Joy of the Body Part 1

August 21, 2004 Philippians 1:1-11


1.  We’re starting a new series today – one that should encourage us and yet challenge us in our relationship with the Lord!

Title:  The Joy of Serving Our God

- this is going to a 10 week series of studying the book of Philippians

2.  Let’s begin our time with the following question:

Q:  What has God done down through history – in the life of His people, the church, or even your life and/or family – that should give us reason to rejoice in the greatness of our God?

[Examples:  Creation, Flood, Exodus, Red Sea, Jordan River, Daniel, 3 Hebrew boys, etc.]

Input: What do you know about the book of Philippians that will wet our appetites for this study?

  • Paul had a great relationship with this church – he loved them, they loved him!
  • Major theme in the book is JOY
  • But joy because Paul knew (experientially, not just intellectually) the One who is the Giver of joy – Paul understood and was motivated by the glory of Christ and he understood what was going on in the advancement of Christ and His kingdom

3.  One of the evidences of the curse of sin is a lack of joy

- Go back to Gen. 3 – Adam ran from God – Why?

Answer:  He no longer delighted in the relationship with the Creator!

- in fact, instead of JOY, Adam said, “I was . . . AFRAID!”

- sin has a way of producing FEAR that leads you away from a relationship with God and saps the joy out of your relationship with Jesus Christ

- Jesus made it very clear that He wanted His joy to be seen in the life of His disciples:

  • John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Input:  Evidences of the lack of joy in our culture today? [various answers]

4.  Many confuse happiness with joy –

Input: What distinction would you make between the two?







Not guaranteed

Deep/abiding confidence

Circumstances favorable

Not based on circumstances


Promised by God Himself

“Spiritual joy, on the other hand, is not an attitude dependant on chance or circumstances.  It is the deep and abiding confidence that, regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord.  No matter what difficulty, pain, disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of that eternal wee-being established by God’s grace in salvation.  Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God.  It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God.”[1]

3.  Joy is an important theme in the OT and NT:

  • rejoice (verb) is used 96 times in the NT
  • joy (noun) 59 times in the NT
  • rejoice, glad, joy (and any form or those words) are used over 400 times in the OT

- the two words are used 13 times in Philippians – it’s an important part of Paul’s letter!

4.  Before we begin, let’s consider a biblical theology of joy –

#1:  Joy is rooted in the very nature and character of God.

  • Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

- as I mentioned earlier in John 15 – Jesus fully understood joy – He had it and wants to share it!

- the relationship between God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one of perfect joy!

- it’s perfect because of holiness – i.e. they don’t sin, can’t sin – perfect relationship!

- because true joy is rooted in the very nature/character of God . . .

#2:  Joy is a gift from God.[2]

- He wants us to know the joy of knowing Him – we can rejoice because “He is glorified when we are satisfied with Him!”

  • Psalm 4:7 You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

- He sets the conditions under which it may be received – but make no mistake, real joy comes only from God, but He wants to freely give it

- But there is a condition – you need to know Jesus as your Savior:

#3:  God grants joy to those who believe the Gospel.

  • Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

- the joy of the Gospel is that we are free from the penalty of our sin – “Jesus Paid It All”

- our sins are ‘taken away’ by the Lamb of God!

Point:  Joy is available to those who know Jesus and obey Him!

#4:  Joy is produced by the Holy Spirit.

  • Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness . . . 

- Every aspect of the Trinity is involved in godly joy – the Holy Spirit specifically produces the joy that Jesus referred in John 15

- We can just produce ‘joy’ on our own – though we seem to try – it comes through the ministry of the Holy Spirit

#5:  Joy is experienced most fully as believers receive and obey God’s Word.

  • Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

- 1 John was written in part so that his readers “joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:4)

- You and I have to make choices that are consistent with the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) in order for the Spirit to do His work

- but as we obey, the Holy Spirit conforms us more to the image of Christ and we begin to know, understand, and experience the joy of the Lord – the fruit of the Spirit . . . joy!

#6:  Joy is deepened through trials.

  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
  • James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.

[Read 1 Peter 1:3-6 – especially note v. 6 ‘in this you greatly rejoice’)

#7:  Joy is made complete when we set our hope on the glory of Jesus Christ.

  • 1 Peter 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
  • 1 Peter 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
  • Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Point: No wonder there is such a lack of joy in the world – they don’t know Jesus – or in the church – people are not focusing on the glory of Jesus Christ and His kingdom!

- for many, it’s a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality – or “I’ll do enough just to get by”

Illustration:  Two marriage situations where each spouse needed to focus on the glory of God NOT on what their spouse would say or do!

- Now, all that to say this:  Our study is about The Joy of Serving Our God!

- because of Who He is and what He’s done – there is no reason we should not be joyful

- Paul begins this letter to the Philippians with a very strong emphasis on . . .

I.  The Relationship Within the Body

A.  Author & Audience:

1.  Paul & Timothy – bondservants of Jesus Christ

- Paul is the beloved apostle who wrote 13 books in the NT – his story of conversion is recorded in Acts 8 (persecuting the church) and in Acts 9 (actual conversion)

- He’s a shinning example of the power of God to change a man’s life

cf. Phil. 3:4-11 – just to summarize his life READ

- He’s writing this letter from prison around 60-61 A.D. – the potential was to loose his life

- Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith! (1 Tim. 1:2) – Paul led him to Christ!

- Timothy was also one of Paul’s closest companions – wrote two letters to him sometime after this letter and when he got out of prison

- Notice HOW Paul referred to himself and Timothy:

  • Bondservants (dulos – pronounced “do” “loss”)= a slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other. Generally one serving, bound to serve, in bondage [3]

CommentIt reflects the attitude of an OT slave who refused the opportunity for freedom and voluntarily resubmitted himself to his master for life. – MacArthur, Philippians, p. 13

2.  The saints @ Philippi

- Philippi is located in modern day Greece

saints = someone who is set apart, specifically believers who are set apart by God for Himself

- when it comes to the way the Scripture uses this word, we're not talking about a special group of people who are "super-spiritual" and therefore should be elevated to a special class of Christendom.

- Every person who has trusted Christ is a saint – a holy one, someone who has been set apart to God and to a life that is growing in progressive holiness.

- The flipside of this, by the way, is a very important doctrine that Baptists have always believed and emphasized...that is that every member of a church has to be saved.

- Some churches will allow a person to become a member without trying to determine whether the person is regenerate.

- You can imagine the effect that has on a church over a period of time where unsaved people are making decisions and exerting leadership.

- So saints aren't some special group of "ultra-holy" people...

- But on the other hand, only saints can be church members.

-  Those who have exercised faith in the Gospel

3.  Overseers/Deacons

  • overseers = another term for elder (most common name in the NT for the office)

- elders also refer to pastors or shepherds, pastor-teachers, and bishops (terms used interchangeably)

- a good example of that is Acts 20:17-18

  • elder - vs. 17
  • overseer - vs. 28
  • to feed (pastor) - vs. 28

Point:  In the church, there are two offices--pastors and deacons.

- the reason there are three different words used to describe a pastor is because of the different emphases:

  • Bishop - (Overseer) - Office
  • Pastor = Function
  • Elder = Man

- our understanding of these terms is that it’s all the same office, just different aspects of the office is emphasized in the use of each word

- He also mentioned another group:

Input: According to Acts 6, what was the purpose of the office of a deacon?

[to serve, to free up the pastors for prayer and ministry of the Word!]

  • deacons = primary emphasis is function (i.e. serving)

- Paul communicated with the whole church (saints) and the leadership of the church!

B.  Communicating from the heart

- Paul uses these words as a common greeting to the churches he writes

1.  Grace = God giving us what we do not deserve

- no church can survive without God’s grace

- and it’s by the grace of God that we can know JOY and satisfaction in Christ

2.  Peace

- that’s the end result/by product of the grace we have in Christ – there is peace

- from God the Father and the Lord Jesus

Point:  Emphasizes the oneness of nature between the two – i.e. the deity of Christ

C.  The nature of the relationship

1.  Thanksgiving for them (same word for the Lord’s Table, eucharisteo or our English word, Eucharist

- the relationship was so strong between this church and Paul –he actually could thank God for them whenever he thought of them!

- He recognized that it was their relationship to Christ and God working in their lives that gave him cause to ‘give thanks to my God’

- One of the ways that relationship was demonstrated was their financial support of him (chp. 4), but also their life style and ‘heart’ for God and for people!

* In essence, Paul was their ‘missionary’

2.  Joyful prayer for them

- he prayed with great joy for them – it made his heart glad when he thought of them

Point:  The Philippians had the kind of lifestyle and testimony and ministry that was a great encouragement to the apostle Paul even though he was in a tough place.

- that gives us an interesting question to ask ourselves:

Q:  Are you living in such a way that your pastors can thank God for your life?

Q:  If a member of our missionary family was having a difficulty of their field of service, and they had the occasion to think of me, would that be an encouraging thing to them or a discouraging thing?

- Apply to individuals, our church, our ABF (and the missionary we are responsible for!)

Next week – we’ll get more into the content of Chp. 1 – and specifically how Paul prayed for this church!

II.  The Recognition of the Body

A.  Participation in the Gospel

B.  Perfecting work of God

C.  Partaking of Grace

- As you read through the text, look for what Paul specifically prayed about for this church!

III.  The Request for Growth in the Body

A.  Growth in Love

B.  Growth in Discernment

C.  Growth in Integrity

D.  Growth in Good Works

E.  Growth in Glorifying God!

MacArthur, J. J. (2001)). Philippians; Moody Press, Chicago, IL. p. 10

[2]Ibid, p. 10-11

[3]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.