Joy in the Journey (Philippians Sermon 1 of 24)
September 07, 2003 | Andrew Davis
Joy in Suffering, Internal Journey, External Journey, Contentment, Book Overviews
We begin this morning a new study in the book of Philippians, and this is one of my favorite books in the scriptures. There are so many moments and passages in Philippians that have encouraged me in my faith and helped me, and I just desire to give that to you if I can with God's help. I want to share with you the way that Philippians has encouraged me in my journey- and I really could say journeys, because in Philippians we're going to see two great and majestic journeys that God has called us to do. I've mentioned these two journeys before, but I got the understanding from Philippians, so now we're going back to the root of where it came from to begin with.
Back in 1986, I was on a missionary trip, my first missionary trip to Kenya. And we finished ministering in one locality and we were starting to travel to the next town where we were going to eat a meal and spend the night. And the pastor that we were traveling with, a wonderful man named Moses Jaconi, had only been that way that we were traveling one other time. But that was alright, we trusted his leadership and we were fine with it. We started out and it was late afternoon when we began. And as we were walking, we're talking- just fellowshipping together, enjoying the time, I noticed that the sun was getting lower and lower. And I looked around and I didn't see anything, really. No towns, nothing. Just African countryside. And we just kept talking. I didn't want to show unbelief by asking, “Where are we?” and “Are we okay?” We just kept walking, and sure enough the sun got orange, and then dipped down below the horizon. And then it became kind of a rich purple, and we kept talking and walking, and pretty soon it was pitch black. And I was in the middle of an African forest, with two people that I'd only met a short time before that. And I thought, “If my mother could see me now.” 'Cause I was hearing sounds I'd never heard before, the nocturnal animals of Africa coming out, and I didn't know where we were going. And little did I know that we would arrive there after two in the morning, and that we would walk 20 miles that late afternoon, evening, and early morning. 20 miles. I wished he told me at the beginning how long that journey would be, but I wonder if I really would've made it, if I would have even begun.
The Christian Life is a Journey
And so also, is the Christian life. It's a journey in which we really don't know where we're going. We’ve never been that way before. It's long, it takes endurance, we have to trust our guide. There are some scary moments in there along the way, moments in which we really don't know what's around the next bend, and frankly can't even see the next bend. But God has called us to a journey, and in the book of Philippians I see this very clearly. God has called us really to two journeys, an internal journey of holiness, of growth and sanctification. Of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in our actions, in the way we live our life. to be conformed to his image more and more, day by day. That is an internal journey of immense proportions. Really infinite proportions- that we would be perfect as Christ is perfect, and then externally, that the word of the gospel might make its progress around the world. Paul likens it to running a race. That he counted his life worth nothing to him if only that he might finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus had given Him, the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace. You see those two journeys, but the book of Philippians really is an epistle of joy. Just as much as Paul lays out these journeys, he also wants us to be joyful in the journeys. And he wants, in the words of Philippians, to give us everything we need to rejoice in the Lord always, no matter what's going on, and so, he writes.
Context: Paul in Chains and the Response of the Philippian Church
Now, the circumstances. What we're going to do this morning is we're just going to look at the big picture, look at the forest before we look in our usual way at the trees, the details, (and the details are glorious,) but let's look at the big picture here in the book of Philippians. And I want to draw out for you eight great themes that I find in this book. And we're going to take them in the order that we find them primarily taught in each passage. But understand first, the context.
What happened was the Apostle Paul was in prison again, he was in prison for preaching the Gospel. He was in chains. The Philippian church that he had planted, (and we're going to talk more about that in the future, the circumstances of his planting that church) this was a church that was precious to him, near and dear to his heart. He had great memories of his experiences in Philippi, and of the significant events that happened there. He really loved these people, he loved them much. They were dear to him. And I'm sure that they were anxious about him, they were concerned because they heard he was in prison again, and might die actually. That he was facing the possibility of leaving this world, that he might be executed for his faith in Christ.
They had sent him a man named Epaphroditus, and Epaphroditus had brought some money. Because back then if you didn't have external means of support in prison, you starved. You had no way to provide for yourself. Now, they might give you a bowl of minimal nutrition but for the most part, to thrive and to survive in prison, you need an external support system, people who were courageous enough to come and bring you what you needed.
Epaphroditus had done that. He risked his life for the cause of the gospel, says Paul, in Philippians 2. And brought this money and Paul has received this money with incredible joy. But I'm telling you that Paul's way of thinking, it’s so different from ours. It's not the money that he's rejoicing over, it's what it says about the Philippians and their journey. And he's delighted about that, but he's also heard from Epaphroditus that the Philippians are in persecution themselves, they're going through a trial, they're going through suffering. He wants to write back to them.
Paul’s Immense Gratitude and Joy
Therefore, the Epistle to the Philippians is, I think, history's greatest thank you letter. Whenever you receive a gift, it's good manners to write a thank you letter and to put down in pen your gratitude and just to say thank you, because it's just right to say thanks for good things that are done for us. And as a matter of fact, it's really right to the core theologically because in Romans Chapter 1, the apostle Paul criticizes the pagans who are idolatrous because they did not glorify God nor give thanks to him. Therefore, it's right for us to just have a heart of thanksgiving. And so Paul's writing a thank you letter. But you see, Paul never does things halfway. He wants to pour out truth into them because he loves them. And therefore, he wants them to make progress in their journeys. He wants them to have joy in the journey. He's going to be encouraging them throughout these four chapters. He's going to be building them up in their faith. He wants them to suffer for the gospel, but to do it joyfully. He wants them to be persecuted, go through the persecution joyfully that they might bear good fruit for Christ. And he also wants them to make progress in their own personal spiritual lives joyfully. And so again and again, he's going to be mentioning joy. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice.
That's a brief overview and certainly we're going to, if God gives us time, dig deeper into each of these aspects. But let's look at some of these major themes in the letter to the Philippians.
I. The Inevitability and Immense Worth of Suffering for Christ (Philippians 1:12-30)
Look at the first one, which is predominant in the first chapter, and that is the inevitability and immense worth of suffering for Christ. The inevitability and immense worth of suffering for Christ. Now, Paul talks about his sufferings. Now, I've been around people that talk about their sufferings, and I think that their motives may be different than Paul's. Paul is not talking about his suffering so that he can have a pity party, far from it actually. He's talking about his suffering so that he can teach them how to suffer what they're going through. He wants them to know the same kind of sustaining joy that he has in his sufferings, and how vital is that? He is really, (and we're going to see this later, even this morning,) he presents himself as a role model and says, “Follow me, follow in my pattern and my steps. Imitate me.” We'll talk about that more in a moment. But he's talking about his sufferings.
He says, look at chapter 1:12-14. He says, “Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and everyone else that I'm in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” He's speaking there about his sufferings. And he's speaking also about the blessings and the benefits that are coming already because he's in prison, because he's got chains on him. There are great benefits, and we're going to talk more about that.
Paul’s Strange Enemies
But he's also interestingly philosophical about a certain group of people who are among the strangest people you're going to meet in the Bible. In Philippians 1:15-18, it is those who are preaching the Gospel, the true Gospel, from false motives, trying to get Paul in trouble. Now that's odd, isn't it? There are false teachers throughout the scriptures and there are people who want to attack and persecute, but what an odd way to persecute. “I'm going to preach the true Gospel and I'm going to stir up trouble for Paul while he's in prison.” Paul says, “You know, what does it matter? Does it really make a difference if trouble is caused for me?” What an attitude. He doesn't care what happens to him, he already told us that in Acts 20, “I consider my life worth nothing to me.” He's willing to say, “It doesn't make a difference to me, just as long as they're preaching the true Gospel. If they're preaching the true Gospel, then I don't really care what their motives are.” And so, he's giving them a sense of his attitude toward suffering. The inevitability and the immense worth of it. And why is he doing that?
Well, look at the end of Chapter 1:27-30. He says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Then whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the cause of the Gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed and you will be saved, and that by God. For it has been granted to you, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for him.” Since you're going through the same struggle you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Do you see there the inevitability of suffering?
If you're going to make progress in these two journeys, the internal journey of holiness and the external journey of worldwide evangelization, you can't make progress without suffering. It's just impossible. He says, “It's been granted to you, the Lord has given you a gift, and the gift is suffering and also faith to believe on Christ and also to suffer for him.” It's inevitable, you're going to suffer, there's no other way to avoid it. Christ himself suffered, he left his glorious throne, (Philippians 2), and came down to earth and took on a human body and became a servant and suffered, even to the point of dying on the cross. The inevitability of suffering.
Christ’s Powerful Enemies
And why inevitable? Because Christ has enemies in this world, powerful enemies. They're standing firm against the Philippians, at the end of chapter one, as we've seen. “They are enemies of the cross,” he calls them in Philippians 3. They hate Christ and they oppose him and they're going to make trouble for any that would seek to make progress in these two journeys. They're going to set up around the Christians a world system to entice them into sin so that they cannot make progress in holiness. And when they get bold and start to preach the gospel, well then, these enemies will be persecutors. And they will attack, and they will beat you, and throw you in prison. And if you're not willing to suffer, you cannot make progress. Suffering, therefore, is inevitable in the Christian life. But suffering is also beneficial.
God is Strategic in Our Suffering
We're going to talk more in the future on God's strategy for reaching the Gentiles, but His strategy for Paul was simple: “Paul, I'm going to put you in prison and I'm going to chain you up to four Praetorian guards a day. And you're going to get four hours with each one, Paul. And you're going to have the opportunity to preach the gospel. Only four hours now. Make the most of it.” Therefore Paul is going to say, “I rejoice in my sufferings.” Why? Because I cannot lead Praetorian guards to faith in Christ if I act like every other prisoner they've ever seen. There has to be something special, something different in me or else I cannot lead anyone to Christ. Suffering's inevitable. But how do you carry yourself in the suffering, is it with joy? Or are you suffering like any other Pagan would? That's the issue. Therefore, suffering is not only inevitable, it is beneficial.
I've thought much recently about why God left me on earth after I came to faith in Christ. Why did you leave me here, Lord? Why these journeys? Why not just take us to heaven? Wouldn't that be wonderful if God just committed the ministry of reconciliation to angels and then as soon as you come to faith in Christ, you're gone? You don't have to study for that final exam you're worried about. You don't have to face that financial crisis anymore. You're just gone. But it is not better because God didn't will it that way. Rather He wanted us to struggle and to suffer in this world that we would grow. And I believe that the answer is in Philippians three, that we would be conformed somehow to Christ in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, to imitate Him as He carries His cross and we also carry ours. Suffering is beneficial and suffering is inevitable.
II. The Purpose of Earthly Life and the Superiority of Heavenly Life (Philippians 1:20-26)
Secondly, the purpose of earthly life and the superiority of heavenly life. We see this in Philippians 1:20-26. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now, as always, Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean,” listen carefully, “fruitful labor for me.” “Fruitful labor for me, yet what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith so that through my being with you again, your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”
What is the purpose of our earthly life? Well, I think Paul said it so plainly in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ.” Christ was the purpose of his earthly life. What does that mean? To live like Christ. To develop the mind of Christ. To think like Christ did about his earthly life. To learn how to suffer like Christ did. And to lay my life down for Christ and for his people.
And Paul's wrestling with that, isn't he? He said, “Here I am in prison and I might die. And nobody's going to ask me what the outcome should be. I don't get to decide that. God will not ask me. He'll do what's best. And the Romans aren't going to ask me either. They'll do whatever they think is best. But if I could be asked and I could make the decision, what would I choose? Would I depart and be with Christ, which is better by far for me? Or would I stay and continue to suffer here on earth, which is better by far for you? Well, I think I actually would rather stay.” Now that's remarkable isn't it? He knows, at least through a glass darkly better than most people that ever lived, how much joy was waiting for him in face to face fellowship with Christ, but he said, not yet. Not yet. I'd rather stay here for your benefit. And how much like Christ is Paul here? How much like the one who left heaven and left the throne of glory and came down to this sin-cursed world, came down to suffering and rejection and death so that we might have eternal life? You see how it's conforming Paul to be like Jesus. And so therefore, that is the purpose of life, that we could be conformed to Christ and learn to lay down our lives for the advance of the gospel and to be like Him in our internal journey. But through it all, we start to recognize how much superiority there is in the heavenly life.
The more we go on, the more we want to be with Jesus. He said it's better by far that I get to see Christ. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. What kind of gain? More Christ. That I get to not just see Him through a glass darkly anymore. I don't just get to live on the deposit, the down payment of the indwelling Spirit, I get God face to face. And how much better is that? And the sweetness of the superiority the heavenly life, gives you joy no matter what you're going through on earth. The joy of heaven filling you no matter what kind of suffering you're going through now. The superiority. There's a purpose to staying on this earth and that is conformity to Christ in His death for the benefit of others and also that you would be transformed to be like Jesus. And there is a superiority to what's waiting for you in heaven.
III. The Role of a United Church: Advance of the Gospel Cannot Be Done in Isolation, or by a Divided Church (Philippians 2:1-4)
Thirdly, the role of the united church. The advance of the Gospel cannot be done in isolation and it cannot be done by a divided church. Now, what was going on with these dear Philippians? The Philippians were, I think, just by reading the Epistles of Paul, among Paul's favorite people, he really loved them. He has a great deal of tenderness for them as we're going to make clear in upcoming weeks, as God gives us the opportunity. He really loved these people but they had a problem. The problem was that they had divisions and arguments and worldly ambitions. They were behaving like us. They were behaving like regular people. They had problems. There were two ladies in the church named Euodia and Syntyche. They're both in Heaven, their names are written in The Book of Life. Isn't that wonderful? But they just didn't like each other. They didn't get along. And so, he says in Chapter 4:2, “I plead with the Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to get along with each other. To agree with each other in the Lord.” Help these women to get along.
But then, even more is the hint at the end of Chapter one, and then the whole beautiful first section of Chapter two, that this was a divided church. He says, “You must be standing firm in one spirit. Contending as one man for the cause of the Gospel.” Not in this divided way. And then in Chapter 2:1-4, he says, “Do nothing- “ in verse three, actually, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus who left Heaven above as a humble servant and made himself nothing.” Why is this so vital? Because the Gospel cannot make progress if the Church isn't united. If we're not one. If we're bickering and arguing, we cannot make progress.
And so he says in Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining and arguing”. There must be unity. Therefore, he talks much about the fellowship of the Gospel. In Chapter 1:5, he talks about this, the koinonia, the fellowship, their partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. Chapter 1:7 he says, “Whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.” In effect, this apostle is saying, “I can't make it without you. Thank you for the money, but even more thank you for your prayers on my behalf. Thank you for standing firm with me, side by side in the cause of the Gospel. Thank you. Why? Because I can't make it without you. We can't do it alone.” And so you have two great journeys in front of you. The internal journey of holiness to be like Christ. The external journey of worldwide evangelization.
You cannot make progress alone. You've got to have the help from your brothers and sisters in Christ. But that help will not be coming the way it needs to if there's this selfish ambition, worldly factions and divisions and problems.
IV. The Perfect Servanthood of Christ Will Conquer the World (Philippians 2:5-11)
The fourth great theme we see is the perfect servant-hood of Jesus Christ. It has a purpose in the letter to support the very point we just made. In other words, don't be selfish and push your own agenda forward, because Jesus didn't do that. It's not his way. He sets Christ up as an example, but really it's more than just a supporting example. It is the fourth great theme. Look at verse five of Chapter two, “Your attitude,” he says, “should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” We're going to talk much about that phrase. I've learned a lot about it. “...something to be grasped, but made himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant. Being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore... “
That may be one of the most important 'therefores' in the Bible. Because it shows why God will exalt somebody. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Christ's humility in servant-hood will conquer the world. He will be King of Kings. He will be Lord of lords and everyone will acknowledge that at the end of the world, because of his humble servant-hood.”
The Nations Will Bow
God has already exalted him to the highest place. It's just the nations don't know it yet. They haven't seen it yet but they will some day. Hopefully, they will see it by faith, now, while there's still time. And they will bow their necks to His yoke and take His yoke upon them and learn from him because he is gentle and humble in heart. He is their King. But someday, whether they do it by faith now or by sight later, they will bow their knee before the kingship of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ breaks the world's pattern. The world is ambitious. The world is selfish. Climbing ever higher, always higher. Making the most for ourselves of every opportunity. Climbing the ladder of success. Jesus was not going up, up, up. He was always going the opposite direction. Down, down, down. Always more humble, always lower, even to the point of death on a cross. And he's calling us to follow him. Calling us to follow him. And so Christ, the death on the cross will captivate the hearts of believers all over the world. It is the theological center of this letter and it is the Gospel that we preached. It is also a great role model for us isn't it?
V. Role Models: Essential in the Journey to Perfection (Philippians 2, 3:17, 4:9)
Jesus is the greatest role model that ever lived. And that's the fifth theme. That we need role models in these two journeys. Essential in the journey to inward perfection in Christ and to the completion of the Great Commission. We need role models. We need men and women who will stand up and say to men and to women, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We need older men to stand up for the younger men and say, “Follow me, imitate me, be like me as I am following Christ.” We need older women, according to Titus two, to do the same for the younger women. We need the role models. We need the mentors. And this is a great weakness of the American church I think. A great weakness.
The central role model in the Christian Life is Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5, “Your attitude, [your mind] should be that of Christ Jesus.” Imitate him. Jesus didn't just appear on Earth on Good Friday, die that afternoon, and then rise on the third day as an atonement for our sins. That wasn't it. He lived a whole life. And why? To be our role model. To show us how it's done. He is the first and greatest role model, but Paul also holds up Timothy and Epaphroditus as role models. Look at Chapter 2:21-22. Speaking of Timothy, he says “Everyone looks out for his own interests not those of Jesus Christ, but you know that Timothy has proved himself because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” He holds Timothy up as an example, a role model of selfless dedication to the gospel. But not just Timothy but their own Epaphroditus. He holds him up also. In Chapter 2:29-30, “Welcome Epaphroditus in the Lord with great joy and honor men like him because he almost died for the work of Christ risking his life to make up the help that you could not give me.”
Timothy and Epaphroditus are role models. Paul, however, emphasizes most strongly his own role as a role model in their lives look at Chapter 3:17, “Join with others in following my example brothers and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” That's a vital verse and we're going to talk more about it if God gives us opportunity. But what is he saying? Live after a pattern of life the way we showed you to. Now that's remarkable isn't it? He communicated not just a body of teachings and of doctrines but a lifestyle called Christianity. Oh, how we lack this these days. How weak we are at discipleship. Look again at Chapter 4:9, one of my favorite verses in terms of the boldness and the courage of Paul. I love this. Philippians 4:9, he says, “Whatever you have learned, or received, or heard from me,” that's a body of doctrines, things that could be taught in this style by teaching, “Whatever you've learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me,” That's role modeling, folks. That's lifestyle. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me,” that's body of teachings, “...or seen in me, put it into practice- and the God of Peace will be with you.”
Do you have the courage to say that to a younger Christian? To say, “Follow me as I follow Christ. Imitate me in my prayer life. Imitate me in the way I handle money. Imitate me in the way I use my time. Imitate me in the way that I'm raising my family, or the way I treat my spouse. Imitate me in the way I minister at church. Imitate me in evangelism. Follow me as I follow Christ.” Do you have the courage to do that? You say, “Well my life isn't up to that level.” Well, it's time. We need role models, those that will step forward and say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” It's one of the major themes of the book of Philippians.
VI. Salvation Must be Worked Out, But Perfection Is Guaranteed (Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13, 3:1-16)
Number six. Salvation must be worked out through great effort and struggle, but absolute perfection is guaranteed the true believer in Christ. Isn't that wonderful? The moment you come to faith in Christ, God gives you a righteousness from Christ that is by faith, not by the law. At that moment you become as perfect as Christ is perfect in God's sight. He sees you positionally in Christ. You are seen to be perfect. It is the gift of righteousness. Just as a gift, nothing you could earn. Look at Chapter 3:9, “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. The righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” It's a gift. The moment that you trust Christ, that you hear the gospel, and that you trust him, at that moment a gift of righteousness is imputed, or credited, to your account. And from then on God sees you as perfectly righteous as Christ is righteous. A robe of righteousness he puts on you. Is that the end of Salvation? No. That's the beginning of it.
Press On Until You are Perfect, in Actuality
Now he calls on you to live up to the calling you've received: to live out in actuality the way you think, the way you live, the way you spend your time and effort and money and resources and all that. The way you live to imitate Christ in your everyday life. He calls on you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. He calls on you to run a race with endurance, to press on until you are perfect. And we're not perfect yet. Look at verse 12 of Chapter three, “Not that I've already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus took hold of me for a purpose and that purpose is that I would be perfect in actuality. That I would think perfectly. That I would love perfectly. That I would hate wickedness perfectly. That I would in every way, in body, soul, and spirit be perfect as Christ is perfect.
Am I there yet? I can tell you I'm not. Just ask anybody who knows me well. I won't embarrass her who knows me best, but I have a long way to go. I'm not perfect yet and neither are any of you. I'm not saying that because I've seen things in you. That's not it. I'm saying that because you're sitting listening to me instead of worshipping God face to face. You're not finished with your journey yet. You're not perfect yet. And so therefore, you must also press on in your Christian life. You must make progress until the end. But the beautiful thing is, it's guaranteed. Isn't that wonderful? “He who began a good work in you will most certainly carry it on to completion, [to perfection] until the day of Christ Jesus.” He's going to perfect in you what he's begun. Isn't that wonderful? And that's another theme.
VII. One Single Burning Passion: To Know Christ in Everything and Forever (Philippians 3:7-16)
The seventh great theme is in chapter 3:7-16. The one single burning passion of Paul's life should be also yours. And that is to know Christ. It is eternal life to know God and to know Jesus Christ. To know him should be the treasure of your life. It should be the pearl of great price. It should be the one thing you want more than anything else. It's the one thing that Paul wanted. That I might know him. That I might know him in His sufferings, in his death. That I might know him also in his resurrection power. That I might know him on earth and that I might know him in heaven. I want to know Christ. I want to share with him everything that he shared. That is the passion of my life. And if you're a Christian, it should be the passion of your life too. Don't let idolatry push Christ out of his rightful place in your life, the center of your life, a passion to know Christ. God willing we'll have a chance to preach on it more.
VIII. The Secret of Christian Contentment and Joy in the Journey (Philippians 4:1-19)
And then the eighth and final theme, the secret of Christian contentment, of learning how to be content no matter what's happening to you in your life. Have you achieved that yet? Are you content all the time? Do you never complain but always trust and sing and praise and are joyful no matter what your external circumstances? If not, then Philippians 4 has something to say to you. Paul says, “I've learned how to do this. It's not something that came with the original package of justification. I've had to learn this,” says Paul. “And I have in fact learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” The rare jewel of Christian contentment, Jeremiah Burrows called it. “I've learned it and I want to give it to you,” says the apostle Paul. Well, I want to receive it. I really would love that. To learn the secret of being content no matter what happens, no matter what's going on in my life; financially, physically, relationally, to be content all the time. That is the secret of Chapter four and I look forward to talking more about it.
We've looked this morning at eight major themes. Just lightly touched on them. When put together they talk about, two amazing journeys, infinite journeys, really. Impossible journeys apart from God. The internal journey that we would be conformed in perfection internally and externally to Christ, to be just like him. And the external journey of worldwide evangelization that others might also be conformed to Christ. These two things done for the glory of God.
Is This Your Hope?
My question this morning is, do you know Him? Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior? Are you trusting in his death on the cross as a payment for the sins that you have committed? Are you trusting in his robe of righteousness to cover you on judgment day? Is this your hope? And if not, won't you come and talk to me after the service? Won't you come and say, “I'm not a Christian. I haven't come to faith in Christ yet but I want to know Him and I want to know Him now. I want to know Him today.” And if you've already come to faith in Christ, make Christ the center of your life, the burning passion of your life, to know Him as Paul wanted to know Him.