The Fellowship of Joy Philippians 2:19-30

Intro

Paul has been hammering on this idea of humility worked out in community for the sake of the mission. Last week we looked at what it means to “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”  We do this in community, for the sake of mission. We can’t work on our relationship issues by ourselves, and most of our sin is evident in the midst of community/relationships.

Paul started this thread of thought way back in chapter one verse 27, when he exhorted the Philippians to “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel,” as they became of the same mind, and acted courageously in the faith. He then proceeded to show them that in order to do that, they would need to be like Jesus and show humility (See Philippians 2:1-11). Last week he continued his assault and selfishness, by exhorting them to work out their salvation, stop complaining and rejoice with him.

In our passage today, Paul gives us two live co-workers who have exemplified a service oriented humility, showing the Philippians that it is possible>

Big Picture: Men that are led by the Spirit and faithful to the gospel can be an example to the people and a joy to the heart.

From the Head…

Paul begins in verse 19 by connecting his joy to what God is doing in the hearts of the people he has ministered with (See too Philippians 2:2). Once again, we see that Paul’s ultimate joy is in Christ, while his proximate joy is in the work that God is doing in His church. The fact is, Paul loves people (See vv. 1:7, 9). While many of us still struggle to find joy in things, using people, technology, money, etc., Paul continues to root His joy in God and His work.

There are two examples Paul uses to give as examples for the Philippians, and to show that godly leaders, can have the “mind of Christ” as they grow in Him.

Timothy Is An Example of Humility (Philippians 2:20-24)

Note Paul commends him because he is “Genuinely Concerned,” displaying that mind of Christ (See vv. 4-5), and that he has Proven Worth.” He’s not commended for being a great leader, speaker, musician, etc., but for his character as a leader. 1:15-17 reminds us that there are many capable leaders who lack character. Timothy’s humility shines, as he is willing to submit “As a son” to Paul’s lead. Timothy was a “proven” leader, because he cared for and loved people. According to Timothy’s profile in 1 Timothy, he was a timid wallflower, but he gained strength and courage through his obedience, and willingness to humble himself, and learn from Paul; even to the point of letting Paul circumcise him for the sake of the gospel (Acts 16:3).

It is too easy to lose sight of the gospel (The gospel), and turn our salvation inward. To this Theologian Leslie Newbigin writes, “I suddenly saw that someone could use the language of Evangelical Christianity, and yet the center was fundamentally the self, my need for salvation. And God is auxiliary to that… I also saw that quite a lot of Evangelical Christians can easily slip, can become centered in me and my own need for salvation, and not in the glory of God.”  This is the tendency of the human heart, to make the gospel about us. The fact is as Pastor/Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and cancelling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.

Have you tamed God, or are you controlled by Him?

Epaphroditus Is An Example of Sacrifice (Philippians 25-30)

Epaphroditus was a Philippian, yet he sacrificed his time away from his family to tend to Paul and his needs. In a sense, God cancelled his plans for comfort, and it almost killed him. He “Risked his life” to help Paul. He was willing to sacrifice it all in service to the apostle.

This is why Paul exhorts the Philippians to “Honor Such Men!!” Leaders that display humility and sacrificed, are worthy of honor. Not the honor that we give to Christ whose humility and sacrifice is our grand example, but when men and women act out in bold courage, humility and sacrifice, it is ok to note their example, and honor such people.

 …to the Heart

Following Jesus is costly, mostly for Him; but the reality is, we are giving up poverty for riches, slavery for freedom, yet the cost is denial of the self that we proceed needs to be in charge.

We have many examples of humility in the scriptures and in the church, and yet, we continue to live our own life, because we are comfortable with it. We don’t really believe that I can give that life to the Lordship of Jesus, so we struggle to realize the grace and truth found in Christ.

Jesus remains our prime example, and it is because of His example that we can trust Him, for what He promises.

Further Questions to Ponder

  1. Why do we struggle so much with humbling ourselves before one another?
  2. In Verse 23, Paul says he’ll send Timothy “just as soon as I see how it will go with me.” Why so?
  3. How is following Jesus a great benefit?
  4. How is following Jesus a great cost?

For Further Reading

Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary, Frank Theilman

Commentary on Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, John Calvin

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (New International Commentary on the NT), Gordon Fee

Philippians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT), Moises Silva

Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters, Tom Wright

The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar NT Commentary), G. Walter Hansen

Life Lessons Study Guide: Philippians, Max Lucado

Philippians (Reformed Expository Commentary), Dennis Johnson

 

Also Check Out Our Twitter @anchorlongbeach

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Guard the Heart

 

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! 
Proverbs 15:23

Recommended Reading
James 3:1-12

A man spoke a word of untrue gossip to a monk. To teach the man a lesson, the monk told the man to open a feather pillow and go about the village, placing one feather on every doorstep as an act of penance. When the man completed his penance, the monk told him to go and retrieve every feather. “Why, that would be impossible,” the man exclaimed. “the wind will have carried them far and wide!” “Let that be a lesson,” the monk replied. “Your words are like those feathers. Once spoken, they are impossible to get back.”

While human speech has conveyed comfort, beauty, and blessing throughout history, it has also delivered hate, lies, and curses. The apostle James talked about human speech by referring to the tongue as a “fire, a world of iniquity,” and “unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:6, 8). The tongue, the fleshly organ, is not to blame, of course. Jesus said it was out of the heart of man that ‘evil things come” — including words (Mark 7:20-23).

If you would speak a word in due season, a word of beauty and blessing, ask God to give you a heart like the words you want to speak. Guarding the heart is the way to guard the tongue.

The heart is the metal of the bell, the tongue is but the clapper. 
George Swinnock

Pray For Pakistan

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Pray for our brother’s and sister’s who lost friends and family members in the senseless bombing by radicals in Karachi, Pakistan last week. Pray for the victims, as well as the perpetrators and for those involved in the much needed aid for these people. Pakistan is a hard place for the gospel, but not an impossible place. There are many great ministers of the gospel that risk their lives daily for the sake of the call! Please be in prayer for them!

Sharing Your Faith; Fact or Fiction?

Evangelism is one of those hard things to do because of our own fear and insecurity. The reality is, many of us have not shared with a non-believer in years. It appears too imposing, and could cause animosity rather than friendship. Remember our motivation to share Jesus with others is not to gain God’s favor. We will never be loved or accepted by God any more or any less that we already are in His Son Jesus. I pray that our motivation for telling others about Jesus, is because of our love for what Jesus has done, and is doing in our lives. We are also motivated by our love for our neighbor, and our desire that they too find the joy and peace of God in their life.The following is a condensed version of a talk Tim Keller did on evangelism at Lausanne. These are helpful, and unobtrusive.

  1. Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
  2. Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
  3. Listen to your friends problems – maybe offer to pray for them
  4. Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
  5. Give them a book to read
  6. Share your story
  7. Answer objections and questions
  8. Invite them to a church event (Or to church)
  9. Offer to read the Bible with them
  10. Take them to an explore course

Staying the Course

Staying the Course

    “Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD (1 Chron 21:18-19).

 

    In 1857, an American businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier was sent out by his local church to begin a noon-day prayer meeting on Fulton Street, right around the corner from Wall Street in New York City. A simple prayer, a willing heart, and an act of obedience resulted in city transformation throughout the United States.

 

    However, at that very first meeting, no one showed up in the first 35 minutes. But Jeremiah waited. Gradually, six people wandered into the room at 35 minutes past the hour. Six months later, 10,000 people were meeting for prayer throughout New York City. This led to one of the greatest spiritual renewals in the United State’s history.

 

    What would have happened if Lanphier had decided to abandon the idea after 30 minutes?

In a small, darkened room, in the back of one of New York City’s lesser churches, a man prayed alone. His request of God was simple, but earth-shattering: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” He was a man approaching midlife, without a wife or family, but he had financial means. He had made a decision to reject the “success syndrome” that drove the city’s businessmen and bankers. God used this businessman to turn New York City’s commercial empire on its head. He began a businessmen’s prayer meeting on September 23, 1857. The meetings began slowly, but within a few months 20 noonday meetings were convening daily throughout the city. Thousands met to pray because one man stepped out. This was an extraordinary move of God through one man.*

     It only takes one man or woman who is willing to be obedient to be used by God to impact a workplace, city, or even an entire nation. Simple obedience can lead to things you cannot imagine. Are you willing to be used by God?

The Fellowship of Joy Philippians 2:12-18

“Our deeds are our own, because of the free will producing them, and they are also God’s, because of the grace causing our free will to produce them…God makes us do what He pleases by making us desire what we may not desire.”

Augustine (5th Century)

Intro

Lofty theological ideas can sound impressive, but they are nothing if they are not worked in out in real life. Jesus’ brother James exhorts us to not only listen to the word of God, but “Do what it says” (James 1:22)! When Paul thinks of “Sound Doctrine” in Titus 2:2, he clearly means working out the truths of the face within the community of God.

Our passage today is the end game of the original thought Paul penned in Philippians 1:27,conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It is in the following verses that he exhorts the Philippians to do so, by showing humility and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. Last week we saw that Paul appealed to the truth of what we have in Christ, and then to Christ’s example itself.

Paul continues this week by beating the same drum, but this time he takes us down the mountain of such a majestic theological concept of the incarnation, and now exhorts this Macedonian church to live in light of its truth, as worthy citizens of the kingdom of God.

Big Idea: Our motivation toward obedience, is Christ’s obedience unto death for our sake and His father’s glory!

There are Three Commands in our passage that helps us stand out from the culture around us as “Citizens of God’s Kingdom.

  1. Work Out Your Salvation
  2. Do Everything Without Complaining or Arguing
  3. Be Glad and Rejoice With Me

From the Head…

Work Out Your Salvation (Philippians 2:12-13)

Before we move on, it would help to review some theological truths in order to understand this passage before us.

Salvation is something that is spoken of in the past (Romans 8:24; Ephesians 2:5,8; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5), as well as in the future (1 Corinthians 5:5 cf. 3:15; Romans 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). We see this distinction between justification (Which is a past tense legal move accomplished by the cross of Christ) and salvation (Which is accomplished on the final day (See Philippians 1:6) in Romans 5:9, which says, “Since we have been justified by Jesus blood…how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”  Justification is solely an act of God, where He justly places our sins/guilt on Christ, and He in turn places Christ’s righteousness on us (See 2 Corinthians 5:21). This is done completely by God’s grace, through faith (See Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:5; 5:1). 

Salvation is also a process, whereas justification is a past tense event. We have been saved (Justification), we are being saved (Sanctification, which is an act of God in our lives, enabling us to grow in the “Grace and knowledge” of our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives (See 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2 cf. Philippians 1:19) and we will be saved (Glorification). This is a process that is complete in Christ, and gives us hope that what God began; He will finish (Philippians 1:6).

Confusing these theological realities can be dangerous when we interpret our sanctification as our justification, since the latter is something that God does for us in Christ, while the former is something that is being done to us, as we live according to the Spirit. We can’t in any way work “For” our salvation (Justification), but can we can, and need to work “Out” our salvation in community. Christ’s life and subsequent humility as demonstrated on the cross (See Philippians 2:8) is our power and our example. Salvation here is not about people getting “Saved,” but about how “Saved” people live out the gospel individual and in community. This shows the reality of the future kingdom in real time!

We are not called to work “For” our salvation, but to “work it out” (katergazesthai), or as he said before, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”. There is debate in the text as to whether this is individual or within a community. It seems that the entirety of the context renders a both/and approach. Paul is calling us to humility and selflessness, and though we need to take that to our own heart, this is clearly, in our context, to be lived out in community. Most people leave churches when they feel that discipleship is hitting too close to home, but it is in the messiness of church life that discipleship and sanctified growth happens.

We are not called to go this alone since it is actually God’s power (energein) that ultimately works this out in our life. This is not an issue of God doing His part, and we doing our part, but the living out of what God has done, and is doing until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). The word for God’s work in us is the word we get “Energy” from. It is a power that exists in the midst of the community to do what God has called us to do; namely love and serve one another.

 

Do Everything Without Complaining or Arguing (Philippians 2:14-17)

The practical application here is in the area of critical critique and arguing. The idea here is a divisiveness that is caused by grumbling (Especially against the leadership), which may have been the issue in Philippi. We can often convince ourselves that our critical spirits are actually a virtue, as we are just saying what others think, and we may even be protecting others from the “Problems” leadership is causing. This kind of poison and divisiveness destroys the church and the work of the gospel. When we are bitter toward one another and backbiting, especially toward leadership, it has a destructive effect. However, when we work through (Or “Out”) these issues, we become a shining light to the world who often uses slander, backbiting and bitter revenge as their self evident right. Versus 16-17 appear out of place, but Paul here is digressing a bit, and offering one more sub-motivation that causes him great joy knowing that they are persevering in their faith, and walking in light of “Word of Life” (The Gospel), which brings him satisfaction knowing that his imprisonment and beatings were not in vain; or as he puts it “I did not run or labor in vain.” Paul uses both a sports and labor theme, then turns to an Old Testament metaphor of sacrifice (Which Christ is the grand example) to communicate his joy he would have if they would love one another, and thus prove their salvation, even if he was being killed for his work.

 

Be Glad and Rejoice With Me (Philippians 2:18)

Here Paul highlights a huge theme in this book. The words joy (xairete) and rejoice (sugxairete) are used over 13 times in this four chapter book, and is both the result and the response of the knowledge of the truth of what Christ has done, and what God is continuing to do in our life. Paul is commanding their joy, because it is in their joy that they will truly complete their praise and become motivated with Christ’s love and humility, and less likely to act out in their bitter flesh.

 

…to the Heart

The commands of this passage are easy to understand, but difficult to live. We have our rights, and our own desires that we feel if they are unmet will cause us much more consternation and hurt. We fail to trust God, and even believe that he is good, and loved us enough to truly sacrifice His life for His glory, and our joy!

 

Further Questions to Ponder

  1. How do we “Work out” our salvation?
  2. What does the community have to do with it?
  3. Why is it that we can justify our slander and backbiting?
  4. How does joy mitigate our desire to “Grumble?”
  5. How does obedience in this area give God glory?

 

For Further Reading

 Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary, Frank Theilman

Commentary on Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, John Calvin

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (New International Commentary on the NT), Gordon Fee

Philippians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT), Moises Silva

Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters, Tom Wright

The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar NT Commentary), G. Walter Hansen

Life Lessons Study Guide: Philippians, Max Lucado

Philippians (Reformed Expository Commentary), Dennis Johnson

 

Also Check Out Our Twitter @anchorlongbeach

Simplicity

 

Simplicity 

Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. 
Hebrews 9:24

Recommended Reading
John 14:1-6

Copies come from an original. Examples illustrate truth. Foreshadowing is used to point to the future. To reach us, God has to make things simple. If He revealed all of Himself and heaven to us now, we would fall before Him in awestruck fear.

This world is temporary and any roots and security we build here will pass away. Adam and Eve left the Garden. Abraham was a nomad. Jacob fled from his brother. Joshua led the Israelites into a new land. Each of their lives reminds us of the transient and temporary nature of our lives. God gave the Israelites the design of the tabernacle to illustrate His holiness and perfection. The entire structure kept the holiness of God in view. It was made by human hands and was a foreshadowing of heaven, where God dwells in all His glory.

Our life here is a fleeting moment, but we can focus on God, His glory, and the eternity that awaits us when we trust in Him. Then our lives and actions will be gloriously transformed, serving as an example of all that God can do through those who trust in Him.

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.
C. S. Lewis