Summary: Learn to receive the grace of God and give away to others the grace of God.
If you’ve been with us for the last six months, you are in for a wonderful surprise today. We will complete Paul’s letter to the Philippians within the next 30 minutes! For some of you, I’m guessing reading and studying through one of the 66 books in the Bible is a new experience, and I hope you’ve found that the Bible could be understood and is significantly relevant and helpful to your life. After all, the Bible is God’s manual for how we are to live with Him and with each other.
By the way, not only will we complete the book of Philippians with this morning’s teaching, we will also begin a nine message series on the characteristics of a successful participant to fulfilling the mission and vision of our church. Because the first of the nine characteristics is foundation to our Christian faith, we will address this characteristic even before we commit to our mission and vision statements.
Let’s begin with reading the passage for this morning, Philippians 4:21-23.
From this morning’s text, Paul shows us that grace has no boundary, and I want to point that out, then I want to use the passage as a springboard to define grace and to illustrate how grace sustains our lives.
Maybe I’ve told you about the coffin-maker who moved into a new town. In order to build his network of clients, he sent out a form letter to every home, and he signed it, "Eventually Yours." How one signs his or her letter can reveal a great deal about the kind of relationship the writer has with the reader.
Paul here is saying his good-bye in this letter, and he has again chosen to address his readers, those with him and those around him as "saints." Not only that, Paul signs his letter calling his readers to possess "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ."
If you remember, our first message in Philippians defined what a "saint" is. The New Testament’s use of the word, "saint," does not refer to a super-Christian or to someone who is qualified by the Catholic Church after his or her death. A saint is someone whom God has set apart from the world to be at peace with God. The Bible tells us peace with God is given through trusting the grace of Jesus Christ, not through the goodness or the good works of the individual.
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For it is by (Jesus Christ’s) 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." When we put this truth together with Paul’s last three verses of Philippians, we see that Jesus Christ’s grace is without boundary.
Let me explain. You might know that Paul tried everything from being religious to doing everything right in order to have peace with God. Paul even opposed the grace of Jesus Christ, but he received Jesus into his life after the experience on the road to Damascus. We read this in Acts 9. From that point on, Paul had a right relationship with God and was given the charge by God to spread the good news of a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ’s grace and not through self-effort.
If you’ve been with our study, you would know that the grace of Jesus Christ not only made possible for Paul to have a right relationship with God, but Jesus Christ’s grace also did that for the Greeks, Asians and Romans in Philippi. Moreover, Paul writes in verse 22 that those who imprisoned him, even the Roman Emperor’s household, his staff, servants and possibly his family members gained a right relationship with God through the grace of Jesus Christ.
The grace of Jesus Christ cannot be restricted or contained. The grace of Jesus Christ was revealed two thousand years ago to a small group of people by the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and now this grace has spread around the world, and keeps on spreading, despite serious and ongoing persecution and government restriction. In fact, the very countries and people who have tried to restrict the spread of the grace of Jesus Christ are time and again receiving the grace of Jesus Christ. The year 2000 estimate from the Global Evangelization Movement for the population of the world is 6 billion 55 million and almost 2 billion of the world’s population consider themselves Christians.
You might be wondering what in the world is this grace of Jesus Christ that seem so mysterious and so powerfully able to transform people’s lives, even those who once opposed it. If you are not sure that you have a right relationship with God, you’ll want to understand what part the grace of Jesus Christ plays in obtaining a right relationship with God. If you are a Christian because you’ve received the grace of Jesus Christ, but the joy and the peace Jesus promised is not a part of your experience, you’ll also want to pay attention. Ignoring or misunderstanding the grace of Jesus Christ is major problem in the Christian life. We will see why as I begin to define what grace is.