Summary: A description of what helps hold a group of believers together.
WHAT IS HOLDING US TOGETHER?
This is the first of a series of three messages I have entitled, "The Church".
Other messages in the series include:
#2 - "What Will Keep Us Together", focusing on Colossians 1:9-14.
#3 - "What Could Break Us Apart", focusing on Galatians 1:6-10.
In order for a group of people to gather and meet on a regular basis there has to be something that keeps them together. That is what I would like to examine today. What is it that keeps this church together? What is it that has held and sustained us for the past five months? And what is it that is going to keep us together in the future?
We can look at the church in Phillipi and answer all of these questions. Paul had written to them and thanked them for helping him. They had reached out to him both spiritually and financially many times. Throughout the book of Philippians Paul alludes to what it was that caused their church to endure. We need to take a look at what was holding the Philippian church together and see how we compare.
I. SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST HELD THEM TOGETHER
Philippians 1:3-6 – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
We can see from this verse that Paul recognized they were in fellowship with each other concerning the gospel. Last week we learned that the gospel is the message that Jesus Christ died, that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day. The church at Philippi was in agreement with Paul about the gospel and they shared the same beliefs. They both shared in the salvation given by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How can sharing in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ unite and hold a group of people together?
A. Salvation offers freedom from the past.
Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
These verses were originally written to the children of Israel and revealed that they would become righteous through repentance. It can also be applied to us today.
Once we turn to Christ and repent of our sins we no longer have to worry about the sins of our past. It is true that we may still face earthly consequences from them, but in God’s eyes we have been washed clean. We can then find joy by uniting with others who have turned to Christ.
B. Salvation offers purpose for the present.
Mark 16:15 – And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
We have a purpose in this life after receiving salvation. Our main purpose should be to worship God and tell others about him. A group of believers gathering together in his name are held together by this purpose.
C. Salvation offers hope for the future.
Philippians 1:6 - Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
It is a sad thing that those who have not accepted Jesus Christ cannot stake claim to a home in heaven. The Bible plainly tells us that the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus Christ. On the other hand, it is a joyful thing that those who have accepted Jesus Christ can look forward to spending an eternity in heaven worshipping the Lamb who was slain. The assurance that one day Jesus Christ will split the eastern sky and take us home to live with him gives us hope for the future.
II. SERVANTHOOD HELD THEM TOGETHER
Philippians 4:10 – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again: wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Philippians 4:14 – Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
The Philippian church took care of Paul. We do not know exactly what they did to help him, but it is clear that whatever it was helped Paul out in a great way. In verse 14 he tells them that they had done well in their efforts. They were there for Paul when he needed them. They were his servants in the gospel.
In our Christian walk today the spirit of servanthood can manifest itself in at least four ways.