February 8, 2009

Philippans #11

Philippians 2:14-24

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

While our Lord was here, even his disciples murmured and disputed among themselves.

Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

Murmurings-- the secret displeasure or hidden discontent in our inner spirit which quarrels with what we are to do. Basically, murmuring is opposite of a cheerful spirit in various circumstances.

disputings-- the voiced discontent. That is, verbal argument or discontent over what we should be doing. Disputings include both words and tones of sarcasm. Admittedly, a problem I must deal with continually.

1 Pet. 2:12-18, tells us that as we continue to do all things joyfully without murmurings and disputings, God can use our cheerful spirit to speak to the ungodly.

I am afraid we are often like Peter, more concerned about the actions of others than about our own selves:

John 21:21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

God has a way of placing us in the situation and around people that are needed to mold us more into the image of his Son. Romans 8:29. He knows what circumstances are needed. He knows what kind of people we need in our lives. And we are to face those situations without murmuring and with a cheerful attitude.

Application: We saw in Philippians 1:6 that the good work in forming us into the image of Christ which started at salvation, will continue until we are like him in heaven.

I have found that the Lord knows just what we need. His normal mode of operation is to place us in what we consider bad circumstances and around less than desirable people who fulfill that need. We can run from the situation, but not from the Lord. The Lord many times works through authority to form what is needed in us.

Murmurings and disputings are actually against God and the good work that He is accomplishing in us.

If we do ALL THINGS (scriptural) with a willing heart and a cheerful spirit, we can also expect to reap back what we sow.

Colossians 3:22-24 gives us four reasons why are we to do all things without murmurings and disputings:

First, v. 22. Because we fear God.

Second, v. 23. We are doing those things as to the Lord.

Third, v. 24. We will be rewarded as to how we serve Christ.

Fourth, v. 25. Our reward will be based upon an honest evaluation of our attitudes and actions, not upon who we think we are, nor upon who others think we are. Is our heart in our service?

Paul tells the Ephesians the same thing in:

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (from the heart will not result in murmurings and grumbelings) 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Philippians 2:15

Christians of all ages have lived among the wicked. Paul tells us that a godly attitude will shine as a light among the surrounding darkness, and will bring glory to the Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

V. 16.

One of the purposes of the church is to unite in and direct the effort to reach the unconverted and to teach the converted the principles of life as found in God's word.

God's people have no excuse before the Righteous Judge for not holding forth the word of life AND LIGHT in the corner of the dark world where they find themselves.

V. 16 is addressed to all the saints, not just to the pastors or elders.

Paul follows his exhortation with that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

Two points:

First: The work of the ministry, which is the responsibility of all saints, is compared to a race and to hard labor.

ECC 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

HEB 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

The wise man tells us that speed and strength are not what will win this race. Rather, the race requires patient continuance in well-doing, regardless of where we find ourselves.


A good number of years ago, a very good pastor friend and I went to Indianapolis to a grand opening of a Christian Bookstore. They had an author there who spoke, and was promoting his books.

He pointed out that he had been a Chaplin at a major university for some time.

He told us that it was not uncommon for young men come in and start to rationalize away their faith in the word of God. They had come to school with confidence that God's word was true. It would not be long before they would start expressing doubts, which they would express to him.

He said that the first question he would ask them was "When did you start sleeping with your girlfriend?"

This is an extremely good illustration of the point, "A person morality will dictate their theology." All doubt concerning God's word is built on disobedience.

This young man who claimed to believe God's word could not lay aside the weight of lust, so he could continue in the race. On one hand, he had disobedience and pleasures of the flesh. On the other hand was faith and the conflict in his heart. He had to either lay aside his faith or lay aside the weight of self.

So wanting to sleep with his girlfriend, he dismissed the lust area as not really addressed by God's word, or that it did not apply in his case. The rest of his faith then fell to his unholy lusts.

(We have seen more than one family flee from a Church because they didn't want to have to repent of a sin which that Church stood against. Folks desire to be Christians which inherits the blessings of obedience yet not have to pay the price to obey.)

V. 16. We must run the race with patience. If we don't see the promised results the first, second, third time, we must keep on.

PRO 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

We could change the falleth to faileth and keep the teaching in tact. "I tried it God's way and failed." Keep at it, don't give up.

Second point from v. 16.

Probably the greatest joy to a minister or pastor is to see his people faithfully serving God.

The context here is:

A.) Doing all things without murmurings and disputings.

This shines as light in the midst of darkness.

B.) Holding forth the word of life.

Rejoicing in the day of Christ.

Paul encouraged his people here to continue in what they had been taught, so he could rejoice in that day as a faithful preacher of God's word.

1TH 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? V.20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Faithfulness in the lives of his people is the greatest reward that any Christian leader or pastor can have.

On the other end here – there is probably nothing which makes a pastor feel that his ministry has been in vain than to see his people fight, complain, bicker, and be unconcerned about the unconverted around them.

Conclusion of this section:

1. Does the Lord have us in trying situations or around some trying people? If so, what is He trying to accomplish our lives?

Not, "What is He trying to do in that other person," but, "What is He trying to do in me?"

2. Are we encouraging to our mates? Or do we resist them with murmurings and disputings?

3. Do we have a nice exterior which impresses everyone but that exterior is there to please others. Do others look at us or hear us speak and say, "My, what a good Christian," yet, the inside is full of dead mens bones?

Vv. 17, 18. Paul is probably facing death, as he writes from his Roman prison. Now Paul tells them that he rejoices in whatever sacrifice that he must if it resulted in an increase in their faith and faithfulness. He willingly and rejoiceingly spent all he had for their well-being.

He was even rejoicing in his facing of death if it made these people more acceptable to God.

His rejoicing over whatever be the cost to draw others closer to Christ wasn't restricted to him. He adds, also do ye joy.

Paul points out that the people at Philippi rejoiced in the personal cost and sacrifice which they endured as they sought the spiritual well-being of these around them.

Paul and the people here both rejoiced in the personal cost and sacrifice which they had made to reach and instruct others with the word of God.

What are willing to "sacrifice" for another's spiritual well-being?

Vv. 19-24.

Paul hoped to be able to go to the people to strengthen them, protect them from false teachers and check on their spiritual condition. Though in prison, he was still concerned about their well-being, rather than his own condition.

Paul was unable to go, so he sends Timothy, hoping he would be able to follow later.

Vv. 19 & 24. But I trust in the Lord Jesus Christ

This is a very powerful statement which shows us that Paul was fully conscious of the sovereignty of God.

Though at the mercy of Rome, Paul does not say, "If Rome will permit me to do this."

Wicked men make their evil plans to support the wicked, to overthrow the US as well as to overthrow Christianity. (The first Bush and Gorb. got together in a secret meeting and make plans as to how to get the American people on their side to keep Western funds flowing into Communism to keep it afloat.)

Psalms 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

Every wicked plan imaginable is made by men and devils to accomplish all kinds of mischief to void God's plan. Yet they will only work as the Lord permits.

Let me touch something here.

One of the most misused verses in Scripture is

James 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James is talking of the future, and depending on God to allow one's plans to work out. Paul is saying the same in vv. 19 &24.

In the early 1800s, the Plymouth Brethren latched on to James 4:15 to "scripturally prove" their new theory of a Secret Rapture. They changed If the Lord will to If the Lord tarry, a term not found in Scripture. Rather, it is James 4:15 twisted to make it support what they wanted to teach. (Their usurpation of this verse took place around 1830-1840. Neatby's History, pg. 228.) If the Lord tarry indicates an immanent return of Christ. We are soon to be gone, so no need to get involved in "social issues."

Paul did not say, "If the Lord tarry." Rather he said, "If the Lord will." This shows us that he did not expect the Imminent Return of the Lord. He made plans for the future, and then he depended on the Lord to let him see the plans through.

Even though a prisoner, he knew the whole matter was in God's hands. If God saw fit to turn him lose, he planed to go visit the Churches. Thus we see that his desire for freedom wasn't so he could do his own thing but it was so he could continue to do God's thing.

Being in prison, he sends Timothy. 6 reasons:

1. He was unable to go. He was not putting off on someone else what he did not want to do, as we commonly do.

2. To comfort his heart by assuring himself through Timothy that they were continuing in the faith.

Epaphroditus had come with their support for Paul from Philippi but that had been some time ago. Epaphroditus had fallen ill and had not been able to return. Timothy is trustworthy, and will give an honest report, which will comfort Paul.

Is it a comfort to us to know others are prospering in the Lord, or does our concern stop with our families?

3. A second reason is that Timothy was like a son to Paul, and had been faithful to Paul in the gospel. V.22.

Timothy had been with Paul at Philippi. It was like a man sending his own son to check on the welfare of those he is concerned about.

4. The people knew Timothy, that he was faithful to the gospel and to Paul, so they would trust him. He did not have to win their confidence. V. 22.

What have we proved to our community and to those around us?

Timothy was not living on Paul's reputation. Timothy had proved himself by his own works, as he worked out his own salvation.

It is so easy, and wrong, to live off of our parents's good reputation, or off of our spouse's reputation.

5. Timothy was likeminded with Paul.

Paul was sincerely concerned for the well-being of these people here. Timothy was also. V. 20.

Timothy had a genuine concern. If he found that things were not as Paul had hoped they were for God, Timothy would have been as broken hearted as the Apostle himself would have been.

6. V, 21 is a very sharp rebuke to everyone else around Paul at Rome. He had already said that some at Rome cared only for themselves. Did he know who was right and who was wrong? He knew he could trust that Timothy sought the things of Christ. Timothy's motives were Christ and not self.

Paul puts his finger on the reason the kingdom of God is not advancing as it could and should: for all see their own.

Seeking our own hinders our testimony and hinders the work of the Lord through us. Every Christian will answer to the Lord God in that day.

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