“To Live – Christ” Philippians 1:19-26

“To Live – Christ” Philippians 1:19-26

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Our text for today comes from Philippians 1:19-26. These are the words of God:

19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Holy Father,

We pray that as this Scripture is preached that we would receive it by faith, not as the word of a man, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, for we ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Paul is awaiting a trial that could result in his beheading, and yet this passage is full of joy and hope. Paul’s hope of release does not rest in the strength of his case, but rather in the prayers of the Saints and the supply of the Spirit. He’ll either be loosed from prison or from his head, but either will be a deliverance of sorts. (Job 13:16) In other words, Paul is saying, “All of this shall turn out, as it did with Job, for my vindication.” (v. 19)

His concern at the moment is the trial, specifically, that he’ll proclaim Christ with frankness. If he’s going to be executed, he wants to make sure it’s for the right reason. Even the execution block will become a pulpit if Paul can do anything about it. (v. 20)

“To live – Christ. To die – gain” Christ is the foundation and the roof. The car and the destination. The center and the boundary. In 3:8 Paul says, “Whatever gain I had, I now count as loss for the sake of knowing Christ.” (v. 21)

Paul didn’t have a choice in whether he would live or die, he’s explaining why either option has its own advantages. So, why would anyone choose execution? Only if they knew that death equals deliverance. Nevertheless, he’s pulled back into this life for the sake of the progress of the Philippians in the gospel. (v. 22-24)

Paul’s life is bound up with the Great Commission of Christ; to make disciples of all people, baptize them, and teach them to obey all of Christ’s commands. That’s why Paul lived and died; for nothing less than the salvation and joy of the nations. (v. 25-26)

Now, remember, Paul might be dead in a few days. Look at how he reacts to the possibility of his death. He’s preaching boldly. He’s writing a letter to encourage the saints. He’s not coming unglued. Why? In his passage, as we look at Paul’s reaction to his possible death, we actually learn how we too can face our death with joy and hope.

You have to face reality; use the resources God gives and die before you die.


Someone once said that the hub of our modern life is that we’re all trying to avoid fixation. (Zygmunt Bauman). In other words, modern people have surrounded themselves with shallow distractions, snap judgments, and a culture of immediacy in order to avoid reality.

And, here Paul is, fixated on his own death. He’s doing the worst thing you can do in a conversation: start talking about your own death. The Bible is a book that faces reality. It forces us to face the impolite truths of existence we’re constantly trying to avoid and suppress. If you read this book, it will shake you and wake you up. It’s like smelling salts that sober you up to reality.

James Jones, who wrote the Thin Red Line, fought on Guadalcanal, and here’s what he said: “Only when a soldier has made a compact with fate can he fully function. When you know you’re going to die every day has a special, bright, delicious, poignant taste to it that normal days in normal times don’t have.”

Paul’s saying, “Only when you’ve faced the reality of your own death can you fully function.” Do you want to taste the sweetness in life? Do you want to be useful in life? Do you want to do something worth doing? You never will if you don’t face reality.


You don’t immediately see it, but in verse 19, Paul tells you three resources God gives you that empowers you to face uncertainty and even death. Here they are: the Saints, the Spirit & the Scriptures.

First, the Saints. Paul says that the prayers of the saints are working for his deliverance. We don’t have much time to go into this, but let me impress upon you the utter necessity of the prayers of others: We live in the midst of a people who hate prayer and see it as a way to shirk responsibility. They see only physical problems. We, however, understand that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness.

It was more than craven religious leaders who wanted Paul’s head on a plate. To the degree that you discern the war you are in, you will pray. If the Apostle Paul, who had far more confidence in Christ than we have, needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do we?

Second, the supply of the Spirit of Christ. This title, which is rare, calls our attention to a unique aspect of the Spirit’s work; that this is the same Spirit who indwelt Christ Jesus from his conception, through his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The same Spirit who empowered Christ to trust God in the face of suffering has been given to you.

Third, the Scriptures. Not only does Paul have the supply of the Spirit; he also has the encouragement of the living Word of God. Paul knew the Scriptures as well as anyone—and there in a Roman prison, what’s his mind focused on? The Old Testament book of Job. Job’s one of the oldest books in the OT. It’s a large book (42 chapters). Job is the innocent sufferer par excellence in the Old Testament. And Paul has gone back to the center of the book and remembered the words of chapter 13:

15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.
16 This will turn out for my deliverance

On the cross, when the wrath of God against sin was coming down on Christ the Son—what was he doing? Quoting the Scriptures. If the Son of God needed the Scriptures to face death, what makes you think you can go a single day without leaning on the Word of God?

There they are. Three resources—and you have to use them all or you won’t make it.


If you’ve ever had the chance to sit with someone who is dying, and they’ve learned through the decades to trust Christ and to rest in Christ… sitting there with them as they’re dying can actually be unnerving, and here’s why: you find that you are more afraid than they are. You’re more anxious, they’re relaxed. You’re coming apart and they’re composed and even joyful. What’s going on?

C.S. Lewis wrote a novel called Till We Have Faces. It’s the story of a young princess who is told by her father that she has to wear a veil at his second wedding because she’s too ugly to be seen. She’s so devastated by this that she wears the veil for the rest of her life. Her pain drives her on a mad quest to find someone who will love her, and in the process, she becomes so possessive and controlling she devours everyone she’s looking to for love. And at the end of the novel, when she’s about to kill herself she hears the voice of God telling her: “Die before you die. There is no chance after.”

What does it mean when Paul says, “To die is gain?” It means when faced with the possibility of death, he’s able to look death in the face and say, “I’ve already died.” In Christ, all that was in me died. All my sin was buried, all my pride, my fear, my possessiveness, my bitterness. They were all laid in the grave long ago.”

Christ has died and I died in him. Christ was cut off, and my sin was cut off in him. Death can no longer be the period at the end of the sentence, but only a comma leading to eternal chapters of glory.

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” (Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Justice, Not Mercy


1 John 2:1 says:

But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ didn’t just die for you. He stands beside you as your lawyer. When you sin, what does Jesus say to the Father? “Oh Father, they’ve sinned. They are guilty. But have mercy on them.” Is that what Jesus says as your advocate? No! You don’t hire a lawyer so you can plead guilty and grovel for mercy. You want a lawyer to plead a case.

When a Christian sins, Christ stands before the Father saying, “Your law demands justice and payment, and I have paid. I do not ask for mercy. I demand justice. And justice demands acquittal.”

In confessing our sins, we trust the gospel promise, that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ. We are also confessing that though our sins no longer condemn us, they do break fellowship with our Father, and we long to be close to him.

Non-Christian, as you hear us confess our sins, understand this: nothing is more important than to recognize your own need for mercy and to see Christ dying in your place, receiving God’s justice, so that he can welcome and receive you. So, even this is an invitation, to come and trust Christ.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s pray.


Gracious Father,

We know that heaven is your throne, and earth is your footstool. You are great and glorious beyond our ability to comprehend. But we also know that you hear the prayers of poor and humble sinners such as us.

You’ve given us two commandments and we’ve broken both of them. We have not loved you completely, and we have not loved our neighbor as we love ourselves. And we could confess specific sins all day until night turned back into morning. Your word speaks truly when it says that we’ve become wise in doing evil. (Jer. 4:22) From the white lies we told this week to the war across the ocean, we can see that all have fallen short of your standard (Rom. 3:23) and there is none righteous (3:10).

Father, we know that if we say, “Amen,’ to this prayer while still regarding sin in our hearts this prayer will be useless to us, so hear us as we silently confess our individual sins to you now.

Father, according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out our transgressions. Wash us and make us clean. (Psalm 51:1-2) Thank you that you have not repaid us according to our sins (Ps. 103:10), but instead have chosen to show mercy. We pray now that your kindness would lead us to even greater repentance (Romans 2:4)

And we ask all this in the strong and mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Ezekiel 36:25-26

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

The Sanctity of Life & the Noahic Covenant


Today, many churches across the nation are observing “Sanctity of Life Sunday.” This observance began shortly after the establishment of the Roe decision in the Supreme Court, and now that Roe has been plowed under in God’s mercy, we still observe this day because abortion remains legal across our nation.

After Noah’s flood, in Genesis 9, God established a covenant with all creation. That covenant restated the command God gave to Adam and Eve in Eden: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Gen. 9:1) God intends, and even commands, that men and women come together in marriage, bear children and raise them in the nurture and admonition of Christ—so that the earth might be full of those who bear his image and praise his name. All creation, for all time, is under this covenant.

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Gen. 9:12, 13, ESV)

When God gave this covenant, he also granted the authority to punish those who undermine the command to be fruitful and multiply. Genesis 9:6 says:

6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

Sadly, instead of protecting life from those who would take it, our government and our nation has rebelled against God’s covenant. We’ve undermined the family with no-fault divorce laws and labeling as marriage that which can never be marriage. We’ve eroded the beauty of marital intimacy by flooding our nation with free porn online, and we’ve sought to protect it under the guise of free speech. And even though Roe has fallen, many in our nation daily work to pass legislation that would protect the murder of the unborn.

Our God is the author of life. He is also the author of mercy. He forgives even the greatest sins, and no sin is too great that the blood of Christ cannot cover it. No matter what you have done, confess your sins, look to Christ, and he will pardon and welcome you.

Church, we have to lead the way in confessing our sins if we ever want to see the nation do the same. Our witness to the world is totally compromised if we act as if we’re guiltless. So, let confession and humility begin with us, even now as we pray.


Father Almighty,

You indeed are the author of life; the one who creates our souls from nothing. You form our fingers and toes in our mother’s wombs, and you know all our days before we take our first breath.

Father, your Word is clear, that you hate the taking of innocent life. And though our nation has often been warned by your Word against this great evil, still our nation has stiffened its neck. Though we pride ourselves in being loving, in truth, ours is a nation of hatred and indifference to those who are most vulnerable.

Father, we confess as well, that we in the church are not guiltless. Even if we’ve opposed abortion, none of us have loved our own families as we ought. We have not fought the temptation of pornography as we ought. We have not cared for mothers who are considering abortion as their only option as we ought.

Father, above all this, we’ve forgotten that we are a people under the covenant you made with all creation in Genesis 9. We’ve lived as if we have no obligations to our Maker. We’ve lived as if your commands are of no consequence. Father, we confess this is a great and foolish evil.

Father, we know that repentance in the nation must begin with repentance in the church, so hear us now as we confess our individual sins to you in silence.

Father, you are he who blots out transgressions and will not remember our sins. You have said that you are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, so Lord, though our sins are as crimson—in your mercy make them white as snow. We trust that you made Christ to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. And we know that having been cleansed and made new in Christ, nothing can separate us from your love.

So, once again, Father, we give you great praise. We thank you for looking on our helpless state, seeing all of our sin and misery, and lavishing love and mercy; forgiveness, and restoration. Father, we pray the same would be done across our nation that your name might be praised all the more.

And we ask all this in the strong and mighty name of Jesus, Amen.


8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Rom. 5:8-9, ESV)

“The Gospel Unbound” – Philippians 1:12-18

“The Gospel Unbound” – Philippians 1:12-18

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Our text for today comes from Philippians 1:12-18. These are the words of God:

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice (ESV)


What would happen to the gospel mission now that Paul’s imprisoned? Wouldn’t the progress of the gospel come screeching to a halt? “No”, says Paul. On the contrary, the adversity itself has ushered the gospel, which had been obscure and unknown, into the imperial guard of Rome. (v. 12, 13) and even into Nero’s own household. (cf. 4:22)

Though Paul has been somewhat sidelined, the preachers of Rome are emboldened. (v. 14) As a side note: Rome was to be Paul’s springboard to Spain. He wrote the church ~A.D. 56 to prepare them for his visit. This means the gospel was already outrunning Paul to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Who are those preaching Christ from envy and rivalry? The only thing we know about them is they are competitive preachers. They are preaching Christ for themselves. Paul is preaching Christ for Christ. This is for the “defense of the gospel” (v. 15, 16) These envious preachers flaunt their ability to preach unfettered as a way to “add pressure to my chains.” (v. 17)

Paul had every reason to throw a pity party. His enemies had him tossed into prison, and many of his supposed allies were gloating. Instead, Paul fixes his focus on what brings him joy: he saw the kingdom of Christ gaining ground. (v. 18)


It’s not the years. It’s the mileage. “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (v. 12) So, what happened to Paul? In just over a decade, Paul had completed three missionary journeys, wrote his letter to the Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, (and possibly) Philemon, Colossians, & Ephesians. Churches were planted in Asia Minor & Macedonia. He’d been stoned at Lystra, imprisoned in Philippi, & fled Thessalonica by night. And 4 of those years he was in jail or under house arrest. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that Felix, Festus, and Argippa kept Paul imprisoned because the only thing they loved more than being popular with their Jewish constituents was money and they essentially held Paul as a hostage. (Acts 21:7-26:32) The cherry on top is that he did it all with a “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12) In other words, much had happened to Paul, and he saw all of it as advancing the gospel.

In God’s sovereign calculations, the answer to the question, “How do we spread the gospel to pagans & encourage believers to boldness at the same time,” was, “Obviously, Paul has to go to prison.” That’s why you should not read these verses as Paul putting a positive spin on a bad situation. (2:17; 3:10-11) If you view your circumstances through the lens of your self-made dreams nothing makes sense. But viewed through the lens of Christ and his mission, even setbacks become opportunities for advancement.


Putting a Christian in prison, or burning one at the stake, is like pouring rainwater on a field of missionaries. Our suffering for the sake of Christ is never wasted.

In the 14th century, Roman Catholic law forbade the translation of Scripture into the common tongue. It was a crime punishable by death. And it was exactly the thing John Wycliffe, a professor at Oxford University was convinced must be done. Wycliffe believed that the Scriptures alone are our highest authority for doctrine, and therefore every Christian ought to own their own copy of the Bible. Wycliffe and a team of scholars translated the Scriptures into English and began reproducing copies of the Bible by hand. After his death, the Catholic church condemned him as a heretic, exhumed his bones, burned them to ashes, and drowned them in the river. But as Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us:

“though they dug up his body, burnt his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the Word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day…doth remain.” Tertullian was right: the blood of the is seed.

It’s important to remember, at this point, that there’s a difference between suffering for Christ and suffering for being an incorrigible jerk. We’re blessed when we’re reviled, and this is crucial, falsely & on Christ’s account. (Matt. 5:11) We’re also to live upright and quiet lives. (1 Thess. 4:11) Nevertheless when the time comes to stand for Christ as the Apostles did, we too ought to rejoice that we’re counted worthy to suffer for the name. (Acts 5:41)


Whether done in pretense or truth, Paul took true joy in the true gospel being preached. God is holy. Man is sinful. Christ is the redeemer. Look to Christ and live. When that gospel is heralded, and the lost are found, the church ought not ask, “But what do they believe about the Second Coming?” There is more joy in heaven over one sinner repenting than 99 understanding the end times.

The mission of the “C”hurch is to preach the gospel to every creature and teach the nations to obey Christ. We hasten the day of his return as we hasten to the ends of the earth. And in this race, we aren’t competing against other churches or one another. ELABORATE

Our opponents are the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul constantly raised money for churches other than the ones he planted. (1 Cor. 16:1-4) He sent out his best workers to lead other flocks. (Tychicus, Eph. 6:21; Tychicus & Onesimus, Col. 4:7-8; Timothy, 1/2 Timothy; Titus, Titus; Apollos, 1 Cor. 16:12) We are not here to build a great church for ourselves, but to be a great church for the sake of Lake Wylie & the world. We praise God when we hear of converts in churches down the street and more baptisms across town.

We want all people to know of the mercy of forgiveness—yes and even the Lordship of Christ. His rule, his reign, over every heart.

Maker & Remaker

God of all Creation,

The earth is yours and everything that fills it. You own everything from the deepest pit of the ocean to the tip of Everest and beyond it. Every creature that draws breath is yours for you made them all. The great cities of the earth and the smallest camp in the backwoods both owe you their existence.

The heavens and all their hosts belong to you as well. You make the Sun to rise on the earth, giving us light and warmth. You set the moon in its place so that we might mark the seasons. The planets and the stars nightly circle us because your powerful hand moves them in their courses.

When we look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the sun, the moon, and the stars which you have set in place, Lord, what is man and who are we that you care for us? And yet you do. Just as you made all things in the beginning, you are making all things new in Christ.

Father, we praise you for your work of creation, when you set the stars in place, and we praise you for your work of the new creation in which you raise us from our sins into the heavens.

All glory to you God, Father, Son, and Spirit, both now and forever more. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray. Amen.

The Covenant & Word Keeper – Prayer of Praise

CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 106:1-3

Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
3 Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times! (ESV)


Lord God, there is none like you in heaven above or earth beneath. You keep covenant with your people and show steadfast love to your servants. You kept your word to Abraham that you would make him a great nation, with Moses that you would deliver your people, and to David that one of his descendants would reign eternally.

You are the faithful God. Your Word never changes, and it cannot be broken. The grass withers the flower fades, but your Word stands forever. Heaven and earth will pass away but your Word will never pass away.

We have come here in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, to bring you praise and glory. We praise you because you alone are God. We praise you because you are good. We praise you because you are merciful. And we praise you because you have redeemed us in Christ.

So, Almighty Father, we worship you through Christ the Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Rats in the Cellar


If we ended our day by listing how we sinned, we’d find that most of our sins were sins against charity. We’ve sulked, snubbed, sneered, or stormed against someone else. And it wouldn’t take long before we found ourselves making the excuse that we sinned because we were suddenly provoked or caught off guard and in the moment we’d simply reacted. If we’d had time to collect ourselves, we’d have acted differently.

What we do when we’re provoked is the real us. The way we react in an unguarded moment reveals what’s really in us. As Lewis said, “If there are rats in your cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.”

Seen from this perspective we now understand why God doesn’t make our life easier; why he daily puts us with people who bump us about. He’s using the thousand provocations to teach us what we are. He’s turning the lights on suddenly to reveal the rats of resentment and vindictiveness. He catches us off guard so that he might subdue our untamed anger. And in doing so, even these bumps and blows are tools of his sanctifying grace.

This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s pray now.


Our Father,

We’re tempted to believe that our reactions to the frustrations of life and the sins of others don’t really depict who we are. We spend a lot of time defending our sinful outbursts and hurtful words. Father, we declare with your Word that, “if we claimed to be in the right, our own mouth would condemn us.” And if we said we were blameless, or there was a good excuse for our sin, you would prove us guilty. (Job 9:20)

So, we come agreeing with your Word that we are sinners. We admit that our outbursts show us what we really are. We are often controlled by our anger. Instead of submitting every frustration to you, we lash out even at those who mean us no harm.

Father, turn the light of your Word on our sulking, sneering, and storming attitudes so that we might know them to be as hideous as they truly are.

We want to display Christ to our nation which has forsaken you, so we know that confession and repentance must begin with us in the church. So, Father, hear us now as we silently confess all the ways we have sinned against you as individuals.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

The Grounds of Our Assurance – Philippians 1:3-11

The Grounds of Our Assurance – Philippians 1:3-11

Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to God for the Philippians teaches us about Christian assurance; that no one who God redeems in Christ will fall away from Christ because they are kept in faith by God’s power. They may fall into temptation but cannot fall away from Christ and lose their salvation.


Our text for today comes from Philippians 1:3-11.  These are the words of God:

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.


Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to God for the Philippians teaches us about Christian assurance; that no one who God redeems in Christ will fall away from Christ because they are kept in faith by God’s power. They may fall into temptation but cannot fall away from Christ and lose their salvation.

Every time the Philippian church comes to Paul’s mind, he speaks a word of thanksgiving to God. Their love for God produces joy in Paul. (v. 3-4) And how have they expressed their love for God? They’re financial partners in Paul’s gospel mission. The word, “partnership,” is the same word we often use for fellowship (koinonia). (v. 5)

The Philippians are on that mission because God first decided to save, forgive, and adopt them. And, even though they often fail in this life, they will be conformed to the image of Christ on the last day because God is also the one who has purposed to fully sanctify and glorify them. (v. 6)

Keep in mind that Paul was not universally loved. Even within the churches, many were ashamed that Paul kept was a jailbird. (2 Timothy 1:8) But not the Philippians. They stood by Paul when his ministry defended and confirmed the gospel in power, and they stood with him when he was imprisoned. (v. 7)

Paul prays that the inner life of Christ would bear external fruit: more missionaries sent, encouragement given, hospitality to strangers, & generosity to struggling saints. That can only happen if God grows their love with discernment. (v. 9-11)


The objective ground of our assurance is God. God begins our salvation. God completes our salvation. He’s the author and the finisher of our faith. While our good works in Christ are evidence that we are true believers, God alone is our true confidence that we’ve been born again. The theological bullseye of the passage is verse 6:

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

The words “began a good work,” were often used to describe the inauguration of a great and glorious project. Like a medieval cathedral that took 250 years to complete, God lays a foundation stone of our salvation that he will build upon for eternity. When God rescues a dead sinner, he inaugurates a great work of grace that will end in glory. This is intentional and deliberate work. Christ purchasing sinners with his blood wasn’t an impulse buy, it was part of the master plan laid down before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4)

As a church, we’re working to design a building. We’re working to secure a property, and as these contracts come together and we sign we fix dates on the calendar. In the same way, regarding our salvation and glorification, God the Father and God the Son have covenanted together. They are under contract together. Every term of the contract will be met. There will be no compromises made on the details. No last-minute rushes. No punch list of items left undone. The date of completion is fixed, and they don’t miss deadlines.

So, can we lose our salvation? Let me ask it in a different way. Will God be a liar? Will the Father, who promised to adopt all who the Son redeems, go back on his word? Will the Son, who bled for the church now turn his back on her?

The soul who on Jesus has leaned for repose,

I will, I will not desert to his foes.

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.


God is the objective ground of our assurance. In his mercy, he also gives us a subjective ground for our assurance: good works.

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Pet. 1:10)

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12)

24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:24)

How do you know, on a day-to-day level that you are a Christian? You delight in obedience. Your faith is evidenced by works (James 2:17) So, what kind of works should we be looking for? Paul gives several in the passage:

• Unity in the truth. (v. 7)

• Concern for (“partnership in”) the spread of the gospel (v. 5) – In your homes & around the world.

• Perseverance through difficulty (v. 5) “from the first day to now”

God is the objective ground of assurance. Our works are subjective evidence of our salvation. So, where is all of this heading? Purity on the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness. (v. 9-11)
Paul is always praying like this for the church. Go to any letter and he’s praying that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17), that we’d no longer be children (Eph. 4:14), that we’d reach the fullness of the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Eternal assurance fuels temporal obedience.
You are called, in this life, to play pretend. Even though you are not Christ, you will be like him, and therefore you are to pretend to be him today. You say, “What if I don’t feel like it? Wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I didn’t feel like it?” Of course, there is a bad kind of pretending which is nothing but pretense and fabrication. But there’s also a kind of pretending that leads to the real thing.
You say, “I’m not sure I feel like a Christian today.” You also didn’t feel like one the day Christ saved you. You say, “But, you don’t know the sins I committed!” The blood of Christ cleanses you. You say, “But, I struggle to pray even for a few minutes.” Christ is your priest who daily makes intercession for you. You say, “But, I daily fall to temptation.” Christ stands beside you as your advocate pleading your case.

Sermon Manuscript: “To All The Saints” Philippians 1:1-2

“To All the Saints” – Philippians 1:1-2

Philippians 1:1-2


Our text for today comes from Philippians 1:1-2. If you are using one of the Bibles in the pew rack the text can be found on page 980. These are the words of God:

10 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The letters of the New Testament give us an inside look into the various churches to whom they were written. For instance: the church at Corinth had to learn faithfulness to Christ in a sexualized city. The Galatians were confused about Judaism and circumcision. In nearly every letter written to a church, the Apostle Paul is correcting either a doctrinal or a behavioral error.

His letter to the church at Philippi stands out because it is one of the few times Paul isn’t writing for the purpose of correction. The letter is written to update the church at Philippi about the physical health of a man named Epaphroditus and to encourage the church to unity and joy in spite of various challenges. More on that in a moment, but for now let’s take a crash course in the life of Paul which you may want to come back to this week.

Paul, known also by his Hebrew name, Saul, first appears as the man who held the coats of those who murdered Stephen (Acts 7/8). As a zealous Pharisee, Saul ravages the church in and around Jerusalem until he is confronted by the resurrected Christ on the Damascus road. Christ calls him to preach the gospel and establish churches throughout the world. For the rest of his life, Paul has one goal: to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Acts 9)

Using Jerusalem as a home base, Paul along with other missionaries took larger and larger missionary trips throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. During his second missionary journey around AD 51, Paul, along with Timothy, Luke, and Silas, leaves Asia Minor and enters Macedonia (northern Greece) and the first converts in Europe come at Philippi. (Acts 16) Paul converts a woman named Lydia and they plant a church in her home. As the ministry progresses Paul, as usual, begins to upset folks in town and ends up arrested. He converts the jailer but is asked to leave the city. Luke remains to care for the new church.

When Paul concludes his second missionary journey and begins his third, the primary purpose of which is to raise funds among the churches he’s planted to aid Christians in Jerusalem—and although the Philippians are in financial straits and Paul has decided not to ask them to contribute, they hear about the need of the Jerusalem Christians and proceed to give anyway. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)

At the end of the third missionary journey, Paul’s Jewish enemies finally get him arrested in Jerusalem. He’s sent to a prison in Caesarea and finally makes an appeal to Rome. (Acts 23-25) As he’s traveling to Rome, the Philippian church learns about his imprisonment, and they send a man name Epaphroditus with financial assistance to Paul. While he’s with Paul, Epaphroditus gets sick and nearly dies. So, Paul writes this letter to the Philippians and sends it with Epaphroditus to let them know he’s ok and to update them on the state of his ministry. Philippians is thus known as one of Paul’s “Prison Epistles.” (Philippians)

Now, as I said, Paul primarily wrote this letter to update the church on the health of Epaphroditus, but he also knows the church well so he addresses several pertinent topics:

First, because they love Paul deeply and are heavy financial supporters of his work, what’s going to happen now that he’s in prison? Paul may be bound, but the gospel isn’t. (Chapter 1)

Second, Paul will not pass up an opportunity to explain the gospel, that Christ humbled himself and died for sinners. This is the message we believe in order to be put right with God, AND it also becomes the model for our own life. (Chapter 2)

Third, unity is critical to the success of the church’s mission. This isn’t blind unity. It isn’t unity at the cost of principle and truth. But, disunity is the great church killer. (Chapters 3, 4)


Notice, in verse 1 how Paul introduces himself:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

Paul often introduced himself as an “Apostle” of Jesus Christ. Philippians is one of 4 occasions in which he only introduces himself as “servant,” Literally: “a slave of Christ Jesus.” This isn’t faux humility. Paul understands the teaching of Christ that “many who are first are last (Matt. 19:30) and “whoever would be great must become the servant of all.” (Matt. 20:26) Paul is only following the model of Christ who being the greatest, had stooped to serve us.

The name Christian means “little Christ.” We’re to outdo one another in showing honor. (Rom. 12:10) We don’t get our feathers ruffled because no one noticed us. We aren’t serving one another as a way to serve ourselves.


To whom is this servant of Christ writing? “To all the saints at Philippi.” This isn’t “
Saint Paul, to the Christians at Philippi.” No, it’s “Servant Paul, to the saints.” A saint means a “holy one,” or a “set apart” one. Likewise, you are the saints at Lake Wylie Baptist—the ones God has set apart in this corner of the city for his purposes.

How does someone become a saint? “In Christ.” You are set apart in Christ. Saint isn’t a title you earn. It’s a title that is placed on you. You don’t achieve it, you receive it. If you have put your faith in Christ as both Savior and Lord, then you are a saint. Being a saint isn’t a reward for your good behavior. It’s a reward for Christ’s righteous life.


Among the saints at Philippi, Paul also recognizes the two offices of the church: deacons and overseers. Deacons are servants of the church. They help meet the physical and logistical needs of the congregation. Overseers are pastors or elders.

In every church Paul planted, he affirmed and installed Elders to shepherd the flock spiritually, and deacons were appointed to give administrative care for the church.

It’s important to note that neither these deacons nor the overseers/elders are priests. They don’t stand between you and God. They don’t mediate for you. Christ is the Great High Priest. (Heb. 4:14-16)

Your deacons are here to serve you. As your pastor, I am here to pray for you and exhort you and counsel you with the Word of God. But only Christ can bring you to the Father. Only Christ can forgive your sins. I can’t pardon you.


These first two verses end with a salutation: “Grace to you and peace…” Grace is God’s being gracious to us; that is, God showing us favor we do not deserve. And how can God be gracious to us? Grace isn’t God cutting us some slack. It isn’t God turning a blind eye to our sins. God shows unmerited favor to us because his just anger at sin was poured out on Christ on
the cross.

The result of God’s grace is peace. We are no longer God’s enemies. There’s been a cessation of hostilities between us and God.

Table Unity – Lord’s Supper Meditation

The Lord’s Table contains several well-known symbols. We all know the bread and the cup symbolize the body and blood of Christ, broken and poured out for us. But these are not the only symbols at the table. In 1 Corinthians 10:17, the Apostle Paul tells us the table also stands for the unity of the church.

17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

When we distribute the bread, it has already been cut into smaller pieces, but don’t let these little pieces mislead you. We are not atomized fragments like these pieces of bread in the plate. They were all united into one loaf and in the same way we are all united in Christ. We are unified. We are one. And the fact of our unity rests on the fact of Christ’s unity. He is one. He isn’t divided—and we are in him.

While we may find ourselves at odds with a brother or sister in Christ on earth, we are already one with them in the heavenlies, where Christ is seated. Though the visible church may identify under various denominational structures on earth, the invisible church in heaven and on earth is one. Jesus Christ didn’t die for Baptists or Presbyterians. His body was broken apart so that his people could be put together.

If you belong to Christ by faith, then this bread tells you your sins are forgiven—and your sins are just as forgiven as the brother or sister in Christ who has offended you. So, begin putting away earthly division, pride, and bitterness so that you can taste and enjoy the unity of Christ.

So come, and welcome to Jesus Christ.