Philippians 002 – Giving Through, Not ToPhilippians 1:1-11 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 5, 2020 • Philippians
Giving Through, Not To
April 5, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Alright. Well, let me open us this morning and a word of prayer. Father we’re grateful for today. Grateful that we can have joy in the midst of adverse circumstances. You’ve given us a blueprint to do that in the book of Philippians. And so help us to understand this book as we start to study it this morning, verse-by-verse. So that we might grow thereby in this area of joy. And we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said, Amen.
All right. I want to welcome you to our main service here at Sugar Land Bible Church. And we are this morning continuing our verse-by-verse teaching through the book of Philippians, last week, having just introduced the book. And so, if you didn’t have a chance to listen to last week, I would encourage you to do that on our archive because that will sort of orient you to the book and give you the basic structure of the book and why Paul wrote the book, etc. But the main point of it is walking in something the Bible calls joy. In fact, the concept or word of joy, word joy is going to be used about 18 times in this book in four chapters. So that’s obviously the overriding theme of the book, but it’s how to walk in that joy in the midst of difficulty and adversity. And so this morning, we’re taking a look at verses 1 through 11.
Verses one and two is what’s called the salutation or a basic greeting. Verses three through eight is the thanksgiving. And then verses nine through 11 is a prayer. And so we have entitled our message this morning, “Giving Through, Not To”, as in I’m through with that, but giving through somebody. “Giving through and not and not to”. So notice here the beginning are salutation or greeting, which is part of the introduction of the book and verses 1 through 11. Notice what Paul says, Philippians chapter one verses one and two. “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are in Philippi, including the overseers and the deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” You notice in this particular salutation or greeting, you’ll notice Paul’s name there. Verse one, Paul. Paul is our author. And it is interesting to note that when he wrote this book, he was actually in a place of Roman imprisonment. He was there for two years. You’ll see the beginning of his Roman imprisonment described in Acts 28 verses 16 through 31. And that’s where he wrote this book, along with three other books that we call the Prison Epistles. So what’s interesting about this is the Apostle Paul was not in a place of luxury. He was not really in a place where his future was secure or certain.
There were so many unknowns that he really didn’t know which way things were going to go. And consequently, in that place, he still talks about joy. So he is not coming from the position of an ivory tower theologian. He is someone who is actually experiencing this joy in the midst of adverse circumstances. And in fact, when Paul was with them there in Philippi when the church started. Probably about 11 years or so earlier. And you can read all about it in Acts 16. Part of the beginning of that church was the conversion of the Philippine jailer, and Paul was put in that prison and he was flogged there. And yet Acts 16 speaks of how in the middle of the night, him and Silas were praising the Lord. And I believe those series of events were so indelibly impressed on the heart of the Philippian jailor it created in him a desire to know the true gospel. So my point is, Paul is not someone who just talks the talk, but he is actually someone who has walked the walk and he has lived out this reality of joy in the midst of adversity. And he is our author. You’ll notice also he mentions Timothy. Apparently, Timothy had also helped in the founding of the Philippine church. And you’ll notice how Paul describes himself and his associate, Timothy. It says, Paul and Timothy Bond, servants of Christ, Jesus.
The Greek word there is doulos, meaning just a common slave. That’s what the word means. And so it’s very interesting to me how they did Christianity back in Paul’s day verses how we do Christianity Today in the 21st century. I’ve never read someone’s business card in ministry or they describe themselves this way. Typically, what we do is we tout our credentials. We tout our importance. We tout our resume, we tout our academic credentials, we tout how many followers we have on social media. We tout how big our churches are, we tout how many, how long we’ve been in ministry. And it really becomes more of a pride thing many times. And you’ll notice that the early apostles, the apostles and along with Timothy, did not do that. It’s very common for them to describe themselves as they begin their letters like second Peter It might be first Peter, but Peter does this in one of his two letters, maybe both. And the others, and they just describe themselves as slaves. A slave is someone who exists to execute the will of another. And so, Paul, rather than describing everything that happened to him and how gifted he was and everything else, he just describes himself as a common servant. And I think to some extent we need to get back to that mindset in the 21st century. He continues on here in verse one, and it says, “Paul and Timothy Bond, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus.”
Now you’ll notice that Paul describes his audience as saints. And that’s very important because this is not a book about how to get people saved. The assumption here is the Philippians were already saved. What’s being described here is how to work out the middle tense of their salvation, not their justification. They already had that. But the middle tense of their salvation, their sanctification, their growth in Christ. And there’s a deficiency in that. As Paul sees it, the Philippians were not walking in the joy that Paul himself was walking in when he wrote this or what he had even role modeled to them 11 years earlier in that Philippine jail. So this is a book really about growth as a Christian, how someone who is already saved can experience joy independent of circumstances. And I like what Jay Vernon McGee says. He says you’re either a saint or you’re an ain’t. Because we really don’t look at ourselves many times as saints. But the positional reality is the moment a person has trusted in Christ as their personal savior, sainthood is declared upon them by God himself. It’s kind of interesting in the Roman Catholic system, you know, there’s just a few saints and you have to graduate into sainthood. The biblical reality is all of us are saints because God looks at us through the righteousness of His Son, positionally transferred to us. In fact, Paul is going to have a tremendous statement about our sainthood through our transferred righteousness later on in the book, in Philippians three verse nine, where he says may be found in him not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God. On the basis of faith if my righteousness is based on my own obedience, then I could see how I am not a saint. But if my righteousness comes from what the Protestant reformers called alien righteousness, righteousness from the outside given to me as a gift at the point of faith, and I can clearly see how I actually am a saint in Jesus Christ, it’s very clear to all the saints in Christ Jesus. In other words, if you’re not in Christ Jesus, sainthood, positionally speaking, is an impossibility. And it goes on and it says to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi. Philippi, as we saw last time, is a city. They’re in Europe, sort of in that Greece area. I’ve actually visited there myself. I’ll show you some pictures. I showed you a few last time. I’ll show you one more as we progress today. But that’s where this church was located. Paul, of course, was writing from the west in Rome in his first Roman imprisonment, writing to the Saints there or the church there at Philippi. He goes on and he talks here about Philippi, and then he mentions a subgroup within the church, he says, including the overseers and the deacons.
Now notice that those are separate offices. Overseers is the Greek word “episkopos”, where we get the word bishops, and then deacons is the Greek word “diakonos”, where we get the word servants. And so here, very early on in Christianity, you see these two offices existing and being recognized within the church. And you should know the difference between those offices here at Sugar Land Bible Church. Some of our folks are rotating off various boards, having served for a certain term. And so we’re in the process of selecting overseers and deacons, and you should know the difference between those. The office of Elder are those who are basically the shepherds of the church. Deacons, you’ll find them coming into existence, really, in the Book of Acts chapter six versus one through seven, who are involved in basically service projects to take certain loads off the shepherds or the elders. So the shepherds or the elders can better fulfill their function. In the church, you’ll see that not anybody can be an elder or a deacon within Christ’s Church. Being a Christian is not enough. You have to have a demonstrated character. The character of elders is described very well for us in first Timothy three, one through seven. And the character of deacons is described in first Timothy three eight through 13. Not that these people have to be sinless, but certainly they have to demonstrate a character where they are sinning less and growing in the middle tense of their salvation.
He goes on there in verse two and he gives us our standing in Christ. And he mentions Grace. What is Grace exactly? Grace, simply put, is unmerited favor. That’s why you can look at yourself as a saint. You tell your average Christian you’re a saint and they don’t believe it because they’re looking at it through their own merit. But when you understand that God gives us favor that we don’t deserve, then we can start to see ourselves the way God looks at us as saints in Christ Jesus. This is a Greek word “charis”. It’s a phenomenal name, he says, greet grace. And then he also says peace. Now notice the order here. It’s not peace then grace. It’s grace and peace. In other words, if you don’t have grace first, you don’t have peace. Peace with whom? Peace with God. Romans Chapter five in verse ten tells us that before we trust in Christ as our Savior, we, in fact, are enemies of God. But Romans five verse one says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So because we’ve been given grace, we can experience positional peace with God, right standing before God, the enmity between us and God has been cancelled. It’s been called off. And now that we have positional peace with God, guess what? We’re qualified for experiential peace.
Experiential peace is not legal peace. We already have that, but it’s demonstrating the type of piece that Jesus himself exhibited when he was asleep in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. And I’ll remind us, Galatians two, verse 20, that that same Jesus who was asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a storm, is the same Jesus that lives inside of us through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. So Paul wants his audience that already has legal peace to move in the direction of experiential peace, which is really what the whole subject of joy is about – right attitudes, right experiences, independent of circumstances. And that may be the reason why he mentions peace here at the beginning. The legal positional peace that we have is the basis for the experiential peace that he wants us to have in the midst of the storm. And that experiential piece is essentially what is unpacked for us here. In the Book of Philippians and you’ll notice how verse two ends. It’s “from our from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, if you are not in a right relationship with God, the Father through Jesus Christ, all of these blessings are unavailable to a person. It doesn’t matter how sincere they are or how hard they try. They don’t have grace, they don’t have peace, they don’t have positional righteousness. They have nothing at all. But once we have those things through or from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, then suddenly we can begin to grow. Into the experiential piece that God has for us based on the positional peace that he has given us. And so it’s a wonderful two verses here in the form of a salutation.
Now we move into verses three through eight and he moves into thanksgiving. And if you look at verse three, you’ll see the word I thank. And then if you look at verse nine, it says in this I pray. So he’s moving away in verse nine from thanksgiving, verses three through eight, into prayer, verses nine through 11. And that’s why we’ve divided this increment of scripture the way that we have. So Paul begins this letter with, not send me more money. Not hear all my needs. Not here’s what is personally happening in my life, but rather he begins this particular letter with thanksgiving and he begins this personal letter with prayer. And that, of course, becomes a great way to begin anything. You begin it with thanksgiving. And then you begin it with prayer. And that’s what Paul is doing here. You know, a lot of us as Christians, we start things and we don’t begin from the right place. We don’t begin by thanking God. We don’t begin with prayer. And so Paul begins this whole treatment on joy to the Philippians with this reality. Notice what he says in verse three: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” And notice he doesn’t just say God. He says, “my God”. So the God that he walked with was personal to him. He doesn’t say that God or the God. He’s coming at them from a position that he had a personal relationship with God. And that, of course, is what Christianity is. Christianity is a personal relationship with the God that made you. It’s not just understanding facts about God or things about God or sort of, you know, kind of indirectly relating to God. It’s God wanting to have a personal relationship, a personal walk with us. In fact, that walk is so intimate that we are called the bride of Christ. And Jesus, of course, being called our groom. And this is very different than what you get in Islam. It’s very different than what you get in Buddhism or any other world religion. It’s people talking about God as if he’s some kind of disconnected being. But that’s not what Christianity is. Christianity is personal. It’s a personal walk with God. And so Paul says, “I thank my God,” And then he says, “in all my remembrance of you,” He probably was thinking back to this river. That’s actually an amateur photo of the river by myself when I was in that area, Philippi, a couple of years ago.
As we studied last week, there was no synagogue in Philippi. And so when Paul went into Philippi, he didn’t go to the synagogue, which was his custom or his habit, but he went to this river where women were praying and gathering. And that likely could have been the river. In fact, the guides and so forth suggested that it had to have been that river, because that’s really the only possibility. And it’s there he met this woman named Lydia. And we read these words, it says,”On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and we began speaking to the women who had assembled, a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God was listening. And the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” So Paul did his part, he proclaimed, or he taught to her what God had given to him. But God was doing something on the other end, through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. He was opening Lydia’s heart. And when those two things come together simultaneously, the message enters a prepared heart, you’ve got a conversion. And that’s literally how the church at Philippi started there. And from there it led to the conversion of the Philippine jailer Act 16, which we talked a little bit about a moment ago and talked about last week, how there’s now a conversion of the Philippine jailer and his household along with Lydia.
And perhaps others in this little group started about 11 years earlier, and that’s how the church at Philippi was born from that very humble means. And so Paul is praising the Lord for what God has done in the subsequent ten or 11 years. As he’s thinking backward on the work of God and the hand of God and the moving of the Holy Spirit. And we go to verse four, where Paul says this, “always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,”. Paul is so thankful for this church that he actually allowed his attitude of thankfulness for them to move him to pray on their behalf. And what you just see, see described there in verse four is some very important characteristics about prayer. You’ll notice, for example, the word “offer” or “offering”. You know, as New Testament Christians, we don’t offer sacrifices. Animal sacrifices is a thing of the past. But it’s interesting how in worship or in different things we do as Christians, God receives things we do unto Him as sort of a sacrifice. Not to somehow supplement the death of Christ. That’s complete. But as an act of adoration and worship. And you’ll find sacrifice language used over and over again. As we learn about things that Christians are to do in their growth when we offer our body to him, God receives that as a living sacrifice, Romans 12, verse one.
Praise good works, financial giving. You’ll see sacrificial language describing those things. And then I think you also see it here with prayer, when it says offering prayer, kind of this idea. It brings up this imagery of a sacrifice or an offering. And so that’s how we need to see prayer. It’s a sweet aroma arising unto God. You’ll notice also in verse four, he talks about every prayer. You see that? There is no one size fits all for prayer. In fact, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount specifically told us not to pray mindlessly, mindless repetition, as do the pagans. So a lot of us, when we come to prayer, we think there’s just a one way to do it mentality. And yet Paul says every prayer. You pray different things depending upon the circumstances. James Chapter five versus 13 and 14 says “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises to God. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” So suffering. there’s a prayer type of prayer for that. Cheerfulness. There’s another type of prayer for that. A prayer of praise, sickness. There’s another prayer for that. Paul, in this letter is going to speak of a prayer of supplication where you’re asking God to meet a need.
There’s a there’s a different way. You pray for that. And then you’ll also notice what Paul says here through the word always, always offering prayer. He had written to the Thessalonians earlier and in first Thessalonians chapter five, verse 17, Paul says this Pray without ceasing. In other words, prayer should be something that’s habitual in the life of the child of God, normal in the life of the child of God, as normal as is breathing itself. And then he talks about joy. And this is our first reference to joy, and you probably should have that word underlined there in your Bible, because the book of Philippians is an unpacking or an explanation as to how that not positional, but experiential joy is maintained. And you’ll also notice here the word, verse four, the word all. Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all. Paul, when he prayed for the Philippians, didn’t just pray for the people that he liked. He prayed for everybody equally. And you said, well, were there people in the Philippine church that caused him trouble? Yes, there were. We’re going to read about them in chapter four, verses two and three, to people that were sort of a thorn in his side. And yet Euodia and Syntyche, it doesn’t say I’m praying for everybody except those two because they irritate me.
He was the type of person that prayed for everybody equally. And so verse four is tremendous because it teaches us so many things about prayer. And he goes on here in verse five and he says, “in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now,” Now that word participation is the Greek word “koinonia”, where we get the word “fellowship”. So they were consistently participating with Paul in his ministry, and we know that they were consistently doing it because he talks about how you’re doing it from the first day until now. So the question becomes, what in the world were the Philippines doing to participate in the ministry of the Apostle Paul? Even when Paul was away from them, even when he was imprisoned in Rome in the West, they somehow were doing something to participate in the ministry of Paul. And that starts getting explained in verse seven. I’m going to momentarily skip verse six, cover verses seven and eight, and go back to verse six in just a little bit because verses seven and eight really are an explanation of what exactly the Philippians were doing. Notice what he says there in verse seven. He says, “For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel, you are all partakers” You should underline partakers. “of grace with me.”
Now partakers in that word partakers in the Greek, you’ll also find the word koinonia, participation or fellowship, which is the same word Paul used in verse five. I mean, the intensity of it seems to be heightened a little bit in verse seven, but you’ll see Koinonia in both words. And so what were these Philippians doing that caused him to have such a warm heart towards them, and what were they specifically doing to participate with Paul in his ministry? And the answer to that is really in chapter four, verse 16, where Paul says, “for even in Thessalonica”, that’s where Paul was kicked out and pushed into after he left Philippi, the next major port city in Greece, he says, “for even in Thessalonica, you sent a gift more than once for my needs.” Now, this church, they got behind Paul not just in the area of prayer, not just in the area of adoration and affection, but they got behind Paul in the area of money and in the area of finances. And it seems to me as if they did this more than some of the other churches that Paul had planted there in the first century. And that’s why this church was always something that Paul held special in his heart. And he says, because you’ve gotten behind me financially, you haven’t just sent an offering to me a single time, but more than once.
In fact, when you go back to verse five it gives you the impression that they did this from the first day until now. This was something that they were consistently doing. When you did that, you actually participated with me in the cause of the gospel. In other words, when you gave to me financially, you were not giving to me, but you are giving through me. That’s why we’ve entitled this message “Giving through” rather than to. I may have said that wrong. They were giving through Paul, not to Paul. So when I was in prison, he mentions his imprisonment verse seven, in Rome no doubt, when I was in prison, you were participating because of your financial gifts. I was, you’ll notice, verse seven, defending the gospel. Now the word “defense”: There is the Greek word apologia where we get the word “apologetics”. Apologetics is something that Christians are called to defend the gospel. You’ll see a reference to that in first Peter three verse 15. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” not every Christian could get out there and debate the Jews the way Paul could. And yet he says, because you got behind me financially, you were participating with me in that, because you are not giving to me, you were giving through me.
So you are actually with me in my imprisonment. You are actually with me in my defense. You were actually with me in my confirmation of the gospel. You know, when Paul, in places like Acts 17 verses two and three, reasoned with the Jews from the scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, saying, This is who am I? This is this is Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you. You know, not every Christian could be in that circumstance and be in that reasoning process, as Paul was arguing the case for Christianity from Hebrew Bible. Yet he says, here you are actually participating with me in that. You weren’t just giving to me. You are giving through me. And so this becomes a completely different way of looking at the whole subject of giving. When you give to a ministry, you don’t just give to that ministry. You actually give through that ministry and whatever that ministry happens to be doing, that you are not perhaps a part of directly, you actually become a partner in that. And that’s why Paul was so, had such a warm heart and a warm feeling towards the Philippians. And his warm heart and his warm feeling is expressed there in verse eight. He says, “For God is my witness, how I long for you with all the affection of Christ Jesus.”
Paul was a witness. He longed for them with all the affection of Christ Jesus, because he saw themselves, he saw them as co-laborers in Christ for the very simple reason that they got behind him financially through multiple offerings. And consequently, they were not giving to Paul. They were actually giving through Paul. Now, if that is true, the opposite is true also. Because John, in second John, gives us the other side of the equation related to giving to people whose doctrine is wrong. If you could give to an Orthodox preacher and minister like Paul and not give to him, but through him, when you send money to a false teacher or someone whose doctrine is suspect, then you’re doing the same thing, not for the positive side of things, but for the negative side of things. And so second John verses 7 through 11 sort of fills in the gaps on the other side of the ledger when John writes, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.” Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who by abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting.”
Verse 11 is the key verse, “for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” In other words, if giving becomes koinonia or participation, where you’re not giving to, but you’re giving through, you weren’t there articulating the doctrine of grace the way Paul was, but you become a participant in that through finances. If you don’t have discernment and you’re giving, then you become a co-laborer. You become a co-conspirator with false teachers. And you see, this is why Christians actually need to exercise discernment concerning this issue of giving, because you’re either helping the cause of Christ through participation or you’re tearing it down simply by how we’re using finances. You know, it is interesting that when someone will invest in a company, they’ll do all kinds of research. Because they don’t want to make a bad investment. And think about how many people don’t do that relative to eternal investments and just write checks to people that are undeserving of it because they’re teaching poor doctrine or corrupt doctrine or bad doctrine when they could be making an eternal investment just by doing some research, by investing in the right people.
So, Paul, here in these verses, verse five, verse seven, verse eight is teaching something that is amazing to my mind concerning the reality that takes place when we give to ministries. We don’t give to them, we give through them. And so be discerning in terms of who you give to. Now. I told you we would circle back to verse six. And so let’s do that verse six. Paul says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” In other words, what he’s saying is what God has begun in the Philippian church and in the lives of the Philippians, going all the way back to Lydia’s conversion in Acts 16, God will complete. And many people say, Well, that’s just talking about how they’re going to keep giving. You started off giving, so you’re going to keep giving. And that’s probably true. He probably does have that in mind. In other words, the process of sacrificial giving that you started, no doubt is going to continue. But I think the meaning here is much broader than that simple reading. Notice what Charles Ryrie says in his diary study Bible concerning Philippians one verse six, “God who began. God will continue his work of grace in them until the consummation at the day of Christ Jesus (the day when Jesus returns.)” You see in a book about joy one of the things that will steal your joy faster than anything is if you develop a doctrine of insecurity that somehow God can rip out the carpet from under you any time you mess up, or any time I mess up.
And many Christians live that way. They think maybe they lost their salvation. They had a bad day. Or maybe they never had salvation. If they’re coming from the reformed point of view, they’re probably saying to themselves, I’m not persevering enough, so maybe I was never one of the elect. If they’re coming from the Armenian perspective and they believe you can lose your salvation, I’ve gone too far and God is going to rip out the carpet from under me. And they forget that word there in verse 2, grace, unmerited favor. It is not our good works that got us in the door. And therefore, as important as good works are, it is not our good works that keep us in the door. It is God’s grace that keeps us in the door. And once you start to believe that, then you start to understand that we are secure in Christ and what God started in us because of this security, He will complete. So he’s not just speaking of giving, he’s going outside the subject of giving in verse six. And that would be particularly appropriate in a book all about joy. You see joy in verse four. If you’re an insecure Christian related to your salvation, how do you walk in joy? It’s an impossibility.
So I think Paul’s dealing with giving and koinonia and participation, but he’s broadening the discussion here. You’ll notice the words here of Thomas Constable. His online notes, which I recommend to you, he says of this verse: “What was the good work to which Paul referred?” You know, he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. What is that good work? If he had in mind only the generosity of his original readers, he may have meant that good work. However, as I have suggested, he seems to have had a much broader concept in mind, mainly, or namely, what the work of the Gospel produces, salvation. In the New Testament, God has revealed that salvation is a process. It involves justification when a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his or her savior. By the way, that happens at a moment in time. Constable continues, “It also includes progressive sanctification, that occurs continuously from the time of justification until the Christian’s death or the Rapture. And it culminates in glorification, when the redeemed sinner finally sees Jesus Christ and experiences transformation into his image. Paul was confident that, just as surely as God had justified the Philippians, He would also continue to sanctify, and eventually glorify, them. Whereas we have a hand in the process of sanctification, and can affect it by our obedience or disobedience, God alone justifies us.” And look at this final line here, “Regardless of our carnality or spirituality, He will also glorify us.” Well, how can God do that? Because we stand before him by grace, unmerited favor.
And even if the Philippian Church was not participating with Paul, koinonia, standing financially behind him in the proclamation of the Gospel, they were still on a fast track to glory. It becomes just an amazing verse about our future, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul here, when you look at our three tenses of salvation, is speaking of our ultimate glorification, how that’s actually a done deal from the divine side of things. In fact, Paul, earlier when he wrote the book of Romans said this, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.” That is a striking couple of verses there because it describes what some have called the great chain of salvation: Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification. And what’s interesting every time I read that is, “glorified” is put in the past tense along with everything else on that list. In other words, the God that foreknew me and predestined me and called me and justified me, already happened, is the same God that’s going to glorify me. That too, from God’s perspective, is also in the past tense, even though it hasn’t transpired yet, in fact, for the simple reason that I’m on a fast track to glory.
And so, “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” And if you don’t believe that, if you think glorification is an ‘if’ for you, kind of like the weather report, there’s a chance that may not happen or a chance it will happen, you’ll never walk in joy. Joy is an impossibility. So, you know, it’s interesting around my house, I’ve got a lot of unfinished projects. Unfinished. I get through halfway through a book and I put it down and read another book, half read book. Build something in the garage and half done, get bored, move on to something else, start one project, move on to something else. Everything’s sort of halfway done. It’s interesting that God doesn’t work that way. What God starts, He completes. And God started a good work in you Philippians. And He’s going to perfect that. Even when you’re disobedient and carnal. He’s going to perfect it all the way to glorification. And so that becomes really an amazing thanksgiving that He does here.
Now in our time remaining now he moves verses 9 through 11 into prayer. He starts to pray for them. He was thanking God for them, beginning of verse three. Now you look at verse nine and it says, “And this I pray.” So what does he pray for exactly? Well, there’s about six things that he prays for. The first thing that he prays for, and we sometimes need to ask ourselves, Is this what we pray for, for other people and even ourselves? Because this is what’s on Paul’s mind. The first thing he prays for is their continued progressive sanctification. Verse nine, “And this I pray, that your love,” Now love is always demonstrated in actions. They didn’t just say they love Paul. They proved it by sacrificially and financially getting behind him, qualifying them to be participants, sharers, koinonia, in the proclamation of the Gospel, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more,” I pray that your love and your growth in Christ, as demonstrated by what you’re doing, will accelerate. It will continue. Second thing he prays for them is knowledge. Verse nine, “and more in real knowledge”, the word knowledge, “gnosis” or “epignosis. And we look at that and we say, well, that’s just information. I pray that you’ll get better at computer software. I pray that you’ll develop more facility with Bible encyclopedias. That’s part of it. But knowledge in the Bible is speaking of intimacy. That’s why back in verse, what was it, verse one or perhaps it was verse two he talked about, actually, verse three he talked about, My God, verse three, My God, not the God, that God. Knowledge in the Bible basically speaks of not just facts and information. That’s only a first step. It’s relational. Genesis, Four, One in the King James version says Adam knew his wife and she conceived. And bore Cain and said, I have begotten a manchild from the Lord. No, his wife is obviously the deepest level of knowing somebody. That you can experience. And that’s what Paul prays for, the Philippians, that they would continue in their relationship with the Lord. He also prays for their discernment and verse nine after he talks about real knowledge, he says, and all discernment. He wants them to be sort of like how the Bereans became. Around the time period when Paul founded this church, we read these words in Acts 17, verse 11, “Now, these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Paul says, I want you to develop in discernment as you walk in the truth. You start to develop an appreciation for things that are good and things that are bad. Boy, we need to be praying for that for people, don’t we? Because it’s easy for a Christian not to walk in discernment. And then he also praised for their ability to approve what is excellent. If you look there at verse ten, it says, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent”. It wants them to develop the ability to be able to distinguish not just between good and bad, but between better and best.
Philippians chapter four and verse eight is going to tell us exactly how to do that, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good repute, if there’s any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” You start to allow things into your mind that only meet that set of criteria, you have an ability as a Christian, not just to distinguish good and bad, good and evil, but something that’s a good alternative from a better alternative rom the best alternative. And as you look at verse ten, I also think he’s praying for them to have a favorable ruling at the Bema Seat judgment of Christ because he says there, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” Wait a minute. I thought they already were blameless. They are, positionally. But I want that to be practical. I want your practice to catch up with your position. And on that basis, rewards, not salvation, rewards following the rapture will either be given or not given. We know that there at the Bema Seat judgment will be believers unrewarded. Paul explains that to the Corinthians. “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.” Paul therefore says in first Corinthians 9, verse 27, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
I want to not just get to heaven, but I want my growth in Christ to continue so that I will stand before Jesus at the Bema Seat judgment of Christ and have a favorable ruling. And then the last thing He prays for them here is right there in verse 11, where he says, “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” The sacrificial giving that you see in verse five and verse seven, Paul says, I want that to continue as you develop the fruit of righteousness. Paul could very well be thinking of here the fruit of the spirit, which he has already written to the Galatians about. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. And people say, Well, Pastor, I’ve tried so hard and I just can’t produce these in my life. And that’s why it’s called Fruit of the Spirit. You can’t produce these things in your life. You have to allow the Lord, through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, to produce these characteristics. Paul is very clear here in verse 11 that this fruit of righteousness comes through Jesus Christ. And of course, who is glorified in all of this at the very end of verse 11, to the glory and praise of God? What is exactly the purpose of our lives? The purpose of our lives is to glorify God.
God’s purposes in human history are doxological. He works in history to glorify Himself, and He has devised salvation in such a way as we are saved through grace and continue to grow through grace and are fully rewarded at the Bema Seat judgment of Jesus Christ, through grace, because it’s God producing it from beginning to end, because it’s a grace operation from beginning to end. Who gets the glory for it? God does. And as we do this, we fit into God’s purposes in human history.
And so we come to the end of our introduction, having taken a look today at the salutation, thanksgiving and prayer. And next week, we’ll be getting into the circumstances that Paul was in. And how no matter what the circumstance was, to my count, there’s about four circumstances described here. He could always see the hand of God at work. And consequently, he was never a prisoner to his circumstances because he could always see God doing something positive in the midst of what, from the human perspective, is negative. Of course, the key words here at the end of verse 11 “through Jesus Christ”.
You can’t experience any of these things or have any of these things until you have a relationship with Christ and a relationship with Christ is entered into through what we call the gospel or good news, Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to pay a price that we could never pay because of our sin debt before God. We are not saved by our good works, but we rest upon his good work. And so if, as I’m speaking, the Holy Spirit is convicting anyone of their need to trust Christ, our exhortation to you is to trust Christ as your Savior, even as I’m speaking. It’s not a 12-step process. It’s a one step, where the Spirit convicts you and you rest for your eternity on the promises of Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes you a Christian. And you can do that right now, even as I am I am speaking. If it’s something you need more help on, I hope you’ll send us an email or put a note there on Facebook or wherever you’re watching this from so we can help you with that. But that really becomes life’s most important issue, trusting in Christ for salvation and then being grafted into all of these blessings that we’re reading about here.
So at this point, our time is over. And so we will conclude with this benediction, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.”