened and to be gone.  And I want to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ.  I want more of Jesus and less of me.  That’s the standard that should be for all of us.  And he’s saying that to these Philippians, “That ye may approve the things that are excellent; they ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;” (verse 10)  “And that you may be sincere,” that’s without admixture, “and without offence,” not putting a stumbling block in somebody’s way, “until the day of Christ.”  So, look at the remarkable thing he says [summing up verses 1-10].  He says ‘I love you, I’m writing this to you, you know that Timothy and I are slaves, we’ve given up all of our rights to serve Christ.  And you are saints, by the blood of Christ and by the work of God, he’s set your lives apart.  Every time I think of you guys, my heart is filled with warm memories.  You’ve been partners with me from the very beginning.  And I’m longing to see you again.  But I am certain of this, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ.  I know I’m going to see you again, one way or another.  And I feel this way because you are always in my heart, I’m yearning after you with the bowels of Christ, I love you when I think of your leaders, when I think of your church, I think of the faces of the men and women and the children, when I think of kids that run around the sanctuary.’  Paul says, ‘I love you guys, and it’s on my heart.  And because of that, I’m praying, that first of all your agape’ would abound more and more.  And that you would abound more and more in knowledge and understanding and in discernment, so that you wouldn’t be deceived like the Corinthians were deceived and filled with admixture, and filled with compromise, that you wouldn’t be deceived like the Galatians were deceived and were embracing this Judaism and legalism.  That you would be able to try, like testing metals, and discern which way is excellent, making a difference between the things that are right and the things that are wrong, the calling of the Spirit and the calling of the flesh.  That you might be able to make a difference in these things,’ he says, ‘so that you might be without admixture.’ He wants them to be pure, ‘And that you wouldn’t be putting a stumbling block in front of anybody, like the church in Corinth was stumbling so many.’  “till the day of Christ.  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (verse 11)  Notice, “which are by,” they’re not by the Philippians, they’re not by our strength, “which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and the praise of God.”  What a great longing he has for this church whom he loves. 

 

What’s Happened To Me Is For The Furtherance Of The Gospel

 

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident [in Rome] by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (verses 12-14)  e Now they heard that Paul’s in prison in Rome.  That’s why they sent Epaphroditus, they sent an offering, they hear what’s going on in his life, they loved him, they kept track of him.  He said, ‘I want you to understand this, that the things that have happened, have fallen out to me, have fallen out to me for the furtherance of the gospel.’  He says, ‘I don’t want you guys to be freaked out over this, it’s God’s will for my life.’  In fact, it’s an interesting phrase there where he says “the things”, the King James says, “which happened” in italics, some translated it “the things dominating.”  Paul’s acknowledging that circumstances in his life have dominated where he is and what’s happening.  Just before he had gone there to Jerusalem, prayed with the elders of Ephesus on the beach at Miletus, and said, ‘I know that the Spirit tells me bonds and afflictions are waiting, none of these things move me, I want to finish my course.’  He’s warned by Agibus.  He goes to Jerusalem anyway, shaves his head [in a ceremonial ritual], goes into the Temple, and a riot starts.  And the Romans come and rescue him, and when they get him up in the Temple steps he starts to speak to the crowd in Hebrew, everybody settles down, and they listen to him until he says the word “Gentiles.”  Then the riot starts up again.  And Paul is in the prison cell that night, bummed.  I guarantee you he was bummed,  because all along he kept thinking, ‘If I could only get to my brethren, if I could only get to Jerusalem, I’m a Jew of the Jews, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the 8th day, I know where they’re at, I could really talk to them, it’s like Generation X, I’m cool, so I can relate to Generation X, and if I could just…’  He started a riot.  They almost tore the whole Temple apart.  And he’s bummed out sitting in prison, saying to himself, ‘oh yeah, I was a big help,’ and Jesus appears to him, and says, ‘Paul, be of good cheer, you did a great job.  And now I’m taking you to Rome.’  Now you’d think when Jesus takes you to Rome, you’re going on Lufthansa or Swissair or something.  Well how he gets to Rome is, there’s a plot and forty guys swear they’re going to kill Paul, they’re not going to eat until he’s dead, and then the Romans have to get him out of town, and they’re going by night, galloping to get him up to Caesarea, and he’s there in a prison for two years, held.  Before finally they put him on a, he makes an appeal to Caesar…he makes his appeal to Caesar, and then they put him on a ship, and he gets hit by a Euroclidon, as though a hurricane wouldn’t be bad enough.  He gets hit by this big storm and then shipwrecked.  Finally he survives that and he goes to warm himself by a fire and a snake jumps out and bites his hand [a deadly poisonous snake].  He says he shakes the varmint into the fire.  He doesn’t say ‘That’s a beauty, isn’t it?’  He doesn’t say, ‘Oh, let it go.’  He flips that varmint into the fire.  I like Paul.  And when they see that nothing happens to him, he doesn’t die, a revival starts on the island [of Malta], he sees Publius, and takes you through the whole thing, and finally he ends up in Rome.  ‘That wasn’t the way I wanted to go, Lord.’  Finally he ends up in Rome.  And he says, ‘The things that are dominating, these experiences of these last few years, that many would look at and say ‘are out of control, things are out of control,’ Paul says, ‘No, no, they have happened, and I want you to understand this, to the furtherance of the gospel,’ and he uses a very interesting term that comes from Classical Greek that deals with pioneering, when the Roman troops would go into an area and cut down forests, and make a pathway, that’s the word that he uses, it’s happened “to the furtherance” of the gospel.  ‘God is sovereign, he’s in all of this, I don’t see why you’re freaked out over all of this, because God has allowed this to happen.’  Look what he says, “So that my bonds” notice “in Christ” he’s not the prisoner of Rome, he’s the prisoner of Jesus, “that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;” “palace” is the “Praetorium” in Greek.  “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (verses 13-14)  He says, ‘Look, what’s happening to me is helping the furtherance of the gospel, in fact, I’m here in the palace, in the Praetorium.’  Now we know he’s in Rome because he talks about Caesar’s household.  In fact, at the end when he signs off, he says, ‘The saints greet you,’ and then he says, ‘especially those of Caesar’s household.’  So he’s making converts left and right in Caesar’s household.  But he’s at the Praetorium.  Now it’s very interesting.  Before Christ, one of the Caesars formed the Praetorium, there were only one thousand of them.  And they were the Navy Seals, they were the Special Ops of the time.  They were taken from all of the different regiments, and they were the toughest and best, and they put together this special group called the Praetorium.  And they were indestructible, they were remarkable.  But by this time, now, the years have gone by, Caesar in Rome keeps 10,000 Praetorium in Rome with him, just to keep him safe, because Caesars weren’t always loved by everybody.  But the Praetorium by this time, much like the Knights Templars, have become wealthy, they’ve become bankers, some of them are in the Senate, they are a very, very influential group of military and retired military and security, and you know, intelligence of the intelligence community, very influential.  And Paul is saying to these Philippians, ‘Hey, the Praetorium is chained to me, and they can’t get away.’  [There is a spiritual warrior for you!]  That’s the way he looks at it.  ‘I have a captive audience.’  How’d you like to be a non-believer and be chained to Paul?  [laughter]  And that’s his perspective.  ‘I’m the prisoner of Christ, and Rome’s the prisoner of Paul, they’re chained to me.  And not only that, because of my attitude, and because of my boldness to share, many of the brethren here are bolder now, they’re sharing Christ.’ 

 

Two Ways Christ Was Being Preached---God Used Both

 

Verse 15 he says this, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:  the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:  but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.” (verses 15-17)  Now look, he’s going to name some things here.  “Envy”, number one, because they’re jealous somebody else is influential or seeing fruit, number two, “some of strife.”  Look down in verse 16, there is one that preaches “of contention,” “not sincerely,” with insincerity, “supposing to add affliction to my bonds,” they’re presumptuous in what they’re doing, supposing to add affliction.  Paul says, ‘Look, there’s others, verse 17, that are sharing the gospel and have love, “knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.  What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” (verses 17c-18)  ‘Notwithstanding, I don’t care, every way, whether in pretence or truth, Christ is preached.  I’m rejoicing.’  Paul says, you know, ‘It’s interesting’ he said, ‘There are those now that are preaching out of envy.  There are others that are preaching out of sincerity.  Some are preaching out of contention.’  That happens today.  Somebody goes and sits down in a bar, sits down next to somebody and starts talking.  ‘What are you doing here?’  ‘Ah, my wife, she’s driving me nuts.’  ‘Yeah, I got one of those.’  ‘What’s she doing to you?’  ‘Ah, she goes to that Calvary Chapel.’  ‘Yeah, I drop her off and come down here and get pickled.  I’m going to have to listen to her after church.’  ‘What do you mean, what does she say?’  ‘Ah, she says Jesus died for us, he loves us, and if we give our life to him, he’ll give us hope and he’ll forgive us of our sins, and he’ll bring healing.’  And the other guy’s sitting there because his wife just left him and his heart is broken, and this guy sitting next to him is saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, Jesus loves us, he’ll forgive us, give us hope.’  And this guy is crying ‘Really?  Tell me more about Jesus.’  And he ends up getting saved, and the other guy’s preaching out of contention.  [Comment:  Ray Comfort, a hilariously funny Australian Messianic Jewish evangelist described something like that happening, where in British countries, in public squares, they have this quirky freedom of speech (quirky to us Americans), where anyone who wants can set up his soapbox in a corner of the local square and speak on anything he wants.  Preachers often use this venue, drawing a crowd.  He said once this Satan-worshipper set up his soapbox at one end, and Ray was at the other with his soapbox.  This Satanist speaker so disgusted some of his listeners, that they were driven over to Ray, heard him speak, and accepted Christ into their lives.  It was hilarious how he described it.]  Paul says ‘I could care less, as long as Jesus Christ is preached, I’m rejoicing.  Some of them are blabbing it because they are miserable, and they’re striving, they’re contentious, and presumptuous, I don’t care, let them tell the truth under that covering, others are preaching out of sincerity and love, either way, I’ve infected the whole place,’ he says, ‘this is great, I could care less.  Whether in pretense or truth Christ is preached, and I do therein rejoice.’  “yea, and will rejoice”, ‘I’m going to rejoice more.’  “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply [or “the undergirding’] of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (verse 19)  ‘I know this is working out for the good.’ 

 

What’s Your Earnest Expectation And Your Hope?

 

Paul’s going to encapsulate his life for us here.    “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (verse 20)  Now what is your earnest expectation and your hope?  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (verse 21)  Paul encapsulates his entire life in those verses.  And that’s why he had the influence that he did, because those words were real to him.  “Earnest expectation” is taken from a group of Greek words that means “to have outstretched head.”  You know that song we sing ‘She’ll be coming around the mountain”?  Well the idea is, somebody’s stretching their head out to see what’s coming.  It says ‘The creation with earnest expectation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God,’ in Romans 8, same phrase, he said ‘the creation has got their neck stretched way out, waiting, to be set free again when Christ comes and sets up his Kingdom.’  Paul says here, ‘This is the way I live, I can’t wait to see Jesus, I live that way, it’s my earnest expectation and my hope.  I live with my neck stretched out every day, they got me in prison, I’m looking out this little slot at the sky, waiting for the clouds to come down, Jesus to come and blow the trumpet.’  What’s your earnest expectation and your hope?  You see because he says, “For me to live is Christ,”---can we say that?  The way you can test that is, by the second half.  Because you can always say the second half if you can say the first half.  The second half is, “and to die is gain.”  ‘To live is Christ’ and if to live is Christ, and if all you live for is Jesus Christ, and all you long for is Jesus Christ, then to die is gain because then you really get to be with him.  If to live is to acquire wealth, then to die is not gain, that’s to loose it all.  If to live is to get a Ferrari, then to die is not gain.  If to live is to get a wife, then to die is not gain [ouch J].  ‘If we live is Christ, and to die is Christ’  Can we say that?  I’m putting me in the we there.  OK?  I’m not talking down at anybody, I’m talking here we are all convicted together, one big convicted family.  Paul could say, ‘for me to live is Christ,’ it’s the only reason to live is Jesus Christ [for those of us that are real Christians, believers].  Not to get a career, not to graduate, not to get a family, not to move somewhere, not to make more per hour.  To live is Christ, to die, that’s where it’s really at baby.  [Another Scripture says “Beloved is the death of his saints.”]  Not that he would die, that means to him, to move.  He knows that he would never die in that sense, to live is Christ, to die is gain.  Verse 22, he sounds a little depressed, “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour:  yet what I shall choose I wot [know] not.”  ‘Yet what I would choose I’m not even sure.’  “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (verses 22-24)  So he says, ‘I’m torn in two, one is to depart and to be with Christ, to depart is the strike the tent, to take the tent down.’  It says in the beginning of John’s Gospel, ‘that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’…it gets over to verse 14 and says, ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt that’s ‘tented, tabernacled among us.’  That the Word of God [Jesus, the Word, Logos] put on a tabernacle.  Peter, knowing that, in his second Epistle says, ‘The Lord has shown me that I must shortly put off this tabernacle, this tent.’  Paul says, ‘I’m longing to take my tent down.’  It’s our tent [tapping his chest], that’s what it is.  It’s a spacesuit, a tent.  The Old Testament says it’s a carcass.  It says their carcasses fell in the wilderness.  We spend a lot of time on our carcasses, I do, I get vitamins, and you know, people buy juicers for their carcass, get carcass lifts and tucks and dress their carcass up real nice, and join the health club to get that carcass in shape.  We’re very carcass oriented, I’ll tell you that.  We look around the room and judge each other by the tents we’re in.  Paul says, ‘I’m torn between two, because I’d like to take this tent down, and depart, and be with Christ.’  He doesn’t say, ‘I want to take this tent down and do some soul-sleep,’ he doesn’t say he wants to take this tent down and go to purgatory, ‘I don’t want to take this tent down and lay in the grave somewhere until the resurrection,’ he says to take down this physical body is to be with Christ.  He says when you close your eyes in this world, you open them up in the next. And he says, ‘And that is what it is all about.’  You remember Elijah that had prayed for the widow’s son that had died, that after the third time he prayed it says, ‘His soul come into him again,’ it wasn’t there sleeping in his body, it had departed.  It came into him again.  Revelation chapter 6, you see the souls of those that were beheaded under the altar in heaven, crying out to God, ‘How long before you avenge those who have killed us Lord?’  They’re not sleeping, their souls are in heaven with the Lord, waiting for the resurrection of the physical frame. [Comment: Calvary Chapels believe the soul, which is the human spirit-in-man, stays conscious upon death, and for believers goes up to God’s third heaven, God’s throne.  Others believe the spirit-in-man upon death goes unconscious, until re-united with our new immortal spirit bodies during the resurrection to immortality at the blowing of the 7th Trumpet in Revelation 15. But lets reason this out a bit, and now here is where this doctrine gets real secondary.  If soul-sleep, as some believe, is a reality, that their interpretation of Scripture proves it, when you die, you are totally unaware of your being dead until you are resurrected, so your next waking moment you are in the resurrection to immortality and go to be with the Lord.  Within the next nano-second of going unconscious in death, you’re awake again in the resurrection, immortal and with Christ, since the dead know no passage of time if they are truly unconscious.  So either way, it doesn’t matter.  Does it?  Why make such a big deal out of soul-sleep, soul-awake, some end-result, so who cares? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm to read about the variety of secondary beliefs held in this area of doctrine.]  Paul says this is a tent, ‘I’m torn between two things, one is to strike the tent, take down the tent, be with Christ, which is far better, or “nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;” Paul is willing to make the sacrifice for them, “that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” (verses 24-26)  He’s longing to see them again. 

 

If You’re Going To Talk The Talk, Walk The Walk

 

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:  that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (verse 27)  “Only let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ,” “your conversation,” he plays on a very interesting word there, it’s “your politics, your citizenship.”  Because Philippi was a Roman colony, they had full Roman citizenship.  Paul says, ‘Let your heavenly citizenship, let your politic be as it becometh the gospel of Christ,’ that word “becometh” is a word that is taken from the market place, and it’s when they used the balances and they put the weights on one side and what you were purchasing on the other, and it has the idea of axiom, weighing as much as.  Paul says, ‘Let your politic, your citizenship, be equal to, balance out, weigh as much as the gospel of Christ.’  He says if you’re gonna talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.  That’s what Paul says.  He said that earlier, ‘That you might divide, chose that which is excellent, that you grow in love and the knowledge, that there’d be no admixture in your church, that you wouldn’t be carnal, and you wouldn’t be stumbling anyone.’  Here he says it again, ‘Let your citizenship, oh yeah, it’s wonderful, you have Roman citizenship, the soil in your town is considered Italian soil.’  He says there’s something far better than that, and that’s in regards to the gospel.  ‘Only let your walk [conduct is the definition for the King James word “conversation” in almost every case] weigh as much as your talk.’  You know, there isn’t any greater disservice we can do to the gospel of Christ than to tell people about Jesus and then live like the world.  There is no greater disservice that we can do to our children than to tell them that we believe Jesus Christ is our Lord, that he is coming again, that all authority in heaven and earth is his, and then go out and get drunk on the weekend, watch pornography in their home.  Please [if you’re doing that], just don’t even talk about Jesus.  Because there isn’t any greater disservice we can do than to tell one story and to live another story, and it just causes confusion.  And Paul because he loves them, he loves them, he’s yearning for them in the bowels of Christ, he says, ‘Look, let your citizenship, your politics, weigh as much as the gospel of Christ.’ 

 

Don’t Be Afraid

 

“and in nothing terrified by your adversaries:  which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”  Now Caesar-worship is beginning to be enforced by this time, to a degree.  The fact that they are adversaries of the gospel of Christ is a testimony against them, that perdition is down the road for them, ‘but to you it is an evidence of your salvation.’  “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” (verse 29)  “it is given,” now this is a word that means “it is given with favour, God has favoured you.”  “But also to suffer”, yea!  You know, I’m working on it.  I know that when the time comes God will give us the grace.  I remember Corey ten Boom said she talked to her father, ‘Dad, what if they come, and what if they take us [the Nazis], and what if they put us in one of the death camps?  I’m not ready, I don’t have the strength, I can’t face that.’  And he said, ‘Corey, when you’re getting ready to go into town on the train, when do I give you the money for the ticket?’  And she said, ‘Well Dad, you give me the money right before I go.’  And he said, ‘That’s right, and that’s when God will give you the grace, when you’re ready to make the journey.’  These Philippians were facing a harder situation than we face, day in and day out.  You know, we have that little puny judge on the West coast saying, ‘You can’t say ‘One nation under God.’  Oh yea?  Let’s say it.  ONE NATION UNDER GOD, Ah, that feels good, I like that [loud clapping].  Hey look, they were facing genuine persecution.  Paul says, ‘Don’t be terrified, don’t let it get you down.  Because you’ve been given the privilege not only of believing on Christ, but also of suffering for his sake.’  “Having this same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (verse 30)  Paul said, ‘You saw me when I was in prison there.  You have the same conflict now, you saw what they did to me when I was in Philippi.  Just remember, if they put you down in the dungeon, just start to sing that song, God will start to tap his foot.  You know what happens then.’  Paul says, ‘You remember what happened to me, and that you know that I’m in a similar situation now.  Don’t be terrified.  Don’t be terrified.’  “To live, Christ, to die, to strike this tent and go into his presence…I don’t think any of us, when we stand around the throne of God, if you can imagine what will be before our gaze, I don’t think any of us will be tempted to come back.  Boy Lord, couldn’t I go back for a day?  Just want to go to Nifty Fifties one time.  That is not gonna happen.  We live in a troubled world, we have it better than 90 percent of the people in this troubled world.  We still have the freedom to gather and to worship, to share our faith…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Philippians 1:1-30 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:

 

Paul’s evangelism was aggressive, usually targeting synagogues throughout Asia Minor and wherever he went.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm

 

The early church congregations were simple, semi-autonomous, composed of pastors and deacons, cf. Philippians 1:1.  For a modern-day example of that, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

Paul wanted the Philippians to be filled with God’s Agape-love.  What is that?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm  

 

For a full background history of Philippi, see,

http://bibleatlas.org/philippi.htm    

 

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