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Sunday, May 31, 2020

“I am Glad and Rejoice with All of You” [Matt's Messages]

“I am Glad and Rejoice with All of You”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 31, 2020 :: Philippians 2:12-18

I invite you to open your Bibles to the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul’s missionary letter to his beloved church friends at Philippi, the book of Philippians chapter 2.

Next Sunday, Lord-willing, I’ll get to announce the page number in the Pew Bible once again (to some of you)! Because we are planning to resume in-person on-campus worship gatherings starting June 7.

However, space is limited so we need everybody who is planning to come to make a reservation for their household’s seating section in one of the two new worship gatherings. 

But this weekend, still none of us have a Pew Bible in our hands. We have to grab our own Bibles and find Philippians chapter 2.



It shouldn’t surprise you by now with this seventh message in Philippians to learn that Paul is going to talk again about JOY.

In Philippians, Paul talks about joy again and again and again.

In our passage for today, he ends by saying (v.17), “I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!

Paul says that both the Philippians and he himself have many reasons to rejoice.

And to rejoice with each other.

That’s important. They can and should rejoice with each other.

What is the logic here that leads to this shared rejoicing?

What is the reason?

It actually might surprise you.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We want to start with verse 12.

Paul has just asked each of the Philippians to put other people first. He knows they have been struggling with one another so he encourages them to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (2:3).

And then he gave them the greatest example of that kind of humility and service, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who let go of his exalted privileges to become one of us and die on the Cross.

And then was exalted! And given the name above every name. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...” (vv.10-11a).

And then Paul writes our starting verse for today. Verse 12.

“Therefore [because of all that], my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Stop there for a second.

I want to make four points of application from this passage.

And they all have the word “out” in them. See if you can remember them all by the end. Here’s number one.

#1. WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION.

Do you see that in verse 12? Paul tells the Philippians (and by extension us) to work out your salvation.

Now, what does that mean?

That might sound a little dangerous to our theological ears. “Work out your salvation.” And it almost doesn’t sound like Paul. Paul is the guy who insists that we cannot be saved by works, right?

Well, this is Paul. And it’s important to hear what he’s saying and note what he’s not saying.

He’s not saying that we need to WORK FOR our salvation.

We could never earn our way to God.

And he’s not saying that we need to WORK TO KEEP our salvation.

As if God has gotten it started but it’s up to our good works to remain worthy of it.

It doesn’t work that way.

Paul is saying that we need to WORK OUT our salvation. We need to live out the potential of it. We need to work out the details. We need to live out the implications of our salvation.

We have salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Now we need to work out that salvation, actualizing it in everyday life.

We do need to do good works, but they are the fruit of our faith.

Working from the changed-inside out.

And the good news is in the next verse. Verse 13 tell us how it’s possible.

“...for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

We work out, but God works in!

Notice that this both/and not either/or.

We tend to think that the work in our salvation is either God’s our ours.
But it’s both, isn’t it?

We work out, but God works in.

If God didn’t work in, then we could never work out.

But because God has worked in our hearts, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Does that make sense?

Before we move on to the second application, I want to dwell for a second or two on what Paul about his personal presence back in verse 12.

He says, “As you have obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence...work out your salvation.”

Paul is not with them. I feel that in Philippians like I never have before. I think because we have been so separated from each other these last 3 months.

I’ve been making these videos, but we’re not together.

So Paul writes them a letter, the preeminent communication technology of the day.

And he says, “Beloved, I know that you will do this because you obey not just when I’m with you but when we’re apart.”

Work out your salvation.

I think this raises the application question, “Do I tend to live as a Christian only when others are watching or all of the time?”

We need each other.

But we also need to remind each other to keep obeying the Lord Jesus whether we are present with each other or absent from each other.

And here’s why. Because God is present no matter what.

That’s why Paul says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Not scared that it won’t work. But in awe and wonder and reverence that GOD is at work inside of my heart. At the desire level. At the level of the will. And at the behavior level. To act according to his good purpose. Work out your salvation.

Now, what does that look like in practical terms. Are you ready? Verse 14.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

Ooh. I wonder if there is a loophole around this one?

I mean maybe it doesn’t mean what I think it means in the original Greek!

No. I looked it up, and it means, “Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

Man, is that hard to do. Especially right now when so many things are not as we would like them to be.

Do everything without complaining. No grumbling. No murmuring. No running on about our discontentment. No whining.

And no arguing. No quarreling especially with other Christians. This is probably what was going on back at Philippi, and Paul was trying to nip it in the bud.

He’s not saying that they must agree on every single thing, but no fighting.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

If all of the Christians started to do that on, let’s just say social media, what difference would that make?

Now, remember, there is difference between groaning and grumbling. The Israelites groaned when things got bad, and the Lord heard their prayers of lament. We can and should groan when things are not as they ought to be.

And so much in our world right now is not as it ought to be!

But when the Israelites grumbled, then the Lord disciplined them.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing...”

If all of the Christians started to do that on what difference would that make?

Wouldn’t we look stunningly different from the rest of the world?

Here’s application point number two.

#2. STAND OUT IN YOUR GENERATION.

What happens when we work out our salvation by doing everything without complaining or arguing? V.15

“...so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...”

Here’s where I get to talk about Cook Forest.

Some of you have been waiting for a Cook Forest illustration for a while.

On a clear night at our house in Lanse, we can see a lot of stars.

But at Cook Forest on a clear night, you can see like whole Milky Way.

I love to go out into the middle of field at the campground just stare up into space.

The stars really POP. They stand out against the blackness of the night sky.

That’s what Paul is talking about in verse 15. If we live out verses 12 through 14 we will stand out against the backdrop of our sinful society.

And big point here is not whether or not we lie or steal or murder.

We shouldn’t do that either.

But whether or not we complain and argue.

Do we complain or argue just like the world does?

Or do we stand out?

Ask yourself that application question right now. Is my life marked by complaining and arguing right now? What would my social media feed say about that? To whom might I need to apologize?

Because if we’re doing this right, we will be different from the world in our attitude and our words and our relationships, and people will notice and that will give us a chance to share the gospel with them.

It will create opportunities for evangelism. Look at verse 16.

“[you shine like stars in the universe] as you hold out the word of life”

That’s application point number three.

#3. HOLD OUT THE WORD OF LIFE.

Here! Here’s the words that lead to life.

Here! Here is the gospel. The good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Here! Here is why my life is different. Why I don’t complain and quarrel all of the time and apologize when I do.

Here!

Remember our focus as a church in 2020 is not to just survive 2020.

Our focus is BOLD EVANGELISM. Sharing the good news about Jesus Christ with everyone who needs to hear it.

To whom could you hold out the word of life this coming week?

I’ve been giving away these books. Where Is God in a Coronavirus World? by Oxford Professor John Lennox.

Our church family gave one to each of the graduating seniors at West Branch this year.

It is full of the words of life.

We still have a small pile of them in the breezeway at church if you want to pick one up and give it someone. Or a Bible. We’ve got those too.

How are you sharing the gospel with those need to hear it these days?

Hold out the word of life.

Last but not certainly not least. Number four.

#4. POUR OUT YOUR LIFE AS A JOYFUL SACRIFICE. V.16

Live this way, Paul says, “in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

This is all about their relationship, isn’t it?

Paul wants them to work out their salvation in such a way that he won’t be ashamed to have invested all of this time in their spiritual growth.

If they turn out to be real genuine Christians, then all of his sacrifices along the way are worth it.
He didn’t “run or labor for nothing.”

Even. if. he. dies.

Remember, Paul is in prison for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And it’s quite possible that he might be executed for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Eventually, he will be.

But Paul says, “That’s okay. Helping you all to know and live for Jesus is worth it.”

It’s worth dying for.

I think that’s what he means when he talks about being poured out in verse 17. He is drawing on the Old Testament sacrificial system. You can read about it in Exodus [29:38-41 for example].

The morning and evening offerings that were sacrificed on the altar included a drink offering (a libation) that was poured out on top of the sacrificial lamb. The drink offering added something meaningful, but it was really worth nothing if there was no lamb.

[Maybe it’s a good thing we aren’t in the auditorium today or I might pour out some big drink on floor of the platform!]

Paul is saying that if the Philippians [whom he loves but is separated from] work out their salvation, and stand out in their generation, and hold out the word of life–then their service will be a sweet sacrifice to God and his service of ministry to them will be a drink offering poured out on top–a meaningful–“worth it” kind of sacrifice.

Even if he dies.

Can you relate to that?

Let me ask it to you this way. If the Lord were to return or you were to die this week (and either one is possible!), could you rejoice that your life had been lived in worship of Jesus Christ and ministry to others in His name?

Again Paul is happy to die.


In chapter 1, he was happy to die because he’d get to be with Christ.

In chapter 2, he is happy to die knowing that he had poured out his life in worship of Jesus and ministry in Jesus’ name.

That’s why he says, “I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Not because we are all healthy and prosperous and #blessed.

But because we have Jesus, and we have one another.

And even over the distance, we can be glad and rejoice with one another!

Because Jesus is worth it.


***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"

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