Category Archives: Bible

Winning the War – Victory Through Submission


11. Winning the War Obedience Submit.001

You are at war! This war is spiritual. Within you and around you this war rages and you are a combatant. There are no neutral parties.

Who does not long for peace? We think that we may find the peace we long for by surrender to the passions that rage within us. As we feed our selfish longings and desires we find ourself in conflict with those around us. You are at war with others.

Not only are you at war within and with others, but you fight with God! As we seek affirmation of the world we desire what the world offers, it looks so good! The world system feeds our passions and affirms our self-centeredness.

The more we feed our selfish desires the greater the raging emptiness. We fail to find satisfaction that was promised and this leads us to anger and ultimately despair.

How many times have you heard of one of God’s beautiful created people who have committed suicide? Perhaps you have contemplated that at some time yourself.

If you want peace – be sure you are fighting the right enemy! Some of us have made friends with God’s enemy the world, thus we make ourselves the enemy of God!

We are at war! Our enemy will not negotiate, our enemy will not surrender, our enemy must be conquered. Victory is the only path to peace. As children of God, we are all engaged in war whether we realize it or not. There are three enemies that war against the Christian the flesh (1-3), the world (4-5), and the devil (6-7).

  • In the NT. the word “Soldier” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “war, warfare” is used 5x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “fight” is used 4 x in reference to the child of God.
  • In the NT. the word “resist” is used 4x in reference to the child of God.

In this war there are two types of attack:

Indirect Satanic attack – comes as an “angel of light” through the flesh, world – base of this attack is temptation, to get us to act independently of God. (2 Co. 11:12-15)

Direct Satanic attack – Satan himself – comes as a roaring lion, purpose in this attack is to cause fear, and to render the Christian ineffective in the fight. (1 Pt. 5:8)

NOTE: The design of both attacks is ultimately to destroy the child of God.

This morning I want to pause in our study through the Book of James in order to take a careful look at how we can live a victorious Christian life. “Winning The War – Victory Through Submission.”

There are two parts to winning this war: Submit to God, and Resist the devil (7).

Are you completely surrendered to God in every area of your life? Is there any area of your life where you are holding back from obedience? If so this is the enemy territory in your life from which Satan will launch his attack in an effort to keep you a defeated Christian.

THE BATTLEGROUND IS THE MIND (1-5)

The flesh wants to please itself. (1)

This war is going on in our own flesh (members).

James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

The flesh looks for ways to fulfill its own desires (2-3)

James 4:2-3. 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

  1. Lust – to have affections toward something, to desire, to long after. No matter how you lust the desire of your affections is always out of reach.
  2. Murder – Jesus equated anger with murder (Mt. 5:21-22). The flesh becomes angry at anyone or anything that stands between it and what it desires.
  3. Covet – to desire zealously, aggressively, consumes the whole being. As much as you try you still cannot grasp the illusion. NOTE: These first three are inward. The next three are outward:
  4. Fight – to contend physically in a private quarrel.
  5. War – strife, everyone around is involved in the conflict. You have manipulated every option and been in conflict with everyone around you and you still lack that pleasure you desire. You do not have because you do not ask – you are man-centered, instead of God-centered.
  6. Pray – you ask in an attempt to manipulate God. You still don’t receive because of your motive is impure. Your desire is to consume that thing to please yourself. Pleasure – lust, sensual pleasure, enjoyment, physical pleasure
    ILL: Prodigal son – wasted all his possessions on prodigal living (Lk. 15:13)

What the flesh desires the world claims to have. (4-5)

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

  1. Because the flesh has failed to satisfy its own sensual pleasures it turns to the world, and what the flesh desires the world is happy to provide.
  2. To gain the pleasures we desire, we make friends with the world (Ps. 50:18)
  3. To make the world your friend is to display hostility toward God (I Jn. 2:15). You become God’s enemy!

BATTLE PLAN FOR VICTORY – SUBMIT TO GOD (6-7)

God’s battle plan for victory in this war is two-fold: 1.) Submit to God (7a); 2.) Resist the devil (7b).

Draw near (8a)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Honestly examine yourself (8, 1:22-25). To “Draw near to God” is to examine yourself in the light of God Himself. (I Co. 11:28,31,32; Ps. 139:23).
  2. Submit is a military term, to place in order, to place in orderly fashion under command.
  3. Submit is to surrender completely to the will of another. To be controlled by another. We are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. (Eph 5:18 be “filled with the Spirit.”)

Get right (8b)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  1. Cleanse your hands” – Actions – outward sins (8). The outworking of passions.
  2. “Purify your hearts” – Attitudes – inward sins (8). The seat of our passions, the problem of double-mindedness.

Humble Yourself (9-12)

  1. Repent of your sin (9). Become broken-hearted over sin. Mourn over your sin! laughing and joy turn to mourning and gloom. This happens when we catch a glimpse of God and his holiness, we view sin from God’s perspective.
  2. Yield yourself to God (10) “humble yourself”. This is an act of will, yield all areas of your life to God. Obey God’s revealed commands in Scripture. Live in an attitude of submission – “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

VICTORY IS ASSURED TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE (6,8,10)

A Warning! (6)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  1. God resists those who are proud and will not surrender to Him (6)
  2. God fights against them by allowing Satan to work against us in our life (Lk. 22:31)
  3. When we refuse to submit to God we “give place to the Devil” (Eph. 4:27)

A Promise! (6,8)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

God is full of grace and willing to give that grace to those who humble themselves in submission (6).

  1. Grace is available – as much as you need. Grace upon grace. Saving Grace – for by grace you are saved through faith. Sanctifying Grace – grace for living every single day in a way that glorifies Him! Serving Grace – the grace to obey and live for Him regardless of circumstances.
  2. Grace is sufficient (2 Co.12:9). Like a river flowing fully and forcefully is God’s amazing grace!

When we draw near to God in humility, He will draw near to us (8)

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

An Evidence! (10)

James 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

When we humble ourselves in submission before Him, He will lift us up (10). This is VICTORY!  A life submitted to God will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26). As the branch submits to the vine the life flows into it and bears fruit. A spirit controlled life will be bold in its witness / testimony (Acts 4:13,29,31)

CONCLUSION:

You win the war through surrender! Humble yourself today! Come as a wicked, thirsty sinner longing for the water of life!

Only the humble will receive God’s free-grace! The proud will never come to Christ because they refuse to acknowledge that He is the answer to their need.

Child of God: Are you surrendered to God in every area of your life, or are you giving Satan opportunity to war against you?

Ask the Holy Spirit to search you, cleanse you and fill you (Eph. 5:18, Lk 11:13). Take God at His word, recognize you are being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Act by faith not feeling, take God at His word. (Ro. 14:23)

Listen to the sermon or download the sermon here.

Deadly Danger of Favoritism


The book “Chicken Soup for the Soul” records the story of Bill. Bill was a college student dressed like a hippie. He didn’t look like the other members of the middle-class church he visited one day. There was no place to sit, so Bill sat down on the carpet near the pulpit. An elderly deacon stood up and made his way to the young man. Everyone in the church expected him to take care of the situation by asking this hippie to leave. They were surprised by the elderly deacon drop his cane and plop down on the floor beside Bill and worship alongside him.

Let’s face it: we feel most comfortable with people who look like us, think like us and act like us. But when that influences our relationships in the church, we have a problem.
James is writing to Christians who have been dispersed across the known world because of persecution that has broken out in Jerusalem against those who believe in Jesus. They are living as foreigners in cities and countries far from their native land. It is difficult, they have lost everything, they are not well accepted.

Our text today is found in James 2:1-13. In this letter James has given what John MacArthur called, “Tests of living faith.” Is your faith a living faith or a dead faith? James is about to deal specifically with that issue in the second half of chapter two. Let’s review the tests James has already outlined for determining if our faith is real:

  • How we respond to trials (1:3-12)
  • How we respond to temptation (1:13-18)
  • How we respond to the Word of God (1:19-27)
  • How we respond to others (2:1-13)

In this portion of the letter, James is showing Christians that genuine faith in Jesus Christ and favoritism (or partiality) are incompatible! They do not and cannot go together! Favoritism in the church is not only discourteous and disrespectful, it is sin!

Here is the simple truth: God is impartial. We are not. Christians are supposed to be.

Partiality is unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another, to show favoritism.

Impartiality is one of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s nature, one of His attributes (that makes Him who He is.)

As a member of the human race we tend to rank people based upon:

  • Ethnicity – culture, language, features or skin color.
  • Education – intelligence, amount of academic training.
  • Economics – the car they drive or the neighborhood or house they live in, the clothes & jewelry they wear. A well-dressed woman will get more attention than other women in a public setting.

Yet none of these things matter to God!

  • There is no partiality in God: Deut 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
  • No partiality against the poor in their dispute: Deut. 1:17 You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.
  • No partiality for the poor in their dispute: Ex. 23:3 You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.
  • No partiality in dealing with employees: Eph. 6:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
  • No partiality in church discipline: 1 Tim. 5:21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

Guarding against favoritism in the church is especially challenging when there are many cultures in the church.

Cross-Cultural Challenges:

  • Different Value Systems – different is not necessarily wrong. Different is different. What we know and have been expose to always seems best and most appropriate to us.
  • Different Life Experiences – I can’t expect to know how to live and survive in the bush if I’ve never been exposed to that life. Bushmen will easily mock me, consider themselves better than me.
  • Different Education Opportunities – Many have an education that I never had the opportunity for. You know stuff about running business, farming, manufacturing or mining because of your educational training and life experiences.

We must avoid the deadly danger of favoritism in the church:

FAVORITISM IS A PROBLEM FOR THE CHURCH (1-4)

Because we don’t shed wrong world-views the moment we get saved (1)

These were genuine christians – “brothers” (1,5). They held tightly to faith in Jesus Christ, yet they needed this instruction regarding showing partiality in the church. This attitude of favoritism was so much a part of their culture that it was assumed.  Most Christians were Jewish and poor – (1:1 – Dispersion). Because of persecution many had lost all they owned and were now displaced persons in a foreign country.

Because we naturally admire people of wealth and importance (2-3)

How do we determine wealthy and poor – in simple terms: Those who have more than me are rich, those who have less than me are poor. We admire their achievements or their possessions. We often cater to the rich because we hope to get something out of them. For example.   The church has a need, but instead of asking God what we can do to help with that need, we look to someone else in the church with the idea they can give to meet the need because they have more money than we do.

We are tempted to avoid the poor because they embarrass us. They are given less respect. Sit on the floor. Jesus did not do this, and He does not approve of it!

Wealth is not a sin if submitted to the Lord! Praise the Lord for wealthy believers who are wholeheartedly committed to the gospel! There is also no sin in being poor, as long as the person is not poor because of squandering what God has given to him/her.

Because we fail to see the evil of such response in light of their equality before God. (4)

Distinctions in this way are not to be made among fellow Christians! When we treat others this we make ourselves judges of the value and worth of another Christian – this is evil! This is wrong thinking!  Paul warns them against this common practice! Why?

  • Favoritism undermines the gospel
  • Favoritism undermines the testimony of Christ’s followers.
  • Favoritism undermines the character of God.

FAVORITISM DOES NOT MAKE SENSE IN THE CHURCH (5-7)

Because of the shared riches we have in Christ (5)

Saved poor are rich (1Co.1:26-30) Equal in faith because they are saved by the same sacrifice through Christ. They are equal in status  as sons and daughters of God (Gal.3:26-29).  They are equal in benefits and share a future inheritance in heaven. Saved poor are equal to the saved rich, there are no differences.

There are not many races – just one race – the human race. We are all “one blood.” (Acts 17:26) There are not ethnic churches – Bemba church, Afrikaans Church, White church, there is one church – Christ’s Church!

Our point of relationship is not ethnic, cultural, or economic – our relationship is in Christ alone! A church that does not treat all of God’s children with the same respect and welcome is an unbiblical church! All Christians are welcome to join in heart fellowship here at Kitwe Church: Male/Female, Young/old, Black/Brown/White, Rich/Poor, African/Asian/European/Latino/Everyone

Because of the wicked actions of the unsaved (6-7)

The wicked are those who oppress the poor in their arrogance (6). They exact from the poor what little they have – greed. They don’t pay fair wages or don’t pay when it is due. “Lawless Oceans” a recent documentary on National Geographic channel exposed the commercial fishing industry in the South Pacific. Workers labor for $200 per month working 7 days a week for 30-40 days, they are then are charged $95 for board and food on the ship
The wicked are the very ones who blaspheme the name of your Heavenly Father (7)!  How then can you sin against your brother by giving preferential treatment to these wealthy people in the church?

FAVORITISM IS BE REJECTED BY THE CHURCH (8-13)

Because of the Royal Law (8).

The law was summarized by Jesus in answer to the lawyer’s question.  Jesus said that the greatest command is to “love the Lord your God with all…” and the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  This second command is referred to by James as the “royal law.”

You may be asking – who is my neighbor? That questions was asked many years ago by a religious man. Jesus told the inquirer a story about a Samaritan who met the need of a wounded Jewish stranger.  Jesus then asked, who was the neighbor to the one that fell among thieves? The answer, the one who showed him compassion.  Jesus affirmed that answer with the words, “go and do likewise.”  Go and be a neighbor to others in need! (Lk. 10:29-37)

Because disobedience to the law is sin (9-11)

If you obey all the laws except you disobey one of them, you are a lawbreaker and guilty as such. You don’t commit adultery, but you do murder someone you are guilty of breaking the law!  If you do not “love your neighbor as yourself” by showing favoritism you are breaking the Royal Law of God and committing sin (9a). Those who break the law will be convicted by the law (9b).

Because we all need mercy (12-13)

Speak to others and act toward others in a way that aligns with the reality of our shared relationship in Christ! We have been set free through Christ! You reap what you sow – when we are judged, we will not be shown mercy if we don’t show mercy to others. We all need a little mercy!

We all need mercy, so show the person who is different than you the acceptance, love and respect. Treat all Christians as equal recipients of God’s gracious gifts! Look at everyone through the eyes of Christ. Christ is the link between us and others and that link is love! The basis of my relationship with you is Christ and Christ alone! It is his person and work that gives me the relationship with you. No other basis for a relationship will work!

Listen to the sermon here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=3291712840

Christ Our Greatest Treasure


christ-your-greatest-treasure-001
Today we find ourselves in the third chapter of Paul’s letter to this church in the city of Philippi. Throughout this letter of Philippians Paul has confronted these Christians with the need to embrace right thinking! Our thinking affects our living – what we believe, what our minds are occupied with will determine how we view life, and even our relationship with God.

What we value most will become the driving priority in our life – for some of us that may be fame, for others wealth, for others acceptance by the religious insiders of the day.  There were many in Jesus day who were His disciples secretly for fear of the Jews.

Since the time of Christ there have been many heresies promoted in the church. The word Heresy may be new to you, it simply refers to a belief or teaching contrary to orthodox biblical christianity. Many of these false teachings center upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Let me share a few examples of what I am talking about:

On the TrinityModalism, Sabellius (3rd century). What is it?  God is only one divine being, who plays different roles at different times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the same essence, but different modes or expressions of a single person. Modalism naturally leads to Patripassianism—the belief that the Father literally suffered on the cross. Key text? Philippians 2:6: “. . . being in the form of God . . .”

Where does it show up today? Oneness Pentecostalism believes that God’s three modes of existence can act simultaneously, though God is still only one person.  Perhaps the most famous Modalist of our day is Bishop TD Jakes.

Subordinationism – Who taught it? Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339). What is it? The Son and the Spirit are divine persons, distinct from the Father but inferior to him. All three persons are truly God, but they exist in a hierarchy of power and authority. Key text? Matthew 26:39: “. . . not as I will, but as you will.”

Where does it show up today? According to a 2014 LifeWay Research study, 22 percent of evangelicals believe the Father is more divine than the Son.

On Jesus Christ – Arianism, Arius (c. 256–336). The Son as Word (Logos, in Greek) was created by God before time. He is not eternal or perfect like God, though he was God’s agent in creating everything else. Key Text? John 1:14: “The Word [is] the only Son, who came from the Father.”

Where does it show up today? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is God’s only direct creation, and that everything else was created by Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but he is not equal with God, who is not part of a Trinity.

Paul battled a different Heresy in his day.  A group of people known as the Judaizers were on Paul’s heels corrupting the gospel by adding to salvation the requirement of circumcision. For hundreds and even thousands of years circumcision had been the cultural symbol of God’s separated people, the uncircumcised were those who were “heathen” outside the bounds of God’s gracious favor. It was unthinkable to these well-meaning Jewish people that converts to Christianity did not need to be circumcised to be accepted by Christ. So they followed Paul throughout his ministry suggesting to the Gentile converts that they needed faith in Jesus plus be circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul blasts them in vs. 1-3.

We may be tempted to think in similar ways: I will be more accepted by God if I __________. We may feel as though we must perform or that some achievement will firm up our acceptance with Christ. We may feel that the ritual keeping of certain rules or conforming to certain criteria makes us righteous and therein we find our confidence.

In our text Paul is pointing to the fact that mature Christians realize that Christ is our greatest treasure – we love Him, we relate with Him, we live through Him, we have our all in all in Him alone!

Is Christ your greatest treasure?  Three statements to help you evaluate yourself:

christ-your-greatest-treasure-002

Christ is your greatest treasure when:

YOUR CONFIDENCE OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD IS NOT IN INHERITED POSITION, HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS OR EXTERNAL RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES (2-7)

My confidence is not in human credentials or achievements to bring me close to God, or to make me spiritual, or to make me more accepted by Christ.

Note Paul’s list of inherited privileges (4-5)

  • Not proselyte from paganism – circumcision, he was an 8-dayer. Insider by birth.
  • Racially a pureblood – People of Israel.
  • Tribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Hebrew of Hebrews – best education, spoke Hebrew and Aramaic

Note Paul’s list of personal achievements

  • Pharisee – separated one, voluntarily committed to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Zeal – led a terror campaign against the church
  • Blameless – led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

All human advantage that I may have achieved is a net loss in gaining acceptance with God (7)

All the above advantages equal zero on the accounting page. The only credit that I have is Christ. My all in all is Christ!

christ-your-greatest-treasure-003

EVERYTHING ELSE HAS THE VALUE OF RUBBISH IN COMPARISON TO HIM (8-11)

His righteousness is the only righteousness that I am concerned with obtaining. (9)

  • This righteousness is not found by keeping the law
  • This righteousness is found in Christ alone – when I get Christ I get everything!
  • This righteousness is appropriated by faith, not by inheritance or achievements like Paul listed above.
  • He is the treasure that I am willing to sell everything I have to obtain (Mt 13:44-45)!  Imagine renting a field to plant a garden and as you are turing the soil your hoe uncovers the queen’s diamond!  Quickly you cover the diamond and rush to home where you begin to sell everything you own, you house, your car, your appliances even your clothes so you can raise enough money to buy that field.  You wife thinks your are crazy, you friends can’t understand what you are doing, but you know that if you can just buy the field, the treasure is yours! Jesus is that treasure!

The road leading to the college where I work runs behind a local market.  Recently the city place a large dumpster along the road.  You can imagine the smell, flies and rotting food and garbage in that dumpster on these hot October days.  The other day as I drove past on my way home there was a man sitting on the edge of the dumpster with one leg inside leaning over and picking rotten pieces of food.   That is right where we are sometimes – sitting with one leg in the dumpster searching for for significance, acceptance and joy!  What are you doing? Why are you dumpster diving when in Christ you have it all?

My obsession is Christ (10-11)

  • That I may know Him – Christ Jesus my Lord! Speaks of personal, intimate knowledge of Christ not a casual acquaintance or knowledge about Him. (only time used this way by Paul)
  • That I may know His power – in the midst of my weakness.
  • That I may share in His sufferings – this identity carries with it opposition by those who reject Christ – what is meant by carrying the cross.

christ-your-greatest-treasure-004

ALL YOUR FOCUS AND ENERGIES ARE CONSUMED IN MAKING CHRIST AND HIS PURPOSES THE EXPERIENTIAL REALITY OF YOUR LIFE (12-16)

Passionate grasping after Christ – Lit. To take by force.

  • Forget the past – don’t look back, failures or successes
  • Focus on the goal – fixed eye on the finish line
  • Strain forward with all energy and effort to reach it

Why do some people fail to press on?

  • Diverted by the the world – confidence in the flesh
  • Discouraged by personal suffering – Paul’s sufferings, stresses could tempt him to quit, but instead he pressed on. (10, 2 Co. 11:18-29)
  • Deceived by misplaced confidences – (12a) I have achieved mentality. Paul affirms that after 30+ years of ministry he has not arrived. He was after all these years still straining to know Christ. (I Co 9:27)

Here is Paul’s conclusion: Mature believers think like Paul thinks! If you don’t think like this then we will trust God to reveal these truths to you. (15)

Is Christ your greatest treasure? If you have placed your confidence and hope of salvation in your family positon, your religion, law-keeping or your zealous good works – recognize this cannot produce righteousness for you. Righteousness comes only through faith in Christ alone.

If you have been striving to be accepted by God – realize that your acceptance is complete in Christ alone.

If you have been living as a Christian in pursuit of other things – pursue Christ alone for He is your greatest treasure! Don’t sift through the rubbish, embrace Christ alone as your greatest treasure.

Press on! Don’t go backward

May we all die running!

The People God Uses To Serve His Church


the-people-god-uses-jpg-001Today in our text Philippians 2:19-30, we see the people God uses to serve His church.

The context helps us understand the environment of the people Paul is writing to.  Paul is calling the Philippian Christians to behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27). Philippi was a Roman colony with a population of 10,000. It was considered a ‘Little Rome’ with allegience to the emperor. Philippi adopted Roman dress and spoke Latin. A Roman citizen took great care not to do anything that would bring shame to his ‘polis’ (city).  A citizen was one in good standing whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom he belongs.

Paul’s point: If citizens of Philippi were so devoted to a human kingdom how much more should believers be devoted to a heavenly kingdom.

To live as worthy citizens is to live a life consistent with the revealed Word of God. To live a live consistent with the truth that Christians profess to believe, preach, teach and defend. The focus is the Gospel!

  • Live up to who you are!
  • Live up to who you represent!
  • Live up to the message your proclaim!

God is at work building His church. The church is the called-out assembly of New Testament believers. In the building of His Church God calls and uses people – people like you and me, and people like Timothy and Epaphroditus who we will meet in our text today.

What kind of people does God use to serve His church?

THEY ARE BROTHERS & SISTERS – Brother (19,25)

They individually have a relationship with God through saving faith. These were genuine Christians – they had come to recognize that they were a sinner, and they needed someone outside of themselves to deliver them from the guilt, and the power, and condemnation of God that sin brings

Let me illustrate this way: There is an organization called the FreeMasons – you may have heard of them? By joining this secret organization and going through the rites, you can move deeper into the brotherhood. Free Masonary calls “God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. Such syncretistic worship through prayer, coupled with specific teachings of salvation, is completely at odds with biblical Christianity.”

There is only one way that anyone and everyone can have a relationship with God – believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for forgiveness! Jesus is the only way to God and no-one will come to heaven apart from coming through Him!

Because they share the same Spiritual Father (God) they have a relationship with one another
This was not a relationship based on physical similarities:  Paul was a Jew, former “Pharisee of Pharisees”, an OT scholar deeply trained in the Law of Moses (Torah) and the Talmud – the instruction book written by Hebrew scholars to guide people to not transgress the Torah. He was a bold, courageous pioneer for the gospel. (Acts 23:6, Phil. 3:5) Timothy was half-Jew. His mother had broken the Jewish culture and OT traditions by marrying a Gentile husband. This man was an unbeliever, he held to the pagan traditions of the day. His son Timothy was not circumcised, which to an orthodox OT believing Jew was a sign of being outside the covenant and condemned. His mother embraced genuine faith in Jesus, and eventually Timothy did as well. (Acts 16:1, 2 Ti. 1:4-5) Epaphroditus – only mentioned here in Philippians. His name is a common Greek name of the day. A Gentile believer in the church at Philippi. (25, 4:8)

The basis of this relationship is the fact that they shared the same nature as one another! The same Spirit of God dwelt inside them. The were obedient to the Father. God is their father, and they God’s children by faith in Christ thus they were brothers with one another! (2:3,7-8)

THEY ARE LABORERS – Co-Worker (25)

Gospel work is hard work! Hard, back-breaking labor! Sweat, attention, service, sacrifice! (Eph. 4:12, 2 Ti. 2:16)

Gospel work requires commitment and the willingness to sacrifice. Why would we give a deep level of effort and commitment to our own agenda, job, but fail to give God the same level of commitment?

Gospel work is shared work! It is not intended to be done by one! We are “laborers together with Christ” (4:2-3). Every member a minister – we all have a calling, not just the teaching pastor! Each of us have been granted gifts by God for the purpose of co-laboring, working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

THEY ARE WARRIORS – Fellow soldier (25)

We are engaged in a spiritual war. Our enemies: World, Flesh, Devil. Our warfare is spiritual not physical – “Stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Eph. 6:10-12)

  • We fight this battle together
  • We have each other’s back
  • We hold each other accountable
  • We hold each other up

THEY ARE PEOPLE OF CHARACTER (22)

Character is shaped by our relationship to Christ. Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are. Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.

Our lives must manifest the transforming power of Christ.

“When church leadership fails morally and are restored to leadership in the church, when members lie, steal, cheat, gossip and fight. When members seem to care little about hypocrisy in their midst, the world is repulsed by the claims to love and serve God.” MacArthur

Character is proved in crisis! Your Character was revealed in how you responded to your last crisis. How did you react when:

  • Your computer crashed and you lost the last 30 min of work
  • Your spouse gets defensive when you share what bothers you.
  • You received a letter or email criticizing you
  • When someone cut in front of you in line or the line stretches out the door and the teller is inattentive.

Timothy was a man of tested character and his character was visible and viewable. Will you do what is right even when everyone else is doing wrong?

THEY ARE CARING (20b-21)

They had genuine concern for others, especially the family of God. This is a care that is not hypocritical. To be genuine means to be real! Sometimes we care and we don’t have an opportunity to do anything, but when we do have opportunity we demonstrate loving care!

This care is a result of caring for what God cares about. The opposite is to be self-serving, seeking their own advancement.  “They do not seek the things of Christ” – Compassion, care.

THEY ARE LIKE-MINDED (20a)

Genuine agreement in the faith. This is the plea that Paul makes to the Philippians throughout the letter – be of one mind. (1:27, 2:2-3; Eph. 4:1-6). Our source of agreement is found in the Word of God as we “strive together for the gospel.”

THEY ARE SERVANTS (7,26)

We serve God by serving one another. This is love in action, the humbling of our selves to serve the least, the underserving. The love that we have for Jesus Christ constrains us to this service. Jesus having loved his own He loved them to the end, arising from supper he took the basin and the towel and washed their feet. This was done as an example that we should do as He has done. They honestly consider others better than themselves and seek to serve them.

The result of being this kind of person is you become a source for encouragement and joy to God’s people (28b,29a). The church honors those who serve in this way (29)

Are you this kind of man or woman?  What areas do you need to address this week?

WORKING OUT YOUR SALVATION


working-out-your-salvation-jpg-001
When light comes in, darkness scurries away. Light and darkness are mortal enemies, they cannot stay together in one place. Just as east is opposite of west, so light and darkness are mutually exclusive.

Darkness is nothingness. Darkness is the absence of light.

You once lived in darkness… maybe you still do. You lived in darkness and feared the light, though it had a strange attraction to you at times. You loved darkness instead of light, because your works were evil. You ran from light because you did not want those evil activities, thoughts, intentions, motives to be revealed to others, but especially you did not want them revealed to God. We were all like cockroaches that scurried madly for the darkness when the light was flipped on.

All of that changed when you were rescued! As you were sinking in the thick slime of sin, lost in absolute darkness, unable to escape, terrified the Rescuer came looking for you! He searched for you in the darkness by shining a light and He found you. He lifted you up, and He set your feet on the rock, and he cleaned you, and he clothed you with His righteousness, and he gave you a new heart instead of the dead one, and he opened your blind eyes! He saved you, rescued you from destruction and suddenly you could see the beauty of your Rescuer!  You had passed from death to life, from darkness to light!

Now what?

Paul is going to answer that question in our text today.

“Therefore”(12) – in light of the exaltation of Christ as LORD to whom every knee will bow and every tongue admit/confess that He is Sovereign Lord… In light of His example of humility and exaltation, there is something that you must do! There is a response that is required from everyone who sees the exalted Christ! What is that response? Obedience!

What Paul is about to share with them is based upon His relationship with them, and their relationship to truth (12).

  • Relationship of love – “Beloved.” (12) Paul’s instructions and exhortation are based upon his genuine care for them. He wants them to experience God’s best!
  • Relationship of obedience – “obeyed.” They had always obeyed when Paul was around, now the call is to continue to obey though Paul is not around!

Application: How often do you obey only when someone is looking? Are you the same Monday as you are Sunday morning? Were you the same this past Friday night at 9pm as you are right now?  Consistent obedience to Christ and the gospel is a mark of spiritual life and spiritual growth.

This is hard! It is a battle everyday against the lusts of my flesh, the lust of my eyes, and the pride of life! Through the power of the Holy Spirit I must put to death the deeds of my sinful nature (Ro.8:13)

THE ABILITY TO WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REGENERATION

God’s work in you is all grace!

He saves us by grace – For it is by grace that you have been saved by faith… (Eph.2:8) We were slaves of sin, now we are set free to be slaves of Christ. (Ro.6:19-22)

He sanctifies us by grace! Sanctification is the process of making something holy. In the life of a Christian it is the work of the Spirit to make us holy, like Jesus Christ. (Ro.15:16, I Co.6:11, 1Pt.1:2)  The work of the Spirit using the Word of God as a tool to shape us to be like Christ. (2Thes.2;13)

God’s work in you produces three outcomes (13)

  1. To want to do His will – your desire to know and do God’s will is proof that God is working in you!
  2. To have the ability to do His will – desire and ability are not the same thing! It is God who imparts supernatural power in you do actually do it! (1Thes.4:1-7)
  3. To have the right motive and attitude in doing His will – His good pleasure! Our pride wants to do the will of God and get the glory for it! We exist for His will, for His pleasure! Remember the “bow and tongue confess that He is LORD” bit? (Lk.17:7-10)

THE ATTITUDE AS WE WORK OUT OUR SALVATION – REVERENCE

Attitude of fear

Who among us would not be in awe if we met Queen Elizabeth of England? Reverence and awe in the presence of deity. (Rev.1:10-17)

Attitude of trembling

To shake with fear – He is King! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! Don’t mess with Aslan, he is not a tame lion! We work out our salvation with a healthy understanding of who it is we are obeying! This is a reaction born from deep respect and love.

THE ACTION IN WORKING OUT OUR SALVATION – REJECT

Reject a complaining spirit

Stop it! Whatever you are facing, whatever you are going through, stop complaining! Grumbling dissatisfaction at disappointed expectations. Grumbling about whatever – this is the opposite of thankfulness. ILL: Often those who have the most, grumble the loudest.

Reject disputing

Disputing means to argue,  to have an argumentative spirit. Some of you like a fight! You argue with your husband or you argue with your wife – Stop it!

Application: Some of you have long-standing arguments with others and it continues because you know you are right and the are wrong!… and the fact that you are not humble!

CONCLUSION:

What are the outcomes of this process?

You become like Christ (15a)

  • Blameless children – if others say something about you, it cannot stick to you because there is nothing there for it to adhere to. (1Ti.3:2,10; 5:7; 6:14)
  • Harmless children – no ability to retaliate.
  • Faultless children – without blemish! Without reproach.

You shine as lights (15b)

  • Context – This is taking place in an environment that is darkness, where men who love evil deeds hate light, and you break in as a light shining brightly.
  • Contrast – it is a crooked environment – they don’t do anything straight. It is a perverse environment – morally, ethically.

You experience great joy (16-18)

  • Paul’s joy – the bottom line evaluation of ministry is, are people living out their calling? It is not the profession (lips) it is the living it out (life).
  • Their joy! There is deep lasting abiding joy in being God’s child!

You might be a Christian here this morning asking the question: How does all this happen for me this week?

Hold fast the word of God! (16a) Make God’s word your authority. Determine that you will humble yourself and obey whatever He tells you in His word! In every and any situation that you may face – you will obey Him!

You cannot become like Jesus Christ apart from the Word of God. Cling to the Word as though your life depends upon it… because it does!

This is what it means to work out your salvation!  Working out of salvation is something worth giving your life for! Paul was being “poured out as a drink offering” on the alter of their faith and obedience. (17a) Are you giving your life in this way? Are you living in such a way that you are working out the salvation that God put within you in the context of this body of believers?

You can listen or download free audio of the sermon preached at Kitwe Church here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=918161054141

THINK LIKE JESUS


think-like-jesus-pdf-001

The Health guru says, “You are what you eat.” But that is not correct.   “You are what you think!” The attitudes of your inner man is what you really are: “As a man thinks in His heart, so is he!” (Pr.23;7)

Christians are to live with each other in such a way that the reality of our salvation is fleshed out in the forum of human relationships within the body of Christ before a watching world. (Phil. 1:27).

There is an indication in our text that disunity within the congregation at Philippi threatened the effectiveness of their gospel outreach in Philippi.

  • “that I may hear that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the gospel (1:27)
  • “Fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (2:2)
  • “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (2:14)
  • Euodia and Syntche are implored to be of one mind in the Lord (4:1-3)

What follows is a pointed reminder that living worthy of Jesus is to live in unity with one another.  In our text Paul makes it clear to pull that off you have to THINK LIKE JESUS! This passage is about an example of “worthy living” that is down at our level. An example that we can grasp, one we must follow!

We are naturally bent toward self-centeredness and pride. We are so prone to demand rights – to struggle and fight to gain some advantage we believe is rightfully ours. This has caused untold harm to the church and hindered the proclamation of the gospel through the centuries.

The great tragedy of Paul’s day and the great tragedy of our day is that when God’s church is dominated by strife, pride and self-seeking the gospel suffers! We are diverted from issues of critical importance.

Paul points us to Christ as our example of true humility, servanthood and obedience.

THE HUMILITY OF HIS COMING TO EARTH (5-6)

Jesus refused to demand what was rightly His.

Jesus Christ is God (Heb 1:3). He shares the nature, the attributes, the person and the glory of God Himself. He is one with the Father, co-existant, co-equal in every way! This is the mystery of the Trinity – three persons, one God!

Jesus did not hold onto what was rightfully His.  When He came to earth He did not cease being God, rather He laid aside the “form” that is, the outward manifestation of the inner reality.  Jesus  took off the robe of glory and donned a robe of flesh!  What Humility!

He left the place & position that was rightfully His

Jesus Christ did not hold onto His glory as God as something He used for His own advantage. The pre-incarnate Christ was God in all majesty and glory yet he refused to demand what was rightfully His.

Instead Christ set that glory aside in heaven, and came down to take upon Himself flesh and blood. Rather than viewing His position with the Father as something to protect and a right to demand, He saw it as the qualification for Him to be the Savior of His people.

He left the throne of heaven for this wicket planet – imagine what the all-seeing eye of God and the all-knowing mind of God has seen on planet heart in the past 48hrs! (Rom. 1:20-32). The Cesspool of Humanity.

Application:

  1. How often do we hold tightly to our rights, we make demands based upon the perception that we have our own worth, achievements, position, place.
  2. We must live in humble obedient submission to the Father’s will, accepting from the times of disgrace, abuse and trials. It is through this that God prepares us and qualifies us as servants of Christ.

THE HUMILITY OF HIS SERVANTHOOD (7)

The form He took – a Bondservant (7b)

“Taking the form of” term used of button on outside clothing. He takes of His robe of glory and puts on the clothing of a slave!  This form was both in appearance and also in being. He was not identified by his halo and glowing face – he was identified by his servant spirit. (Lk 17:7-10)

His commitment to that form was clearly demonstrated when in the upper room He washed the disciples feet. The disciples right up to the cross argued about positioning in the kingdom. Jesus Christ washed their feet (Jn. 13:14-16).

  • You will serve the least
  • You will serve everyone

The humanness He embraced (7c)

Christ, the King of Glory came to our dirty little planet and made himself human. Born into a world dominated by the filth of unregenerate men, filthy passions, debased motives, filthy agendas. Like dogs gleefully rolling on a rotting carcass man revels in their sin.

It was into this world that Jesus Christ came, bringing Himself willingly and completely into our world – a world that despises the authority of God, rejects the laws of God, throws off all Divine restraint to madly pursue sin and drink it to the fullest.

Into this world Jesus came – what amazing humility!

HUMILITY OF HIS OBEDIENCE (8)

His humility was lived out in obedience to the father (8a)

The agony of obedience – Jesus knew what the cross meant! He was sorrowful unto death! (Mk 14:32-35)

“Jesus was about to be plunged into the raw sewerage of humanity to be defiled and separated from God the Father for the first time in all eternity!” – Chopo Mwanza

The horror of bearing the wrath of God – He would have to face the wrath of Almighty God upon Himself. The agony of bearing God’s displeasure.

His humility embraced obedience all the way to the cross (8b)

In the world of men it meant shame! Jesus Christ died one of the most scandalous deaths known to man. Humanity has not created a more degrading or loathsome experience than a cross. In Roman Society the mention of the cross was considered an obscenity.

If the last thought was not enough to cause us to fall to our knees and worship think of this: His humility was not something being forced upon Him by external forces, but it was His own doing!

As a real man He humbled Himself, he withheld His innate power and submitted in obedience to the will of the Father. This obedience was “even unto death.”

Christ’s self-humiliation brought ultimate obedience (2 Cor. 5:21, I Jn. 2:2)

CONCLUSION (9-11)

Let’s review what we have seen about Christ in this passage:

  • He humbled himself by setting aside His glory with the Father
  • He humbled himself by serving His Father
  • He humbled himself by obeying the Father

What now?  (9-11)

Therefore, God has highly exalted Him:

  • Exalted at the right hand of the Father
  • Exalted to a place of honor
  • Exalted through the worship of all created things
  • Exalted through the submission of all creation to Him as LORD – everyone will bow and everyone will confess!

What is the result? The glory of God the Father! (11c)

God is calling you to love justice, love kindness and to walk humbly before your God. (Micah 6:8). You might be thinking – that will require grace!  “But He gives more grace, Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)

When you think like Jesus Christ you will:

  1. Choose Humility: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (3-5)
  2. Obey fully: This is a call to fulfill the command to live a life worthy of the gospel – the path for obedience is clearly spelled out in Christ.
  3. Serve faithfully: The message of Philippians is for all of us who are prone to ambition and vainglory: “in humility count others better than yourself, let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also the interests of others.”

Will you bow before Jesus now and acknowledge Him as your LORD?

You can listen to this sermon, or download it as an mp3  here:  http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=918161121232

The Missing Illustration


Yesterday we looked at “Are You A Christian, Evaluating Your Claim To Christianity” at Kitwe Church.  In Mark 4 Jesus answers the question why so many professing Christians “fall away” and never bear fruit.  Here is the “missing illustration” that for sake of time was dropped from that sermon, but is so helpful to our understanding of sharing the gospel message.  It comes directly from the book, Hells Best Kept Secret, written by Ray Comfort.

The way we present the gospel determines the kind of response the sinner makes. Let me illustrate.

Two men are seated in a plane. A stewardess gives the first man a parachute and instructs him to put it on because it will “improve his flight.”

Not understanding how a parachute could possibly improve his flight, the first passenger is a little skeptical. Finally he decides to see if the claim is true. After strapping on the parachute, he notices its burdensome weight, and he has difficulty sitting upright. Consoling himself with the promise of a better flight, our first passenger decides to give it a little time.

Because he’s the only one wearing a parachute, some of the other passengers begin smirking at him, which only adds to his humiliation. Unable to stand it any longer, our friend slumps in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart because as far as he is concerned, he was told a lie.

Another stewardess gives the second man a parachute, but listen to her instructions. She tells him to put it on because at any moment he will be jumping out of the plane at 25,000 feet.

Our second passenger gratefully straps the parachute on. He doesn’t notice its weight upon his shoulders nor that he can’t sit up upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without it. When other passengers laugh at him, he thinks, “You won’t be laughing when you’re falling to the ground!”

Inoculated Backsliders

Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience.

The first man’s motive for putting on the parachute was solely to improve his flight. As a result, he was humiliated by the passengers, disillusioned by an unkept promise, and embittered against the stewardess who gave it to him. As far as he is concerned, he will never put one of those things on his back again.

The second man put the parachute on to escape the danger of the coming jump. Because he knew what would happen to him without it, he had a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart. Knowing he was saved from certain death gave him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude toward the stewardess who gave him the parachute was one of heartfelt gratitude.

Now listen to what the contemporary gospel says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ; He will give you love, joy, peace, and fulfillment.” In other words, He will improve your flight. In an experimental fashion, the sinner puts the Savior to see if these claims are so.

What does he get? Temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock his decision. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he is offended for the Word’s sake; he is disillusioned and embittered, and quite rightly so.

He was promised peace, joy, fulfillment, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed at those who gave him the “good news.” His latter end is worse than the first – another inoculated, bitter backslider!

When the sinner sees the awful consequences of breaking the Law of God – that he cannot escape the certainty of judgment – he will see his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach future punishment by the Law, the sinner comes to Christ solely to flee from “the wrath to come.”

Instead of preaching that Jesus “improves the flight,” we must warn men about the inevitable jump. Everyone must pass through the door of death.

It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27.

But doesn’t Christianity offer the abundant life? You bet it does! Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of the Spirit. But we do sinners an injustice by enticing them with only the benefits of salvation. Our misguided efforts only result in sinners coming to Christ with an impure motive void of repentance.

Remember why the second passenger had joy and peace? Because he knew what that parachute was going to save him from. In the same way, the true convert has joy and peace in believing because he knows that the righteousness of Christ will deliver him from the wrath that is to come. “The kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Why is righteousness coupled with peace and joy? Because “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Proverbs 11:4).

Man-Centered Preaching.

Now let’s take a look at an unfortunate incident on board the plane. During some unexpected turbulence, the stewardess accidentally drops a cup of hot coffee onto the lap of our second passenger.

What is his reaction? Does he cry out in pain, then rip the parachute off his back in anger?

No! He didn’t strap it on for any other reason than the jump. In fact, he doesn’t even relate the incident to his parachute. Instead, it only makes him cling more tightly to his hope of salvation and even look forward to the jump!

If we put on Christ to flee the wrath to come, when tribulation strikes we wont get angry at God. Why should we? We didn’t come for a better lifestyle. Trials drive us closer to the Lord, and we cling more tightly to Him. Like the apostle Paul, we only stay around to encourage other passengers to put on the parachute. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Sadly, multitudes of professing Christians lose their joy when the flight gets bumpy. They are the product of “man-centered” preaching.