The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 5:1-12 Pt. 2

Beatitudes

Preached @ Anchor Community Church on February 23rd, 2014

“The more I read these chapters (Matthew 5-7), the more I am both drawn to them and shamed by them. Their brilliant light draws me like a moth to a spotlight; but the light is so bright that it sears and burns.”

D.A. Carson

Intro

Big Picture: Jesus Gives Us the “Ethical Norms” of His Kingdom

You can’t live like this, unless something is empowering you to live like that. This is where the Beatitudes come in. The Beatitudes are truths about one who is being transformed by the kingdom, and make it possible to live within the Kingdom norms.

Apart from Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount exposes and condemns you. We want people to live like that, but we struggle to live like that. Therefore, we treat it as an unapproachable ideal, because the kingdom we live in does not live like that.

Once we see the glory of God and the terror of God in the sermon, we can turn to the hero of the sermon; Jesus. So I pray that you aren’t taking these sermons as a “Therefore, Do” sermon, but a “Therefore, Be” sermon. Ephesians 4:1 makes the point once we understand the Indicatives of who we are, we can then “Walk worthy of the calling by which we have been called.” We aren’t striving to live out the Beatitudes; they are true of those in Christ. The Beatitudes reflect how we come to Christ. Jesus is the end game, not the blessings! The Beatitudes show who we are (Being) not what to do (Action). Being always precedes “Doing” in the Kingdom of God.

So many people see Christianity as “Following” Jesus, but that following must be preceded by an about face, a recognition of poverty, and then a turning to Christ and His grace and mercy.

I want to recap the first Four Beatitudes from last week, and then look at the last Four Beatitudes this week.

Part #1 (Recap)

Knowing You Are Spiritually Bankrupt is the beginning of Blessedness

Being Disgusted By Our Sins Leads to Comfort

A Humble Desire to See Others Prosper Leads to Contentment On Earth

Those That Desire God Over Everything Else Will Find Satisfaction

It is in His Righteousness that we are saved (Philippians 3:9)

From the Head…

Showing Mercy to Others, Reflects Your Recognition of Mercy In Your Own Life (Matthew 5:7)

This one is often linked to Matthew 6:14-15 and is interpreted legalistically. It becomes a one for one truth. “You show mercy, you get it; you forgive, you get forgiven; now get to work.” Sort of an “Eye for and eye” idea. However, that’s not the intent of these verses. Remember, the verses we are looking at are indicatives; they are already true of those in the kingdom. The word mercy (Eleemon), though similar to the word Grace, carries the idea of showing love to the helpless, as one commentator writes,  “A loving response is prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one on whom the love is to be showered.” D. Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Grace is especially associated with men in their sins; mercy is especially associated with men in their misery,,., mercy looks upon the miserable consequences of sin.

Thus, when we understand our bankrupt spirit (v. 3) and we mourn over our continued sin (v.4) forcing us then to hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness (v. 6), then we too are able to show mercy to the downtrodden, pathetic, and hopeless. It is because we are shown mercy that we can give it. It’s the same with forgiveness in Matthew 6. Thus our mercy is a response to God’s mercy, so in that sense we are very blessed!

Only A Transformed Heart Can Experience the Glory of God (Matthew 5:8)

The heart in scripture is the seat of motivation. It is the reason we do what we do and think. It encompasses the mind, emotions and the will. It is out of the “Heart” that our real sins are discovered (See Jeremiah 17:9 cf. Matthew 15:8-9). In spite of our wicked hearts, God is able to change them.

Religion and secular solutions are great at cleaning the outside of our lives, without dealing with the inner roots of our problems. This is essentially what Jesus’ words to the religious Pharisees of His time mean when He says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25–26). Psychology helps with relief from symptoms, but cannot cure the disease; sin. Religion does the same; it works toward changing behavior without dealing with the heart enslaving sins and desires that cause the behavior.

What is a Pure heart?

Psalm 24:3-4 indicate that a “Pure Heart” is related to falsehood and deceit. James 4:4-8 connect a pure heart more specifically as a “Double-Mindedness,” which means that one who is double-minded has one foot in the world, and one foot out. Jesus Himself says that we are to “Love the Lord God with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your strength” (Matthew 22:37). Therefore a pure heart is one that isn’t double-minded and has his or hers loyalty and love divided between God and the world.

Who Has A Pure Heart?

The problem is as Proverbs 20:9 reminds us, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?’” Jesus reminds His disciples that ask a very similar question that He answers, “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

As with all of the Beatitudes, it is God who acts first. Psalm 51:10 asks God to “Create in me a clean heart oh God,” and Titus 2:14 demonstrates the same idea, “who gave himself for us . . . to purify for himself a people.”

Our “Pure” heart is a result of God’s action in Christ on the cross and through His resurrection!

What Does It Mean to “See” God?

The result of God’s work in us is that we will “See” God. To “See” Him is to experience Him (See John 3:36). This includes His grace, mercy, righteousness and glory. Only with eyes that have been transformed by His power, can truly see and love God. It is similar to Moses experience in Exodus 33:18 when Moses prayed “I see your glory,” God showed Him His “Glory” by showing Him His attributes (See Exodus 33:19-34:7). 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be “Like Him, because we will see Him as He is.” When we truly experience God and are made pure, and given His righteousness, it is then that we see Him as He is, and can emulate Him in this corrupt world.

Striving For Peace Emulates Our Father Who Saved Us (Matthew 5:9)

This is an interesting one. Even in the church, the idea of peace can sound hollow, and silly. The world strives for it, but can’t seem to come to it.

Peace or “Shalom” is at the heart of the Father’s plan for His creation. In Jeremiah 29:7, God tells those in exile to “Seek the welfare (Peace/Shalom) of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in the welfare (Peace/Shalom) you will find your welfare (Peace/Shalom). The word for peace in that passage is the same one Jesus uses in our passage. Peace was part of the common greeting we see in the epistles (1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1). Peace was also attributed to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and according to John 16:33 our “Peace” would be found in Christ, and not the world.

There is no doubt that this idea is balanced by God’s wrath and judgment, and Matthew 10:34 even reminds us that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, but execute justice. This latter verse though must be understood in the light of context, that Jesus knew that His Gospel would be met by much opposition, and hate.

It is our context that explains our passage to us. Matthew 5:45 uses this phrase, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven,” quite like our passage in verse 9. In the former passage, it is the love of God that overcomes even hatred for an enemy. Once again, In Christ, we will begin to see His love formulated in us.

The idea that “We will be called “Sons of God,” and not children, carries the idea of identity, and likeness. To be called “Sons” is to be called “Like” the Father, who is a God of Peace! The fruit of the Spirit will emerge in reality, and we will become “Like” our Father who is in heaven! This is God’s goal for us in redemption.

“Darkness can not drive out darkness, only love can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King was right in realizing that more acts of retaliation and hate do not drive out hate, only love can overcome that; a love that comes from well beyond our own self; a divine love!

All of Those Persecuted Because of Jesus Can Enjoy the Kingdom (Matthew 5:10-12)

Persecution is very real for many of our brothers and sisters around the world, but Paul reminds us that “All who chose to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted(2 Timothy 3:12). The fact is, fallen man loves his/her sin, and will persecute to justify their belief about that sin.

Here we see the end of the beatitudes that frame our theme the “Kingdom of God.” This phrase also ends part 2 and the last 4 Beatitudes similar to the way part 1 and the first 4 Beatitudes ended; discussing righteousness.

First, the first half of our Beatitudes demonstrated the spiritual poverty of those in the kingdom, while the second set of four describe the transforming life of mercy, purity and peacemaking.

Secondly, our persecution comes from being acquainted with Jesus (See v. 11 cf. John 15:18-20), not our annoying “Self-Righteousness” or severe weirdness.

This is why that ultimately no matter how much you love the person, and work toward the peace of the community, you will be hated because of your core beliefs in Christ.

…to the Heart

  1. Have you placed your trust and faith in Him?
  2. Have you come to a place in your life that you agree with your spiritual poverty, and NEED Jesus as your savior?
  3. Are you trusting in God’s righteousness, and therefore thirst and hunger after His righteousness?
  4. Are you “Seeing” God and experiencing His fruit in your life?
  5. Are you still seeing the Beatitudes as something to emulate, or are you starting to see that these characteristics are only true of one who has bowed down to Christ as Lord of your heart?

 

For Further Reading

A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins

The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti

 

 

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The Fellowship of Joy; Philippians 3:1-11

“The terrible condition of man’s heart will never be recognized by people who assess it only in relation to other men. Romans 14:23 makes plain that depravity is our condition in relation to God primarily, and only secondarily in relation to man. Unless we start here we will never grasp the totality of our natural depravity…Religion is one of the chief ways that man conceals his unwillingness to forsake self-reliance and bank all his hopes on the unmerited mercy of God (Luke 18:9-14; Colossians 2:20-23).

John Piper

Intro

Paul takes us from one glorious thought back to another; Rejoicing! And at the heart of Paul’s joy is the gospel! Only in the gospel story are we truly set free from the plethora of self-saving mechanisms that end in frustration and pride.

Big Picture: “Rejoice in the Lord” because, “It is a safeguard for you.” Verse 1 is more than a transition; it’s a connection connecting what Paul has said, to what he is going to say. To “Rejoice” is a major theme of this letter.

So in a way, Paul is coming back to a theme he began in 1:18-19. Paul has been showing the Philippians that joy comes through being “in Christ,” it is practically played out by working through our bitterness and tension and humbly serving one another.

In our passage today Paul’s shows the Philippians how to rejoice in spite of further intrusions and roadblocks to their peace and joy. Let’s take a look at Three Pathways to Rejoicing

 

From the Head…

Rejoice In The Lord (Philippians 3:1)

Isn’t this the point? How can we rejoice by rejoicing? Because rejoicing is an action, not a result! Now that leads to 2 potential dangers; the First, is trying to produce Joy/Rejoicing by manipulating our emotions, and even using other means to find that joy and pass it off as spiritual. A Second, danger is people showing up as “posers.” Simply pretending to have joy with fake smiles, knowing all along there are being hypocritical. But a true joy is a realization of a truth; that we are “In Christ.” A true joy does not short our emotions, and create a false contentment based on denial. It’s an attitude that stems from knowledge of truth. The “Same Things Again” for Paul either means that he is talking about Rejoicing again, or the fact that he’s going to repeat himself three times in the next verse. Either way, Paul is explicit in his point, and it is going to be “Safe” or it’s going to be a safeguard for their spiritual/emotional condition.

Lose Your Religion (Philippians 3:2-6)

One of the greatest robbers of joy is religious people. They flash their self-righteous behavior before everyone in order to be seen and commended, and are often quite judgmental toward those around them. In these verses Paul uses a rather lyrical irony. First he uses an alliteration to make his point. “Dogs” (Kuon), “Evil” (Kakos) and “Mutilators” (Katatome) all start with the letter K in the Greek. The he uses “Watch Out” (Blepo) three times in an ironic sense. He calls them dogs, which is the term the Jews often used for the gentiles. He called them “Evil” (Bad Works), which is contrary to how they felt about their own works of the law, and lastly he refers to them as “Mutilators.”

Then he contrasts the behavior of the religious, with those that know Jesus, and worship Him in Spirit, and trust in Him and His work, rather than putting any “Confidence in the flesh.” Religion is in its core unbelief! It shapes its own rules and self-saving mechanisms. As theologian Karl Barth said, “Faith is never identical with piety.” Piety is a work; faith is a confident trust in something other than yourself, or your work.

Paul himself, gives ample testimony to his own accomplishment, but he counts them as a “loss” for the sake of “Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” It is important here to stop for a moment and take a look at what “Circumcision” meant, and what was its significance. Genesis 17 gives us a clear picture that circumcision was a sign of the covenant that God was going to bless Abraham’s offspring, and subsequently bless the nations too (See Genesis 12). The Jews (Or Judaizers) were nationalists. They made two errors; first they mistook the sign or the means, and secondly, they failed to realize the blessing wasn’t exclusive, but very inclusive. Religion, by nature is extremely exclusive. It has many barriers, and rules in order to belong, but true religion is based on grace and confidence in someone or something other than you. It is recognition that your way isn’t the right way, and that trusting in God because of your own inability to be god is the beginning of worship.

Come To Know Jesus (Philippians 7-11)

Coming to know Jesus begins with losing the things you thought were gain. Worship begins here, when we know Jesus, and know what He did for us, and place our confidence in His work, not in our own work and righteousness. Knowing Christ produces joy and as one author said, “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” Our joy and contentment is an indictment of the empty joy of religious piety. Coming to “Know” Jesus involves receiving the righteousness that comes from him (Not our own Self Righteousness). The righteousness we gain from religion is our own, but the righteousness we gain from God (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) comes from faith in His work and person. This righteousness not only causes God to see Christ when He looks at us, and exchange our guilt for Christ’s innocence, but it declares us truly innocent, and like the Father in the Prodigal Son, He runs to be with us! At the heart of our faith is a relationship with God the father through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit!

To know Christ however has more than a relational and/or emotional bent to it; To Know Christ means faithfully obeying Him. We do so because we trust Him, it’s a by-product of faith (See Romans 1:5). In spite of the fact that Christ’s suffering is often part of the deal here on earth. We can do so because of future grace and the fact that Christ was exalted to the right hand of God.

 

…to the Heart

At the heart of Paul’s message is the reality that any attempt to impose religious activity on His grace for salvation is a perversion of His “good News!” Biblical faith is a confident trust in the person and work of Christ, which leads to obedience and the work of righteousness (See Ephesians 2:8-10).

Therefore, we need to be aware and wary of religious systems that rob us of joy by making ethics the heart of the gospel.

A secondary point is clear that trying to find God and His joy in other means and religious paradigms are empty, as witnessed by Paul’s resume of righteousness. This passage destroys the notion that “Good Works” are what make you right with God. Good works are the heart of every religious and ethical system, and the reason why many people can rightfully argue that Christianity doesn’t make you any better than anyone else; because it doesn’t!! The fact is our own righteousness most often lead to self righteousness and frustration with God for not “Coming through.”

A last reality is that it is easy to shift our eyes away from Christ and His work, and on to the world’s system of salvation; variegated as it often is. The world finds salvation in religion, sex, fantasy, money, hard work, substance abuse, family, accomplishments, etc. All of which end as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.”

 

Further Questions to Ponder

  1. What does it mean to “Know” Christ?
  2. What does it mean to know His sufferings?
  3. Why do humans choose piety over grace?
  4. What does Paul mean that he wants to “Know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings?

 

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

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

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

Philippians: The Fellowship of Joy Philippians 1:12-20

Preached @ Anchor Church on August 25th, 2013

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it

Matthew 16:17-18

Intro

Yahoo News recently reported, “Religious people are less intelligent than Atheists.” What the criteria for the study, or even how they defined “Religious” was not made known in the article, but it isn’t surprising that those that are most likely less religious would find that they, and those like them are most intelligent. Over the course of history there has always been attacks in one form or another on those that are religious, some warranted, and some not so warranted. However, sometime it feels as though the media has it out for Christians in particular, even though that may not be the case. There are times that the church warrants a strong rebuke and even the comical jabs many media personalities take at it, but there is also a long history of abuse and persecution that still occurs in our world to this day. The fact is, there are times that it appears that the church is being squashed, and the gospel will be eradicated from the world’s mindset. However, many generations think that they have it worse than the previous, but that’s not the case. The early church, as well as many generations of the church were persecuted, and there were times that it seemed that God was absent, that’s how many in the 1st Century must have felt even though Jesus had clearly indicated that “The gates of Hell wouldn’t prevail” against the growth of the Church in the world. In our passage we see how imprisonment and even personal attack doesn’t stop Paul or the gospel from moving forward. Today I want to take a look at the Gospel from 3 different Angles:

 

From the Head…

Angle #1 The Gospel and Negative Circumstances (Philippians 1:12-14)

For some, it doesn’t take much to throw them off course. We struggle with pain and/or suffering, because ultimately, we believe we are deserving of a better life, and God isn’t good enough or powerful enough to make that happen. In our limited understanding, we see pain and suffering as the worse thing possible, and relief from our existential pain as the best thing. But what if there was something worse than suffering here on earth, and something much better than the relief of our temporal pain in this world? This is the angle by which Paul views his circumstances. In spite of a horrible circumstance in his life, he can rejoice because of two things that are more important to him:

  • The gospel has become known throughout the whole imperial guard” (v. 13)

Paul’s mission (Bringing the “Good News” to Macedonia) became more important than Paul’s circumstances. He saw things differently, and was able to rejoice because the persecution didn’t thwart the gospel, but it helped it to grow. The fact is, God is the only one who is able to take that which is evil and turn into a great circumstance (See Genesis 50:20). This was true of the cross of Christ. They thought they were destroying the plan of God, but they were actually carrying out the purposes of a sovereign God (See Acts 2:27-28; see too Acts 8:1-4)

  • “Most of the brothers…are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (v. 14)

Secondly, Paul shows joy because, not only was he able to have great success in prison, but others were gaining a boldness because of it, and they too were sharing Christ boldly with others.

Angle #2 The Gospel and Negative Relationships (Philippians 1:15-17)

The second angle in our text is from the arena of personal relationships, and the pain that is often caused through bad relationships. Paul’s imprisonment is enough to send anyone to question their faith, and the God they believe in, but personal relationships can cause a depth of pain that physical pain doesn’t touch. It’s important to realize that these people weren’t false teachers; they were ministers of the gospel, who had turned their ministries into a self-aggrandizing mission to glorify themselves while hurting Paul in the process. They preached out of “Envy and Rivalry” working for “Selfish Ambition.” Unfortunately many people are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons. Their aim was to hurt Paul with bitterness and slander, but Paul remains ok, because he’s not worried about defending himself as much as he is the gospel going out into the world. While their motives were horrible, their message was pure. This really shows us that we can be preaching orthodoxy (Right Teaching), but living a duplicitous life. St John of the cross explained this ugliness in the church, “As far as envy is concerned, many experience displeasure when they see others in possession of spiritual goods. They feel sensibly hurt because others surpass them on this road, and they resent it when others are praised!” This is the sad, but true reality of many in ministry. When we focus on ourselves, trying to prove something to someone, we end up worrying more about accolades than the glory of Jesus.

 Angle #3 The Gospel and Our Hope (Philippians 1:18-20)

Paul rejoices because Christ is proclaimed, and he himself is being sanctified. This is interesting in that he says, “This will turn out for my deliverance (Salvation). The Greek construct of this statement is exactly the same construct that we see in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) for Job 13:16. He quotes this in the context of Job saying, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Our Hope, and Paul’s hope is not in the things that we can get here on earth, our hope is in God’s redemptive plan. He is reminding the Philippians that “This” (His present circumstances) will bring forth his “deliverance” (Salvation, sotarian). He knows that all of our circumstances bring forth God’s redemptive purposes in our life, which brings forth life and joy, rather than death and depression.

This is why we, as believers in Jesus can deal with both the physical and psychological persecution that we face. This is why we can serve this earth, without pretense. We simply don’t need anything that God can’t give us. This is in stark contrast to those who are preaching out of envy and strife, and who are trying to find their reward amongst humanity instead of God. 

 …to the Heart

3 Quick Observations

  1. Maintaining Hope and Courage in Adversity Comes From the Object of that Hope
  2. Being Hopeful in Hopeless Times Does Not Mean You Are Unaware of the Pain
  3. The Ability to Glorify God In Our Bodies Comes From the Power of the Spirit

 Is God your all in all? Or are you looking for something else to comfort you, or to kill the pain?

Do you see yourself in a purposeful mission from God, or in an aimless, rudderless existence?

Is Christ proclaimed your great hope? Or has it become a mundane message you are struggling to believe?

Christ has gone to the cross to field our pain, take on our burden, so that we could be relieved of our existential angst, and the real guilt of our shame, so that we could be made whole, and worship God with overflowing joy in spite of the pain we feel on the inside.

 

Further Questions to Ponder

  1. Why is so hard for us to practice this truth?
  2. Why is the “Progress of the gospel” so important?
  3. What importance does the gospel have in my own life?
  4. What kind of pain do you think Paul felt in our verses?
  5. How was he able to cope with that pain?

 

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

 

Stoplight Faith

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith (Matt 13:58).

 

    You can learn a lot about people in traffic. For instance, I observe a lot when I see 20 cars in one line and only 3 cars in another. The reason for the longer line is these people want to make sure they get to make their turn after the light. I, on the other hand, want to get through the light first, then I will worry about making the next turn. This is a difference in risk taking tolerance, or perhaps faith; or even some might argue with me that I’m operating out of presumption versus real faith.

 

    No matter which person you might be in this situation, it is sure that faith is often spelled R.I.S.K. When the priests carried the ark into the Jordan River at flood stage there was a risk they could lose the ark to the Jordan River. However, that is not what happened. “And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap” (Josh 3:13). God changed the entire environment and made it possible to walk across without the pressure of wading through the powerful water only when they took the first step.

 

    Risk means there is a potential for loss. However, when God leads us to take a risk, then He is there whether we succeed or fail. He is there in the success and He is there in the failure. If He leads you to take a risk it may not always succeed in the way you think. In fact, it could even fail.

 

    The only true failure is when we fail to take the risk when God is leading us to do so. Sometimes the fear of failure is the greater obstacle than the risk itself.
  
    Has God called you to step out in an area that requires risk? This could be the place He wants you to move. Ask Jesus to give you the courage to step out.

Pain to Gain

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-5).

 

    God often allows pain to ignite destiny in our lives. Without motivation, many of us would never fulfill the purposes for which God created us. Oftentimes a measured assault invades our life and creates a depth of pain that all we know to do is press into God with all our being.

 

    At first, our motivation is to alleviate the pain. After a season of extreme emotional and sometimes physical pain, a second phase begins. This phase moves us to discover a new and deeper relationship with God. We begin to discover things about ourselves and about God that we never would have discovered without this motivation. Gradually, our heart changes our motivation from pain to loving obedience because there is a transition of the heart that takes place. No longer do we seek God for deliverance from the pain; we seek God because He is God. We seek His face and not His hand.

 

    When we move to the second phase we often find ourselves moving into a new destiny and calling for our lives because God often separates us from the old life in this process. No doubt Joseph and Peter felt the pain of their individual crises. However, later they could realize God’s purposes in their crisis. Like Joseph, we are able to say, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

 
    Today, let God move you from the place of pain to the place of destiny. Let God show you the secret things He has reserved for you as a result of the crisis you may find yourself in.