Sermon Follow Up- Week 4, 2022
Our joy increases as we give thanks for God’s grace in one another, and pray expectantly for God’s grace to increase in one another.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:1–11)
SUBPOINTS AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Our joy increases as we give thanks for God’s grace in one another (Philippians 1:3-8)
Paul tells us in verse 3 that he is making this prayer with joy. It’s because, Paul’s joy increases as he give thanks for God’s grace at work in the Philippians. Let’s look at three evidences of God’s grace in the Philippians that bring joy to Paul.
God’s grace of partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:5)
There is a partnership that Paul has experienced with the Philippians that is a source of thanksgiving and joy for him. Here Paul is specifically thanking them for gift they sent him through Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:13–18). Paul is thankful because when he left Philippi, no other church supported him like the Philippians, they eagerly supported Paul then, and now when Paul is imprisoned, they again send someone to encourage him and support his mission financially. This is a mark of God’s grace in the Philippians that bring Paul joy. We need the help of the Spirit to see the work of God’s grace in one another. Left to ourselves, we are more focused on all the ways other people are not meeting our expectations. Paul is not like that. He is captivated by Christ and is helped by the Spirit to see the beauty of God’s grace in the life of the Philippians.
- Do you experience joy as you consider God’s grace in the life of others?
God’s grace of perseverance until the end (Philippians 1:6)
Paul’s joy increases as he considers God’s grace in the life of the Philippians as they partner with him in the gospel, and also because this provides proof and confirmation to him that God’s grace is still at work in them and will safely bring them to glory on the day Jesus returns for his people.
How can Paul be certain that these Philippians will persevere until the end? First, God is the one doing the work. Paul says, “He” who began a good work. God is one who initiated the good work, he is the one that is producing fruit in them now, which gives him confidence that God will complete what he started. Paul’s confidence is not in the Philippians, but in God himself. The second reason for Paul’s confidence that they will persevere until the end is because of their good works in supporting Paul is evidence of God’s grace at work among them! In other words, their good works toward Paul testify to the genuineness of their faith and confirms that God will complete the work he began in them. This means that those who will persevere until the end, live lives today that are characterized by good works. But even those good works are the work of God in us from beginning to end. He alone is the author and perfector of our faith.
- How can you grow in recognizing God’s grace in others?
We are partakers of God’s grace together in the gospel (Philippians 1:7-8)
Whatever the Philippians’ quibbles were with each other, Paul’s love for them was intense. God has given Paul an intense yearning and longing for them. But what is the reason for this intense love for them? Here is the reason, for you are all partakers with me of grace (Philippians 1:7). Friends, I want you to see the supernatural reality of what it means for us to be partakers of grace – Each one of us who belongs to Christ, has been drawn together by the Spirit of God, who has helped to see the dreadful reality that we are guilty and helpless on our own, and that we desperately need Jesus to save us. And seeing this reality as foundational to our relationships will set our hearts free to love one another with the intensity that Paul is displaying here – the very affection of Jesus Christ for us, is extended in our affection for one another. All because we are partakers of his marvelous grace.
- How can grow in seeing those you might disagree with in the church as partakers of God’s grace?
- Is there a relationship that Spirit is impressing upon you to lean into, even if it is hard?
2. Our joy increases as we pray expectantly for God’s grace to abound in one another (Philippians 1:9–11)
Just as Paul is finishes giving thanks to God for the Philippians, he prays for God’s grace to abound in them which is also a source of joy for him. Remember, Paul told us earlier in v3 that he is making this prayer with joy. So, his initial thanksgiving is with joy, and here he continues to pray with joy. But why does it bring Paul joy to pray for the Philippians? Paul’s confidence is that as God will answers his prayer for the Philippians, and will result in greater joy for the Philippians, and greater joy for Paul.
Paul’s central request for the Philippians is that the love they have for one another would abound, increase, and flourish. What kind of love is Paul talking about? Love is a word that is so overused that we often forget the biblical meaning. This is not a sentimental love that Paul is talking about, this is a sobering kind of love that is most clearly reflected in God’s love for us, and then is expressed in our lives as we seek the benefit of others even at great cost to ourselves. This is the kind of love that puts the needs of others ahead of our own needs.
Paul goes on to pray that the love that he wants to abound in the Philippians, must be with knowledge and all discernment so that they may approve what is excellent. Let’s consider what he means by this? Knowledge implies that our love for one another must be expressed in ways that conform to God’s revealed will in Scripture. Discernment is referring to the wisdom required to distinguish essential issues from less essential ones in our love for one another. A lack of knowledge of what God has clearly revealed in Scripture can cause us to define love in our own terms or how our culture defines love, and then be harmful instead of loving. But a lack of discernment in how we love can also keep us from loving people well.
- How a lack of discernment in your love for others be causing you to neglect the weightier matters of love toward others? (See Matthew 23:23-24)
Paul’s goes on in (Philippians 1:10) to give us the reason for this prayer is so that the Philippians may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. The words pure and blameless here are not referring to being sinless rather the focus here is on the sincerity and integrity in our love for one another. So, Paul is praying that as the Philippians would abound in their love for one another that decreases in having selfish motives or being condition and increase in pure motives as we grow in loving others unconditionally the way Christ loves us. While this may seem daunting to us who are very aware of conditional nature of our love for others, Paul gives us hope when he says that this purely motivated love is not something we produce on our own but is the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:11). Here Paul is not referring to the righteousness that is credited to us that is the basis of our justification, rather it is speaking of the righteousness that God is producing by the Holy Spirit in us who belong to Christ.
The primary reason that Paul’s joy increased as he prayed for God’s grace to abound in the Philippians is because he is praying expectantly for God to answer his prayers! Didn’t we see this earlier, Paul is confident that through this prayers, that God who began the good work of love in the Philippians (Philippians 1:6), will also cause their to abound more and more (Philippians 1:9), and surely bring it to completion on the day of Christ (Philippians 1:10). Paul’s joy is so tied to prepare others for the day of Christ, so he prays with expectation that God will complete what he began in his friends and that makes him happy!
- How can you grow in praying for God’s grace to abound in others?
Paul finally lands on the pinnacle of this prayer. The goal of this prayer is that God alone would receive glory and praise for the work he is doing among the Philippians. Friends on that day when Christ returns, our greatest joy will be that God will be praised and glorified for all his gifts of grace he has given us, including the gift of his people to us (Philippians 1:11).
- Encourage One Another: Use the Prayer Cards in the back of the church to write a note of encouragement for one another.
- Lean into our Partnership we have with Mark and Becca: Consider ways in which you can encourage them, point out evidences of God’s grace in them, and pray for their needs.
- Pray for one Another: Consider how you can pray Paul’s prayer for one another and even for yourself.
- How can you grow in recognizing evidences of God’s grace in the lives of one another?
- How can you grow in praying for God’s grace to abound in the lives of one another?
- Background, Overview, Outline and Major Themes in Philippians - Dan Wallace
- Joy in the book of Philippians - John Piper
SONGS TO ENCOURAGE
Listen to the album on the book of Philippians by the musical group Psallos as they provide a journey through Paul’s letter with lyrics that are rich in biblical theology. Here is a review of this album by The Gospel Coalition. I pray that listening to this album over the next serval months around the house or while you are driving would serve to cement some of the significant themes of this letter. You can listen to the album on Spotify, YouTube, or on their website.