Philippians 014 – Grace for the RacePhilippians 4:20-23 • Dr. Andy Woods • July 12, 2020 • Philippians
Grace for the Race
July 12, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
All right. Well, good morning, everybody. Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the book of Philippians, Chapter four. And taking a look this morning at verses 20 through 23. The title of our message this morning is “Grace for the Race”. If you like that title, I didn’t make it up. It’s someone else’s newsletter. And I like the title so much I stole it. I’ll tell you who the author of that newsletter is in just a little bit. But Grace for the Race. We could finish up here this morning, God willing, but you never know, maybe we won’t, the Book of Philippians. Paul, of course, in Rome, writing a book to the church in Philippi on the subject of joy. Joy being the sense of well-being that is the right of every child of God. Regardless of circumstances. And I wanted to teach through the Book of Philippians when all of this national disaster stuff hit. Because it’s so easy to be pulled into circumstances. In fact, I was looking at some recent statistics about the number of people that are depressed and suicidal during this pandemic has increased dramatically. And of course, we as Christians can get that way, get very despondent because of circumstances. And yet we’re to live above and beyond our circumstances. Living above and beyond our circumstances is actually the birthright of God’s children. So how do we do that? Well, the book of Philippians is sort of a textbook, if you will, on how that’s done.
Chapter one as we worked through it, is that God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. Paul describes that in his own life. Every negative thing that ever happened to him, God did something positive through it. And if we develop the mental discipline of looking at life through that grid, boy, we’re not a prisoner to our circumstances anymore. Chapter two was about servanthood. The happiest people on this earth are those that live for others. And so how exactly do we become servants? Paul gives us four examples of servanthood in that chapter, not the least of which would be Jesus Christ the ultimate servant. And then from there, we moved into chapter three where we learned that nothing will destroy joy in the life of the child of God faster than legalism. Legalism or religion gets people to try to live up to man’s standards or God’s standards through their own power. And what does that really result in that results in perpetual failure? And many Christians look at their lives as if they’re a failure, when the reality of the situation is God didn’t call us to live the Christian life through our own power. He’s provided resources. So Paul, in Chapter three, describes his own trajectory out of legalism into grace. And then in Chapter four, we learned that God, speaking of these resources, has given us three of them. There’s three of them that you have right now for your daily life.
It’s just a matter of appropriating them by way of faith and walking in them. Number one is peace. Peace in the heart. In other words, a peace that transcends all understanding. Number two is contentment, regardless of circumstances. And then number three, we talked about this not last week but the week before, is the idea of provision. Where God guides, God provides. And so we don’t have to be hung up and worried all of the time about money and finances. And you start walking according to that design, it’s interesting how fast we move into joy. And so now we come to the very end of the book where we have these verses, verses 20 through 23, which say Now to our God and Father, be the glory forever and ever, amen. Greet every saint in Christ, Jesus, the brethren who are with me, greet you all the saints greet you, especially the household. Those of Caesar’s household, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with Your Spirit. Now I’m like you. My temptation when I come to the end of a book is just to think this is just kind of, you know, some redundant information. I just want to rush over it. There’s really nothing here for us. But the fact of the matter is what we have in the promises related to divine inspiration of the Bible. Is that the Bible is inspired right down to the smallest strokes of the pen.
In fact, in Hebrew, there’s a very small mark that you can make, and it almost looks like an apostrophe. It’s so small. And what Jesus is saying here in Matthew chapter five, verse 18, is those tiny marks which make up the letters, which make up the words, which make up the sentences, which make up the paragraphs, which make up the chapters, which make up the books, which make up the whole Bible, those tiny strokes of the pin are there because God put them there. And if you believe that promise, then you can’t just rush through a paragraph of the Bible and say “neat stuff” at the end. Nothing there for me. God put every word there for our benefit. Jesus himself, quoting the book of Deuteronomy, said, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on what? Every word. Not some words or a few words, but every word live seems to me to be pretty important. Do you guys want to live? So even information at the end of the book is there for our life in Christ Jesus. The Book of Job, chapter 23 and verse 12. Job, being the oldest book of the Bible, says, I have not departed from the command of his lips. I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Just as our physical bodies need physical food to be physically sustained. It is true with the spiritual man, the inner man.
He needs the words of God, even the smallest conclusion-type comments are needed. For our spiritual life and well-being. And so with that said, we’re going to try to take a look in depth. Believe it or not, I’ll try not to make a ten-part series out of this, but what is there for us really in verses 20 through 23? Here’s sort of an outline of our concluding verses. We have something called a doxology. We will define that in a minute. Verse 20, and then we have a greeting. Versus 21 and 22. And then there’s a benediction, verse 23. I mean, are you serious, Pastor? Is there really hear anything for us? I think you’ll be surprised at what God wants to say to us even in these verses. First of all, notice the doxology. A doxology is basically glorifying God. And Paul says they’re in verse 20 now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. It’s very interesting that Paul the Apostle says Our God and father. Not the God or father or that God or father, but he clearly believed that God and Father was something that belonged to him personally. And when Paul says are, he’s saying The audience has that same relationship with the Lord. The fact of the matter is Christianity is just not a rulebook or a set of rules or a set of do’s and don’ts.
It’s a relationship with the God that made you. And in fact, if a person doesn’t have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and they have no part of Christ, it doesn’t matter what their denominational affiliation is, it doesn’t matter what their religious ritual is. This whole thing is about the God of the universe wants to know me personally as a friend. We read these words in Matthew seven verses 21 through 23. These are terrifying words here. Jesus says, Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out many demons? And in your name perform many miracles. Then I will declare to them. I never knew you. The verb there, ginóskó. No, I never knew. You depart from me. You who practice lawlessness. What’s going on here? This is a parade of people at the final judgment, sort of pleading their religious activities before the Lord. I can relate to it because that’s essentially where I was for the first 16 years of my life. Being a very religious person, even being an acolyte, if you will, in the Episcopalian Church. But I did not know the gospel. I knew about God, but I didn’t know God. And it wasn’t until I actually heard the Gospel of Grace that I believed on it.
About the age of 16, 1983, that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, took residence in me and I began to not know about God, but I began to know God personally. He’s telling people to depart from him because they never were friends with him. They never had any real relationship with him. And these are folks that think they’re right with God because I’ve done a bunch of stuff, whatever the stuff is. But the basis of the final judgment is, did I know you? Do I know you or not? Not just, Did I create you? But did I walk with you? Was I a friend with you? Did we do this together and do that together? That I talk to you? Did you talk to me? It’s a personal relationship. And Paul is highlighting that personal relationship through his reference to our God and father. Very personal. Not that or thee, but our. And because Paul is identifying with the spiritual status of his audience, we can understand that this book is written to Christians. This book was not written to get people saved. There are books of the Bible that are set up for that, such as John’s Gospel. But this is written so people can grow in the middle tense of their salvation. And one of the things that we’re lacking in the middle tense of our salvation is joy. So there are, as you know, three tenses of salvation: justification, the past tense of salvation, where we are freed from sins penalty at the point of faith alone in Christ alone. It happens in an instant. And then at the far right there is glorification where we, at the point of the rapture or death will be freed from sin’s very presence. But then there is the middle tense of our salvation, where we are being gradually delivered from since power as we walk under the guidance and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Most of the Bible, particularly the Epistles, was written to deal with people with problems that they were having in the middle tense of their salvation. That’s what the whole Book of Philippians is about. It’s about helping believers catch up with their practice. Letting their practice rather catch up with their position. It’s about growth as a Christian. How do you grow as a Christian? How do you develop an attitude as a Christian that’s not a complaining, grumbling attitude, but a walk of joy? It’s what the Book of Philippians is about. Paul is not trying to complete what’s lacking in their justification. He’s trying to complete what’s lacking in their middle tenths of their salvation, their sanctification, or their growth in Christ. And notice what he says here to this audience. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Now, what is the Greek word for glory? It’s the word Doxa. Where we get the word doxology.
And if you don’t understand the glory of God, you can’t understand God’s purpose in history. God’s purpose in history is to glorify himself. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 42 and verse eight, he says, I am the Lord, that is my name; I will not give my glory to another, Nor my praise to graven images. God works in history and he has the right to do it as a perfectly upright being to glorify Himself. And in fact, the angels in the presence of God glorify him around the clock. And this fits with what he’s saying here in verse 20. Now to our God and Father, be the glory. For how long? A half hour. An hour or two on Sunday morning? No. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. It’s a repetition of aionios, or age. Aionios by itself means forever. In fact, God himself is called the eternal God. Romans 16, verse 26. Aionios. Paul uses the word Aionios twice. It’s not just forever. It’s forever and ever. Just so that there’s no misunderstanding. If there is such a thing mathematically, it’s infinity times two. How’s that for a home school math problem? And when we get pictures in heaven of the angels praising the Lord, this is what they’re talking about. This is what they’re saying. Isaiah six, in verse three, says One called out to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.
The whole earth is full of his glory. Revelation four, verse eight, says The four living creatures, each of them having six wings. Full of eyes around and within. And look at this day and night, they do not cease. And they say what? Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the almighty one who was, who is, and who is to come. And God, of course, deserves the glory, doesn’t he? Because he’s got the ultimate credentials. What are those? He’s our creator and he’s our redeemer. Now you’ve got a lot of people in your life that are very important, but not like that. He is the creator and he is the one that redeemed you. You can’t get higher credentials than that. And so in heaven, these Seraphim, these four living creatures, these angelic beings, all of all they do around the clock. Day and night. It never ceases. They simply say, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Paul is making a reference to that there. Now to God, our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Then he uses this word here. Amen. We use that all the time. Most of us have no idea what it means. We say amen. If we agree with something or we say Amen when we get ready to have lunch or dinner after we pray. Amen. What does that even mean? It means “it is certain”. It is absolutely certain. You can absolutely take this to the bank.
That God deserves the glory forever and ever. That is certain. Jesus used the word amen. Quite frequently, he says in John five, verse 24. Truly, truly. That’s I mean, twice. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him, who sent me, has eternal life. He’s giving the gospel and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death until life. He says if a person at the point of being convicted by the spirit will believe in me. In the work that I have done, they will believe in the one that God has sent God the Father. Then truly, truly I say to you, they have just passed out of death under life. And they have eternal life. And it would be enough if Jesus said it. That should settle the issue, shouldn’t it? Since God can’t lie. But to make sure the point is communicated, he says Amen twice to preface the statement. This is what Paul is getting at in verse 20. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. And what we learn from a statement like that is God’s purpose in history. We call this his doxological purpose. God works in history to glorify himself. Listen to me very carefully. God does not even work in history to save man. Certainly, he does that. The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.
But even when a salvation occurs, that in and of itself is subsumed under the broader theme of the glory of God. Because who gets the glory when someone gets saved? God does. Everything God does. Even salvation itself is designed for him to receive the glory. That’s why the angels keep saying over and over again, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the angels that are in His presence get this and they keep singing it. They keep chanting it. They keep verbalizing this day and night without ceasing. We hold to a viewpoint here called dispensationalism. It’s a fancy word. It’s got a very simple meaning. It just means the consistent use of a literal method of interpretation from Genesis to Revelation. We don’t get the white-out out and say, Well, we don’t like that part of the Bible, so it doesn’t mean what it says. We take the Bible at face value whenever we can. And we believe that that system of interpretation reveals something. That God has a separate program for the nation of Israel than he does the church. There are two different trains running on different railroad tracks. This is why Jesus is coming back for the church at a different time than He is coming back for Israel. He comes back for Israel at the end of the tribulation period. He comes back for the church before the tribulation period even starts. How do we get this idea just because it sounds like a neat idea? No.
We believe that a literal method of interpretation consistently applied reveals this. And then finally, number three. And there’s all the scriptures at the bottom that you can look up that we don’t have time to cover right now. But it says, number three, that God’s overall purpose is to bring glory to himself. God’s purpose in anything He does is to glorify himself. That’s why Paul keeps ending these letters with the word doxa. Doxology. God’s ultimate purpose for the ages is to glorify Himself. Scripture is not human-centered, as though salvation were the principal point, but God-centered. Because His glory is at the center. The glory of God is the primary principle, Charles Ryrie says, that unifies all the ages or dispensations, the program of salvation being just one of the means by which he glorifies Himself. Each successive revelation of God’s plan for the ages, as well as his dealings with the elect, the non-elect, the Angels, and the nations all manifest His glory. If you think that the whole point of the Bible is salvation, then what do you do with the angels? And God’s dealings with the good angels and the fallen angels, when salvation is not even open to the angels. I mean, if salvation is the key point, I don’t have an explanation for his dealings with the angels, but I do. If I understand his purpose is to glorify himself.
I can understand everything God does under that rubric. There, in the left part of the triangle, you see the work of God in creation. Creation of the world. Creation of the nations. Creation of the nation of Israel. Creation of the church. Then on the right side of that triangle, you see his work in redemption. Redemption of creation one day, judgment of the nations, the restoration of the nation of Israel, the even the rapture of the church and their working their way up two sides of a triangle. And what’s there at the top of the pyramid? It’s the glory of God. Everything that God is doing in creation or redemption is there to glorify himself. You say, well, this is all interesting stuff. How does this relate to us? It relates everything to you. It relates everything to me because it’s the purpose of your life. Why are we even here? Why do we exist? You know, you ask two Christians that question, you get four or five answers. I mean, Am I here to be happy? Am I here to be successful? Am I here to be productive? Well, in a sense, yes, those things are all true. But that is not the primary purpose for which God had when He breathed life into you and created you. Your purpose, My purpose is to glorify God. And everything we do should glorify him. People say, Well, should I do this or should I do that? Should I take this job or should I take that job? Should I watch this movie or watch that movie? Should I eat this food or eat that food? And they come to me as if I have the answers.
I don’t have the answers, barely have the answers for myself. But I know this. It sure makes decision-making a lot easier when you start looking at different options and you say, Well, which one of these options that God has given me the freedom to choose here, which one of these is going to glorify him the most? Because that’s why I exist. It’s why you exist to glorify God. I love how the Westminster shorter catechism puts it. It asks the question, what is the chief end of man? Have you ever asked yourself that? Why are we here? Why do we exist? And then it gives an answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Christian, let me just ask you a real basic question. When people look at your life and your conversations and your relationships and your comings and goings, is God glorified in that life? Because if we can’t answer that in the affirmative, we’ve basically missed the whole purpose for which we exist. You know, so many ministries today, you really get the impression that people are being glorified, buildings are being glorified, architecture is being glorified, somebody’s skill set is being glorified, technology is being glorified, abilities are being glorified.
And yet when you come into any ministry, you should sense that that ministry exists to glorify God. It’s a very dangerous thing when man steps into the way of God’s glory and begins to eclipse it. Isaiah 42, verse eight. We read it earlier. God is very clear that he will not give His glory to another. Nor his praise to graven images. Why would Paul give us a doxology at the end of the Book of Philippians, which is a book on joy? It’s very simple. You can’t experience joy as a Christian living outside of your design. If you live outside of your design, you’re living outside of why you exist. And if you’re perpetually living for things that you weren’t created for, how do you walk in joy? It’s impossible. It’s trying to use a tool like a hammer or a screwdriver for something that it was never designed for. You’re designed to glorify God. And as we press into that purpose, isn’t it interesting how life starts making sense? And we start walking with a level of satisfaction. That we didn’t have before. He moves on there, into verses 21 and 22 where he gives a greeting. And look at what he says here in verses 21 and 22. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. He here at the beginning of verses 21 and 22 is giving what we would call a personal greeting.
Now I find this very interesting because I know Paul for his theology. I know Paul for his doctrine. And it’s interesting to me that Paul and his pursuit of doctrine never allowed the pursuit of truth and doctrine to eclipse relationships with people. And believe me, pursuing truth and doctrine can lead to the exclusion of relationships if it’s done in an imbalanced way. And yet Paul was never that kind of person. I’ve never lost sight of people. In fact, the richest doctrinal letter that Paul wrote is the book of Romans. The theologians drown in the book of Romans. And yet what does Paul do in Romans 16 verses three through 16 as he’s wrapping up his thoughts? It’s amazing. He starts talking about different people that he knows. Lots of them. Greet Priscilla and Aquila. My fellow workers greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet. I can’t even pronounce this guy’s name. Andronicus, I think. And Junius, my kinsmen. And he goes on and on, you know, and I won’t read all this. I don’t know if I can pronounce all these names, but greet this person. And greet that person. And it’s interesting to me that Paul never lost sight of people. I mean, he could have secluded himself in a theological library somewhere, I guess. A lot of sadly, spiritual leaders, so-called, are like that, isolating themselves from people because you need time to pursue truth.
I don’t find Paul doing that at all. I mean, I find Paul to be one of the greatest people, people, if I can use that phrase, that probably is ever, ever lived. He talks here, verse 21, about greet those that Paul evangelized in Philippi, 11 years earlier. So when you study Acts 16, this is how the Church of Phillippi got off the ground. Through Paul’s evangelistic activity towards them. And 11 years later, he found himself in Rome in prison, and he never forgot the people. It was never out of sight, out of mind. He always remembered them. And he says, you know, greet this person. Greet that person. He even calls them here, Brethren. Now that is certainly an interesting choice of words. But even before we get to brethren, what does he say here? This is very interesting to me. Greet– how many saints? Every saint. Let me tell you something about Christianity and Christians. It is very easy to want to be around the people that you agree with or you like. It’s very easy to cut cords and push away people that perhaps rubbed you the wrong way. Paul was never like that. You would think all of the personalities and personality conflicts and issues that he had dealt with over the past 11 years, he never says, Well, I don’t like this person, but I like this person. He says, Greet not just the saints, but every saint.
That old hymn or song or poem, whatever it is, is always interesting to me. It says to dwell above with the saints I love. That would be much glory. But to stay below with the Saints I know. Now that’s a different story. And it’s interesting that he calls these people saints. You know, that’s a real hang-up for people, particularly those coming out of high church, Roman Catholic type of environments where the Saints, I mean, they’re on a stained glass window somewhere. The Saints, those are people you even pray to. In the Roman Catholic system. Saints, those are those fancy names, you know, from yesteryear. So we think there’s some kind of division between the Saints and the aint’s, so to speak. But J. Vernon Magee put it this way. He says, Look, if you’re not a saint, you’re an ain’t because every Christian is a saint. Did you know that? How did I get that status? Well, it was decreed on me the moment I place my faith in Jesus Christ, the righteousness of Christ was transferred to my account at that point in time, and consequently, God looks at me as if I’m just as righteous as Jesus. That’s why the Bible says in prayer, go boldly into the throne room of God. Who would dare go boldly into God’s throne room? The person that has the transferred righteousness of Jesus can. Because God looks at that person and that prayer request as if it’s Jesus himself offering that.
And so we are saints on that basis. Philippians three, in verse nine says, and 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. I don’t know about you, but in that final judgment, I’m not planning on standing up, showcasing to God my own self-righteousness. For the simple reason that I don’t think I have much of a chance. I plan on standing there clothed in a righteousness that has been transferred to me at the point of faith alone, in Christ alone. And so Paul says, Greet every saint. You’re all saints. He goes on there, second half of verse 21 into verse 22. 21b-22. And then he begins to talk about, the brethren who are with me greet you. And all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. So here he’s talking about not just greeting people in Philippi. He’s talking about people that he knew in Rome because of his incarceration in Rome. And now he’s sending Philippi their greeting. So he’s greeting two groups of people, those he knew in Philippi, group one, and then those he knew in Rome. And he wants those in Rome to extend their greeting to those in Philippi. It’s amazing how personal all of this is. And as he’s speaking, he says, greet the brethren.
What does that mean? Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12 verses 46 through 50, while he was speaking to crowds, behold, his mother and his brothers were standing outside seeking to speak to him. Someone said to him, Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to you. But Jesus answered the one telling him and said, Who is my mother? And who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand towards his disciples. He said, Behold my mother and brothers! For whoever does the will of my father who is in heaven, He is my mother or brother and sister. The fact of the matter is, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we are brought into a holy priesthood. The family of God. And those that are fellow believers in Christ in this tremendous age of the church are your spiritual brethren. We’re part of the same body, we’re part of the same family. And so we’re to treat each other. As brethren. Well, wait a minute now. They don’t look like me, and they don’t talk like me. They don’t even vote like me. And God says, I never asked your opinion. I’m just declaring to you a positional truth. You are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Paul, of course never lost sight of that. And I love Paul’s emphasis again, verse 22 on All the Saints. He has no intention of showing favoritism to anyone, anywhere in his ministry that I could find.
In fact, the Book of James Chapter two condemns that early church. Probably meeting in a synagogue where they were showing preference to the rich. Oh, if you’re rich, you have the nice seat. The guy that’s not rich we’ll put you back in what we used to call the Bob Uecker seats. Remember Bob Uecker from some of those commercials? I’m sort of dating myself, I realize that. But that is not to be the case in the body of Christ. There shouldn’t be favoritism like that because we are all in this together. We all have the transferred righteousness of Christ together. We all have family status together. Paul in Colossians one, verse 28 says, We proclaim him admonishing every man. Teaching every man with all wisdom. Peter and first, Peter, three verse 15 says, Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be willing to make a defense to everyone. Who asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you with gentleness and reverence. He talks here and I love this also verse 22 about people in Cesar’s household greet you. Where was Caesar’s household? Why was he in Caesar’s household? Because Paul was a criminal. And as long as he kept appealing to Caesar for a trial, an elite guard was assigned to him, and that was his condition in Rome. Under imprisonment, under incarceration, he is not writing a book on joy from the comfort of the Penthouse Hilton Suite.
He’s writing a book on joy in a prison, not even knowing how his circumstances are going to turn out exactly. I mean, what if you were in prison and you didn’t know how things were going to go in terms of your trial? I mean, would you be talking like this? Would you be so others focused? And yet Paul was I mean, it’s one thing to write a book on joy when you’re in comfort and in leisure. That’s not Paul’s circumstances here. He’s in discomfort. He doesn’t know how things exactly are going to go for him. And yet he’s walking in the joy of the Lord and he’s trying to show us that the joy of the Lord is higher than our circumstances. He’s not telling us this truth. He’s living it out. All the way through the book of Philippians, Paul makes reference to his imprisonment. Philippians one, verse seven. My imprisonment. Philippians one, verse 13. My Imprisonment. The Praetorian Guard. You talk about a man who practiced what he preached. That was the Apostle Paul. And how did he do it? God empowered him to do it. He was just a person. He put on his shoes one foot at a time, just like you do and I do. But he walked in the joy of the Lord. In spite of circumstances. And you can do it too. Because God is not a respecter of persons.
The same resources that Paul walked in and he’s describing for us in this book are the exact same resources that are at your fingertips as a birthright. As a child of God. He moves on here, verse 23, and he gets to the benediction, part three. And look at what he says there in verse 23, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, be with your spirit. If you never learn anything in the Bible except this, learn this. It’s this word, grace. The Greek word for grace is charis. What does that word mean? Charis- Grace. It means Favor coming to you that you don’t deserve. And if you don’t understand its availability, you’ll spend your whole life saying, Well, I can’t really walk with God because I’m unworthy. Here’s this cold reality of the situation. Humanity is unworthy. I’m unworthy. You’re unworthy, but praise the Lord. The Lord decided to deal with humanity not on the basis of self-worth, but on the basis of grace. Oh, Lord, it’s just me. I’m real nervous here. I’m going to go to prayer and I’m going to wring my hands. And I don’t know if you’re going to answer me, and I don’t know if you really care. You know, while we do that nonsense stuff because we’re coming to God through self-righteousness. If you come to God through self-righteousness, there’s going to be doubts all of the time in your mind about whether God is listening or God cares.
But when you come to God on the basis of grace favor that you received, that you don’t deserve and you never earned. But you have it. Isn’t it interesting how boldness in our prayers becomes different? God isn’t dealing with me based on my failings from last month. Or last week. Or last night. He’s dealing with me on the basis of grace. Unmerited favor. Do you know how the Book of Philippians begins? Do you remember that far back? I didn’t. I had to go back and look. Philippians one verse two says, Grace to you and peace from our God and Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. The book begins with grace. And isn’t it fitting that the book very last verse would end with grace? How does God deal with this? Grace at the beginning, Grace at the end. Everything in between is Grace. You know, Grace, I’ll have to be honest with you, I’m just barely starting to understand it. For the simple reason that in my mind, and I don’t know why this has happened to me, maybe it’s happened to you. I understood Grace as a yesterday thing. I got saved by Grace, and I understood Grace as a tomorrow thing. The day is going to come or I’ll die or the rapture will happen and I’ll go into God’s presence. So I look at Grace as yesterday. I look at Grace tomorrow. But what about Grace for the race? What about unmerited favor today to get through the exigencies and the emergencies of life? I have to be completely honest with you that that is a really a new understanding to me of grace.
Gosh, I’m anxious because I’ve got this circumstance in my life and I don’t know if I have the human strength to pull it off. God says there’s grace for that. You’re not going to pull this off through your own strength. You’re going to pull this off through Favre coming to you. That you don’t deserve. Grace is not just for my justification, and it’s not just for my glorification. It’s for the nasty now and now. Grace for the race. The individual that has the email blast called Grace for the Race is my friend at Duluth Bible Church, Dennis Rokser. And to be completely honest with you, a lot of times I don’t even read the newsletter. I just focus on the title of the email blast. Because that ministers to me more than anything else. Because it’s a reminder to me that the grace of God is available now for problems I’m having now. God has made provision for grace presently. I mean, is this really a biblical teaching? You bet it is. Second, Timothy two, verse one, where Paul the Apostle had put a young man named Timothy into a position of leadership at the most influential church in the Greco-Roman world, the church at Ephesus. Timothy was young and Timothy was sickly, and people were rising up against Timothy.
And he probably wondered, What am I doing here? Have you ever felt that way? Something has come up in front of you and you don’t have any way of navigating your way through it. Why am I here? And this is what Paul said to Timothy. You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is– not might– is in Christ Jesus. You can pull this off, but it won’t be through your power. It’ll be through grace for the race. Grace, present tense. And that’s how you can do what I’ve called you to do in Ephesus. Paul the Apostle ruminated, exuded, present tense grace constantly. First Corinthians 15 in verse ten, he says, By but by the grace of God, I am what I am. And His grace towards me did not prove in vain, but I labored more than all of them. Talking about his work ethic and the things that he accomplished. You read the Book of Acts, It’s hard to match that in terms of life goals and the things that Paul did for Christ. But he says something very interesting there in verse ten. Not I, but the grace of God within me. Not I, but the grace of God, he says. I worked harder than all of them, but not I, but the grace of God within me. Don’t use grace to be lazy. God expects us to be industrious, but at the end of the day, the battle belongs to the Lord.
He gives you the grace to succeed where you couldn’t succeed before. You’ll notice very clearly, verse 23, that it says the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, if you’re seeking any form of grace in any other source other than Christ, it is an empty pursuit. You see the world of self-empowerment and the world of positive thinking, not that positive thinking is bad in and of itself, but all of these sorts of talks and seminars. It’s all about you and reaching your potential and dialing into your inner resources. I remember the basketball coaches saying when we were running the wind sprints, you know, and we got tired, they would always say, dig deep and find it. The problem is, I was doing that and I was still tired. There’s nowhere else to dig. I mean, Paul doesn’t say to here at the end of the book of Philippians, dig deep and find it. He says, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s where it’s available. And then he says something very interesting here at the end of verse 23. And I need to study this a little bit more because to my knowledge, this may be the only place where Paul signs off in this way. And I could be wrong on that. But he says here in verse 23, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. It’s the Greek word, pneuma. Spirit. And it’s speaking of the inner man. And isn’t that Christianity? Christianity is not about getting the flesh to try harder. It’s about a revolution from within through the inner man. This is not a book on positional peace. How to get peace with God. And if you want a book on that, I’d recommend the book of Romans. Particularly Romans, chapter five, verse one. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians is not talking about that. What it’s talking about is how to allow your practice to catch up with your position. In other words, it’s already been declared to you that you have peace with God because of faith, alone in Christ alone. Now, how do you experience peace in a storm? That’s Philippians. It’s about dealing with your spirit, dealing with your inner man. Experiencing Philippians four verse seven, The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Allowing the positional peace I have with Christ to now be part of daily experience. There’s the walk of joy. You know, I read all of the prayer requests. Your elders read all of the prayer requests. We understand that there are some very tough circumstances that people are in. And typically the request is, can God change my circumstances? He can, and he does, many times. But let me tell you something else that God will do.
He will change you in your circumstances. In fact, that may be the reason why he gave you the circumstance. Because he’s trying to fix something in you, in your spirit, in the inner man. Isn’t it tragic that you can go through a trial and never change on the inside? You missed the lesson. You’ve missed the point. God is in the internal transformation business. That’s what the new birth is all about. John 3:3-5, where a person must be born spiritually to enter. It’s a change on the inside. It’s what 2 Peter one verse four is about where we become partakers of the divine nature. That’s something inside of me. And that’s what Paul is speaking of here. The inner man. He says in second Corinthians four, verse 16. Therefore, we do not lose heart. But though our outer man is decaying. Oh, no, I’m losing my youth. The grey hairs are there. The energy level is not what it once was. How depressing life is. The Paul says this we don’t lose heart because he was going through the same decaying process. Though our outer man is decaying, the inner man is being what? Renewed. Notice this: day by day. In other words, yesterday God did a work in your inner man, and he’s going to do something different today. And he’s going to put you in a different circumstance tomorrow and he’s going to do a different work in your inner man.
That’s how we walk in joy. Paul the Apostle spoke of the inner man all of the time. Ephesians three, verse 16, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inner man. It’s not all about changing the outside. It’s about a revolution from within. And I think he closes with this reference to the grace of God. Be with your spirit as a reminder that that’s how the walk of joy is attained. It’s by allowing God to minister to that inner man. In the midst of difficulty. We’ll conclude our study on the Book of Philippians with exactly how we started it. Jesus on the Sea of Galilee when the storm arose with the disciples in the boat. When he got into the boat, Matthew 8:23-27, his disciples followed him and behold there arose a great storm on the sea so that the boat was being covered with waves, but Jesus was asleep. And they came to him and woke him saying, save us, Lord, we are perishing! Don’t you even care? Would be my loose translation of this. He said to them, Why are you so afraid, You men of little faith? Wow. Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed and said, What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him? You see what’s happening here? We’ve got two storms.
The first storm is the storm in the hearts of the disciples that storm A. He deals with that first by rebuking them for their lack of faith, not trusting in the promises of God in the midst of a trial. I would say of the two storms, that first one is the bigger issue with God. The change from within. And then Jesus graciously rebuked Storm B. And it becomes placid. Calm. First, their hearts become calm. And then the externals become calm. I don’t know if your externals will ever become calm. I wish I could promise you that. But I do know this. He’ll make your inside calm. That’s the peace of God that transcends all understanding. Well, how could a man do that? How could a man be asleep in a boat in the midst of a storm? The Son of God can. And can I remind you of something or does Jesus live now? Yes, He’s at the right hand of the father. But also he’s ministering to youth through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul talks about it. He says Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. You mean the same Jesus that was asleep on a boat in the midst of a storm is the same Jesus that lives inside of us that can give us the peace of God in the midst of any storm you happen to be in.
That’s what the Book of Philippians is teaching us. So a doxology, a greeting, a benediction. What is this book all about? It’s joy in the midst of adverse circumstances, which becomes possible. As believers understand that God uses adversity to bring about positive results. That’s chapter one. As believers, follow Christ’s example of servant hood. That’s chapter two. As believers avoid legalism, that’s chapter three. And as believers draw upon divine resources for daily life. That’s chapter four. Chapter one God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. Chapter two Christ’s Example of Servant Hood. Chapter three Avoid Legalism. Chapter four Rely on God’s resources for daily life. Grace for the race. You could be here today and have never really entered into the grace of God. I was just like that for 16 years of my life. I knew all of the ups and downs, do’s and don’ts. I did not understand the grace of God. Part of the problem is I don’t know if anybody ever explained it to me until the spring of 1983. The grace of God is simply this that Jesus did all of the work. His final words on the cross weren’t “it’s about 95% done”. His final words on the cross were “it is finished”. Tetelestai. Complete. And what he asks us to do is to trust in something he did for us. I don’t stand before God one day pleading my own good works.
I stand before God pleading or basking in, I should say, the work that He did for me on the cross 2,000 years ago. And you receive that by simply fulfilling a simple condition, which is to believe. Believe means to trust. You trust in what Christ did for us 2,000 years ago? And in a nanosecond when that happens, without even raising a hand, walking an aisle, joining a church, giving money. See, that’s the world of religion that puts all of that on you. In a nanosecond you’re made right with God. Well, I’m going to hold out for a better deal. Well, lots of luck with that. There is no better deal. The Bible is very clear that today is the day of salvation. So right there where you’re seated or anybody even listening. Can respond to this message of grace by trusting in Christ and Christ alone for salvation if it’s something. People need more explanation about, I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray? Father, we’re grateful for having had the opportunity to go through the Book of Philippians, but more important than that, I hope and pray that for this church that the book of Philippians will have gone through us. And we begin to live different as Christians because of our great resources in Christ. We ask that you’ll do this work in our lives today, tomorrow, and all of this week. 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.