The church at Philippi was the first church in Europe established by Paul. In his letter, Paul wrote about living in the joy of the Lord; this theme is in contrast of Paul's surroundings because he wrote this book while in prison for his faith. Watch for keys to Christian joy despite circumstances as this flight progresses.
Philippians, we're going to go through all 104 verses. We're not going to read them all but we're going to cover the book of Philippians; four short chapters, easy to overview in our Bible from 30,000 feet.
If you're here for the first time, let me tell you what you are in for. We're going to cover, like we typically do, the whole book tonight. We're flying over it. We're not going to give you every nuance and every detail of every verse and every transition, but what we want you to do is see how the Book of Philippians fits in to the rest of the scripture and get the overview of God's Word.
So we've been able to do that and I promise you'd be in about a year or so, we've covered 52 studies so far. This is our 53 and there's 52 weeks in a year, so we're just right on track. This is the fifty-third study and it will be a little bit over a year, when you put all the studies together to go through the whole Bible.
Well, prison has a way of changing people. People who have gone to jail for any length of time will come out a number of different ways but there's stories of people where it does something within them; it like flips a switch and they get motivated in a whole new way. Couple of stories come to mind; one is by the name of Mark who is down in South America and he was put in prison and Mark was released from prison. The experience did something to him and when he got out, he decided to establish an outreach in the country of Guyana to the families who have been hurt and affected by crime. Prison changed him once he got out; he decided to make something good of himself.
Another guy by the name of Kenny Rushing was put in a prison in Iowa for seven years; he was arrested on drug charges. And again, same story, the experience in jail shook him to the core. So that when he got out, he became a very successful businessman, very generous contributor to society financially. He was a philanthropist, he became one and a civic leader in his community in Iowa. Once they got out, they made great contributions.
Now the Paul the Apostle, on the other hand, made some of his greatest contributions, not after he got out of prison because once he got out of prison he was essentially killed but while he was in prison. And I have got to tell you, I'm really glad Paul was put in jail. And you say, well, that's a sad and horrible thing to say. No it's not because I know if Paul were here, he would agree with me because he says so in this letter. He says, "The things that have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel."
While Paul was in prison in Rome, four letters were written, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and a short little letter to Philemon, an individual. Those four letters are some of the richest parts of the Bible that have ministered for thousands of years to countless numbers of Christians. Now we're studying the second of his prison epistles, Philippians.
Philippi was in Europe. Paul never planned to go to Europe. It wasn't his original design. If you remember the story, Paul on his first missionary journey went through the area of Galatia and then he went on a second missionary journey after he and Barnabas split up. And his idea was to go through Galatia again, same area, cover the same territory and just encourage the churches and then his plan was to move north or south and expand the gospel; preach the gospel either north or south.
Well, on his second trip, he didn't get very far. He made it through Galatia, tried to go through Phrygia but the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him preach the word in Asia Minor. So he turned north. He went through Mysia, tried to go north into Bithynia but the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him.
So picture it; he's come from the west, he made a stop, tried to go south, couldn't go south, tried to go north, couldn't go north and so he's on hold. He waits and he waits in a little town known as Troas. While he is in Troas, he gets a vision. A man from Macedonia and Philippi is the principal city in Macedonia at the time. A man from Macedonia in the vision says, "Hey Paul! Come over here man and help us." So he wakes up the next day and tells Silas, his buddy, "Hey you know what? I think the Lord's calling us to Macedonia." "How do you figure that?" "Well I have got a vision and a man in the vision said come, over to Macedonia." Silas said, "Good idea. Let's go".
So they went not to Galatia, not to Bithynia, not south, but they went to the west and it is one of the most important crossings in history; over the little stretch of the Aegean Sea to the port city at Philippi because now for the first time the gospel goes from Asia Minor into Europe. And I'm particularly grateful, because I have ancestors that came from Europe and it was because Paul preached the gospel in Europe that it spread throughout that area, eventually got into Rome and then made it through the rest of the world.
Okay, Paul gets to Philippi and he probably in that city is looking around. Where's that man that I saw in the vision, the man from Macedonia? Not only does he not see the man from Macedonia, the only thing he finds is a few women, not men, women who are at a river side praying. One of them is named Lydia and she was a seller of purple from Thyatira, the Bible tells us.
Well, according to Jewish law if you had less than ten men, you couldn't have an official synagogue and if you had less than ten men, you would have to meet by a riverside because a river was what the Jews called living water or flowing water for ritual oblations.
So it must have been just a few women gathered together, not a man, a few women at the riverside and Paul preaches the gospel, the Lord opens up the heart of Lydia. While he stays there, he gets thrown into jail. Through a miraculous circumstance, he leads the Philippian jailer and his family to Christ and that's how the church in Philippi begins. It was on Paul's second missionary journey that this church in Philippi was started.
Okay Paul leaves. They don't hear from Paul for a few years. What happens to Paul? Paul takes a third trip. Paul goes back to Jerusalem at the end of that third trip. He's arrested in the temple. Remember? And for two years he is put in jail in Caesarea. Then he is taken to Rome where he writes this letter from. While he is now in Rome, the Philippian church 800 miles away hears, "Hey! Paul is now in prison in Rome." So they dispatch one of their ministers, their pastors by the name of Epaphroditus to bring a financial gift to help Paul pay the rent, he had to pay the rent on his jail cell while he was in Rome; a rented house under house arrest for two full years; it says in Acts 28. Epaphroditus comes to minister to Paul.
So Paul writes a letter and it's one of the most personal winsome, loving letters of all the letters of Paul the Apostle. He is not correcting any doctrine, like the letter to the Galatians. He's not correcting any conduct, so to speak, except a minor in fraction which we'll notice. It's really a love letter. It's a thank you letter for their support and a warning about some of the legalists that are there and hopefully to women that affirmed an argument to bring them back together. But it's largely a personal letter of thanksgiving.
Okay, it's easy to outline this book because how many chapters are there? Four and the translators did a pretty good job in marking the divisions between the chapters and so you could divide the book as the chapters are divided. Chapter 1, 2, 3, and 4 divides it up into four sections. First section, chapter 1, the "Marvel of the Christian Life", which is love. Now hear me. One of the most marvelous things about the Christian life is that it places us in a family so that no matter what background we come from, what different languages we have or cultures we have or ways of thinking we have, once we come to the Cross and we're saved and we are placed into the church, we're placed on this level ground and we have a love for each other that many times will transcend even our love for our family. It's the marvel of the Christian life, the love that we share.
Chapter 2, second division of the book of Philippians; that is the "Model of the Christian Life" which is Christ. Christ is the one we always look to, how we should act? How should we act toward one another? Well, we should treat one another like Jesus treated people. So he becomes the model of the Christian life. That's the second chapter.
Number three is chapter 3, the "March of the Christian Life" which is forward. See there were people in the Philippian church trying to get the Christians to go backwards into the law. Paul was teaching them to go forward in grace, all the way to heaven.
And then number four is chapter 4 and that is the "Marks of the Christian Life", which are peace and joy. So we have the "Marvel of the Christian Life", the "Model of the Christian Life", we have the "March of the Christian Life" and we have the "Marks of the Christian Life." That's chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 that divides the whole book. So now let's go through some of the highlights of all four chapters, all four divisions.
The first division as I mentioned is, the "Marvel of the Christian Life" which is love. Verse 1, chapter 1, "Paul and Timothy bond-servants of Jesus Christ to all the saints." Now he is writing to living people not dead people with hallows on holy cards or statues. In the Bible, a saint was a living, breathing Christian. And it's a term the Bible uses for all the Christians. I have heard people say, "Well, he is no saint." Well, if he is a Christian, he is a saint. That matter what level. A saint is somebody who is set apart for Jesus Christ.
So, "To all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are in Philippi with the bishops (or overseers) and the deacons, (or the servants), Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine, making request for you all with joy."
The first thing that strikes me is the response that Paul has every time he thinks about the church in Philippi. These are really strange words to describe Paul thinking back to his experience in Philippi. Because think about it; first of all, he didn't want to go there. So it was a change of plans. Number two, he didn't find the man for Macedonia, he found just a few women. Number three, he was put in jail and beaten so that his wounds were oozing and he was chained with his buddy Silas. Remember they were singing songs to the Lord at midnight in the Philippian prison.
Here's Paul saying, "Every time I think about that and you I have such thankfulness and such joy." You see that doesn't make sense. You think he would say, every time I think back to my stay in Philippi, I get stick to my stomach. I hated it. I didn't want to go there. It wasn't I expected. But because Paul is viewing the experience at Philippi through the eyes of love for the Philippian church, he can write this.
Now watch what it says in verse 5. This is what he is thankful for, "For your fellowship or partnership in the gospel, from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing that he who has begun a good work and you will complete it, until the day of Christ." What is he thankful for? The partnership. What is he thankful for? He is thankful for what the gospel message produces. What does it produce? A larger family.
He thinks back and yeah, that isn't what he expected. The women at the river side but the Lord opened up Lydia's heart to heed the things spoken by Paul; so she became a Christian. The Philippian jailer, yup, he beat Paul, but he was led to Christ and his family was led to Christ and eventually Lydia, the Philippian jailer, his household, and several others were part of this group called the Philippian church.
What he is thankful for is for what the gospel has produced. The family had gotten bigger. Or I will put it this way; Paul's joy and thankfulness were directly proportional to the growth of the family business. Now hear me. When I say family business, this is what I mean. God has a business and it's a family business. You're part of his family. He wants you to get engaged in the family business. The family business is a rescue business, a salvation business, to rescue people from sin and death and bring them into salvation. It's an eternal security business.
I have a friend that works for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and he was flying on an airplane and sitting next to him happened to be Tom Cruise. Well he knows how celebrities are, that they are always interested in having the utmost security around them for obvious reasons. So they got a conversation and Tom Cruise asked my friend, "Who is a director of Crusades for the Billy Graham Organization, So what do you do for living?" My friend said, "I'm in the security business" and Tom goes, "Really? Well, I want to know more. Tell me about what you do." So he started telling him about what he does and then he said, "Look, let me just straight up, I am in the eternal security business. I tell people how to get from earth to heaven. How they can be secure with God through a relationship with his son, Jesus Christ and have their sins forgiven." And all of a sudden he saw his big eyes, they sort of get droopy and saw where he was going with this and turned away but it was a clever way of saying, "I am part of the family business." Paul was saying. "As long as that business is spread, I rejoice and I am thankful."
Verse 12, "But I want you to know brethren that things which have happened to me." What things? Being arrested in Jerusalem, two years prison in Caesarea, placed on a boat and taken to Rome, now jailed in a Roman prison, those things; "The things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. So that it has become evident to the whole (notice this), palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ". Now the palace guard is a term for the royal Praetorian Guard. These were elite guards that worked to guard the Emperor's life. They were the security guard. It would be like the secret service.
"Most of the brethren", verse 14, "in the Lord, having become confident in my chains are much more bold to speak the word without fear." Now I can picture this; there were probably a few Christians in Rome and they had been praying, maybe making it a part of their weekly prayer. They get together and they pray something like this, Lord! I don't know how you could ever do this, but if you could just save some of the people who work and live in Caesar's household, it would be great. Save even the guards Lord. We pray you'd bring a revival among people that work in Caesar's household. I bet they prayed for that.
And so here's Paul going, I want you to know, the prayers have been answered. The gospel is being furthered because Paul was chained 24 hours a day to a Roman guard. They worked in 6-hour shifts. They had to be shackled arm to arm on either side with Paul the Apostle. So that while he would dictate his letter to the Philippians and to the Ephesians and to the Colossians and to Philemon, as people would visit him and he would share and evangelize, they had to hear it. They were literally a captive audience.
Now can you imagine being chained to Paul the Apostle? The impact that would make on your life? No wonder he is saying, "Hey! Don't feel sorry for me. Some of these guys are coming to Christ". And at the end of the letter he greets them from some of those saved in Caesar's household.
Now I want to apply something this way. Some of you tonight feel imprisoned. I'm speaking metaphorically. You feel chained to something. You can't get out of it. It could be you feel chained to your home. Maybe you are a housewife. You gave up your career. It was a promising career, but you remember saying, I'm going to willingly place that aside and devote myself to a family. And at first it was really good, and you were really excited. Then kids came and then more kids and more responsibilities in your home all the time. It's like, "I like my house, but I feel like I'm shackled to it. I can't get out. This isn't necessarily what I envisioned." You feel imprisoned.
Susanna Wesley must have felt imprisoned; she had 19 children. She couldn't do anything but be a mom for years and years and years. But two of those boys; John Wesley and Charles Wesley through their gospel work and music and preaching shook the British Isles with revival. The work that she did at home furthered the gospel, through two notable sons; Charles Wesley and John Wesley. Or maybe you feel imprisoned to a job, that lousy job that you have to work at because you have to get a paycheck, because you have to pay bills. You don't like it, you don't feel call to it, you want to get out of it, but you can't do it. How about seeing, it is a divine appointment like Joseph literally chained to a job or Daniel captive in Babylon chained to a job. God used them powerfully in that situation.
Some feel imprisoned because of a disease or a debilitating condition, four walls of a hospital room or a convalescent home, this message may get out to those folks. They feel imprisoned, what could I ever do in this place, in this condition.
One of the greatest hymns ever written, sung still at every Billy Graham Crusade, "Just as I am"; remember that song. "Just as I am, without one plea" that was written by Charlotte Elliott. And she wrote it when she was in invalid imprisoned, couldn't move, couldn't get out, but she contributed some of Christendom greatest music while she was imprisoned to her condition. Or maybe like Paul the apostle, this message will be heard by those who are literally imprisoned, you're in jail, you made a mess of your life, you don't know what to do.
Martin Luther translated the Bible while he was in prison. John Bunyan wrote "Pilgrims Progress" while he was in prison. Paul wrote four letters while he was in prison. Some of your greatest work could take place now, if you let God into that place of confinement and watch him work.
Verse 23, Paul continues, "For I am hard pressed between the two; having a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better, nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you." Now, in this section of chapter 1, Paul was wrestling with a personal desire to just die and go to heaven, that's what he wants or if God wills for him to stay alive and minister to those Christians by his example, and by his writing.
So if we were to translate this into modern vernacular, Paul is saying, "I am between a rock and a hard place, I am between two canyon walls." One wall is called, what I want in my own flesh, I want to end my suffering, I'd rather die and go to heaven. The other wall is the ability to minister to Christians in a very powerful way by this circumstance. And so he says, "Nevertheless", verse 24, "to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."
One thing that strikes me about Paul, there are several things, but one that strikes me is he always had other people in his vision, on his mind. He would think about his condition in the light of what was best for other people. So he is in Rome, in jail, but way before this, he wrote a letter to the Romans and he said, "For I long to see you that I might impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may become established."
So see what he is wrestling with, "Hey! if I die and get moved to heaven, I'll end all of my hassles on earth, but I also realize if I go to heaven I am going to end all of my effectiveness on this earth. Once I die and go to heaven, I can't affect anybody on this earth like I used to. I can't witness to guards that I am now chained to. I am not able to receive people and talk to them, while I am here in this prison. I am not able to write letters anymore and strengthen the leadership of the churches. So if postponing heaven means ministering to people and that's God's will, Great! It's the love that motivates him." So that's chapter 1, the "Marvel of the Christian Life", which is love.
Chapter 2 is the "Model of the Christian Life" which is Christ. "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 being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness (or humility) of mind, let each esteem others better than himself."
Can you imagine what would happen if every Christian took just those verses seriously? What would happen if we all decided when I am around people, I am not going to think what's in it for me or strike up the conversation so that it turns what I have done and compare myself with others. But my whole thinking is, what can I do for you, how can I minister to you, how can I add to your life? Imagine the changes that would occur just by following that; humility.
Now, when Paul wrote this, the Greek culture, despised humility. Did you know that? That was like the worst of all characteristics, in the Greek mind it was a sign of weakness. To be assertive was much better; to be humble was for the slaves, and the commoners, but not for those who would live God like behavior.
But according to Jesus Christ, it's the supreme virtue. So Paul continues, "Let each of you", verse 4, "look out not only for his own interest but also for the interest of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Selfish ambition is at the heart of fallen humanity, we all face it. You could say, you come by erroneously; you don't have to learn this, it's quite natural to be self-centered, to be selfish; it's a natural human talent.
Calvin Miller said, "If instead of Jesus giving us the Lord's prayer, if we were to write it would sound something like this, Our Father in heaven gimme, gimme, gimme, rather than hollowed be your name, your kingdom come, forgive us etcetera, it would be self-centered." Lowliness, humility, and you've watched it; it's the grease that oils the gears of any relationship. You can have people who are struggling to get along, all it take is one person in the mix to humble themselves, I am so sorry, would you forgive me, and can we move past this and get on with it. And it let's everybody's guard down, and the relationships can run smoothly.
So like Jesus Christ, Paul would say, he is the model of the Christian life. Like Jesus Christ rather than thinking, I've got to climb the ladder, higher and higher and higher. Paul is saying, "Like Jesus climb lower and lower and lower and get so low that you can see to serve the people." For Jesus Himself said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart."
Now, you know what yoke is? It was a steering device that was placed on animals so they could pull the plow. So what Jesus is saying is. "Let me control you and one of the chief features of me as you learn about me is my humility and lowliness." So Paul incorporates that, here is Jesus, here is our model, let this mind be in you which is also in Christ, Jesus. Verse 6, "Who, being (Jesus) being in the form of God, did not considered robbery to be equal with God."
One of the most important verses in your Bible is verse 6 and 7 and following. It says this, "Jesus was God and is God; he is in the form of God." Or as the NIV says, "Who, being in very nature God, did not think that was something to be grasped, he already had hold of that, he was and is God, who being in the form of God."
Now, I want to explain that to you. The Greek words and I'm going to give you a few words tonight to help paint the picture. The form of God is two Greek words 'morphe theou' form of God. Morphe, the word for form doesn't mean the outward form, doesn't mean size and shape. That would be another Greek word 'schema'. Schema means outward form. Morphe means essence that never changes.
Schema is what always changes. Now I'll give you an example. As a human being you have a morphe and you have a schema. You have a morphe, it never changes. When you're born into this world, all the way through your earthly development, you are still essentially a human being. That never changes. That's your morphe. That's your essence. That's your nature. But the schema of you changes a lot and in some periods of your life, you notice it very, very rapidly changing.
So you were once an embryo, after that a fetus, after that an infant, after that a toddler, after that an adolescent, after that a teenager; after that, if you've made it through all those years, an adult, and then an older adult. That's the schema, that changes. Jesus was in the morphe, the very nature and essence of God. So here was Jesus essentially God, He possessed the unchangeable essential nature of God. That's what Paul is saying, verse 7, but here comes the humility. "But He made Himself of no reputation, (or He emptied Himself) taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearances of man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the Cross. Therefore, God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father."
Now in these verses the main point is, humble yourself with each other, just like that. But let's consider what that is. These verses were peeking behind stage at the incarnation. Here's Jesus, God, eternal unchanging God, very nature God, but He humbled Himself ekenosen, the kenosis, He poured Himself out, He emptied Himself. Now, here's the question, what did Jesus empty Himself of when He came to this earth as a human being? Don't say God, He didn't empty Himself of being God. It's not like He was God and He emptied Himself of deity. He was always God in human flesh on the earth. What He emptied Himself of, while on the earth, number one, the prerogatives of deity. You understand the difference? The benefits of deity.
For instance, the glory that He had with the Father. He heard the angels everyday, every moment giving Him praise along with the Father and the Spirit. That's why Jesus pray, John 17, Father, glorify Me with the glory that I had with You before the world ever was. So the prerogatives of deity, all of that, Jesus left heaven and came to the earth.
Number two, Jesus emptied Himself of His own independent authority, while He was on the earth; He was submitted to the will of the Father. That's why He said, My Father is great than I am, I always do those things that what? Please Him. And in Gethsemane He prayed, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. Okay, so let's apply that.
Here's Jesus, He made like the ultimate step of humility. If you've ever talked to a missionary, or if you've ever gone in the mission field, you go through what's called cultural shock. And at first it's like, Christ, it's cool, I'm in a foreign country, I love this. Then after like a few days, it's really old, really quick. Because they don't give you American food, you don't eat hamburgers, it's not air-conditioned anymore. You don't sleep in nice bed, you know you sleep on the ground, and if you do that for like several years, it's like; it's so shocking to the system that for you to go back to America, it's called reverse culture shock.
Imagine the culture shock of leaving heaven, after living there for eons in eternity past, and then coming to the earth. Shocker let this mine be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. In other words, here's your example. Here is the model of the Christian life. Jesus Christ humbled Himself. How do we apply this? A simple statement.
You are never more like Satan than when you're selfish. You are never more like Jesus, than when you serve. That's the bottom line distilling truth of this section. Jesus as God humbled Himself and didn't live for Himself, but lived to serve others, let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus; that's the model. As the text goes on, it shows us Timothy, his buddy, and Epaphroditus, both of them follow that same model.
Verse 19; "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shorty, so that I also maybe 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." See what he's doing?
He's saying, here's Timothy, he's my co-worker in the ministry. He does that; he follows the model of Jesus Christ. He says, I have no one like-minded, no one thinks like me. For notice, all seek their own not to things which are of Christ Jesus. Listen to it in The Living Bible. "Everyone else seems to be worrying about his own plans." What a statement! Paul must have known hundreds of Christians in Rome. Because at the end of the book of Romans, Chapter 16, he gives 27 names of Roman believers that he was personally associated with. Those are just the ones he writes about in the end of Roman 16.
So he must have known over a hundred or hundreds of believers in Rome. But of all of the people he knew, there was only one guy he knew that was equal-souled, that's the word, like-minded, isopsychos in Greek. We think alike, we track alike; we have the same motive in life. Of all the Christians I know, there is only one guy in the ministry who thinks like I think. Who cares for other people, not his own agenda, and that is, Timothy, like-minded.
Epaphroditus also followed that model. He was the Philippian guy; remember the Philippians dispatched him 800 miles from Philippi; probably a six-week journey to visit Paul in Rome.
So verse 25; "Yet I considered it necessary to send to you (or back to you) Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need. Since he was longing for you'll." Now you notice how Paul uses that phrase a lot. He must have been from the south, you'll, he uses it that a lot in this book. "So since he was longing for you'll, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick, indeed, he was sick almost onto death."
Epaphroditus walked or traveled by donkey, presumably not horse, unless the church could draw up enough money to rent one; a six-week 800 mile journey, just to visit Paul and give him some financial aid. Epaphroditus practiced what I'm going to call Basin, B-A-S-I-N, Basin Theology. You go, Skip, I've read a lot of theological books, so I've never heard of that, I've heard of Systematic Theology, I've heard of Biblical Theology, but I have never heard of this Basin Theology.
Somebody once said, we all work out of one or two basins and our theology comes from one of two basins. Remember the night, when Jesus was betrayed and He was taken to Pontius Pilate and Pontius Pilate wanted to let Jesus go, but because of the political structure, he called for a basin of water and he washed his hands off the matter, as if to say, I'm not going to deal with this, you do whatever you want with Him. I'm going to be in it for my own political interest. That's one basin.
But remember the night that Jesus was betrayed, He took a basin and got on His knees and sort of washing the disciple's feet and washing them, and wiping them off of the towel. One is the basin of Pilate, it's about me it's about self, it's self interest, the other is the basin of Jesus Christ; that's Basin Theology. Epaphroditus put his needs, his wants, his agenda, his life aside for a while, to minister to Paul, and it was a great service to Paul.
So that's chapter 2, that's the "Model of the Christian Life." Chapter 3 takes us to the third section. This is the "March of the Christian Life" which is forward.
Now verse 1; "Finally, my brethren (don't be taken by the word finally, Paul doesn't mean it. He's not closing the letter; we're only at mid point here) finally, my brethren rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you to be safe, beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation (for in other word for the circumcision) for we are the circumcision, who worship God and the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Now this is the first hint in the letter that there is a problem. The problem was a group of spiritual scavengers who were devouring the gospel of grace and trying to drag their Christians backwards into the law, instead of forward into grace.
So he is saying, "Look, I have left that, I grew up Jewish and I left that behind me and I am following what Christ wants me to follow." And so he says, verse1, by the way, he says, beware of dogs, he is not this is not a warning to mailman or people who deliver the mail, beware of the dog!
It's a term of consternation. It's a term of disdain and contempt. The Jews often refer to the Gentiles as dogs. Paul is using the term to refer to Jews, who were trying to make Gentile Christians become like them. Keep the law, get circumcised, go through all of the rituals of Judaism, and Paul doesn't call it the circumcision, but the mutilation; it's a very strong language.
Verse 4; "Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so,( and he gives his pedigree, his background) circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, I was a Pharisee; concerning zeal, I was persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (straight "A's" on my report card in Hebrew school). But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yes 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 (or refuge or dung, some translations put it) that I might gain Christ and be found in Him not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of Him." All of that that Paul writes about.
That, that bragamony, he's bragging. He's saying, "Look I could brag, I could boast, let me tell you about where I have come from, and who I am, here's my pedigree." But that's all a bragamony. Now here is my testimony. My testimony is, I have left all the things I have boasted in, my upbringing, my religion, my blamelessness. I have traded all that in; I'm marching forward, I'm not going back to the law, I'm marching forward, to be found not in my good works, but in His righteousness, the gospel of grace; he's marching forward.
Alan Redpath one said, "When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible man, and crushes him." When did that crushing take place for Paul? Well, the culmination was on a stretch of road from Jerusalem to Damascus. It was placed on his back, you know the story, and he finally surrendered himself to the Lord, and that was the process of breaking, and God did an impossible thing of getting the gospel out to the world through him. His entire life changed, and all of that is behind him now, and he is boasting only in Christ.
Verse 10, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."
Verse 12, "Now that I have already attained or already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal, for the price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Picture in your minds, what it would be like for an athlete to try to run in one direction while looking over a shoulder backwards in another direction. What would happen to him or her? He'd fall, he'd go off the track, he would be deterred from what he said or she said was the goal.
If you want to live a miserable life, always look back over your shoulders, and start just living in regret, what it could have been, what it should have been, what I needed, but I didn't. Paul is saying, "All of that, in my life up to this point is over, is passed. And I'm not only marching forward, but I'm pressing on." He says, "Reaching ahead or reaching forward, verse 13, to those things which are ahead." That's an athletic term to sprint for the finish line. You've ever seen in the Olympics, they are just that last little leg of the race where they put that hand out, and put every bit of energy into it, that's what Paul is speaking about. So that's, that's the "March of the Christian Life" forward.
Verse 20, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." As you are marching forward eventually, it will take you into eternity, you are eventually marching to heaven. "Who will transform our lowly body" You may not agree with the description of your body, but I'm going to add to that, you may not agree with the description of your body being a lowly body right now. And typically, if you are younger and strong, you would object to this description if your body is a lowly body.
Imagine, if you were working out in the gym and somebody walked in and they go, you've got a lowly body. You take offense to that. But the longer you live, you come to agree with Paul, and not really object to, you're ready to go, I get it. And especially, when you compare it to the body, it's going to become after the resurrection. "It will transform our lowly body that it might be confirmed to His glorious body according to the working by which is able to subdue all things to himself."
Finally chapter 4, this is the "Marks of the Christian Life" peace and joy; the "Marks of the Christian Life." Peace and joy; number one, peace with others, verse 1, "Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved. I implore (now look at these names) Euodia, and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord." Two women are mentioned in verse 2, they're mentioned, nowhere else in the Bible, it seems to have been an argument between them, no details are given, it just says, to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Euodia, means good journey, good journey. The word Suntyche, that's how you say in the Greek, means fortunate. So these two gals, Miss Good Trip and Miss Lucky, may have been two of the founding mothers of the church. It could be that little enclave of women at the river in Philippi when Paul got there, maybe they were among them. It's interesting to think of that. Over time whoever they were, they started arguing with each other. And the other argument led into different camps, so I'm on her side, no, I'm on her side, and it was starting to split the church. And Paul is writing a little footnote to correct that. Don't let that happen. It could be that these two prominent godly women maybe even help start the church, were dividing the very church that was started. Now I'll say this, "Satan reserves the hottest flaming arrows for those who are most effective." The church is being divided.
Now, here's what's sad to think, they're only mentioned here, they're mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, and they're mentioned in conjunction with an argument, imagine having to be immortalized forever. And the Bibles translated into whatever language and distributed around the world, your name is in it. Oh yeah, those two ladies that argued, don't forget to write that in there.
Peace with yourself is mentioned next, verse 6. "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 your mind through Jesus Christ." I wish I had time to really unwrap that, unpack that, and dive into it, done it before, don't have time now, but this is peace with yourself.
So here's the "Marks of the Christian Life" peace with others, peace within yourself, you're not worried, you're casting your cares upon the Lord, and finally joy, verse 4. I'm taking you back to verse 4 and then back down to verse 10. Verse 4; "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!"
Verse 10, "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked the opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." What's he writing about? He's in jail, he's saying, you guys in Philippi know you love me, you've always cared for me, but thank you for sending the financial gift. That's what he's referring to here. But he said, it's not that I need anything. I've learned in whatever state I am in to be content.
Are you content? Advertisers work hard to make you discontent; that's their goal. All the commercials you see in magazines and on television, on the radio, they're designed to make you discontent with your life. You need that experience or that product to be happy, and they spend millions of dollars, in some cases, multi-million, like on Super Bowl to make you discontent with your life as it is and it's working. Because, by and large, Americans are the most discontent people of any people group in the world.
A hundred years ago, the average American could produce a list of 70 things, seven zero, 70 things that he or she needed. Today, the average American lists 500 things that he or she needs to live; I read recently. So how do you get content? Contentment doesn't come from what you have; contentment comes from whom you have. Rejoice in the Lord and again I say, rejoice. We're sang it, did you mean it? You can take all this world, just give me Jesus, just give me Jesus.
Verse 17, "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 once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account." This is what I want you to catch as we close. We're getting inside into the heavenly bookkeeping.
When he says, "I seek (verse 17) the fruit that abounds to your account." He is speaking about financial terms, the interest that accumulates in a ledger, in bookkeeping books, on the credit side of a financial ledger. So here's the deal, Paul is saying, "When I go out and do the work of the ministry, and lead souls to Christ, and you're giving me financial aid, at the end, you are going to get the reward, not just me for leading those souls to Christ. You are, because I couldn't have done it without your help."
So imagine what heaven is going to be like. You're going to get there and somebody is going to through their arms around you, thank you, who are you? You will probably will know as you are known, so you'll be probably be saying, now exactly who you are? That person will say, I came to Christ because you gave that missionary some financial help, or you supported that crusade, that television event or that radio ministry, and I came to know Jesus Christ, thank you, I'm here because of you.
So, not that I seek a gift, I seek fruit that abounds to your account. So, I want you to get this. This is what this means to us. We should be very scrupulous and careful where we invest financially. There are ministries that are bearing lots of fruit, that's where I want to invest in. See this thinking is wrong, saying, I want to give over there because they keep saying, they really, really need it. They are going to go under and they are going to die unless I support them. Wait a minute, that's not smart financial investment. I want to find people who are coming to Christ, and the gospel is spreading, I want to invest there because according to this, I'm going to get an eternal reward, smart investing. Imagine, being able to support Paul the Apostle.
I'll sign up for that because that guy won't shut up. Even in jail he'll be leading people to Christ, sign me up I want to support him.
Verse 21, "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those (meaning those saints) who are of Caesar's household." He's been leading them to Christ. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you'll. Amen!" Now I figure it this way.
If some of those soldiers, Paul was chained to, Caesar's household were coming to Christ, and they were working, history tells us in six-hour shifts. After coming to Christ, they would want to know more. They would want to be grounded. They'd want to grow. So I can imagine one of the guards saying to their buddy at the six-hour shift mark, you know what? Go home; go home with your family. It's on me; it's my gift to you, really. I'll take the night shift and the next shift. He's writing this letter and I want to hear them finish it. I want to hear what he's going to say about this. I have some questions and they were coming to grow in their faith in Christ. How exciting!
Any place you're at can become a fulcrum, a launching pad for you to share the gospel.
Heavenly Father, therefore we thank you for where You've planted us and where You've placed us. Thank you Lord that even in the most confining of circumstances, a job we may not like, the home situation that is very restrictive, perhaps a disease, a place that we are confined to, or even a prison itself, that if You're there, and there are people that we can reach either by voice or by pen, that we can be a changed agents and further the gospel, and see it as part of the will and plan of God for our lives. Thank you therefore Lord, for where we're at and what You're allowing us to go through. In Jesus name, Amen!