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Two Journeys to Glory (Philippians Sermon 24 of 24)

Two Journeys to Glory (Philippians Sermon 24 of 24)

April 18, 2004 | Andy Davis
Philippians 1:1-4:23
Walk by Faith, Internal Journey, External Journey, Book Overviews, Missions, Worship

Goal: Big-picture review of Philippians

This morning is our last time to be looking at the Book of Philippians and my purpose today is to give you a big picture overview of the book. In 1987 I had the privilege of serving the Lord in Pakistan and I had a difficult decision to make at one point in the mission trip, and the decision had to do with transportation. Would I take the transportation through the Karakoram mountains on the road in a van and just see it from the ground or would I fly in an airplane into Gilgit, the North-West Frontier Province? And it was really kind of tough. I wanted both, and I couldn't have both, and it was hard but in the end I decided that I would go by plane. And so as we were flying into that incredible region, the second highest mountain range in the world, behind the Himalayas, the Karakoram mountains came into view, and the second highest mountain K2 also very remote, very difficult to reach, spectacular under the airplane. And as I looked over that entire expanse, I just, it was breathtaking, I'll never forget it. But as it turned out, Gilgit was in a tremendous cloud cover and they couldn't land, so they went all the way back to Islamabad and we had to go by ground travel. It doesn't always work out that way in life. But I got both. To be able to go, mile by mile and look at all of the terrain with my own eyes, in detail form and also to be able to look down birds-eye view at the whole thing. And that's my desire here as we finish our study.

We've been carefully through this entire book. My great temptation is to preach 20 or 12 mini sermons this morning. 20 would be fine but 12. But I can't do that. And if you want to unfold each of the sub-points I'm going to make, you have to go back and look at how I expound it on those passages. But what I want to do is go back through the book and pick out the major theme so that we get in effect, birds-eye view of the whole book.

I. One Overall Purpose: The Glory of God in Christ

The one overall purpose of the Book of Philippians, the same as the overall purpose of God in creation and in redemption, and that is the glory of God in Christ. Jonathan Edwards wrote a great work The End for Which God Created the World, basically, he argues in that book that God is his own end, he was his own reason for creating the world that He would be glorified in his physical creation, that God would be exalted, that's why he created the world. It is also the end for which God redeemed his people, out of the world, that He would be exalted and glorified, that he would be revealed to be a great and glorious God.

Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that people were God's ultimate end in creation and in redemption but we are not. God's own glory is the ultimate end, and so also, it is that the Book of Philippians portrays the glory of God in Christ, as his central purpose. If you look at Philippians 1, 9 through 11, we see Paul's prayer life and there we see his clear and central purpose for the Philippians, his prayer life for the Philippians. Certainly, it focuses immediately on their growth as Christians, but really ultimately it focuses on the glory of God, thereby, in other words, that their growth in Christ and their fruit bearing will re-down for God's glory. Look at Verses 9 through 11. "And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." Well, there it is, that's the purpose. Our salvation both individually and corporately is to the glory and praise of God. Right there in Verse 11, Paul's own life, his life of suffering for Christ as an apostle was for the same purpose.

Look at Verse 20, he says, "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." That word exalted literally means magnified or made greater. Paul wants the Philippians to know that he is facing his own death, but he also wants the Philippians to know how or with what attitude, he is facing his own death. And so he says, "I want you to know that there's one thing on my mind above anything else that whether by living or by dying that Christ may be exalted in my body either way." Now, the word means to make greater or enlarge or make bigger as the word is used of a child growing up. This word exalted or magnified. It's used of a king enlarging his territory through conquest. It's used of a man's fame and reputation, spreading far and wide. It's used of the size of one's opportunities getting larger. That's this word. And Paul's deepest desire, is that Christ would be enlarged, that Christ would be made greater, that Christ would be exalted, that Christ would grow immense.

Now when I began preaching in Philippians, many months ago, I asked the question, how can you make an infinite God bigger? Somewhat like asking how can you make the sun brighter or hotter. You can do nothing to the sun, you can add nothing to its glory. How then can we add anything to God? How can we make Him greater? Well, we can't. Our God is infinite. He fills having and earth. And yet the scripture says in.

Psalm 34:3, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." Oh, how then can we magnify the Lord? Well, I tell you, there is a place in God's universe where he is too small and that's in your mind, in your imagination, in your heart. And not just yours, but all of the fellow members of the human race. That's where God's too small. We think too small of him, he's too little, too light, too insignificant to us. And so he must be magnified, he must be exalted, made greater, in my heart and in yours.

And that's the purpose of the Book of Philippians. That's the purpose of God in Christ, that's the purpose of your salvation and mine, that he would be exalted, that he would be glorified, that he would be proclaimed and thought of in a great way. Well, that's the overall purpose. And frankly, if you get nothing else out of my message, that's enough. That everything that you do would tend toward the magnification and the glory of God.

II. Two Journeys to Accomplish One Glory

But the Book of Philippians goes beyond that and it gives us these two journeys to accomplish this one glory. Two journeys to glory. We've seen the internal journey, a progress in the faith. Look at verse 25, Paul there is wrestling with whether he's going to stay or go, whether he's going to live or die, wrestling with what would be better. And there in Verse 25, he says, "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 this word progress implies a journey, doesn't it? There is progress we can make in the faith. This is what I call the internal or individual journey, progress that you make in the faith. That word progress.

The external journey finds its origin in the same word. Look at verse 12, Philippians 1:12, "Now, I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel." That's the NIV. Let's do it in the NAS. Verse 12 in the NAS says, "Now I want you to know brethren that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the Gospel." Well it's the same Greek word, both in Verse 25 and 12, Prokope is the Greek word and that's where we get these two journeys, the individual or internal journey of sanctification, the external or corporate journey of the Gospel.

Now these two journeys have one goal in mind, and that is the glory of God in the perfection of his people, that we would be finished and be conformed to the image of Christ, that's what He's doing in the world. And it helps me to know that. It helps me to know, "God, what are you doing in the world?" He said, I'm glorifying myself by calling out a people for my own name and bringing them on this incredible journey from dead in transgressions and sins to totally conformed to Christ. And I'm doing it for people all over the world, in every tribe, and language, and people, and nation. That's what I'm doing in the world. And that's what you should be doing too.

Well, I think that helps me. So there's one major purpose, the glory of God. Two means to that end, the internal or individual journey in the faith, the external advance of the Gospel. Now let's see if we can describe each of these briefly from the words of the Book of Philippians, because Paul has much to say about both. And it's not easy to... They're very entwined and to unravel them and pull them apart is difficult. But let's see if we can do it a little bit.

III. The Internal Journey Described

First, the internal or individual journey described. The first thing I want to say, from the Book of Philippians, is that it is a journey begun and perfected by God Almighty. Philippians 1:6 teaches me this. Look at Verse 6, "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion till the day of Christ Jesus."

Now, I told you it's difficult to unravel these because that could be both individual in you singularly or in you corporately. Frankly, it's the same thing. And you should care very much about the worldwide church of Jesus Christ and whether it's growing. But I'm going to take it in terms of the individual journey. "He who began a work inside you, individually, he will perfect, it or carry it on to completion till the day of Christ." This is an internal journey that God began in you and he's going to keep working on it until it's finished.

A Journey Begun and Perfected by God

Now I'll tell you what, I'm not a great finisher. I have a lot of projects that I've started and haven't finished. I have a number of books that have bookmarks at various places, 10%, 30%, 60%. Even 85 or 90% and still not finished. Have been for about two or three years. I'll get back to them by and by. Or maybe I won't, I don't know. Maybe you can relate to the fact that we don't just really finish everything that we start. As a matter of fact, Jesus picked up on this very issue in Luke 14. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower, he says, will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it. For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying this fellow began to build and was not able to finish.

Is anybody going to do that in your life on judgment day toward God? Is anybody going to say toward God, God started something in your life and was not able to finish it. And I say, No. He staked his personal glory to this matter and he will not rest till all of his people are finished. He will not rest. And so this is a journey begun, and carried on, and perfected by God. Therefore, you know what that means? There is an inexhaustible energy and drive inside a true Christian to finish this journey. There's an energy and drive that's inexhaustible. A Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, runs on four nuclear power plants and with the new cores that they have in there, it can stay out over 50 years before it needs refueling.

50 years. Well, I'm going to tell you something, that is nothing compared to what the sun does. Every day the sun pumps out trillions of times of energy from its fusion power more than a Nimitz aircraft carrier does. Let me tell you, the sun is nothing compared to the energy of God. And that energy, that power is at work inside you, today, if you're Christian, and it won't stop till the journey is finished. Why is it you don't give up in the Christian life? If you think the answer is because you're such a good Christian, just keep growing, you'll learn. Eventually, you will see. It is not because you're such a good believer or such a determined person, but it's because God keeps getting you up out of bed and says, "Let's get going, let's keep moving, we've got a journey to travel today." The energy comes from God and it says it very directly in Verse 12 and 13, look at it. It says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," Verse 13, foreword is, "God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." So that's the first point is a journey begun, and completed by God Almighty.

A Journey Motivated by a Consuming Desire to Know and Be Like Christ

Secondly, the internal journey is motivated by a consuming desire to know and be like Christ. Let me say that again, this is an internal journey motivated by a consuming desire to know and be like Christ. Look at Philippians 3:7-11, there Paul says this, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which just through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith, I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead." That's the nature of the internal journey. I want to know Christ, I want to be like him. That's what it is. It's an internal journey focused on the person of Christ, a passion to know Him better, a passion to be more like him than you were yesterday, a drive focused on the person of Jesus Christ.

A Journey Toward Total Perfection in Christlikeness

Thirdly, this internal journey is therefore I think clearly a journey toward total perfection in Christ. That's the finish line for us individually. We're going to keep going until we are just like Jesus. And that's why I could call it not so much or just an internal journey but an individual journey perhaps, because it's going to extend to your mortal body as well. It starts with your position, with your standing before God, a justification, at the moment, that you trust Christ, you are instantly made perfect positionally. Isn't that great? That you couldn't be more welcome or more received or more forgiven or more loved or more adopted than the moment you first trust in Christ. And so you were in a secure position the whole time that you're making your journey. Is that marvelous? Absolutely secure in your position and yet you're moving out. It's a journey toward perfection in every part of you. Toward perfection in terms of your attitude and your emotions. "your attitude," it says in Philippians 2, "should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing." So you should have the same mind, the same attitude as Jesus.

And so it's a journey toward perfection, positionally first, and then in your performance and your attitude, your behavior, that you would in every way be holy and righteous and just like Christ and it will not stop until you're conformed physically even to him. Look at 3:20-21. That is the finish line for you. There, it says, "Our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." That is for you individually the finish line of your race with Christ. That's the end of your journey When you are conformed inside and out, in every way to Jesus, you will have been totally saved. And that's what God means when He says through Paul, "I'm not going to finish what I began in you, until it is perfect in the day of Christ." That's literally what the word says in Philippians 1-6. He who began a good work will perfect it. We'll bring it on to perfection until the day of Christ.

A Journey Made Through Great Effort and Striving

Fourthly, this internal journey is a journey made through great effort and striving. Now you may say, with all of this certainty language, with all of this sovereignty talk, with all of this sense that He who began a good work, "Hey, kick back, relax." What do you need to work for? God's going to do it. That is not the doctrine of the Book of Philippians, not at all. Look again at Philippians 2:12-13. We've already seen this, but look at it again. This internal journey is a journey made through great effort and striving on your part. "Therefore 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." I don't see any laziness allowed there. I don't see any days off. I don't see a vacation in the summer from sanctification. I don't see any time off at all as a matter of fact. We're supposed to be working out our salvation with fear and trembling, every day of our lives.

Look again at Philippians 3:12-14, he says, "Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect." Paul says I'm not perfect yet. I know that's the finish line, that's my goal, but I'm not perfect yet. "Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect but I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heaven-ward in Christ Jesus." I press on forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Do you see ease and comfort there? Do you see an easy life in sanctification there? Not at all. Look at the picture on the cover of the bulletin there, see a rock climber. Can you talk to him of ease and comfort? Is it easy for him? Can you say, "Well, at least I made it two-thirds of the way up."? My friend you don't live on a rock wall. Alright, it's no good to stay there, you got to keep on moving. You can't rest on your laurels in rock climbing. You got to keep on going until you attain your goal. And Paul in effect is saying, I strive and I pull and I strain, and I keep on moving every day toward my goal. There's no ease and comfort there. And so the internal journey is a journey made through great effort and striving.

A Journey Made With Total Confidence in Christ But No Confidence in Self

This internal journey is made with total confidence in Christ and no confidence in yourself. Total confidence in Christ and no confidence in your natural ability, yourself. Now first confidence in Christ and in God. Look at verse six of chapter one again, Philippians 1:6, at the very beginning of that verse that we've already looked at several times? "I am confident of this," it says in the NAS, "I'm confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to the day of Christ Jesus." There's a buoyant confidence in the Christian life. But it's not, I am confident of this, that you folks, you Philippians are such great people. I'm confident of this, that based on your track record you're doing very well and just keep on going. No, I'm confident of this, that he who began a good... It's very God-focused, very God-centered this confidence. Philippians 3:12, confidence in Christ. Philippians 3:12 says, "Not that I have 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 you in Christ and will not let you go. And so therefore you have great confidence in your Christian life every day to put sin to death, to make plans and goals for yourself internally to grow, to set goals. To do different things than you've ever done before: Memorizing scripture, learning to blunt a sharp tongue which cuts down loved ones around you, learning to put to death a lust habit or a laziness habit. You can do it because God's at work in you, but your confidence is in God, not in yourself. Philippians 3:3, says it very directly, look at Philippians 3:3 which John McArthur calls the best single verse description of a Christian. "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus." that means you boast in Christ. That's another way to translate that word. Our boast is Christ. "Who glory in Christ Jesus and who put no confidence in the flesh." Do you see that? That's who we are. We don't put any confidence in the flesh but we put complete confidence in Christ.

Our culture is big on self-esteem, isn't it? Big on the can-do attitude. If it's to be, it's up to me. Let me tell you something, it's up to you it's lost already. I'm not trying to be insulting. I am really, and I'm not thinking too lowly of myself I'm just saying if it's up to you and me, it's lost already. Martin Luther said, "If one thread of the cloak of my salvation depends on me, it's unraveled at the start." and that's true. But yet Christians are incredibly buoyant and confident. We can with William Carey expect great things from God and attempt great things for God both in the internal and the external journey. We can do that because God's at work in us to accomplish his ends.

A Journey in which Supernatural Joy and Contentment is Possible But Not Guaranteed

And then finally, number six, it is a journey, an internal journey in which supernatural joy and contentment are possible but not guaranteed. It is possible for you to go to heaven moaning, groaning, complaining and discontent, it is possible. A number have done it. And I've actually been with them for part of their journey. And it really doesn't honor God, does it? But you can do it. Do you really want to go to heaven that way? Five times in this epistle, the Apostle Paul speaks of his own joy. Three times he says he labors for their joy. Five times he commands them to be joyful. Look at Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice." And then in Philippians 4:10-13, we've seen even recently how it is possible to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want, you can do anything and everything through Christ or through him who gives us strength. He gives us the ability to be joyful and content no matter what the circumstance but it is a secret. And it is very possible to go through this triumphant Christian life discontent and miserable, and not as fruitful as God would have you be.

So those are the six descriptions of the internal journey: Begun and perfected by God, motivated by a consuming desire to know and be like Christ. It's a journey toward total perfection in Christ, a journey fourthly, made with great effort and striving on our part. Fifth, a journey of total confidence in Christ but no confidence in the self. And six, it's a journey which is characterized, can be characterized by supernatural joy and contentment regardless of the circumstances, but not guaranteed. That's the internal journey.

IV. The External Journey Described

What does this epistle tell us about the external journey? Well, first of all, the starting point for the external journey was clearly depicted in Luke 24. Don't turn there, but listen. Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Christ. In Luke 24, 46 and 47, Jesus told his disciples this, the risen Lord said this, this is what is written, that Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. That's the starting point for the worldwide advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the City of Jerusalem. And it started with the resurrection and the day of Pentecost.

The road map for that journey also clearly laid out in Acts 1:8, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem," that's a starting point, "in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth." And so, we who live today in the 21st century can look back on a spectacular journey that God, the Sovereign God, has drawn the church through. 20, almost 21 centuries of success in the advance of the Gospel. Missionaries, beautiful feet, traveling across river and stream and mountain range and raging ocean to bring the message of the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. And there is no political nation on earth today where there is not a congregation of Christians, gathered today, 24 hours, circuit of the sun, worshipping Jesus Christ and proclaiming him to be there Lord. What an incredible record that God has done. But the journey is not finished yet, because there need to be representatives of every tribe and language and people and nation, around the throne and in front of the Lamb, praising Jesus for their salvation. So there's still work to be done on that external journey.

A Journey Carried On by the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Now, what does Philippians say about this external journey? First, it is a journey that is carried on by the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I say proclamation, I mean the speaking forth of the words of the Gospel. Look at 1:12-18. These seven verses make it very plain that the external journey is carried on by verbally sharing the Gospel or the proclamation of Christ, and him crucified. "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 to everyone else that I am really 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." Do you see that? They've been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others, you could insert, preach Christ out of good will. The latter preach Christ in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains." Verse 18, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

Well, I couldn't be playing, or could it? The advance of the Gospel must be done through the verbal proclamation of the Gospel. No one is going to get to heaven by watching your life or mine. Again, I'm not trying to be insulting. I want you to imitate Christ, I want you to be a light shining in a dark place. But nobody's going to get saved that way. The only way people are going to get saved is if you open your mouth and speak the words of the Gospel. Romans 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel message, the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." And so the external journey, first, is carried on by the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Journey Advanced by People who Model the Transforming Power of the Gospel

Secondly, it is a journey advanced, the external journey, advanced by people who themselves model the transforming power of the message that they carry. Let me say that again. It is an external journey that is carried forth by people who themselves model the transforming power of the message.

Now, God did not have to do it this way. He could have just had, like, you know the Voice of America, voice of heaven, everyday comes on at 3:00 to 5:00, voice from heaven preaching the Gospel. He could have done that. He could have sent angels, just pop into a village in Irian Jaya, preach, do a few miracles. Just being there would be miracle enough. Anybody and everybody would repent and believe. He could do that, but he chose not to. Instead, He has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. And we are those who have been transformed by its message. Apostle Paul is the best example of this. At one point, he was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples, but now he proclaims the very Christ he once tried to destroy. How is that possible, except that the gospel has transforming power? And so God has ordained that we bring the message, we who have been transformed.

That means that your behavior makes a difference, doesn't it? If you don't model the gospel that you preach, then you will be ineffective in Evangelism. Look at verse 27 of chapter 1. Philippians 1:27, "Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Do you see that? Live up to the message you preach. "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 faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you." You see? Your behavior and how you carry yourself makes a big difference. Philippians 2:22, "You know that Timothy," he says, "has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel." So Timothy, a messenger who's living out the message and who's carrying it forth. Philippians 3:17, "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." There's a pattern of discipleship, a pattern of mentoring. And that's God's plan for the world. You're going to hear the message, you're going to imitate the one who preached it to you, you're going to follow in that pattern, and then you yourself are going to make disciples and baptize and teach them to obey everything Christ has commanded you. It's a multiplication ministry, and that's the way the kingdom advances.

A Journey Opposed Every Step of the Way by Enemies

Thirdly, this external journey is a journey that is opposed every step of the way by enemies, opposed every step of the way by enemies. Paul and Silas had preached the gospel in Philippi and were bitterly opposed by enemies. The Philippian Church saw it. They saw them beaten in public, they saw them thrown in jail.

Now again, Paul is writing and he's in chains for Christ, it's happened again. So the Philippians didn't need to be persuaded about this, we Americans probably need more to hear about this, that the advance of the Gospel is bitterly opposed every step of the way by enemies. So the Philippians themselves were going through some kind of suffering. We saw it already in Philippians 1:27, he says... And 28, "Contending as one man for the faith of the gospel," Verse 28, "Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you, this is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you'll be saved and that by God." So it's going to be a hard journey, it's opposed every step of the way by enemies.

A Journey of Great Suffering and Great Courage

Fourth, the external journey is one of great suffering and great courage. The external journey therefore is one in which it requires us to go through great suffering and have great courage. Again, Verse 29-30 of Chapter 1, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for Him since you are going through the same struggle you saw that I have and now here that I still have." And so it's a journey of great suffering and great courage.

Look at Philippians 3:10. Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." That's the journey that we're on here, the external journey, it's not easy. There are enemies that oppose and therefore, it only advances by great courage and great suffering. The royal tapestry of church history made up of threads, brothers and sisters in Christ who are your family members and who laid down their lives so that other people could go to heaven, it's a glorious tapestry. And that's what God calls us to do in the external journey, great courage and great suffering.

A Journey in Which Enemies Amazingly Become Worshipers

Fifth, it is a journey in which enemies shockingly and amazingly become friends and worshipers of Christ. You never know who's going to get saved, you're never quite sure if the praetorian guard even might show some fruits of the preaching of the Gospel. Look at Verse 13 of Chapter 1. Philippians 1:13, he says, "So that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard." So it says in the NAS, it's what it is, the praetorian guard and everyone else, and then turn over to the end, Philippians 4:22, I love this, "All the saints, send your greetings especially those who belong to Caesar's household." Whoa, where did that come from? Could that be some praetorian guard had come to faith in Christ? Could it be some of Caesar's own family, a sister an uncle? A niece, a nephew? Come to faith in Christ. Who would have ever thought it?

And so church history has again and again, shown surprising conversions of people you would have least expected. The Philippian jailer and his family, middle of the night, who would have ever thought that he would have gotten saved that night? You never know who's going to get saved and so be willing to pray for kings and those in authority, be willing to suffer because you're never sure about the one who's persecuting you today may end up your best friend ever in Christ tomorrow. That's the nature of the external journey.

A Journey Accomplished Best by a Unified Church

And then finally, it is an external journey accomplished best by unified church. It's accomplished best by a unified church. So Paul tells Euodia and Syntyche stop arguing with each other. Philippians 2:1 and following, "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tenders and compassion that make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain can see, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God did not consider equality with God 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. And 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." And so 2:14, "Do everything without complaining or arguing." Do you see the connection there? Be like Jesus, be a humble servant, unite the church together. The external journey advances best when its co-laborers love each other deeply from the heart. Alright, now, having given you a sense of these two journeys, let me make a couple of comments and then application.

V. The Two Journeys Indissolubly Linked

These two journeys are indissolubly linked. The internal journey of sanctification and the external journey of worldwide evangelization are linked together. You can't focus on just one and not the other. Many Christians and many churches make this error. There're some churches that are really strong in evangelism, they're really strong in getting people saved, strong in getting them to pray the Sinner's Prayer or walk the aisle. Strong in the evangelistic tent revival approach, but there's not much discipleship, there's not much patterning, there's not much transformation of the life. And so it fails. Then there are other churches that perhaps are a little more academic focusing on the greats of theological heritage and like to read and work inwardly, but they have neglected the external advance of the Gospel. I fear that we may be more like the second than the first and that we really want to know a lot about sanctification, but do we really want to share the Gospel? Are we really bold in witness, are we sacrificing for the advance of the Gospel? We can't just choose one or the other, they go together. Who is it that keeps witnessing year after year after year? But the mature disciple of Jesus Christ. Every new convert witnesses a little until they start tasting persecution. Alright, the question is, will you dig deep into Christ and Keep witnessing for 40 and 50 years? The only way you're going to do that is by growing into Christ-like maturity, these two journeys are indissolubly linked. We can't just choose one or choose the other, we've got to do both.

VI. Summary and Applications

Now what application can we bring from this? Well, we've seen these two journeys to accomplish one glory. The overall purpose of God is the glory of God in Christ. There are two journeys to accomplish this one glory, the internal or individual journey of sanctification, we've described as a journey begun and perfected by God motivated by a consuming desire to know and be like Christ, a journey toward total perfection in Christ-likeness, a journey made through great effort and striving, a journey made with total confidence in Christ but no confidence in self and it's a journey in which supernatural joy and contentment is possible but not guaranteed. The external journey is a journey carried on by the verbal proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's an external journey advanced by people who modeled the transforming power of the gospel, it's a journey opposed every step of the way by enemies therefore a journey of great suffering and great courage and a journey in which enemies amazingly can become worshipers of Christ and it's a journey in which the advance is best accomplished by a unified church following the pattern of Christ.

Let me ask some questions first of all, are you making any progress internally? Are you growing in grace in the knowledge of Christ? Do you have absolute confidence that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion? Are you discouraged in your Christian life? Are you growing more and more in Christ like maturity is Christ more and more the treasure and pleasure of your life or you're getting distracted and starting to love other things? Do you have a hunger and thirst to be perfect like Christ, to be free from all sin, to be conformed to Christ in holiness and humility and love and do you set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Christ raises you out of the grave and gives you a resurrection body or do you care too much about your present physical body which is already called in Philippians 3:21 lowly, in some sense contemptible? Are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling or have you gotten lazy in your Christian life and just accept certain things about yourself that God does not accept? Are you growing in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible intake, fasting, service, evangelism? Are you doing these things are you growing in grace and have you learned how to be content in any and every situation? Do you rejoice in the Lord always or do you grumble and complain when things don't go your way? Are you making progress in the internal journey?

And secondly, are you doing anything in the external journey? When was the last time you opened your mouth and shared the saving gospel of Christ to somebody you thought was an unbeliever? When was the last time that you shared the gospel? When was the last time you risked a relationship to be able to witness to somebody? Perhaps at work, perhaps a friend or acquaintance, maybe a co-worker, maybe a total stranger in a public place, when was the last time you risked something? Are you discipling anybody or are you being discipled? Do you have a mentor in your life or are you being mentored? Are you involved in growing up in grace? Are you making disciples for Christ? Have you ever been persecuted because you are a part of the worldwide advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Has it ever cost you anything to be a Christian? And what about your financial life, did you make the pledges earlier or did you just not pass in the card?

I'll never know, it's not about me it's about between you and God and perhaps you've checked the boxes but are you going to be faithful to it? In our global priority mission fund consider giving generously to that rather than buying the next thing that you have in mind to buy. Give generously to that. Sacrificially are you storing up treasure in heaven? Do you really believe that Christ haters can become Christ lovers? Do you believe for example, that a leader of a terrorist cell group, a Muslim terrorist cell group could become a Christian someday? And do you pray toward that end, do you pray for Osama Bin Laden? Do you pray for Saddam or any of these other people that we think they're beyond the reach of the grace of God, no they're not amazing things happen with the grace of God.

And are you at peace with other Christians? Do you really believe that this church is united the way it should be or do you have something against somebody? Are we one in the way that Christ would have us be one? This is a great book isn't it? The themes in Philippians are incredible and deep and rich and it's been a joy and pleasure to be able to go through it with you however briefly. Let me close with Verse 23 of chapter four: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."

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