Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Brief Overview of Philippians 1

The name Philippians means "love of horses" and might remind us as believers that we are in a race and that our strength for the race is found in Christ alone. It is good to also remember of fact that the assembly in Philippi was established by Paul about 10 years early. In Acts 16 we noticed that this little assembly was founded on three principles represented by three people who were in the assembly from its beginning: 

1. Prayer represented by Lydia
2. Power represented by the liberated slave girl
3. Praise represented by Paul, Silias and the Jailer

Joy is a repeating theme. It is mentioned 16 times in this book and Paul teaches us in:

Chapter 1 How to have joy in-spite of circumstances.
Chapter 2 How to have Joy in-spite of people.
Chapter 3 How to have Joy in-spite of things.
Chapter 4 How to have Joy that defeats worry.

We notice that Paul wrote this letter to all the saints (those set apart for God's purpose) in Christ Jesus (our Position), connected to the Man in the glory. It was also noticed that the bishops (overseers) and deacons are on the same level as the saints. This emphasizes the another purpose of the book, which is to help us experience and enjoy Christian unity. Paul gave thanks for them and their fellowship in the gospel.

In Philippians 1:5-11 we can learn that Paul seemed to operation with three reference points in mind, from the first day their relationship with Christ began (Acts 16). The present "until now" and then the day of Jesus Christ, which is a day of accountability. It is not the same as the day of the Lord. The day of Jesus would be when the believers stand before the judgement seat of Christ and give an account for how we live. It has nothing to do with our salvation.

Paul speaks much about confidence (1:6, 14, 25), the Believer should live a confident Christian life. And this verse also speaks of the assurance that we can have, knowing that if Christ began a good work in us He will complete it. he never gives up on us! In verse 7-8 we saw his affection for the saints. This takes us back to Acts 16 again. The Lord's prayer in John 17:26 was brought in here, along with Romans 5:5. The thought was that His love is in each of us and we are able to love one another!

We see in the rest of this prayer (1:9-11) that having spoken of the possession of love Paul wants them to make progress in that love and to be productive in it that their love may abound more and more. When he used the word "abound" he was speaking of the extent of their love. When he used the words "still more and more" he was referring tot he effectiveness of their love! When Paul spoke of "knowledge and discernment" he was showing us how love is to stay focused. Knowledge is knowing about spiritual things and discernment is knowing how to apply that knowledge.This kind of love is to be sincere, real, and not hypocritical, it is to be done without being a stumbling block to another realizing that we all will give an account in the day of Jesus Christ, so now we ought to desire to produce fruit that would be in keeping with His righteousness and that would bring Him glory and praise. 

In Philippians 1:12-19 we can see that Paul was very much concern that the Christian move forward in his or her walk with the Lord. He uses phrases like "for the furtherance of the gospel," "being filled with fruits of righteousness," "fruit from my labor" (1:11,12, 25). He desired that they and us make forward progress and never simply stand still.

Paul saw the obstacles as opportunities for the gospel to shared no matter what the motives of those that shared it. Paul relied on two major things to help strengthen him, the prayers of the Lord's people and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Much discussion was enjoyed but this term "Spirit of Jesus Christ." So much that it caused me to come home a study the subject further. 

Paul was not confident in himself, but in his God (Philippians 1:22-26)! He knew that he would come through the deep waters and see his friends again. It was noted that the word," earnest expectation" is made up of three words, "away, head and watch." Together these three words give us the idea of Paul watching something so intently that his head is turned away from everything else. This really emphasizes Paul's life for Christ, he was totally sold out for Jesus Christ! He had a single focus in life and wanted to have a clear conscience and not be ashamed when he appeared before the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9-10, 1 John 2:28). He was determined to keep a courageous testimony, "with all boldness". He made a point to keep a Christ-Centered focus that Christ might be magnified in his body whether by life or death!

When we magnify Christ it has to be telescopic, not mirco-scopic. A telescope brings something big and brings it near. A microscope takes something small and makes it big. Psalm 34:3, Luke 1:46 and John 3:30 connect to magnifying our God! 

Philippians 1:27-30 was the subject of last weeks study. There were only a few verses covered, but we walked away with many profitable thoughts! Paul challenges us to have a "conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ." This word conduct is interesting, it is where we get our word "politics" It is translated else where "citizenship" (Phil. 3:20). The word actually means city and is found in our words like Minneapolis and Indianapolis. When we speak of metropolitan or metropolis we are using the same word. What Paul is telling us is that we belong to a different city altogether so we ought walk worthy of the place we are identified with. Just as an American is to live in accordance with the laws of the land so is a Christian to live according to standard of the gospel of Christ!

Another thought that came out was that we are to strive together, not strife together! The thought with striving together is to stand side by side. It is an sports word that actually means athlete. It reminds us all that we are on the same team!

While the adversaries of the Christian are many we should not be like spooked horses, which is the thought behind the word terrified. Even if we suffer for Christ we must realize that it really is a gift from God. Paul actually points this out twice when he said "from God" and "it has been granted"...to suffer. He goes onto to calls this suffering a conflict. The Christian life is not a playground, often times it is a battleground! But we need to always remember the enemy is very real but he is not other Christians!

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