This Sunday at Grace Life, we kick off a new series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. My prayer for our church and for those who listen online, is our time in this letter will be filled with grace, joy, and “that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:9-11).
One of the commentaries that I’m using for my sermon prep is Christ – Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Philippians. In the opening chapter, the authors lay out six challengers for the present day reader of the letter. These six challenges from the book as a whole are six “points of application” that we must apply to our lives and what I want to challenge you with as we spend the next 9 weeks in the Letter to the Philippians.
We won’t have time to cover them in depth on Sunday, so I want to address them here. Quotations are from the commentary followed by the page number location.
- Recognize that Gospel advancement will cost us, but Jesus is worth it.
What is probably the most popular phrase from the book should also be the anthem of our lives: To live is Christ and to die is gain. “This letter exalts the person and work of Jesus. He is the only Savior and Lord, whom we adore and proclaim to the world. He is the source of joy and unity. He is worth living and dying for” (12)
What we need to see from this little letter is that we must make known the name of Jesus to all people and that we would be filled with a passion, love, and desire for only our Savior.
- Fight for joy in Christ
Philippians contains 20 references to joy. We must pray for joy in all things that is found only in Jesus. What we think will provide us joy, often leads us away from joy.
“Such joy flows from our union with Christ, for it is a fruit of the Spirit. You need to know Jesus to find joy, and as a Christian, you need to commune with Christ for fresh joy. This doesn’t mean you are silly or that you never grieve – not at all. It means that there’s a profound contentment and satisfaction in Jesus that’s authentic and compelling to others. It means that in your grief and hard times, you can truly say, ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ (Neh 8:10).” (13)
- Maintain the unity of the Spirit
Maintaining the unity of the Spirit is very important to Paul. This isn’t the only letter where he brings this up. This same idea should be very important to us.
We shouldn’t argue over frivolous issues; we must fight for unity. “Even the best churches have to defend against gossip, forgive, and reconcile.” (14) The unity of our church should be important to us.
- Become a “Macedonian” giver
I know this phrase is a little strange, but we can learn a lot from the churches in Macedonia (Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica). These churches were not filled wealthy people; they were more blue collar. But Paul recognizes their generosity and how they sacrificed much for the sake of the Gospel.
“What moved them? They treasured Jesus above all (2 Cor 8:5,9). Here in Philippians, Paul says they gave as an expression of love and as an act of worship (Phil 4:19). They were loyal to Paul and the mission, and they were devoted to Jesus.” (14)
We should all be sacrificial and generous givers of the finances God has given us. The church at Philippi knew their generosity reached more people with the Gospel.
- Let’s learn what Gospel partnership looks like
We’ve talked a lot about partnership at Grace Life. We don’t call our members, “members”, we call them partners. We are labor together for the sake of the Gospel. We are in this together. Locking arms to push back the darkness in our community and around the world.
- As a church let’s give the world a picture of the coming kingdom of God.
When people look at our church, what do they see? Do they see the world or do they see what the kingdom of God looks like? “The church in Philippi may not have looked spectacular, but Paul tells them they are an embassy of the kingdom, an outpost of the kingdom (see 1:27; 3:20)…This church in Philippia was showing Rome what a better kingdom looked like; let’s show our city and our world what a better kingdom looks like. We do this by submitting our lives to the kingship of Jesus, following His Word.” (15)
I’m looking forward to our 9-week series in Philippians. Be sure to grab a sermon guide as you walk in to the auditorium. You can listen here for an explanation of the series guide. Let’s all grow in our love for Jesus as we pursue holiness and a life worthy of our salvation.