Summary: Sermon 6 in a study in Philippians
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,”
Take a moment to observe with me a point that speaks to the human element of the inspired Word of God.
From verse 19 of chapter two and onward to the end of that chapter Paul seems to be wrapping things up; doesn’t he?
He speaks of sending Timothy to them and expresses his hope to follow soon after if the Lord sees fit to have him released from Roman custody, and he encourages them about Epaphroditus, and then, and we’re keeping in mind that in his letter there were no chapter and verse divisions, he says, ‘Finally my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
But at this point we’re actually only halfway through the letter. So it seems, and this is largely conjecture but worth considering anyway, that as he sought to finish up some thoughts came to his mind that he felt constrained to spend some time on and get the air cleared about them.
In fact, just glancing through these last two chapters it looks like he is ready to sign off at several points but has just ‘one more’ thing to say.
In the beginning of chapter 4 he says, ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren…’ and then in verse 8 he again says, ‘Finally, brethren…’
But isn’t that how it is with good friends when they haven’t seen each other for some time, or they are getting ready to part and they do not know when they will be together once more?
‘Well, better go now…oh, one more thing!’ ‘Well, time to sign off now…let’s see…have I forgotten anything?’ ‘Boy. It sure has been great chatting with you again and remembering our great times together. You take care of yourself now, y’hear?’
And we have ample evidence in this letter that Paul was profoundly fond of the believers in Philippi. So much did he care for them, so concerned was he that they maintain unity and brotherly love amongst themselves and that they endure in trial and remember whose they are and strive to imitate Him, that even though he is in chains and at the mercy of the Romans who are presently ruled by a madman, Paul can’t help saying over and over ‘Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice!’
What a great man! What a great Apostle! What a wonderful example of the transforming power of the Gospel and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit!
What Christlikeness. And who but Paul could without any pretension or hypocrisy whatsoever, say ‘imitate me as I also imitate Christ’?
REMEMBER THE MAIN THINGS
Those in my local congregation and some who receive our sermons via e-mail are aware of my appreciation for the preaching of Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. If you listen to his radio broadcasts it won’t be very long before you’ll hear him say ‘the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things’, in reference to the believer’s approach to the Bible and the doctrines of the faith.
He usually employs these words in the process of pointing out the necessity of adhering to the simple truths of Christianity and avoiding getting off on tangents with maps and charts and math tricks to prove when the Rapture is going to take place or who the Anti-Christ is going to be or any one of a thousand other nitpicking debates that get us so far off track.
And here, he is in hearty agreement with the Apostle Paul, who warned his young protégé Timothy to avoid senseless genealogies and all the hairsplitting arguments that only bring disharmony and disunity in the body.
Paul had one message and it was Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead. All else that he said was centered and grounded in that, and his Holy Spirit-inspired counsel to young preachers and students of the Way of Christ was to adopt that same simple approach.
So here he says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.”
The admonition to rejoice in the Lord covers a lot of territory. Whatever your present circumstances, rejoice in the Lord. Whatever your concerns for me, rejoice in the Lord. Do you have questions about what sort of attitude the Christian is to have in his or her approach to life and the world round about? Rejoice in the Lord.