Feb 15, 2009
Continuing in Philippians 2, 25.
Last time, we saw 6 reasons why Paul sent Timothy to Philippi
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 the Philippians were continuing in the faith. Is should be a comfort to us to know others are prospering in the Lord, or does our concern stop with our families?
3. Timothy was like a son to Paul, and had been faithful to Paul in the gospel. V.22. 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. Timothy was not living on Paul's reputation. Timothy had proved himself by his own works, as he worked out his own salvation.
5. Timothy was like-minded with Paul, so he was sincerely concerned for the well-being of these people here.
6. V, 21 is a very sharp rebuke to everyone else around Paul at Rome. Timothy was the only one Paul could trust to have the right motives.
The next section we can look at is vv. 25-30, where we meet Epaphroditus. (4:18 also.)
Epaphroditus was a member of the church at Philippi. The Church there had sent relief or aid by Epaphroditus to Paul while he was in this Roman prison.
While here in Rome, he had been taken dangerously ill; in fact, he was nigh unto death. Evidently this illness lasted for some time, because word of his illness got back to the Church and the Church was greatly concerned about his illness. Word of their concern had time to get back to Paul at Rome.
When he recovered, Paul thought it best to send him back to the church. He evidently delivered this letter to the church.
V. 25 tells us some important things about Epaphroditus:
First, he was a Layman, your messenger (v. 18 also).
He was a man in the church who had a opportunity to do something for the Lord, and he did it. Though it was a simple errand in the sight of others, he was willing to do it.
He probably expected to take the aid to Paul in prison, drop it off, and go back home. But things didn't work out that way. He was stranded by illness, and his presence at home was greatly missed.
Second, this layman went to Rome.
Rome was not known for its godliness. In fact, it was the center of wickedness and pleasure of the day, not unlike Paris of our day.
Epaphroditus was a stranger in a strange city, unknown to everyone except Paul and maybe Timothy.
No doubt the enemy came to him (as he does to us) and said, "Look! You are away from home, No one knows you. Now is the time you can do all sorts of things you could not do when others might recognize you."
But he was a godly layman. We expect Paul to turn his back on all of the temptations to join in the wickedness of Rome, yet the same expectations are of laymen also.
He became ill, but nor because he indulged in the riotous living around him. He fell ill serving God, and his godliness was commended by Paul.
How many godly lay people or ministers have traveled away from home and been influenced to partake in ungodly activities?
How many kids have been involved in wickedness because they were away from the restraints and influences which have kept them in check? Now their lives are ruined. In fact, how many of them get away from their restraints in hope that they can be involved in wickedness and no one know about it?
The tempter is an expert at saying, "No one will ever know."
ECC 10:20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.
This bird has ratted on more than a few people. God has a way of seeing that the secret things get out.
LUK 8:17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
Epaphroditus did not do anything about which he had to worry getting back home to those who knew him.
Third. Paul is always honest in his appraisal of people, and he gives this layman an excellent report.
My brother in the gospel.
The Church at Philippi highly regarded the Apostle Paul. Now Paul makes it clear that he and Epaphroditus are on equal footing in the gospel.
He wasn't Paul's son as Timothy may have been, yet he still regarded him very highly. By the Apostle saying these things about him, it would have built him up in the eyes of his friends there at Philippi.
There is no harm in saying nice things about others which would build them up in the eyes of those who know them. We meet folks who act like their tongue would drop out if they said anything nice about anyone. These folks talk like it is there primary goal to discredit everyone to everyone.
And companion in labor.
Maybe he had helped Paul while the Apostle had been at Philippi. But more than likely, Paul is considering him a companion because they are both in the same great work for Christ, as the next point implies.
Paul calls him, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger.
Paul does not identify him as someone helping him. Rather he places this layman on equal footing with himself in the gospel. We are on equal footing before God in the gospel.
Probably no person alive would place these two men on equal footing, but the Spirit does.
1CO 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Christians, laymen and pastors, are working for the same Master and for the same cause.
Though the Apostle had a greater measure of grace, which gave him more responsibility and more accountability before God, he does not at all present himself as more important to God.
Laity and leaders MUST work hand-in-hand if anything of any importance is going to be done for the Kingdom's sake. Labor and warfare for the Kingdom's sake must be a joint effort by all Christians or it will fail.
Fourth, there was no duel standard.
I don't think that the Apostle here expected anything from these lay persons in these churches which he was not either willing to do or already was doing.
Nor did the lay persons expected of Paul anything which they were not doing, whether those expectations were concerning their personal walk with the Lord or their physical activity for the Lord. In other words, there was no duel standard of holiness and activity. There was not one standard for the laity and one standard for the leaders, as is so common among Christians today.
Fifth, if advancing God's Kingdom into the society around us is not a joint effort, it will:
Bring reproach upon the name of Christ
The successful advancement of God's Kingdom depends equally upon the sacrifice of the laity and of the leaders.
Paul makes it clear that laymen are of equal importance to the Kingdom work as are the leaders. The only difference is the office each holds.
V. 25, fellowsoldier... Let's consider some things implied by warfare in a Christian Context.
First, the layman is equally involved in this warfare as are the ministers and teachers of the Gospel.
Second, both are drafted into the warfare, and each has been
assigned a different position in the war.
EPH 1:4,5 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
2TI 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
God called his people to be involved.
Third, warfare speaks of duty.
JOS 5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? (Would anyone like to guess who the Lord's host is?)
HEB 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The called out ones are under the captain of the Lord's hosts.
When we were in the military, we certainly were not asked about how we felt about things. There was no pleading and reasoning with us to get us to do what they wanted us to do. They didn't check with us to see if our motives were right.
While doing the research on the early days of The Brethren movement, I came across something very interesting which caught my attention. It is of great importance for us today.
This movement "maintained the insufficiency of the law as a guide to a life lived in the energy and illumination of the indwelling spirit of God." History of the Brethren, by Neatby, pgs. 234, 5.
Here we see where Scofield got his idea of the "principle of obedience being to the divine will which is inwrought." In other words, obedience is based in if we feel right about it. We are only required to follow God's law-word if we feel convicted about something. "I'm not really convicted about that" has been used many times by many sincere people. It is a lie of the devil himself to make a person feel alright when they disobey.
The principle of obedience must always be the revealed word of God, regardless of how we feel about it or even our motive. "Conviction" has nothing to do with obedience. We obey because God commands, not because we are convicted.
This movement also believed that their mission was "to emphasize the contrast between law and gospel, to insist on the freedom of Christian service, and to disparage (ridicule) the conception of duty in favor of the conception of privilege. A History, by Neatby, pg. 235."
Obedience to God's law is seen as a privilege rather than a duty. This wicked idea has been devastating to Christianity.
When privilege replaces duty, then one can give up a privilege with no bad consequences. But when obedience to God's law-word is seen as a duty, then bad consequences accompany disobedience.
Paul says that we are soldiers. This means that we are in a warfare. Certainly it is a privilege to serve BUT it is far more than that. IT IS A DUTY. Duty speaks of responsibility. Responsibility speaks of chastisement if not fulfilled.
It is a privilege that God chose us to be a one of His children. But that privilege carries with it a heavy responsibility of duty.
Sure, my instructors in the military told me many times how it was a privilege to serve in the military. I knew it was a privilege to be in the SEABEES. When I went in there were very few who were able to get into this branch of the service. We had to prove five years experience in heavy equipment to even be considered. (At 20 I had this experience.)
But I'll guarantee that privilege did not exempt me from DUTY.
If privilege doesn't exempt us from duty in man's military, it is heresy to think think that Privilege is more important than or that it is emphized above duty to God.
Fourth, warfare speaks of being drafted, of duty and also of COURAGE.
There are two types of courage. Physical and moral. PHYSICAL COURAGE.
The first courage is the one we all think about when we think of courage. When we hear of natural disasters we hear a lot about the courage of people.
This is the person who:
jumps in the water and rescues another when the rescuer can't
rushes into the burning building to pull out a victim.
comes to the aid of a car wreck victim.
comes to the aid of the victims of natural disasters of all kinds.
goes back into the aircraft before it sinks to make sure everyone is out.
Physical courage is common in the time of war or when our lives, families, money or possessions are at stake.
I believe it is significant that we hear a lot about these "physical heros." In fact, over the past few years, we have been hearing of every soldier who returns from overseas refereed to as a "hero."
I like a line in the Pixar movie, "The Incredibles."
The dad was trying to tell his son that everyone is special. The
son said, "If everyone is special, then no one is special."
The same here: "If everyone is a hero, then no one is a hero."
We are led to believe that we are in a nation of courageous people when nothing could be further from the truth.
We don't have the courage to stop the drug trade or the scandals in the civil government because of the love of money and the power which is involved.
We don't have the courage to stand against the world-wide spread of Marxism (Socialism, Communism). We don't have the courage to stand against the special interest lobbies in Washington D.C. The sodomites, the women's groups, the abortionists, the blacks who make outrageous demands, the Banks, the Lawyers.
If two or more vocal people, representing wickedness are gathered together in D.C., the politician come running followed closely by the media. Both dedicated to doing all they can for their ungodly cause.
There is a total lack of courage to stand against moral evil, especially where money or voters are at stake.
There seems to be a total lack of courage on the part of Pastors to stand for righteousness if there is a chance it might cause them the loss of people or physical possessions, money or position.
The only courage which is evident today is shown by the media as they try their best to destroy every Christian virtue from public life. Also, there is great courage shown by the State schools as they throw God and all morality out of the classroom. Let's not overlook the courage of those in civil government, as they also do all they can to overthrow everything which even indicates God and reason.
There is plenty of courage on the part of the wicked to attack the Bible, Christians and everything which represents the word of God in anyway. But where is the Christian courage to stand fast? The refuse to stand on social issues and on moral issues, thus making Christianity completely irrelevant in society.
There are a great many Bible illustrations of courage.
* David and the Giant.
* Ehud slew Eglon right under the noses of the guards and walked calmly out of the palace.
* Gideon, Barack (and Deborah), and even Samson who with his tremendous moral lack, had physical courage.
The word of God doesn't lack of exciting stories of tremendous courage against overwhelming odds.
We need physical courage, and history has never lacked this courage in both the Christian and non-Christian realm. There has always been and will always be folks who will charge in where even angles fear to tread. Disasters prove this over and over again.
Lack of physical courage is not our problem today, nor has it been in the past. What is lacking is MORAL COURAGE.
As I thought on this one and tried to place my finger on a good Biblical example, I could think of very few.
Moses would be one. Most of the prophets would fit here. Probably the best known Bible character would be Joseph.
What do we mean by moral courage?
* It means to stand alone for right if we need to.
* It means to say no when everyone else is doing it.
* It means risking our jobs when our boss tells us to do something which goes against Biblical principles. (See Journal, 11-12/89. Pg4.)
* It means taking the unpopular stand on Biblical principles when "public opinion" is wrong, maybe even making enemies in our communities or even ending up in jail.
* It means the risking of making enemies in high places to stand for what is right according to the word of God.
* It means the loss of friends if it comes to that.
* It means being different, dressing differently, talking differently, acting differently away from home as well as at home. It's easy to put on our front at home but when we get away the truth comes out.
* It means the politicians saying no, even if it means the loss of votes or campaign funds.
The lack of this moral courage is sending this world to hell and is bringing down God's judgment.
1CO 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Paul wrote this to call these people back to moral courage to stand for God in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation. MY, HOW WE NEED THIS TODAY.
Fifth, Warfare also speaks of SUBMISSION TO PROPER AUTHORITY.
One of the most devastating things that can happen to any army is a breakdown of this proper submission to lawful authority.
Notice that we say proper authority. Not all authority is proper authority.
When I was in the service, my first duty station was in Washington D. C., where I was assigned to a motor-pool. That is not a good place to put a new serviceman. One of our assigned tasks was to deliver the inner-service mail - guard mail. There would be two of us all the time in the car and, needless to say, we traveled all over the city to all of the military installations with this mail.
When we were in boot-camp, we were taught respect for and submission to all authority. But when I got to my first duty station, I ended up with this job.
One of the places where we would deliver to was the Pentagon.
Every time we would go there, there would be brass of all kinds,
standing around waiting for a bus. There would be one and two
star admirals walking from one place to another as eron boys.
Even though they were very high in rank, we were not required to pick them up. We could if we wanted to, but we did not have to. Some times they would call the motor-pool demanding a ride. Sometimes they would try to flag us down as they would see us drive by. They would even call in and attempt to report us for not stopping for them. Yet with all of this, we did not have to provide transportation for them.
Why? Because they did not have the proper authority.
Now, all of that to say this. Just because someone makes a claim over us of authority Does NOT MEAN THEY HAVE THAT AUTHORITY.
The WORD OF GOD determines proper and improper authority. We hear of persecution around the world of Christians who deny the authority of the civil authority. That authority has the power, but not the Biblical authority to make demands, such as abortion.
Of course, the first and foremost place of that authority is in the home.
Children must learn in the home to respect authority.
Bettie and I attended a "valentine" dinner Friday the 13th. The speaker was talking about his grandchildren. He said that when his grandson came and acted up, he told the grandson, "We don't do time-out. We do spankings." The grandson created no more problems.
Even Christian parents have sacrificed their God-given authority to the wicked, in believing that anything except the rod will drive foolishness from the heart of a child.
The result is a rebellious generation:
Proverbs 30:11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.
Parents must have the courage to take their stand as parents in the home.
Parents have right and responsibility before God to choose with whom their children can hang around.
Proper authority. We see it's breakdown all around us:
In the home, on the job, in the church, in civil government, in every area of society in general. The root of this breakdown is in the home. The major cause of this breakdown is the State schools. There is a purpose behind it.
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