Faithlife Sermons

10. Grace and God's People

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul ends his letter with greetings intended to be communicated personally. He reminds the Church they are God's people, who can expect to see God's power, and who can know the grace of God.



Philippians 4:21–23 NIV 2011
Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Main Point: Greetings convey relationship - Paul ends his letter the way he began by recognising a relationship not just with himself, but with Jesus.
Greetings - how do you greet someone? Handshake, hug? Fist bump? Kiss or cheek kiss?
Predator handshake - more like armwrestling! Arnold Schwarzenneger vs Carl Weathers
Has it ever gone wrong, going in for a hug, accidentally kissing or bumping heads - handshake into man hug.
It all communicates something about the relationship you understand.
A greeting is important. Paul knows this and so he repeats his greeting once again. But he does it he is consciously communicating not only his warm relationship with the Philippians, but also reminding them one last time their relationship with God.

1. Every Saint in Christ

Main Point: We are God’s treasures possession. Paul greets individuals, as well as the Church as a whole. He follows Jesus who knows each of our names far better than Paul.
Philippians 1:1–2 (NIV 2011)
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi (…)
And again:
Philippians 4:21–22 (NIV 2011)
Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. All God’s people here send you greetings (…)
God’s (holy) people in Christ Jesus - literally “every saint in Christ.” OT reference:
Exodus 19:5–6 (NIV 2011)
(…) out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Reminding Christians then and today with God’s plan of salvation. It hasn’t stopped - it continues through the resurrection of Jesus.
This was established with the Old Covenant - now established with the New Covenant in Jesus: “God’s (holy) people in Christ Jesus”
Jesus has changed our identity, here and now, through His death on the cross.
The new life we recieve from Him now, includes the encouragement that we have now become Kings and Priests today.
Kings in so far as we bring in Jesus’ reign into our everyday lives.
Priests because we act as the bridge between human beings and God.
Together for the Gospel - koinonia - partnership, different gifts coming together united with the mind of Christ with the goal of seeing the world transformed, here and now, becoming more like the Kingdom of God.
All of these ideas of identity are held in this short reference. All because of Jesus. This is true now - we don’t have to wait till heaven to experience the impact of Jesus. It begins today.
But as much as Paul emphasises the ‘people’, the multitudes, he also acknowledges the individuals.
Lost in the crowd? Surname came about because of travel and the starting breakdown of community. Can’t have two Paul’s when people move around - so now it’s Paul Smith - the Smith or son of the Smith.
But how many Paul Smiths are there today?
It’s hard to feel unique and special in a world of 8 billion people.
But God is big enough to notice you.
Psalm 139:1–4 NIV 2011
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
God is big enough to notice you. He is able to pay attention to you.
Struggle to give my kids the attention they need and deserve - God doesn’t have that problem. You have a direct line to Him - He knows your name and far more.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV 2011)
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’
God communicates to Jeremiah as He fear He isn’t enough for the task ahead. God reminds Him of the time He spent creating Him, specifically, and carefully.
Some of you especially need to hear this today. God knows you, loves you, and has been intimately involved in your life - whether you acknowledged Him or not.
You are not an accident, you were created with care and for a purpose. Receive that now.
This is why Paul writes “Greet all…” Not a general greeting, but specific.
Go round the room and shake everyone’s hands in the name of Paul’s greeting.
Why? Because this reflects Jesus greeting for us. He greets us individually this morning, shakes each of our hands, looks us in the eye and tells us He sees us and loves us. He says:
I died for you,
and I was raised for you,
I ascended for you,
and I work now at the right hand of the Father to bring about the end of history for the good of you and for my glory.
He. Knows. You. Will you commit to knowing Him this morning?

2. Powerful Gospel

Main Point: Gospel goes forth despite the chains on Paul.
It is surprising who knows Jesus sometimes. But it shouldn’t be really, the Gospel of Christ can penetrate anybody’s heart - it is unstoppable after all.
Paul uses this final opportunity to remind them of this.
Phil 1:12 “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
Here, it is made clear, not only do the palace guard know why Paul is in chains - because of the Gospel, and because God put him there, not Caesar - but there are measurable results from his imprisonment.
Other Christians become more confident.
Some step up and serve in his absence.
The message of the Gospel is going out into the world.
NOW even members of Caesar’s own household have become Christians - a part of God’s people.
Phil 4:22 “especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.”
“especially...” Pointing to God’s Power - Caesar’s chains actually served to advance the Gospel, not bind it.
Fi’s friend from school became a Christian - but it happens.
I myself used to be an atheist - Paul used to KILL CHRISTIANS! Expect the unexpected.
Never give up praying, even for the hardest of hearts - the love of God can penetrate the coldest heart.
Foreshadowing of ultimate ending - everyone will bow the knee, in Christ, or without Him:
Phil 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Even the servants of the Emperor Caesar - even Caesar himself.
Powerful change - new creation.
He is bringing a new life, a new creation. It bursts through into the present world, bringing healing and new possibilities.
N. T. Wright
This is happening today - in us as Christians - new life. The old has gone the new has come - we aren’t waiting, we see it with our own eyes if we pay attention.
Daffodils, yellow but closed - ready to open. Each human being has the opportunity to burst into life - to be truly human. You can see that for yourself.
You can see it in your life too. Resurrection now - New life - get to know Jesus. Be reborn as truly human once again.
Importance of Baptist - signifying new life.

3. Grace of Christ

Main Point: A people defined by grace.
The last element of Paul’s greeting is his final words:
Phil 4:23 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
Paul is summarising some big ideas in this small sentence. Namely, what does he mean by the grace of God?
Richness of life - born from Christ’s poverty. Jesus gave Himself, His life, to fill us with new life.
2 Cor 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Sharing the Resurrection - power available for us. Confidence in our future that informs our present.
Phil 3:10 “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”
The sufficiency of His Grace - He is enough. He power rests on us, which makes our weakness the perfect complement to His power - our weakness lets His strength in us shine.
2 Cor 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
We are a people to be marked out by grace. This is the grace that we receive because of Jesus - He has the power to convey grace. We have no power that compares to His.
IMPORTANT: What you do is no-where near as important as who you are. And you are first and foremost ‘in Christ’ as a Christian. It is who you are not what you do
Kevin Hart on Dave Chappelle: Comedy club - Kevin Heart goes up first. Then Chris Rock. Then Dave Chappelle turns up. When Dave finishes after about an hour - both comedians at the same time crumple their paper and put them in the bin.
This should be our response at seeing Jesus on the cross.
We can’t compete - nothing we could do, could ever surpass Jesus’ saving death on the cross. NOTHING. How do you add to that, the crucifixion - what do you have to bring to your salvation?
NO. You are marked out and shaped not by your successes and your failures. Not by your works - what you do. But by your love for the Lord and His love for you.
You cannot add to it - you cannot take away from it. It is FINISHED - if you love the Lord, you are SAVED - OVER!
We are children of Grace - may that grace not just be understood but reside in our spirit.
Spirit = inner-being/whole person.
May the grace of God penetrate every part of us, deep into our core. Saturating our body.
Not just dipping our toes into the grace of God. But, like a towel or a sponge, become saturated by His grace. May it define us.
The new life we receive from Him now, includes the encouragement that we have now become Kings and Priests today.
“Yes, it is true.”
It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our death beds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. The Christian life starts with grace, it must continue with grace, it ends with grace. Grace, wondrous grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
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