September 18th Philippians 2 C. My Pattern for living – Christ Be Christ-like
1: If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2: Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Salvation become practical
12: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14: Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16: Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 17: Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18: For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. 19: But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20: For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21: For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22: But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. 23: Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. 24: But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. 25: Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26: For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27: For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28: I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29: Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Paul says that if the Philippians derive any encouragement from being united to Christ and if they have any comfort from Christ’s love, and if there is any spiritual fellowship, then, please – says Paul make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love for each other and being united in spirit and mission. Paul is saying if you really are believers then be united together. Unity is the key to this letter and the key to christian relationships. Paul tells the Philippians not to think of themselves and what they want to do but they are to in humility to think that other people are actually better than themselves and that they are to think about other peoples interests rather than think about their own. WOW What a challenge! We should have the attitude of Christ, who although he was in the actual nature of God himself did not consider his equality with God something to held onto with a tight grasp. One of the questions we might ask ourselves is – What do we have a firm grasp of? What are we holding on to? Christ did not even hold on to the fact that he was God! When God met Moses he said to him, ‘What have you got in your hand?’ Moses replied, ‘My staff’. God said, ‘Throw it on the ground’. When he did, it became a snake! God then told him to pick it up by the tail, (the wrong end) When he did it returned to a staff. Only when we throw down before Christ the think that we are holding on to that we find a true perspective.
Christ takes seven steps downward.
- He did not consider his deity a thing to be grasped
- Made himself nothing
- Took the very nature of a servant
- Was made in human likeness
- As a man he then humbled himself
- He became obedient to death
- Even the death of crucifixion
What Grace is seen in Christ. ‘Though he was rich for our sakes he became poor that we through his poverty might be made rich’.
Now Paul describes the seven steps upward.
- God exalted him to the highest place
- Gave him the name that is above every name
- That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow
- In heaven
- On earth
- And under the earth
- and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
God has exalted Christ to the highest place. There is no higher court of appeal than Christ himself. Christ occupies the ‘highest place’. Christ has the name which is above every name. The name of ‘Jesus’ is the name to which everyone will bow to Christ - everyone in heaven, everyone on earth and everyone under the earth. And not only will everyone bow to him but everyone will verbalise in agreement that Jesus Christ is Lord. Everyone – that includes you! Paul then tells the Christians at Philippi to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Now obviously he is not saying that their salvation is based on human effort – Salvation is of the Lord and is received by Grace through faith. Paul is saying that the salvation that you have is to be brought out into your daily living in such a way that men will see you life and praise God for it. He says work it out because it is God who is working in you to will and to do HIS good purpose. So is our Christian life something that we do? No it’s the outworking of Gods work within us. The Christian life is not made up of the things we do. The Christian life is not what we do for God. The Christian life is God at work in us to accomplish HIS good purpose. A Christian is not someone who does things for God. A christian is one for whom God does things. Paul now gives some of the most encouraging and challenging teaching. He says when you are going about your daily life or doing Gods service (which is the same thing) Do it without complaining or arguing. Now he is not saying that there might never be a really heated dispute over the word of God. Jude says that we are to, ‘earnestly contend for the faith’. What he is saying is that in our daily lives don’t moan and bicker. Because if you don’t, then the world who look on will see nothing in you to find fault with. You are to be pure and to show yourselves to be Children of God so that this wicked world will not find fault with you. You will be like bright stars shining on a dark universe while you hold out to men the gospel which brings salvation. And one day l would like to boast (in a good way of course) when Christ returns that the time l devoted to you was not for nothing. Paul describes himself as a sacrifice that is being poured out on the altar of service to the Philippians. But he is not reluctant and he does not draw back in self perseveration No he is willing not only to suffer on their behalf but to give his life if necessary. It will be necessary in the end. How does this make Paul fell? Sad? Apprehensive? No he rejoices that God has granted him the glorious privilege of giving his life because he considers himself such an unworthy sinner (saved by Grace). He says not only do l rejoice but l don’t want you to be sad for me l want you to rejoice with me. Lets all rejoice that Christ is magnified by my suffering for him. Paul like all of us needs encouragement and information for prayer. So he had is going to send Timothy to see them and to find out how they are getting on. Timothy was a very close worker with Paul and he was beginning to get a very mature understanding of Paul’s ministry. Timothy would be able to give a realistic report. Paul then commends Timothy for his faith and his dedication. He says, I have ‘No one else like him’ that will take a genuine interest in your welfare. WOW what a great man Timothy was. Alongside Paul a great Pastor of Gods people. A true Pastor has a genuine interest in your welfare. Paul says that in comparison others look after their own interests. In other words they are truly selfish. They think about their own agenda, their own ministry, their own Church! But not Paul and not Timothy they look out for others they are really interested in what God is doing in the lives of other believers. Then Paul reminds them of the ‘special relationship’ that Paul and Timothy have. They are co-workers. They are linked in ministry. And he says Timothy has proved himself by being like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the Gospel. What greater calling is this? Paul was hoping to send Timothy and later he was hoping to come and see them for himself. What a lovely phrase, ‘I am confident in the lord’. can you say that? Here was have a small glimpse of the godliness and greatness of Paul and some of him companions in the Missionary work they did. Paul speaks of Epaphroditus. He calls him, ‘my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier’. Here Paul reveals three aspects of his relationship with him. First he says he is my brother. We must never forget that our ministry is one thing but our common sonship is quite another. We may not always be able to work with every believer but we can always recognise Christ in each other and put out the hand of brotherly love to each other. Paul then goes on to describe him as ‘a fellow worker and fellow soldier’. Some times the work of the missionary is just hard work but at other times is a fight a struggle against an enemy. Let us never forget that we are in the middle of a spiritual battle. Not with each other but we wrestle against spiritual power and the rulers of this darkness. What a great man Epaphroditus was. He was their messenger bringing much needed money for Paul’s ministry. It seems that Epaphroditus was a man whose heart longed for the Philippians and was particularly upset. Was he upset because he was ill. NO he was ill but that hadn’t upset him. Was he ill because the Philippians didn’t know he was ill? No they did know. So why was he upset? He was upset because he had heard that the Philippians had heard that he was ill. And he was upset to think that they might be upset about him! Is that not godliness or not? Most of us would be upset if we were ill and upset that some people don’t know we are ill but he is upset that they might be upset. What great tender men these apostolic men were. So Paul wants to send Epaphroditus back so that they will see him in better health and not worry about him anymore. Paul says welcome him and give him the honour he deserves, because for the cause of Christ he risked his life to bring help to Paul in his need.