October 19, 2008

Philippians #2

Philippians 1:1-8

As we look at this book, keep in mind that Paul is complementing the people for their obedience to the gospel as revealed in the Old Testament.

We will go through it verse by verse, and then give the applications from the passages

First section, vv. 1, 2.

Paul and Timotheus.

Here we see this aged, great Apostle identifying with the young man, Timotheus. Certainly this would have exalted Timothy in the eyes of these people.

The servants of Jesus Christ.

In Paul's other letters, he identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, but here he identifies himself (and Timothy) as a servant.

to all the saints in Christ Jesus.

He mentions the saints first, because the saints are the church. The church is not to be known by its leaders, but by its people. He did not address the leaders, the bishops, deacons and elders first. Clearly the leaders are present for the benefit of the saints, not the saints for the leaders.

Today the letters of commendations are addressed to the leaders: "To Rick Warren, and the church that meets under his direction."

Only two offices were given:

Bishops or elders, pastors, are given by God to the saints For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:12.

Their job is to train and teach the word of God to the saints and to direct them in their service for God.

Deacons are given by God for the care of the saints. Acts 6:1-7.

Their job is to oversee the care of the temporal things of the saints: the outward business of the house of God, the money, the buildings, the furniture, the ministers and ministries.

It is worth noting here that there are ONLY TWO OFFICES mentioned here for the local church. First, bishops, pastors or elders. And second, deacons. Thus, any office in the church in addition to these two, is unscriptural. According to the Old Testament pattern, there should be a deacon for every ten families.

We do have a third group in the church; that is, the saints. Everything in the Scriptures, starting with the work of Christ, is done for the saints.

Who are the saints?

Isaiah 53 is clear: The saints are the ones for whom Christ died.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

all the saints includes everyone who is washed in the blood of the Lamb. Rich and poor, bond and free, well equipped with talents or not. The Lord is concerned about all of His people of all time, in all locations. He has given us His word to meet that concern.

V. 2

Here we have the same opening which Paul uses for all of his books, almost word for word. Grace and peace. The free favour and good-will of God.

There can be no peace without the grace of God. The peace Paul refers to here is the peace in knowing that we are in the Father's divine favour through Christ.

Isaiah 48:22 tells us that There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.

He says the same in Isaiah 57:21, Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:1, Ezekiel 13:16 .

Note Ezekiel 13:10. It describes our day of financial turmoil:

Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:

I like the Geneva note here. First Geneva refers to Jeremiah 6:14:

They have healed also the hurt [of the daughter] of my people slightly, saying, {n} Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace.

Then the Geneva note:

(n) When the people began to fear God's judgments, the false prophets comforted them by flatterings, showing that God would send peace and not war.

The president today says, Peace, be still. Just have patience, and all will be well.

The second note for Ezekiel 13:10 is:

While the true prophets prophesied the destruction of the city to bring the people to repentance, the false prophets spoke the contrary, and flattered them in their vanities, so that what one false prophet said (which is here called the building of the wall) another false prophet would affirm, though he had neither opportunity nor good ground to hear him.

There can be no peace in the assembly of the saints unless it is build upon and around Christ, the word of God, and not around a man.

Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Now some observations from this section:

First: Human nature is afraid to give credit to anyone except self, for fear of losing some of that credit for self. Paul knew there was no danger in exalting Timothy in the eyes of the people. Really, we could probably say that it is to our credit to give honest complements to and about others, but only complements that are deserved.

Second: This great apostle considered the highest honour as being a servant. Not a master or ruler, but a servant.

Our Lord told his disciples as they argued over who would be the greatest,

Luke 22:26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

The greatest honour anyone can have is to be a servant of Christ. But the way we serve Him, is by serving one another. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters in Christ?

How difficult it is to keep a servant's attitude as we are around others, saved or unsaved.

Third: Over the years, people have asked me what it would take to bring a "revival" to America. I have always answered that question, saying that it would take a complete social-economic collapse. It appears that God is bring that collapse to pass in our day.

Yet as we witness this collapse, the false prophets, even in the name of God, such as Joel Olsteen, are flattering "God's people," telling them that God is sending them peace, not war. The bankers and those in authority are all saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace.

At least seven times the Lord says basically the same thing. Though the wicked promise peace, and do all they can to promote peace – armed "peace-keepers," drugs, lower interest rates, promises of change, multiplied billions of dollars to bail out the high-rollers – there can be no peace unless Christ, the Prince of Peace rules in the heart.

Christ has been totally removed from society, and even from the church, while peace and calm are being promised. "Don't worry, be happy," is the cry of the ungodly. Yet we can prophecy the future — only heartache, poverty and turmoil lies in the future because Christ has been removed.

Second section, vv. 3-6.

Every time these folks came to mind, Paul thanked God for them. They had believed his preaching, they had supported him, they had been everything that a Christian should have been to him and Paul remembers them.

V. 4. This verse makes quit a claim. Here he tells them that even with all of the other things on his mind, every time he prays, he also prays for them, and he prays for them with joy.

He implies that he is equally concerned about each individual and prays for them as individuals.

Paul thanked God every time he thought of these people. Every time he prayed, he had these people on his heart and held them up before the heavenly Father.

V. 5 gives the reason for being able to pray for them with joy. For your fellowship in the gospel..

That is, their steadfastness and perseverance in all their Christian duties from the first time they received the gospel.

V. 6. Being confident..

Paul is entirely convinced of this truth that he which hath begun a good work...

This is primarily a reference to salvation, more commonly called eternal security. We have absolutely no reason to even entertain the idea that God called us to Himself through Christ and then can't finish the work of our salvation.

Applications:

First: What do and will folks remember when they think of us? Will they remember:

* How faithful we were to our profession of Christ?
* How easy we were to get along with?
* They will certainly remember our actions, whether they were Christ-like or not. They will remember these things long after we are gone.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.

Second: Can others pray for us with joy for our service and faithfulness to the King, or do they pray with sadness?

Third: Do others get the impression that we are concerned about them as individuals? Are others on our heart enough that we pray for them every time we pray?

Fourth: WHEN OTHERS pray for us, do they pray with joy. That is, thanking God for our unity for the gospel's sake and our Godliness, or do they pray for us with sadness, praying that we would be more united in Christ and more Godly?

Fifth: The highest goal for a pastor is that his people would be united and be consistent in their walk for Christ and for reaching others.

The highest and purest joy he can have is to see his folks moving in the Godliness direction with zeal.

Sixth: Paul never wasted words nor did he exaggerate or flatter. When folks deserved compliments, he gave them. When they didn't, he didn't.

He praised when praise was deserved and rebuked when rebuke was needed. He kept the proper balance.

* How can we give praise when praise is due?

A simple statement of truth toward them done without exaggeration?

But, as we saw in Galatians, with praise should also be a willingness to rebuke when wrong, admonish when in error and to counsel when needed.

To constantly find fault or scold will discourage. It is equally important to praise as it is to rebuke, In fact, both are equal duties.

Folks under our authority have a desire and willingness to please. They need to be praised when they deserve to be. That is more of an encouragement for them to go on than is rebuke, although when rebuke is needed, then rebuke must be given.

We need to display a willingness to be pleased rather than a such a willingness to be displeased. Praise will help promote good conduct in others. (The normal human nature lacks praise of others. Proper praise is something we must work on.)

Seventh: Those friends and loved ones who are absent from us should be remembered in our prayers. On our knees before God is the best place to remember them.

In fact, not only our friends, but even those who have wronged us. If we keep them and their harsh deeds against us in our memory, we will go crazy, If we are going to remember them, let it be before God in prayer. Only he can solve the situation, either in their heart or in ours. (I had someone say to me one evening in an unguarded moment, "Oh, how I hate them." They were unsaved, and were being completely dominated by someone who they felt had done them wrong.)

Eighth: I like this one. V. 6. Unlike us, God has no unfinished works lying around. Many times we start something, lose interest in it, then lay it aside. Bettie and I have so many unfinished tasks around the house, it seems we will never get them all done.

God has never done and will never do anything like that. He has the power, will, determination, patience, grace, mercy (whatever we can name), whatever it takes to finish anything He starts. IF HE STARTS IT, HE WILL FINISH IT.

If He has called us to Christ, He will see us all the way through until the day of Jesus Christ.

If enduring depended upon our holding on until the end, we would surely fail — not a soul would be saved. However, it depends wholly upon Him. As Jonah said, Salvation is of the Lord. 2:9.

There are those who believe that the enemy of our souls is strong enough to either prevent our salvation, or to separate us from the love of God as revealed in our salvation. But Paul asks, who can separate us from the love of God, Rom. 8:35-39?

Yes, the Lord started the work of our salvation in us which will be completed at the day of Jesus Christ, but Philippians is also talking of faithfully working His plan and His good pleasure. 2:12, 13.

As we know, He called us for His purpose to do His good pleasure, As long as we faithfully follow His word, we will walk in His good pleasure and inherit the blessings of that faithfulness.

He called us for a purpose, His purpose. We may have an idea of what that purpose is, but we sure don't have His knowledge in the area, other than knowing that purpose is to be holy even as He is holy.

God has a plan for my life, though it sure seems to me like he has changed it several times. I think I know what it is. As long as I am doing my best for his glory where I am, I can be confident or assured, that He will perform His good pleasure in me. He will accomplish His desire.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Ninth: The best point of all. V. 6, He ...will preform..

The performance is not our responsibility. We may know what we want to do and think that is what God has for us to be or do.

Philippians 3:13-15 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. 15 ¶ 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.

We may even be able to quote vv. 13, 14, and say. "THERE IS the GOAL THAT GOD HAS FOR ME. Then we might be able to name some kind of activity or life style we may have in mind, and then work toward that goal. [The young man in La., who dreamed of being a great evangelist.]

But we see in v. 15 that our goal to which we press toward day and night is to be Like minded with Christ. What was the mind of Christ? IT WAS TO BE OBEDIENT AND PLEASE THE FATHER AT ALL TIMES.

Ph. 3:13-15 with Ph. 1:6, we see that as we make Ph.3:15 our goal and dedicate ourselves to obtaining that goal, then the Father will place us where He wants us to be, which may not necessarily be where we want to be.

Rom. 8:28,29 tells us the same thing. The conforming we are to do in not conforming to a position or office which we might desire to obtain. Rather, the conforming required of us is conforming to the image of Christ. The goal the Father has for us may be persecution and, yes, even the death which Christ had at the hands of wicked men.

There is certainly nothing wrong with having a goal or desire (as the young man did to be an evangelist), and then to prepare to fulfill that desire. But if that physical goal is the consuming desire and the motivating factor in our lives, then I think there is a problem.

What is our goal?

If the goal is to have a big church rather than having the mind of Christ in His obedience to the Father, then that goal will allow a pastor to do whatever is necessary to obtain that goal, lie, cheat, steal, compromise of all kinds.

We have no other choice Scripturally but to have one basic goal, first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then God will add the other things to us.

We can have no other basic purpose than doing all things for the glory of God.

V. 6, with proper goals and purposes, He will perform His good purpose in us, according to His good pleasure.

Next section:

Vv. 7, 8.

Here we see Paul's deep affection for these people. These people had not been afraid to identify with him in his affliction. They had shared his concern and were ready to assist him in any way they could.

The reason they were so willing to do this was because they were partakers of his grace. He had started the church and they were a part of him and he part of them.

V. 8. To me this is one of the most tender verses in Scripture. Paul says, "With God as my witness, I long to see you or hear from you, to know how you are doing." He wanted to know their spiritual welfare. He wanted to know if they were growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. The burden of the heart of this preacher was to know how his people were doing.

This should be the concern of any godly pastor. Paul was an evangelist, but he carried a genuine concern for his converts. We don't hear much of this kind of concern today from evangelists, and not much more from pastors. This is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Finely, For God is my record. God knows the truth of what is in the heart. Are we willing to face up to what is there in this area?

Observations:

First: How willing are we to identify with those who are bing persecuted for the gospel. We may have to say one day soon, "How willing are we to identify with those in our community who are being persecuted for the gospel?

Second: We should have a similar closeness with one another in the gospel.

1 CO 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

We serve the same Master, have the same commands, trials and difficulties. We should have the same readiness to love one another.

Also here (not in the proper order). Paul heard of their faithfulness to the Lord and was confident that God was going to continue to do His good work in them. He expresses no doubt that they will continue on for God.

In this we see that it is good to think the best of people, as long as we can. There is nothing wrong with thinking and speaking good of others, unless it is a lie.

Third: You all. His concern was for them all, not just the rich or poor, the smart or the not so smart. His tender concern the same as was Christ Jesus' concern, for all.

Sad to say, most of even us have a very limited concern. For ourselves and maybe for our families or for those we feel can be of help to us, but our concern should go much further than that. God help us to have this kind of concern.

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