Sermons

Summary: Exposition of Ministry

Text: Philippians 2:25-30, Title: Gambling Ministry, Date/Place: NRBC, 10.28.12, AM

A. Opening illustration:

B. Background to passage: Paul is explaining to the Philippians why their emissary was sent home early.

Epaphroditus is an example of a growing disciple and his commitment to his church. That is what we are

going to talk about today, commitment to the local body – another mark of a growing disciple. Paul says that

Epaphroditus banked everything on Christ, risked his life, and set out for an 800 mile journey to minister on

behalf of the church. The word that Paul uses about his actions are that he bet it all on Christ, counted his

physical life as little, and serve the church with the last ounce of his strength.

C. Main thought: Epaphroditus exhibited huge commitment to the church; one of the marks of a growing

disciple

A. A Huge Gamble (v. 30)

1. Paul calls E his fellow worker and soldier, and notes that E was their messenger to him when he was in

prison. There is nothing to indicate that he was leader in the church, or anything more than just your

average church member. The Philippian church cared for Paul and his ministry, but he was in prison in

Rome and they couldn’t take care of him as they wished, so they did what they could, sent someone.

They sent money and E to help Paul out. He was “supplying what was lacking” in their service to him –

a bodily presence. So he goes on an 800 mile walk and voyage, and takes the money to Paul in prison.

He acts as a messenger boy, doing for Paul what Paul couldn’t do for himself because of chains. But

somewhere on the way, he got sick; very sick; almost died. It could have been from exhaustion, or just the

harshness of the trip. But somehow the church at Philippi heard of his sickness. And so for this reason

and others, Paul sent E back to the Philippians, they explained why.

2. Argumentation

3. Illustration:

4. What we want to see here is the relationship of E and the church at Philippi. This near death experience

was the result of ministering on behalf of the church. That’s commitment. I am arguing today that one of

the marks of a growing disciple is USUALLY a commitment to a local body. Two cautions: it is possible

for a believer to not be a part of a local body and grow (missionary contexts for ex, shut-ins), but it is not

normal. For most of us the absence of a vibrant connection to the local body is like spiritual suicide. The

other caution is: just because someone is always “at church” or gives a ton of money or is the leader of

all the ministries, doesn’t necessarily make them a growing believer. The local church is who you gather

with for fellowship, encouragement, accountability, combined ministry, discipleship, and love. It is made

up of the believers who are covenanted together to share life together. And this is why it is such a mark in

a growing disciple’s life—it is the main vehicle for growth. After your personal commitment to Christ, I

cannot stress enough another relationship or activity that will enhance/enable spiritual growth like active

involvement with a church. The lack of it is a huge hindrance to personal growth.

B. A Paradigm Shift

1. In the evangelical world, the first estimate of one’s commitment to a local body is...? Then there are other

measures that we in a pharisaical fashion begin to elevate or condemn ourselves based on how much we

do these things compared to others. But let’s define some terms carefully, then move toward evaluating.

What is the church? Better, who is the church? If we are supposed to be committed to it, have a vibrant

relationship with it, we must know what or who it is. The church is not the building or the building or

the structure or services, the church is the people. So when we speak of commitment to the church, we

are talking about your commitment to people, the people that you gather with for worship, ministry, and

encouragement. This is a definite group of people, but it is more fluid that our documents and statements

imply.

2. Argumentation investment

3. Illustration: Can I be a Christian without joining the church?

4. So what does this commitment, this vibrant relationship look like? 1) Commitment to common care: we

must be involved in each other’s lives to where we know and care about what is going on in the body.

AND our actions express that concern appropriately. One of the places that this becomes real is when

we love those we don’t know, those who don’t deserve, and those who don’t expect it. 2) Commitment

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