Starting a new study in Phillipians. As we did before with James, we’ll take one or two verses at a time and dig a little deeper with it. I’ll be using study guides written by John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, as well as notes from a sermon series we did at our church. I encourage you to go ahead and read the whole book first. It’s short and shouldn’t take you too long.
Paul wrote Philippians, along with Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon, from prison in Rome. Paul penned this letter to his beloved Philippian congregation to thank them for their generous gift (4:10–19), explain why he was sending Epaphroditus back to them (2:25–30), inform them of his circumstances (1:12–26), and warn them about the danger of false teachers (3:2,18–19).
As before I’ll show the New American Standard version along with The Message. I like the Message sometimes in the way it rephrases the text into modern English.
So let’s get started with verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 1.
NASV – 1:1-2 – Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Phillipi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Message – Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus in Philippi, pastors and ministers included. We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ.
Pretty obvious that Timothy was there with Paul in prison and that they leave no doubt who their master is. Jesus. Saints refers to believers in Christ. Even today you’ll often hear followers of Christ referred to as saints. Being raised Catholic I used to think that the only saints were the ones that were designated by the church. As I read more of the Scriptures I understood what Paul was talking about when he says saints. If you’ve trusted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior in your heart then you too are a saint. I feel that at this point I need to go back and do some refresher on what that means. Here it is in a nutshell and this all comes from the Scriptures, not from Bill. To accept Christ, or be “born again” simply means to believe that we all are sinners (Romans 3:3), that if we continue to sin and live the life we’ve been living it will result in an eternal life in Hell but if we believe in Jesus as the son of God we will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (Romans 6:23). Also to be able to understand that this is a gift from God, it’s not possible to “earn” your way into heaven with good works (Ephisians 2:8-9), and then finally I think The Message says it best from Romans 10:9-11, “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”
11-13Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” You are then guaranteed your entrance into heaven when you die. While we’re still here on earth though, being the fallen people that we are, we are still going to sin, hopefully only occasionally but it happens. It does not negate your entrance into heaven when you die. You simply have to realize that your sinning and ask the Lord to help you refrain from ever doing it again. It’s amazing after you have accepted all of this and want to start leading a life that would be pleasing to Him, how you have a new realization within your conscience that what you’re doing is wrong. If you do the wrong thing long enough you become desensitized to it. It becomes the new norm. To guard against that happening you need to listen to that first alarm that goes off that says, “you might want to rethink what you’re doing.” Here’s what I’ve found helpful. If Jesus were standing beside you, in the flesh, would you do the same thing. Or would you be ashamed.
Well I got off on a little tangent there from a description of what a saint was but I thought it was important that we all get on the same page as Paul. We’ll dive into verses 3 – 5 next time.