Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: If Jesus is Lord over all things in the church, how much freedom do I have to quit because I am offended?

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” [1]

It was Memorial Day, 2015. Twenty-three-year-old U.S. Marine Sergeant William Stacey had been killed in combat in Afghanistan earlier that year. The young Marine had written a letter to his family which was to be read only in the event of his death. In that letter, the young Marine explained why he was fighting. Marine General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, read that letter which Sergeant Stacey had written during a Memorial Day service held in Kabul in that same year.

Sgt. Stacey’s words which were read that day were, “There will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home to come to his. He will have the gift of freedom which I have enjoyed for so long myself, and if my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that it was worth it all.”

Commenting on this letter, Dr. Jim Denison wrote, “We remember [the] men and women who died so we could live. Each of them left the security of their homes to defend ours. They paid the ultimate price for their nation and for each of us. It's been said that the reason you've not received a bill for the freedom you enjoy today is that its price has already been paid. Today we remember those who paid that price and pray for those they left behind.”

In his commentary, Dr. Denison transitioned to the theme that is dear to each Christian. “As we remember their sacrifice, let us also remember the One who gave everything for our eternal life.” Then, he cites ROMANS 5:6-8, reminding his readers that, “Christ died for the ungodly”—that’s us! He also observes with the Apostle that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Now, listen to the rest of Dr. Denison’s commentary written over one year ago. “On March 15, 1985, Wayne Alderson appeared on The Today Show. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of his crossing into Germany, the first American soldier to do so during World War II. He has a permanent crease on his head from a wound he received on that day.

“Asked about his most significant memory of the event, Alderson told about a red-headed friend who saved his life. Alderson had come face to face with a German soldier. He shot the German, but not before he had thrown a grenade at Alderson which exploded and sent him face-down and wounded into the mud. Nearby, a German machine gun began firing in his direction. Alderson knew that if the grenade wound did not kill him, the machine gun would.

“But his friend turned him over so he could breathe and threw his own body over him. He died protecting him from certain death. With tears welling up in his eyes, Alderson said, ‘I can never forget the person who sacrificed his life to save me. I owe everything to him. I can never forget … I owe everything.’

“What do you owe the One who saved you?” [2] There is a thought-provoking question for each of us to answer. There are other thought-provoking questions that arise from this same consideration. What do you owe the one who encouraged you when you were discouraged? What do you owe the one who prays for you and holds you accountable before the Lord? What do you owe the one who instructs you in the Word of God? What do you owe your fellow saints who minister to you, building you in the Faith? The questions are more than merely academic; these questions are essential for healthy Christianity.

THE FORGOTTEN SACRIFICE — “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Though Remembrance Day is upon us, I don’t want to focus on the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our freedoms. It is not that such remembrance is not important—it is important for us to remember. However, among the freedoms we enjoy is the freedom of worship—the freedom to seek God and to honour Him according to the dictates of our own heart. However, an essential element of the freedom to worship as we believe right and good is the freedom of association. We attend the church of our choice and affiliate as we desire; no one dictates where we must attend or whether we must belong—we have freedom.

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