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*Philippians 5**.*
Can we turn to Philippians chapter two please?
We have been looking at Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi *[P]*.
They were a healthy active church, partners with Paul supporting him in His work of spreading the Gospel, the message of life in Jesus Christ.
This is the message that the Messiah has come!
God’s Son came as a human being and lived among us, a perfect life.
He, of His own volition, laid down that life as a sacrifice, an offering to take away sin; enacting a covenant in His blood, whereby the one who relies upon Him is given righteousness and eternal life.
The inescapable consequence of going our own way is inevitable death, but now a way salvation from that fate has come!
It is a vital message to be imparted to all people.
But there was a major hitch.
This great herald of this Good News was holed up in a Roman prison.
His friends and fellow-workers in Philippi were discouraged – we have seen how Paul wrote to them to change their perspective, to alter their view on things – he now says: *[P]* *[Philippians 2:1-11*/ Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, (then) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others./]
Have any of you had the joy~/misfortune of doing some computer programming?
– Computers are very logical animals that operate by something called Boolean Algebra.
One of the key commands in making a computer program was the “IF statement” – where you would get the computer to do a certain thing depending on a condition that you set.
“IF” a value is >90, “THEN” output: “Well done”; “IF” value < 50 “THEN” output: “Dummy”!
Look at (phil 2:1) we have an “if then” statement – in fact a whole raft of “ifs”, 4 of them!
*[P]* The output is conditional on the input – there is a necessary consequence dependent upon conditions.
But look at the conditions: “I/f //there is any encouragement in Christ/” – well, is there?
“I/f there is any consolation of love/” – what about that condition?
“I/f there is any fellowship of the Spirit/” – and that one?
Well/, /what about: “/If any affection and compassion/” – well, is there?
They are every one of them obvious and taken as given.
Why then say “if”?
Well, Paul knew exactly what he was doing.
He was drawing attention to his big idea.
Paul was using a convention in the Greek language; how would we accomplish the same thing in English?
What if Paul had reframed the conditions as yes~/no questions?
Would that have the same effect?
Take a look: Is there any encouragement in Christ?
(Well, yes, I suppose there is.)
Is there any consolation of love?
(Well, yes, of course there is.)
Is there any fellowship of the Spirit?
(ok, that too.)
Is there any affection and compassion?
(most definitely!)
This leads up to the *Big Idea:* If all of these things are true, then complete my joy by AGREEING!
Paul’s goal was not to make us question these things, but to /remind/ us that they are present.
We might do the same thing: for instance, my dad used to ask me questions about “what I knew to be true” as a means of correcting me.
He would work me into a corner using obvious questions that challenged me to reconcile my (negative) behaviour with what I claimed to be true: “Do you love your sister?” (Well, yes.) “Do you want her to be kind to you?” (Yes, I suppose I do.)
leading up to the *Big Idea:* If so, then … Framing true statements in the form of conditions has the same effect.
By putting it this way Paul leaves the reader with no choice but to accept what follows.
All of these true if statements effectively lead them down a path that ends with no option but to positively respond to the “then” statement: “BE LIKE-MINDED!”
Let’s take a quick look at these conditions: *[P]* ENCOURAGEMENT – is there encouragement in Christ?
This is no “if”, I don’t think any of us would deny the wonderful encouragement in Jesus – I don’t know how those without Christ get on.
Before I came back to the LORD life was utterly futile, what on earth is the point?! Life is utterly discouraging without Jesus.
The world is a depressing place – look at the record of man running this place!
Unless there was the hope of One coming to rule and reign in righteousness and justice, then there is no hope.
But in Christ there is comfort, consolation – it is closely related to that word used for the Holy Spirit, the Encourager, the Comforter, the One Jesus sent when He went to the Father.
And the Father Himself is the God of all encouragement [*2 Corinthians 1:3-4*/ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort/ (when it says comfort it is this same word, “encouragement”)/, the God of all encouragement, who comforts-encourages us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort-encourage those who are in any affliction with the comfort-encouragement with which we ourselves are comforted-encouraged by God./ ] So there is encouragement in God and especially in His Son.
Simeon in the temple was looking for the “encouragement” of Israel – when he took the Baby in his arms he knew that he had found it!
[*Romans 15:4-5*/ For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures /(Jesus said that they spoke of Him) /we might have hope.
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,/] – interesting when it talks of this encouragement that comes from God, the outcome intended is being of one mind.
“Encouragement” is a big subject in Scripture and I don’t have time to do it justice this morning – but suffice it to say: this “if” statement is most assuredly true: there is encouragement in Christ.
If the Bible has a lot to say about “encouragement”, in contrast this next word “CONSOLATION” *[P]* only occurs this once in the New Testament.
The word for “encouragement” is sometimes translated “consolation” so they are quite similar in meaning, but this also involves the idea of tenderness.
I was never any good at sport, so at the Sunday School picnic at the running race, when I trailed way behind the rest, they would give me the “consolation prize” – they felt sorry for me and wanted to make up for what I had missed out on.
And when we give our lives to the LORD we do miss out on some things – there are things we give up, there are certain things that we can no longer do.
There is a loss.
One thing for me was a passion for all things aeronautical; that was about the only interest I had – it took a too bigger part of my life.
That was laid aside and it was a big deal at the time but what I found in the LORD made that loss seem utterly trivial.
The consolation is far greater than the loss.
Peter expressed this: [*Matthew 19:27-29*/ Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life./
You gain far more than you ever lose!
You console someone who has suffered loss, who has cause to be sad and distressed, grieving – you alleviate their distress, turn the mind aside from the care that overwhelms them.
We all go through stuff, suffer loss and sadness, we grieve.
The love that there is in Christ consoles us – those in the world grieve without hope, but we have hope, there is consolation.
The verb associated with this noun is found in [*1 Corinthians 14:3*/ But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation /(that word “encouragement again)/ and consolation./]
We know there is consolation in Christian love – this if statement is true also.
FELLOWSHIP *[P]* is also another big theme in the New Testament – and it is not just having a cup of tea after the service or a meal, though that may be part of it.
Fellowship is /having all things in common/.
It characterized the early church – no one said that what they had was their own*: *[*Acts 2:44-45*/ And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need./
]* [Acts 4:32-35*/ And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need./]
This is not natural, you don’t normally see this happening in the world around us.
Why did they?
The Holy Spirit had been poured out on them – made them one.
There was one Spirit, they were one, together, had all things in common.
Where does this unity, this togetherness, this having things in common come from?
From the Holy Spirit.
Hey, this is way deeper than just having a meal together and a chat over a cup of tea!
Well, is there any fellowship of the Spirit?
Well, the Bible says there is: [*2 Corinthians 13:14*/ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all./
] I never forget when a fellowship I was attending was going through a rough patch, and I guess I was too – feeling isolated; there was stuff going on which I had big questions about.
It just so happened that I was looking to give the family piano a good home, and I put a notice out and some guy who I didn’t know responded and came around to look at the piano.
I’d never met this guy before (I don’t even remember his name) but as soon as he came in, saw a book on the table by Andrew Murray, and started talking we were at one!
It was amazing, never spoken to him before but we were speaking on deep level, a spiritual level, like you would with someone you had known all you life and trusted.
Instant fellowship – the fellowship of the Holy Spirit – a wonderful and amazing thing!
I’ve never met him again but I have seldom experienced fellowship like it.
Is there any fellowship of the Spirit – without any doubt!
I have said this before but we are a diverse lot: John makes electrical cable (well, he used to) – I know as much about that as he does about blood cells.
He loved to surf and hunt – I’ve never done either!
John loves motorbikes – what I ride he would even deign to use the term “motor-bike”!
He spends his time salmon fishing – I can’t really get excited about dangling a piece of string in a river all afternoon.
Fellowship is having things in common – what on earth have we got in common?
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