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ES/PHIL/03 Philippians 1:3-6

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:35
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Philippians 1:3–6 NKJV
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Today we continue on in our discovery of the letter to the Philippians.
The whole theme of Philippians is based on thankfulness and joy. Really the letter is one of thanks for the way the Church has been since its inception. If we contrast this with the letters to the Corinthians then we can see that whilst they were criticised for about almost everything that was going on in their Church the Philippians are just about praised for everything. Yet, for both, Paul gives thanks to God. After all they had all responded to the Gospel. And that is the highest and most important calling for people, which is for them to come to God, to come into His Kingdom and to respond to His amazing love. That being the case I guess we can show that witnessing and seeing people saved should be our priority and then there will be more to be thankful for.
There is going to much more about thanksgiving throughout this letter. This theme that is marked so well in this letter is not something to gloss over but should seek to be the thing that marks our lives.
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 6574 Between Prison and Monastery

Dr. David Soper, in God Is Inescapable, suggests that basically the difference between a prison and a monastery is just the difference between griping and gratitude. Undoubtedly this is true. Imprisoned criminals spend every waking moment griping; self-imprisoned saints spend every waking moment offering thanks. Dr. Soper says that when a criminal becomes a saint, a prison may become a monastery; when a saint gives up gratitude, a monastery may become a prison.

I am not suggesting we should now all join a monastery but simply we can live in the prison of our bodies moaning and groaning about everything or we can live in the monastery of our bodies in thankfulness to God who is to be praised forever.
A good example of such a man who got it right is:
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 6577 Thankful for Unusualness

Dr. Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy morning a member of his congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God on a wretched morning like this.” But Whyte began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.”

The point is that gratefulness and praise should be inward and outward. We need to have a grateful attitude and it needs to have an outward expression. Paul gives thanks often in his letters for the grace that is evident in the lives of other believers. When was the last time we thanked God for someone else simply because they were God’s or because of the work God was doing in their lives? Now, we have every opportunity as we now have a prayer calendar to pray for 2 or 3 in our congregation every day.
To whom does Paul give thanks? He says, to ‘my’ God. This was no idle reference to some deity somewhere but to a Supreme Being with whom He has a personal relationship. MY God. We can see in the Psalms that very often ‘My God’ is used. Psalms are the hymn book of the early Jews as well as present-day Christians. Though very clearly it is not all clear sailing in the lives of those who wrote them. Throughout this letter there are many evidences of Paul being influenced by the Psalms an example of which is:
Psalm 18:1–6 NKJV
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
And in three other verses ‘My God’ is mentioned in just this Psalm. ‘My God’ is said 57 times throughout the Psalms and Paul in every letter except one thanks ‘My God’.
Of course, this is what every believer can genuinely say: ‘My God’. Our relationship with God is very much personal first. Our salvation is also personal first. If we do not have this special relationship with God we cannot begin to thank God for it will be just words that are unfelt. If we cannot thank God for our won salvation then there is no possible way to thank God for the salvation of others.
And Paul thanked God for the Philippian Church every time he came to prayer. Not only that, he really was thankful and praying for every single member of that fellowship. Unity was clearly evident in the Church at Philippi.
But Paul was more than happy about the Philippians for not only had they come to faith but they were fellow workers in the Gospel. He saw that they were both preachers of the Gospel and examples of it. Their words and their actions matched. Oh that we could be and do the same! For us to be a Church like the Philippians rather than the Corinthians is something to aim for. The Philippians and the Corinthians are both God’s people but the Philippians had the better witness.
The word ‘fellowship’ in verse 5 is the word koinonia in Greek (κοινωνια). It can mean partnership, alliance, affiliation, cooperation, communion, association as well as relationship. There was unity in this group of people mainly because they were all saved by the blood of Jesus. This fellowship is about being in it together. And this unity extended to mean that they were actively promoting the Gospel too. Unity exists when there is one purpose in being together, when there is a mission we are all invested in. This is why the expression of our purpose at Mount Calvary Baptist Church is set out in the bulletin and will be discussed at next week’s Church Members’ Meeting. We all need to be on the same page. And then we can go about setting goals to see these things achieved, where those not yet of this fellowship will come to be part of it, where those who have not yet put their faith in Christ will also put their faith in Christ and join us as we fulfil the purpose for which Christ has placed us here.
This word koinonia is important in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here we are called to share in friendship with God. What a marvellous privilege!
1 John 1:7 NKJV
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Here we share in one another’s lives if we are all living right with God then we have fellowship with each other.
Luke 5:10 NKJV
and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
James and John were partners with Peter in fishing business. They went from being in partnership in business to partnership in the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 10:16 NKJV
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Here we share in blood and body of Jesus as we did this morning.
Philippians 2:1 NKJV
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
Here we share in the Spirit.
Philippians 3:10 NKJV
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
These are about sharing in suffering for Jesus as much of the worldwide Church of Christ experiences but in
1 Peter 4:13 NKJV
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
We then also share in his glory.
In Philippians 1 koinonia is used of sharing in work or ‘partnership (or fellowship) in the gospel’
How did this work? How did the Philippians fellowship in the Gospel?
The most obvious way was in how they supported Paul with financial support even when he was in jail for they sent one of their leaders to him to support him in the form of Epaphroditus who by his mere presence would have been an encouragement to Paul.
Philippians 4:18 NKJV
Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
And the Philippians helped him evangelise and spread the gospel. But let us not be too narrow here. Paul obviously had in mind the money gift in the phrase the ‘fellowship of the Gospel’ but it is wider than that. He had in mind all the different aspects of the way the Church were promoting the Gospel.
They weren’t just partners of some business deal but of a much more important work. Just as the disciples were in partnership together as business partners in fishing they then became partners in the Gospel fishing for men. So it can be said that the Philippians lived out gospel with their lives and preached the gospel with their lips. This also has to be our aim.
They were working for the Gospel. No doubt some of these were in full-time work or were running a household or were retired and every kind of person in various occupations. But all were working for the Gospel. The Philippians were using all their activities to make known the Gospel. And this was a cause of Paul’s thanksgiving for them. It is plain that the Gospel is Paul’s singular passion – he was obsessed with the Gospel. And what was meant by the Gospel? It is all about Jesus, who He is and what He has done. Can it be said to be our passion as it was Paul’s and the Philippians’?
This being the case Paul could go on to say that this good work that had started in them God will bring to completion when Jesus comes back again.
How could Paul be so confident? It is clear that whilst he may have had confidence in the Philippians for the way they were living their lives it would not be possible to have confidence that this would forever continue without any problems or people falling away.
No, the confidence that Paul had was not in the Philippians though he may have had cause for that but Paul’s confidence was in the faithfulness of God, for if He starts something He always finishes it. I’m pretty sure that could not be said of us. We start many projects, decided we are going to do this or that but ‘surprise, surprise!’ we do not always finish what we set out to do. Well, that is us. Thank God He is not like us. God always completes His projects. God has never let anyone down. He can be counted upon. Paul is actually saying that what God has created He sustains.
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
We have to remember that the work in us is something He started the moment we were saved, the moment we became new creations. Actually the work He started for us started when He chose us before the foundation of the world. So, He knew what He was getting. And still He loved us. And still He sent His Son to seek and to save. And He saves to the uttermost. When Paul says he is confident that what He has started He will complete means there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever. He is sure. Certain.
We also have confidence that as we allow God to have His way in our lives submitting more and more to His bending of us, His refining of us, His using us in all our various kinds of ministry and service He will complete it in us. It is not that it will be complete in this lifetime for none of us will ever be perfect or achieve perfection though it is the Spirit’s work to bring this about; for us to become like Jesus. But it will take Jesus coming again for on that very day when we meet Him face to face then we shall be really be like Him:
1 John 3:2 NKJV
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
What is left for us is to become people of thankfulness. Not lip service. But thankfulness in the heart. So often, because we simply do not remember, we do not give thanks or have an attitude of gratefulness. This spills over into our other outward lives in frustration especially at others. But one who is full of thankfulness is also deliberate in remembering.
Psalm 103:1–2 NKJV
Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Of course we do not remember all His benefits but we are not to forget them all. For those we remember give thanks and meditate on these things.
We are thankful to God for saving us from this corrupt world and from hell. This is good and we should continue to give thanks for this for he is your God and mine. He is our personal living Saviour. This is a start. Then we need to go on and thank God for the others that we know who are His as well as making requests for them. Like this morning: prya for others so they are the recipients of answers to our prayers.
We are fellow workers in the Gospel and we know that God will complete the work in us on the Day He comes again. What joy there is to follow! What joy we have now knowing that these things shall be. So, let us partner together for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Even so, Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Benediction

Jude 24–25 NKJV
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
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