Summary: This sermons examines how that Chrisitians are called to be partners in the work of the gospel ministry.
Partners in the Gospel, Philippians 1:1-11, 11-5-00
Intro. The book of Philippians speaks of our partnership in the gospel. We are, in fact, as followers of Christ, partners in the gospel ministry. This is why congregations and individual Christians should strive to never be at odds with one another. As partners in the gospel we:
-reap a harvest together
We cannot do any of these things if we are at odds with each other. That is why unity in the church is so vitally important. We are partners in the gospel and as Christians we are in this together. In the church there must be:
-unity (see Ephesians 4:3)
-strategies for reaching goals and actualizing the vision.
This message from Philippians is meant to edify, strengthen, encourage, and help us as we do the work of the gospel - a great and glorious work our Lord has given us to do.
I. The Completion of the Work, vv 1-6
We find here in the Word of God that Paul the Apostle was writing to the church in the city of Philippi. He and young preacher by the name of Timothy were working together. It becomes evident right away that Paul loved this church dearly. It was a solid congregation doing a great work for the Lord.
This church stands in sharp contrast to the churches in Galatia and Corinth which were struggling with such issues as doctrine, morality, dissention, and infighting. Paul loved these churches too, but they had more than their share of serious problems. The Philippian church was very stable and had apparently overcome these issues, for Paul did not see the need to address them. There is a positive tone in this book; the saints, the bishops, the deacons, (v 1) Paul sends a greeting to them all which indicates that the church had strong and solid leadership. This is very much needed in the church today.
In verse 5 Paul thanks God that they considered themselves to be partners in the gospel; i.e. their fellowship in the gospel. That is what we are; partners in the gospel. In verse 6 he expresses a confidence that the work God has given them to do will get done - that it will be completed. Our Lord Jesus Christ had some strong words about completing the work which we begin (see Luke 9:62, 14:28-30).
We ought to strive to finish what God has begun in us. Be faithful, work hard, don’t stop, keep serving. When will the work be completed? When we see Jesus Christ face to face. Until then we worship, work, witness, labor, do the ministry Christ has called us to. How do we complete the work? What enables us to hang in there over the long haul? Verse 2 tells us; grace. The grace of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God we will be able to do the work. Grace sustains us when we feel we cannot go on. Paul also mentions in verse 3 thanksgiving. Let us ever be thankful for the opportunities God gives us to serve Him. In verse 4 he mentions prayer. We cannot complete the work the Lord has given us to do unless God’s people pray.
II. Confirmation of the Truth, vv 7-8
Paul wants to make it clear here that his strong feelings for the believers in this church are very much justified. He loved them, cared about them, and he cared about their spiritual well being. He loved them with a pastor’s heart. He had shared their burdens and their victories. When we share these things together it strengthens the bonds that exists between us.
Verse 7 says "I have you in my heart." They were on his mind and in his heart as he went about doing the work God had given him to do. And what was that work? Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ (that is our work and our calling as well). It also consists of confirming the truth of the gospel. That is one of the primary goals of our partnership in the gospel; to confirm to a lost world the truth of it and to confirm to them that this is something real. In a world full of lies, falsehoods, untruths, and half-truths, the gospel is genuine and ultimate truth. It is real and something to which we can cling. Jesus Christ is the solid rock to whom we can cling during the storms of life. We cling to Him, we serve Him, we worship Him, and we love Him. We help and serve one another regardless of the circumstances.
There is a powerful lesson here for us; we serve the Lord in all circumstances. Why? Because we are in this together. For Paul, he would serve God. It didn’t matter whether or not he was in bonds (chains), defending the gospel, or confirming the gospel. God’s grace and peace allowed him to serve the Lord whatever the circumstances. Regardless of our circumstances, as followers of Christ we are all partakers of God’s grace. We all share in the grace of God that helps us through the difficulties as we serve.