Faithlife
Faithlife

Maturity

Philippians: To Live Is Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God's will for every Christian is spiritual maturity: love, knowledge, discernment, purity, blamelessness, bearing the fruit of righteousness in Christ to God's glory.

Notes & Transcripts

Greeting

This morning, we begin a new series studying Philippians. Our administrative assistant, David Aukema, has shared the video we just watched on Facebook and will share it on our website. It gives a great overview of the whole book, and it might be worth viewing once and a while as we go through the series.
Paul, as was his custom, begins the letter with the greeting, which seems backwards to the way we write letters today. He starts with the sender, and then he addresses the recipients.
Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, which he founded during his second missionary journey. He’s writing from prison, which he alludes to in verse 7. He mentions his partner in ministry, Timothy. Timothy was a young man, who Paul discipled. In fulfilling Jesus’ command to make disciples, Paul followed Jesus’ method of disciple making. Jesus chose 12 disciples and discipled them for three years. Additionally, he singled out three of the twelve, and taught them specific things that he didn’t share with the others, but were shared later. Jesus’ pattern was to teach, do while others watched, then have others do while he watched, and then he send them out on their own, after he ascended and sent the Holy Spirit. That’s how Paul discipled Timothy and many others.
It is Paul first addresses the congregation, all the saints, and then he mentions the elders and the deacons. He concludes his greeting with the standard, grace and peace—grace from the new covenant—new testament, peace from the old covenant—the old testament, to show that they are together one.

Partnership with the Gospel

Paul had a great relationship with the Christians in Philippi, such that he regularly remembered them in his prayers. In the same way Len Kooy remembers us in his prayers on his Sea to Sea missionary journey across Canada. He considered them partners in ministry, and they understood their role, not only in continuing the work he did of sharing the gospel with others, but also the role of giving him encouragement and support. As we saw in the video, they sent their pastor, Epaphroditus to Rome to bless and encourage Paul with gifts and offerings. Epaphroditus took on this task even though it put him in harm’s way, and he suffered serious illness.
The Philippian church faithfully continued the work that Paul did. What did Paul do? He preached the gospel. He found people who were receptive to his ministry: Lydia a rich business entrepreneur, the Philippian jailer and his whole family, and the slave girl who once had been controlled by demons—all of them and many others became disciples of Christ. And these disciples share the gospel and taught and discipled many others who became disciples.
The gospel isn’t simply something we receive. Like, “I’m saved now, I’m good.” It’s much more than that! It’s being adopted into a family. In families, everyone has responsibilities, opportunities to care for and serve one another. Some call them chores, some call them duties, some call them deeds of love. Parents have expectations for one another, for their children, and children have expectations for one another and for their parents. This is part of being family. And all who believe in Jesus Christ are part of his family, and he has expectations.
e phrase, “Once saved, always saved”? That is true, of course, but it can lead to inaction. Suppose you were chosen to be part of a team. You could say, “Once part of the team, always part of the team.” But if you didn’t do anything as a member of the team, what would happen?
When we admit our sin, believe in Jesus Christ, believe that he paid for all our sins, the things we’ve done wrong, we must also take the next step of committing ourselves to him and doing the work of his mission.
His mission it to tell other people what he’s done. It’s to make disciples. It’s sharing what we’ve received, and passing it onto others.

Work

The work that Jesus Christ began in them and is faithful to complete is the work of sharing the gospel and making disciples.
A disciple is a student. But don’t picture in your mind a student in class, or in a lecture. Rather, picture an apprentice. I’ve had the privilege of chatting with many students from TDCH, Unity, and Bradford High who were in a co-op program. The program enabled them to enter the work force in a field of their choosing and gain experience as part of their schooling. The program set up mentors who taught them, demonstrated for them, observed them trying things out, and corrected them. Many have gone on to work for their co-op companies, as full employees.
It’s what Paul did in his ministry, it’s what God commands us to do in ours. We are to follow Jesus’ model of mentoring. Teach and show, the student observes. Then the student tries and the teacher observes, then the student goes out and does, replicating the process. This is the good work begun in us that Christ is faithful to complete in us. Can you think of some ways that Christ working to complete it in you? Are you mentoring, or do you know of someone you can mentoring in the faith? Someone you can shepherd? Or maybe you’re wanting to be discipled, who can teach and show you something you’d like to learn?

Prayer for their Maturity

Discipleship develops maturity. Maturity means striving to be more and more like Jesus. We are to be self-controlled in how we live, what we say, what we think. We are to bless and encourage others. We are to use scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
Do you consider yourself a mature Christian? Paul wrote to Philippi to encourage them to continue growing in maturity. That’s our goal also.
He mentions six things he prays the Philippian church, and us, will see:

1. Love Abound

Our love for one another should always be evident. It is a reflection of the love we’ve received from God, and naturally should flow out toward others. This is agape love, or commitment love. It’s a love that doesn’t depend upon feelings, friendships, or even having our expectations met. It is a choice, that because so and so is a child of God, I will love them.

2. Knowledge & Insight

The love that abounds, abounds in knowledge and insight. As we gain knowledge about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we take that knowledge and use it. Can you imagine a person learning a trade like carpentry, but only by studying books, and watching others. Not once picking up a hammer or saw? But by taking up the tools of the trade, mere knowledge becomes experiential knowledge, you understand how the grain of wood affects the way it is cut.

3. Discernment

3. Discernment

We are to abound in love, through knowledge of God, and insight, to discern what is best. What is the best way to share the gospel? Is this individual receptive to discussing faith? How can we as a congregation share the incredible gift of Christ to those around us?
I see the gift of Christ as a table laden with a vast quantity of food, excellent food, the choicest of all foods. And I see myself in a community that’s starving. Now, I can keep the knowledge of the food to myself, or I can share it. What should I do? What should we do?

4. Purity

The sense of this word in Greek has more to do with being honest and straightforward in your attitude and speech. It has to do with sincerity, no ulterior motives or agendas. Be who you are, be loving, but don’t seek ways to manipulate situations for your personal benefit.

5. Blameless

This word carries with it the idea of how you live your life affects others. By striving to be holy yourself, you are more likely to influence others to be holy. But if you are sinning, you will lead others to sin. Being blameless carries the weight of living in such a way that you don’t cause others to sin. Be careful how you live! Others are watching you!

6. Bearing the fruit of righteousness

Our connection to Christ comes with expectations. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (). “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have love you, so you must love one another” ().
Bearing the fruit of righteousness means doing what God requires, doing what is right. We live in conformity to Christ, not by our own wisdom or what’s right in our own eyes, but what is right in God’s eyes.

Conclusion

If we are God’s children, fellow believers alongside Paul and the Philippian church, we will demonstrate the qualities and characteristics of Christ. Let us not assume anything, but live and strive so as to gain the prize! Let us run, with the strength God himself gives us! And let us do, what God calls us to do, love one another as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us! Amen.
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