The first book that I preached from after Cheryl and I arrived in Mayer was Philippians. There may be books that are more exhaustive in their theology, but Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi has always been one of my favorites. As I blog this week through Philippians and Colossians, it will be difficult for me to focus on a single point or two in each chapter. So I will ask your forgiveness before we begin, and today, I’ll “shotgun” some thoughts on the first chapter of this amazing book.
Paul’s prayer in v. 9-12 is a wonderful model for us. He prays that his readers will be grounded in knowledge and discernment for three reasons: 1) so that they will approve of the best things; 2) so that they will be sanctified; and 3) so that they will bear the fruit of righteousness. If your prayer life is a little dry, try praying this way for yourself, your family, your friends, your church, and for all believers everywhere.
In v. 12 and following, Paul explains that his imprisonment has actually served to advance the gospel. This is just one of dozens of clear passages throughout scripture that demonstrates how apparent evil can be and is used by God to fulfill his good purposes. Nothing thwarts God’s will and nothing is outside his sovereign control.
Verse 21 is one of the most famous ever penned by Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We may quote this and praise it but do we really understand what Paul is saying and have we any intention of seeking to live with the same attitude? Below is a quick summary of the benefits of life and death for the believer:
- Living – We are able to know him more, grow in faith, develop greater intimacy, enjoy him, proclaim him, and serve him.
- Dying – We would be free from sin, immediately in Christ’s presence, no more suffering, and would experience glorification.
As one theologian put it, “Without Jesus, heaven would be hell.”
One last point; notice that in v. 27, Paul tells us that citizens of heaven are to live worthy of the gospel. What does that mean? Again, as I so often remind us, don’t get the order wrong! We don’t live worthy in order to become citizens of heaven, but all who profess Christ as Lord and Savior are to live lives that reflect the gospel, consistent with the gospel and our new identity in Christ. As Paul says in Titus 2:10, our lives should adorn the gospel. Now the big question: Do they? That, my friends, is fruit for meditation!
See you tomorrow.