“Your Involvement Makes a Difference”
Philippians 1:1-11 SCC 11/28/10
Greeting one another is a common and appropriate response when we see one another. It is a universal cultural phenomenon. In the East it is done with a kiss on both cheeks. In the west it is done with a handshake and/or a hug. In groups it may be displayed with a high five or even a shout across the room. All of Paul’s’ letters begin with a greeting and here he includes Timothy’s greeting to these Philippian believers.
1. This letter came from both Paul and Timothy. They are closely associated together in ministry. Paul will eventually pass on responsibility to Timothy to care for the churches. Paul sends greetings from Caesars household in 1:13; 4:22 probably indicating his imprisonment in Rome when this letter was written. Timothy was with him as his disciple and close companion.
2. He identifies each as slaves of Jesus Christ. This is a voluntary permanent slave bound to Christ. So all that has happened to them and all they will convey in this letter are in the context of their slavery to Jesus Christ.
3. This is written to all the saints in Christ Jesus in the city of Philippi. He calls this group the church in 4:15 so we can conclude that the church in Philippi is ‘all the saints’ there in the city. Saint means separated ones holy in Christ.
4. The leadership of the church is included as well. Specifically they are ‘overseers’ and ‘deacons’. So there is a plurality of leadership but we are not told exactly what they do. Notice no mention of pastors or priests. What seems to be happening is Paul addressing the leadership of the believers in the city without intending to establish any formal categories.
The introduction continues in vs 2 with a formal greeting. Primarily this is Paul’s signature greeting and it tell us that he is the author of the letter. But he also intimates that what he is writing is inspired from God ‘from God and the Lord Jesus Christ’. Grace, unmerited favor and peace, inner confidence and assurance of salvation, indicates he is addressing believers who, not meriting salvation, are assured of salvation. And what about this salvation?
WE CAN BE CONFIDENT THAT GOD WILL FULLY CONFORM US TO THE IMAGE OF JESUS CHRIST
First, we can pray in light of our eventual conformity to Christ vss 3-5. We can presently thank God whenever we pray for one another’s ongoing spiritual maturity vs 3. One day every one of us will be fully transformed without a sin nature and completely new natured. We can thank the Lord for this on behalf of every believer. We can do that with ‘joy’ vs 4. Joy is part of Paul’s prayer of thankfulness for his memories of the Philippians. Twice he mentions he ‘prays’ for them and this prayer stresses the idea of request. So he is making requests on their behalf based in his ‘joy’ for them. That joy is based on two things: (1) Their fellowship in the gospel and (2) His confidence that God will perfect the work He himself began at their salvation.
One thing we can see is that prayer was a constant and ever present responsibility. But it was thankful prayer based in joy for the ones for whom he was praying. It was offered then in view of your participation in the gospel form the first day until now. So in some way these Philippians had been participating in the ministry of the gospel for quite a while. Do you know how they participated? They supported Paul financially in ministering the good news of Christ 4:10-16. And it was a consistent participation from the first day until now—that is in prison in Rome. They had put their money to work for the kingdom. So it seems that the joy believers experience here in this life is because of participation in the Gospel through our calling in life—that is our gifts, talents, desires, and life situation. A source of our joy on this earth as a Christian is our financial participation with those who are spreading the Gospel.
Do you have people you give money who are involved in the spreading of the gospel and the making of disciples—a by-product of Paul’s evangelism was the discipleship of Timothy! Joy in one sense is not attainable here except for fleeting moments—it is only pursuable but not attainable. But in another sense it is true with believers that joy is possible by participation in one way or another with the gospel. The Philippian saints and Paul were partners in the things of Christ.
Second, another source of joy on this earth as a Christian is realizing that Christ is perfecting in us what He has started with us at our salvation vs 6. Great confidence gripped Paul as he thot of and prayed for these believers. That confidence was the certainty of completion of the good work God had begun in them when they were saved. And God would work in them until the day of Christ Jesus. That day every believer will be conformed to Christ’s image. We will be fully new natured—unable and unwilling to sin. In some sense that work is already going on inside of us as we participate in the things of the kingdom. So the Christian life is lived looking ahead to that conformity which then motivates us to participate in the things that are consistent with that eternal future. Do now what you can to make an eternal impact with your life, your possessions, your position in life. Live with the long view.
LOVE IS AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF THE WORK GOD IS BRINGING TO COMPLETION IN US
First, Christian fellowship includes a love for believers across a network that might extend anywhere vs 7-8. The affection is deep—in my heart, I long for you, with affection of Jesus Christ. The fellowship was based in a lot more than just food! He is thanking these believers for their financial support. Their gift makes them fellowship together with me in grace. This ministry of the gospel has bonded these believers with Paul and Paul with them! (My dog and I have done a lot together and he is bonded to me. There is a strong connection—bond.) Here we also learn something about the nature of Paul’s ministry in the gospel. He describes it with two words (1) defense and (2) confirmation that produces confidence. Paul is saying that the Philippian believers shared with him in his courageous witness in the law court in Rome while imprisoned. In vs 8 he longs for them with same intensity Christ felt for his disciples. What is significant is the depth of this affection he has and he is not part of their congregation. The church is a network of people participating in the grace of God through the gospel and this is whay he can have the depth of intimacy and fellowship with them.
Second, love must be applied in the context of knowledge and discernment vs 9. His prayers are mentioned again though this word is a general word for prayer. The point is to tell the Philippians that their love should be applied in the context of real or true knowledge. Love also requires perception or discernment. This love is agape love or giving love. Love always includes giving. So the giving love of the believer must be in the context of real true knowledge and being perceptive with honest intelligent discernment. Our prayer should be for one another’s love to abound in greater degrees of this knowledge and perception. Full knowledge and all perception! This was the case with the Philippians gifts to Paul. So who do we give to and how do we know that gift is actually helping?
1. The closer you get to the person to whom you are giving the more efficient your giving will be. It was never a social redistribution of wealth.
2. It prioritized the needs of fellow believers. It was usually from believers to believers.
3. Its value was primarily in the attitude of the giver not the amount of the gift.
4. There was never consideration given for the impact the gift would have in the world. Erasing world hunger, disease, or poverty was never a purpose for giving in the Bible.
Third, the reason love must be in context of knowledge and perception is to approve excellent things, which in turn will earn rewards in heaven from God vs 10-11. In English it is something like our word ‘differentiate’. What Paul wants is for them to have discernment, to be able to differentiate between, or prove what is right and wrong about, all the ideas that are tossed around. But this is not an end in itself because this comprehension is so the Philippians might be sincere and blameless in the day of Christ—when they stand before Christ for judgment. This is the idea of being judged by sunlight or purity. Blameless carries the idea of not causing to stumble. So one reason for loving knowledge and discernment it to be a pure as sunlight and the reason for being pure as sunlight is to not have something we stumble over when we face Christ.
So the point of God working in us perfecting us in love is that: 1. It is the fruit of righteousness. 2. It comes through Jesus Christ lived out through us by the HS. 3. It is to the grace of God. It is part of the unmerited favor we receive from God.
1. God is always working in us so we benefit on the other side of the grave. We want God to work with us to benefit our lives on this side of the grave. God cannot accommodate that. It would not serve his best interests for us.
2. What is significant for us is the need to focus our attention on our eternal welfare! Too much of our concern is only on our earthly, physical, temporal well-being.
3. Use your wealth for the kingdom not yourself. Enjoy your life and the wealth God gives you but use some of it to benefit your life eternally.
4. God’s priority is to conform you to the likeness of Christ, which may or ay not have anything to do with delivering you from your circumstances.
5. God’s ultimate concern is to produce in you a deeper capacity to love with the love of Christ. To make you a much better lover than you have ever been before.