Part 1 Salutation (vs. 1-2)
Part 2 The Fellowship of the Gospel (vs. 3-11)
Part 3 The Furtherance of the Gospel (vs. 12-20)
Part 4 Standing Fast for the Faith of the Gospel (vs. 21-30)
Part 1 The Unity of the Spirit and the Mind of Christ (vs. 1-11)
Part 2 The Sovereignty of God and the Responsibility of Believers (vs. 12-18)
Part 3 Fellow Helpers in the Work of the Lord (vs. 19-30)
Part 1 Salvation by Grace through Faith and Not of Works (vs. 1-10)
Part 2 The Prize of the High Calling of God (vs. 11-21)
Part 1 Some Important Verbs for Christian Living (vs. 1-9)
Part 2 The Support and Care of Missionaries (vs. 10-23)
Authorship of the book:
Philippians was written by Paul from Rome during his first Roman imprisonment. Although Paul didn’t state that Philippians was written in Rome, several verses in this letter, the book of Acts, as well as other historic considerations, make Rome the most likely place of this writing (1:7,12-14; 2:19-31; 4:18, 21-22; Acts 28:16, 30, 31).
Recipients of the book:
Paul wrote this letter to “all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”, which constitute the Church at Philippi, which is evident in the book itself. This church was planted by Paul during his second missionary journey (Acts 16), about 10 years before he wrote the book of Philippians. Philippi was the first official missionary endeavor of the church in Macedonia, and hence the first mission point on record in Europe.
The Philippian Church was a great supporter of Paul. They helped him with financial support on several occasions including twice while in Thessalonica (4:16), once at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:9), and here while in prison at Rome (4:18). This was part of the reason why Paul wrote this letter, to express his thankfulness and appreciation for their love and care for him, and their faithful support of his ministry over the past ten years.
Occasion for the writing:
There seems to be several reasons why Paul wrote this book. He wrote to thank the church for their love and support; to update them on his circumstances and conditions; to encourage them in their continued help and support of the Gospel; to comfort and console them because of their sorrows for both Paul and Epaphroditus; and to exhort them to get along with one-another and to be at peace, of one mind, one accord, and one purpose in their labors for Christ.
Themes of the book:
There are several themes laced throughout this short book. Some of these include the Gospel of Jesus; the grace of God; Christian joy; Christian love; Christian service; and sanctification.
Part 1; Salutation (vs. 1-2)
In this lesson we only want to consider the salutation.
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Again we see that Paul is the author of this letter. Paul and Timothy were the servants of the Lord. This means that they were bond-slaves of Christ. To what degree do we think of ourselves as servants or bond-slaves to Christ? I’m afraid that most professed believers today have little or no concept of Christian servitude. Our society today is so geared toward self-seeking, self-serving, and self-gratifying, and it would seem that Christianity as a whole has followed suit. May God help all Baptists, who claim to be saved by God’s sovereign, amazing grace, to understand and own our rightful place as bond-slaves to Jesus Christ our Lord.
The letter was written to the Church of Philippi, including all the saints, bishops, and deacons. As we’ve said in other studies, God’s Word was written primarily to His people, and not so much to the unregenerate world. The Bible does, of course, contain an evangelistic component, which speaks to the lost of their need for repentance and faith in Christ for salvation. I for one believe that a lost person can read the Gospel in the Bible and be saved. Some Baptists disagree with me on this point, but I believe that God is able to save through His written Word. If this were not so, then all evangelistic tracts, sermons, articles in Christian papers, and all the Bibles distributed by the Gideons and others, are of no value to lost sinners. Personally I believe God can and does save sinners through these means.
Additionally, the Bible was not given to a church “hierarchy” as the Catholics teach, which cannot be understood by the “laity”. Rather, the Bible was intended for all believers, especially members of the Lord’s Churches. Several of the epistles were written to churches concerning church order, discipline, doctrines, faith, and practice. Therefore, much of these writings, including the book of Philippians, can best be understood in the context of the local church. All of God’s saints, however, are endued with the Holy Spirit, who enables them to read and understand the Bible.
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul repeated this statement in every salutation in all of his books, except for the three pastorial epistles in which he added mercy. Again, pastors certainly need an extra portion of God’s mercy for the work of the ministry! Why did Paul wish grace and peace upon the Lord’s people? I want to spend the remainder of this lesson to try and better understand the importance of these two words in our personal lives, and in the life of our churches.
The simplest Bible definition of grace is unmerited favor. A preacher I know defined grace as the “bending down of a superior being to help an inferior being”. This is certainly true of God the Almighty Superior Being, who bends down to help man the weak and sinful inferior being. Oh, if we could only grasp in some small degree how far superior God is and just how inferior we are, we would much better appreciate the meaning of God’s sovereign grace.
For Paul to say “grace be unto you”, was to say “may God poor out His special, unmerited favor upon each of you individually and the church as a whole.” “May the Almighty God of Heaven bend down and help each of His weak and lowly creatures who have trusted in Christ for salvation.”
There are several aspects of God’s grace that we experience as believers. Some of these Include:
Saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9); standing grace (Romans 5:2); the gifts of grace (1 Corinthians 1:4-7); building grace (1 Corinthians 3:10); enabling grace (1 Corinthians 15:10); giving grace (2 Corinthians 8:7); sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9); speaking grace (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6); the melody of grace (Colossians 3:16); strengthening grace (2 Timothy 2:1); growing grace (2 Peter 3:18); helping grace (Hebrews 4:16); serving grace (Hebrews 12:28); special serving grace (Ephesians 3:7-8); and more grace (James 4:5).
So it is easy to see why we need God’s continual supply of grace in our lives. Everything we are, we are by His grace. Everything we do, we do by His grace. Without His grace we are nothing. Therefore, we say with Paul “grace be unto you”!
We want to conclude our study by considering the word peace for a few minutes. Paul wished grace and peace unto believers. Why is peace so important?
First, believers need that inner peace of calm assurance, and tranquility of the soul. We need that peace and rest that Jesus gives to the heart, mind, and soul. Not as the world gives, but the peace Jesus alone can give. As believers we have peace with God through faith in the cross of Jesus. But we also need the peace of God.
This is the peace in knowing that Jesus loves you and cares for you, that He will never leave nor forsake you. This is the peace in knowing that God is on His throne, and that everything is alright because God is in control, and He is working all things out for His glory and our good. This is the peace that passeth all understanding. This is the peace in knowing that, even when the world is crumbling down around you, it is still well with your soul!
Then there is peace within the Lord’s Church, and peace between brothers and sisters in Christ. How we desire to have continued and lasting peace in our churches! May God preserve us from wars and fightings from within. May the Lord give us peace and unity in our churches, like they have never known before.
Finally, there is peace from the enemies in the world. There are many enemies of our souls, and enemies of our churches in the world. The Lord is able to give us peace and protection from our enemies on the outside.
All three kinds of peace that we’ve mentioned come “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no peace, unless the Prince of Peace brings peace. Therefore, we must look to Him for peace, if we are to have peace.
How about you? Do you know the grace of God in salvation? Do you have peace with God that only Jesus can give through His work on Calvary? The Bible says that “there is no peace, saith my God, unto the wicked.” The Bible says that “the way of peace they have not known.”
Come to the cross of Jesus, and there (and only there) you will find peace for your soul. Believe with all your heart that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again the third day to save you from your sins, and He will save you right now! Yes, Jesus made peace between God and His people by the blood of His cross!
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Part 2; The Fellowship of the Gospel (vs. 3-11)
The Gospel is what Christian fellowship is all about.
Christian fellowship starts with the Gospel and ends with the Gospel. It continues and grows in the graces afforded by the Gospel. It worships around the truth and the message of the Gospel. It works and serves in the ministry of the Gospel. It suffers persecution as a result of preaching the Gospel. It rejoices in all the blessings and benefits guaranteed by the Gospel. It hopes in the future glory and bliss of Heaven because of the Gospel.
We might say that fellowship in the Gospel is the life blood of the church. Perhaps this is why churches become cold and indifferent at times, because they leave their first love of the Gospel of Jesus.
Beloved, when the Gospel of Jesus is central in our services, and in all our ministries that we undertake, then we have the blessings of the Holy Spirit upon us, and His life giving power flows through us like a fountain of living water. Then our churches will be like well watered gardens, with plenteous fruits of the Spirit, and the manifold blessings of God.
So then, we see that the fellowship of the Gospel is crucial to the prosperity and the future of our churches. In this lesson we want to consider a few thoughts that pertain to the fellowship of the Gospel, that are found in Philippians 1:3-11.
1. First, we see the importance of prayer to the fellowship of the Gospel.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
Prayer is perhaps the most important of all the Gospel graces. I say this because we are wholly dependant on the Lord for His blessings upon our churches. Consider the following reasons why God’s people need to pray:
1. We can do nothing without the Lord, and all our labors are in vain without Him. Therefore we need the Lord’s help and blessings to accomplish anything in His service.
2. The Holy Spirit performs all spiritual work that is done. Therefore, if any spiritual work is to be accomplished, the Holy Spirit must do it. If we pray in the Spirit, then we can hope to see the works of the Spirit in our midst.
3. Prayer is our direct link to Heaven and the Father. This is an honor and privilege that only true believers have. And if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. That is, He will give us those things that we ask. What a great promise!
4. Prayer is an important part of the will of God for His people. God works with our works to accomplish His eternal will and purpose; and prayer is one of our works that God has ordained. The sovereignty of God anticipates the cooperation of His people in fulfilling His sovereign will.
5. The fellowship of the Gospel needs much prayer to be what it should be, in order to accomplish the will and purpose of God.
6. The saints of God need much prayer to be what we need to be, and lost sinners need prayer for the salvation of their souls.
7. The effectual, fervent prayer of God’s people availeth much. Prayer gets things accomplished for the kingdom of God. Yes, God takes pleasure in hearing and answering the prayers of His children.
But effectual and successful prayer must be rooted and grounded in the Gospel. We pray in Jesus Name, for His sake, and His glory. All these reasons why we pray, are grounded in the work of Jesus on the cross. So then, let the motive of our prayers, and the substance of our prayers be to promote the cause of Christ and the Gospel in the world. I believe this kind of praying is according to His will, and therefore will receive favorable answers from Heaven!
2. Secondly, we want to see the work in the fellowship of the Gospel.
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 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:
The fellowship of the Gospel involves a work. This work is centered around the work of God’s grace in the salvation of sinners through faith in the Gospel. This is a big work. It requires all the members of the Lord’s Churches to use all their God given talents and gifts to further the work. It requires everyone’s participation. It requires everyone to do what they can do with what God has given them to do with.
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
The work of the Gospel requires continual effort. It shouldn’t be done haphazardly. It shouldn’t be hit and miss, or sporadic, but the work of the Gospel needs to be constant and consistent, if the world is going to take it seriously.
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:
The consistency of the Philippians to support the Gospel work caused Paul to have great confidence that God had truly begun a good work in them, and that He would continue His work in them until the day of Christ. One great evidence that God has begun a good work in us, beloved, is our consistent and continual labor in the Gospel; both as individuals, and as a church.
This verse teaches that the sovereign grace of God started the good work in us. In salvation and in service, it is always God who initiates it. God and His sovereign will is the first cause of salvation and not man and his depraved freewill. Salvation is all of God’s grace from start to finish. The Holy Spirit starts the good work in us in regeneration and faith in the Gospel, and completes that good work in us by the power of the Spirit until Christ comes again, or we depart this world in death.
Again the evidence that God has begun a good work in us is our love for the Gospel and our efforts to promote the work of the Gospel in the world.
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 defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
The Gospel work needs to be consistent in good times and in bad times. Sometimes God’s servants have great liberty in defending and confirming the Gospel, while at other times we might be shut up in a cold, dark prison for preaching the Gospel. But in any case, whether in triumphant times, or in bleak times, we need to remain faithful to the Gospel work.
The Gospel work requires cooperation. The Philippians were partakers of Paul’s grace at all times. In other words, they were partners with Paul in the work. They shared and cooperated in the work, which the Lord mightily used to further the Gospel. We need cooperation in our churches, if we want the Lord to use us to further the Gospel. We need cooperation in the Gospel work in all times; both good and bad.
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 defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
The ministry of the Gospel works by love. In so many words, Paul told the Philippians that he loved them. And by so many works and labors of love, the Philippian saints showed that they loved Paul. Love for the Lord and His Work, and for His servants in the Gospel, will accomplish far more than a mere since of duty or fear will ever hope to accomplish.
Love is the greatest motivator that there is. Men will do many courageous things out of a sense of duty for their country; and they will do many daring things out of fear; but there is almost nothing that men won’t do for love; even in the natural realm. How much more ought God’s children to serve Jesus out of love, for saving their wretched souls from the pit of hell!
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
The work of the Gospel also requires knowledge and discernment. We notice in this verse that Paul prayed that their love would abound in knowledge and judgment (which means discernment). The typical professed Christian today thinks that love is blind and ignorant. But the true love of God feasts on spiritual knowledge and the truth of God’s Word. Remember what John said in His epistles. He stated over and over the importance of both love and truth, and that we should “love in truth.”
God’s love isn’t blind, ignorant, or foolish. God’s love causes believers to want to know and to understand the truth of His Word. To know all about God’s Person and His attributes; about His revealed will that is found in His Word; about His wonderful works in the world; about His eternal purpose in Christ; about the second coming of Christ and the end of the world; about the millennial kingdom and the eternal age; and so on and on.
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
The work of the Gospel requires us to have good discernment. That is, to know good from bad, and right from wrong. To know what is acceptable with God and what isn’t acceptable. To know what is morally good and right, from that which is ungodly and sinful. To discern what is spiritually good and true, from that which is a lie of the devil. To be able to discern between things that appear to be alike, yet are grossly different, such as the different “gospels” that are preached in the world today. They all may sound similar. It is difficult to tell them apart at the first hearing. But good discernment will discern which Gospel is of God, from all those false gospels of the devil and his preachers.
The work of the Gospel requires that we be sincere. The Greek word rendered “sincere” in this verse, is only used one other place in the Bible. In 2 Peter 3:1 it is translated “pure”. The word literally means “to examine in the light” or “pure honey without wax.”
The idea here is that God’s people must be pure in order to be fit for the work of the Lord. Primarily this passage is speaking about moral purity, both inwardly in the heart, and outwardly in the life. We can’t serve in the fellowship of the Gospel if our lives are tainted with the impurities of sin.
May God help us to examine our hearts and lives under the light of His Holy Word, and then screen out all the impurities of filthy sin that we might be as pure honey, without wax and stingers, and morally fit to serve in the fellowship of the Gospel.
This also would apply to doctrinal and spiritual impurities that we might have. We need to hold our beliefs and our spiritual lives up to the light of God’s Word, and get rid of those false beliefs and practices that would hinder us from working in the Gospel ministry.
The work of the Gospel requires that we be without offense. That is, we need to strive to keep from stumbling and falling into temptation and sin. In this way we keep from bringing a reproach upon the Gospel of Jesus. Also, we are not to be a cause of stumbling to others; whether it be the saints of God, or the lost sinners in the world.
Beloved, it is so important that we try with all that is within us, to live above reproach. I know we will fail at times, but that doesn’t excuse us from trying as hard as we can to live above reproach. The preacher must live above reproach, but every church member should also strive just as hard to live above the reproach of sin. This is so important to the fellowship of the Gospel!
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Finally, the work of the Gospel requires being filled with the fruits of righteousness. This is talking about the fruit of the Spirit, and/or the good works of the saints. How important it is that our lives be filled with good works that God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). We are to maintain good works, and to show ourselves a pattern of good works. We are to walk, or that is, to live in good works. In the previous verse we saw what we are not to do as believers. In this verse we see the importance of doing good works as believers. Our works are so important to the work and the fellowship of the Gospel. Without them not only is our faith dead, but also our churches will soon be dead, because our works are an important part of the work of the Gospel in our community.
What is our place in the fellowship of the Gospel?
Are we praying for the work?
Are we faithfully and consistently working for the Lord?
Are we doing our part, and using our talents in the work of the Lord?
Are we working in cooperation with the local church as a whole?
Are we living lives that honor Christ and the Gospel?
Last time we studied about the fellowship of the Gospel from verses 3-11.
The fellowship of the Gospel involves worshipping and serving in the Gospel in the context of the local church. We saw several things about that last time. We saw that this must be done with much prayer, and unity, and in truth, and in the spirit of love.
Beloved, if we don’t have these essential ingredients in our fellowship of the Gospel, God will not bless our evangelistic works as a church. If we don’t have the spirit of unity, love, gentleness, brotherly kindness, meekness, and humility, don’t expect God to bless our fellowship in the Gospel.
But another very important aspect of the Gospel ministry that we find in our text, is the furtherance of the Gospel.
This is the “GO ye therefore” part of the Great Commission. This is the outreach of our churches, to the lost and dying world around us. This is the means that God has ordained for the salvation of souls, and for the growth of His Church.
This is the part of the Gospel mission where lost sinners actually hear the Gospel through the ministers, and the ministries of the Lord’s Churches.
When all is said and done, how much Gospel seed is actually being planted by our churches in our Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria? How many people are actually hearing the Gospel from us? How far is our Gospel going into the homes and hearts of our community? Perhaps it needs to go further. Perhaps it needs to go much further!
Beloved, the great need that we have for the growth of our churches, and lost sinners have for the salvation of their souls, is the furtherance of the Gospel.
What part do you and I play in this very important aspect of the Gospel ministry? How often do we tell other souls about Jesus? How often do we give them a Gospel tract or a church paper, in which we always explain the Gospel?
How about “as we go”? Do we tell others at work or at school about Jesus? Do we stop and tell some soul on the sidewalk or a park bench about Jesus? What about our neighbors? How about in the supermarket, or the beauty shop, or the flea market? Do we always carry tracts and papers with us in our vehicles? Don’t think that I am just picking on you-all. I am picking on myself even more so. As your pastor, I need to do the work of an evangelist!
But I hope and pray that all of us will feel this need to be a witness for Jesus. Beloved, there are a lot of lost, lonely, and hurting people out there. I believe that we can help them, and be a blessing to them, and hopefully the Lord will use us to make a difference in their lives, and to be the messenger of the Gospel of their salvation.
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
In his efforts to consol and comfort the Philippian saints in their works to further the Gospel, Paul directs their attention to the sovereign providence of God. In all of our works and efforts to spread the Gospel, sometimes it seems that nothing is going right. It seems that nothing is happening. It seems that God is not blessing our works. In addition, we may even be suffering persecution, and hardships, and setbacks as a result of our works, as in the case of Paul in our text, who was in prison for preaching the Gospel.
But many times it is those works that we think are having no effect, that God in His providence uses to accomplish His purposes. Beloved, God turns what appears to be evil into good. God makes the barren womb to be fruitful. God makes the dry bones to live. God turns the desert into a garden. God uses the unprofitable works of His unprofitable servants to build a mighty house for His Name and His glory.
And just because it appears to us that God is not blessing our works in the furtherance of the Gospel, doesn’t mean that He isn’t. God doesn’t always tell us what he is doing with our works. We don’t walk by sight, but by faith. I believe that God is using our works far more than we know. His Word will not return void, but it will accomplish that whereunto He sent it. That is a promise of God that we can stand on as His Church!
So, may we not fail in our works to further the Gospel, just because we don’t see the increase right now, or even if we never see the increase in this life. We need to just keep on planting that Gospel seed. God will give the increase in His own time.
The Lord didn’t say to sow the seed only if we see results. We are to sow the seed regardless of the results. At very least, beloved, our Gospel is a testimony against this wicked world for their rejection of the Son of God! It is a savor of life unto life to those who believe, but it is a savor of death unto death to those who believe not. In either case, God gets all the glory.
So we see in verse 12 that the Lord in His providence is working all things out for the furtherance of the Gospel.
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
Paul begins to explain how all things are working out to further the Gospel. His very prison chains have become a testimony of the Gospel throughout the palace, and in all other places. Paul apparently has been given liberty to preach while in the prison. Beloved, what wicked sinners intend for evil, God in his providence works out for good!
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
In this verse we see that many other Brethren were getting new boldness to preach the Gospel because of Paul’s prison chains. If one persecuted saint can cause many, many more saints to become bold, and courageous to preach the Gospel, then Paul in prison might be more useful than if he was free. As a result God received more glory, and the Gospel was greatly furthered by Paul’s afflictions.
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Do you think that Paul believed in the “priesthood of the church” doctrine? Do you think that Paul believed that lost sinners had to hear a true Baptist preacher to be saved? Do you suppose that all of those who preached Christ out of envy, and strife, and contention, and selfish ambitions, were true Baptist preachers? I don’t think so.
But Paul said that regardless of who was preaching, or for what motive they were preaching, he still rejoiced because Christ was preached! As we have said many times before, the power of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the preacher. God has not so limited Himself to be used only of true Baptist preachers in the salvation of His elect.
Should we be jealous or offended because the Lord uses others to accomplish His work of salvation? No, we should rejoice that the Gospel is being preached, and that souls are being saved! So long as it is the only true Gospel of the grace of God being preached, we should rejoice!
So then, as a result of our works; whether it be a church paper, a radio broadcast, a website, our personal witness; many, many other saints might be encouraged and bold to witness for Christ. We might be an inspiration to others outside of the Baptist ranks to preach the Gospel. Well beloved, if the Gospel is preached, praise the LORD!
I had a Nazarene Church ask me in Florida if they could use an article from our church paper on the second coming of Christ. We told them “yes!”, so long as they acknowledged where it came from. We were happy to have our message used in this way to further the Gospel through them.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Paul knew that through their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit he would be delivered from prison. I only want to say here that, as we studied last time, prayer is so important to the work of the Lord. In this case, prayer for Paul and the furtherance of the Gospel would be partly responsible for Paul’s release from prison.
What would have happened if no one would have prayed for Paul? I don’t know! Perhaps he would have died in prison at that time. Those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God, and absolute predestination, may we never forget that God uses human means to accomplish His sovereign, eternal purposes. Never let anyone tell you differently. To use God’s sovereignty to excuse ourselves of our responsibility is a cop-out! That is all there is to it.
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.
Beloved, we will not be ashamed because of our works to further the Gospel, even if like Paul, we might have to die in prison. God will not cause us to be ashamed because of our sufferings. He will not leave us or forsake us. He will not fail us. He will not let us down. The Lord will not disappoint our hopes that we have of Him, whether in this life, or especially in the life to come; even if we do have to die in prison.
On the other hand, by the power of the Spirit, and the prayers of the saints, Paul wouldn’t do anything in his afflictions to bring a reproach upon the Lord, or shame upon himself. But he had confidence that the Lord would give him the boldness to magnify Christ in his body, whether by life, or even by death.
In conclusion, God is using and will continue to use our works to further the Gospel. I believe that we can have confidence in our works as a church to further the Gospel.
May our works to further the gospel increase. May each of us do what we can to further the Gospel in our community. We might do this by giving more monetarily to the work of the church. We might make it a point to personally witness to souls in our community each week, or pass out tracts church papers, or invite souls to church, or visit the lost in our neighborhoods and families.
There are many ways that we can be a part of the furtherance of the Gospel. God has given each of us a sound mind, and an imagination. May we look for the opportunities that the Lord puts before us, and may we take advantage of those opportunities that He gives us. We need to pray that the Lord will send us more opportunities to witness for Him.
Finally, are you a believer? If not, repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus, that He died on the cross for you personally, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day for your sins.
Part 4; Standing Fast for the Faith of the Gospel (vs. 21-30)
In this lesson we want to notice two thoughts from our text. These include; 1) Living to serve, but preferring to die, and; 2) Standing fast for the faith of the Gospel.
1. First we want to see “living to serve, but preferring to die (vs. 21-26).
Beloved, Paul was willing to come out of that Roman jail and to continue on serving the Lord as before, but it is obvious that his preference was to die, and to go and be with the Lord. What a wonderful and blessed passage of Scripture this is!
Paul was not a sadist. He didn’t enjoy the thought of dying and all the suffering he would have to endure in the process, anymore than any of us would. But his faith in his Lord was so strong, that he had no doubts that for him to die was to go to be with Jesus for eternity. May the Lord give us this same faith, and spirit, and mind that Paul had toward the life to come.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
For Paul, living in this life meant opportunity to serve the Lord; nothing more, and nothing less. How many of us see the Lord’s service as our purpose for living? “For me to live is Christ.” Or is our main purpose in this life one of self-serving? These are good questions to ask ourselves.
For Paul, to die was a profitable move. We so often times think of death as a loss. Well it is to those left behind, but to the child of God, death is gain! How many of us anticipate death as a positive thing, and as an opportunity for personal gain?
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Paul is saying here that “if I live, it will mean more fruit for my labors.” In other words, if he lives he will be used of the Lord in the salvation of souls, and in the building up of the saints and the Lord’s Churches. But he’s not sure if that’s what he prefers to do. He is certainly willing to do whatever the Lord wants him to do, but in his heart he is definitely leaning toward going home to be with Jesus.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Again, Paul is hard pressed in his heart, whether he should stay around and be a blessing to the children of God, or to go home to be with Jesus, which is “far better”! May the Lord grant us a greater desire for Heaven, and to be with Jesus, and help us to get our hearts off this old world and all its pleasures that rob us of our fellowship with Jesus, and of our joy in the Holy Spirit.
Beloved, whether we realize it or not; Heaven is “far better” in every way! The blessings of Heaven are far better than the blessings we experience in this life. The “good times” in Heaven, will be far better than the “good times” we have down here. Heaven is a far better place than this sin cursed earth. It is beautiful, glorious, and full of light. Heaven is a far better place because it is Holy and no sin shall ever enter its gates. And best of all, beloved, Heaven is a far better place because Jesus and the Father are there!
In Heaven there are no more sorrows, nor tears, nor pain, nor dying, and no more trials and persecutions. There will be no Roman prisons, and no instruments of torture to hurt the children of God. Yes beloved, Heaven is far better in every way!
But if it is the Lord’s will for us to stay around, may we see our need to use our lives to serve Jesus, by serving others and being a help and blessing to the Lord’s Church.
Paul said to abide in the flesh is more needful for the saints of God. May we see that we are needed by other believers; to encourage and build up, to sympathize and comfort, to teach and counsel, or to just be a friend! The fellowship of believers is needful.
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
The needs of other believers were more important than Paul’s selfish desire to go home to be with Jesus, therefore Paul knew that it was the Lord’s will for him to stay around a little while longer. Often the Lord shows us His will for us by showing us where we are most needed and can best serve His cause. That seems to be how Paul knew the Lord’s will in this matter.
2. Secondly, we want to see “Standing fast for the faith of the Gospel (vs. 27-30).
We want to consider several thoughts about standing fast for the faith of the Gospel from these verses.
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;
1) Standing with conduct that becometh the Gospel.
Paul is speaking about behavior and conduct that make the Gospel look good to others, especially to lost sinners on the outside. Our behavior should make the Gospel shine bright for the world to see. It should cause others to want what we have.
Our conduct should also speak well of the Gospel. Our lives should be a testimony that the Gospel has power to change lives, and to make us different than we were before we were saved. The possibilities are limitless as to what this conduct might include, but we will just notice one aspect of Christian conduct, which best fits the context. The context of chapters 1 and 2 is speaking about Christians getting along with each other, especially within the church.
There are going to be differences between brothers and sisters in Christ, but these differences are no excuse for fighting and quarreling, and jealousy, envy, and strife. These carnal behaviors are not becoming of the Gospel! They cause divisions and splits in the church. They cause the lost world to mock at Christ and the Gospel, and to call us hypocrites. These behaviors are a stumbling block to the lost, and will cause them not to hear our message about Jesus. Church unity is so important to the furtherance of the Gospel in our local community.
This principle also extends to our conduct in our homes, and to our conduct in the world (Romans 12:16-21). It is not becoming of the Gospel to fight and quarrel in our homes. Husbands and wives need to be careful not to let their anger and emotions run away with them, which leads to big arguments and fights, and harsh words and bitter feelings. Fights between husband and wife are hard on marital relationships, and they are hard on our children. They are also a bad testimony to other people who witness our fighting.
There will be differences between church members in the church, and between family members in the home. There will be disagreements in the church over the use of funds, over the various administrations and church operations, over “the color of the carpet” type issues, and even over spiritual matters such as what Bible doctrines should be taught in the church. Their will be problems in the home. Their will be stressful circumstances over money, problems that arise with the children, and a million other possible things! There are going to be offenses between church members and between family members. But there is a godly and an ungodly way to handle all these things.
Believers are under obligation to the love of God and love for our neighbor to handle these issues in a godly way. The Spirit of God and the love of God within our hearts teach us the best way to handle these matters. We usually know what is right and wrong in handling differences and offences, but all too often we mind the carnal thoughts and ways of the old flesh rather than the Spirit, which usually leads to a major blow-up in the church or the home. Beloved, for the sake of the Gospel and the testimony of Jesus, these things ought not to be!
2) “Standing fast in unity”.
We need to stand fast in unity of spirit. That is, we need to have a sweet spirit about us. We need to demonstrate brotherly love, kindness, gentleness, meekness, humility, longsuffering, and all the fruit of the Spirit in our relationships, especially with other believers. In this way we will handle all of our differences in the most godly way possible.
We need to stand fast in unity of mind. We should believe the same things. We should have the same purpose and the same goals for our fellowship and furtherance of the Gospel.
This requires everyone to take their God given place in the church, and be submissive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more chaotic than people who are constantly envious of someone else’s job, instead of doing the job they were called to do. This is chaotic in the work place, and it is chaotic in the Lord’s Church.
3) Striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
This implies standing up for the faith of the Gospel. Members of the Lord’s Churches should commit our lives to the defense of the Gospel, and to all the many Bible truths that constitute “the faith” of the Gospel. Striving together speaks of a unified effort on the part of the church to stand up for and defend the faith of the Gospel. This is not only the pastor’s job, or just a few members of the church, but it is the responsibility of the whole church as a body of Christ. Of course, in order to stand up for and defend the faith of the Gospel requires that we be grounded in the knowledge of the truth, and understanding of the Word of God.
4) Standing without fear of our adversaries.
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.
We are not to take the path of least resistance, but perhaps the path of greatest resistance. We are not to go with the flow of false religion or the way of the world, but we must swim up-stream against the prevailing currents.
To the false religions and to the world, this is a proof that we are a bunch of religious fanatics. To us, however, it is evidence of our salvation of the Lord. Standing for the truth against adversity also gives us assurance of our salvation.
5) Persecuted for the faith.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Suffering persecution for the Gospel is given to us, just as saving faith is given to us. Beloved, it’s a package deal! I believe that we are all called to suffer for His sake, and for the truth’s sake, and the Gospel’s sake.
Its not that we enjoy suffering, but if we are going to serve the Lord and stand fast for the faith, we will suffer. People don’t want what we have. They don’t like what we preach. They don’t like what we believe. They don’t love the Jesus that we love. When we stand up for Jesus and His Word, people of the world will rise up against us, we can be certain of that! Jesus said “they hated me, they will also hate you.”
Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
The nature of their sufferings were the same as the apostle Paul’s. Beloved, the more we engage in the battle for truth, the more we will suffer for His’ sake. How much suffering we are experiencing shows how much we are standing for the faith. Are we suffering for Jesus’ sake?
What is our attitude toward life? Is for you and I to live, to live for Jesus?
What is our attitude toward death? Would we prefer to go home and be with Jesus? Do we consider death as gain for us?
Are we standing fast for the faith? Is our conduct such as becometh the Gospel? Are we standing fast in unity of spirit, and in one mind as a church? Are we striving for the faith of the Gospel? Are we suffering for Jesus’ sake and the Gospel’s?
May the Lord Jesus help us by His Holy Spirit to own the attitude, and the disposition of heart and mind of the apostle Paul!
Part 1; The Unity of the Spirit and The Mind of Christ (vs. 1-11)
We cannot say too much about this passage of Scripture. I can think of no other doctrine that is any more important to the life and health of a church, than what is taught in these verses.
As we studied last week, this passage is also talking about the unity of the Lord’s people in His Churches. I can think of no greater need within our churches today, than the unity of the Spirit. Our failure in this matter of unity is eating away at our churches like a cancer, and is slowly consuming and devouring the Lord’s Churches from within.
Beloved, I want our churches to be churches that are known for their unity. I want our churches to be of one mind, and of one heart, and of one purpose, and one goal, and that is, to honor and glorify Jesus Christ, and to do the work that He has called us to do. We can not and will not do these things if we don’t have the unity of the Holy Spirit in our churches.
Let me ask all of us this question. Are we contributing to the unity of the Lord’s Church by our words, by our actions, and by our attitudes? Or, are we contributing to the disunity of the church? Beloved, we can be sure that we are doing one or the other.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
We want to notice four things from this verse.
1. Consolation: This means to consol and comfort. This consolation that Paul is referring to comes from Christ, and it is only found in Christ. There is the consolation that Christ comforts His people with, and in turn we comfort one another. This is another good evidence the we are true believers and not mere professors of salvation.
2. Comfort of love: The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is the only means by which we will have the consolation and comfort of the Lord. Do we have the love of God in our hearts? If we really do, then we will show it in the way we treat other believers.
3. Fellowship of the Spirit: All true fellowship among believers is in the Holy Spirit. If our fellowship is not in the Spirit, then it is carnal and worldly. If our fellowship is not in the Spirit, then it will not be consoling and comforting to other believers.
4. Bowels of mercies: This means tender emotions and compassions for the saints of God. How do we feel toward the other members of our church family. Do we think good thoughts about them. Do we pray for them every day? Do we express kindly words and actions to them? Beloved, bowels of mercies is a part of the unity of the Spirit.
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Paul said that if you have these things in you, then I want you to make my joy full by doing several things to keep the unity of the spirit in your church. We will now see some of the things that Paul gave for us to do, if we want the unity of the Spirit in our churches.
1. “…be likeminded”. Be of the same mind. Be in total agreement and complete harmony in all things pertaining to the things of God. Have mutual love and affections for each other.
2. “…having the same love…”. “Love one another with a pure heart fervently” as Peter said in 1 Peter 1:22. We should love one another the same. I should love you, and you should love me the same. And our mutual love for one another should be the same kind of love wherewith Jesus loved us, and gave Himself for us; that is divine, sacrificial love.
3. “being of one accord…”. That is, with no strife, contentions, or divisions. You know what “a chord” is. A chord is made up of different notes that when played together make one harmonious sound.
That is what all the members of a church should be doing. We should all be playing together in one chord, as it were, to make one joyful sound unto the Lord, and to the lost in our community.
We all know what sour notes sound like in a chord. They sound awful! That is what a church sounds like when we are not in tune with the rest of the body.
4. “…of one mind…”. Again, we need to be of one mind, not only in our love and affections for one another, but also in the doctrines of God’s Word, and in agreement about the practical application of these doctrines in the order and practice of the church.
That is why we have a church covenant and articles of faith. More importantly, that is why we teach and preach the Word of God to the members of the church, so that we will all come into the unity of the faith, and in practice of God’s Word as a church.
Beloved, these things are so important to the fellowship, furtherance, and faith of the Gospel that we studied in chapter 1.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
5. “Let nothing be done through strife or in vainglory…”. If we have in mind thinking, or doing, or saying something that would be done in a spirit of strife, or would cause strife and division in the church, then don’t do it. Put it far from you. It is not acceptable to God.
Or, if we have in mind doing or saying anything to win the praise of others, or to attract attention to ourselves, then put those things away from us, as these things are not of the Lord.
6. “But let each esteem others better than themselves.” This means that we are to think of other church members as being superior to us, and therefore more important than we are. This is the attitude and heart of a servant. When we see our place as servants to one another, the unity and harmony of the church will come much more easily to us.
Beloved, esteeming others better than ourselves is a hard thing for us to do! In fact, it is impossible for the old nature. We are taught in public school that we should think and act like we are the greatest; like we are invincible; like we are the strongest and the smartest, and the best looking. This is the humanistic teaching of self-esteem. This kind of thinking has caused a gross increase of pride and arrogance among the American people today.
Beloved, even as Christians, it takes grace to esteem others better than our own selves. Yet this is God’s will for us as members of the Lord’s Church. The only way that we will be successful servants to others, is to have lowliness of mind. That is, to possess true humbleness of mind and heart. In fact, doing the part of a servant is the greatest evidence of true humility, and true humility is one of the greatest evidences of genuine conversion.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
7. “Look not every man on his own things, but…on the things of others”. We’re not only to be concerned about our personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Again, as we’ve said before, serving the Lord in His Church is not just about me, and its not just about you, but its about the Lord first, secondly its about the whole church as a collective body, thirdly its about the other individuals in the body, and last of all its about you and I. The closer we get to following this rule, the more like Christ we will be.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
8. Eighthly and finally, Paul sums it all up by telling his readers to have the mind of Christ. This is one point that no true believer can argue with. Lets notice some things about the mind of Christ that we are to have.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Though Jesus is truly God, and one with the Father, and equal to the Father in all His attributes, yet He humbled Himself down to the position of a servant, insomuch that He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful men.
Therefore beloved, when we are called upon to be the servants of the Lord and the servants of others in His Church, we cannot argue with the Lord when we consider how that He so willingly humbled Himself for us.
There is no greater example of humility than the example of Jesus. We see in our text that Jesus willingly placed Himself under submission to His heavenly Father, even though He is equal with the Father in all His nature and all His attributes.
So then beloved, we should also be willing to place ourselves under submission to one another, who as men, are essentially equal in our nature and attributes. This beloved, is the mind of Christ.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. No beloved, Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful men, so that He could be our servant. He willingly made Himself something less than what He is by nature, in order to serve us lowly, vile sinners. Yes beloved, this is the greatest example of true humility.
Likewise we are to willingly condescend, as it were, down to men of low degree. That is, to those who aren’t endued with as much human, or even divine virtue as we have been gifted with, and become their servants. This is humility. This is the meaning of a servant. This beloved, is the mind of Christ.
Next we see that Jesus “…made Himself of no reputation…”. Though He was King of kings, and Lord of Lords, yet He laid all that glory aside in order to be a servant. May we not try to make ourselves a reputation, whether in the church or in the world. Let us not be concerned with our recognition and praise, but rather with the recognition and praise of the Lord.
We shouldn’t want others to see us, but rather to see the Jesus we serve. Servants aren’t concerned with making a name for themselves, but for their masters. And don’t sound our own trumpets, but if we would be praised, then let others praise us for our humble service to the Lord. This beloved, is the mind of Christ.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The ultimate work of service and humility that Jesus did, was to die for those whom He served. This profound truth should be at the heart of every true servant, that is, to be willing to die for those they serve. Whether this means to die for Christ and His Gospel directly, or indirectly for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
It also said in verse 8 that Jesus “became obedient unto death.” Obedience is not always what we want. Obedience is not always an easy thing to do. It isn’t always what seems best to us at the moment. But obedience says with Christ “yet not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Beloved, if we had this mind in us, we would never have to teach or preach on church unity ever again. And this, beloved, is the mind of Christ.
May the Lord help us to hear “what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches”.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We see in these verses that, because Jesus was faithful and obedient as a servant, He was highly rewarded. He was highly exulted above all of His creation. God has exulted the Name of Jesus above every name in all of Heaven, and earth, or in the graves beneath the earth.
Beloved, I believe that all who will become faithful and obedient servants in the Lord’s Church, will also be highly exalted to a place at Jesus side in Heaven’s glory, and be given a new name that no one knows but God Himself. Yes, there are great rewards in Heaven for the faithful servants of God.
And because Jesus became a servant to mankind, we see that all of mankind shall become subservient to Him. All men without exception, will bow the knee to Jesus, and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. They will either do this in this life through repentance and faith in Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross for their sins, or at the Great White Throne judgment bar of God. Either way, all men will bow the knee to Jesus! How about you? Have you bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith in His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins? Repent now and believe!
In conclusion, have we believed that Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant, and that He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross for us? If not, repent, and believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for you, and thou shalt be saved.
To those of us who are saved, are we the servants of the Lord and of one another. Do we endeavor to do everything we can to keep the unity of the Spirit in our churches? May the Lord give us the mind of Christ, is our prayer!
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Obeying in the absence of others… This is evidence that God is working in us!
Sometimes we obey and do right when we are around people we highly respect, who we want to think well of us. Sometimes we obey when we are around the preacher or other church members. But the true test of obedience is obeying when only God is around, or when only worldlings and sinners are around. How do we obey God then? Beloved, we need to obey God because the Holy Spirit of God abides in us, and not because of any man. Otherwise, we’re destined for a big fall!!!
Some believe and teach that salvation is believing in Jesus and then live anyway you want to. What Bible do they use? Christianity is not walking a church isle. But Christianity is a life, and a life long work. A working out of what God works in us!
What are we to work out? First, all those things that Paul’s already mentioned: All those things that pertain to the fellowship of the Gospel, the furtherance of the Gospel, and the faith of the Gospel: All the good works that God has ordained that we should walk in: All the things pertaining to Holiness and godly living, and godly walking and godly speaking, that he already told them about. Work out these things, and any other things commanded in the book!
Beloved, salvation is not of good works, but it certainly is unto good works! If this is not our case, then we better “examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. Prove our own selves, except we be reprobates.” 2 Cor. 13:5 tells us.
Work out our salvation with fear and trembling…In other words, in the fear of God.
Most professed believers don’t really fear God. Let me stir up your pure minds, and say that none of us fear God like we should fear Him! If we did fear God like we should, we wouldn’t do some of the things that we do. We wouldn’t say some of the things we say. We wouldn’t go some of the places that we go.
On the other hand, if we truly feared God we would do a lot of things that we don’t do. We would be more faithful to His house, to prayer, to Bible study, and witnessing. If we feared God like we should, we would only use pure words and righteous words. If we really feared the Lord like we should we would walk right, and talk right, and treat others right.
How then are we to fear God?
First, I want to say that most preachers today don’t teach their people to fear God. Most preachers say that the fear of God is merely a godly reverence, and that we are not to really fear God. But I’m not so sure about that.
I know that believers are not to fear dying and going to hell, but the fear of God is not just a respect for God. The fear of God is not just some outward pretense or show of reverence. But at very least the fear of God is a holy reverence that will cause the best of saints to fall on their faces in the presence of God, and cause them to tremble and to say “Woe is me!!!”
Beloved, the fear of God is more than just paying Him our humble respects. Sad to say, but most believers fear men more than they do God. Most believers fear man’s governments more than they fear God’s government! Most believers fear the IRS more than they fear God! They will rob God but not the IRS! Most believers fear the police more than they do the holy angels. Most believers respect city ordinances more than they respect God’s ordinances. Most believers fear man’s courts more than they fear the courts of the Lord. Most believers reverence the President of the United States, more than they do the King of Kings. Most believers fear and respect their employers more than they respect the Lord of Lords. They will miss God’s house before they will miss work, and they will miss God’s house for work.
But someone says, “God is love. He doesn’t really expect us to fear Him..” Oh no? Beloved, it said to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling!” Trembling I believe, means more than just a haphazard show of reverence! Trembling is what people do when they stand in awe of the Almighty! Trembling is what people do when they truly fear someone, especially God! When is the last time we trembled in His presence? Have we ever trembled in His presence? If we truly fear God, we will live much differently than we used to live. Beloved, God’s people need a renewed fear for the Lord.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Why are we to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear? Because God is love? No, but because our God is a consuming fire!!! The context in Hebrews is Mount Sinai, where God shook the mount and caused it to burn and smoke. One day beloved, God is going to judge this world with fire. The Israelites that stood before the mount of God were scared to death of God. This reminder in Hebrews 12 is to New Testament saints! May God help us to fear Him, and truly reverence Him, far more than any earthly man.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
God is not only sovereign in salvation, but He is also sovereign in sanctification and Christian service. The Holy Spirit of God, who lives in us, also works in us. He is not passive, but He is actively working in us. The question for you and I is; is He working inside of us?
…He is working in us both to will and do of His good pleasure…
God’s sovereignty is effectual in the lives of believers. The Holy Spirit does something to our will. He works in us to do His will. Our will becomes God’s will. Not my will, but thy will be done in my life!
Not only does He give us the will, but also the power to do His will! Do we have His power working in us? Are we doing His will and good pleasure? Are we doing His works that He has ordained for us to do? Are we being sanctified more and more unto the Lord and His service? Is the sovereignty of God working in our lives? Verse 13 teaches that He does work in us to will and do, not that He might! There is no room for easy believism here. There is no room for mere empty professions!
So then, we are to work out our salvation, while He works in our salvation!
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
We are to live, and walk, and talk in such a way, that our lives will shine in this world. We are to do all things without murmurings and disputings. We are to be blameless and harmless, so that we might shine brightly as sons of God. Truly we live in a spiritually and morally dark and perverse world. That is why we need to shine all the brighter for this dark world to see.
We need to shine morally, by practicing God’s moral law in our lives. We need to show forth holy behavior, that cannot be condemned. We need to speak wholesome words that are above reproach. We need to shine spiritually, by holding forth the glorious Gospel light, and by being faithful and true to the Word of God and His Church.
Notice the following quotes from Psalm 119. In verse 9 David said: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to thy word.” In verse 11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” In verse 105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In verse 130 “The entrance of thy words giveth light…”.
Beloved, if we are going to shine in this dark, evil world, then we must hide the Word of God in our hearts. How much time do we spend reading and studying God’s Word? God’s Word is our light for living! May we be able to say with David “Thy testimonies are my delight, and my counselors.” Ps. 119:24.
We need to hold forth the word of life for others to see. Beloved, this dark world needs for us to shine the light of the Gospel unto them. While in the world, Jesus was the light of the world. Today, we are the light of the world, as the Holy Spirit shines through us.
How is our light today? Are we shining bright? Is the lighthouse of our church shining? I named our church paper the Baptist Lighthouse; not just because I love the ocean. But the peoples of the world are like seas, and we are to be a lighthouse to them. So that they might see the Gospel light, and find their way to Heaven’s shore.
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
In conclusion, may we find joy in doing the Lord’s work. May it be a joy to work out our salvation as He works in us to will and do of His good pleasure. Even if it means to be offered upon the sacrifice of our service to the Lord.
I believe Paul knew that sooner or later he would suffer martyrdom for the cause of Jesus. Yet he rejoiced that he would be able to serve the Lord in his death also. May we be like Paul and rejoice in serving Jesus, whether by life or by death.
When Jesus comes again, may He find us faithful, and doing those things that He has commanded us to do. May we be found working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and serving the Lord with joy and rejoicing! May our lives truly be a testimony of the sovereign grace of God in salvation.
Let us not just say that we believe in sovereign grace, but may we be living epistles of His sovereign grace for all the world to read.
Part 3; Fellow Helpers in the Work of the Lord (vs. 19-30)
We don’t have too many things that we want to say about these verses, but we see within the personal information given in these verses between Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, and the Philippian Church, there are some thoughts that I believe are worth gleaning. In particular, we will see Paul’s appreciation for his fellow helpers in the work of the Lord.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
Paul was very concerned about the state or condition of the churches. In those days they didn’t have telephones, automobiles, or commercial airlines. They didn’t even have the pony express, or mule express! News traveled only as fast as people could walk on foot or sail by ship. But at any rate, getting news to friends and loved ones was slow, slow, slow. Perhaps today news gets around too fast! Maybe we might be better off going back to the old days.
We can just imagine Paul chained in his Roman prison cell wondering how his brothers and sisters in the Lord are fairing. He knows that they are suffering similar persecutions as he is enduring. Therefore he is anxious about the work of the Lord, and is concerned about the well being of the churches.
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
To complicate matters, Paul doesn’t have many good faithful brothers that are concerned enough about the churches and the work of the Lord, to sacrifice their time and effort to help Paul in communicating with the churches, and encouraging them and helping them with their spiritual progress.
We just want to make the point that even Paul, that great Apostle to the Gentiles, had difficulties finding faithful helpers in the work of the Lord. This is a problem in churches today. But we shouldn’t be too discouraged, it was a problem in Apostolic times too.
Sad to say, but it is hard to find brothers and sisters who are genuinely concerned about the things of Jesus Christ. Like Paul said in verse 21, all seek their own. I believe Paul is talking about believers here. Of course he didn’t expect the lost heathen to be concerned about the work of the Lord. Most believers are too wrapped up in their own personal lives and affairs of this life to be concerned with the Lord’s work.
This is very sad, and it grieves the hearts of pastors around the world. But if its any consolation to us today, it was the same way back then. This is not to excuse the brethren who do not have the desire to be a part of the work, and will not make the time to help in the work, but still it seems to be a fact of the Christian faith. So we go on living with certain sad facts of the faith, knowing however, that it is no new thing.
But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
On the other side of the faithful Christian worker issue, there are always those few servants who are willing to do anything they can for the faith, fellowship, and furtherance of the Gospel. They are ready at the drop of a hat to help the pastor or church with whatever they are called upon to do.
They even come and ask if there is anything that they can do to help. Or they will come with ideas about things that they might like to do to help the church, or to further the Gospel in the community. Often times they just do things for the cause of Christ and His Church, without ever saying a word about it. These people are a great blessing to the church, the pastor, and the cause of Christ in the world.
Do our churches have faithful servants and fellow helpers in the work of the Lord, who are there whenever they are needed, to do whatever they can do. I don’t mean to wear out the issue, but you don’t know how important it is, and how encouraging it is to have faithful helpers in the church.
I want everyone to know that I see and take note of those who are faithful servants and helpers, and I appreciate them very much. I am thankful to God for them, more than I might let on. So, those who are “likeminded,” as Paul said in verse 20, who love to help with the work of the Lord; keep up the good work. Those who are not so, I encourage you to be greater helpers in the work of the Lord in and through His local church. There are eternal rewards for faithful service.
Now, I also understand that there are legitimate reasons why people may not be able to do many of the things that may be required in the work of the Lord. We understand your limitations, and I believe that the Lord also understands. But perhaps you can pray. Perhaps you can call and encourage others. Perhaps you can invite souls to church. Do what you can for the Lord’s work. That’s all the Lord expects from any of us.
But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
Again Paul confirms his belief that the Lord will help him to affect his release from prison and to resume his important work for the Lord. I believe the Lord gives his people insight into His will for our lives, and even shows us His direction for our immediate futures. This is certainly true for those who faithfully follow and serve the Lord.
Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
Paul also had some very good things to say about Epaphroditus, who it appears was a member of the Philippian Church. Epaphroditus helped communicate between Paul and the Philippian Church. He carried love offerings to Paul and carried letters back and forth. Lets notice some of these good things that Paul ascribed to this brother.
Paul called him “my brother.” Now all saved people are brothers and sisters in the Lord. But a special close Christian relationship, inclines us to call our faithful companions “Brother” or “Sister.” There are a lot of brothers and sisters in the Lord in the world, but we especially ascribe that title to those who are close to us in the work of the Lord.
He referred to him as his “companion in labor.” Now this certainly takes in a smaller circle of friends, so to speak, than those that we call “Brother.” These are workers, laborers for Christ, and companions in the work of the Lord. These could be brothers or sisters in the Lord, who are faithful, fellow laborers. These are workers. They are not afraid of work, but are ready unto every good work.
He also referred to him as his “fellow soldier.” This goes even a step further than “companion in labor.” “Fellow soldier” implies battle and warfare. And warfare implies danger of personal injury and even loss of life. They say that there is a special bond between soldiers who share the same fox hole, and there is a special bond between brothers and sisters who fight side by side in the Lord’s army. Those who take the offensive together in the battle for truth, with the sword of the Spirit and the Gospel of peace, share a special union that others cannot share.
He was also the Philippians’ messenger, who ministered to Paul’s wants. As a minister he sacrificed of himself for the benefit and well being of the Apostle Paul, and for the furtherance of the Gospel. If we are going to work for the Lord and serve the Lord, and see His work go forth and be blessed, then we are going to have to minister to others. This involves time, and effort, and perhaps even of our financial means. But beloved, there are heavenly dividends for our humble earthly ministry.
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Epaphroditus was sick high unto death because of the work of Christ. Now beloved, for all those who hold the erroneous teaching that Christians are never supposed to get sick, and that God never wants His people to be sick, or get sick, they need to read this passage of Scripture. It doesn’t say that Epaphroditus was out of the will of God; or that he didn’t have enough faith; or that he was a deceiver. No, Paul said plainly that he was sick because of the work of Christ. Paul would not have said this if it were not so. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t have inspired Paul to write this if it were not so.
I have known of several pastors, and missionaries, and other believers who have become sick doing the work of the Lord. Some have come off the foreign field to get medical treatment and then they returned to the mission field. Perhaps some of us have taken ill while doing the work of the Lord. Because we get sick doesn’t mean that we’re doing anything wrong, or something that the Lord doesn’t approve of. It could very well just be that the Lord allowed us to get sick! And let’s be careful about judging others who have illness or tragedies in their lives. These things can and do happen to all of us!
And Epaphroditus was nigh unto death. In other words, humanly speaking, he almost died. He was just about as close to death’s door as he could be without going through it. But the Lord had something else for him to do. The Lord wasn’t through with him yet. Beloved, I have known several beloved saints who came nigh to death’s door, but the Lord wasn’t through with them yet. He still had a work for them to do down here. Some of these people are still alive and serving the Lord today.
So don’t give up on the Lord’s healing of a brother or sister. If He has a work for them to do, then He will raise them back up again. I might add here, that this ought to be our motive for wanting a person healed of the physical afflictions, that they might rise up to faithfully serve the Lord, and to do the work that the Lord has for them to do, and not to just go on living for themselves. That is the best reason to ask the Lord to heal a person, so that person might come off His bed of affliction to serve Christ and give Him the glory!
Where do you and I stand in this matter of serving the Lord? Are we among the many who seek our own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ’s? If so, may God help us to see our need to change, and become faithful servants.
Or, are we among the few faithful “Brothers and Sisters,” and “companions in labor,” and “fellow soldiers,” and ministers of the things of God to the people of God? If this is you, then may the Lord help you continue in your faithful service to Him and to His work.
Are you saved by the grace of God? If not, repent and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried in the tomb, and rose again from the dead the third day, and “thou shalt be saved.”
Part 1; Salvation by Grace through Faith and Not of Works (vs. 1-10)
In this lesson we want to notice five main points from our text. These include: 1) Rejoice in the Lord; 2) Beware of dogs; 3) The man who had room to boast; 4) Salvation by faith in Christ alone; and 5) Salvation is knowing Jesus.
1. “Rejoice in the Lord”.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
“…rejoice in the Lord…”. This is a common expression in this book, or better yet, we should say it is a common command of God in this book!
Why might Paul have said to “rejoice in the Lord” here in chapter 3? The conclusion of chapter 2 was about the Philippian’s grief over Epaphroditus who had been sick, and not to mention that Paul was still in prison. What is the basis of Christian joy and rejoicing? Of course it is the Lord Jesus Himself. All the sorrows in this life are not worthy to be compared to the promises of God in Christ.
But even more so, as we studied last week, God is sovereign over all things, and He is in total control of our lives, as well as the lives of our enemies, and we have nothing to fear, and there is nothing worthy of robbing us of our joy in Christ.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” (4:4). Don’t let this old life with its sorrows and heartaches rob us of our joy in the Lord. Beloved, we need to cast our minds on the Lord. We need to think upon Him, and meditate on Him, and upon all the eternal blessings and promises in His Word. This is the best way to get our hearts and minds refreshed and uplifted.
When we are down, get into His Word. It will lift us up and encourage us whenever we get down and discouraged, and depressed about the things of this life. Try and get our minds off the circumstances of life. Don’t look down at our feet, or out at other people, but look up from whence cometh our help! Our help cometh from the Lord!
The joy of the Lord is our strength. It doesn’t help our strength, or give us strength; but joy is our strength! Therefore, a Christian who has lost their joy, is a week Christian. So then, rejoice my Brothers and Sisters. Rejoice in the Lord. Shout amen, halleluiah, praise the Lord! Lift up our voices in joy, and praise His Holy Name!
2. Beware of dogs.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
The first “beware of dogs” sign is found right here in the Bible!!! These aren’t literal dogs, but these are works for salvation, keep the law of Moses dogs. These are evil workers, and deceivers, which teach another gospel, and another way of salvation.
These are the concision. That is, they are mutilators, who cut the flesh with a knife, but they know nothing about the circumcision of the heart, through the operation of the Spirit. They teach men to keep the letter of the law, but they have not the Spirit of God.
Paul said in verse 3 that we are the true circumcision, which have 3 basic characteristics:
1) We worship God in the Spirit. This is the only way that God can be worshipped.
2) We rejoice in Christ Jesus. Not in ourselves, or in our good works, but in Christ and His works.
3) We have no confidence in the flesh. We know that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing.
3. Next we want to see the man who had room to boast.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Beloved, if ever there was a man that had whereof to boast in his own qualifications, and his own religious credentials, it was the Apostle Paul!!!
Notice the following credentials of Paul:
1) He was circumcised the eight day. His parents were strict observers of the law of Moses.
2) He was of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. He had his pedigree tacked on his office wall. Back when he thought that his family tree mattered to his eternal state, he had it framed and matted, and hung in a prominent place.
3) He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. In other words, He wasn’t a modern Hellenistic Jew, who were strongly influenced by the Greek and Roman cultures and liberal in their thinking and religious training, but Paul was of the old fashioned conservative line of Hebrews, which still could speak the Hebrew tongue, followed after the old Hebrew traditions, and practiced the strictest form of Judaism!
4) As touching the law he was a Pharisee. He was trained at the feet of the most noble and revered Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).
5) And you talk about zeal, Paul had it. These Judaizers had nothing on Paul. He didn’t go around trying to trick and deceive Christians, but he brutally and fiercely arrested them, put them in jail, and threatened them with torture and death!!! You see, Paul was a zealous man in whatever he did.
6) And concerning the righteousness, which is by the law, he was blameless!!!
Wow! Paul had all his religious ducks in a row. He thought of everything. He had all the bases covered so to speak. There was not a man in his time, nor ever since his time, that was as worthy of salvation by their own merits as Paul was. That is what Paul is saying. That rich young ruler had nothing on Paul. If ever there was a man who had what it took to recommend himself to God, it was Paul. Which leads us to our next point.
4. Salvation by faith in Christ alone.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
There you have it in these verses, beloved. All works for salvation of any kind is hereby officially declared null and void by the greatest authority on the subject – the Apostle Paul!!!
If ever there was a man who could claim meritorial works for salvation, it was Paul. But instead of claiming his own merits for salvation He said “There is no way, it’s no good, it won’t work.” Paul said, “the things I counted gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Beloved, Paul said that everything he thought would recommend him to God, everything that he thought was good and religious, he thru away in order to win Christ. Not only that, but He counted “…all things but loss for the excellency of Christ.”
When Paul went through his old religious baggage to see what he wanted to keep or get rid of when he came to faith in Christ, he didn’t say:
“Well, I think I’ll keep this old pedigree of my wonderful Hebrew decent.” “And maybe I’ll keep this certificate of circumcision, after all, it was probably very painful at the time.” “I’ll hang on to my old diploma from the Gamaliel School of Theology.” And “boy, oh boy, I worked hard to get all these Christian scalps, I’ll keep them as a souvenir to remind me of my zeal for the Lord.”
“I’ll hang on to my certificate of infant baptism, and those cute pictures of my godfather and godmother.” “I’ll keep my certificate of confirmation from when I was twelve years old.” “I’ll hang on to my old ‘do and live’ works for salvation theology, I might need it again some day.”
No, beloved, Paul said I count all things but loss for Christ. He packed all of his religious baggage up and took it all out to the refuse dump and set it on fire. He said I count “all of this old religious garbage as nothing but filthy dung, and I’m getting shed of it once and for all, that I might win Jesus.” (verse 8).
Furthermore he said “I want to be found in Him, not having my old filthy rag righteousness, which is of the law, but having His righteousness, which is of God by faith.”
Now beloved, if baptism, which is the New Testament replacement of circumcision for identifying with God and His people; if baptism was part of this “righteousness of God by faith” that Paul was speaking of, then surely, surely, surely he would have said so right here!
Yes, if salvation is procured by any other means, or if salvation required any work of man whatsoever in addition to simple faith in Jesus, if ever there was a time and place to say so, it is right here in Philippians 3. But Paul said nothing of the sort. Right here in Philippians 3, where Paul is directly refuting the false teaching of works for salvation, if there was any work essential to salvation, I feel quite sure he would have said so here.
But, beloved, Paul said nothing of baptism, of church membership, of praying through, of signing cards, of shaking preacher’s hands, of keeping church creeds, or good works of any kind for salvation. And do you know why he didn’t mention these? Because these things have absolutely nothing to do with salvation! Most of these “good works” aren’t even found in the New Testament, much less required for salvation.
Therefore we conclude that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, plus nothing and minus nothing.
5. Fifthly and finally, salvation is knowing Jesus.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
As we wrap up our lesson, we want to conclude with this very important aspect of the Christian faith; and that is, salvation is in knowing Jesus.
This truth is unique to the Christian religion. Buddhists don’t know Buddha. Moslems don’t know “Allah”. Hindu’s don’t know their “ultimate reality”. Confucians don’t know Confucius. Jehovah false witnesses certainly don’t know Jehovah, and none of the other cults have any kind of intimate, personal relationship or fellowship with their so-called gods.
The reason for this is simple. Their gods are dead. You can’t have a relationship and fellowship with a dead god. But beloved, our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is alive!!! Therefore we who are saved know Him! Beloved, only true Christians personally know their God and Saviour. All other worshippers in the world serve dead gods and therefore their religions are dead also.
To coin an old phrase regarding salvation “it isn’t what you know, so much as Who you know.” We know Him in the power of His resurrection. It is the power of the resurrection that raised us to new life in Christ, and it is by the power of the resurrection that we live the Christian life.
We know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. Not only do we know Him in His sufferings that He suffered for us on the cross, but experimentally we know Him in His sufferings as we suffer for Jesus and His cause in this world.
Not only do we know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, but as we travel on in our pilgrim journey, we come to know Him even better and better as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
Are we rejoicing in the Lord as believers? Remember, the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Are we on our guard against religious dogs and deceivers, who teach and preach the gospels of works for salvation?
Have we thrown out all of our old religious baggage that we were carrying when we came to faith in Jesus? Have we counted all that old religious heresy that we held so dear, as nothing but dung that we might win Christ? Are we trusting in His perfect righteousness alone for salvation, and not at all in our works?
And finally, do we know Jesus in salvation? Do we know Him as our Redeemer and our Friend? Do we know Him as the One who lives within our very hearts and souls? Do we know the power of His resurrection in our lives, and are we being conformed to His death through the things that we suffer for Him?
Like the first part of this chapter, the second half is also very important to us today. This portion of Scripture is mainly dealing with spiritual growth, and our progressive sanctification as believers in Christ.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Paul views the Christian experience as a complete venture. Today we want to separate our present state of affairs from our future eternal state. I think that this is a great error. In this life, that is, the good old here and now, Paul said he wanted to attain unto the highest possible degree of spiritual perfection. Don’t miss this teaching from this chapter.
Today in Christian circles, there are two contrasting errors being taught. There are the sinless perfectionists, who believe that the Holy Spirit comes along and instantaneously makes a believer perfect and sinless. This is what they call sanctification (which is a false interpretation of the Bible), or the second work of grace.
This teaching is one of the biggest lies that the devil has ever sold to the religious world. It is almost like his other great lie that he told Eve: “eat this fruit and you shall be as gods!” In essence they say “get sanctified and you shall be as gods.” Beloved, I know some of these perfectionists, and believe me, they sin just as much as any other professing Christians, but the only difference is, they just won’t admit it – that’s the only difference.
No beloved, there is no such thing as absolute sinless perfection in this life. We still have that sinful nature that prevents us from absolute sinless perfection.
Paul said in verses 11 & 12, that he has not attained unto the resurrection of the dead, or unto the fullness of the resurrection life as a believer, or unto perfection in this life. Please take a pen and underline that phrase in verse 12 “either were already perfect.” Now, if Paul said that he had not attained unto perfection, then who do the so-called “holiness” people think they are? If the great Apostle Paul had not yet arrived at perfection, then I am doubly certain that no one else has arrived at perfection either.
The second evil teaching today, is taught among Baptists. We tend to teach a sort of fatalism. “We’re just old sinners saved by grace, so don’t expect us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Word of God.” “Don’t expect us to grow and mature spiritually.” “Don’t expect us to grow in personal holiness and godly living, and obedience to Christ.”
Beloved mark it down in your notes, that this teaching of spiritual fatalism is just as evil as the teaching of sinless perfection. The Bible doesn’t support either one of these errors.
Paul taught here in Philippians 3 that the Christian life, present and future, is one life. We know for sure that some day we will be raised to absolute perfection. The key is, we are supposed to use that perfect future state as our goal and our objective in this life. The athlete strives to win the highest prize. The soldier fights to win that final victory. And sovereign grace Baptists should strive for the perfection of the resurrection life.
Paul wanted to attain unto living a full resurrection life in the here and now, by living for the final resurrection and glorification of his body in the future.
In verse 12, Paul said that he followed after something that he wanted to apprehend in the greatest way. But what did Paul want to apprehend so badly? I believe it was perfection. Yes, believers will apprehend perfection when we die, or we are raptured out of here. Therefore we should follow hard after perfection until we finally apprehend it in the resurrection!
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This is a very important passage of Scripture to our Christian progress. Paul said that he hasn’t apprehended perfection, but there is one thing that he did. Stop and think just a minute. When you go to college, you learn what to listen for when the professor speaks. You learn to discern what is especially important, and what will be on the test.
This is one of those extra important teachings of Paul. This one will be on the test! When such a great believer as the apostle Paul says “this one thing I do”, we would do well to want to learn what that one thing is!!!
First, he forgets the things that are behind. As a Christian there are things that we need to remember, and there are some things that we need to forget.
Now, Paul didn’t forget the truths that he had been taught from the Scriptures before he was saved. He didn’t forget the good things that his parents taught him. He didn’t forget the important lessons that he learned in life, which strengthened his character.
But he forgot all his past religious credentials, and all the things that he thought would recommend him to God for salvation. Those things were all useless, and so he counted them all as dung to win the excellency of Christ.
There were other things that Paul needed to forget. He needed to forget his guilt for past sins. Beloved, that “chief of sinners” had a truck load of sin and guilt to forget. How many believers today are weighted down with guilt from past sins, either from when they were lost, or after they were saved. All such guilt will hinder our spiritual progress. So today, we need to forget our past sins and failures, and our guilt because of these sins.
What about our past spiritual successes as believers? Do we need to forget about these? One of the greatest causes for the number one football team to lose to the underdog is carelessness and overconfidence. Christians can’t win spiritual victories today with our victories of yesterday. Yesterday’s spiritual accomplishments and strides will only help us today if we continue on in our pursuit of perfection. One of the worst things that a believer can do is to gloat and glory in what we used to be.
No, Paul pressed on toward the mark of the high calling of God. This mark is perfection. It is knowing Jesus in all of His perfections, through the fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His resurrection. Beloved, the prize of the high calling of God is to be perfect like Jesus. And Paul said that he devoted his whole life as a believer to pressing toward that one goal; to be like Jesus in all of His perfections.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
As many of us as are perfect (that is, mature in the faith), let this be our goal in life; to strive to be like Jesus. And let everyone of us live by this same rule, regardless of where we are today in our spiritual progress. Our goal should be the same no matter where we are spiritually.
Let us not be satisfied with a substandard Christian life. Let us raise the standard of our Christian living. May our standard of Christian living, and the goal of our Christian life be Christ and His perfections. No beloved, we won’t attain unto perfection, but let this be our goal!
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Paul said to be followers of him, and of other good Christian examples. Who do you follow today? Who do you mimic? Who do you set up as examples to model your life after? Don’t use movie stars, and TV stars, and rock stars, and sports stars. These are all falling stars, that will lead you down the broadway of destruction.
Follow after good examples of men and women of the Word of God; who love the Lord and His Church; who practice what they say they believe; who practice what they preach. These will help you to be a better and stronger Christian, and a better servant of the Lord. These will help you in your progress toward the goal of the high calling of God.
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
These are worldlings that Paul is speaking of here, who profess to be Christians, but they live ungodly, sinful lives. Their God is their belly. That is, they live for carnal, sensual appetites, and sinful lusts, and sinful pleasures. Their glory is their shame. In other words, they glory and revel in their worldly pleasures, and all the things of this world that they live for, which are a shame to any true Christian. They mind earthly things. Their whole purpose and goal for life is to live for the flesh, and to satisfy the lusts thereof.
Paul said not to follow after this kind of so-called believers. This is the antinomian sect of Baptists that are so prevalent in our day. Beloved, don’t follow after them, but follow after those who love the Lord and His Word, who back up what they believe with a godly moral life of obedience and faithful service to the Lord.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
We are citizens of Heaven. That is what the word conversation means in verse 20. As God’s children we have duel citizenship. We are citizens of the USA, and if we are saved, we are citizens of Heaven. But the citizenship that matters most is our Heavenly citizenship, because it is eternal. Therefore, let us live for that citizenship, and for the hopes and glory of that fair land.
Here in verse 21 we see the final apprehension of our goal. Beloved, our bodies shall one day be changed, and Jesus shall fashion them like unto His own glorious body. We shall “drop this robe of sinful flesh and rise, to cease the everlasting prize of perfection, and the glory of Christ our Savior.”
Beloved, I believe that we are in the last days. Because we are in the last days, the standard of Christian living has fallen to a new, all-time record low.
Let us, the members of one of the Lord’s true New Testament Baptist Churches, be determined to raise the standard of Christianity in our churches, back to where Paul set the standard in Philippians 3, and where Jesus set the standard in the Sermon on the Mount, and in other places in the Scriptures.
May we not be satisfied with a defective, substandard of Christian growth and development. May we raise the standard back to the standard of the high calling of God, which is Christ Jesus in all His perfections.
If we believe in the effectual call to salvation that Paul spoke of in verse 14, then let us press toward the mark for the prize of that high calling!
Do you know Jesus as your Lord as Saviour? If not, repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
Part 1; Some Important Verbs for Christian Living (vs. 1-9)
In these verses Paul gives several instructions to believers and the church at Philippi. I want to notice in particular the verbs as we go through these verses. We will see that the Christian life is both a state of being, as well as a life of doing.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
Here in this verse Paul speaks many encouraging words to the Philippian saints to make them feel loved by both Paul and the Lord. When the saints of God feel loved by their spiritual leaders in the faith, they are also reassured of God’s love for them as well.
Perhaps I have failed in this regard. Perhaps I don’t express my love for you as much as I should. But I want you to know that I love and care for all of you in the Lord. I know that I warn and exhort you often to godly living and faithfulness to the Lord, but this is because I do love and care about you. I do care about your spiritual progress. I do care about your day of judgment at the judgment seat of Christ. I want you to give an account of your life and service to the Lord with joy.
In this verse Paul also gives an exhortation. The exhortation is to stand fast in the Lord. In the context of chapter 3, we need to stand against evil workers who pervert the Gospel of Christ and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. We are to stand with the saints of God that are doing right and living right, and use them as our examples.
Lets notice that word “stand” for a moment. “Stand” could mean don’t waiver and falter. Don’t be double minded. Don’t be tossed to and fro. Don’t be tossed about with every wind of doctrine and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
“Stand” as opposed to sitting or lying down. Beloved, how many saints in these last days are sitting or lying down on the job? How many have left their posts? How many pillars of the faith have fallen from their steadfastness? How many saints have fallen asleep in the “Enchanted Land” that lieth just before yon “Celestial City”? Beloved, don’t sit down; don’t lie down, but stand fast in the Lord!
“Stand” implies posture. As good soldiers of the Lord, let us stand at attention, as soldiers who are alert and on our guard against the onslaughts of the enemy.
“Stand” also implies perseverance. Stand fast in perseverance, as soldiers who have done all to stand in the heat of the battle, as well as in times of peace.
“Stand” in the Lord, and in the power of His might. We are responsible to stand as believers, yet we do not stand in our own strength. We must stand in His resurrection power, and the power of His Holy Spirit that He gave to His people.
Beloved, if their was ever a day when God’s people need to stand it is now. If ever there was a day when God’s people have fallen away it is today. Will we fall away also? God forbid! Let us stand fast in the Lord.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
We won’t spend a lot of time here, but apparently these two sisters in the church were at odds over something. Beloved, the state of being that believers in the Lord’s Church need to be in, is the same mind.
“Be” in one mind, that is, the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” “Be” in one mind, one heart, one accord, one purpose, and as we saw last time, one goal in life; to “be” like Christ. We cannot do this if we allow petty, carnal strife and contention between members of the body.
So then, “be” of the same mind in the Lord.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
I like this one. We don’t know who Paul was addressing in this verse, but I’m sure they knew. Paul’s exhortation here is to “help.” This is a good thought. Beloved, the church needs helpers. Those who labor in the things of the Lord need help.
There are a lot of spiritual consultants today. Consultants are people who advise others on what they should do. In the business world, professional consultants make big money advising other people about what they should do. Now, consultants have their place, but what is really needed most is laborers and helpers. Jesus didn’t say “pray the Lord of the harvest to send consultants”, but He said to pray for laborers!!!
Does this pastor and church need helpers? Yes we do! There are things that you can do. As a church we are a spiritual priesthood. We believe in the priesthood of the believer. As such, we all have a work and a service to perform in the house of the Lord. And I just want to add once again, that I appreciate what our members do. I take notice of what you do to help, but most importantly, the Lord takes notice.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Did you know that rejoicing is a work. I mean, rejoicing takes time and energy, which meats the definition of work. Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. We should be a joyful people because of what Christ has done for us. But rejoicing is something we do. Rejoicing is a spiritual exercise, and beloved, rejoicing is a healthy exercise. It will build us up spiritually, and strengthen us in the Lord. Rejoicing will increase joy, which again is our strength.
We rejoice by thinking and meditating, and singing praises to our God and about our God, and by boasting of the works of our God, especially the work of the cross.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
The word moderation means: Mildness, gentleness, even temper, patience, forbearance, and sweet reasonableness. Negatively, it means not given to sensual appetites and carnal passions, anger, etc.
“Let” these qualities show forth in our lives as believers. This is what we are to let others see in us. This is our conduct and demeanor. This is the Christ-like spirit that believers are supposed to display in the home, the church, and the world.
There have been church members who were known in church as very sweet and cordial, moderate people, but on the job or in other places of social life they were “holy terrors”. This is an inconsistency and a double standard, but we are supposed to let our moderation be known to all men.
The Lord is at hand. This is always an excellent motive for proper Christian conduct. Because He is at hand, there isn’t time for carnal living and behavior. Because He is at hand, we will soon give an account of ourselves to Him, which we want to do with joy.
Therefore, because the Lord is at hand, let us redeem the time, and use it wisely for His glory, and for the good of others. The only way we can do this is by conducting ourselves in a true Christian spirit.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
We are not to be careful, or anxious. We preached a series of messages a while back about fear, and worry and anxiety, and this is one of the texts that we used. Anxiety will certainly rob believers of our peace and joy. We stated before that worry is one of the biggest thieves in the lives of God’s people. Here we are commanded not to worry. Worry therefore is a sin against God, and a destructive evil in our lives.
Here Paul gives the antidote for worry, which is prayer. If we believe that God is sovereign, then we need to trust Him in those every day matters of life. One way that we put our trust in the Lord is by taking our troubles and cares to Jesus, and then leave them there! God’s solution to worry is prayer, which should include prayers of thanksgiving. When we spend time thanking the Lord for all the good things He does for us and provides for us, it takes our minds off those things that trouble and worry us.
And let us never forget that God still hears and answers prayer. Since when did God quit hearing the prayers of His people, and answering them according to His will. “O we of little faith.”
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Keep” is the consoling and comforting work of God’s peace in our hearts. If we will follow God’s prescription that Paul gave us here in our text, then our hearts will be guarded by the peace of God. This peace passeth all understanding, because it is a peace that accompanies the worse circumstances that we undergo in this life. “But I just can’t understand how I can have peace in my overwhelming sorrow and pain - that’s right, the peace of God passeth all understanding! But we can have this peace if we will follow the Lord’s prescription for life’s pains.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Here we find another important verb, “think”. As a man thinketh so is he. Its not what goes into a man that defileth him, but what comes out of the heart defiles a man. Thinking is one of the most important areas of life. We probably spend more time thinking than we do anything else. How much attention to we give to what we think as compared with what we eat, or what we do with our lives. What we think is very important to our spiritual state of mind, and Paul tells us some things to think about.
“Think” on true things. Truth about God that is found in His Word rejoices our hearts. Truthfulness between men fosters peace and good will.
“Think” on honest things. Things that are grave, and dignified. Things that are worthy of occupying the Christian’s mind. Of course this would exclude all lying and dishonesty.
“Think” on just things. Things that are just between men, and men and God. Paying our rightful dues in life to both God and man. Giving no occasion for offense to either.
“Think” on pure things. Things that are chaste and holy. Things that are both spiritually and morally pure. These are the opposite of obscene, and profane, and vulgar.
“Think” on things that are lovely. Things that cultivate love for God and love for others. Things that are in agreement with God’s love. Thoughts that love produces in our hearts. Let love inspire and season our thoughts.
“Think” on things that are of good report. Things that are well spoken of, and that tend to a good name. Things that honor and glorify Christ and not self. Not seeking the praise of men, but of God.
If there is anything that has virtue after a godly sort, and is praiseworthy according to a godly standard, then “think” on these things.
If we endeavor to think right, we are far more apt to be successful in talking and doing right in our lives as believers.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
To all of the above Paul adds some things to “do”, which are things that they have observed in Paul’s life and testimony. Paul said that these believers could safely model themselves after his life, by doing the things that they saw in him.
This is a very great challenge to the ministers of God, to be the kind of examples that others can follow. WOW!!! Who feels so strongly about our Christian lives that we feel confident in telling others to model their lives after ours?
I desire for my life to be the kind of life that others can follow. But one thing I feel sure of, we can model our lives after the Apostle Paul and not go too far wrong! We can model our lives after Paul in what we believe, what we say, and in what we do. God has given us good examples to follow, so then let us endeavor to follow them.
We want to quickly recap these verbs found in our text.
Stand fast in the Lord, and in His truth, in His work, and in His strength.
Be at peace with one another. Be of the same mind, that is, the mind of Christ.
Help in the work of the Lord as much as the Lord enables you.
Rejoice in the Lord. Expend energy praising, meditating on, and boasting of our Saviour.
Let the qualities of Christian moderation show forth from our lives.
Be not anxious, but pray and give thanks to God instead.
Keep our hearts by the peace of God by following the Lord’s prescription for life’s pains.
Think on good things, and spiritual things, and things that become the Gospel of Jesus.
Do the things that the Lord, and Paul have shown us and taught us in the Word of God.
Part 2; Support and Care of Missionaries (vs. 10-23)
We started this study by saying that one of the themes of this book is the furtherance of the Gospel through missionaries. Throughout the study we saw the emphasis on the fellowship, faith, and furtherance of the Gospel. We stated that the continued existence of the Lord’s Churches in the world is perpetuated through the missionary endeavors of the Lord’s Churches.
Now we want to conclude the study the way we began, by promoting interest in missions. Since I have been a pastor, I have emphasized the home evangelistic efforts of the local church. I still believe that missions begin at home. We can send all of our money to foreign missions and make great boasts of our foreign missionary efforts, but if we neglect our own community, then we are failing in our missionary responsibilities.
On the other hand, if we consistently reach out with the Gospel in our community, yet neglect foreign missions, then we are also failing in our missionary responsibilities. In the context of this portion of Scripture before us, we see the need and the importance of supporting good, sound Baptist missionaries who labor to further the Gospel of Jesus.
I just want to stress for a moment the importance of worthy missionary works. First, a worthy missionary must be sound in doctrine. That is understood. Secondly, the missionary must have a genuine calling of God, both to the ministry and to the specific place of service. Thirdly, a missionary must have a genuine love and concern for souls, especially in the land where the missionary is called to serve. Fourthly, a missionary must have a sound reputation in both faith and practice in the Lord’s Churches. Like pastors, missionaries need to be proven men of God in the Lord’s Church, before being sent out into the field. Paul we know, was well proven in the Lord’s Church before the Holy Spirit called him in Acts 13.
A missionary must be trustworthy to properly and wisely use the support that the Lord’s Churches invest in their work, and to best use those funds to further the Gospel in their field of service. Therefore, a missionary must be accountable to his sponsoring and supporting churches, and sufficiently demonstrate the good use of their support in the missionary work. There also should be thankfulness and gratitude on the part of missionaries toward their supporting churches, which sacrifice to help in their work.
Finally, the missionary needs to demonstrate a perpetual zeal for the work that the Lord has called them to. Paul we know, demonstrated all of these virtues and qualities of a good missionary, and therefore he is an excellent example of the ideal missionary.
In this lesson we will focus our attention on three main thoughts from these final verses of the book of Philippians. These thoughts include; 1) Missionaries need and appreciate the support of the churches; 2) The support of missionaries will bring God’s blessings on the Lord’s Churches; 3) The results of mission support will be the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
1. Missionaries need and appreciate the support of the churches (10-16).
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Apparently the Philippians were not able to get support to Paul for a period of time.
There could be many reasons for this. They may have lost contact with Paul temporarily. Persecution may have hindered them from sending support. Maybe they were short of financial means themselves. Remember, many of the saints in those days were very poor. But in any regard, now they were able to resume their support once again.
Paul was obviously glad to receive their gifts, as we will see in this lesson. Here Paul said that he rejoiced in the Lord greatly because of their gifts. Paul really appreciated their love and care for him. He showed his appreciation in this lengthy letter.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Paul wasn’t in the mission work to get rich, or for personal gain whatsoever. Paul learned to be content with whatever the Lord saw fit to give him, as long as he could continue serving Christ. How different this is from many modern day pastors and missionaries, who can’t seem to get enough money to satisfy their earthly wants and desires.
Don’t get me wrong. Well I know that pastors and their families need money to live on, just like other saints. I believe that pastors should be supported full time if the church is able to do so. But at the same time we are not supposed to lust after filthy lucre. This especially applies to all ordained officers, including pastors, deacons, and missionaries; but I believe this aught to be true of all believers.
Paul taught in 1 Timothy 6:5 that there are those wicked persons who think that gain is godliness, and he said in verse 6 that godliness with contentment is great gain. Beloved, what is wanted among God’s people is more contentment with godliness, and not with money and with the things of this world. We aught to be content with food, clothes, a roof over our heads, and our Bibles; if that’s all the Lord sees fit to give us. But how many of us would be content with these today?
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul is saying that he has learned how to be content in poverty, and in wealth. Keep in mind, the apostle Paul was from a fairly wealthy family, and was accustomed to having all the material things he wanted. He had to learn to be content in poverty. This is one aspect of our Christian training. The Christian’s attitude should not be to “get all the getting while the getting’s good,” but we’re to learn to be content with the provisions that the One who feeds the sparrows is pleased to give us.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul also learned the lesson of Matthew 6:24-34, that the Heavenly Father knows what things we have need of, and He is the One who provides for His own people. Paul could do all things through Christ, because ultimately it is Christ who provides for all our needs. He uses human means, but with or without human means, He still is able to provide for his own. So Paul wasn’t overcharged with worry over his material needs, because he learned to trust the Lord to provide all these things regardless of his state in this world. And the Lord did provide for Paul’s needs.
Paul could do “all things through Christ”, because Christ works in the supernatural realm as well as in the physical realm. If the Lord chooses, he can fill us and sustain our physical lives without any aid from the natural world. He sustained Elijah forty days and nights in the wilderness on one meal that was prepared by an angel, and he was packin’ it on foot all the way from Beersheba to Mt. Horeb. Or God can cause the ravens to feed us like He did Elijah by the brook Cherith. There is no limit to what the Lord can do, and therefore we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us!
This can also be applied to the spiritual realm. There is no spiritual feat that we can’t accomplish through Christ. We cannot accomplish any spiritual work without the Lord, but with Him we can do all things within the boundaries of His good will and purpose. We feel so weak and helpless in our efforts to win the lost for Christ, but through His power and strength we might see hundreds or even thousands of souls saved to the glory of God! We have every good reason to be encouraged in our evangelistic endeavors, when we consider just who it is “which strengtheneth” us.
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Having stated his trust in the Lord for all his needs, Paul was quick to restate his appreciation to the Philippian Church for their help in the work. Paul admitted that his state was one of need and affliction, and he was very thankful for their love and support for him.
Wisdom and thankfulness on the part of God’s servants (missionaries and pastors) will not neglect to show appreciation and thanksgiving to those who give and sacrifice to provide for their needs. Failure to show their appreciation is a big mistake that some pastors and missionaries make today.
Paul also told them that they had done well to support him in his work in the Gospel. Helping in the Lord’s work through sacrificial giving is a good thing to do. It helps the servants of God, furthers the Gospel to the salvation of souls, and at the same time pleases and glorifies the Lord.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Paul didn’t forget even their first contributions to his ministry in earlier years, when it seems they were practically the only ones who supported him. People who are truly appreciative aren’t quick to forget what people have done for them, even far in the past.
So we conclude this thought by saying that missionaries need the consistent, regular support of the Lord’s Churches. They realize that the Lord looks out for them and cares for them, but they also need the help and support of the Lord’s Churches. This is God’s design for the furtherance of the Gospel. Missionaries also appreciate the help they receive from God’s people, and if they are wise in heart they will show their appreciation.
2. Secondly we want to see that supporting missionaries will bring God’s blessings on the Lord’s Churches (vs. 17-19).
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Paul said that he was more concerned with the church receiving the Heavenly dividends for supporting mission works, than he was for his own need that they supplied. Paul knew that God rewards those who give to support His works to further the Gospel. Those who sacrifice for the work of the Lord, can expect the Heavenly rewards of God in return.
Now, how many missionaries do you suppose are more concerned for God’s blessings upon the supporting churches than they are for their own material needs? Yet this seems to be the case with Paul. We probably wouldn’t believe a missionary if they told us that they wanted our support so that we could receive the blessings and rewards from Heaven! In any regard, when we, with the right motive of love for Christ and His work, support good sound missionaries in their work for Christ, we can expect the Heavenly dividends abound to our accounts.
But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Paul received their gift, and now had everything he needed as a result. But he added that their gift was a “sweet smelling odor” and an “acceptable” and “well pleasing” sacrifice to God. If we all thought of our Christian giving as an acceptable and well pleasing sacrifice to God, we might be more inclined to give to the Lord’s work.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Paul goes on to say that God would supply their needs because they saw the importance of supplying his needs. This goes back to the principle of reaping what we sow, and “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Here Paul is speaking about provisions in this life.
So we see that churches who faithfully support missions, can expect to reap the rewards and blessings of God. They can expect to reap the heavenly rewards of “fruit put to our account,” as well as earthly care and provision in this life.
3. Thirdly and finally, the results of mission support will be the glory of God and the salvation of souls (vs. 20-23).
Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
All these things, the help and support of missionaries, as well as the blessings of God upon churches who support missions, all result in the glory of God.
Not only that, but they also result in the salvation of souls. This fact is suggested when Paul said that the saints salute you, especially Caesar’s household. These no doubt are the same ones that Paul spoke of earlier in chapter 1 who were reached through his ministry. Those saints in Caesar’s palace didn’t just materialize, but they were the direct result of Paul’s missionary efforts from that prison cell, which were supported by the Lord’s Churches.
In conclusion, as they say in the business world, supporting good sound, worthy missionaries is a win–win proposition. Churches can’t go wrong supporting the Lord’s true, sound missionaries who are doing the work of the Lord in the fields of the world.
This is something we need to revisit from time to time as a church, to make sure that we are doing what we can do to support missions, and also to make sure that the missionaries we support are worthy of our support.