Podcasts

Gospel Advance (Philippians 1:1-11)

Speaker: Brandon Cooper
January 9, 2022

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Transcript:

Good morning. Go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Philippians chapter one, Kyle just mentioned we’ll be in this series. We’re here until Palm Sunday. So yeah, we’re gonna we’re gonna dig it a little bit. So, chapter one verses one to 11. This morning. Now the last sermon I preached before I took my Christmas break was on the victory of God, how the story ends the fact that the Church will ultimately triumph because of course, Christ will triumph and it was, you know, very rah, rah and all of that. But is there maybe reason for despair actually, like when you look around, can the gospel actually advance in this culture?

The church is under both external and internal threat. At this point, there’s an external threat, and that there’s an increasing anti-Christian sentiment in our culture, which leads to some outrage at some of the things we believe, some censorship, some all sorts of things like that. We’re also increasingly fractured as a church. So there’s this internal threat as well as we see that, for example, our political allegiances are now much stronger than our spiritual allegiances. Maybe it’s because we’re a very online culture or something like that. But you know, we’re just generally snippy and rude at this point in culture. And that comes out in how we treat each other as well. So there you have it, gospel can’t really advance a little less of the rah rah, you know, just kind of looks that way. So that ceiling, right there is precisely why we’re studying Philippians. Okay, that’s why we’re here right now. Because the Philippian church, and really the church where Paul was, as well, he’s almost certainly in Rome at this point, is in the same situation, and facing the same exact threats. And yet, Paul’s singular focus on gospel advance is a model for us all in this culture. So what I’m gonna try and do this morning is lay the groundwork for the rest of the series today, because that’s what Paul does in his intro. So we’re gonna look at his greetings, his thanksgiving and his prayer, pretty standard introduction for Paul, but what he does is lay out these themes that he’s gonna hit throughout the rest of the letter, which does mean by the way, that I’m kind of reading the rest of the letter back into the introduction. So there are a few things there were like, Oh, he made an awful lot of a point that I only kind of see, great, hold on to it, we’re going to see it as we keep going. The major seems the argument of letter as a whole are all previewed here. And so really the main idea that I’m gonna give us today, that’s the main idea of the letter. And so we’ll kind of keep trying to come back to that point drawn out in different ways. I’m going to walk us through the text, first of all, and then we’re going to wrap up with some application at the end. So let’s start with the greeting though. Philippians chapter one, verses one and two, Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons, Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Okay, this is short, we can take it pretty much word by word. So Paul and Timothy, interesting right there because Timothy is listed as one of the authors. But you’ll notice that Paul actually speaks in first person singular, pretty much throughout fact, you can see it in verse three, even I think, My God, not we think our God. So really, Paul is writing this letter. Why does Timothy get mentioned here? Either he’s just standing in the room with Paul. And so it’s kind of like, hey, the two of us are, you know, writing you or perhaps I don’t know which one is more likely. Timothy actually served as the scribe here as well. More important than what exactly Timothy is doing is the fact that Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ here. He does not call himself an apostle, as he often does in his letters. Why? Because he is speaking here as a servant of Christ and not as an apostle. That is, he’s not speaking from a position of authority, chiding a church that he planted, for example, the way he might with Corinth or Galatia, or something like that. No, he’s speaking friend, a friend. In fact, this letter reads very much like a typical Greco Roman friendship letter in so many ways. The other interesting thing about this word servant is that servant is a very tame rendering. That word is actually slave. We know what the word servant is. We already got it in verse two, when oh sorry, in verse one with the overseers and deacons. Deacon is how you say, servant, that’s not the word that Paul uses. Here. he uses do loss, which means slave. Now why does the NIV not rendered his slave probably a lot of that has to do with our American heritage. And the we’re very hesitant about using the word slave for understandable reasons. But of course, slavery in first century, Greco Roman culture, very different from 19th century antebellum south and all of that, the point he makes by calling himself a slave than is just to say, I belong to another, my will is not my own. And certainly that is something we could say as Christians. He’s also subtly hinting at where he’s gonna be going, of course, looking at Jesus himself, because remember Jesus, who is Almighty God, we just said this in the Creed himself takes the form of a servant, acts like a slave, John 13, dresses himself as a slave and washes his disciples’ feet. So there’s this sense to have, when I say, servant, I’m saying, I just want to be like Jesus, I just want to be like, Jesus. That’s what he’s got here. Alright, Paul, and Timothy, sermons of Christ Jesus to all God’s holy people all might be one of most important words, in verses one to eight, it actually shows up five times and just those eight verses, he is being very clear that he is speaking to the group as a whole, the collective for reasons that we’ll see in a moment, but all who all God’s holy people. Now this is a word that in previous translations would be rendered just saints. And that’s what he’s saying to the saints. Now, why isn’t it translated saints? Because that’s a confusing word for us today, because now today we think of Saint as the Super Christian who gets a statue in a school named after him. That’s not what St means at all. Because Here Paul is calling all the Christians in Philippi. Saints, he calls all the Christians in Corinth, saints. If you read Corinthians, you know, that’s a bold statement, the people we’re not doing so well. Right. But what makes us a saint is not the holiness of our lives, how perfect we are in our works, but the perfection of Christ’s life, which is why it says to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus, it is our in Christ-ness that makes us saints because we receive His righteousness by grace through faith.

Alright, so to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus in Philippi let’s talk Philippi for a moment, we got to make sure we situate ourselves here Philippi name for Philip of Macedon, who was quite the king and conquer in its own right but was a little bit overshadowed by his son who conquered the known world by the time he was 30. That was Alexander the Great Of course, so this is Alexander’s father, King of Macedon. He’s the one who took over this city named it for him south. It’s an important city because it’s a long the ignition way, which is the road from Rome to the east. So as how you get from Rome to like Asia, minor Turkey, all those areas and to Jerusalem as well, by the way, you just have to turn right at a certain point. So really important road, if you’re on some really important road, you’re gonna become an important city, lots of commerce and stuff is gonna pass through you. And indeed, that’s what it is. It’s a center of life in the Roman Empire for sure. Part of the one thing that results from a being such an important road here is that there a couple of big battles that are fought right by the town, if you remember Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar from your English Lit class, which I hope you do, because otherwise we’re doing Julius Caesar later because seriously, people, you’ll remember that caches and Brutus fight against Mark Antony and Octavian in Philippi. And Mark Antony and Octavian when and then later Mark Antony and Octavian fight right outside Philippi as well and Octavian wins just why no one knows that his name is Octavia and we call him Caesar Augustus because that’s what happens when you when you get cooler names. Okay, so that’s what happens there. Why do I mention all this? Not because I like Roman history. And I think you should know it too. But because this actually affects the nature of Philippi. Octavian whatever else he was, he was an incredibly shrewd politician. So he settled the veterans of these battles in Philippi, including the veterans of the opposition army. So like Anthony’s veterans get settled in Philippi, and are granted Roman citizenship. So now you’ve got the city where the whole city has Roman citizenship, which is very important, and they’re all incredibly loyal to the emperor who gave them this. So that’s going to make a huge difference in the climate of the city. We’re going to see it Paul’s going to talk about citizenship in this letter more than he does in any other letter. And we’re also going to see not so much today but in coming weeks that the whole idea of the emperor worship that cult of Emperor that’s there is the background is so much of what he’s writing almost certainly the Philippian church is being persecuted because they did not participate in the emperor called because if you were to participate in it, that means you had to say things about Nero (who’s emperor at this time), say things like he is Lord and Savior. You think it’d be hard to say as a Christian of a crazy dude? Yeah, right. But that is going to cause conflict. So we got to keep that in mind. Now it is then heavily Roman city because we’re all citizens. It’s a heavily Greek city, because you know, it’s in Greece, and all of that. It’s not a particularly Jewish town. In fact, when Paul shows up and acts 16, in Philippi, he looks for a synagogue, because that’s what Paul always does, he doesn’t find one. Swedes, they’re not 10 Jewish men in that town, so they couldn’t form a synagogue. Now, not only is it along a road, it’s also alongside a river, he does encounter some Jewish women who have a prayer meeting by the river. Lydia, for example, who’s the first convert in Philippi. Not surprising that as a woman, either women have a very prominent status in Philippi is gonna show up a lot in our letter as well. In fact, that might explain why Paul mentions the overseers the elders, and deacons at this point in the letter, because two prominent women in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche are fighting. Most likely they’re deacons. And so he’s kind of saying, hey, this stuff that I’m going to talk to you guys about, about humility and unity and all that stuff. That’s for all of you, guys, it’s not just for the congregants, that’s for the leaders to like, are you listening to me? We’ll get there in a few chapters, though. And then he says what he always does near the end of the greeting, grace and peace you from God, our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I love this because this greeting, it’s neither Roman nor Jewish. So how would the Romans greet one another in letters? They would say, greetings. Shocking. I know. The word greetings is khairane. Well, Paul doesn’t say khairane. He says, curries Charisse grace. So he’s got just a little bit of a pun here. We don’t need greetings. What we need is grace. How would the Jews greet one another, Shalom? Peace? And Paul’s going to say that, but only with grace, in fact, it’s interesting, it actually reads Grace to You, and peace from God our Father. And I think that’s a really important shift. That’s not just awkward rendering. Like that’s actually saying, God gives us grace. So what God gives you grace, and then what results from that is the peace, that the Jews prayed for that fullness of life that Christ came us came to bring us. Now this is a small thing, I get that, like, I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here for sure. But what we’re seeing is that the gospel comprehensively shapes Paul’s thinking, Paul’s response to everything so that even something as small as a greeting becomes distinctively Christian. In Paul’s hands, it’s just Grace changes everything, even the way he opens a letter. And so we’re already getting at this question that’s really going to haunt us throughout Philippians is the gospel seeping into every crevice of our lives, like asphalt tar? Is it sealing and strengthening and protecting every piece of us maybe especially where the cracks are had the gospel shaped how you write emails, or how you interact with servers in a restaurant, how you study for tests? Paul’s example here would suggest, well, it should have it should have. Alright, let’s keep going though. So there’s the greeting Thanksgiving, next verses three to eight. I think my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership and the Gospel from the first day until now, Being confident of this, that He who began a good work and you will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, it’s right for me to feel this way about all of you, so to have you in my heart, and whether I’m in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me, God can testify how long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Right, again, Paul’s following a standard letter formula, which after the greetings, you get some sort of wish or thanksgiving or prayer, Thanksgiving, the least likely, but certainly the wishing the prayer and they kind of go together. But once again, we see this standard formula transformed in Christ through the gospel, because the way the greeting would often run next, then is I pray, you would be in good health. You can actually see that in Third John to the one place New Testament where we have that standard formula, which is pretty much what we say today. We say I trust this letter finds you well or something like that. That’s exactly what that means. But here Paul offers a much deeper prayer. And then he also offers thanks, not to the people, but he’s going to thank God for the people. And this is fascinating as well. So let’s dig in a bit. All right, so interestingly, here Paul follows First Thessalonians 5:16 to 18, almost exactly famous section. It’s the staccato commands, right. Rejoice always pray continually give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Well, that’s exactly what Paul is doing here. Right, rejoice. Always when he says, I pray with joy, pray continually. Yes. He says, I’m always praying all my prayers. For all of you. I always pray like this give thanks in all circumstances, yes, he’s thanking God. And he’s doing all this, even despite his chains, three C in verse seven first mention of chains. So even despite his chains, and the flippy, and suffering we’ll talk about, especially next week, he’s still giving Thanksgiving thanks in all circumstances. But even the act of Thanksgiving is interesting. Because as I said, Paul doesn’t say think he’s writing a thank you note. The Philippians had sent him some money so that he could continue his missionary travels. He’s writing a thank you note. And you know what he doesn’t ever do. Thanks for sending me a financial gift. He says, I think God for you. That’s important. I think that’s really important for us to remember, because after all, it is only God’s grace, His provision that allows us to be generous. The only reason we’re generous is because God was first generous with us. And Paul will not lose sight of that.

Is there something wrong with thanking people who help you in a time of crisis? They bring you a meal? They shovel your driveway or something like that? No, I don’t think so. It’s just interesting that if we were like, Paul, we wouldn’t say Thanks for the meal, we would say I thank God for the work he’s doing in you that you would serve like this. And maybe that is important. I think it’s really important for us, even as parents, especially we sometimes speak to our kids in ways that makes it seem like their spiritual growth is because of them. I see that you are becoming more patient. No, I see that God is working with you to develop patience. It’s a subtle change. But it’s an important one at the same time. Well, for what does he joyfully thank God, again, we’re gonna anticipate many themes come up in the letter here first, for their partnership. In the Gospel, there are two key words partnership and gospel right there. So partnership or fellowship, the word behind that certainly suggests the need for unity. And he will even say later in chapter one is striving together as one as a local church. But of course, this is Paul talking to a church of which he’s not a regular part. So this is even broader than just the local church. This is the Church with a capital C. So partnership in the gospel. Now, in Philippians, the word gospel almost always refers to the work of advancing the gospel, the work of advancing the gospel, including, of course, they’re supporting his missionary efforts financially.

This is interesting, because the word gospel actually shows up with a greater frequency in Philippians, than any of Paul’s letters. But he never gives the content of the gospel. So different from Romans, where he uses the word gospel less, but he’s going in every step. Here’s what the gospel means here in Philippians. He just goes, You know what the gospel is, right? So it’s assumed that they understand the gospel. But if we know the gospel, if we know that we belong to God, because He made us so we are his, and yet we rebelled against him, he’s king, and we decided, the best thing we could do is try to murder the king. It was unsuccessful, but that’s what it was. So we had this little coup thing going on, which means now the king is quite right to be very angry with us, and to punish us severely, we got issues. But rather than punish us severely, he sends his son to take that punishment in our place. And so to reconcile us to make a way for us to be reconciled to God in Christ, if we know that God’s will, if we know that content, that will permeate everything can seep into all the cracks. And that’s kind of how Paul speaks in Philippians. So even though he doesn’t go through the, the Gospel formula, very often, it’s always there. It’s this letter where we’ve got this this triangle relationship, we got Christ, and we got Paul, and we got the Philippians. But the triangle itself is the gospel. Because how does Paul relate to Christ through the gospel? How did the Philippians relate to Christ through the gospel? How does Paul relate to the Philippians? What connects them the gospel? So the gospel is there at every moment so there’s the partnership in the gospel, he thanks God for that. And then also for this confidence that he has a god will complete his gospel work in us. In the US, now, when we read this phrase versus six, we automatically go to sanctification. What it means that God is going to carry on this work carried to completion means I will finally be fully like Christ. When I get to glory. That’s true. And I think that that certainly is a nuance to what’s being said here, I just don’t think it’s all of it. Why? Because that phrase, good work is really interesting. In Paul, Paul doesn’t usually put good with works, because Paul is skeptical of works, because we keep using works to try to justify ourselves as if we could earn our way to heaven. I’m going to tip the scales in my favor. And Paul, the burden of everything he wrote was to say, you can’t do that. That’s not going to work. Okay, you will fall short. So work is usually bad in Paul’s mind. But when he uses good work, well, now what is he talking about? Ephesians two comes to mind, by grace you haven’t saved through faith is a not from yourself, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works. So you see, the work is what results from the gospel in us the gospel of grace, through faith, we are saved to do works, we are not saved by the works that we do. So when he talks about this whole God’s gonna carry this good work to completion. What is he talking about? Certainly, is there progress in the faith, but also their fruitful labor to help others progress in the face? The Gospel advance, we’ll see that again, in the coming weeks, many justifies his Thanksgiving, in light of his strong feelings for them, you notice that he says, I feel this way about all of you. That’s really important, because he’s like a parent dealing with siblings who are fighting right now. And I love you all. Okay, so you want me to pick which one of the five of you I like best? The answer is, yes. Okay. Yeah, that’s what he’s saying. I’ve got all of you in my heart. So he’s thankful for their past partnership, even when he’s in chains. And again, that word change is gonna be really important. I see it a lot next week. So the first mentioned in the letter, but it’ll be there a bunch, this is his present trial, what he’s undergoing. So in the background, the letter as a whole is the fact that he’s in a Roman prison cell right now chained to a Roman guard, as he writes this. And in that moment, he calls them partners in grace of all of you in my heart. Why? Because all of you share in God’s grace with me as the same word as partnership behind that word share there. So they’re partners in grace, in what sense in his chains, in his defense and confirmation of the gospel, are they partners in grace? Well, most obviously, because they sent this financial gift. Again, there’s the thank you note idea. But also, they are partners in grace in suffering. We’ll see this next week for sure. But they’re also suffering. And so they’re suffering, like his is an opportunity to defend and proclaim the gospel. It’s an opportunity for gospel advance. So he’s suddenly putting himself forward here, as an example, to be followed. Here’s what gospel advanced looks like in opposition. Here’s what gospel advanced looks like in chains, when there is that external threat. Once more, the Gospel changes everything. He can be thankful even in his chains, because the gospel can advance even when he’s in chains. And that’s true in Philippi, too. So that perspective, then is going to lead to his prayer, which is unlike many of our prayers, if we’re honest. So let’s take a look at how he prays verses nine to 11.

And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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. So Paul has told us that he prays continually, now we learn the content of that prayer, and it is instructive for us if we will pay attention. Keep in mind, okay, we just set up. Let’s go through it again. Paul is in chains, writing to the persecuted. Surely, he’s going to pray for a change of circumstances, right? Pray that I’d be releasing these chains, pray that the persecution would abate. Not a chance. Not a chance. He doesn’t pray that because his priorities are clear. And we’re going to see those priorities as we walk through these four result causes purpose causes in a row, he’s just going to drill down deeper and deeper and deeper until he hits bedrock. This is our chief, this is our ultimate, aim. This is the purpose at which our lives should aim. What’s the first thing he says all right, that your little love may abound more and more knowledge and depth of insight. So we want increasing knowledge increasing insight that leads to increasing love because we can never love God or neighbor enough. There’s an old commentator who said the fire in the apostle never says it is enough. It’s never enough. more love, more love for God more love for each other. How do we get more love? Well, this is interesting, increasing knowledge. That’s not necessarily what we would think. But we cannot separate the love of God, from the knowledge of God. It is certainly true. You could know God know about God and not love him. Satan comes to mind knows God better than we do in so many ways and does not love him. Sure. Okay, that’s right. But you can’t not know God and yet love him. Love depends on knowledge. We have to know Him in order to love him. And the more we know him, the more we love him. Here’s the way Frank sheet says it. He says it would be a strange god who could be loved better by being known less. Love of God is not the same thing as knowledge of God, love of God is in measurably more important. But if a man loves God, knowing a little about him, he should love God more from knowing more about him. For every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving him. That’s the truth. Of course, this is why we prioritize studying God’s word here, because this is how God reveals Himself to us. We know God through his work, he discloses himself to us in His Word. So open Bibles should lead to open hearts by the overflowing of love to God and neighbor. Alright, so that’s the first part, then more knowledge, more depth of insights, that there’s more love. Second one, that knowledge would lead to insights so that we can discern first, hence, they may be able to discern what is best, how do I love God? How do I love others? Best here? Now, in these specific circumstances, which is tricky, sometimes it is not always obvious how best to love someone. I’m sure you’ve been in that situation, may take an extreme example, you’ve got a child who is caught up in a dreadful addiction that is destroying them, but also destroying the family. You kick them out. You hold on to them, even with what it’s doing, the siblings do. I mean? That’s a complicated question. There’s not an easy answer. That’s we’re gonna pray, would you help me discern how best to love someone here? Now take a smaller one, somebody gives you a fence somehow in the church? That would never happen. But you know, try and picture it. Do you speak up? Or is this one of those ones where you can go love covers a multitude of sins, I can let this go? Well, I don’t know which one does love dictate in that situation? You have to pray about that. Now, what is best? Here in this context, the context, the letter, the context in Philippi certainly means loving Christ, more than insisting on our own way that’s going to come up throughout the letter. Because our default is of course to read that helped me to discern what is best for me. That’s what we mean by best. What’s best for me, but the gospel changes everything. Did Christ choose what was best for him?

And get some money? No, of course not. He laid down what would be best for him for the sake of God’s glory and our good. And we’re called to imitate Christ and major theme in this letter. Alright, so pray that we can discern what is best. So that number three, translated to just and here but it’s fine. It’s the result so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ. So Paul is praying that God would be preparing us now for them for what’s coming at the end. The prayer is, as Gordon Fee says, that they might live the life of the future, in the present. So that character that I’m going to have in glory, when I’m pure and blameless, would that be more and more true of me? Today, and here and now? And that pure that the word there refers especially to not giving offense that is, it’s a relational word and that makes sense. Of course. You think of fruit of righteousness, you think fruit of the Spirit, how much of the fruit of the Spirit is horizontal? Love, Peace, forbearance, kindness, gentleness, right, you can just see so much of it is how we interact with each other and of course, that’s the character of Christ as well. So there’s number three and the number four, how does this all end? What’s the final result? exalt the ultimate purpose to the glory and praise of God, so that God might receive glory and praise. That’s the bedrock. That’s what we desire most. That’s why it’s first in our prayers, even our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Step one, glorify yourself, father, and in living gospel shaped lives pure and blameless, increasing and knowledge, insight, love, we glorify God, we bring glory to God, people see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. Do you see that this is the complete reversal of fleshly prayers? I mean, this is just flipped on its head, how we would pray in the flesh. Because what is the bedrock in our flesh? My happiness, that’s what I want most. And by the way, my happiness depends on circumstances. So that’s where we’re going to have to focus our prayers, rather than humble myself to love others in loving God, I’m gonna insist on my own way. And I’m gonna ask God to make it happen. He’s a genie in a bottle. If he could just help me out here. Because, of course, why I’m gonna ask him to do what I want. Because I know what is best. I don’t need more knowledge or discernment. I’ve got my life figured out. This is what would make me happy, could you just take care of it My will be done. That mentality, which is selfishness, will lead to what disunity. And then that will threaten gospel advance, of course, every bit as dangerous to the advance of the gospel of persecution, probably more so even. So let’s try and pull these strands together. I know it was a lot. And we’ve got 13 more weeks to kind of make sure you got what I said today. All right. But here it is. We’re gonna try and pull this together. What is the main point of Philippians? It’s a little bit long, but like I said, we’ll keep going through it to advance the gospel. That’s the main thing right to advance the gospel, we must emulate Christ. And Paul, right. So there’s an invitation that we’re going to act like Christ, but even then, we’re going to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ. He’s going to set himself forward as an example, throughout the letter, we’ll see this especially next week, despite opposition.

And that opposition could be an external change and persecution, it could be internal disunity resulting from selfishness. We must emulate Christ and Paul, despite opposition for our joy, and God’s glory. And all those notes are there. So the main point of the letter as a whole, but it’s all pulling on threads we’ve seen right here in the greeting, God will complete his gospel work, that we love God more, and that more people love God, as we put aside self, and walk in humble love towards others. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what Paul is doing to humbly embracing suffering to the cause of Christ. Can that happen, though, despite opposition, of course, remember, the gospel was birthed in opposition. The Gospel comes from the fact that they murdered Christ, that would be opposition. And he was plagued with opposition throughout his life. And yet, the Gospel triumphs in opposition, and it will do so again, having that perspective, allows us to have joy in all circumstances, because we know that God is working in all things for the good of those who love them and are called according to His purpose, all circumstances, he’s making me more like Christ, and will use me to advance the gospel in whatever way I can, even in chains. Because all of that is of grace alone. All the glory is His Alone. Alright, we’ll keep unpacking that in 13 weeks. What do we do today, though, like, I know, you guys are looking at me, like, my head hurts. And I need some help here. Five Points of application, we’ll put the dance steps on the floor for you. Okay. And again, these are things we’re gonna come back to a lot. But let’s talk about a neural piece if that helps. So, I mean, I alliterated it. So this was an easy sermon. That’s what that means. First one, prayer, prayer. Okay, not just to pray without ceasing, but to pray like this without ceasing. That’s a different sort of thing. To pray for yourself to pray for others like this. Pray for what matters most. And pray that we might discern what matters most. And what is it it’s the advance the gospel that leads to the glory of God, that’s what matters that the gospel would advance in us and that the gospel would advance through us. That’s what we’re praying for. That will take the focus in our prayers then off the physical life, mere circumstances, and we’ll put the focus on the spirit instead, Kingdom growth. Joni Erickson Tada, I know many of you know her and know that she’s dealt with some very difficult physical circumstances in her life quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident. She talks about what she calls the 80 20 rule, just Todd, in your prayers for people as they, you know, bring your request or something 20% can be for the circumstances. 80% is for the spiritual growth, kingdom growth. Because that’s what matters most. Is it okay to pray for physical circumstances? Yes, we know that because Jesus prayed that way. Father, it’s possible. Take this cup from me. We saw this this week, maybe was guess was weeks ago. But my sister-in-law lives out in Colorado where the fires were, or neighborhood was burned? Got very close to her house. Is it wrong to pray? Lord, would You spare our house? No, it’s not Father, if it’s possible, would you take that cup from us? So long as that’s 20% of the prayer and 80% of the prayers, but whatever happens, Lord, would You make me more like Christ? And would your gospel go forth in our response to tragedy or in our gratitude, were spared it, whatever it is. So that’s the prayer. And that’s true when opposition comes as well, that the prayer wouldn’t be getting out of this God. You know, and there’s a trend in American Christianity, at least where people are moving, where it’s easier to be a Christian. Now compare that with Paul, how you feel about that choice? You feel good about it. Paul, who’s like, I’m gonna go to Rome as a prisoner because I can preach the gospel there. Or I could move to the Bible Belt, where everybody thinks like me, and then I’ll never have to experience any opposition and good news. By the way, the kingdom doesn’t have to grow that either. So we got to have this thought even in opposition, not get me out of this, but glorify yourself in this, how would you have me respond? Prayer, second partnership, partnership. So we’re not just the external threat, but of the internal threat as well. Selfishness means that we will use people and we will drop them if they hinder us. But gospel advance depends on unity.

Not only because all are needed, we did that in a church series, right gathering which we need everybody’s gifts in order to do what God has called us to do. So yes, that’s part of it. So not only because all are needed, but because our very unity proclaims the gospel. Because you’ve got people who have nothing in common, except for Jesus going Yeah, but that’s the one that matters. So of course, we’re united in Christ. This unity, on the other hand, hinders the work is a tremendous distraction, I can testify to that personally. And it proclaims a false gospel, because it says, Actually, something else matters more to you. And I voted for the same person matters more than the fact that we’re both bought with the precious blood of Christ. Yeah, that’s a false gospel. Of course, it is. So look around. Literally or figuratively, right now, whom in this church, do you not like? You got names, it’s fine. Don’t say them out loud. That would be wrong. But give me your heart at least. Why don’t you like them? Okay, thank you that now work through it. That’s not okay. You got to deal with that. So how are we going to deal with that? Well, first of all, assume it’s your sin. That’s the problem. That’s how you start. It might not be the other person is also a sinner. I can guarantee you that. But assuming your sin is the biggest problem, start to work through it. And then as you pray, discern, what is best? Is this something where I need to engage with a person? Or is this something where I need to overlook in a sense, that I’m making too much of, because this matters too much? So work through it. There’s a positive piece of this also, this is not just a negative application point. Is there anyone in the Holy Catholic Church that’s in the Creed, right? You notice that the lowercase c that’s really important. Now talk about the Roman Catholic Church, Catholic means universal, the universal church, the Catholic Church, is everyone who believes in Christ, everyone who belongs to Christ by faith, is there anyone in that holy Catholic Church with whom you should partner for the events of the gospel? Good to be thinking about, like, as a church, we partner with Christians against poverty, say, why because we can do more together than we could on our own. They need us and we need them to do this work, which we’ll talk much more about in a couple of weeks, by the way. Alright, so prayer partnership, third, priorities. Priorities, oh, laser, like focus on gospel advance. And by the way, this is what gives you the content of the last two. This is what determines your prayers and fosters those partnerships. How will the gospel advance? That’s what I care about. And here we emulate Paul, of course. Great Even for chains. Why? Because each new guard that got chained to him. I mean, you just pity the Roman guard who gets chained to Paul. So do you know Jesus? This is worse than any televangelists for sure. But that’s how he saw this. Christ says, Well, of course Christ when his time and Tommy said his faith like Flint, to Jerusalem. I know what I’m here to do. And I’m going to do it. There’s that focus. So discern what is best what matters most ask God to show you how you can live for what matters most. And as you discern that, do it. Because insight is easy. And change is hard. So what change actually needs to happen here? So it’s kind of the press pause idea, right? You want to get into God’s word, you want to spend more time in prayer. Okay, what is that going to look like this week? outreach as well, I put it on the calendar. Kyle talked a lot about that. You need a phone alarm to go off and set your phone alarm to go out, make an invitation, send a text, we’ll look at your budgets, you can make a financial gift to a missionary like the Philippians have done whatever it is, but work it out. Fourth, parents, parents, nothing new to add. Just think through it for your kids. How do you pray for your kids? Do you sound like Paul, when you pray for your kids? Or do you just pray that their circumstances would be easy? Even though we all know we grow in affliction? Does your schedule encourage fellowship? Partnership in the Gospel? Or does it inhibit it? Are you here? You are currently? How often are you here? Are you here if you’re online? Because that part kind of matters. But not just are you here? But are you actually engaged and are helping your kids to engage as well? Show up five minutes after the service starts leaving the last song? Where are you connecting? Are you coming to explore? Are your kids and explore hour at Cityview? Are you what? You get the idea? Do your children see your priorities? Are you training them to have God’s glory through gospel advance as your top priority their top priority? How? If you can’t answer that last question, the answer is no. You’re not training them? How are you training them to have that as their focus? Let’s be specific.

Let’s be vigilant. Fifth perspective. The Gospel changes everything changes our attitude towards everything, even suffering and trials. Now Joy runs like a light motif throughout the letter. Some people actually say that joy is the theme of Philippians. It’s not the theme as gospel advance. That’s like the content of the painting. Joy is the color palette. Right? It’s just the attitude of for the whole experience Jesus for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning its shame, because he knew that God brings life from death. Knowing that future glory allows for abiding joy now despite circumstances it’s like a seed buried in the ground. It’s okay it’s buried in the ground because you know, that will spring forth in new life. Do you know this joy? Do you want this joy? It’s found in Christ alone. It’s found in Gospel meditation. They meditate on the gospel it humbles us. So we’re free to stoop in serving love. And we discover that there’s more joy in serving than being served. The gospel meditation unites us because we, we focus on what matters most. And by the way, unity is much more fun than disunity. Anyone enjoying polarization and division in the country today? No, of course, there’s more joy in unity. We know that. And the gospel fills us with hopeful joy, because we know that suffering and opposition and strife are not the end of the story. The Gospel wins, and we can live the life of the future in the present. If you’re here this morning, and you’re questioning Christianity, like you’re not on board with all this just yet. But you want this joy in all circumstances. Here’s where it comes from, like even now, let the gospel seep into all the cracks and crevices of your life. Let God begin that good work in you today. Knowing that he will carry it on completion, the day of Christ Jesus to His glory, and praise Let’s pray. Father, there’s a lot to take in here. You have a lot to say to us in Your word. And it’s not always easy. It takes work for us to unpack it. It’s why we’re studying how to study the Bible in our Explore Hour class, Lord, would you give us diligence, faithfulness and attending to your word, so that so that your gospel would advance so that you would receive the glory so that we would have bound in love as our knowledge and insight increases. And Lord that is our prayer that you will be glorified because the gospel advances in our hearts as you make us more like Christ and through our proclamation, as we call others to Christ as well. Lord, would You accomplish this and we pray with joy and thanksgiving knowing that we can be confident that you will carry that work on to completion Amen.

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