Faithlife Sermons

Characteristics of a Gospel-centered Man Part 2

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:05
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Intro

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Have you ever been disappointed by the arrival of someone you weren’t expecting?
You expected one person and instead got someone else? Or no one at all?
Music fans are used to this happening - especially those of the late George Jones. In the 1970’s he was often a no show for his concerts due to bad decisions.
It’s disappointing when you expect one thing and you get another.
When Paul’s letter to the Philippians reached its destination the church would be in that situation
Due to some previous communications they were probably going to be expecting Timothy
Philippians 2:19 ESV
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.
Philippians 2:23 ESV
I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,
Philippians
This expectation points to the probable existence of previous communications
Paul has decided that at this time Timothy is indispensable and so is returning Epaphroditus to them
Epaphroditus is only mentioned in this book
He is not a character in the original Philippi narrative in
He was probably converted after the events in
He is a Greek - his name contains the name of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodites - his name even means “favored by Aphrodites”
He is not an apostle or an elder in the church of Philippi
He is not striking at all
So why is he here?
Sometimes we may wonder the same thing
We look at the annals of church history and see it decorated with stories of great men
Charles Spurgeon
William Borden
Jim Elliot
Chuck Smith
Men who have influenced thousands for the Gospel - and we wonder what can we bring to the table. Can we even have any impact at all?
Over the last three weeks Paul has demonstrated three examples of humility with varying degrees of attainability
First we looked at Christ and determined that His perfect example is not attainable for us - in the sense that we will never be the perfect sacrifice for mankind
Next Paul gives us an example of himself - and maybe we think that would be nice but I’m never going to be an apostle, write most of the New Testament or be imprisoned for my faith
So he holds up Timothy and highlights his submissiveness, compassion or loyalty and we say yeah, but I’m not going to be the pastor of a church of thousands - I’m just not going to be able to reach that level of spirituality
Full disclosure - I believe that all of us can attain to the spiritual disciplines and characteristics of both Paul and Timothy - if I didn’t I wouldn’t preach that we should aspire to be like them
Too often we confuse the impact or role someone was chosen for by God in His Kingdom with their spirituality and think we could never be like them
1 Corinthians 4:16 ESV
I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
1 Corinthians 4:16
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
I don’t want any of you to get the wrong idea that I’m advocating that there is a special group of “super-Christians” that we could only hope to be like
Remember Paul also refers to himself as the foremost of all sinners
1 Timothy 1:15 ESV
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Now that I’ve belabored that point....
This week Paul gives us an example of something we can all be…something we all already are - a normal Christian doing what normal Christians do
We’re going to find that Epaphroditus was
A Normal Guy
With Abnormal Courage
And a Mature Mentor
Read
Pray

A Normal Guy

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Philippians 2:25–26 ESV
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.
I have thought it necessary
My brother
Paul often refers to fellow Christians as brothers
35 times in his letters he refers to fellow christians as brothers
The love he has for Epaphroditus is more personal, more affectionate than a simple reference to him as a fellow Christian
We may call Christians in other countries or even parts of our own country brothers and sisters but we wouldn’t refer to them as my brother
That would be saved for those who we have worshipped with and grown with - maybe cried with - in the ministry of the Gospel
Calling Epaphroditus a brother is interesting
Paul a Pharisee, a Jew of Jews
Epaphroditus, a Greek, Epaphroditus means “favored by Aphrodites”
My fellow worker
It would have been unthinkable that Paul would ever call Epaphroditus a brother
This is what the Gospel does - it breaks down barriers
We live in a culture that is significantly divided - what would it mean to society if we demonstrated the kind of brotherhood that Paul is talking about here
1 John 4:7 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:
Galatians 3:28–29 ESV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
We live in a culture that is significantly divided - what would it mean to society if we demonstrated the kind of brotherhood that Paul is talking about here
1 John 4:7 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
This is the kind of brotherly love that the church should be known for
My fellow worker
Paul consistently refers to those who have been fellow workers with him in the Gospel
In he commends the whole church for their partnership with him in the Gospel
He calls Epaphroditus a member of his team “my fellow worker”
My fellow soldier
Paul also frequently refers to Christians as soldiers
2 Timothy 2:3–4 ESV
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
2 Timothy 2:
Your messenger
Your minister
Homesick
Distressed over the Philippians concern for his well being
This distress is a deep mental anguish for the Philippians
The only other place in the NT this same type of anguish is characterized is the picture of Christ in anguish in the Garden
Demonstrates Epaphroditus deep concern and love for his church
that he is on his death bed but he is concerned with how his illness and news of his illness has affected the Philippians

With Abnormal Courage

Philippians 2:27–30 ESV
Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
God had mercy on him
No details of prayer or a healing ministry - only the sovereign healing of God
Epaphroditus shows great courage in the face of death to complete his mission
In today’s day he probably would have been assigned hospice and sent home but he faced this with dignity and with almost reckless abandon completed his mission to Paul
Epaphroditus was even a gambling term - that the Greeks would call down Aphrodite’s favor on their gambling throws before releasing the dice
Here we have a picture of a man who was completely reliant on the true and living God for his healing
Not only on Epaphroditus but also on Paul
Anyone who has had to sit by and watch as a loved one suffers through a terminal or seemingly terminal illness can empathize with Paul here
Not only does he have innumerable concerns and sorrows
false teachers invading the church
those who preach the Gospel out of envy and strife
his own impending trial
Paul is thankful that God spares Epaphroditus for his own sake as well as the Philippians
He also demonstrates for the Philippians that although the Christian life is to be characterized by joy it is not an irrational condition where nothing bothers us

And a Mature Mentor

I have thought it necessary
I am the more eager to send him
Paul wasn’t always this way - John Mark
Acts 15:38 ESV
But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
Acts 15:
But here he admonishes the Philippian church to receive him with all joy
Perhaps Paul is anticipating that the Philippians would be disappointed that Epaphroditus returned to them
There may have been those who would view his return as an indication of failure on his part
Instead he tells them to receive him with all joy and even to honor him because of what he had done on behalf of the Gospel
We have a tendency to overlook those who go about their business and in so doing complete incredible service to God
Epaphroditus would probably tell you that he wasn’t doing anything more than anyone else would’ve done in his shoes
but he traveled over 700 miles, 40 days nearly surrendering his life in the process all for the completion and furthering of the Gospel
We are surrounded by faithful, normal men

Conclusion

What is it that makes a normal man anything but normal?
It is the Gospel
The Gospel gave this normal man abnormal courage and devotion to a mission that was greater than himself.
It was not devotion to Paul or to the church that drove Epaphroditus - but instead it was his commitment to the Gospel
Out of that he gave deep service to his brother, his fellow worker and his fellow soldier Paul and adeptly represented his church as both messenger and minister
We may never write books for the church or pastor anything as large as Ephesus but we can provide humble service to the church for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel.
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