Sermons

Summary: Philippians 1:9-11 teaches us to put the priorities of the gospel at the center of our prayer lives.

Scripture

We are in a series of sermons on Paul’s letter to the Philippians that I am calling, “The Christian’s Contentment.”

After the opening greeting of his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul gave thanks to God for them, which we examined last time. Today, I would like to examine Paul’s prayer to God for the Philippians. Much of the material for this message comes from D. A. Carson’s fine exposition of Philippians.

So, let’s read Paul’s prayer to God in Philippians 1:9-11:

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

Introduction

In my previous sermon I said that Paul lived and served in a culture that was hostile to the gospel. There were all kinds of views regarding eternity. There was frankly massive confusion, not unlike there is in our own day. And then, on top of that, there were false teachers going around the churches teaching heresy, again not unlike there is in our own day.

Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Philippi, the church that he had planted in about 51 AD. He had visited them several times since he planted the church, and the Philippian church was probably his favorite church. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians in about 62 AD in response to a financial gift that he had received from them. So, the Philippian Church was about 10 years old.

Paul wrote to the Philippians because he also perceived threats to their spiritual well-being. He could not visit them because he was now a prisoner in Rome. But he wanted to encourage them. So, what does a man write about when he is staring death in the face? We should pay attention to what Paul is saying because of the urgency of his writing. His burden for the Philippians—and, indeed, for all Christians in all ages—is that they put the gospel first in their lives.

In his exposition of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, James Montgomery Boice put it this way:

One of the reasons why God has saved us is that we might be fruitful Christians. He has not saved us merely that we might be free from judgment and go to heaven when we die, but that the character of Jesus Christ might be reproduced in us while here on earth. We are to live in the flesh but not of the flesh. We are to do good works that Christ might be glorified and that many might be brought to faith in him.

This is stated in a wonderful way in Ephesians 2:10. Most Christians know the two verses that immediately precede verse ten: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” But I wonder how many know the verse that follows: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” These verses say three things. They say that God has saved us by grace. They say he has a plan for our lives. They say there are good works in that plan.

God is somewhat like a father who is raising a large family. He is pleased to have the family, and he is delighted you are a member of it. But he is not satisfied only with that. He also wants you to grow up to be a good citizen, spiritually speaking. He wants productive children. He wants your life to be fruitful with good works.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul told them (in verse 4) that whenever he prayed for them, he did so with thanksgiving and joy. Now, when he got to verses 9-11, Paul’s petitions reflect the priorities of the gospel.

Lesson

Philippians 1:9-11 teaches us to put the priorities of the gospel at the center of our prayer lives.

Let’s use the following outline:?

1. Paul’s Prayer to God Is for the Philippians’ Love to Abound More and More (1:9a)

2. Paul’s Prayer to God Is for the Philippians’ Love to Be More Knowledgeable (1:9b)

3. Paul’s Prayer to God Is for the Philippians’ to Be Pure and Blameless for the Day of Christ (1:10-11)

I. Paul’s Prayer to God Is for the Philippians’ Love to Abound More and More (1:9a)

First, Paul’s prayer to God is for the Philippians’ love to abound more and more.

Paul wrote to the Philippian believers in verse 9a, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.” What is interesting is that Paul does not provide an object for love. Does Paul mean to say, “And it is my prayer that your love for God may abound more and more”? Or, does Paul mean to say, “And it is my prayer that your love for one another may abound more and more”? It is entirely likely that Paul left the object for love unstated because he wanted love for both God and one another to abound more and more. Kent Hughes writes that the old Latin commentator Bengel said, “The fire in the apostle never says, ‘It is enough.’ ” To which Hughes adds, “Paul is passionate here—more love, more love!”

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