Thursday, April 17, 2014

Philippians Week 14-The Call to Gospel Worthiness

April 16, 2014
Introduction

-“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 22:31-33 ESV)

Philippians 1:27

Context
-The Philippians held a very privileged position in the Roman Empire, for their city was not required to pay taxes. The city had a long and illustrious city of military might, and the citizens were largely very loyal Roman citizens in a militarized colony. The kingdom of Rome came in a long line of world empires, such as the Egyptian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, and the Greek Empire. Other empires vied for prominence, such as the Carthaginian Empire, but Rome had remained constant up to this moment in time. The duration of Rome existed well over a thousand years, and in the time of the apostle Paul Rome arguably was at its zenith.

Verse 27
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
1. A Worthy Calling
-“Only” (Μόνον) turns the perspective from Paul’s actions in the joy of discipling others to the responsibility of the Philippians in that discipleship. 
-Christ’s people have turned from darkness to light, being now slaves of Christ instead of slaves to sin. (Romans 6:22; Romans 8:2; 1 Peter 2:16) 
-The people of God bear responsibility in hearing and acting upon the teaching of the Word of God. (Deuteronomy 4:1-4; Deuteronomy 30:16-20; Psalm 105:44-45; Matthew 7:22-27)
-Discipleship produces fruits of righteousness in our lives through Christ’s work in our lives to the glory of God. (Philippians 1:11; John 15:8) 
-Those saved by Christ will be given the strength to hold fast to Christ’s teachings. (John 8:31-32; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 1:9)
-“Let your manner” (πολιτεύεσθε) means to live properly as citizens of a kingdom. 
-God reigns over all the nations, and His Kingdom is eternal. (Psalm 11:2; Psalm 103:19; Psalm 113:1-6) 
-Christ’s Kingdom is described as eternal, for He is the Ancient of Days and ruler over the kings of the earth. (Daniel 7:13-14; Hebrews 12:28-29; Revelation 1:4-8) 
-No sinful person can enter the Kingdom of God, unless they are washed by the blood of Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) 
-Only those born again can enter the Kingdom of God through Christ Jesus by repentance and belief in Him. (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; John 3:5; James 2:5) 
-We represent Christ as citizens of His Kingdom while we remain on earth, in contrast to those of the kingdom of darkness. (Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 6:12; Acts 20:18) 
-“Worthy” (ἀξίως) comes from the idea of balancing scales, in that Christians are to give equal weight to their proclamation of Scripture as they do by their living in accordance to Scripture. 
-The apostles often called believers to comport themselves so that their profession matched their way of living. (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 3 John 1:5-6; 
2. A Christian Gospel
-“Gospel” (εὐαγγελίου) is defined as the evangel of Christ. 
-The Gospel is the message that Christ is the Son of God (Mark 1:1) who died for our sins on the Cross by taking on our sins so that we might become His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18) through being born, sealed, and sanctified by the Spirit (Titus 3:5), given eternal life through Christ’s triumph over death (Hebrews 12:14-15; John 11:25-26) to the glory and praise of God (Ephesians 1:3-6). 
-Paul’s mission was to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24; Romans 15:18-19) 
-Sinful man is blinded by evil to the saving message of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), but the Light of the world opens the blind eyes of unbelievers in order that they might see Him and His salvation. (Isaiah 42:6-7; Luke 4:16-21) 
-Christians are called to be unashamed of the Gospel. (Romans 1:16)
-Christians are called to preach the Gospel. (Mark 16:15)
-Christians are called to live the Gospel. (Galatians 2:20; 1 John 3:16) 
-Christians are called to defend the Gospel. (1 Peter 3:15)
-Christians are called to suffer for the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8-10). Estimates place the number of Christian martyrs at 70,000,000 in the last two millennia. This equates to the populations of modern-day nations such as Turkey, Egypt, or Iran. 
-Christians experienced death at the hands of several Caesars, such as Nero and Domitian in the first century. Christianity was outlawed under Trajan in the first part of the second century A.D., and persecution continued throughout the next two centuries. Under Diocletian and Galerius in A.D. 303-324, persecution became very severe. 
3. A Constant Conviction
-“So that whether I come and see you” states that Paul expected the Philippians to live worthily of the Gospel when he returned to them.  
-“Or am absent” stipulates that the Philippians were to conduct themselves worthily of the Gospel when Paul was unavailable to observe, instruct, and interact with them. 
-Paul was present in spirit with churches when absent with them in body (1 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:3; Colossians 2:5). 
-The basis for remaining steadfast to the conviction to hold a worthy Gospel-centered life stems from the omniscience of God (1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 139:7-12). 
-All of us, being observed by an omniscient God who sees all things, will be held accountable for our actions. (Job 21:11; Hebrews 4:13) 
-We are to continue in Gospel faithfulness in our Christian walk, no matter if we are observed by others or not—and this is only possible by God giving us the strength to remain faithful. (Hebrews 10:23; 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:21) 
-“I may hear” (ἀκούω) means to hear by report. 
-Paul often sent Timothy to churches in order to hear about the current state of the churches (1 Corinthians 4:7; along with Titus (2 Corinthians 8:16-18), Tychichus and Onesimus (Colossians 4:7-11), and many others.
-Paul would eventually send Timothy (Philippians 2:19) and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:28-29) in order to encourage the church at Philippi and also so that he might hear as to their current state. 
4. A Firm Stand
-“You are standing firm” (στήκετε) has the sense of absolutely and resolutely standing firm to defend a piece of ground or a set of truths. 
-Falsehood cannot ultimately stand in the face of truth (John 8:44), but truth will stand firm forever. (Psalm 33:1; Psalm 93:5) 
-The Lord indicted those who did not stand firm in the day of strife. (Isaiah 7:9; Ezekiel 13:5) 
-In history, the people of God stood firm because of His mighty power. (Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:17)
-It is a Gospel imperative to stand strong, firmly planted on foundational truths of the Christian worldview. (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 4:1)
-We are to stand strong for the Lord, for He will preserve us from any eternal harm (Psalm 31:24; Luke 21:19; Psalm 20:8; Proverbs 10:25) as we look to His return. (James 5:8) 
-The Lord causes those genuinely redeemed to stand firm in Him. (2 Corinthians 1:21-24) 
-“One spirit” (ἑνὶ πνεύματι) refers to the unification of the spirits of believers into one united purpose. 
-The redeemed of God are united in one spirit by Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 32:29; John 17:20-23) because they are united in one spirit with Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:17) 
-Disunity occurs when men and women of God do not first look to the interests of Christ (Philippians 2:21) nor of others (2 Timothy 3:2). 
-By contrast, men and women of God should look to the interests of others before their own (1 Corinthians 10:24) because of Christ’s example. (Romans 15:1-7) 
-“One mind” (μιᾷ ψυχῇ) means “with one soul”. 
-Those not setting their minds on the things of God receive the rebuke of God. (Matthew 16:23; Romans 8:5; Philippians 3:19) 
-We are to set our minds on the things of Christ (Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Chronicles 22:19; 1 Chronicles 29:13). 
-Setting our minds on the things of Christ unites us in service for Christ (2 Kings 12:4-16; Zephaniah 3:9; Romans 12:11; John 12:26).
5. A Gospel Striving
-“Striving side by side” (συναθλοῦντες) was used in the Greek world to refer to groups of athletes competing as a team against an opposing team during the Greek games. It also referred to a unit of soldiers standing united in battling against an opposing force. The Philippians would certainly have been familiar with the Olympic Games and the Isthmian Games. 
-Christians are to band together in contending for the faith (Jude 1:3), for such is our duty and our honor. (1 Timothy 6:12) 
-The Lord leads us victorious in battle (Exodus 15:3; Nehemiah 4:20; Psalm 24:8; Psalm 76:1-4), who will one day stand upon Mount Zion and conquer over those who wage war against Him and His saints. (Zechariah 14:1-3; Psalm 46:8-10; Isaiah 2:4) 
-The weapons of our warfare have divine power, for they are the weapons God has given to us to be victorious in suffering, striving, standing, and overcoming (Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:15-17) due solely to the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)
-“For the faith of the Gospel” specifies what the objective of fighting together as a band of brothers and sisters in Christ is to be. 
-Men will fall away from the Gospel (1 Timothy 4:1-2), but our charge is to hold fast to the faith that says Christ alone is Lord and Savior. (Acts 4:12; Acts 13:23-38; 1 Timothy 2:5-7)
-Paul’s mission was to be a minister of this Gospel and this faith (2 Timothy 1:8-11), and so must we faithfully hold fast to this Gospel and this faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:13; James 1:2; 2 Peter 3:15). 

Conclusion
-“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV)
-“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV) 

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Philippians Week 13-Joy in Discipling Others

April 9, 2014
Introduction
-“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22 ESV) 

Philippians 1:25-26

Context
-In the Roman world, imprisonment did not constitute sentencing. Prisoners were condemned to hard labor in the galleys or the mines, banishment, or execution. If prisoners were released, they were accepted back into Roman society.
-Wealthy individuals were kept under house arrest, while slaves and the poor were kept in little more than holes in the ground that they were cast into. During Paul’s first imprisonment, he would have lived more comfortably than he would have in his second imprisonment. Scripture speaks how he lived at his own expense during his first Roman imprisonment. 
-Paul knew that God’s truth will ultimately triumph over error when God’s truth stands trial in the courtroom of error. 

Verse 25
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,
1. A Strong Resolution
-“Convinced” (πεποιθὼς) refers to God’s persuasion to the will of those who are obedient. 
-Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly, meeting all the requirements of God’s righteous Law. (Hebrews 5:5-10; Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2:13) 
-Justification by faith alone through Christ alone enables us to obey God’s will through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
-Christ’s obedience makes our obedience possible; obedience of our own accord that satisfies God’s righteous decree is impossible. (Galatians 2:21; Romans 10:1-13) 
-Because of our great salvation, Christ calls us and equips us for obedience. (John 15:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
-The standard for following God’s revealed will finds itself in the Word of God. (2 Kings 18:1-6; 2 Chronicles 31:20-21; Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:59; John 8:51)
-The power to obey God begins with the transforming power of His Word through His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 2:10-14; Psalm 119:112; Psalm 143:10; 1 John 3:24) 
-Obedience marks the genuine people of God. (Joshua 22:5; Psalm 99:7; Psalm 119:100-102; Ezra 7:10)
-Christ’s will for Paul was that he be a minister the Gentiles. (Galatians 2:8; Romans 15:14-16) 
-Paul declared that he firmly purposed to remain in order to both obey God’s will and to continue his ministry, particularly with the Philippians in mind. 
2. A Loving Purpose
-In the statement “I know that I will remain” is one Jesus Himself modeled many times in His ministry. (John 13:21) 
-Jesus’ earthly ministry exemplified more agape love than we can fully comprehend. (John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:19) 
-Jesus discipled the scattered sheep of Israel because of His compassion for them. (Numbers 27:16-17; Matthew 9:35-36) 
-Jesus gave words of hope to those whom He would lovingly restore in the future. (Luke 22:31-32)
-Jesus gave His very life for us as the very Creator of life in order to redeem a people for Himself. (1 John 4:9; Revelation 1:5-6) 
-Paul declared that he purposed to strengthen the flock of God so that they might know the agape nature and finished work of Christ. (Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1:22-23) 
-Christians are not to tarry long in fellowship with those who actively exhibit scorn and contempt for Christ and His Word. (Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 26:4-5; Proverbs 1:8-16; Proverbs 4:14; Proverbs 24:1) 
-Christians are to tarry long in fellowship with those redeemed by the Lamb and submissive to His Word. (John 17:21-13; Colossians 2:1-2; 1 John 1:3; 1 John 1:7)
-Christians are called to serve the flock of God by remaining with those God has put them with for His good purposes. (John 21:15) 
3. A Progress in Faith
-“Progress” (προκοπὴν) refers to the same sort of progress as used in Philippians 1:12. This progress occurred against obstacles, but occurred nonetheless. 
-All genuine believers progress in the faith through the power of Christ. (Job 17:9; Psalm 92:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:3) 
-The focus on the roadway of the Christian life is Jesus Christ and the promise of His glory. (Job 5:8-9; Psalm 84:5; Proverbs 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:13-15)
-The obstacles along the pathway to the Christian life occur in our presence in evil society (Psalm 22:16; Psalm 10:1-4; Psalm 53:1), those who seek to destroy our God-given mission and testimony (Psalm 17:11; Psalm 37:14; Psalm 37:32; Psalm 56:6), the temptation to sin (Matthew 26:41; Luke 22:40; Romans 6:12-14), the devil (Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7), persecution (Matthew 5:10; Luke 6:22; John 15:18; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-14), loss of comradeship and fellowship (2 Samuel 15:12; Job 19:19; Psalm 41:9) and the effects of the Fall on our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
-Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), those who sought to destroy Him (Colossians 2:15), temptation to sin (Hebrews 4:15), and the evil one (1 John 3:8). He is the One who provides us with fellowship (2 Corinthians 13:14) and the promise that we will be redeemed from the Curse. (Philippians 3:20-21) 
-Paul declared that he purposed to return to the Philippians to equip them to better overcome the obstacles they face. Spiritual leaders are to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13) through the preaching of the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-2), through prayer (Philippians 1:3-4), through protecting the saints from danger (Acts 20:28), and through helping the saints pursue Christ (Galatians 4:19) both now and in the next generation (Psalm 78:4). 
4. A Joy in Faith
-“Joy” (χαρὰν) comes from the words meaning “to extend favor towards”, and ultimately arises from the awe and gladness of beholding the grace and glory of God in Christ. 
-In the presence of Christ is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15; Psalm 140:13) 
-God’s glory infinitely surpasses our full comprehension, for it transcends all that we know. (1 Kings 1:18; Psalm 57:5; Psalm 108:5; Psalm 148:4) 
-God’s grace also infinitely surpasses our full comprehension, for we cannot grasp the infinite worth in our finite minds. (Romans 5:15; 2 Corinthians 9:14-15)
-Joy sustains us in trials (Romans 12:12; Colossians 1:11; James 1:2), strengthens us (Psalm 16:8-9; Nehemiah 8:10), and infuses us with hope (Romans 15:13) as we look to Christ and what He has done for us. (John 16:22-24; Psalm 71:23; Isaiah 29:19; Jeremiah 15:16) 
-As Paul had done with others, so now he worked for the joy of the believers he ministered to. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
-“Faith” (πίστεως) always results because of God’s gracious gift to mankind along with His unmerited saving grace. 
-Faith alone in Christ alone saves us (Romans 3:21-31), being the very gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) for His glory and our salvation (Romans 4:20; Romans 5:1-2) 
-We continue to walk in Christ by faith (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7), for faith in Christ overcomes the world. (1 Timothy 6:12; 1 John 5:4) 
-Believers are to strengthen the faith of those around them. (Acts 14:21-22) 

Verse 26
so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
1. A Worthy Witness
-“The emphasis is not on the action itself, but on the basis for it. As the Philippians would experience the progress and joy that Paul's labors among them would produce, they would have new and greater reasons for overflowing with joy. This reason for glorying (their ‘proud confidence’) would be found ‘in Christ Jesus,’ Of course, but its immediate occasion would be ‘on account of me’ (en emoi), said Paul. His ministry among them would enable them to see more clearly the riches of their salvation in Christ.”-Expositor’s Bible Commentary
-The leader over the flock of God should be an example sound doctrine and godly living (1 Timothy 4:13-16)
-The leader over the flock of God should live in a fashion worthy of their calling as a minister of God’s Word and a shepherd over the redeemed people of God. (Ephesians 4:1) 
-The leader over the flock of God should have a deep and abiding love for God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 17:19; Joshua 1:8)
-The leader over the flock of God should faithfully teach the Word of God to God’s people. (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 4:8-10)
-The leader over the flock of God should urge the flock of God to forsake ungodliness. (Genesis 35:2; 1 Samuel 7:3)
-The leader over the flock of God should live their life in a manner which causes men to glorify God. (Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 1 Peter 2:12) 
2. A Glory in Christ
-“Glory” (καύχημα) has the connotation of boasting or voicing great confidence in something. In other words, it means to exult in something or someone
-The 1599 Geneva Study Bible translates verse 26 as “That ye may more abundantly rejoice in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” 
-The KJV translates verse 26 as “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” 
-The NASB translates verse 26 as “so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” 
-The HCSB translates verse 26 as “so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.”
-Believers are to glory in Christ and the knowledge of Him and His salvation. (Galatians 5:14; Jeremiah 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17) 
-Serving God and His people brings glory to Christ. (Romans 15:17) 
-“Ample cause” (περισσεύῃ) is used in Philippians 1:9 to describe the degree of what Paul speaks of; it means to exceed beyond all expected bounds. 
-Believers are to glory in Christ abundantly (Psalm 18:46; Psalm 34:3; Psalm 69:30; Psalm 99:5) knowing that Christ will abundantly provide for them beyond their expectations. (Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20-21) 
3. A Joyous Return
-“Coming” (παρουσίας) referred to the personal arrival of an individual.
-The apostles often spoke with great longing to be reunited with their brothers and sisters in Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:10; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13) 
-Paul would be reunited with those who had partnered with him in ministry (Philippians 1:7)
-Paul would be reunited with those whom he treasured with great affection in Christ. (Philippians 1:8)
-Paul would be reunited with those who earnestly prayed for him. (Philippians 1:19)
-Paul would be reunited with those who had genuine concern for him and his ministry. (Philippians 4:10)
-Paul would be reunited with those who shared in his hardships and troubles. (Philippians 4:14)
-Paul would be reunited with those who had supported him in his imprisonment. (Philippians 4:16)
-Ultimately, believers are united one with another because they are united in worship of God and His glory. (Psalm 95:6-7a; Psalm 100:3)

Conclusion
-“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Philippians Week 12-Joy in Life and Death, Part 2

April 2, 2014

Introduction
-“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” (Romans 1:8-15 ESV) 

Philippians 1:23-24

Context
-Paul addressed his perspective on life and death, for he did not know for certain if he would die or live in his current life situation. Nevertheless, his joy remained unabated in the future, for his aim in the future was to magnify Christ—and he was absolutely certain this would occur. Living here and now for Christ was the very purpose for life itself, and to die is infinite gain beyond the gain we experience here and now. 

Verse 23
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
1. A Progress Forward
-Paul answers the question in more detail as to why he could not choose, as stated prior in verse 22. 
-“I am hard pressed” (συνέχομαι) means to be pressed in on all sides, leaving only the narrow way forward. There would be no room to turn in this situation, for it referred to a traveler being hard pressed in a rock gorge where there was only room to go forward, but not enough room to turn around. 
-Jesus used this term during His days looking ahead to His crucifixion. (Luke 12:50)
-Such a status in life reflects the very nature of our salvation and our walk in Christ. (Mathew 7:13-14; Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 35:8; Psalm 118:19-21)
-Paul listed two scenarios, of which he had already spoken of in verses 21-22: to remain with God’s people or to be with Christ in glory. 
2. A Passion to Depart
-“Desire” (ἐπιθυμίαν) refers to strong feelings that passionately moved an individual to a certain state of mind.
-Jesus exhibited this sort of desire when looking ahead to the Last Supper, because of His love for His disciples and the future promise of His Kingdom coming fully to earth. (Luke 22:14-20; Matthew 22:29; John 15:12-17) 
-Desire of this sort produces great, intense longing; negatively, it referred to lust or sinful longings. (Romans 7:5-7; Proverbs 21:25-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:5) 
-Wrong desire leads to destructive ends and ultimately to death itself. (James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 4:3-5; Proverbs 11:23)
-Christ’s redeemed now no longer live controlled by evil desires, for they live for the purposes of God. (1 Peter 3:1-2; 2 Peter 2:1-4; Ephesians 4:20-24) 
-The Christian now finds his desires controlled by the Holy Spirit, after what the Spirit desires. (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 8:5; Colossians 3:1)
-The greatest desire for a Christian should be to be with Christ. (Psalm 16:2; Psalm 73:25; Colossians 3:11) 
-“Depart” (ἀναλῦσαι) in the Greek world referred to loosing the moorings on a ship or loosing the ropes of a tent in order to break camp. 
-Paul used this metaphor when describing the nature of remaining here in this life. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8) 
-Death comes to all men, but eternal life to those with faith in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 5:12-17)
-In light of eternity, our lives are but a vapor that passes away. (Job 8:9; Psalm 39:4-5; Psalm 102:11; Psalm 109:23; Psalm 144:3-4; James 4:14)
-In light of our unknown time of departure, we must remember that we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:10)  
3. A Presence with Christ
-Jesus Himself prayed that we would be with Him immediately at the moment of our death, and such proved true. (John 17:17-26; Luke 23:38-42) 
-We have been united with Christ in His death, and therefore we will be united with Him in His life. (Romans 6:4-11; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15) 
-Our eager expectation is to be reunited with our Lord at His appearing. (John 14:1-4; 
-Paul refuted a fallacious view of death by this statement, for “soul sleep” postulates that a person’s soul exists without consciousness or existence between the time of physical death and the return of Christ. The Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in soul sleep, but such does not comport with biblical revelation. 
-In Luke 16:22-25, human consciousness exists after death with no interruption. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. 
-Elijah and Moses testify to the fully-orbed consciousness of believers between the time of their departure and Christ’s second coming. (Matthew 17:1-4)
-At the consummation of Christ’s Kingdom, the souls of believers, having received glorified bodies, return with Him at His reign upon earth. (Revelation 19:11-14; Revelation 20:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16) 
-Those who die in Christ “sleep” physically, but their souls do not sleep. (Matthew 22:31-32) 
-At the moment of death, we will immediately be with Christ and see Him in His glory. (Job 19:25-27; Psalm 49:15)
4. A Profound Glory
-“For that is far better” (πολλῷ γὰρ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον) doubly emphasizes the surpassing glory of departing and being with Christ in paradise. 
-“Where is the person whose heart is so passionately in love with the promised glory of heaven that he feels like an exile and a sojourner on the earth? Where is the person who has so tasted the beauty of the age to come that the diamonds of the world look like marbles, and the entertainment of the world is empty, and the moral causes of the world are too small because they have no view to eternity? Where is this person?”—John Piper, March 31st Solid Joys devotional
-When we enter into glory, we escape the sin that entangles us. (Romans 7:22-25; Romans 8:1-4)
-When we enter into glory, Christ’s victory on the Cross and in the tomb will cause us to escape from death. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Hebrews 2:14-15) 
-When we enter into glory, we escape the effects of the Fall. (Romans 8:19-25; Revelation 22:3) 
-When we enter into glory, we will no longer experience pain. (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 25:8-7)
-When we enter into glory, we will be united with the saints forever in worship of the living God. (Revelation 7:9-10) 
-When we enter into glory, we will be forever with Christ. (Revelation 22:4; Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2; Psalm 140:3; Psalm 11:7)

Verse 24
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
1. A Remaining Contrast
-“But”, in typical Pauline fashion, introduces an important contrast worthy of great consideration. 
-“Remain” (ἐπιμένειν) means to tarry and to abide as if bound to something. 
-Our remaining in this life will be successful by abiding in Christ. (John 15:1-10) 
-God leaves His ambassadors on earth in order to continue serving Him and standing fast to His Word. (2 Kings 2:7-15) 
2. A Present Necessity
-“Necessity” (ἀναγκαιότερον) refers to the idea of being bonded to something or someone indispensably. 
-This term before referenced close bonds of friendships. (Acts 10:24)
-The Trinity itself is our example of inseparable fellowship and love in all holiness and righteousness. (Luke 3:21-22; Matthew 12:17-18; John 3:35)
-Men of faith in Scripture often demonstrated that they were bound together with their brethren in the Lord. (John 15:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Titus 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:2; 1 John 4:7) 
-During our allotted length of days, it is our duty, privilege, honor, and delight to serve our Lord and His people. (1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Peter 5:2; Ephesians 4:11-13)
-Serving the Lord in our lives brings us great joy. “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:2 KJV) 
-Serving the Lord in our lives is only made possible through His strength. (Joshua 24:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Psalm 37:5-6)
-We serve the Lord together with joy. (Isaiah 2:1-2; Psalm 122:1; Psalm 134:1) 
-Our service for the Lord drives our service for our brethren. (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23) 
3. A Sacrificial Existence
-“Account” (δι’) is a preposition meaning “across to the other side”. 
-Paul’s ministry greatly served those he ministered to, and such should be our impact on the lives of those around us. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; Philippians 4:1; Acts 20:34-38; Galatians 6:10)
-Christians in this life are to love each other. (Hebrews 13:1; John 13:34; Psalm 133:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 1:22) 
-Christians in this life are to serve each other. (1 Corinthians 14:26; 
-Christians in this life are to build one another up in Christlikeness. (Hebrews 10:24; Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14) 
-Christians in this life are to exhort one another to avoid sin. (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13; James 5:19-20) 
-Christians in this life are to partner together in the work of Christ and His Gospel. (Philippians 1:3-6) 
-Christians in this life are to encourage and strengthen one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 12:19)
-Christians in this life are to sacrifice for each other. (Hebrews 13:6; Romans 14:19)
-Paul declares that he was bound to the people God had blessed him with to serve. (1 Timothy 1:12) 

Conclusion
-“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1-7 ESV) 

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Philippians Week 11-Joy in Life and Death, Part 1

March 26, 2014
Introduction

-“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 ESV
-“It seems to me to be the highest stage of man to have no wish, no thought, no desire but Christ—to feel that to die were bliss if it were for Christ, that to live in penury and woe and scorn and contempt and misery were sweet for Christ, to feel that it did not matter what became of one's self, so that one's Master was but exalted, to feel that though, like a leaf, you are blown in the blast, you are quite free from anxiety, as long as you feel that the Master's hand is guiding you according to his will. Though like the diamond you must be cut, you care not how sharply you may be cut, so that you may be made fit to be brilliant in his crown.”—Charles Spurgeon

Philippians 1:21-22
Context
-Paul had previously declared that he desired to live courageously in the midst of his sufferings in order to bring honor to the name of Christ. He earnestly and eagerly expected the prayers of the Philippians and the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this in his life, especially when enduring Roman imprisonment and the wrongly-motivated ministry of fellow Christians who sought to detract from his ministry. Through it all, Paul rejoiced repeatedly in the Lord and in the partnership and fellowship he had with the church at Philippi.

Verse 21
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1. A Life for Christ
-“For” (γὰρ) specifies that Paul gave further reasons for his statement in verse 20.
-“To me” (Ἐμοὶ) emphasizes the importance of what Paul declared.
-God is the creator of all life. (Genesis 1:20-31; Job 33:4; Isaiah 42:5-6; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 27:5; Acts 17:24-25)
-God is the ruler over all life. (Job 12:10; Acts 17:28; Psalm 10:16; Psalm 145:13; Psalm 146:10)
-God is the redeemer of life. (Psalm 103:1-4; Psalm 111:9; Psalm 130:7)
-God is the sustainer of life. (Psalm 54:54; Psalm 37:24; Psalm 55:22; Psalm 119:116; Psalm 119:73; Psalm 145:14)
-God is the rescuer of life. (Psalm 66:8-9; Psalm 30:3; Proverbs 2:7-8; Psalm 97:10)
-God is the sovereign determiner of life. (Psalm 37:23; Psalm 139:16; Job 14:15)
-Christ is the creator of all life. (John 1:1-3; John 1:10; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6)
-Christ is the ruler over all life. (John 18:37; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16; Revelation 21:5)
-Christ is the redeemer of life. (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24-26; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
-Christ is the sustainer of life. (1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17)
-Christians have eternal life given to them by Jesus Christ. (John 4:13-14; John 10:27-28; John 17:1-2)
-Christians’ lives are marked by living for Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6)
-Christians’ lives are to be marked by a complete surrender to Christ. (Matthew 16:24-25)
-Christians live in order to accomplish the purposes of Christ. (Acts 23:1-11)
-Romans 14:7-8 states, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”
2. A Death for Gain
-“Gain” (κέρδος) occurs three times in the New Testament; twice Paul uses it to refer to empty gain.
-Paul in Philippians 3 declares that pedigree, education, religious zeal, position, and self-righteous perfection are all empty gain in and of themselves, for Christ is infinite gain. (Philippians 3:4-9)
-In Titus 1, Paul declares that false doctrine results in sordid gain. (Titus 1:10-11)
-"Personalize Paul's message for a moment. Read verse 21 as, ‘For me, to live is __________, and to die is __________.’ Then fill in the blanks. If you put ‘wealth’ in the first blank, dying brings not gain but loss. The same is true if you selected prestige, fame, power, or possessions because none of those things remain after death: prestige is lost, fame is forgotten, power is useless, and possessions are given to others. For verse 21 to make sense as Paul wrote it, only Christ can fill the first blank. Otherwise death is inevitably a loss. Many who read this will say, ‘I put Christ in my blank.’ But if they think about it carefully, they will realize that what they really meant was Christ plus wealth, Christ plus power, or Christ plus possessions. For verse 21 to read as Paul wrote it, Christ can't share the first blank with anything else. Those who truly live for Christ have no fear of death and make the best use of life: in both they glorify Christ. That was Paul's attitude and is to be ours as well."—John MacArthur
-Christians must not be distracted by things that ultimately consist of empty gain, such as money (1 Timothy 6:9-11), retribution (Leviticus 19:18), power (Matthew 20:25-26), self-centered marriage in contrast to a Gospel-centered marriage (Genesis 34:1-4; Judges 14:1-3), worldly prestige (Daniel 4:28-32), and education apart from wisdom (Proverbs 15:32-33).
-Those who seek things other than Christ in their lives die, having lived a vain and empty life. (Ecclesiastes 1:14; Ecclesiastes 2:21; Ecclesiastes 4:4)
-Christians must seek the Lord above all things, for Christ alone is infinite gain. (Psalm 119:2; Psalm 119:10; 2 Chronicles 15:8-15)
-Seeking Christ will bring God-glorifying blessings that cause us to grow in Christ and live His purposes for our lives. (Matthew 6:33; Isaiah 33:6)
-Death for a Christian brings unimaginable gain, for we will be with Christ forever and reign with Him eternally. (Acts 20:24; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:8)

Verse 22
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
1. An Unknown Future
-“If” specifies that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the prospect of fruitful labor, but not whether or not Paul would live or die in his Roman imprisonment.
-“Flesh” (σαρκί) refers here not to sin (as in Romans 7:5; Romans 7:18; Galatians 3:3), but to the physical body and earthly life. (2 Corinthians 10:3; Romans 1:3; 1 Peter 4:1-2)
-Death is the ultimate Curse as a result of the Fall, and it is certain for all of us. (Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 9;27) However, God no longer banishes us from eternal life through His saving work. (2 Samuel 14:14; John 5:24)
-As Christians, we do not know when our race will be finished or when our Lord will return and call us home. (James 4:14; Psalm 78:39; Psalm 144:4; Matthew 24:42-44; Matthew 25:13)
2. A Known Mission
-Some translations state “this is the fruit of my labor”, but continuing to live on earth was not the fruit of Paul’s labor. Rather, this is better translated as “this means fruitful labor for me”. Therefore, continuing to live meant continuing to fruitfully labor for Christ.
-“Fruitful” (καρπὸς) refers to the results of healthy fertilization and growth.
-God blesses the labor of those who fear Him and walk in His ways. (Psalm 128:2) The fruit of laboring in the Gospel brings forth divine blessing. (Colossians 1:5-6)
-“Labor” (ἔργου) means to exert energy in order to accomplish an intended aim.
-God’s first purpose for mankind was to work for Him in a newly created paradisiacal universe. (Genesis 2:15)
- In our lifetime, God has called us to serve Him in His Kingdom. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:21)
-Our work in the Lord is not in vain, for God is the One who causes us to work for him. (1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:6)
-Paul often used the language of labor when describing the nature of Gospel living and ministry. (Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1)
-Ultimately, our fruitful labor in the Lord is solely due to the grace and power of God, and He alone is worthy of the praise for it. (Isaiah 26:12; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
-God will reward us for our labor in Him and for Him. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12) 
3. An Uncertain Choice
-“which I shall choose” (αἱρήσομαι) means to elect a position as preferable or to choose a side for one’s self.
-Believers know that their time of living and dying is in the hand of the Lord (Psalm 31:5; Psalm 31:15), but they do not know when the Lord’s appointed times will be made known. (Ecclesiastes 9:12)
-The Lord had not revealed Paul’s future to him; therefore, in thinking through the benefits to living or dying, Paul declared he did not know which would be preferable in his immediate future.

Conclusion
-“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Peter 1:13 ESV

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