Monday, April 12, 2010

Philippi - A Joyful Church

Philippi - A Joyful Church

Intro.: Paul is in Rome.

  1. Now that sounds like a wonderful vacation – except for one fact, Paul is in prison for his faith.

  2. I have a special appreciation for the letters Paul writes from Prisions – you see as Paul writes, he is chained to a prison guard. Every letter, every word, he writes is read by that guard. Can you imagine the uproar that would occur if Paul were to write something that did not match his own life.

Read: Philippians 1:1-2


T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at three questions that will guide our introduction to the book of Philippians.

  1. Who wrote Philippians?

    1. At one level the answer may seem obvious – Paul and Timothy

    2. Quite a contrast these two – Paul, an elder statesman in the church. Timothy, a young man that was just beginning his ministry for the church.

    3. Paul had spent years learning about the church – first as he sought to destroy this new cult that he saw infiltrating the Roman empire and Jewish people of which he was so proud. Later, after being challenged flby Jesus Christ himself on the road to Damascus, he was discipled by both leaders of the church and by the Holy Spirit.

    4. Though most of us have heard of Timothy, I suspect that fewer of us know much about the other person given credit for writing this letter.

      1. Timothy is a third generation Christian. His grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, were there to teach him the scriptures.

      2. It is speculated that he was converted during Paul's first missionary journey.

      3. It was during Paul's second missionary journey that Timothy first joined Paul as he traveled – but from that time on, Timothy was the most significant people to travel with Paul. He not only traveled with Paul, but was named as co-author of six of the Pauline epistles, he was sent alone to serve as his representative to return or precede Paul's arrival.

(Appl.) You see, age is not what makes someone God's servant. Paul was of a different generation than Timothy, but God used both men to spread the good news. By the end of the year, I will be 60 years old. Some of you are approaching 80 years of age. But who cares – know this, that God is able and willing to use you to serve Him. As members of His church – not my church, not some denomination, but as a member of the family of God, we are called to serve Him.

    1. So, there we have it, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus” - authorship.

    2. Two gotchas – first it is not clear whether there is any original writing in Philippians that can be attributed to Timothy. Timothy was undoubted there, but there is serious doubt whether he wrote any part of this letter.

    3. But there is another gotcha – whenever we look at scripture, from Genesis to Revelations, we must remember that there is always another author involved – God himself.

      1. Later, Paul would write to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

      2. The role of inspiration (i.e. breathed out) means that God so prepared Paul – though his training and experiences – that when he wrote, he wrote what God intended to be written.

      3. As you read your Bible, remember that it comes with the force of God speaking. Listen to Him speak to you as you read.

(Ill.) Too often we fall into the trap of believing everything we read. We answer questions by saying, “I saw it in the paper” or, a member of a younger generation might say, “I saw it on the INTERNET.” Most writers on the INTERNET or in the newspaper try to be accurate – yet they are not. They are fallible – even as you and I are. We need to learn to listen to God's word, so we can say with confidence “I saw it in Scripture.”

  1. To whom did they write?

    1. Philippians is written to a church – the whole church: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.

    2. Did you know that believers are also called “saints.” This is directly connected to the word “holy” - both words in the New Testament mean “the set aside ones”. As saints, we are set aside for God's use.

    3. And Paul is not merely talking to the church leaders – because he says, essentially, “to the saints, including the elders and the deacons.” Paul does not make the distinction that we too often make – that there is difference between clergy and church member. What Paul writes, applies to us all – clergy and church member alike.

(Ill.) Ronald Rolheiser, Roman Catholic Priest and President of a Catholic University in Texas, wrote, “We want to be saints, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.”i He is suggesting that we want to be the best of saints and proud members of our world at the same time. A difficult task at best – perhaps, for some, impossible.

  1. They put the ending at the beginning?

    1. And then Paul does something I would never think of doing. He puts the benediction in verse 2 - Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    2. That is my prayer for you as well. I learned about grace the hard way – I had to hit bottom before I could really know what grace was really about.

    3. But once I really experienced grace, it grew on me. I really understood brokenness when I knew something of grace. I learned to forgive those around me when I learned about grace. And I learned to forgive myself when I learned about grace.

    4. And that is my prayer for you. That you too can learn about forgiveness for yourselves and for others.

    5. And when that happens, we get an extra blessing - Peace

(Ill) Richard Watson was a Puritan preacher in the 17th century. He understood the role of peace in the believers life: The Puritan Thomas Watson put it this way: God the Son is called the Prince of Peace. He came into the world with a song of peace: “On earth peace.…” He went out of the world with a legacy of peace, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” Christ’s earnest prayer was for peace; He prayed that His people might be one. Christ not only prayed for peace, but bled for peace: “Having made peace through the blood of His cross.” He died not only to make peace between God and man, but between man and man. Christ suffered on the cross, that He might cement Christians together with His blood; as He prayed for peace, so He paid for peace.



iLarson, C. B., & Lowery, B. (2009). 1001 quotations that connect: Timeless wisdom for preaching, teaching, and writing (292). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.


Anonymous said...

I am thankful for the peace that abides within me. I shudder when I think of being without the peace of God. Love in Christ,

Anonymous said...

I love what you wrote! It answered all of my questions and more! I'm saving this link to my favorites, now. I'm so glad that I found a good website to find the answers I need and be able to trust it.

Thanks Pastor Floyd,