Thursday, June 09, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~ Hold Fast to the Word of Life: Phil 2.16-18

Paul has been exhorting us here saying, “Don’t just claim to be the sons of God. Live like you are the sons of God. Live out what it means to be the children of the living God.”

Jesus himself commands this to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul is just picking up on that theme in with those three exhortations in verses 14-15 from last week.

In verses 16-18, he’s continuing the exhortations about Christian living telling us four things here following up on what he’s already said in verses 14-15.
I. Live the Bible…practice the truth.
This little phrase is actually completing a sentence that he started at the end of verse 15 “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life”.

Paul is saying, “Don’t just say that you believe the Bible, live the Bible.” He’s saying, “Don’t just honor God’s Word with your lips, honor it with your lives or you’re not honoring it at all.”

In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales there are some hypocrites, but one of the characters that Chaucer clearly respected was the man that he calls “The Poor Parson.” He says this:

“He gave this noble example to his sheep that first he practiced and then he preached.”

And that’s exactly what Paul is exhorting the Philippians to do – practice what you preach. Practice the truth.
II. The principle of delayed gratification
He goes on to say in verse 16, “Do this so that in the day of Christ, I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Paul is saying to the Philippians, “My mission will not have failed if you walk by faith and live by faith and grow in grace and bear a witness to the world. If you do that on the last day, I will not be put to shame, but the Lord Jesus will say, ‘Look, Paul, look at the fruit of your ministry in the life of these people.’”

Paul is saying, “I’m not living life for short term gains.” Paul is teaching the Philippians the principles of delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification means passing up a short term gain for a long term reward. Paul is teaching them that our real rewards await the coming of Jesus Christ. And so, he doesn’t particularly care that he’s in prison as long as they grow in grace because as they grow in grace and live the Christian life, on the last day the Lord Jesus will reward him saying, “Well, done good and faithful servant. Enter into the inheritance prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

What a huge message that is for us! Our society measures success by what happens in the next five minutes, but Paul is saying, “That’s not how it is with me, Philippians. I’m waiting for the final judgment and then my success will be measured.”
III. Sanctification is expensive.
He says, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I’m glad!”

Drink offerings were a part of the total sacrifice that would have been offered in either the Jewish temple or in a pagan temple. You would have slain an animal whose blood would be sprinkled on the altar and then the carcass of the animal would be consumed by the fire on the altar.

In other words, Paul is saying, “If my life simply becomes a component of your living to God for His glory, it will all have been worth it. And I’ll be more than happy, in fact, I’ll be rejoicing.” Paul is teaching the principle here of how expensive our sanctification is.

In order for us to grow in grace, God throws gifted and godly ministers and pastors and elders and Christians into the service of our growing in grace and they live and they bleed and they ache and they die all so that we’ll grow in grace.

Now, Paul didn’t contribute a thing to their being accepted by God. Christ did all of that, but Paul was part of God’s plan for them to mature them as disciples.

God cares about our growth in grace when He gives gifted and talented faithful ministers and elders and pastors and other Christians to us so that we will become more like Christ and causes them to live and bleed and die so that we will grow in grace.

Do you realize the cumulative investment that God has now made in your sanctification? He sent Augustine, Athanasius, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, John Murray and every other saint into the world for your sanctification.

He sent Jesus into the world for your justification. He sent Jesus into the world for your sanctification, too, but to that great work of the Lord Jesus Christ, He has gathered around a cloud of witnesses to urge you on in growing in grace.
IV. Learn to rejoice in the self-giving of others.
Paul wants you to rejoice and be glad with him.

Paul is saying, “If you don’t rejoice as I’m poured out like a drink offering and as my life ebbs away and as I’m executed on your behalf and for the sake of the gospel. If you don’t rejoice in my gospel self-sacrifice, you just don’t get it yet. You don’t realize how valuable what we have in Jesus Christ is and how that changes the whole of life.

We need to learn the importance of gospel rejoicing because when we rejoice in those kinds of sacrifices, it says to the world that we’re not here to delight in what you have to offer because you don’t have anything to offer to us. We have everything that we could possibly need or want in Jesus Christ and this world can take none of that away from us. And it can offer nothing to us to augment it.

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