The Christian Life

Philippians 1:1-2

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

INTRODUCTION

Of all Paul’s introductions to his epistles to churches, Paul begins with some statement in regards to his apostleship. But Paul does begin Philippians and Thessalonians in his customary way. For example: Paul begins Romans like this…This letter is from Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, chosen by God to be an Apostle…I Corinthians 1:1…Chosen by the will of God to be an apostle or Galatians 1:1…Paul an apostle, not appointed by men but by Jesus Christ Himself…Ephesians 1:1…This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ… and to Colossians 1:1….Chosen by the will of God to be an Apostle.

So why didn’t he begin Philippians and Thessalonians this way? Because these two churches never questioned his authority. Of all the churches that Paul founded and ministered to, these two had a special place in his heart. In 1 Thessalonians 2:20 Paul said, “Yes, you are our pride and joy.” Philippians 1:7, “So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart,” and in 4:1, “You are my joy and crown.”

The church at Philippi was good to Paul. Not only did they not question his authority, they proved the sincerity of their love by supporting him financially for as long as he lived. No other church of record could make such a claim. Philippi was the first church Paul founded in Europe. The great Apostle realized that the further West he went, the better the response. Some believe he had no intention of going in any other direction but of course his heart was set on taking the money to Jerusalem personally for the poor which proved to be a mistake. We know that Paul had his eye on Italy and Spain, both to the West.

As we get into an introduction of Philippians tonight, I want to center our thoughts around the CHRISTIAN LIFE.

I. FIRST, WE WILL DISCUSS THE CHRISTIAN CALLING WHICH IS SERVANTHOOD.

Note the very first sentence…This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. The Greek word for ‘slaves’ is doulos and it means slave or bondman. Both slave and bond slave were property of their master. Some were born in slavery but others became slaves to pay their debts, this would be a bond slave. In either case, Paul realized that he was not his own, that he had been bought by a price and that he was Christ’s slave.

Our culture does not like the word slave: we prefer servant but a servant is free to come and go. He has the right to quit and seek a new master. A slave is owned by his master and must be devoted to his masters interest. He is more than a servant who works for wages or who comes and goes at will. The slave has no will; only a master. Every thing the slave does is in regard to the master’s will. The slave has nothing, even his time, that does not belong to his master. The slave owes his allegiance and life to his master. It would be unheard of for a slave to say, “I want.” It would always be about what his master wanted. Read the story of Abraham’s slave searching for Isaac a wife in Genesis 24..

.  “I am Abraham’s servant, and the Lord has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. The Lord has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys. “When Sarah, my master’s wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master’s son, and my master has given him everything he owns. And my master made me take an oath. He said, ‘Do not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my father’s house, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son.’ “But I said to my master, ‘What if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me? He responded, ‘The Lord, in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. “So today when I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer: ‘O Lord, God of my master, Abraham, please give me success on this mission.

There is more to the story but you get the drift: it was all about the Master’s will. The servant’s will never came up. As I alluded earlier, slavery has a very negative connotation. There are many things about slavery that we all should hate. The Africans may have suffered some indignities that others have not but I doubt it. The Israelites were slaves multiple times but most notably to the Egyptians and the Babylonians.  In the Roman Empire, there were more slaves than free men. Slavery is not a racial issue; it is a moral issue; practically all ethnic groups have been slaves at one time or another. The slaves in the Roman Empire were not predominately black; they enslaved all those they conquered: race had nothing to do with it. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Slavery is still big in the Sudan where they have operating slave markets.

In ancient times the deciding factor on whether or not slavery was good or bad was the MASTER. Abraham’s slave had a good master. Technically, Joseph never gained his freedom but he became a highly exalted slave and his master was very generous with him. Paul’s master was Jesus. Slavery is not a bad thing when Jesus is your Master. In giving his full allegiance to Jesus Christ as his LORD and Master, Paul discovered a whole new life that he did not know existed: a life that was hidden to him and only revealed through his allegiance to Christ.

There is no question is my mind, the key to joy in the Christian life is in service. Unhappy church members are always takers, never doers. Instead of serving others, they want to be served and get upset with the service.

II. SECONDLY, NOTE THE CHRISTIAN DISTINCTION–WE ARE SEPARATED

Paul said, I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the elders and deacons. I prefer the NASB here which reads…To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. It was nice of Paul to include Deacons and Pastors. The word translated ‘saint’ or ‘God’s holy people’ in NLT is ‘hagios’ which originally meant to be set apart. The vessels of gold used in the temple were like all other vessels of gold except they were set a part and dedicated for a special purpose. They were distinguished from the other vessels in terms of their purpose. Jesus used this same word in Matthew 7:6 when He said, “Do not give what is hagios to the dogs.” Dogs have little sense of discernment or value. If you leave your bible laying on the front porch, the dog will chew it to pieces. The dog does not distinguish between what is holy and what is not. He does not recognize the special purpose the bible has. The thing that distinguishes me from a man of the world is my purpose. I’ve been separated by God for a purpose which is to serve and to share. Priest were ordinary men in one sense but the thing that distinguished them was their purpose for which they were set aside. The tithe is money but it is distinguished because it is set aside for special use. You can say the same for the Temple or the nation Israel.

III. NEXT: NOTE THE CHRISTIAN POSITION-IN CHRIST 

Paul said, …To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. {NASB} We are in Christ like a bird is in the air, like a fish is in the water, like a man is in a room. When I am in the sanctuary, I know where I am. I don’t walk around in circles looking for doors because I am already in. You cannot get into a room that you are already in. Positionally, I am in Christ, like a letter in an envelop. I am hidden with Christ in God. Paul references being in Christ 132 times. Always, everyday, I know where I am: I am in Christ. He is my ARK of shelter from the storm of God’s holy wrath.

III. LAST BUT NOT LEAST: THE CHRISTIAN BLESSING–GRACE AND PEACE

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Grace speaks of benefits, status, gifts, rewards, favors, thanks, tokens, kindness, strength, knowledge, good-will, loveliness, sweetness, delight, pleasure and joy. Grace includes all of God’s goodness and gifts. Notice that in the bible, Grace always precedes peace. We cannot have peace until we experience grace. Peace is not the absence of conflict, turmoil or trouble: peace is he calm in the middle and midst of the storm. When Jesus came walking on the water to His troubled disciples, he brought a peace and calm. Matter of fact, He said to the elements, “Peace, be still” and all became calm.

As a pastor I am called upon to minister to the terminally ill. What do you say to a friend who is dying of stage IV cancer. They know it and you know it so what are you going to offer them. I have given this a lot of thought and I try to put myself is their place: what would I want them to pray for me if it was me who had the cancer. Knowing me as I do, two things come to mind instantly: COURAGE and PEACE. Courage is a grace gift and I could just say grace but I always pray for COURAGE and PEACE. Think about it, if you have those two things, you have all you need.

I was never guilty of worshipping my earthly father. He was a hard worker but he had glaring faults. One of the things I held against him for years was his lack of courage to confront. Mother on the other hand, lacked no courage: she would definitely confront. Daddy loved peace I am sure but I questioned his courage. At age 82, my daddy had a series of strokes. He could articulate but barely. He could not walk and had to have a round the clock care. I guess the strokes brought out the hidden man. All his life he had been impatient but in those last months, he had patience galore. He was ready to go home, no fear, none and I have never been more proud than in those few days before he departed. He had perfect peace and no fear. He was packed and ready to go. After his departure I realized that I am not the man my daddy was; I can only pray for the grace to be so.

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