March 1, 2009
We are looking at Paul and Timothy in Philippians 2. Being in prison and unable to return to Philippi to check on the ministry there, Paul sends Timothy back to check on them. We considered several reasons why Paul sent Timothy.
The church at Philippi had sent support to Paul by way of Epaphroditus, and while in Rome, Epaphroditus had become ill, almost to death. We see in v. 25, that Epaphroditus had been of great assistance to Paul while with him in Rome.
From v. 25, we saw some things about this layman.
First, though a layman, the great apostle Paul considered him on equal footing with himself. They have different positions in the body of Christ, and different responsibilities, but they are equal before God.
How unlike so many religious leaders today. Unless others have attended their particular school, or obtained to their particular place in the body, they are looked down upon by those high in the religious society.
Second, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3 that whether layman, Apostle or leader, we are labor's together in the Kingdom of God, and will be rewarded according to our faithfulness to what we can do.
Third, is the point we are considering. followsoldier...
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Christ himself tells us we are in an army, and that army is to be on the move.
Did not the Lord use the picture of an army when he went to encourage Joshua as they prepared to attack the gates of hell in the promised land?
Joshua 5:15 And the captain of the LORDS host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
The Lord's army is to be on the move against wickedness and evil. We are commanded many times by our Captain to move forward for his cause.
Followsoldier implies several things.
First, laymen are equally involved in this warfare as are the ministers and teachers of the Gospel.
In the military, every one was expected to obey the higher authority, and everyone had an authority over them. The final authority was supposedly the Constitution, which we swore to defend. Those who did not follow their authority were held accountable.
Second, both laymen and leaders are drafted into the warfare, and each has been assigned a different position in the war.
Third, warfare speaks of duty.
Fourth, warfare speaks of courage.
2 Samuel 10:12 Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good.
As Joab led David's army into battle against the Syrians, he made plans with Abishai his brother. Addressing his army OF MEN, he tells them to act like men, be courageous, face the enemy, and attack.
Fifth, warfare also speaks of submission to proper authority. Romans 13 tells us that the final authority is the Lord God.
Sixth, warfare speaks of action.
Joshua 7:10-13 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
The Captain of the Lord's army told Joshua to get rid of the sin and fight. Prayer is needed, but prayer cannot replace action. Certainly, it is far easer to pray than to get into the action, but prayer will not win this battle. This battle requires hard work and personal sacrifice if society is going to be influenced for God.
Most of us can remember the invasion of Grenada in 1983. The US sent 10,000 troops to overthrow the government of Grenada. Grenada only has a population of 110,000. Very few men were actually involved in the invasion, yet there was a truck load of metals given out. People got a metal for just being there.
Far too many Christians want to fight like this. Everyone knows they should be in the battle, but everyone wants a desk job, and expects to be rewarded for that desk job.
There is a warfare going on. We are involved in a warfare against the enemies of the Redeemer and His Kingdom. God hath chosen us to be involved. He has drafted us, and with that draft came duty. The battle will only be won by men like Epaphroditus. We will be held accountable for our faithfulness to our duty in the Lord's army far more than any human military authority ever held anyone accountable.
Seventh, warfare speaks of engagement against enemies and overcoming the enemies. Enemies which will put up a resistance to the death.
Some of the enemies we face:
A.) Our worse enemy is our own fallen nature. That warfare takes place in our own heart, soul or spirit. Our nature wars against us to prevent, to hinder, to keep us from fulfilling our duties as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
The warfare with ourselves is undoubtably the most difficult of all. Few can conquer their own nature, and it is impossible without Christ, who won the victory on the cross for his people.
Sad to say, the vast majority of even professed Christians have lost this warfare. We expect the sinner to be controlled by the desires of his heart, but many Christians are also..
The Christian is to be free from those things which would keep him from being an effective soldier for the King,
II Tim. 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.
PRO 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
PRO 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
PRO 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
The battle starts in the heart; in the spirit. When the spirit is brought under subjection to our Lord and Master, the physical is also brought under subjection to God's word.
The world-wide problem we face today is the lack of self-control. The enemy knows that if he can destroy self-control, he has the nations in his hand.
It seems that everything around us is geared to destroy self-control.
There must be the return to Christian self-control if there will be any hope for the coming generations.
B.) Another enemy in this warfare is the pressure from outside which works to hinder or even stop our efforts for the Kingdom of God.
Pressure from the outside can come from the might army of false prophets and teachers:
1. They attempt to separate in any ways the Christian and his duty to God.
2. They are enemies when they seek to separate the Christian from God's laws and commandments.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
We have dealt with this passage several times, so we will not again.
There is far more to the duty of a soldier than staying in his tent or barracks studying the field manual.
For many years now, I have received a particular mailing that has nothing but salvation messages or messages that pertain to being more personally spiritual. As I have looked through the messages, I have yet to see anything that has any social relevance in them.
No doubt the pastor is a good man who loves God, but God's people are being destroyed because they are not being taught and urged to apply the law-word of God into the many social situations around them.
The gospel that changed the world at one time is now almost completely irrelevant.
HOS 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
My desire is that the word of God be relevant to everything that is going on in this age of confusion and turmoil.
That includes being involved in the social issues around us, including involvement with those in need.
That includes standing against the wickedness, and applying our Christianity into everything.
Pressure from the outside can easily include the State, as it works to remove Christianity and Christian law from society, particularly through the public education system.
Folks will get `hiper` when the State or the world attempts to interfere in what they want to do. Yet Christians will not get worked up enough against the anti-Christ state to take their children out of the statist education system, nor to change their voting habits.
1. How do we see Christianity? A privilege or as a duty?
2. How are we doing in the area of moral courage? This courage must start in Salvation.
3. How are we doing in the ACTION?
The next point of V. 25:
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.
But your messenger... Apparently, others in this church considered Epaphroditus simply a messenger appointed to carry out their desire to help Paul in his hour of need. However, they probably did not realize the importance of a lay person to the Kingdom of God.
Paul implies here that the lay person does not realize how important he is to the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. Sadly, not many leaders see his importance either.
Without men like Epaphroditus, the work will fail. It is the laity who spreads the kingdom-laws into society, not the clergy. The job of the teacher is to instruct the Christian in God's law-word, so he can apply it.
Christian men must realize how important their efforts are in the kingdom work, for without them, the work will not be accomplished.
Neither Paul nor Timothy could do it all, nor were they expected to. They had to train men like Epaphroditus. God did not place man on this earth to make a living, but to glorify Him. He made heaven possible through the sacrifice of His Son, so that we might enjoy HIM forever.
Clearly, God is no respecter of persons, and both laity and leaders are required in the Kingdom work. Both will answer for how they did what God had given them the abilities to do.
Over the years, I have found that it takes more dedication for the layman to fulfill his responsibility than it does to be a pastor, but really, both are equally important. Both the position of leadership and layman require the calling of God. Both must have God's grace and power and direction. Both must respect the other according to God's word.
Vv. 26-28. Now we come to the next division, his illness.
As we have seen, Epaphroditus was a layman who faithfully did what he could, and brought aid from the church at Philippi to Paul, who is in prison in Rome. While he was here in Rome, he fell ill.
First, Paul is in jail for the gospels sake and Epaphroditus is very ill for the gospels sake.
Calamity and illness are common to all, regardless of their station in life. For either of these men, it was not the result of sin; rather it was for our instruction.
Second, the illness.
There are many false teachers who say that the supernatural is needed to prove that one is filled with the Spirit.
We have mentioned several times that the filling with the Spirit is the power of God to work hard for His glory, Ex.28:3; 31:3-6; 35:31-36:38. Therefore, according to God's definition, both Paul and Epaphroditus were filled with the SPIRIT OF GOD, for they were busy doing what their profession of faith required of them.
V. 27. sick unto death... Note that Paul did not restore him by a miracle. Epaphroditus had to recover by natural means over an extended period of time. He recovered by God's mercy, not by a miraculous intervention on Paul's part.
And we can safely say that Paul would have intervened of he could have because we see that Paul would have had sorrow upon sorrow if the Lord had not raised him up.
Miraculous intervention is not always God's will, and, even if it is, after the death of the last Apostle, supernatural healing is to be according to James 5. Certainly, God can and does intervene without following James 5, for he is not restricted. And even when these Apostles used the miraculous, it was God who determined when and where to use it.
Far more often than not, God uses normal means to cure illness.
MAR 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the
Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
Thus we see that the purpose of the supernatural signs in Scripture was to confirm "The New Doctrine of Christ" to the unbeliever. Clearly we are shown here that God is not for man's benifit, but man is for God's benifit. It seems as though many Christians, urged on by profiting prophets, think God is man's errand boy to come running to man's aid any time that man gets in trouble for ignoring God's word.
Another point about Epaphroditus' healing. God, in His mercy, intervened in this situation, and raised him up so he could continue on in his service for God.
God gives us life to be used for His glory. And, really we have no right to expect Him to continue to give us life and health if we are not going to use it for Him.
Most folks (even professed Christians) view good health as being for their benefit, to use as they please, to make a good living and enjoy life.
If we squander our life on ourselves, our lives will end up totally wasted as well as in total ruin. Consider King Hezekiah:
2KI 20:19? Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?
Hezekiah saw his supernaturally lengthened life for his own enjoyment. His only concern was for his own peace and security. (If this isn't a discription of our day, I don't know what is.)
Contrast Hezekiah's extended life with Epaphroditus' extended life. We will live after Hezekiah or Epaphroditus.
Hezekiah misused his life and his children paid the price as servants of the king of Babylon. This man, Epaphroditus, used his life to serve God. Obviously, Epaphroditus had the better outcome of his life.
Notice that the emphasis of vv. 19-30 is on the well-being of others. Everything the Apostle did was with the goal of making others more acceptable to God, whether was those he was very close to or those he had only heard of.
Another point here in this illness. A work of the Spirit gives us a genuine concern.
Epaphroditus (V. 26) is sorrowful for causing the Church to worry about him (even though he could not control the difficulty).
Again, far to many of us live only to ourselves, totally unconcerned about the sorrow and grief which we might cause others. The servant of Christ is concerned about the effects of his actions upon others and in society.
Epaphroditus was a layman, trying to serve God in whatever way he could. He was a layman willing to go out of his way and make personal sacrifice for the furtherance of God's Kingdom.
I like what Paul said in V. 25. yet I supposed it necessary to send to you...
Paul would have liked to have kept him with him at Rome, yet he knew he was a valuable member at Philippi and that he was missed. (I have known some that I would just as soon see stay away.)
Let me say that each one here today is a valued a valued member of this fellowship in the Lord. We rejoice when we see you here and sorrow when we don't see you here.
* He and his efforts were missed at this Church.
* He was actively engaged in the spreading of the gospel and in caring for those around him.
* He was a man willing to go out of his way and make personal sacrifices for the well-being of others and the furtherance of the Gospel. His love for God was proved by his dedication to advance His Kingdom.
* He was willing to do whatever he could.
* He was even willing to make the supreme sacrifice, death, for the work of Christ, v. 27.
How much of an effort is the average layperson willing to extend in our day for the advancement of God's kingdom?
Compare this with the effort they are willing to extend for
Compare this with how much the wicked are willing to invest to extend their wickedness.
We are just a short way from finishing this chapter, so let us continue to
Vv. 29, 30
We could title this, CHRISTIAN HEROS or even THE TRUE CHAMPIONS FOR CHRIST.
First, why did Paul sent Epaphroditus back?
PHI 2:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
Even though Paul would like to have kept him here with him, he knew that the folks at Philippi would rejoice at seeing him again. Paul was more concerned about their joy than he was about his own. If they were joyful, then so was he.
Needless to say, this is the Bible definition of true love. Paul practiced what he preached. He found joy in making others joyful.
Second, what did Paul tell them to do?
PHI 2:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness;
and hold such in reputation:
Then he tells them why they are to do this.
PHI 2:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
He was to be received back and regarded with honor; he was to be treated with respect because he was faithful to the work of Christ, even to the point of death.
All who are faithful in their work for Christ are to be treated with honor.
ROM 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Paul tells us here that we owe honor to those who are faithful in their duty to Christ. They are the true heros who should be exalted before the next generation.
Could Paul tell others to honour us for our Christian faithfulness to the Son?
1. What kind of sacrifice are we willing to make for the cause of Christ? I'm afraid that the cost may be quite high one day soon. Are we willing to die if God should see fit to allow it to come to that?
2. Are we bringing honor or dishonor to the gospel? We can be assured that we are leaving an impression one way or the other.
1CO 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
God will not put up with those who dishonor him.
3. We saw in vv. 13, 14, it is so much easer to gripe and complain than it is to just do what needs to be done, to do our duty as a Christian.
4. V. 3. lowliness of mind. Let us not be disappointed if others do not think as much of us as we feel they should. Most of us think far too much of ourselves anyway. As Christians, we profess to have a low opinion of ourselves, the Scriptures teach that we are to have such, why should we be upset when others do?
5. V. 3. We are to be willing to occupy the place in the church where we are needed. The number one requirement in Christianity is humility. No one has ever been saved who was not willing to humble himself as a little child.
6. V. 4. How much interest do we have in others? Many will exhibit an interest for personal reasons, but how many will for the Lord's sake?
7. V. 5. Who is our example? Christ or a person?
2 CO 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
I talked to someone who, in a very unguarded moment, said, "Oh, how I hate them." Those whom that person hates, controls them. The one hated is now their standard. Everything is done in terms of the one hated.
Christ alone can be our standard, our comparison. He showed us what is expected of us be the Father in His law.
8. Finely, let us let our light shine, work out our own salvation, and rejoice in the risen Saviour.
9. Let us be faithful lay persons with the goal of advancing the kingdom of God at every opportunity.
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