Gospel Work (Philippians 2:12-18)February 20, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning. Go ahead, grab your Bibles open up to Philippians chapter two, start in verse 12. This morning begins to verse 12. As you’re turning there, imagine you’re flying somewhere. And you’re, you know, cruising at 30,000 feet or so Captain comes over the loudspeaker. And you get a little excited, you instinctively look out the window, he’s gonna point out some cool scenery that you can see beneath you. And instead, he says, bad news folks, one of the wings is about to break off. Now, in that moment, would you rather that the right, or the left wing fall off? This is the question Jerry bridges asks, in his wonderful little book, the disciplines of grace. Yes, it because of course, it’s a ridiculous question. You need both wings to fly. I am not an aeronautical engineer. And at any stretch the imagination I find arithmetic difficult, but I’m pretty sure of that one. At least it doesn’t work so well, if you’ve only got one of the wings. So it is with us, of course. And that is the point that bridges is trying to make, you need both dependence and discipline, or grace and effort. You both in order to fly spiritually. So I mentioned this because what we’re gonna look at this morning is a to witness sort of passage. Last week, we got this gospel of breathtaking grace in Christ him that we read all that Jesus did for us. But this week, we turned a little bit of a corner this week, if you want the main idea for the passage, it’s blonde, but Paul’s blonde here, we must get to work, or else. That’s it. That’s the idea we got to get to work, or else, or else what specifically? Well, that’s what we’re going to look at, we got threats to three vital areas, we got a threat to our community threat to our mission and threat to our ministry. And that will be our outline this morning. So let’s dive in. We’ll start with a threat to our community, chapter two verses 12 and 13. You read them for us. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for his God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose. This is not just the first point, but it’s also kind of the main idea that sets the stage for the whole passage that we’re gonna get this morning. Notice that it begins with the word therefore, though, that’s significant. We keep talking about that looking for these little logical conjunctions that help us understand the argument of the passage. So it’s an interesting therefore, though, because if you were here with us last week, that you know what Paul was talking about, and this incredible Christ him. And after that we’re really expecting a doxology of sorts. Paul does this pretty routinely, where he can be talking about something theological, and then he just bursts out in praise like Romans 11? Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God, How unsearchable that’s what we’re expecting,
right here. But that’s probably because we just lost our place. Because that whole passage was just so cool that we’re we’re just we’re soaring on the heights of that Christ. And but even if we lost our place, Paul hasn’t lost his place. He remembers what Philippians 252 11 was doing for us. And it was providing the gospel motivation for the command that he had given us earlier. We’re still in the section that started with chapter one, verse 27. And this was just showing us all right, if we’re going to do that, we got to remember, this is who Jesus is, this is what Jesus did for us. And that’s what will spur us to action. So what is that command that’s still hanging over this whole section, it’s conducted ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. That’s where we’re still sitting at this point. And remember that that is all about unity, especially, we’re talking about conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ as a corporate body. So we saw things like we’re standing firm in the one spirit and striving together as one we get chapter two verse two, where we’re supposed to be like minded have the same love one and Spirit and of one mind, this is all about unity still. So that’s the therefore that’s the Okay, you got all that in your head still great. Let me keep talking. That’s what Paul’s doing. So therefore, my dear friends, we could skip past that part right so quickly. It’s just one of those. It’s a throwaway sort of thing. Don’t skip past that. This is really important because we know how much Paul loves the Philippians. He’d been telling us it from the beginning. I mean, chapter one, verse eight is long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And so it’s that genuine love that He has that’s driving the exhortation In, the only reason he’s going to challenge them here is because he loves them too much to leave them where they are. Good reminder for us, by the way, I don’t think challenge should come apart from that sort of genuine love. And if you don’t have that love for the person, you’re probably not the right one to challenge them, right? So therefore, my dear friends, and then we get into the meat of it, just as you have always obeyed. And they have, we’ve seen that we saw that their gospel partnership way back in the first week of the series. In fact, Paul even holds the Philippians up in Second Corinthians eight as this model of sacrificial generosity, they have certainly obeyed. And why wouldn’t they they’re following Christ, who we saw last week obeyed even in point of death, they’re willing to walk in his footsteps. But what I love about this is they don’t just obey when he’s there. You’ve all met kids like this, right? When mom and dad are around, teachers look in just angels. Soon as mom and dad leave the room, you know, they’re crawling on the ceiling in their head spinning around and stuff. And so, yeah, not the Philippians though, okay, even more. So in Paul’s absence, they still obey. And by the way, he feels his absence. So keenly, he keeps interrupting himself to mention that he’s not there, he interrupted the command way back in chapter 127, right, where we keep talking about conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, then when I come and see you, or even if I just get to hear about you, I’m not there. And here he does it. Again, I’m abstinent absent, I’m absent. Next week, by the way, he’s going to share his plans for how he’s dealing with that absence. So hang on to that. So he interrupts it again, with all this kind of stuff. In fact, it’s been a really long time, a building to the climax of this sentence. It’s still coming to in the English translation, it comes a little bit earlier. But if we were reading it, in kind of a woodenly, literal translation or something, it’s it’s more like, therefore, my dear friends, just as you’ve always obeyed not only my presence, but now much more. So in my absence, with fear and trembling, your own salvation. Like it’s a long time building, do I What’s the big word like? What’s the command that we’re going to get here, you got to imagine the Philippians listen to this as they go to the fear and trembling makes a good bit of sense in light of what we just heard. chapter two verses nine and 11, because we’re hearing all about when Christ comes again, and every knees gonna bow and every tongue is going to confess, that says, that’s a sober reminder. And so there’s some of the fear and trembling coming out. That’s there in the word salvation as well. The last time he used the word salvation, was back in chapter one, verse 28, where he says, this is a sign to your opponents, that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved and that by God and so that salvation is still a reminder of the end time, sort of moment when judgment, and salvation will happen alongside each other. There’s fear, there’s trembling there, but what do we do with that salvation? Still the big question,
well, what is Paul say, we got to work it out. Work out your salvation, with fear and trembling, not only receive salvation, but live it, put it into practice, do it. Now, it’s important for us to see that this is not a theological text. Paul is not explaining how we are saved here. That’s Romans, you can do that another time. Okay. This is an ethical text. Paul’s explaining how saved people live, what exactly they do with their salvation, and again, specifically in community, given the context of Philippians. How do we do this as a body as the local congregation, Paul saying, we need to get our corporate act together and put the gospel into practice? So there’s individual application, of course, we each need to do this personally. But it’s individual application with a community focus. It’s for the sake of the community as a whole. But let’s talk about the command here for a moment. Because this is kind of a tricky one. For those of us who are good little Reformed Protestants. The phrase work out your salvation is a little bit like reading a cheese grater up and down your skin. It just irritates us, right? No, no, no, it’s all of grace. Right? Like I literally have hanging in my living room or wall decoration that says all of grace. Yes, it is, by the way, all of grace but to quote Dallas Willard famous phrase grace as opposed to earning not effort and that’s key grace is opposed to earning not efforts because you got works righteousness that as opposed to neither effort, but yeah, the earning also and Paul’s got issues with that and you’ve got cheap grace, which is supposed to be Both earning and effort. And Paul saying, Nope, nope, nope. Let’s get them both together, the plane only flies with two wings, when we’ve live out the salvation that we have received freely by grace with fear and trembling even. This is common in Scripture. By the way, it’s not like this is the only place Paul says something like this are the other New Testament writers. Second Peter, chapter one, Peter tells us twice both verse five and verse 10. Make every effort to like, do this stuff that we’re talking about make every effort why will verse three, his divine power has given us everything we need for godly life goes together, every effort, Oh, you already gave it to us. This is great news. And so that kind of points us to that other wing. And Paul, by the way, is very quick does give us the other wing as well. Again, it’s dependence and discipline, you need them both. And Grace is I only want to describe grace as a when grace is the whole plane, right? It’s like the jet propulsion engine, it’s the whatever else the fuel all of it. The Paul gives us that that right workout, your salvation with fear and trembling. Why? Because it is God who works in you, too willing to act according to His good purpose. By the way, I just got to make this point a little bit of a digression when when Paul says it is God who works in us, because of the way we are trained to think as individuals in our culture, we read that individually. God works in me in my little heart right here to do this stuff. And that’s true. But the phrase there every time that phrase in US could be translated among us is used in Philippians. It’s used corporately, God’s at work here, among us to do this as the body of Christ. God supplies what we need, so we can get the plane off the ground, so we can fly so we can soar. And I love that it addresses both the heart and the hands, because we need both. Because otherwise, you’re just trying to white knuckle sin into submission that never works. So it says to will, and then to act in that order, according to His good purpose, to will and to
act. That means there’s no excuse, though. Because God’s given us all we need for life and godliness. He’s dealt with the heart, which then motivates the change in behavior. Now, here’s the thing, prior to our conversion, we couldn’t Well, we couldn’t act. This is the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak kind of idea. But all that changes now. So here’s Romans seven, verse 18. This is Paul describing the time before his conversion, and he says this, For I have the desire to do what is good, you know what that word desire is? Will same word, okay? So for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, you know, or that is work out your salvation. So it’s closely related to this passage that we have here in Philippians. So at that time, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot actually work out my salvation because you know, I’m not saved yet. But now that we’ve received the salvation, God empowers our work. So that what we do we do in and through him. Is it his worker? Is that our work? Yes, absolutely. Here’s the way Agustin put it. Our deeds are our own because of the freewill producing them. And they’re also God’s because of His grace, causing our freewill to produce them. I love that. Confusing. Sure. Mysterious. Absolutely. Welcome to Christian theology, but also the uniform witness of Scripture. Good analogy, honestly, will be the person of Christ. Remember, Christ is not half man, half god. He is 100%. Man 100% God. And so it is with so much of what we do as well. You see this again throughout Scripture, Psalm 127, verse one, Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Yeah, you picture yourself going to the worksite. Which, by the way, we can picture pretty easily here and seeing bricks mysteriously stack themselves? No, of course not. The whole point is that the laborers who are building the house are doing it in the Lord so that it is the Lord’s work happening through them. Or take, maybe more obvious example, Romans 10 Verse 14, how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? If we don’t preach, they can’t hear, which means they can’t believe. So salvation depends on us. Yeah, and no. Again, confusing, mysterious, but together. They’re both true. So it is with our sanctification, with our being made like Christ seeing his character formed in us, God gets 100% of the credit. Because it’s all of grace. It’s all of him. But we work. We work in His grace, we make every effort. Here’s the way John Owen put it, one of the greatest theologians the church has produced. And he’s responding to those people who would put grace and duty in opposition to one another. And he says this, our duty and God’s grace are nowhere opposed in the matter of sanctification, for the one absolutely supposes the other. We cannot perform our duty without the grace of God. Nor does God give us His grace for any other purpose than that we may perform our duty. That’s it exactly. So what does that mean is that just corporately here, we can’t sit around waiting for God to sprinkle us with his magic pixie dust so that we get sanctified, we need to get up and get to work, and live out our salvation. avail yourselves of the means of grace. Kyle talks about even earlier this morning and introducing Nancy like getting the word, memorize it, meditate on it, pray, to God engage in fellowship, we need each other. That’s a huge part of our sanctification is that we do this as a community put sin to death, Paul commands us and Romans eight, by the Spirit, there’s that union again. What does that look like practically? You know, maybe you’re one of those people who on a bad day, you hit Amazon. And you just buy something. So you get that little dopamine hit of if I have this new thing, then my life will finally be good. And you know that this is foolish, but it just keeps happening. And so what do you do this is when you cry out to God and you say, God, I will not be otherwise unless you change me. And then you cut up your credit cards. Do you see how they they both happen at the same time, or when you’re looking at that person that is just so hard to love. And you say God, I can’t love this person. But I can let you love her through me.
And when Corrie 10 boom has that story, Kyle shared it before in sermons right when she met one of the Nazi prison guards who had guarded her when she was in a concentration camp. And he came up to thank her for her talk on forgiveness. And she prayed in that moment, like I can’t, I cannot forgive this man. But his hands extended. And what I can do is lift my hand, and I’m gonna need you to supply all the rest. And she said she could feel it physically flowing through her that forgiveness at that moment, that’s what we do. And so we pray that same sort of prayer, and then speak the word of affirmation, or whatever it is. And of course, that example reminds us of the community focus here. Because Let’s not miss the very real threat to our community that we all present. You are a threat to this community. Why? Because you’re selfish, but we keep talking about. So you’ve got selfish ambition and vain conceit. That’s your sinful nature, my sinful nature as well. And this is serious. How serious is this? This is Paul in Titus chapter three, verse 10. One advice that person wants, and then more than a second time, after that had nothing to do with them. sounds serious. This is church discipline. This is excommunication happening, the division within the community, this sort of conflict that we see in Philippi is serious enough that Paul saying, you may need to excommunicate some people, you may need to kick them out of the church, because this is serious, serious sin. Maybe you see some of that in yourself. Maybe you’re just someone that picks fights a lot of the time. Or maybe you just got issues with you know that one or two people who sinned against you 15 years ago, and you are still holding on to it. What do you do? You say, Lord, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t change. I can’t like this person. I can’t change the my speech patterns and all of that, but you can do it in me, and then work it out in real time. What are the steps that you need to take? Maybe it involves submission to leadership. Maybe it means serving actively in the church or maybe serving especially those people that you don’t really care for. Maybe it just means engaging in a different way in the fellowship. You get to work. There’s a threat to our community. Otherwise, second, then there’s a threat to our mission. may keep reading, starting in verse 14, Oh, stop in the middle of verse 16. Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Paul turns intensely practical here, doesn’t it, doesn’t he? This is how we work out ourselves. ovation. This is how we keep obeying even in Paul’s absence. But maybe this isn’t where we’d expect him to go right? Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Let’s talk about sexual immorality. Let’s talk about our finances let’s we’re talking about, like, complaining. Like our attitude and stuff. It feels so mundane. So let’s let’s look at this for a moment. Notice he says, do everything that you hate that. I don’t know about you, I read this. And I immediately look for the exceptions. The asterisk has got my name next to it says we understand in your case, but there are no exceptions. Why? Because this is not a minor issue grumbling or arguing this is significant sin, the word grumbling should call to mind for us, the wilderness generation coming out of Egypt after the Exodus. And there are some pretty clear parallels to them. And Philippi. Of course, they’ve got actual hostile opposition, you know, against them. They’re not in their homeland. They’re in exile. And of course, we as Christians live as exiles here, and they had interpersonal stuff. You can read about Korra, and things like that. But what happens read the book of Numbers sometimes, and by the way, read the book of Numbers. Sometimes it’s a great book, I understand that it’s got some counting in it. It’s got some of the greatest stories in Scripture in it too. So read Numbers sometimes, but what happens? God puts to death. Many people, many of the Israelites because of their grumbling, specifically, because their speech and attitude, demonstrate a lack of faith and gratitude for what he had done and delivering them from Egypt in that dishonors God, it is an offense against a holy God. Think about what’s happened here. Nevermind the plagues, nevermind the crossing the Sea of Reeds on dry land and all of that. They’re in the desert and food is just miraculously appearing. And then they’re like, Yeah, but you know, meat, he’s like, cool. Quail. Okay, here you go. You need water, speak to the rock. Here we go water. And how do the Israelites respond?
I miss cucumbers. And that’s our response, of course, except for this. God has given you every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, and how do you respond? On this my cucumbers? Is it ever enough, right? That’s the whole problem with our grumbling and then arguing. And the word here very definitely means disputing, by the way, you’re gonna start picking fights thing all the time. Now, we’re not arguing with God, given the context, but with each other. So this is the opposite of chapter two, verse two, this is the opposite of being a like minded and all of that instead, this is that theological McCarthyism that I talked about a few weeks ago, where nobody’s faith is ever as good as yours. And you got to make sure they know it, not with the genuine love that Paul had for the Philippians. But just because you’re a proud, arrogant, boastful, insolent. Sam Hayes said it so well. So just on Twitter this week, he says, If contending for the gospel makes you less loving and more antagonistic, you’re probably contending for something other than the gospel. That’s exactly what we’re seeing today, though, isn’t it? In the church? Were the conversations about masks and vaccines? Were the conversations about racial justice, other forms of social justice and stuff? Does it look like contending for the gospel? Or does it just look like we’re disputing with each other? We’re just arguing. And Paul saying, You got to take a seriously. You got to be vigilant here. Because by your grumbling and you’re arguing you are impeding gospel advance. You’re like building a wall in your own heart saying the gospel can go this far and no further because after this, I want to grumble, and that is serious. One commentator says this is like an undertow in the church. And it’s like pulling us down so that we’re drowning in our sin instead of advancing. And make no mistake one day we will all stand before Christ. And those of us who have made a habit of grumbling and arguing will answer for it was shame. Because it’s significant. Why is it so significant, apart from the fact that it dishonors God, which is reason enough, but because it’s significant because it presents a clear threat to our witness? Because we got a purpose statement here. Don’t we do everything without grumbling or arguing so that what, what’s the reason we’re doing this so that we become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation? We need to be blameless and pure so that we’re different so that we’re without fault in a broken world now to understand exactly what Paul’s just said we need the Old Testament here, you can see that this is actually in quotation marks. So he’s quoting the Old Testament, but only kind of actually. So here’s Deuteronomy 32, verse five, the passage that he’s quoting, they are corrupt. And by the way, the word there means with fault. So not without fault, but with fault. They’re blame worthy, so they are corrupt and not his children, to their shame, they are a warped and crooked generation. This is fascinating stuff. So this is the wilderness generation, this is Moses speaking not long before he dies. So he’s speaking to that wilderness generation, saying, by your grumbling, you’ve made yourself blameworthy, so that you no longer get to be called God’s children. And then he looks at that generation and says, You are the warped and crooked generation. And Paul takes that verse and flips it on its head. Because in Christ, that’s not true of us now, the Philippians and we are God’s children, by our adoption in Christ. And don’t miss the community overtones. They’re the implications if we’ve been adopted God, their father, that makes us siblings. So you know, gotta love each other like family. So we get to be God’s children working out our salvation, not as a warped and crooked generation, but in a warped and crooked generation. Do you love this book? I love this book. It’s it’s just good stuff. And then he goes on. Now we’re alluding to Daniel 12, verse three, which we read together earlier, because we’re going to shine like stars as a result of this. And so here’s Daniel 12. Three again, those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever since the Archangel Michael speaking, and he’s speaking at the end times, and he’s speaking the same sorts of things that Paul has been talking about, like when the opponents are judged, when the church is saved. But what’s Daniel saying, what’s Paul saying, by alluding to this passage, he’s saying that the church is supposed to be light that both overcomes and it illuminates the darkness.
Because the world is a place of opposition. It’s true. We experienced real persecution, the flip Ian’s have experienced real persecution. But it’s not just a place of opposition. It’s also the place of mission. Because we follow Christ, we strive to reach those who oppose us. Like picture Christ on the cross, having just been crucified, looking down at his executioner’s going, Father, forgive them. They know not what they do. That’s the attitude we bring to the world. We strive to reach those who would harm us because of our allegiance to Christ. This explains the phrase word of life, then. Because this is a tricky phrase, actually only place Paul uses the phrase word of life. So what exactly does it mean to hold firmly to the word of life? And what exactly does the other life mean there? Does that mean? Like living word? That’s one possibility, the life’s word that’d be another possibility, the word that brings life it’s another possibility. Well, what is Paul saying, He’s not saying we hold firmly to the Word of Life, against our opposition, like we got this bunker mentality, I’m just going to hold tight, whatever else is happening out there. Now he’s saying we hold firmly to the word of life as we hold it out to the world in desperate need of it, so that it is the word that brings life to those who receive it. And with that, I gotta say a quick word here to seekers or skeptics who might be with us. This morning is always so glad that you’re here. Some weeks there’s a lot in a passage for you some weeks, the passage is very much for the church. And that’s a passage like today, but I do think there’s something for you here. Specifically, let me say two things to you. With this phrase ringing in our ears. First of all, can we just agree that the church doesn’t always do this? Well, that we do not always shine like stars in the universe. And that’s an issue like our hypocrisy is a real problem. But you know, picture yourself there on a nice summer night and you’re, you know, lying in the grass or something looking up at the twinkling stars above you, and then this hulking figure, you know, casts a shadow over your face. You can’t see the stars anymore. That’s awesome. Sometimes, sometimes we obscure the beauty of the gospel of Christ by our actions. The fact that we’re in the way did not stop the stars from twinkling the sun from shining. Would you look to the Sun pun fully intended, when we mess things up? Second. Again, this phrase, word of life, that’s for you. This is the word that brings life that’s what we’ve all experienced. If you’re wondering are we keep talking about this Jesus guy, and while we get a little pushy sometimes about it, it’s because of this is because the word of life that’s an echo of what Jesus Himself, said John 1010 come that they might have life and have it to the full. And that’s our heart for you that you would have this life to the full the fullness of joy and love and peace which is found in Christ and Christ alone. But let’s not forget where we began, do everything without grumbling or arguing. I remember that felt small at the time, until we read the rest of the passage, all of which is dependent on that command that Paul would give us so much theology. So much biblical support for this command shows just how important it is because it’s all about being God’s kids in a warped and crooked and broken world, our attitudes, our words toward each other, determine how effectively we hold forth the word of life. This is a very real threat to our mission. So take a moment here. Like, what makes you grumble? You figure it out, not rhetorical. What makes you complain? Think through it for a moment about what stupid thing are you tempted to dispute? Even with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Would you put that to death? Would you get to work where else we have this threat to our mission. Lastly, than we have a threat to our ministry as well, we read the rest of the passage. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I’m glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Feels like an abrupt transition to me. Maybe it does to you too. But it’s closely connected. In fact, it’s the same sentence. There’s no period there in the Greek. What is the connection, their mission, the flip Ian’s mission? is what proves or vindicates Paul’s ministry. Remember, way back, I don’t know what are we in like 118, somewhere around there. 20.
He says, I’m sticking around, I don’t think I would have be executed. I’m sticking around for your progress and joy in the face so that you’re boasting in Christ, Jesus will abound on account of me, same word boast. So as they boast increasingly in Christ, that allows him to boast that he didn’t labor in vain, they actually did progress in the face, the Gospel advanced in them through him. Now all of grace, let’s not forget that part. Right. All of grace was God’s grace active in Paul. But he did his duty. But he didn’t neglect his duty. Paul’s very careful when he talks about these things. You see it a lot though. Here’s Romans 1518. Listen to how careful he is with the two wings thing. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished. That would be the all of grace section through me. There’s the duty right grace and effort dependence discipline, in leading the Gentiles to obey God. By what I have said and done, there’s the balance. So this is his boast, here. This is why he willingly accepts being poured out like a drink offering them because they’re actually growing in the faith as a result. Now, what does it mean to be poured out like a drink offering, this is what happens both in pagan and Jewish sacrifices, you’d sacrifice the animal, and then you have some wine alongside it. And that’s the key there is alongside it’s not that it’s being poured on top of it, but that they’re happening simultaneously, numbers 15, verse five, for example, with each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice prepare a quarter of a hint of wine as a drink offering. So they’re happening at the same time. That’s what Paul’s saying. The Philippians are sacrificing their the sacrifice here, right, enduring opposition from the Roman imperial guard there in Philippi, enduring opposition for the advance of the gospel. As that’s happening. Paul is being poured out like a drink offering, right same moment in that he is in prison for the advance of the gospel. So they’re all suffering. But Paul’s not upset about this. I’m glad and rejoice with all of you. It’s actually way more awkward than that. It’s awkward and English works well in the Greek but he says, I rejoice in CO rejoice. I rejoice and CO rejoice, of course. Because the gospel is advancing in and through them, the Philippians and why wouldn’t he rejoice in that? And then in the same way, he says, You can rejoice and CO rejoice because the gospel is advancing in you and through you. And this is good news. What a precious reminder for us, that we can have joy even in the midst of suffering, because it’s like light breaking in the darkness. This is the heart of Christianity, isn’t it joy in the midst of suffering. We saw this recently Perhaps you saw it certainly went viral. But Stephen Colbert is a response when do a Lippa? Just full confession here? I saw this on Twitter. So I just saw her Twitter handle, I have no idea who do a lip is. So I read it as dual IPA. And I was trying to figure out what this new kind of beer was, and was very excited to try it. I’m not with it. But I saw this do a lip was question to Cole bear was, how do your faith and your comedy intersect? Because Colbert is pretty outspoken as a Catholic. And what’s so interesting too, by the way, is so many people argued about Colbert response, there’s the disputing tendency that we have, but I gotta tell you, I loved it. I thought it was great. He said it in such a winsome way. And it was just it was a stone in a shoe moment where you just had people who saw that would be like, I want to hear more about that. I wish any more of us would talk like that. So you can point your fingers at Colbert and say he didn’t share the whole of the gospel, which he certainly didn’t. But until you’re sharing the whole of the gospel regularly, and people are coming to Christ, maybe don’t point fingers. What did he say though? Here’s the intersection between faith and comedy. He said death is not defeat in Christianity. And he just kind of looked at her like, right, y’all, y’all get what I’m saying here? Resurrection, that kind of stuff. Death is not defeat. And he said, So sadness is a little is like a little death. Whatever it is that’s causing. So the real suffering in the world sadness is like a little death, but it’s not defeat if you can find a way to laugh at it.
So what he’s saying there is our laughter in the midst of suffering is like a mini resurrection. Biblical warrant for this, by the way, Proverbs 31. The woman of excellence laughs at the days to come. But that’s the whole idea. Death is not defeat, suffering is not defeat, Christ was poured out sacrifice, and we rejoice in it, because that’s our salvation. By the way, why wouldn’t we rejoice in our being poured out and sacrificed for his sake? This is the heart of ministry, ministry costs, it takes time. It takes energy, physical energy, yes, but spiritual and emotional energy, because you keep going into the mass. You ever see those pictures where like a building is on fire, and everyone’s running away. Except for the first responders in Christ, were the first responders spiritually, we run towards the burning building, we run toward the mass, we count the cost we press on in ministry, building into others, like Paul into the Philippians, because it’s worth it. Because it’s worth it, because it’s a true joy to see others come to know Christ and to grow in Christ. And by the way, this is fast. And we just want to, you know, keep the forest while we’re looking at the trees in the tree bark as well. This is the first time that Philippians rejoice in the letter. I always pray with joy, I rejoice this, I’ll continue to rejoice complete my joy, I rejoice and CO rejoice now you rejoice. This is the moment when they get commanded to rejoice to experience Paul’s join happens in the context of suffering and sacrifice. Yes, and amen. In Christ. If you call Christ, Lord, he has work for you to do go and make disciples build each other up in love. So to what has he called you? Have you counted the cost? Are you doing it just kind of takes us back to the gathering series we did last fall? Are you off the sidelines yet? Or do we do all of that and all the Philippians and you’re still like, it’s time for you to engage. And part of this too, is one spur to grow and serve is the investment of those around us because we all have Paul’s in our lives. Maybe it was your parents, maybe as a teacher, pastor or disciple maker. And looking at this passage here, you do not want their sacrifice to have been in vain. Which means we get to work. In ministry, like Paul, like we get to be called Philippians. We also get to work through ministry, like the Philippians because somebody’s built into us. But either way we get to work. So dear friends, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that God is at work in us two wings. We got to get to work or else what will become of our community, our mission and our ministry. Can you hear the captain coming on over the intercom? How does your plane look? Let’s pray.
Father, we pray that You would give us All that we need. And frankly, we acknowledge that you have given us everything we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. How precious the reminder the promise that you are working in us to willing to act in accordance with Your good pleasure to fulfill Your good pleasure. That means that we can do this. We are not in slavery to sin any longer. We don’t have to keep grumbling and arguing or whatever else it is we can walk free in Christ, empowered to obey by Your grace and motivated to obey by your love. Would you help us to do that, Lord, that we might shine like stars in the universe as we hold out this good news to those around us and Lord, may our labor not be in vain, then we know it won’t be because you’re behind it. But would we see many come to know you and progress in their joy and in their faith as a result of our sacrificial labor? And it is a sacrifice, Lord and that it is offered to you as an act of worship, be glorified, we pray through Christ our Lord.