Philippians 005 – The Practice of ServanthoodPhilippians 2:12-16 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 3, 2020 • Philippians
The Practice of Servanthood
May 3, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
I got to corral our mass audience here in studio, but let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the book of Philippians chapter two. And the title of our message this morning is The Practice of Servant Hood. I want to welcome you to Sugar Land Bible Church, Main Service, Live Stream as we’re continuing our verse-by-verse study through the book of Philippians.
And let’s open it up, if we could, just with a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for the fact that many people are frustrated with their circumstances being sort of confined to their homes, uncertain of their futures and we just thank you that you’ve given us a technology to still teach your word. So I just pray that this study that we’re doing today during our main service would deeply minister to them and would give them joy in the midst of adversity, give that to all of us. And we ask that your word would accomplish that today. And we’ll be careful to give you all the praise in the glory and we ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.
Well, we’re continuing our study in the Book of Philippians. And the Book of Philippians, of course, is a book about, we believe, it’s about how to find joy in the Christian life. In other words, how to be a Christian who is not just a believer but is actually walking in joy. Joy, as we have seen, is what Jesus spoke of when he said in the upper room discourse. Peace I give to you. Peace I leave with you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. So the piece he was talking about is not just positional peace with God. Every Christian has that. The moment they trust Christ as their savior. But how do you actually walk as a Christian with the joy of the Lord? A sense of well-being that’s not held hostage by circumstances. So the type of joy that the Bible speaks of is this peace we can have when circumstances are good or bad. And how do you actually learn to live in that and acquire that as part of our Christian life and experience? Well, I believe that’s largely why the Book of Philippians was written. Each chapter in the book of Philippians four chapters total contributes something to that theme of joy. Chapter one We have studied already. It’s all about how God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. Paul the Apostle in Philippians chapter one, talks about his imprisonment, a negative circumstance, but rather than feeling sorry for himself, he speaks of four positives that came out of that apparently negative situation. God was accomplishing four things that God probably wouldn’t do absent Paul’s negative circumstances. And so when you learn the mental discipline of seeing the hand of God in any circumstance, because any circumstance you’re in, God will show up and God will oftentimes be working because of that circumstance.
And so many times we’re looking at the glass and it’s not you know, we look at it as half empty and we haven’t developed the mental discipline necessary to seeing the glass half full. We don’t see the hand of God in what’s happening to us. And Paul could see it. And that’s why Paul was never a prisoner of his circumstances, ever. Because no matter what situation he was in, he could see something positive that the Lord was doing. And that’s step one in how to walk in joy. That’s what chapter one is all about. And then we moved into last week, chapter two, which is the second major element in walking and joy, and that’s becoming a servant. The Lord said in Acts 20 verse 35. He’s quoted as saying, It is more blessed to give than to receive. The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11 verses 24 and 25 says there is one who scatters yet increases all the more. There is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous. And he who waters will himself be watered. That’s an amazing promise, isn’t it? We don’t give to get, but it’s interesting that as a byproduct of being a giver or a servant, you start to experience a sense of well-being that you didn’t have before.
I mean, think of the joy of your kids or grandkids on Christmas morning. I mean, where does true joy come from? Does it come from hoarding things for ourselves? No, it comes from serving them, seeing them open their presents, etc., seeing their eyes light up, and think of the satisfaction you receive as a parent or as a grandparent from that, you wouldn’t receive that if we weren’t in the position of a giver. Jesus said in Luke six verse 38 give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, press down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return. I’m not promising that everyone who gives gets rich. The folks on TV promise that. That’s not what the Bible says. But it does promise that when you give in any anything, give of your life, give of your energy, give of your service. Put yourself as important, but maybe someone else more important than yourself, as Paul says in Philippians two, the reward that comes back to you is manifold. And so you can’t walk in joy without developing the mindset of being a servant. And so then the question becomes, well, how do we become servants? Paul says, I’m glad you asked that. I have four examples. One of them is Christ. One of them is Paul. One of them is Timothy. One of them is Epaphroditus. And the last time we were together, we were talking about how Paul, first and foremost, Philippians two verses 5 through 16 holds up Jesus as the ultimate example of servanthood.
Earlier in the chapter, Paul says, Do nothing from selfish ambition. He talks about regard one another as more important than ourselves. And so how exactly do we do that? Paul says, Here’s four examples. The ultimate example, of course, is Jesus Christ himself, who, in Philippians two, verse seven, emptied Himself, taking the form of a what? A bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. This is the passage that we call the Great Kenosis Passage, coming from that Greek verb emptied. Jesus emptied himself. Now we last time saw, we have to be very careful with what we’re believing and teaching here, because it’s easy for your theology to sort of take a wrong turn. So we were very careful in articulating what he emptied himself of exactly. John Walvoord, in his excellent book, Jesus Christ Our Lord said “the act of Kenosis, as stated in Philippians two, may therefore be properly understood to mean that Christ surrendered no attribute of deity, but he did voluntarily restrict their independent use. In keeping with his purpose of living among men and their limitations.”
He never gave up deity, but he gave up the privileges of deity, which he was enjoying with the Father at the Father’s right hand throughout eternity. And he temporarily, momentarily gave that up. He, through the Virgin conception and then the virgin birth, was born into our world for the purpose of dying on a cruel wooden cross 2,000 years ago. He experienced fatigue, He experienced sadness, He experienced the full gamut of human limitations, yet without sin, never giving up deity. He was deity the whole way through and never giving up his ability to perform miracles, whereby had he exercised his attributes, he could have stopped the whole crucifixion. But he submitted the use of those attributes to the will of God, the Father. And so Philippians two is probably as high as you could get in the Bible in the area of Christology or the Doctrine of Christ. I mean, you’d be hard pressed to find a chapter of the Bible that explains the servanthood and what Jesus did for us in as much vividness as you have in Philippians chapter two. And yet Paul is not giving a theology lesson. He’s giving it in a context of teaching us what servanthood really looks like. That’s why we have entitled this message the practice of servanthood, without which, joining the Christian life is an impossibility. I mean, what examples are there to follow in terms of their role model as servants? You can’t get a higher example than what we read here in verses five through 11, the famous kenosis or emptying passage. And that’s why Paul says, have the same mind as we interact with each other as that of Christ. Jesus. Were to take his attitude towards servanthood and what he yielded and what he gave up and were to seek to walk that out as we interact with each other and we do nothing consequently out of selfish ambition but we treat one another as more hi than ourselves.
Now we saw that in verses 5 through 11 last time and what Paul typically does is he gives us these tremendous paradigms and then he applies it. His paradigm at the end of– in chapter one about seeing the hand of God in every negative circumstance, a tremendous paradigm that he walked out. He applied it at the end of chapter one and verses 27 through 30. So Paul has just given he’s done it to us again. He’s given us a paradigm. And what he does after he gives us the paradigm verses 5 through 11 is he now applies it and we see now four points of application flowing from this in verses 12 through 16. I mean, how do I walk out the kenosis exactly? Well, Paul says do these four things. So here we go, number one of the four. Make progress in the area of practical sanctification. I mean, the fastest and quickest and I don’t know if I want to even use the word easiest, but the fastest routes to Christ-likeness is you submit to God in the area of practical or progressive sanctification. And that’s what He’s saying there in verse 12. So then so you see how verse 12 is connected with the paradigm that he just gave us in verses five through 11.
Here comes application point number one. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You notice here, Paul refers to the Philippians as my beloved. He didn’t see the Philippians as numbers on a church roll or attendance numbers or, you know, potential offering donors. That’s how so many churches in their leadership look at people that go to those churches. They’re just a number. You notice that Paul didn’t look at people that way. He calls them my beloved. Paul is the one about 11 years earlier, as we have studied in prior lessons that really planted that church at Philippi, first through the conversion of Lydia, Act 16, then the conversion of the Philippian jailer, Acts 16. The church got off the ground and Paul helped it. And he knew all the people. He loved all the people, and so he refers to them here as my beloved, which also indicates that Paul clearly saw these people as Christians. He would not have called them my beloved if they weren’t saved. And that’s important because the principles that Paul is outlining here are not for the unbeliever. In fact, the unbeliever, these principles will be an anathema to an unbeliever. The unbeliever’s flesh will immediately rebel against these principles because the unbeliever is controlled by the world system where you don’t serve, you dominate people and the whole name of the game is not how many people you’re influencing, but how many people are under your command.
I mean, Jesus spoke about that in the Gospel of Mark, and he said, that’s not the point. The point isn’t like the Gentiles who lorded over you. The point is, if you want to be greatest in the kingdom, you must become the greatest servant. So an unbeliever would never accept any of these truths. So this is not a book about how to get saved. If you want to read a book about how to get saved, you read John’s gospel. He tells you there how to get saved, which is to believe in Christ faith alone, in Christ alone. These principles are for the Christian that needs to grow. And they need to make progress in their progressive sanctification. Someone has said that the Christian life is difficult. I always disagree with that. The Christian life is not difficult. The Christian life is impossible. Because God never expected the Christian life to be lived on someone’s own resources. He gives resources via the new nature, the Holy Spirit, etc. An unbeliever has none of that. An unbeliever can’t even tap into that until they come to a point where they trust Christ for salvation. So this is dealing with Christians and their need to grow. And you notice what also he says here. So then, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence, but only but now much more in my absence.
And that’s how you know that you’re growing. That’s how you know that you’re growing in any walk of life. Someone is not always over your head threatening you to do this or threatening you to do that. A lot of people are like that on their job. You know, they don’t work hard unless the boss is looking over their shoulder. You know, that you’re growing in your vocation if you’re able to develop a certain work ethic and a certain work product, whether your boss is looking over your shoulder or not. And so that’s how progressive sanctification should be. Paul says, you know, one of the reasons I know you’re growing is you’re doing it, not only when I’m around you, but now that I’ve been away from you for 11 years you’re doing it, and you’re doing it even more. And so he commends them for that. And in the process he makes this statement here at the end of verse 12, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Now here’s a passage that you’ve got to be really careful with, or you’ll fall into false doctrine very fast. There is a mindset in people where they take the gospel and they front load it. The Gospel to get saved is no longer simply trusting in Christ and Christ alone for salvation but now conditions are added.
You know, don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do, you know? And all these kinds of things and it’s no longer one step to Jesus. It’s five or six things you got to do, which obviously is false, because that’s nothing more than a works-oriented salvation. The Bible teaches that salvation is a free gift and according to Romans, chapter four, verse five, there’s only one way to receive a free gift from God, and that’s by faith alone. God only holds out one condition for the lost center to submit to to be saved. And that’s faith alone in Christ alone. But there’s another form of works orientation, not front loading the gospel, but back loading the gospel, meaning we need to see certain works in your life or you need to see certain works in your life to prove you’re really saved. So Calvinism Reformed theology, some versions of it, certainly the very aggressive form that’s being promoted today will say if all of these works aren’t lining up in your life, then you never had salvation. Arminianism comes along and says, If you don’t see certain works in your life, then you lost salvation. And both camps will build their doctrine on this verse here, which says, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling meaning, Oh my goodness, there’s not enough works in my life to prove I’m a Christian. Maybe I never became a Christian. Or worse yet, maybe I am a Christian and I lost salvation.
And that’s what fear and trembling means. It means I could go to hell. And so because of bad teaching, a lot of Christians are walking out Calvinism, the aggressive strain of it we’re seeing today, or they’re walking out Arminianism and they’re scared to death that, my goodness, God is going to rip the carpet out from under me at any minute. Completely forgetting that what got them in the door is the grace of God. You wouldn’t be in the door without the grace of God. Grace is unmerited favor. And you know what else it means? What keeps you in the door is God’s grace. The unmerited favor of God keeps you in keeps you in the beloved. But if your focus moves away from the promises of God to your own performance, you may have an up week or a down week, an up day, or a down day. Well, today I’m saved. Well, tomorrow I’m not saved. It’s like picking the petals from the flower. She loves me. She loves me not. That’s how a lot of Christians are. They just go through their life. Well, today I guess I’m saved and maybe tomorrow things don’t go exactly well and I have an outburst of anger or something. So I guess I’m not a Christian anymore or I lost my salvation because there it is right there in the Bible. It says, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
And that’s why it becomes pivotal to understanding the three tenses of salvation. Without which you can make no sense of Philippians two, verse 12. Salvation in three time zones is one put it there is justification, the past tense of salvation, and that’s when we are saved from sin’s penalty at the point of faith, alone in Christ alone. And there at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see save used in the past tense. At the far right of the screen is glorification, the future tense of salvation, either at death or the rapture or whichever comes first. Where we are freed from sin’s very presence. And there at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see save or salvation used in the future tense. But you see, Paul is not dealing with either glorification or justification here. He’s dealing with the middle tense of salvation which is progressive sanctification. The present tense of salvation, where we as we yield to God’s resources moment by moment, by faith we are gradually being delivered from the power of sin and that’s how Philippians chapter two, verse 12 is using salvation there. Most people look at the word salvation and they read justification into it. And from it they get a doctrine of you can lose your salvation or never had your salvation. And that’s not what Paul’s dealing with. He’s using salvation in the middle tense. He is talking about not how we come to Christ, but growing once we are in Christ.
And it becomes, I think, obvious when you look at the context that that’s what Paul is talking about. If you want to cherry-pick that one verse and develop a doctrine around it, I guess you can do that, but you have to ignore all the surrounding verses because when you go down to chapter two verse 14, what does he say there? Do all things without grumbling or disputing. What is he talking about? He’s talking about the life of the believer. So it’s quite obvious that he’s dealing here with the middle tense of salvation. Now, when you go over to Philippians four, two and three. He says I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord indeed true companion. I ask you to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the Gospel, together with Clement and also the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. So he’s dealing with a faction in the church that’s fighting. And if they’re clearly believers because their names are in the book of life. So the dominant thrust of Paul in this particular letter is the middle tense of salvation. And so what he’s saying is work out the middle tense of year salvation with fear and trembling. He’s not holding anybody’s salvation hostage. He’s not telling you you’re going to lose salvation. You never had salvation. The Calvinist and Arminian systems hijacked this verse for their own purposes, but that’s not what the verse is talking about.
Paul’s not dealing with that issue. He’s dealing with the growth of the Christian. And it’s very comforting to connect verse 12 with verse 13. Isn’t it fair to do that since verse 13 comes after verse 12? Anybody disagree with me on that? I didn’t think so. Verse 13 for it is God. See that? Who is at work in you both to will and to work his good pleasure. So as we walk out the middle tense of our salvation and grow, he’s not saying do this under willpower and white knuckle it and put your flesh through a bunch of self-discipline, not that self discipline is wrong, but puts your flesh through a bunch of religious rigors. Because a lot of people think, gosh, I’ve got to get out there and my own energy do all this. And it’s that’s not what the passage is saying. It does say work out your salvation with fear and trembling. In other words, volition only acquiesce by way of a crisis, of the will to the resources of God, obey God. But He never says, Do that under your own power. Volition is required, but He never says Do that under your own power, because he says in verse 13, for it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work his good pleasure.
So the Christian life then was intended to be lived under divine resources. And I think that’s Paul’s point to the Galatians in an earlier letter he wrote, he says to the Galatians, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the spirit, Are you now being perfected by the flesh? That’s exactly what he’s saying here. He’s saying to the Galatians, What got you in the door is the grace of God and the Spirit of God. Why would you ever get the idea? That now you’re in Christ, that somehow you’re supposed to mature through your own self-will and self-discipline, through the energy of the flesh. So how do you become a servant? You become a servant by starting to walk take steps, volitionally to obey God. Everybody knows there’s God has told them to do something that maybe they’re not doing right now. So obey God in that area, but understand that when you take that step, you’re not doing it through your own power. You’re doing it through the resources that God has provided. That’s why I love First Corinthians 15 verse ten, where Paul says in that verse, I labored even more than all of them. And that’s where he calls himself the least and the last of the Apostles. He says, I’m not even fit to be called an apostle because I once persecuted the Church of God and he talks about how Jesus appeared to the 12. And then lastly, he appeared to me, the apostle, abnormally born.
And he makes this statement. He says, I labored more than all of them. That’s quite a bold statement relative to the rest of the apostles. I labored even more than all of them. But then, he says, Yet, not I. But the grace of God with me. That’s Galatians three, verse three. That’s Philippians chapter two, verse 13. So how do you take this high Christology and apply it to daily life where we begin to develop the work of a servant where we can actually experience the kind of joy that God has for us. The first thing he says is start to progress in the middle tense of your salvation. And then he says something else. Here’s the second thing you’re supposed to do. Look at this. If this won’t convict us, I don’t know anything will. Do all things. Not some things. Not 97% of things, not a couple of things. Do all things without grumbling or disputing. So it is so easy as a believer to just start to complain about life. And there’s things to complain about from the human perspective. I mean, we could all sit and complain about the lockdown. We can complain about this in our family or some people very complaining about the church they go to. They don’t like this, they don’t like that. And it’s just so easy to get sort of this down-in-the-mouth attitude where we just are constantly finding the negative and everything. And we get into a mindset where we’re just grumbling and we’re just disputing all of the time.
Now, if you want some examples in the Bible of people that are like that, you don’t have to look far. You have that whole generation probably over a million people if the numbers in the book of numbers are literal, I take them literally. They came out of Egypt. This is the generation, by the way, that saw the Red Sea part. They saw the ten plagues raining down on Egypt and they got to the other side of the Red Sea and as they’re making their way down to Mount Sinai, where they receive the law of Moses, there’s about a two-month period there. And you get that number from Exodus 19 and verse one about two months, and they complained every step of the way. To the point where they, you know, they were in such rebellion against their existing leadership, Moses at that time that they probably if they could have killed Moses, they probably would have. And they got to Sinai. They received the law of Moses. After God keeps doing miracles to help these people every step of the way. Every crisis got answered. The water from the rock, the manna on the ground. Even Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, came alongside Moses and said, You’re going to wear yourself out listening to these people day in and day out because they’re all coming to you with their complaints. Could you imagine being a pastor of this group?
So he says you need to appoint lower court judges and he gave criteria by which the judges are to be picked. They have to be men of integrity, etc., and then let them hear the rest of the disputes and then you handle the major disputes. And they had a basically 11-day journey. You get that number from Deuteronomy chapter one about verses two through five from Sinai into Canaan and on the way from Sinai to Canaan, they complained even more. I mean, after seeing the miraculous hand of God and finally they the story they saw giants in the land. They went into unbelief. Only Joshua and Caleb said, let’s trust the Lord and God just shut the door on that generation. I don’t think the generation went to hell because they’re in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. If you say the generation went to hell because they didn’t go to Canaan, then you have to say Moses went to hell too. Which wouldn’t make a lot of sense because Moses is appearing with Elijah in the New Testament at the Mount of Transfiguration. But they did forfeit a blessing they could have had. What could have been an 11-day journey turned into a 40-year nightmare of perpetual complaining and grumbling over and over again. Exodus 16, verse two, says, The whole congregation, that’s a lot of people. Not some disgruntled people, but the whole congregation, the whole congregation of the Sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
Numbers 14, verse two of that generation said All the Sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, would that we had died in the land of Egypt. Or would that that we had died in the wilderness. We’d rather be dead than be out here having to trust God. And at least when we were in Egypt, yeah, we were slaves and they beat us up all of the time with their whips and so forth but at least we know we were going to get regular meals, get three squares at least a day. Now I’ve got to sit out here in the wilderness. I’ve got to trust God for this manna. Well, have you ever had a day where the manna didn’t show up other than the Sabbath because they weren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath so they could collect a day in advance. But other than that day, has there ever been a day where the man didn’t show up? Well, no. In fact, the man showed up for 40 years. Do we understand that? While they’re complaining about everything. And it wasn’t until the next generation under Joshua and Caleb got into the land of Canaan, where the land was capable of sustaining its inhabitants, the land of milk and honey, that the manna is stopped because the manna wasn’t needed anymore. But until that point in time, God provided for 40 years.
It’s two people that just complained about everything. Sunrise to sunset. Jesus makes reference to grumbling and complaining in John six, verse 41. He says. Therefore, the Jews were grumbling about him. So now, now the nation is grumbling 1,500 years later with the Messiah in their presence. Therefore, the Jews were grumbling about him because he said, I am the bread that came down out of heaven. So not only is he the physical manna, but he is the spiritual manna. So they complained about the physical manna. And now they’re complaining 1,500 years later about him as the spiritual manna. Jesus answered John six, verse 43, Do not grumble among yourselves. So my point is, you don’t have to get far in the Bible to see this kind of down-in-the-mouth attitude. And you cannot become a servant as a grumbler. You cannot walk in the joy of the Lord as a perpetual complainer and grumbler. That’s why Paul says, You want Christology? I just gave it to you. Do you want to apply it to your life? Yes? Well, stop complaining. You know, stop, stop grumbling, because the reality is what comes out of our mouths is really symptomatic of what’s in our hearts.
The mouth is just a window to the heart. And so if it’s perpetual in gratitude, then that’s really what exists in our hearts. If praise to the Lord and worship of the Lord and thankfulness is coming out of our mouths, then that’s what’s in our heart. I mean, why should I? Why should I complain about having to empty my own dishwasher? But when the fact is I own a house. I own a dishwasher. And the reason there’s dishes in the dishwasher is because I’ve been provided for. I mean, if there was no provision for food, there would be nothing to wash. So why not look at the dishwasher and say, you know, Lord, thank you. This is just a reminder of what you’ve done for me. Most of the world, the third world, they don’t even know what a dishwasher is. And here we are complaining about having to empty the dishwasher. I mean, it’s just it’s like a manifestation of our sin nature; just being perpetual complainers. And yet the complainer never walks in joy because the complainer finds what’s negative in every situation. Believe me, this teaching is as much for me as it is you, because I have asked my wife, I will see the glass half empty. All of the time. I can find the fault in anything. Some people think that’s their spiritual gift, by the way, to find fault in any and everything. And yet, when you’re finding fault in everything, how do you walk in the joy of the Lord? It’s an impossibility. So do you want to walk out servanthood? Do you want to practice servanthood?
Then A.) Grow in the middle tense of your salvation. B.) Do all things without grumbling and complaining. C.) Third point of application is to be blameless in the world. And look what he says there in verse 15. Philippians chapter two, verse 15, so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Among whom you appear as lights in the world. So it’s interesting, Paul the Apostle calls the world system that we’re living in. He calls it a crooked and perverse generation. The apostle Peter, after he gave his sermon on the day of Pentecost, which, by the way, resulted in the conversion of about 3,000 people. Says this in Acts two, verse 40, he says, Be saved and he kept on and exhorting them, saying, be saved from this perverse generation. So it’s interesting to me that the biblical writers never say expect the world to get better, expect the world to cooperate with you, expect the world to get more and more Christian. I mean, the Bible never makes that promise. The only way that such a promise could be fulfilled is through the dethronement of the leadership of this world who is Satan by the second advent of Jesus when he brings in his kingdom. Until then, don’t expect it to get better. Well, you don’t understand. I mean, the Christians in America are being treated with injustice. And they won’t let us pray in the schools and all these kinds of things.
And I think our answer should be, well, does that surprise you? Why is that a surprise? It’s a crooked and perverse generation. Expect it to be like that. The world is always going to hate you. The value system of the world will always be out of sorts with the disciple of Jesus Christ. And yet that crooked and perverse generation becomes your opportunity, to do what? To stand out for the good. A crooked and perverse generation whom you appear as lights in the world. Now, think about this for a minute. When do you need a light? Obviously, you don’t need a light. When the sun is out and everybody can see fine. There’s no purpose in a light. But once things get dark, boy, the need of a light becomes paramount. And the light is only going to stand out if it’s dark. So God has called us to be salt and light of the earth. That whole metaphor doesn’t make any sense if everything on the outside is rosy, if everything’s rosy and the world’s rosy, and everything’s getting better and better and better, then why would there need to be a light? So I like the way the late Adrian Rogers, one of my favorite preachers, used to put it. He said the world is growing gloriously dark. Things are not falling apart. Things are actually falling into place. This is how God designed it. Because God has wanted to work in such a way through his people that they would stand out as lights.
In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. How do you walk out servanthood? How do you practice servanthood? You allow the Lord to work in your life in such a way that you stand out in the midst of darkness. And by the way, the people living in darkness don’t really appreciate it when somebody flicks the light switch on. I mean, you’re taking a nap or you’re sleeping and someone walks in and your eyes are adjusted a certain way and they flick the light switch on. That’s not necessarily pleasant. So don’t get all upset when people in your own family or your immediate family or extended family or your coworkers, when you give your testimony about Jesus and they don’t sit there and say, yay, that is just so great. I mean, expect him to be irritated, expect him to be– to push back against you, not because you’re trying to be rude. You just love them and you want them to experience what you’re experiencing in Jesus. But the world is not going to stand up and applaud. That, by the way, is why the Christian church is moving away from doctrine. Doctrine divides. Doctrine irritates doctrine, even causes division amongst fellow believers. Now humanitarian works everybody likes. I mean, the world loves it when we set up humanitarian works, and soup kitchens.
They like that. But you talk about the exclusivity of Jesus, they don’t like that. And yet that doctrine is necessary to stand out and be that light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Now, this business about standing out as light, you’ll recognize that from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew Five verses 14 through 16, you are the light of the world. A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that when they see your good works, they may glorify your father who is in heaven. Now at our church, we believe in what is called dispensationalism. It’s basically the idea that we are in a particular age of time now, we’ve been in it for 2,000 years called the Church Age, and Jesus, when he was on the Earth, was not ministering in the church age. He was hinting at the coming church age, but he administered or ministered during the dispensation of the law. Galatians four and verse four says of Jesus that he was born under the law. That’s why when he heals somebody, he says, Go and submit yourself to the priest because that’s what the law of Moses required. And we in the church age are not under the law of Moses.
And all of that to say that we do not take the church and put it under the Sermon on the Mount. Why is that? Because the Sermon on the Mount was given during the dispensation of the law. In fact, when you look at the Sermon on the Mount very carefully, what you’ll see is it’s couched Matthew four and Matthew ten, the offer of the kingdom to Israel. And in between is the Sermon on the Mount Matthew five through seven. So the Sermon on the Mount is really talking about kingdom principles for Israel and why Israel missed the kingdom through that offer. Because Israel wanted politics and not anything related to morals and ethics. The Sermon on the Mount will say things like this: if you have something against your brother, leave your sacrifice on the altar and go get reconciled to your brother first and then come back to the altar. Now, we don’t leave sacrifices on the altar today. Matthew five, 23 and 24 roughly talks about that because we are not under the law. We are not under the Sermon on the Mount. We are in the age of the church. Now, immediately when you talk like this, people will immediately push back on that. How dare you? Take the Sermon on the Mount away from the Church of Jesus Christ? What kind of Christian are you? And think of all of the beautiful things that Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, and suddenly you’re ripping them away from the Christian through your dispensational teaching.
But here’s the truth of the matter, Louis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary said this, Every spiritual principle that you find in the Sermon on the Mount will be repackaged in the form of the epistles for the age of the church. Well, what about Jesus’s teaching about anxiety? And don’t worry about tomorrow? You’ll find that in Philippians four verses six and seven. Well, what about the teaching that you are the light of the world? Didn’t we just read that here? In Philippians two? So, yes, we do not put the church directly under the Sermon on the Mount because the Sermon on the Mount is for a prior dispensation, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. Paul didn’t, and under divine inspiration, he takes every principle in the Sermon on the Mount and re-applies it in the epistles which govern the church for the age of the church and he tells us to be blameless in the midst of a corrupt and perverse generation. Do you know that God cares about our reputation in the unsaved world? That’s what Paul is dealing with here. In fact, Paul says, when you select elders for the church, First Timothy three, verse seven, They need to have a good reputation with those outside the church. So don’t put a person in a position of leadership that has a terrible reputation around town because they’re blowing their stack all of the time and telling people off all of the time. It doesn’t matter how well they sing in church.
They’ve got a terrible reputation outside of the church. Don’t put them into a position of leadership in the church. If you’re bouncing checks all over Houston, and that person has a terrible reputation in the financial community or the financial world, that is not who you make a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ through eldership. And so Paul here is explaining that really all of us are to be like that if we’re servants. I mean, my reputation doesn’t just stop at the four walls of the church. It carries over into the unsaved community. What do they think about my character? And we need to become servants in the sense that we are shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. So how do you develop servanthood or practice it? You practice progressive sanctification. Number one, you stop grumbling or disputing. Number two, you be blameless in the unsaved world, not sinless. No one can be that, but you should have a reputation as such where we’re sinning less. And then the fourth thing here, and this will be our final thing, is you maintain loyalty to Jesus Christ. Look at verse 16. Holding fast to the word of life so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain, nor toil in vain.
Notice this. Holding fast to the word of life. The Greek word there for word is logos. Logos, I guess, is how you pronounce that. Most people just think that’s a computer software program. It’s obviously much more than that because it refers to the Scripture. In the book of Galatians chapter six and verse six, Paul says, The one who is taught the word, logos, is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. And the Scripture fits the word of life because it’s through the word of God. Faith comes by hearing. Hearing by the Word of God that we get saved. And we receive the gift of eternal life, the scriptures which giveth us wisdom that lead us to salvation. Paul says, if you want to develop as a servant, you’ve got to be loyal to the Scripture. But it’s interesting that Lagos doesn’t just refer to the scripture. It refers to who? It refers to Jesus Christ himself. In John chapter one and verse 14 it says and the word Jesus logos became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth. Now that description, word of life, fits Jesus as well, because Jesus said John 14, verse six, I am the way, the truth and the what the life. So you say, well, wait a minute, are we supposed to be loyal to Jesus or are we supposed to be loyal to the Scripture? Are we supposed to be loyal to the Scripture or are we supposed to be loyal to Jesus? And the answer is yes.
Because logo describes both. And I bring this up because a lot of people with their mysticism will drive a wedge in between Jesus and the Bible. Oh, you know, I’m not really into the Bible. I’m just into Jesus. That’s a biblical and theological, exegetical, and linguistic impossibility. Jesus can never be divided from his word. So this idea that I just do mystical Jesus things under a tree by myself, I’m not really concerned about the Bible. That’s a false dichotomy. Let’s say dichotomy the scripture knows absolutely nothing about. A lot of people have this idea that, gosh, if you’re too much into the Bible, then you must be neglecting Jesus. You’re too much into the Bible. You’re just kind of neglecting spiritual things that really matter. There’s no such distinction. Because Logos describes both. So what Paul is saying is if you want to grow as a Christian, then stay loyal to Jesus with his will expressed in the written word. That’s what he’s saying. Yeah, maintain vitality with Jesus. Talk to Jesus. Communicate to Jesus. Pray. I think the general flow is we pray to God, the Father through God, the son under the direction of the Holy Spirit generally. But I can show you verses where people prayed to Christ.
A relationship with Christ. That’s all fine. But it’s never to be done outside of the confines, outside of the parameters, outside of the borders of God’s word. And you’ll notice what Paul says there in verse 16, so that in the day of Christ, I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain, nor toil in vain. It is a reality that there will be Christians that will show up at the Bema Seat judgment of Christ having been saved, but live their life in the flesh as a Christian that will be in heaven, but they will be unrewarded. You say the Bible teaches that it’s right there in first Corinthians three, verse 15, if any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved. Yet, as through fire, people are getting into heaven and they sort of smell the smoke on their garments. Paul saying to the Philippians, if that happens to you? Then what’s happened to me is I’ve really toiled in vain. I mean, I gave you the gospel and I got you saved through God’s power. But you really didn’t grow as servants. You didn’t really grow into the middle tense of your salvation. And so if you’re one of those in first Corinthians three, verse 15, Paul saying, I’m just going to smack my forehead and say I ran my race in vain. So it’s a different way of thinking about progressive sanctification.
We think the most important thing is to get folks saved, which obviously is very important because that determines heaven or hell. We think that if folks become Christians, then we could check it off the list and move on to the next one. And of course, a lot of churches are done that way with their numbers count and so many baptisms and so many, you know, people got saved. So many people walk the aisle. It’s interesting how different Paul thought about that. He says if you’re a Christian and then you’re not walking in Christ under the resources of God and appear before the Bema Seat judgment of Christ and are unrewarded, Paul says, I just wasted my whole time. Which is a metaphor Paul uses a lot. He used it of himself. He was worried about himself. Paul was. He says, Therefore, I run in such a way as not without aim. I boxed in such a way as not beating the air. But I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. So Paul wants to rejoice in them. On that future day. Because they’re not just believers, which is wonderful in and of itself, but he wants them to be growing believers. And if they’re not growing believers in Philippi, then I could have spent what little time I have on the earth doing something else. Paul says.
So verses 12 or 16 become really powerful applications to the truth of the kenosis of Jesus Christ. You know, everybody today wants application. Well, there’s four right there. Do you think we could apply these for this week? Do you think we can apply these for today? And just this weekend, I mean, there’s so much here about growing as a servant, practicing servanthood number one, growing the middle tense of our salvation verses 12 and 13. Number two, stop all of the grumbling and disputing. Verse 14, number three, be blameless in the world, verse 15. And number four, just stay loyal to Jesus as expressed in his word.
And of course, there are people here listening that likely have never trusted in Christ as Savior and so even though this is a lesson that’s given for the Christian, we always like to give people an opportunity to trust in Christ for salvation that may be listening as unbelievers. We call this the gospel. The gospel means good news because Jesus did it all in our place through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, and simply by not trusting in ourselves, our own works, our own religiosity, but trusting in what he has done exclusively, not trusting in my good work. Trusting in his good work. That makes me a Christian. It’s that simple. It’s not a 12-step process. It’s a one-step process. We do not front-load the gospel here at all because that’s not what God does.
The world of religion has made this so complicated, and yet God has made it so simple that a child can receive it. And we invite you even right there where you are as the Spirit of God is placing some under conviction to receive what Jesus has done. And then for those of us that are in Christ, it becomes a matter of growth. Walking out the life of a servant without which joy as a Christian is an impossibility, holding to Jesus as the ultimate servant in his kenosis and then learning from that and taking it to the next level by not just knowing what Jesus did, but applying it in these four practical ways.
So we thank you for being with us, and hopefully, we’ll see you on Wednesday as we try to wrap up the book of Second Peter. Let me close this in a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for your word and your truth and how it speaks to us. Help us not just to be hearers of your word, but doers of your word. As we walk these things out this week, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, God’s people said, Amen.