This week the sermon I had been working on was giving me trouble. Sermons are like that with me, they have a life of their own. So, I grabbed a book off one of my shelves to find help. I did not find any help, but what I did find was a lesson preached by Floyd Thompson titled “Highlights of Philippians.” That sermon began with Floyd talking about how he read in 1 Corinthians 3:12 “And I brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” He reasoned then that 1 Corinthians contained no meat. Why? Because Paul said that he did not give them any. So, he went looking for where is the meat in the Scriptures.
That led him to the book of Philippians. A church that needed no rebuke or correction and so reasoned that the churches like the Philippians were able to take meat. He then highlighted several things from the book and I would like to share some of those highlights with you this morning.
“Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1)
At the very opening of the letter we find out that the Philippian church is a fully organized church. They have Elders and Deacons overseeing the work. This reveals much about the church here. The church at Philippi was started around 51 A.D. and the letter to the Philippians was written and sent around 61 or 62 A.D. This means that within ten years this church went from a handful of new converts to a mature and fully organized church. No one had the background that would have made them ready to serve as a shepherd or deacon. Then how did they get there in such a short time? Teaching and a lot of it.
There are churches today that have gone ten years, some fifty years, without Elders and Deacons. Why is that? One writer offered this explanation, “It could be one of three things: a lack of teaching, a lack of interest in what is being taught, or a combination of both” (Thompson, 292). God wants His people to be under the care of Shepherds and the Philippians understood that!
An Attitude Worth Having
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5)
Christ is the head of and the ultimate pattern of and for every Christian and the church (Eph. 1:22-23). And so, His life is our pattern for our attitude and conduct on this earth. What is this attitude that Paul speaks of? It is explained in vv.6-9.
This attitude is one of humble absolute submission to God in all things. There is no room for a proud, arrogant, or high-minded servant in God’s kingdom. When we submit ourselves to God and place Him first in all that we do we become the best person we can be, the person we were designed to be. And note v.12 “so then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The Philippians had this attitude. That is impressive. It shows a mature strong congregation that had the mind of Christ.
Beware the Dogs
The next highlight comes from the beginning of chapter three. “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil works, beware of the false circumcision” (Philippians 3:2). We do not have to go into much detail to understand the point that Paul is making here. The Philippians church, as healthy and mature as it was, still needed to be diligent against anyone who would take away their salvation through false teaching. What was that false teaching? Paul deals with that in our next highlight.
Trusting in God
In rebuke of the false teachers Paul list all the qualifications he possessed that might qualify him to put confidence in his flesh (that is in what he has done). He lists them to make a point which is our next highlight.
“But whatever things were gained to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ…” so that I “may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the rigorousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7, 10).
Paul more than anyone else could have made the argument that he was somehow deserving or had done enough to be saved and yet we do not find that. What we find is Paul being saved and staying saved the way you and I are saved and stay saved. Paul obeyed the Gospel (Acts 22:16) just like you and I and the Philippians obeyed the Gospel. And Paul continue to trust in God for His salvation. He reminded the Philippians that it was God who was at work in them and so long as they remembered and trust in that they were in good shape (Philippians 1:6; 2:13; 3:12-14; 4:19).
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Now I know hope is not mentioned specifically here but the idea is here. The Philippians were facing strong push-back from the city they lived in. They were facing persecution in one form or another as many Christians in that day were, but they had a hope to sustain them. The same hope that you and I have today. A great hope of heaven. That place where there is no pain, weeping, or death. That place where the faithful will received a glorious, transformed body fit for eternity with God.
The Peace of God
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Some may ask, even Christians at times, does God even care? Does He know what I am going through? The answer is yes! He wants us to tell Him everything so that He can do something about it. It may not be what we expect but God will answer us and that is peace. It is a peace to know that I am known by and cared for by the great God of heaven and nothing on this earth can change that.
God Will Supply
“and my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
When we live life as the Philippians and Paul did, a life lived by the teachings of Christ, we can have peace and contentment that surpasses all understanding. Note the text, God will supply all our needs in Christ Jesus. How does one get into Christ? The same way the Philippians did.
Acts 16:11-15 cf. Mark 16:16