Sermons

Summary: You and I can have the mind of Christ. Not by imitation, but by yielding to Him, the Spirit of God can produce in our own lives the mind of Christ. This is something we desperately need in our day.

Date: 12/15/18

Lesson #20

Title: RECEIVE HIM IN THE LORD WITH ALL GLADNESS (Phil. 2:29-30)

• “Special Notes” and “Scripture” are shown as endnotes.

• NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.

Scripture: (Philippians 2:29-30, NIV)

(29) So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, (30) because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Introduction

This is the first century, at the time of the Roman Empire. The empire of Caesar Augustus was the greatest, by far, on the face of the earth, and Rome’s armies were able to take over the world. The Law of Rome became supreme everywhere. There was no mercy shown to anyone, but there were law and order everywhere. There was not a power in that day that could win on the battlefield against Rome. Then there appeared this little man, Paul the apostle, and those who were like-minded with him, and they preached a gospel that said, “There is a God of the universe who, through redemption proved that what He had wrought on a Roman Cross, had provided mercy for mankind.” Multitudes turned to the Lord Jesus in that day.

Now I see another man, Epaphroditus, What is he doing? He is witnessing for Christ, and he is rejoicing in the Lord. He has the mind of Christ. Then I look at Tom Lowe, and I say to him, Stop offering excuses in this day in which you are living! If Epaphroditus could have the mind of Christ in the first century, today in the twenty-first century right where we are now, you and I can have the mind of Christ. Not by imitation, but by yielding to Him, the Spirit of God can produce in our own lives the mind of Christ. This is something we desperately need in our day.

Commentary

(2:29) So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,

Having explained why Epaphroditus is returning earlier than anticipated, Paul now plainly appeals to the Philippians to give him the welcome he deserves. Just as he was sent so that they might rejoice (v. 28), they must, therefore, receive him “in the Lord,” with all joy, for such men are to be honored and prized.

Epaphroditus was a blessing to Paul. He stood with him in his prison experience and did not permit even his own sickness to hinder his service. But he was also a blessing to his own church. Paul admonishes the church to honor him because of his sacrifice and service. (Christ gets the glory, but there is nothing wrong with the servant receiving the honor. Read 1 Thess. 5 12-13{a].) Christ “emptied Himself” in His gracious act of humiliation and God exalted Him. Epaphroditus sacrificed himself with no thought of reward, and Paul encouraged the church to hold him in honor to the glory of God.

He was a blessing to Paul and to his own church, and he is also a blessing to us today! He proves to us that the joyful life is the life of sacrifice and service and that the submissive mind really does work. He and Timothy together encourage us to submit ourselves to the Lord and to one another, in the Spirit of Christ. Christ is the pattern we follow. Paul shows us the power (Phil. 4:12-19{b]), and Timothy and Epaphroditus is proof that this mind really works. Will you permit the Spirit to reproduce “the mind of Christ” in you?

Not only should the Philippians welcome Epaphroditus with open arms, but they should also honor this dear man of God. It is a great distinction and privilege to be engaged in serving the Lord. The Saints should recognize this, even when it concerns one with whom they are very familiar.

(2:30) because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

The members of the Philippian Church had faithfully supported Paul ever since the Lord miraculously established a congregation in this pagan Roman Colony. Now, with the gift that had prompted Paul’s letter, the Philippian Church had raised its support to a new level. It was not a small act of loving sacrifice to send Epaphroditus 800 miles to supply Paul with the service the Philippians failed to provide. This lack of service initially sounds like they were lackluster in their ministry to Paul. What he means, however, is that the missing element of their ministry was not having a recent opportunity to serve Paul in person, avoid admirably filled by Epaphroditus. Paul extols this messenger for living worthy of the Gospel: “because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.” His journey of faith, compelled by his church’s concern for Paul, was a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God. The Philippians were doing what Paul commands in Romans: “present your bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).

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