Tag Archive | Philippians

The joy of Jesus builds and sustains

The joy of Jesus builds and sustains

Joy is probably the fruit of the Spirit that is the most difficult for me. I have wrinkles in between my eyebrows from furrowing my eyebrows so much. I’m often thoughtful but very often fail to be thankful. I’m often more naturally jaundiced than jubilant.

But, I just taught on Philippians and it is the letter of joy. It refers to joy some 15 times. Philippians is the letter of joy that was written from jail.

As I was studying Philippians and Acts 16 that recounts the founding of the church of Philippi here is the main point that stuck out to me:

The joy of Jesus builds and sustains through diversity and adversity.

And that’s what I want took at.

The joy

Joy is a command so it must not be just a disposition. Joy is not just a personality thing. It’s a Christian thing.

Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit—fruit that grows and results from the Spirit. Guess what’s listed first?… Actually, it’s love. But, second is joy. I think Paul is making a point in the way he lists the fruit.

But, we should see here that the fruits of the Spirit are supernatural. That means they are not natural. It’s like some grapes I had the other day. They looked like they were from the Promised Land. They were unnaturally large and good tasting. To be honest, they weren’t strictly natural. They had some outside assistance. They were modified.

Or, think of massive muscly guys. They’re not natural. They’re using steroids. We, brothers and sisters, essentially need spiritual steroids. We can’t be what God wants us to be on our own.

I was talking to my daughter about her God-given gifts recently. Her middle name is joy, and she is especially joyful. And I said that’s like her “superpower.” But, as I’ve thought of it, I was both right and wrong in what I said. Right because the fruits of the Spirit—like joy—really are like superpowers; we don’t have them naturally by ourselves, they’re not common, and it is a type of power. Wrong because it’s really not “her’s,” it’s the Spirit working in and through her, that’s why it’s supernatural. That’s why the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit have the “of the Spirit” part.

My last name is O’Brien. It’s spelled “O’…” for a reason. The “O’” stands for “of Brian” or “decedent of Brian.” I think when we talk about biblical joy we should call it “joyo’”—joy of the Spirit. That’s where the joy came from. That’s joy’s origin story.

As Christians maybe we should say, “I loveo’ you.” I’m, of course, mainly joking. But, I do believe we’d be wise to remember joy’s origin story. Joyo’ is a superpower that can be used in the most unexpected circumstances.

It’s important for us to note that Jesus and Paul both command joy. We are not only called to duty, we are also called—commanded to—delight.

That should bring up a question for us. What is joy?…

of Jesus

I was talking to one of my daughters about this topic and she asked a good question. She said, “What is joy?” That’s a really important question because definitions are important. Without definitions, we can misunderstand one another and talk past one another.

“Joy” is never defined for us in the Bible. The word itself means delight. But, here’s what I think is a good definition from my reading of Philippians and of the New Testament: happiness in Jesus. Or, happiness not in mainly physical realities or circumstances but in spiritual realities and circumstances.

When joy is understood this way, which I think it should be after considering the way Paul uses it in Philippians, I can see why joy is often hard for me…

If joy is primarily happiness in Jesus and spiritual realities as I believe it is, what does it mean if I’m not joyful?…

It means I’m not caring about Jesus or spiritual realities. I’m focusing on earthly realities. I’m looking horizontally for happiness when it can only always been found when I look vertically to God.

That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to be happy about the horizontal, only that our happiness cannot be found in this earth if it’s to last. Jesus said we can take heart because He has overcome the world, He doesn’t say we can take heart in the world…

Brothers and sisters, we need to work at being happy in Jesus, that’s how we can be joyful. That’s how Paul could sing in a damp stinky prison. Not because of his circumstances. He could sing because before he was a prisoner, he was a slave of Christ. That’s where his allegiance lay.

As we said, “joy” is referred to some 15 times in Philippians, but “Christ” is mentioned 18 in chapter 1. When we have joy in Jesus, we can have joy even in jail.

builds

The joy of Jesus builds the church and brings the most unlikely converts in. It brought Paul himself in. And in Acts 16 we see it brought other unlikely converts in too.

and sustains

The joy of Jesus, however, not only builds the church it also sustains the church. It sustains the church even through the challenges of different converts from different cultures coming together.

through diversity

The joy of Jesus builds and sustains through diversity because Jesus delivers and delights all sorts of people! Jailers and Jews, slaves and the snobby, the rich and rulers, the demon-possessed and the depressed. No one is past God’s reaching Grace.

God can build His Church with all sorts of people no matter the societal problems and He can provide life-transforming joy in the midst of it. Part of the American churches problem may not mainly be the problems of society, but that we act like it’s such a problem. We’re so baffled by it.

Unless the world delights in Jesus, they’re going to be hoodwinked by the devil. Yet, Jesus builds His church with problem people. He helps them, He makes them whole, He gives them transforming joy; happiness that is rooted not in circumstances, but in Him.

and adversity

Jesus says something surprising in Luke 6. He says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you” (6:22). Then He says something else really surprising, “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy.” Why?! Why is Jesus telling us to leap for joy about something so terrible?

Jesus says, because “your reward is great in heaven.”

So, something super negative happens and we can still rejoice.

Jesus tells His disciples that they have power over the enemy and that the spirits are subject to them in Luke 10, but that is not what they are to rejoice in. They are to rejoice that their “names are written in heaven” (v. 20).

So, something super positive happens and we’re not to rejoice mainly in that.

That’s not all Jesus says about joy, though. He says the Kingdom of God is like a person joyfully selling all they have to buy a field. Why would a person joyfully give up everything? Only when they get something better thereby.

When we have joy in Jesus, we have untouchable joy. Even in the midst of great adversity.

Paul’s joy did not at all depend on circumstances. Paul had joy even in jail.

Brothers and sisters, the joy of Jesus builds and sustains through diversity and adversity.

*Photo by Jan Gottweiss 

Guard your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

We’ve probably all heard someone say, “I love you with all my heart.” What they mean, of course, is not I love you with the muscle in my chest that pumps blood around my body. That would be creepy.

They say, “with all my heart” because the heart is used as an expression to communicate the control center of one’s being. It is where one does their thinking, feeling, and choosing.

Our hearts, then, are very important. That is why we are not to guard first our eyes or our money but our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart.”

Just as in our physical life, the health of our hearts determines to a great extent the health of our bodies. If our heart is encumbered it impacts our energy and our mental clarity. If our muscles and brain don’t receive the oxygen they need through the heart’s work then we will not function properly and are even in danger of death. 

Because of this, we seek to keep our hearts healthy. We know we need to eat healthy foods, get exercise, and take medicine if prescribed by a doctor. We know we need to protect our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says the same thing of our immaterial heart. We need to protect it, guard it, and keep it safe. The health of the whole of our lives—not just physical—is impacted by the health of our heart at the core of who we are.

Everything we do flows from our hearts. Let’s make sure we guard our hearts and feed on things that will promote health and wholeness. So, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

The Coronavirus and the Christian

How should Christians think about and respond to the coronavirus? Here are some initial thoughts…

Plague and the Problem of Evil

Christians see the world in a way that makes sense of the world. We have an understanding of why plagues and the problem of evil exist.

That leads us to acknowledge something else that’s super important to focus on: Jesus. Jesus did not leave us to our problems. He did not leave us to simply wallow in plagues. Instead, He Himself plunged headlong into our sorrow.

“The God of The Bible becomes completely human and hurts in every way that we do—from physical pain to social rejection, misunderstanding, hatred, violence, and death. He endures it all. And because he suffers all of this with us, he can empathize with our sorrow and pain. Even more amazingly, Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection are the avenues through which he overcomes all evil, pain, and misery and is able to offer us the promise that disappointment will give way to joy, brokenness to eternal healing, and evil to good. Because of Christ’s agony, death will die and life will live on forever.”[1]

Therefore, even in the midst of plague and the problem of evil we can point people to Jesus. We can point people to hope, no matter what happens. Therefore, Christian, continue to worship Christ as Lord and always be ready to tell everyone the reason you have hope even in the midst of the chaos of the curse and the coronavirus (1 Pet. 3:15).

Read More…

Living in Light of the Majesty of Christ

 

Introduction
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul is seeking to bless and encourage the Philippian church. He has encouraged and wants his friends in Philippi to be bold (1:14), receive joy in the faith (v. 25), and live a life worthy of the gospel (v. 27).

So, how is Paul encouraging the Philippians (and us) in this passage (v. 18b-26)? Paul is showing the Philippians, and us, what is worth living for. Paul gives himself as a prime example.

So, what is worth living for? I mean, what is ultimately worth living for? And, what do you live for?

Let’s look at Philippians 1:18b-20 and see what we should live for:
“Yes, and I will rejoice [because Christ is proclaimed], [19] for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this [the present situation] will turn out for my deliverance, [20] as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying that he rejoices in the midst of the struggles and trials of life because he expects to magnify Christ through them. So, we see we too must…

Magnify Christ in all of life (v. 18b-20)
First, it is important that we ask, “What was Paul going through? What was the situation he was facing and how did he magnify, honor, glorify God in the midst of it?”

      The situation
Paul was in prison (1:7, 13) and it seems since he was in prison the question of death was on the table (v. 21, 23). Since Paul was in prison he must have had many physical concerns. Paul was suffering. His situation was not easy. Paul acknowledges that he needs help. He knew he needed the Philippian’s prayers and “the help of the Spirit” (v. 19). Paul knew he would need to “not be ashamed,” he knew he would need to have “full courage.” Paul was aware of the difficulties that awaited him but he was very sure that he would be able to be faithful (v. 20).

Paul believed the truth of Matthew 10:

“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved… And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell… So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:22, 28, 32-33).

      What Paul did
Even in suffering, Paul’s concern was not his own welfare. Paul cared about Christ being honored (v. 20) and the church receiving joy in the faith (v. 25). So, Paul boldly shared the gospel with the Roman guards and he encouraged others to also be bold. And Paul served and encouraged others. Actually, he wanted to depart and be with Christ, that’s what he wanted to do, but he said it is better, even “necessary” that he remain so he could be a means of joy and encouragement for his friends in Philippi.[1] That’s why Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians in the first place. Paul modeled what it means to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others (2:4).

“Paul’s deepest hopes for his own immediate future turn neither on the bliss of immediately gaining heaven’s portals nor on returning to a fulfilling ministry and escaping the pangs of death, but on what is best for his converts. Often we are tempted to evaluate alternatives by thinking through what seems best for us. How often do we raise as a first principle what is best for the church?”[2]

So, what did Paul do? Paul sought to live his life—through thick and thin—to magnify and honor Christ and encourage the saints.

      What about us?
We, like Paul, should seek to magnify Christ in all we do. Yet, this is very hard. How can we?

Let’s look at Philippians 1:21-26 and see how we can live for Christ:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose [between life and death] I cannot tell. [23] I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. [24] But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. [25] Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, [26] so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”

What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying that he rejoices in the midst of the struggles and trials of life because he is motivated by the majesty of Christ. So, we too must…

Be motivated by the majesty of Christ (v. 21-26)
If we are to be motivated it is important that we understand how. So, first, how was Paul motivated by the majesty of Christ?

      Paul’s motivation
Paul saw Christ as so awesome, so majestic, so worth it, that he would give up all for Him, live for Him, die for Him. Paul cared about Christ. Paul saw Christ’s glory in an amazing way and it radically changed him.

If Paul lived, who would he live for? Christ! Paul said, “If I am to live in the flesh that means fruitful labor for me” (v. 22). Paul said, “to live is Christ.”[3] That’s what life was about for Paul. Paul even said that he wasn’t sure which he would choose, life or death? Paul said, he desired “to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (v. 23). How is departing, dying, “far better”? Because he would get to be with Christ! Everything, for Paul, is about Christ (see also 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, 14-15). 

      What is our motivation?
Our motivation is often success, beauty, fun, etc. But it should be Christ. He alone is worthy. Yet, it is so easy to get distracted. Of course, success, beauty, fun are not bad. But they are not ultimate. They can’t and won’t fulfill. We shouldn’t live for those things. Only Jesus is worthy.

“In the logic of the gospel, there are no alternatives to Christ. Every other option is no option at all. When everything considered valuable in life is seen to be nothing in comparison to the glory of Christ, you learn rather well that Christ alone is worth living for. Christ alone is worthy of an entire life’s affections and devotions.”[4]

      What does understanding the majesty of Christ lead to?
For John G. Paton, it meant to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Paton who was a missionary to the South Sea Islands (where Fiji water comes from) was told, “You will be eaten by Cannibals!” Paton responded:

“Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”[5]

We must know, as Paul did, that “There is a greater day coming, a greater reward coming, a greater life coming, and the purpose of life while we are alive is to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, which hold the promise of life everlasting.”[6] We will be more alive than we are now![7] We shall have life and peace beyond what we can imagine. We shall be at perfect peace with God and see Jesus!

Death is “far better” for us too!

Conclusion
Paul encouraged the Philippians (and us!) to live a life worthy of the gospel and in verses 18b-26 he gives us an inward look of how he hopes to live a worthy life: treasure Christ. Christ was Paul’s controlling core. Paul loved Christ and so he lived for Christ.

God is calling us to also love Christ with all we are and live for Him with all we have.

So, what do you live for? What motivating, explosive force, is at the core of your life? What propels you to do what you do?

And notice, if we get it wrong here, we will carry out all sorts of destructive actions.

What is at your core?

Can you say your life is motivated by the majesty of Christ? Can you truly say, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”?

A few questions
1.  Paul said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What do you think about that? Should you be able to say that as well?
2.  What’s at the motivational core of your life?
3.  How will you stay on track through the temptations and struggles of life?
4.  Do you currently feel purpose in living for Jesus Christ?
5.  How was Paul impacted by having Christ at his motivational core? How would you be impacted with Christ at the motivational core of your life?
6.  What about Christ is so majestic and beautiful and awesome that makes Him worthy of first place in your heart and life?
7.  How will you keep Christ at the motivational core of you life with all the other things that fight for that place?
8.  Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, 14-15 and pray that you would be motivated to live for Christ because of the majesty of Christ.

_______________________

[1] This is very hard for us to understand in our current society and situation. It “can only strike us as strange in the modern church if we have allowed the comforts of our present physical existence to usurp the place of Christ in our lives as our chief priority” (Frank Thielman, Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary, 83.

[2] Carson in Basics for Believers, 30.

[3] “In the context, ‘to live is Christ’ surely means that for Paul to keep on living here means ministry, Christ-centered ministry, Christ-empowered ministry, Christ’s presence in his ministry” (Carson, Basics for Believers, 29).

[4] Matt Chandler, To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, 36.

[5] As quoted by Carson in Basics for Believers, 31.

[6] Matt Chandler, To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, 37.

[7] I concur with what C.S. Lewis says in The Last Battle,

“We can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before” (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: NY: Harper Collins, 2002), 228).

I believe we, upon arrival to the new Eden, will exclaim with Lewis’ Unicorn: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it to now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia [“old creation”] is that it sometimes looked a little like this” (Ibid., 213).

Living to Share the Gospel

As we read in Philippians we see that Paul lived to share the gospel. That’s what he was all about. Even when he was imprisoned for sharing the gospel he said, “It’s okay. It actually worked out quite well because I was able to tell the prison guards about Jesus.”

Paul lived to share the gospel. But what made him live like this? He hadn’t always lived for the gospel so what changed him? And what perhaps needs to change in our own lives so that we will live to share the gospel of Christ?

As I was preparing to write this I struggled because this portion of Philippians (1:12-18, 27-30) seems irrelevant. It seems disconnected from our everyday life. So, I was trying to think of some angle that I could share to make it relevant and I was struggling to do so. I was thinking that if I were talking about procrastination, lust, or something else then that would be relevant.

As I continued to think about it, however, I realized the problem is not with the passage. The problem is with us, with me. The passage doesn’t seem relevant because we don’t share the concern that Paul had, and that the Bible has. We, I am afraid, our deficient in our devotion to the gospel.

Sharing the gospel and our…
Our Deficiency
This first point comes from my own mouth and mind and not directly from Philippians. However, upon reflection, I think it is important that we consider our potential deficiency.What is our deficiency? Or, what would make this passage seem irrelevant?

I fear we (myself included!) get used to the gospel. It ceases to amaze us. We take it for granted. Paul’s letter to the Philippians was likely written 30 years after his conversion but we see that he is still amazed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) and later on he says everything is rubbish compared to Christ (3:8).

Our deficiency is our deficient view of the gospel. We esteem it of low worth. Until that deficiency changes we won’t delight in sharing the gospel and we won’t carry out our duty of sharing the gospel. So, briefly, what is the gospel?

Philippians 2 talks about Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, made Himself nothing and humbled Himself to die for us, even by death on a cross. 2 Corinthians 8:9 reminds us of the wonder of the gospel: our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, became poor, so that we by His poverty might become rich. This is the good news of the “great exchange.” Jesus, God in flesh, took our filthy sinful stains upon Himself on the tree; and He gave us His beautiful robes of righteousness.

The apostle Paul understood that and that’s why he said everything—everything!—is rubbish compared to Christ. We too need to understand that. It makes sense logically but often times it hasn’t worked itself into the nooks and crannies of our lives.

So, we see the need of cultivating a heart of worship, a heart that is amazed by the gospel. As John Piper has said,

“No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.”[1]

It is when we taste and see that a restaurant is good that we tell others about it. It is the same with the gospel. We need to “taste” that it is good. We need to know understand that the LORD “has done gloriously.” Look at Isaiah 12:1-5:

“I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation… Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.”

It when we taste the God’s goodness that we say, “Let this be known in all the earth!”

Sharing the gospel and our…
Our Devotion (Phil. 1:12-18)
In a letter such as this, it would have been customary for Paul to explain how he was doing. It would have been natural to discuss his physical conditions.[2] I expect Paul to say something like:

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, especially for the gift you gave me. That was really helpful. However, as you know I am in jail for preaching the gospel and I am fresh out of funds. I don’t have a lot of food and my sneakers are worn out. It’d be great to get some help. I am also very tired as my bed is very uncomfortable and the blanket they gave me is terrible. The guards also keep me up late. They like to play cards and their cursing is terrible…”

However, Paul says nothing like that. Actually, we’re not even really told about his physical well-being, let alone the state of his sneakers.

Yet, imagine how difficult it must have been for Paul. One commentator has said, “For a traveling apostle to be put in prison must have seemed like a concert pianist having his hands tied behind his back.”[3] Yet, Paul was not complaining.

Why is this the case? Certainly, Paul had material concerns. There are times when Paul let his material needs be known. For instance, he asks for his coat and books (2 Tim. 4:13). Paul surely had physical/material concerns but they weren’t main concern. We see Paul is concerned with the gospel and its advancement.

Paul’s good is wrapped up with the gospel.[4] Even though he was locked up he could rejoice because it “served to advance the gospel” (Phil. 1:12).[5] Paul made known to his guards that he was in jail for telling people about Christ. It was such a big deal that it got around to a bunch of people, “the whole imperial guard,” it says (v. 13).

“The soldiers were used, of course, to the ‘gospel’ of Caesar—the supposed ‘good news’ that a new emperor had taken the throne, bringing (so he claimed) peace and justice to the world. Now here was someone out of the blue announcing that there was a different ‘gospel’: that Jesus of Nazareth had taken the throne of the world, and was summoning every man, woman and child to bow the knee to him.”[6]

The guards were interested in hearing Paul’s story because they probably thought Paul was crazy at first. After all, they must have thought, who worships and confesses as King and Lord a crucified Jew?!

Yet, upon further discussion with Paul, they would have seen that Paul was not a lunatic but rather quite sane. If what Paul said about Jesus was true it would make sense that he would be willing to be imprisoned for Him (the guards themselves had suffered for their own king). Further, in light of Jesus being the King and Lord, it makes sense that Paul was encouraged, even in prison.

We see also the impact that Paul’s example had on the Philippians; they were emboldened to “speak the word without fear” (v. 14). How might our boldness help others to be bolder in sharing the gospel? You never know, God may use you to stir up a revival.

Perhaps the most surprising thing we see is that Paul even rejoices when people “preach Christ from envy and rivalry” (v. 15) and “out of selfish ambition” (v. 17). So, we see Paul had a delight in the gospel that bled out into the way he thought about the sharing of the gospel. Paul was passionate about the gospel and desired it to be shared. He had written previously, in Romans, that “he was ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it was the power of God for salvation to all that believe” (Rom. 1:16). Paul continued passionately and boldly unashamed.

So, what are your aspirations? To make money? To travel? To find a new job? To be in a relationship? To do well in school? To be successful in life (however, you define success)? “None of these is inadmissible; none is to be despised. The question is whether these aspirations become so devouring that the Christian’s central aspiration is squeezed to the periphery or choked out of existence entirely.”[7] Our central concern should be the gospel and its advancement.

Sharing the gospel and our…
Our Duty (Phil. 1:27-30)
In Philippians 1:27 Paul tells us about our duty. Paul says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Paul is telling us that the gospel is amazing and calls us to life change. We cannot understand and be impacted by the gospel without being changed. When we taste the sweetness of the gospel then we begin to be moved to desire to live our life in line with the gospel. We begin to strive “side by side for the faith of the gospel” (v. 27). We even begin to see it as a good thing if we suffer for the sake of Christ (v. 29).

Paul’s form of ambassadorship changed but not his purpose and duty. Paul was an ambassador in chains (Eph. 6:20).[8] This is the case for us too. We might serve in different locations and different circumstances but we are still called to be ambassadors for Christ wherever we are. So, the specific call and circumstance might change but we are all called to share and care about the gospel.

When our devotion to the gospel of Christ is waning and deficient we need to work at cultivating a heart of worship. Because not only is the gospel a delight but we also have a duty to share and care about it. We are called to strive “side by side for the faith of the gospel” (v. 27) and notice as we stand side by side and encourage each other we can stand firm not and not be afraid of our opponents (v. 27-28).

A Few Questions:
1. What did you find encouraging and what did you find challenging about this post?
2. How is our view of the gospel sometimes deficient?
3. The gospel is the most amazing reality in the world but sometimes it may seem irrelevant. What does that say about us and our focus when that is true of us?
4. What are you tempted to care about more than the gospel? What is your “good news”?
5. Do you care about the gospel? Do you share the gospel?
6. How might your boldness help others to be bold in sharing the gospel?
7. Is it true we should have a devotion to Jesus and His gospel? Or, is it legalistic to say we must be devoted and that we have duty?
8. What would a devotion to the gospel look like in your everyday life?
9. Why would we be devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ? What would motivate us in that way?

____________________

[1] John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 40.

[2] Paul’s letter “is thoroughly transformed by the gospel” (Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, 106 cf. 108).

[3] N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, 89.

[4] “This passage shows us that when our joy is connected to the advancement of the gospel rather than to our physical condition or to the responses of other people to us, it remains firm, even when these circumstances stand against us” (Frank Thielman, The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians, 66).

[5] We see that “God works not merely in spite of but through adverse circumstances” (Ibid.).

[6] Ibid. Cf. D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, 23.

[7] D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, 26.

[8] John Stott, The Message of Philippians, 72.

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