Summary: Philippians 1:7-11. A call to defend the purity, power, and preciousness of the gospel; and confirm that defense with holy living.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
DEFENDING & CONFIRMING THE GOSPEL
- As we continue to look at Philippians chapter 1 together let’s remind ourselves, briefly, of the issues we addressed last time. We emphasized three things from vv.3-6. First, that Paul had joy in remembering the saints in prayer.
- We talked about how Paul used the memories he had of his time in Philippi to ignite his prayer for the saints and his worship and praise of God. And we noted that it is our responsibility to use our memories in a similar way. Certainly the enemy would seek to remind us of detrimental issues of our past for the purpose of hindering our faith; but we are to reject such use of the past and instead, we are to focus on those things that spur us on toward godliness.
- Secondly then, we saw that Paul was grateful for their partnership in the gospel ministry. Which, first and foremost meant that he was grateful for their salvation; but also for their support of him as he spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
- And lastly, we noticed that the Apostle was confident in God’s perfecting work. He was absolutely positive that the good work (which is salvation) that God started in them would be completed. We mentioned how very important it is for us to have a clear understanding of biblical salvation. God starts the work, he grants us faith by his grace; and since he starts the work he finishes the work.
- Now what comes next in Paul’s thought pattern as he is starting this letter is that these things we talked about last time are good and right for Paul to feel and express. He says in v.7 that: It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart...
- Today, we are going to focus on the reasons why Paul has such an affection for these believers, and so prays for them and thanks God for their partnership. In fact, we will get a glimpse of the partnership Paul refers to in v.5 when we look at the end of v.7. Then, we are going to bring things full circle and see some of the implications of what Paul says for our modern context.
- So look with me at 1:7-11.
Read Philippians 1:7-11
- There are two big reasons Paul gives here for his great affection for the Philippians. He says that he holds them in his heart, because they are partakers with him in grace, both in his imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. I’m going to divide the second reason into two. So we will have three reasons for Paul’s affection; and some accompanying implications.
- The first reason Paul had such great affection for these saints, is:
THEY WERE PARTAKERS WITH PAUL IN HIS IMPRISONMENT
- He writes in v.7: for you are all partakers with me of grace, and first he says: in my imprisonment.
- Notice first of all how Paul views his imprisonment. He does not say that they were partakers with him in suffering, of which his imprisonment was a part. He says that they were sharing with him in the grace of his imprisonment.
- We are going to see over and over again that Paul views his circumstances as a gift of God’s grace. He is constantly saying things like this. In just a few verses he writes that his imprisonment is for Christ and that he was put there for the defense of the gospel. At the end of chapter 1 he writes that it has been given to believers to suffer for Christ’s sake.
- See it’s not that Paul didn’t think he was suffering. It’s just that he viewed his suffering as a grace.
- So if he was in prison, he was there because in the wisdom of God he was supposed to be there. And nothing, not even confinement was going to hinder his gospel ministry. So Paul sees the circumstances of his life as a gift. By God’s grace he was where he was with an opportunity to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.
- But we also see here that the Philippians’ willingness to support Paul during this difficult time revealed to Paul the authenticity of their faith. The thought goes like this: “I thank God for doing a gospel work in you. And I am confident that he will complete that work. And I am right to feel that confidence and feel such affection for you because you have shown me that your faith is real by your willingness to endure the grace of suffering for the gospel with me.