Philippians 1-4 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight PHI01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
And now, shall we-- I can't wait to see this-- flip to Philippians, chapter one. Four great chapters ahead of us. Philippians. Let's pray together. Father, we are serving this great book of the Bible, but we don't want to just know how it's put together. We want to know how you put us together, and equipped us to live in this world, and to make an impact, to not only survive, but to thrive.
And so, father, you have a message for us who have gathered-- those who are tuning in a variety of ways. You have a message. Though we're going to be saying the same things to lots of different people, you're going to individualize those truths to each of us.
There will be something special that you have that you are longing to say to all those who are a part of this Bible study. We pray that your spirit would have the freedom to open our hearts and to speak those truths to us. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
I was reading a story about a guy named Daniel Manville, who was put in prison on a manslaughter charge. He spent three and 1/2 years in prison. But while he was there, he decided that he would study law. He did. He got out of prison. He kept going with his studies. He passed the bar exam, became a lawyer, started representing prisoners and prison guards.
And today, he is a university professor of law in the state of Michigan. He accomplished something after being incarcerated. Leaving prison, he decided to make something different out of his life. Then I read a story of another guy who was put in prison for seven years on drug charges. When he was released, he became a civic leader and became a real estate agent. He became a philanthropist, making money and giving it to good causes.
All great accomplishments after they left prison. Their lives were totally reformed-- transformed, you might even say. What makes Paul unique is he didn't wait until after he got out of prison. He accomplished a lot while he was in prison. In fact, once we read Philippians and internalize it, we realize I am hereby the will of God. God allowed me to be put in this prison to further his gospel.
So while he was in prison, he wrote four letters we told you about last week. One we read last week-- or part of it-- the Book of Ephesians. That's the first of Paul's prison letters. Second is this book, Philippians. Third will be next time the, Book of Colossians. And then a little bit later on, we'll look at the short little Book of Philemon.
Paul wrote those while he was in prison. So hey, it's great to do things after you get out of jail, but to be able to say, you know, I wrote a good portion of the Bible while I was in prison, shows you that nothing is holding Paul back from carrying out the will of God. The worst of circumstances may be the best part of ministry.
We don't like to think of that. Especially in this country, we love our freedoms, and we have an idea of what our lives should look like. And when they're curtailed, or contained, or restricted, we are bewildered. We even sometimes raise a fist. How could you allow this, God, if you're a God of love? It's because he is a God of love that he allows it. And no more poignant example do we have than the life of Paul the Apostle, I think, in this book.
Philippi was a colony of Rome. Philippi was located in Europe. Paul going to Philippi was the first time the gospel went to Europe. Now, as a Roman colony, it was named after a very important leader. Philippi sounds like what name? Phil or Philip. And it was named after the Father of Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedon.
Paul never planned to go to Philippi. It was not on his radar screen. It was not like he woke up one day and goes, you know, I really want to go to Philippi. Now, I've. Said that I've never been to Philippi. Some of you have gone. I've never gone. It's on my bucket list. One day, I went to visit this place because it was so dear to Paul's heart.
But not for Paul. He had no plans to go to Philippi. He goes there, but it was an interesting way he got there. It was Paul's second missionary journey. He had a falling out with John Mark, broke company with him, broke company with Barnabas. John Mark and Barnabas went one way. Paul decided to take a guy named Silas on his second missionary journey to revisit those places that he had been on his first missionary journey.
He wanted to visit them, strengthen the churches, expand into territories a little bit beyond that. So he goes back to Galatia. And he first, after Galatia, tries to go south into what they called Asia. We would have probably identified it as Asia Minor, a portion of Turkey. Though he tries to go there, he can't.
The Holy Spirit, the Bible tells us, forbade him to go. We're not told why. All I can surmise is it's just not time yet-- not time. He'll go there later on, on his third missionary trip, but he tries to go south, Holy Spirit shuts the door. Then he tries to go north into Bithynia, which is up by the Caspian Sea, a beautiful place in the summertime.
Holy Spirit won't allow him to go there either. So the door is shut on two accounts. Now, he has come from the east. He tries to go south, he tries to go north. There's only really one place left-- west, but he doesn't know that yet. All he knows is he's trying to expand the gospel south, no dice, north, can't go. I hope that's a lesson that we can all grab a hold of.
You know, the Bible tells us that the steps of a righteous person-- a good man, some translations say-- are ordered by the Lord. Don't you love that promise, that your steps-- though you don't always know exactly where they are-- are ordered, directed, by the Lord. He is guiding your path. The steps, but not only the steps-- let me add to that-- the stops of a righteous person are also ordered by the Lord. Sometimes God says, go, and sometimes God says, no. And God's no is just as important as God's go.
Well, why can't I go there? I don't know. Now, he will find out why. But had you run into Paul the Great Apostle at this time, in Troas, because that's where he ends up. He's in Troas just sort of waiting around-- and if you saw him and you said, hey, aren't you Paul the Great Apostle? Yep, that's me. Writer of lots of the New Testament? Yep, one in the same.
Wow. So, Paul, where are you going? I have no idea. Wait, what? You, Paul, the Great Apostle, the apostle to the Gentiles, the one who wrote about the will of God and how to know the will of God? Surely, you know where you're going. I have no idea. I know where I've tried to go, and I know where I can't go, but I have no idea where I'm going.
So he's in Troas, and he gets a vision one night. And there's a man and his vision from Macedonia who says, in the vision, come over to Macedonia and help us. So he wakes up, scratches his little apostolic forehead, and says, you know, Silas, I'm guessing God wants us to go to Macedonia.
So he makes plans to go west. He has come from the east. He can't go south, he can't go north. In Troas, the vision says, go west. So it's in the Bible. It was not Horace Greeley who came up with the first saying, go west, young man, go west. It was the man from Macedonia. The spirit of God led him to say, go west, old man, go west.
So Paul went to Macedonia. And when he went to Macedonia, he went to the chief city, the Roman colony of Philippi, named after Philip of Macedon, probably looking around in Phillip high for someone specific. Who would that be? The man from Macedonia, the man he saw in the vision. He saw a guy saying, come over and help, us so he gets there and he's nope, that's not him, nope, that's not him, nope, that's not him. He does not see anyone.
But on the Sabbath, instead of seeing a man from Macedonia, he meets a woman from the area-- in fact, a group of them. They're meeting down by a river side. And the reason they're meeting by Riverside, they were Jewish. According to Jewish practice, you could not have a synagogue in a town unless you had a minimum of 10 Jewish adult males. Obviously, there weren't enough to form a synagogue.
So there was a few women gathered by the riverside. Paul shared with them. The Lord opened the heart of one of them, named Lydia, to the things spoken by Paul. Then things go from bad to worse. He gets arrested. He gets thrown in jail. They're in stocks. You know the story, Acts chapter 16.
But in that prison cell, the jailer comes to know Jesus Christ. The Philippian jailer and his family, they all get baptized. Paul is released with Silas. So now you have the beginning of a church. You have a woman named Lydia, I'm guessing a couple of others-- I believe they're mentioned in this book-- Euodia and Syntyche-- we'll get to them, hopefully-- and the Philippian jailer.
You have a few people who have come to know Christ, and that is how the church started. It was never Paul's intention to do it. It was God's intention, however, because he wanted the gospel to go from Asia to Europe. Now, for the first time, a church has started in Asia.
Paul leaves Philippi. They don't hear from him for at least two years. In the meantime, Paul makes his way back to Jerusalem, gets arrested in the temple, gets taken to Caesarea. For two years, he is spent incarcerated in Caesarea by the sea there in Israel, placed on a prison ship, and taken to Rome, where he is writing this epistle.
He's writing this letter because there's a guy by the name of Epaphras mentioned in this letter, sent from that little church at Philippi to see Paul in Rome, to see how he's doing. They heard Paul's in Rome, he's alive, but he's in jail. Let's go see how he is. Epaphras, take this monetary gift, this financial support, bring it to Paul while he's there in prison, and give us the skinny, man. Get the lowdown on how the dude is doing.
So he writes this letter and gives it to Epaphras to bring them back. And that is the Book of Philippians. Really, the book is a thank-you letter. It's saying, thank you for supporting me, thank you for letting the Lord place me on your heart. The letter is a wonderful letter.
And I know this might sound cheap because I say this about so many books of the Bible. I was just about to say, it's one of my favorite books of the Bible, but you're thinking, what isn't? And you would have a valid point. So it's a good one, but here's why I love it. It is not a corrective book. It is not like the Book of Galatians, where he is writing primarily to counteract false doctrine and false teachers.
There is a hint that there are some issues with false teaching here in this book, but that's really not the pale of it, the primary reason, it is written. It is not written to correct doctrine, nor is it written to correct bad conduct, like First Corinthians was. It is purely a book of saying, I love you.
I believe, of all of the different churches that Paul started, he had the deepest bond with the church at Philippi. For some reason, there was just this great bond of love. And the book, as you know, has a theme of joy. But I would even broaden that out and say, the book of Philippians is a book about the Christian life-- the wonder of the Christian life.
So chapter one is the marvel of the Christian life, which is love and the bond of love. Chapter two is the model of the Christian life, which is Jesus Christ. It's all about Christ. Pattern your life after him. Chapter three is the march of the Christian life-- you might even say, the motion of the Christian life-- which is forward, going forward, reaching forward, pressing on, not going backward. And then chapter four, the marks of the Christian life, which, primarily, he writes about joy and peace.
Now, I mentioned joy because it's mentioned in this letter 16 times, which is odd that the theme of a letter written by a prisoner falsely accused, incarcerated by the Roman government for no good reason, should be joy-- not bitterness, not protest, not anger, not revenge, but joy. He sees God's hand in his life even while he is incarcerated.
Now, you should know this if you don't already. There is a huge difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is temporary, joy is permanent. Happiness depends on happenings. Happiness depends on happenstance. Happiness depends on the hap. Hap is a word that means chance. And so that root, that idea of chance, is put in the word happiness.
If, by chance, things are going your way, you get all happy and excited. You're happy. But you can have happiness and not joy. And you cannot be so happy, but have a great joy because joy is much deeper. It is a permanent state of heart that roots a person deeply so that no matter what may be going on the surface of that life, there is a deeper stream that they are tied into. And that is joy, and that is Paul in this letter.
So, in chapter one, we begin with the marvel of the Christian life, which is love. Paul and Timothy bond servants of Jesus Christ to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi with the bishops and the deacons. Grace to you and peace from God, our father, and the Lord, Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.
He's thinking back. He's reminiscing to the time he's spent in Philippi. And as he thinks back to the time he came from Troas to Macedonia, went to Philippi, went to that river, was put in jail, got beat up, blood was used all over him, he's thinking back on, wow, I'm so thankful. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of my making requests for you all with joy.
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that he was begun a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. I don't think I could write that. Were I Paul the Apostle tied to a guard in a Roman prison, thinking back to my experience at Philippi, thinking that I never found that man from Macedonia, found a few women-- was not what I expected-- was not a great start got put in jail, got beaten with rods, I would say, every time I look back and think of you all in Philippi, I get sick to my stomach, and I want to puke.
Paul says, I'm so thankful, and I am filled with joy. I mentioned that 16 times this letter has that theme-- joy, joy, joy. Now, he tells us a little bit about why he's so joyful. He says, verse five, for your fellowship in the gospel. Here's a better translation. For your partnership in the gospel. Isn't it a great thought that you and I are partners with Paul the Apostle? Better yet, we're partners with Jesus Christ?
Isn't it a great thought that God has a family business and we have been adopted as sons and daughters into that family? And so God's business on Earth-- his family business-- is imparted to us because now we're part of the family. So we get to spread the good news of Christ. That is the family business.
What Paul is saying is, my joy is directly proportional to the spread of the family business. As long as that keeps getting spread through me or through you, I'm good to go. I'm happy. My joy is tied to the growth of the family business. Your partnership in the gospel, from the first day until now.
I had a friend who used to work for the doctor-- the Billy Graham organization. He was a crusade director, and he always look for opportunities to share the gospel, to spread the family business. He said he was on a plane one time traveling to a city to set up a evangelistic crusade, and he turned to notice that the person sitting next to him was an actor. And he recognized him. He goes, hey, that's Tom Cruise.
So they got into a little conversation. And Tom Cruise turned to him and didn't know who he was. He said, so what line of work are you in? And the guy thought really quickly. He goes, I'm in the security business. And Tom perked up his ears because, actors, they need good security around them. They're always looking for good security people.
So he turned to him and goes, really? He says, yeah, I'm in the security business. Oh, tell me about that. So how does it work and what do you do? So he got to share the gospel. What I mean by that is I'm in the internal security business, and told him what he did. And of course, now the actor backs down a little bit, feels a little deflated at that.
But basically, I'm here to tell you about the family I'm a part of, and the Father that we serve, and the Savior that came. It's the family business. And he had great joy sharing-- I don't know if Tom was as joyful as he was about it. Now, I want I want you to see how Paul the Apostle thinks as he follows this thinking down. Go down to verse 12 of chapter one, all under the subheading, the marvel of the Christian life, which is love. And here, you get how he thinks, verse 12.
Now, Paul's in jail and the people in Rome are thinking, oh, poor Paul, Paul's in jail, what a bummer, what a drag, his mission has stopped, the gospel is stopped. They're thinking the worst. So he says, I want you to know brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.
Me being put in prison hasn't turned out for the hindrance of the gospel like you're probably thinking, but actually for the furtherance of the gospel. The gospel is actually going further. It's spread much more than if I were not in prison. Now, that's a puzzling thought. Because I hope you're thinking, how on Earth could that be true?
He tells you, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ. This is insight into how he thinks. To all the rest are the Jewish representatives that came to him while he was in that two year imprisonment in Rome to hear why he was there. Also, Christians who came in, he discipled them. He wrote letters to churches.
But also, he mentions the guard here-- the palace guard. Now, the palace guard, that's a reference to a very elite group of people known as the Praetorian Guard. They were guardians of the throne, guardians of the emperor. It's sort of like the Secret Service arm of our government. They were very, very elite. They were Caesar's own personal bodyguards.
Evidently, some of the guards of Caesar were coming to know Christ. And you say, well, how was that possible? Paul was chained at six-hour shifts two of these guards. So he was in handcuffs, chain, handcuffs. Guard had to sit there for six hours, then it went around the clock. Now, you imagine what it would be like to be chained to Paul the Apostle.
Come on. Paul is going, this is just too good to be true. I really do have a captive audience. This guy cannot leave me. I'm sure he to. I'm sure he wants to shut me up. Roman protocol is I could just say what I want, and he has to listen to me. I'm going to take advantage of this. Evidently, that paid off, and some of those guards came to receive Christ as Savior. Now you understand how he thinks? The gospel is being furthered.
I'm guessing that the Christians in Rome had a prayer like this. Lord, I don't know if it's possible for you to reach Caesar and his household, but even the palace guard, Lord, would you just figure out some way to win them to Christ? And God answered that prayer. Yeah, I have the perfect plan. I'll get Paul the Apostle put in prison. He'll be chained to these knuckleheads six hours at a time, and they're going to come to meet Christ as their Savior. In prison, they're going to be set free.
It's just a marvelous thought. So Paul was enjoying his stay, and they were enjoying their incarceration next to Paul-- some of them, the ones who responded. And probably the ones who responded favorably wanted to hear more. So six hours is up, now the new guy comes in. Maybe the second guy is going, hey, I'd be happy to take your shift for you. You go home and let me just take a double shift him. Because he wants to hear what Paul has to say, and they're being discipled.
So that's how he was thinking. It has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest of my chains are in Christ. And most of the brethren in the Lord, the Christians in Rome, having me become more confident by my chains are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Now, apply it. How are you chained?
I can answer that question for you. There's a number of circumstances that, right now, you might feel like, I'm a prisoner. Maybe you have a houseful of kids you're responsible for and now maybe grandkids. It narrows your time. Maybe you're not even able to come to church tonight. You're watching TV bouncing these kids on one knee, and then another knee, and you've got responsibilities at home.
And perhaps, because of all of the domestic responsibilities, you think, I'm a prisoner. Maybe Susanna Wesley felt that way. She had 19 children. Natural birth, 19 children. Do you think 19 children would make a mother feel a little bit restricted? And I'm sure she even thought, I'm in prison. But by the grace and will of God, two of her boys, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, would shake the British Isles with the gospel.
John Wesley would become the preacher, Charles Wesley would be the one who wrote some of the great hymns of the church. And together, they would start a revival in Methodism that the world still, to this day, feels. Maybe a disease, pain, maybe chronic pain, maybe something you feel restricted, and it's horrible. You're not able to do what you used to do.
Maybe you're even listening to this in a hospital room. You're in a prison of those four walls and that hospital. Maybe you have a disease that has made you an invalid. I want you to think of Charlotte Elliott, an invalid who wrote song, after song, after song, after song, after song, after song, after song, after song, after song while she was an invalid.
One of her most famous ones, Just As I Am, Without One Plea. But that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come I come. She wrote that while an invalid. And Dwight L. Moody said, in his day, that song brought more people to Christ than any other hymn of the church. I'm sure Moody was glad for her stead of being an invalid because of that song.
A number of things can incarcerate a person. Jail, Paul was in jail. Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German in the Wartburg prison. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress in the Bedford prison. We read those books to this day, and they're-- especially Pilgrim's Progress-- amazing, life-giving. So Paul says, this is all by the will of God, and the gospel is being spread.
In verse 21, he sums it up. For me to live, it's Christ. To die, it's even better. It's gain. I can't lose. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor. Yet, what I shall choose I cannot tell, for I'm hard pressed between the two, having a desire to be with Christ, which is far better, nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul knew that if he died as a result of his imprisonment, he'd go home to be with the Lord. He's thinking, that's pretty good. However, I also realize I have unfinished business. And he works his way through, this and he comes to the conclusion that I believe God's going to let me out, which he did. Let him out before he was rearrested, and then his head taken off. But he will be released. And Paul feels like God has more for me to do.
So this is Paul's struggle with being a prisoner. The will of God is being furthered, he has great affection for them, great love for the word God has called them to their great love for the Church of Philippi. But he goes, I don't know if I'm going to live or die. If I die, it'll be gain. If I live, that'll be good too because I can share with you.
You know, I'm humbled when I read Paul. Because as long as Paul was alive, the only thing that would keep him going is an opportunity to minister to people. So when he wrote through the Book of Romans, he goes, I'm hoping and I'm praying that, by the will of God, I can come to see you in Rome that I might impart to you some spiritual gift.
If I can live a little longer and bless your heart, good. But if I go home to be with the Lord, better. An amazing person. Going to heaven would end his hassles on Earth, but he'd never be able to witness again. He'd never be able to start another church. He'd never be able to train leaders. He'd never be able to disciple people. He'd never be able to take his pen out and write letters like this. So this is his personal struggle because of his love for the church.
In chapter two, we have the model of the Christian life, which is Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit.
But in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Jesus becomes the model, especially in the area of humility.
You know how much the Bible speaks about humility. But did you know that the Greek culture loathed humility, hated it? The Greeks believed humility was a sign of weakness. A humble person is a weak person. Somebody who stands up strong, knows what they want, aggressive, that's strength. Humility, a sign of weakness. They hated it. They loathed it.
Jesus, however, loved it. They loathed it, he loved it. They saw it as a sign of weakness, he saw it as a sign of strength. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. For I am lowly, I am gentle, I am humble. The world says, climb the ladder of importance. Jesus says, jump off the ladder, and get low, and prop other people up. Serve them, humble yourself before them.
So he gives them, in the next few versus, the model of Christ. And he says, let nothing-- verse three-- be done through selfish ambition or conceit. I feel like that verse sums up the world's philosophy and much of social media. Selfish ambition and could see, look at me. Here I am here, here I am there, here I am with that person, here I am eating this.
Really? How boring. That's all you got? Somebody said, you could sum up the life of most people with a different kind of a prayer. Our father who art in heaven, gimme, gimme, gimme. It's all about them. That's the default mode of humanity, selfish ambition and conceit. It starts when we're young.
There were two kids that were playing in front of Kmart on one of those mechanical horses-- you know, you put a quarter in. Do they still have those? They may be now, like, collector's items. But a brother and sister were playing on one of those. And he turned to his sister and he said, if one of us would get off, there'd be more room for me.
That's what Paul is addressing here-- selfish ambition, conceit. But he says, let this mind be in you-- verse five-- which was also in Christ Jesus. Let me sort of cut to the quick here. You are never more like Christ than when you humble yourself, than when you serve. How's that? You're never more like Jesus than when you're serving. You're never more like Satan than when you're selfish. They're polar opposites.
So let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant and coming in the likeness of men. There's something I want you to notice. I want to work through it quickly, but to me it's key in New Testament theology.
Notice, in verse six, the phrase, "form of God." Do you see that? Jesus was in the form of God. What does that mean? Morphe [GREEK]. That's the Greek word. Morphe [GREEK], form of God. The word "morphe" in Greek means the essential nature or character that never changes. Morphe is different from another word of form, and that would be the Greek word "schema," schema.
Schema is outward form. Morphe is inward essential character or nature. So let me give an example. As human beings, we have both a morphe and a schema. Our morphe is we are essentially human beings. That never changes. Our schema changes. We are first zygote, then embryo, then fetus, then newborn, then toddler, then teenager, then adult, then older adult, then much older adult.
That's the schema. That changes. But although you have all those different outward forms from zygote to very old, the essential morphe never changes. So that's the word for Christ. What he is saying is that Jesus Christ bears the unchanging, essential nature and character of God. It's a very strong affirmation of his deity.
Who being in the form of God, morphe [GREEK]. He did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but he made himself of no reputation. If you've ever heard of the word the "kenosis" before, it's a theological term. It comes from this word in this verse, ekenosen-- an emptying. He made himself of no reputation, that is, he emptied himself. He poured himself out.
Now, the question becomes, what did he empty himself of? What did he put himself out of? And that has been an ongoing theological debate for centuries. Some say, he emptied himself of his deity. No he didn't, because he is in a form of God. He has the unchanging, essential nature of God. He can never get rid of that.
What he emptied himself of was not deity, but he emptied himself of the prerogatives of deity, one of them being glory. He left the glory of the Father. He let the glory of the home of Heaven, and he came to this Earth. Also, he emptied himself of the independent use of authority. He was always submitted to the Father's will. Father, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done. I always do those things that please him.
So though he was God in essential form and nature, he divested himself of certain parameters of deity and the independent exercise of authority. Make sense? That's what he emptied himself of. Being in the form of God did not think himself equal with God. He made himself of no reputation, that is, he poured himself out.
Taking on the form of a bond servant coming in the likeness of man, being found in appearance as a man-- fully God, fully man-- he humbled himself-- there it is, humbled himself-- and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross. Therefore, God has also highly exalted him, given the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should vow.
Of those in Heaven, those on Earth, and those under the Earth, every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father. So we have the marvel of the Christian life, the model of the Christian life, which is Christ. Now, under that, the model of the Christian life, Paul gives two human examples of people who did model their lives after Christ. One is Timothy, one is Epaphras-- or Epaphroditus.
Verse 19, but I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
I've always marveled at this text. And what I mean by that is Paul knew a lot of people. And Paul served with a lot of people and knew a lot of great men and women in the Lord-- godly men and women in the Lord. And yet, of all the people he knew, Paul says, there's only one person that I know of that is really like me, that has assimilated my character. And he calls him like-minded.
It's the only time this word is used in the New Testament. [GREEK], equal-souled. His soul and my soul, equal to each other. He thinks like I think, he has the same values, I never have to second guess him, I know his doctrine, I know his lifestyle. And of all the people that I know, and have worked with, and served with, there's only one person that I would say has an equal soul with me, Paul the Apostle. And that is Timothy. It's an amazing statement.
A second example is Epaphroditus, that character I told you about who came from Philippi with that financial gift. Yet, I considered it-- verse 25, I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my needs since he was longing for y'all. Evidently, Paul was a Southerner because he liked to use that phrase a lot-- y'all.
He was longing for y'all, and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. So we have Timothy and we have Epaphroditus. Now we come to chapter three. Chapter three is the march of the Christian life or, as I said before, the motion of the Christian life-- forward. Should always go forward and not backward.
He opens up verse one of chapter three by saying, finally, my brethren-- don't be too encouraged by Paul's finallies. When Paul says, finally, it's not, like, "I'm about to end," because he's midway. So you're going, finally, oh, good, he's going to end this message. No, this is Paul's finally.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. I wish more Christians would rejoice. You have everything to rejoice for. You really do. You have every reason for joy. It doesn't show enough. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you, it is safe. But get this. Beware of dogs.
Beware of evil workers. Beware of the mutilation, that is, those who think you need to be circumcised-- mutilate your flesh in order to be right with God. For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.
Now, although this letter is a love letter, although it is summing up the Christian life, although he is not correcting doctrine primarily nor correcting conduct primarily, he does hint here at a problem that they face. Evidently, people crept into the church, like they do in all churches-- all of them. And this was a group of legalists, probably judaizers-- Jewish legalists. We've seen a lot of them. They were in Acts chapter 15, they were in the Book of Galatians, and they show up here.
They were saying, you have to keep the law of Moses. You have to be circumcised in order to be right with God. He says, beware of dogs. Now, this is very interesting. I like Paul's style, I've got to say. When you hear, beware of dogs, you think he's writing to the postman-- to the mailman.
But "dogs" was a slanderous term that Jewish people often used in those days to refer to non-Jews or Gentiles-- Gentile dogs. There is a reference in Deuteronomy 23 to dogs as a reference primarily to male cult prostitutes. So it was a very derogatory term. What's interesting is Paul probably has Jewish legalists in mind and uses the very term they would have used for non-circumcised Gentiles and calls them dogs.
Because if you're tampering with the doctrine of grace and you're saying, you can't be saved by grace alone through faith alone, but you have to use works, that's a fitting title for you in Paul's ideology. (THICK SOUTHERN ACCENT) Beware of those dogs.
Beware of evil workers. Beware of the mutilation. For we are the circumcision who worship God in spirit. Rejoice in Christ Jesus. Have no confidence in the flesh. I'd love to preach a whole sermon just on verse three. Because to me, it is a great description of a Christian, but don't have enough time.
So verse four. Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. OK, these guys are saying, you've got to do something to earn your way to God. And you have to follow your faith with these works, including circumcision. Now, if you did that, you could boast. I've been circumcised, I keep the law Moses, I keep the 10 commandments. I do this, like a lot of people do today.
Paul says, no, if you want to talk about bragging rights, I can brag. Now, he's going to go into these verses. He's going to brag. It's his pedigree. It sounds like the who's who of religious accolades. He says, though I might also have confidence in the flesh, if anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I am more so.
And here it is. I was circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin-- that's where King Saul came from-- a Hebrew of the Hebrews, right? A super Jew, you might say. Concerning the law, I was a Pharisee. I was that special group of a few hundred people that swore that they would keep the law of God their whole life.
Concerning zeal, want to know how zealous I was? I persecuted the church. I was so zealous, I would hunt down people who weren't Jewish or who defected from Judaism. Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, perfect, blameless. Of anybody I've known, I kept the law as best I could.
But what things were gained to me-- all of those things that I thought we were on the plus side of the ledger-- I've counted loss for Christ. I put them on the deficit side. Indeed, I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ. The word "rubbish," [GREEK] is the Greek word.
I am not going to translate it in a modern audience, but it means "excrement." It's a very strong word. I think you're getting my drift. But it's a very strong word Paul uses to say, all of the works of the law of my religion, this is what I think of them now compared to what Christ gave me. I could not earn it, and I thought I could.
And because it kept me away moving me backward, not forward, I see it as excrement, rubbish, dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is true faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.
Alan Redpath, who pastored at the Moody church years ago, had a lot of great sayings. But one of his great sayings that I've always loved is this. When God wants to do an impossible task, he gets a hold of an impossible man and crushes him. When God wants to do an impossible task, he gets hold of an impossible man and crushes him.
Paul was an impossible man. His crushing took place on a little stretch of highway between Jerusalem and Damascus. He got knocked off his high horse, he got blinded, he was led as a blind man to the city of Damascus. He humbled himself before God. God broke him, crushed him, and God announced to him, you're going to suffer a lot, right? That's the message that Ananias brought to him. Tell him-- tell Paul-- how many things he will suffer for my sake.
So the first part of this, beginning in verse four, is Paul's bragimony. Now Paul gives us his testimony. That I might be found in him not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which comes by faith in Christ alone. That's his testimony. This is what Jesus has done. Verse 10, that I may know him and the power of his Resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if, by any means, I may attain to the Resurrection of the dead.
Not that I have already attained or am already perfected-- now, here's the forward motion that the chapter addresses-- but I press on-- here's Paul, I've kept the law, I was blameless, I was perfect-- not that I've already attained or am already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. I want to find out why Jesus found me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended-- aren't you glad he said that? I, the Great Paul the Apostle, haven't arrived. I have more to go, I have more to grow in. But one thing I do. For getting those things which are behind, reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Picture an athlete running on the track. That athlete better look forward. If the athlete tries to go forward by looking backward, plop if you want to live a miserable life, keep looking back over your shoulder, keep looking back to the past, keep looking back to your failures. Oh, I should have, I could have, oh, if I only would have. That's over now. Run the race. Reach forward, move forward.
These legalists were making the move backward. Get rid of that, trust Christ. You made some mistakes, keep moving. Good advice. Press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The picture here is of that athlete making that last burst on the track, reaching forward to that tape, to make the winning score at the end.
Now, where is he running to? Verse 20. For our citizenship is in Heaven. That's the ultimate goal when the race is over. Our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we all eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body according to the working by which he is able to subdue all things to himself.
Look at the word "citizenship." Do you see it in verse 20? The word in the Greek, translated citizenship-- and it has a lot of different translation. Here's the Greek word. [GREEK] We get the word politics from that word. For our politics are in Heaven. I want to come clean.
Politically, I am a registered independent. Well, I don't know if that's worth clapping about, but--
It might just mean I have trouble making up my mind, but I don't when it comes to policies and issues. But I'm a registered independent. I don't place my faith in the Republican Party. I do not place my faith in the Democratic Party. I am at my political core not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an independent. I'm a theocrat. My only hope, politically speaking, is when Jesus comes back and rules the world.
I have no hope in political wranglings or government until that happens. I will support policies and vote for people based on policies until that, but our citizenship-- our politics-- should be in Heaven. Now, you can tell a citizen of Heaven. They're easy to spot. You know how to tell them? They're looking for the King. They're looking for the king to come back. Our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I see a Christian who is not excited about the possibility of Jesus coming back, I wonder where their citizenship is. I remember I had a roommate who was dating a girl, and she heard about the soon return of Jesus. She was all mad, all upset that Jesus would come back and spoil her wedding plans.
She goes, I don't want Jesus to come back until I'm married. And I was single, and I said, are you nuts? I won't give further comment on that. I have three minutes to get through chapter four. Chapter 4 are the marks of the Christian life, which are joy and peace.
And so notice how he begins, therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy, my crown, so standfast, in the Lord, my beloved, I implore Euodia-- now, I haven't seen many kids named that. It's a female name. It means a "good journey." Euodia, good journey. Have a euodia. Have a good trip. So this is Ms. Good Trip.
And I implore Syntyche-- Syntyche means "fortunate," or "fortunate one," "lucky one." So Ms. Good Trip and Ms. Lucky. And I implore them to be of the same mind in the Lord. I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel with Clement, also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. And again, I say rejoice.
Seems there's a spat between these two Christian women in Philippi. It'd become known. It was gaining momentum. And before it got too big of an issue, Paul addressed it. Epaphroditus told him the skinny of what's going on. He says, let me write a letter. Now, the fact that Paul knows them, here's my guess. I can't prove it, but my guess is when Paul went down to the river with those women and preached the gospel, and Lydia got saved, there were a couple others that God saved, Euodia and Syntyche.
They were probably there at the Riverside when Paul first went to that city. They became part of the church, they took sides. They were very strong-willed women, part of a very strong women's ministry, and it's starting to divide people. So these two founding mothers of the church Paul addresses and urges them to get along.
Go down to verse six. Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I had a lot to say on that because they're famous, but I'm not going to. You've heard it before. I've done it on a Sunday morning. So let's finish this out.
Verse 10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now, at last, your care for me has flourished again. I'm glad you found out that I'm still alive and kicking and in jail. Glad that you sent Epaphroditus to come and bring me this gift-- your care, your financial care for me.
Though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need. For I've learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, I know how to abound everywhere and in all things. I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, to abound and to suffer need.
Did you know, 100 years ago, Americans could identify 70-- 7-0-- needs, 70 things they said they absolutely needed. Today, Americans identify 500 needs. Contentment does not come from what you have. Contentment comes from whom you have. Paul knew Jesus was in that prison with him. Paul knew God's will was being accomplished. The gospel was being furthered. I'm good to go. I'm content, free or in prison.
Nevertheless-- verse 14-- you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving, but you only. For even in Thessalonica, you did send aid-- this is financial aid-- once again, for my necessities. They supported Paul.
Could you imagine having the opportunity to support Paul? I'd sign up for that. I'd send monthly checks to Paul in a heartbeat. Yeah, where do I sign up? How much can I give? Not that I seek the gift-- verse 17-- but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Now we're going to close. We're close here. We're not even going to finish the letter. You know how it goes. You've read this so many times.
But let me just say this. Here is insight into heavenly bookkeeping. When you give two ministries find fruitful ministries-- hey, I just want you to know. I don't need the gift, but I want you to fruit is going to abound to your account. In the books of heaven, because of what I do, but you give money to support that-- when fruit happens because of my life, when I lead those guards to Christ, when I start those churches, when I write these letters, all of that fruit God will put to your account eternally.
So why is that important? Because when you give to any ministry at all, you shouldn't do it because you feel so sorry, and they're giving you a sob story, and if you don't support this ministry, we're going to go under. Maybe you need to go under. Maybe if you're producing fruit and I see something happening in that, I'll give to it. I'm going to look for ways to invest where fruit is happening.
If you're going under, maybe you're not being very good stewards as it is. You get my drift. Paul is saying, you should give to those ministries who are producing fruit. Because in the end, you want to get to Heaven. And God would say, all those people that made those decisions, or were disciples, or strengthened, all of that you are going to get a reward for in Heaven. I love God's bookkeeping, man.
So anyway, father thank you that we can be Christians. And we've looked at the marvel of the Christian life, love-- that beautiful bond that existed between Paul and this church at Philippi. How he loved them, how they loved him, how they cared. The model of the Christian life, Christ himself-- a model of humility, a model of one who poured his life out. Didn't live by selfish ambition or conceit.
Then the march of the Christian life-- forward, onward, pressing forward, forgetting the past, learning from our mistakes, moving on. And then, finally, those beautiful graces of the Christian life-- peace, joy, the absence of anxiety. And in that, the ability to fruitfully contribute to your work to see lives changed.
Thank you for all those opportunities we have, as believers. Thank you for this Book of Philippians. Even thank you, Lord, for those areas where we feel incarcerated, imprisoned, restricted. You're working your work. For we would never underestimate what you can do in our prison. In Jesus' name, amen. Let's stand and sing together as prisoners set free.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet.