Faithlife Sermons

The Essential Disposition for Peace and Unity in the Church

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  38:34
0 ratings
· 96 views

Paul makes it clear that the key to a joyful healthy NT local church is a one-minded church. What qualities enable every member of the body to have a one-mindedness?

Files
Notes
Transcript
Handout
Handout
Approximately 2 years after WWII, underneath the shadow of the threat of atomic warfare, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a message from Philippians 2:1-4. In his introduction he said this, “As we consider the whole situation in which we find ourselves, not only as Christian people, but as citizens of the world, as we contemplate the tragic state of the world, then surely the one thing that we are all supremely concerned about is that there should be a state of peace and concord and happiness amongst men.”
Not much has changed in the climate of the world since then has it? Every day America seems to be dividing apart into two radically different groups, there is renewed aggression surrounding Israel, other super powers in the world vie for dominance.
The idea of peace and concord and happiness amongst humanity seems like a pie in the sky daydream. We understand that the world’s method of seeking peace can never work. Peace can never be obtained through politics, education, improving the structures of society, or advancement in technology.
The only way to unite people, to bring people together in genuine harmony and peace is through the gospel.
Paul says exactly that in Ephesians 2:13-16:
Ephesians 2:13–16 ESV
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
True peace is only possible through the gospel. It is the cross of Jesus that reconciles us to God. When we put our faith in Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection for our salvation we are born again into the family of God. We become united with Christ, and thus we become united with one another. We become part of a new people, a new nation, a new family- the family of God. And it is this spiritual act of uniting us together in Christ, into one new humanity that brings true peace and unity!
Thus the church should be a shinning light in the darkness of true concord, peace, unity, and joy! What is the glaring problem with this? How many times have you experienced the exact opposite reality in the church? How many times have churches been divided rather than united? How many times have churches been fractured and split apart over trivial matters when they of all people have the greatest possible reason to dwell together as one in peace and unity?
How do we in practice live out the unity that Jesus has made possible for us through the cross, through reconciling us to God, through creating in Himself one new man in place of two, so making peace?
How is it possible for the NT local church to be a peaceful unified church? Because our world desperately needs to see the realities of the gospel on full display in us!
Paul tells us quite plainly!
Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Philippians 2:5 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Paul was imploring the Philippian church, “Church, if you want to be at peace with each other, if you want unity and accord together, if you want to have joy in the body, you must be a one-minded church.”
One central truth becomes crystal clear in this text!
The key to a peaceful and unified NT local church is a one-minded church.
How do we accomplish that? How do we become a one-minded church?
What qualities enable every member of the body to have a one-mindedness?
Paul gives us three qualities that must be present in our church if we are to be one-minded.
In order to maintain a peaceful and united local church our one-mindedness must have:

I. The quality of genuine spiritual life (v. 1)

“There is nothing that is so utterly idiotic as to ask men and women who are spiritually dead because of sin, to be humble and to think of others before themselves.” Dr. Martyn Llyod-Jones
If there is to be peace and unity in the church there must be people who have the very spiritual life of God breathed into them through new birth!
Philippians 2:1 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
“So” or “Therefore” Paul is connecting this thought here in chapter 2 with what he just said at the end of chapter 1. You remember that Paul just highlighted for the Philippians that they were citizens of heaven, they were a colony of heaven and as such they were to live worthy of the gospel. That meant standing firm together, in one Spirit, in one soul, striving shoulder to shoulder together for the faith of the gospel. Like Paul the Philippian church was facing opposition to the gospel. They were under attack by unbelievers and they were suffering trials and persecutions. They were even being thrown in prison for their faith. So Paul implored them to stand firm together against those outside the church. They were to let nothing hinder them from living for the glory of Christ and the gospel.
However, we must not only stand together for the gospel against those who would oppose us from outside the church, we must also be careful that we do not allow anything within the church to hinder the exaltation of Jesus and the advance of the good news! In other words we must make sure that we remain a peaceful and united church. We must not allow selfish ambition or pride to fracture the body. We must be a one-minded church! And the very foundation of our one-midedness comes from the quality of supernatural spiritual life. Without new birth, without spiritual new life any attempt at peace is hopeless.
Paul makes this quite clear in Ephesians 2:1-5:
Ephesians 2:1–5 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
There is nothing so important for the church today than for everyone of us to examine ourselves and see if we have truly been made alive together with Christ! It is impossible for spiritually dead people to come together as one- to have one-mind- to have true peace and unity.
How can you really be certain that there is within your soul true spiritual life?
Paul gives four realities or certainties that are objectively true of every person who is born again.
These are not possibilities or probabilities! These are “supernatural, objective realities.” These are the “deepest experiences common to every Christian.”

A. If (as surely as) there is any encouragement in Christ

Encouragement- emboldening another in belief or course of action. Consolation- lifting of another’s spirit / comfort.
Have you ever received emboldening or comfort from Christ in your spirit? Every person who is truly born again knows something of what I mean.
2 Corinthians 1:5 ESV
5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
What does Paul mean?
Has the Lord Jesus Christ every been a comfort to your soul? Have you ever received stirring emboldening because of Scripture truths about who Jesus is to you and for you?
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Romans 8:35 ESV
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
And the resounding answer that Jesus gives to your soul through His Word is this:
Romans 8:38–39 ESV
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And Jesus Christ becomes to your very soul a source of life giving encouragement and comfort! Is there any encouragement of Christ to your soul? When a person becomes born again they are united with Christ, they are in Christ and that reality always brings encouragement.

B. If (as surely as) there is any comfort of love

The basic meaning of the word comfort is to speak to someone in a friendly way- to console. Have you every experienced comfort, have you every been consoled by the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ?
Romans 5:6–8 ESV
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Have you every been humbled to your knees because you realized that God loved you when you were his enemy? That Jesus died for you when you were still a sinner?

C. If (as surely as) there is any participation in the Spirit

κοινωνία / fellowship in the Holy Spirit. Is there a communion in the Spirit or a common sharing in the Spirit in your life?
Hebrews 10:15–16 ESV
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
Hebrews 10:17 ESV
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Illustration: tears of joy / on my bike and in my office over the reality of this verse. The Holy Spirit impressed the significance of this text on my heart in a unique and powerful way. Pastor Stevens- put in on my account.
Have you had any fellowship with the Holy Spirit in your life? Someone who is born again is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, He convicts us of sin, He illuminates our hearts, He makes groans that cannot be expressed for us in prayer, He empowers us with gifts to serve in the church. Do you know what it is to have a participation / fellowship in the Spirit of God? Do you possess genuine spiritual life? Peace and unity in the church is impossible otherwise.

D. If (as surely as) there is any affection and sympathy

If there are any bowels (seat of the emotions) and mercies (wholehearted affection or heartfelt compassion)
Philippians 1:8 ESV
8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:12 ESV
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
The Letter to the Philippians B. Think of the Interests of Others (2:1–4)

Paul’s affection for his friends was really the expression of Christ’s life flowing in and through him. He calls on them to remember how their lives have been touched by the tenderness of Christ so that they will tenderly care for the interests of others (2:4).

Not only are all four of these expressions objective realities of spiritual life, but they also form the basis or the foundation on which the church builds unity and peace with one another!
Philippians 2:1 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
As you have received encouragement from Christ, not only does this assure you of your new birth, but it also enables you to minister to others in your church with the same encouragement, the same consolation that you have received from Christ.
As surely as you have received comfort from the love of God, and close fellowship from the Spirit of God, and have experienced the heartfelt tenderness of Christ so you must imitate these affections of God for you and display them to those in your church.
My friends if these kinds of spiritual affections form the basis for all of our ministries towards one another how easy would it be to have peace and unity? How surely would we be able to come together in one mind?
Application is straightforward-
1). Are you born again? Is there genuine spiritual life in you?
2). Does the spiritual life that you have from God form the basis of your ministry to those in the church? Are you showing others the encouragement that Christ showed you? Are you loving others and comforting others the way God loves and comforts you? Are you drawing together in close fellowship the way the Spirit participates with you? Is your life an expression of heartfelt mercies the way that Jesus has shown you tenderness and kindness?
In order to maintain a peaceful and united local church our one-mindedness must have:
I. The quality of genuine spiritual life (v. 1)

II. The quality of a singular unifying purpose (v. 2)

If we are to have peace and unity in our church we must have one mind together, and in order to have a one-mindedness we must all unite around a singular purpose!
Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
If everything we just discussed in v. 1 is true (and it surely is if you are born again), then make my joy complete! Imperative- You must make my joy complete!
How can the Philippians complete Paul’s joy? The primary way is by being of the same mind. This is the main concept that Paul is after. The idea is not that we must all share a hive mind and think exactly the same thoughts all the time, but the idea is we must all have a common mind set. We must seek the same goal with a like mind.
This word group is used 26x in the NT and a remarkable 10x in Philippians.
To help us understand exactly what he means by a “common mindset” Paul gives three qualifying phrases.

A. Be of the same mind by having the same love

What has to be our common love as a church? If we want to have the same goal with a like mind we all need to make sure that the chief love in all our lives is the same.
It must be our love for Christ! We must love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, strength! And we must all have a common commitment to love as Christ loved. We must all have the same love- that is we must love each other the way Christ loved us! Only that will bring peace and unity.
We must love Christ, we must love the things that Christ loved, and we must love the way that Christ loved.

B. Be of the same mind by being joined in soul

Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Full accord- lit. “one soul.” The word means “souls together.”
Philippians 1:27 ESV
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
With one mind- lit. one soul. We are to be soul mates for the faith of the gospel.
Here the idea is we are to be people in harmony with one another. The unity that we are to have together, because of our one love for Christ and the gospel ought to enable us to work together as one person. It is the idea of deep strong friendship- be soul’s together, be one in spirit. That is what it means to be one-minded.

C. Be of one mind by thinking the one thing

Philippians 2:2 ESV
2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Of one mind- This verb calls us as believers to be those who are thinking one thing.
This is the idea of being united by having one common goal and concentrating together on one thing.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones used the recent air-raids of his day as an illustration of this principle:
“How often during that last war were we told of the extraordinary scenes in air-raid shelters; how differing people belonging to different classes, there, in the common need to shelter from the bombs of death, forgot all the differences between them and became one. This was because in the common interest they forgot the divisions and the distinctions. That is why you always tend to have a coalition government during a war; in periods of crises and common need all distinctions are forgotten and we suddenly become united.”
We must not allow ourselves to become preoccupied by our own personal agendas in the church. Like a team of oxen yolked together, if one of us decides to head off in one direction and another in a different direction everything falls apart. (Patty pulling me on my roller blades- everything was great until she saw a squirrel) But divisions in the church become non-issues when everyone takes upon themselves a common yoke and pulls together in the same direction. And to do this we all have to be thinking the one thing.
Now what is that one thing? Paul doesn’t specifically tell us here, but it is not hard to determine as we study the letter of Philippians as a whole.
Philippians 1:20 ESV
20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Philippians 1:21 ESV
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:25–26 ESV
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Philippians 1:27 ESV
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Philippians 3:8 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:10–11 ESV
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:13–14 ESV
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Does anyone know the purpose statement of our church?
Faith Baptist Church exists to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints with the goal of Christlikeness.
Faith Baptist Church exists to equip and inspire saints for Christlikeness unto the abundance of the glory of God.
Everything that we do must done in one mind together- we must have a singular unifying purpose for all we do or we cannot have unity. And we don’t get to define what that purpose is! Jesus tells us.
We talk about it like this at Faith- Let’s make the Main thing, the Main thing. What is the main thing? It is the Christ! It is the exaltation of Christ! The Glory of God! That is the end of this church. And what the primary means to that end? What was it for Paul?
Philippians 1:27 ESV
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
The Gospel- the Great Commission- Making Disciples. This has to be the singular unifying purpose of this church. We must all pull together towards this goal!
How? Follow One, Win One, Lead One!
In order to maintain a peaceful and united local church our one-mindedness must have:
I. The quality of genuine spiritual life (v. 1)
II. The quality of a singular unifying purpose (v. 2)

III. The quality of constant reckoning towards humility (vv. 3-4)

If we are to have peace and unity in our church, if we are to remain a one-minded church there is one quality that we must all constantly strive to improve in our lives- the essential quality of a humility.
Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
What does real humility look like? Paul shares 4 descriptions of biblical humility in these verses. Two negative and two positive.

A. Humility is the antithesis of selfish ambition

Selfish Ambition:
A strong drive for personal success without moral inhibitions.
A feeling of jealousy and implying rivalry (Phil 1:17).
Philippians 1:17 ESV
17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
A heart disposition of wanting to be better than someone else or wanting to make yourself look bigger than anyone else at any cost.
This is the exact opposite of v. 1 isn’t it? Encouragement, comfort, participation, heartfelt mercies. It is also the exact opposite of the example of Christ in the rest of chapter 2.

B. Humility is the antithesis of empty pride

Philippians 2:3 ESV
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Conceit:
Root word is doxa (glory).
Vain or exaggerated self-evaluation. A state of pride which is without basis or justification—‘empty pride, cheap pride, vain pride.’
Philippians 2:6 ESV
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:7 ESV
7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
How do we constantly think this way? How do we get to the point of shuddering at any thought of self exaltation or self pride?
Isaac Watts:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count by loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Galatians 6:14 KJV 1900
14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

C. Humility means reckoning others as more important

Philippians 2:3 ESV
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
ἀλλὰ τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν,
BUT in humility[1] keep on reckoning others as being more important that yourselves,
[1] The disposition of valuing or assessing oneself appropriately, especially in light of one’s sinfulness or creatureliness. (Phil 3:21)
Philippians 3:21 ESV
21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
keep on reckoning others as being more important that yourselves
Our sinful natures fight against this- this is the call to gospel ministry!
John 15:12 ESV
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:13 ESV
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Mark 8:35 ESV
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

D. Humility means giving the largest share of your interests to others

Philippians 2:4 ESV
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
4μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστος σκοποῦντες
Not everyone looking out for your own interests,
ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων ἕκαστοι.
BUT (also) the interests of each of the others
The Letter to the Philippians B. Think of the Interests of Others (2:1–4)

Paul does not advocate total self-neglect, but a reprioritizing of life so that each of you gives the largest share of attention to others.

In order to maintain a peaceful and united local church our one-mindedness must have:
I. The quality of genuine spiritual life (v. 1)
II. The quality of a singular unifying purpose (v. 2)
III. The quality of constant reckoning towards humility (vv. 3-4)
One central truth becomes crystal clear in this text!
The key to a peaceful and unified NT local church is a one-minded church.
Next time we will look at our ultimate example of this kind of mindset-
Philippians 2:5 ESV
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
May God grant us as a church to have a unified and peaceful church. May God grant us to have a one-mindednesss all pulling together towards the exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ through the advancement of the gospel. May nothing from within the church disrupt this blessed unity that Christ has made possible for us! Amen!
“Dwell Richly” Question #1: The word “So” or “Therefore” in 2:1 links together Philippians 1:27-30 and Philippians 2:1-4. How do these two sections fit together? How does the content of 2:1-4 result from what Paul just said in Philippian 1:27-30?
“Dwell Richly” Question #2: In Philippians 2:2 Paul says we are to literally be “thinking the one thing.” What is the one thing that Paul is referring to? Give support from earlier verses in Philippians 1.
“Dwell Richly” Question #3: In Philippians 2:3 Paul states that the opposite of humility is conceit or empty pride. How do we Biblically reinforce the idea that any kind of pride in ourselves in empty or vain or cheap?
Related Media
Related Sermons