“Partakers of Grace and Partners in the Gospel”
In the beginning of the book of Philippians we discover that since Acts 16 a considerable time has passed (10-12 years), and Paul has once again been imprisoned. He is awaiting a response from the emperor (he has been in prison about 2 years). He is thankful to the church because of their gift they sent to him in prison and for their help in the “defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
Because they have experienced the forgiveness of sin through their faith in Christ, that has led them to love each other more – that type of relationship draws them together as God’s people. That love and unity then drives them to do what God desires, which is the salvation of mankind.
Family & Mission
God puts together individuals from all kinds of lives and backgrounds (ex. a business woman, a teen girl, and a jailor, see Acts 16), who then together share the gospel with others. The “family” then expands as the mission is carried out. But there are issues in the church that Paul feels the need to write them — there are dangers that will keep the church from growing and doing what it is supposed to do.
There are two dangers to this progress;
1. The family becomes divided; the differences between those brought together through the gospel becomes the focus instead of the change that has been made in their lives (Paul discusses pride, arrogance, etc.)
2. The mission becomes corrupted; Sharing the gospel for the people moves toward something else, something of less importance (ex. immediate needs in the congregation, maintaining a building, a particular worship style, meeting together in a special way, socializing, etc.)
How Does the Church Counteract the two dangers?
How Do We Defend Against Division and Mission Drift?
The book of Philippians is Paul’s answer to these two dangers to the church:
- Humility – “Count others better than yourself.” (2:13)
- Workout your salvation (2:12)
- Avoid grumbling or disunity (2:14)
- Be on the lookout for evil doers (specifically false teachers)
- Forget what is behind; press on to what lies ahead (3:13)
- Stand firm in the Lord (4:1)
- Rejoice in the Lord, Always (4:4)
- Prayer, supplication, thanksgiving (4:6)
- Think on what is good, true, honorable (4:8)
- Learn to be content in every circumstance (4:11)
In the upcoming weeks, we will look at each of these cures to the problems that many churches face every day. Stay with us for the journey. To get caught up with the founding of the church in Acts 16, click here for (part one) and click here for (part two)