Summary: Three great themes in the opening verses of Philippians.
Grace, Gratitude and Growth
Message prepared for Sunday School Class
at First Baptist Church, West Monroe, LA
June 26, 2011
*Philippians is a tremendous book of the Bible. Here God gives us some great words of comfort. For example in Phil 4 He tells us:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*Then in vs. 13 we hear Paul in chains triumphantly proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Then in vs. 19 Paul gave this promise: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
*In this book God gives us great words of comfort, but He also gives us great words of challenge. For example in Phil 2, where Paul said:
3. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6. who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7. but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
*Then we see the challenge of Paul’s great desire in Phil 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” In Phil 3, Paul also said:
13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
*Philippians is a tremendous book for us to study, and today in the opening verses we will focus on 3 major themes.
1. The first theme is grace.
*In vs. 2 Paul greeted those early believers with these words: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
*Paul opened most of his letters with these words, and altogether he mentioned God’s grace close to 100 times. The Apostle Paul never got over the amazing grace of God.
A. Think about grace in Paul’s life: Did Paul need grace? -- Most certainly he did.
*In chapter 3, Paul will tell us that if anybody could have been saved by keeping the Old Testament law, it would have been him. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, but all of that was garbage compared to the grace Paul found in the cross of Jesus Christ.
*It also helps to remember that before he met our risen Savior on the road to Damascus, Paul did everything he could to terrorize early Christians. He was a radical fanatic against Jesus. Here is part of his testimony.
-In Acts 22:3-4, Paul said:
3. "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.
4. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,”
-Then in Acts 26:10-11, Paul said:
10. "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
11. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
*Paul hated Christians as much as Osama bin Laden or any radical Muslim terrorist does today. No wonder that in 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul would say: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
*Paul never got over the grace of God. Think of all he later did for the cause of Christ.
-But Paul did not take the credit for himself.
-In 1 Cor 15:9-10, Paul said:
9. I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.