Joy of the Body Part 2

August 28, 2004


1.  We started a new series last week – one that should encourage us and yet challenge us in our relationship with the Lord!

Title:  The Joy of Serving Our God (10 week series on Philippians)

2.  Since the act of creation, God has been doing things that should bring great JOY to us as His people!

- I hope He’s done some things in your life this week that would bring you joy!

- But we need to remember that we can rejoice in Who God is and WHAT He is doing in our lives!

3. One of the key verses to our understanding a theology of joy is John 15:11:

  • 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.

4.  And there are plenty of examples today of people, sometimes even God’s family, NOT being joyful because they don’t know Jesus and what His joy is really all about!

5.  Read again a quote by John MacArthur – it’s excellent and summarize this issue very clearly:

“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]

6.  Last week we talked about a theology of joy, and one of the main points that I want to keep in front of you is this:

  • 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!

-  that’s part of the reason why the Holy Spirit came when Jesus left – to continue the work that the Son of God had done – this is where the fruit of the Spirit comes in – we can’t know true joy apart from the work of the Holy Spirit!

7.  Concerning Philippians, we know that Paul is the author of this letter to the church at Philippi

- Paul was obviously in prison at the time (this is one of the ‘prison epistles’)

- And the church at Philippi had a great relationship with Paul – so much that Paul could say “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” AND he joyfully prayed for them!

- The big Question last week was this:

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

- Let’s pick up our study in v. 5 where we left off last week – RE-READ Phil. 1:1-11

- Paul presents some of the reasons why he can be thankful and prayer for them . . .

- Remember, our theme this morning is:  The Joy of Being Part of the Body

II.  The Recognition of the Body

- Paul recognized that God was doing a work in the lives of those at Philippi – they were…

A.  Participation in the Gospel – v. 5

  • Participation = koinonia / fellowship or communion – sharing something in common

- this word is used in several places of sharing possessions or money – which is exactly what this church did with Paul (4:16)

- that is significant in light of what Jesus said about how we use our money or where we invest it:

  • Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Point: Every dollar we invest in missions is our participation in the Gospel – we help our missionaries to proclaim Christ – to tell of His glory to the nations

  • ‘in the gospel’ refers to every aspect of gospel ministry – especially evangelism

- but remember, the goal is not just to get somebody ‘saved’ – but to ‘make disciples’ according to Matthew 28:19-20

>  in addition to salvation, we are to ‘teach them to observe ALL THINGS’ that Jesus commanded us

- this is where justification and progressive sanctification meet at the intersection of truth

- we’re to lead people to Christ and then equip them for the work of the ministry

> Christianity is a religion of ACTION – i.e. God expects us to be DOING things that glorify Him

> If you don’t believe God is a God of action – look at creation, the flood, redemption, etc.

Point: Once you trust Christ, you are to ‘participate’ (fellowship in) the gospel of Christ

- that’s part of what our ABF’s are about and our Worship services – fellowship!

‘A Christian who willingly forsakes fellowship with other believers will inevitably be without genuine, Spirit-given joy.  It is impossible to live faithfully or happily apart from fellow believers in Christ.  But the believer who regularly is in the company of fellow saints, fulfilling the responsibilities that such fellowship requires and provides, will just as inevitably be filled with divine joy.  To be in the company of those who are joint heirs with Christ, people who love, care for, understand, pray for and with each others, who minister and fight the good fight together, is to be assured of abundant and abiding joy.”[2]

- He not only rejoices in their participation in the Gospel, but in the . . . .

B.  Perfecting work of God - [READ 1:6]

- The “good work” may refer to the sharing of their means; it was started by the Lord and Paul was sure the Lord would continue it and complete it.

- This ‘good work’ also applies to the work of salvation and Christian living.

> Note: We are not saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8–9 -- quote).

Input:  If we are not saved by good works, where do good works fit into the life of a believer?

> But we are save ‘untogood works [Eph. 2:10] – (i.e. works are the fruit on the tree – evidence of  our salvation – the ‘good work’ that God has done in our hearts

- James addresses this very issue:

  • James 2:18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

- In Philippians 2:12–13 we are told that God continues to work in us through His Spirit.

- In other words, *salvation includes a threefold work[3]:

•  the work God does for us—salvation

•  the work God does in us—sanctification

• the work God does through us—service

- And that work continues until Jesus comes, and then, as John states, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

“It was a source of joy to Paul to know that God was still working in the lives of his fellow-believers at Philippi. After all, this is the real basis for joyful Christian fellowship, to have God at work in our lives day by day.”  Wiersbe

- Think about that for a moment – God at work in you!

Input: Why is that such an amazing thought? Why should that thought bring joy to our hearts?

[Who God is and what He has done– discuss His nature and works]

Q: Do those around us SEE this work?[evidence of God being at work]

Apply Matthew 5:13-16 – the salt and light principle – ‘that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’

Note: The ‘day of Christ’ refers to the time when believers will be glorified when their salvation will be completed and made perfect (i.e. the moment of the rapture or finally at the millennium when Jesus sets up His earthly kingdom and we rule and reign w/Him)



C.  Partaking of Grace

  • Partakers = a companion, partner, a partaker together with others, a fellow or joint partaker, a sharer with someone[4]

- this church experienced God’s grace both in Paul’s imprisonment and the defense of the gospel

Q: What’s Paul’s point?

> the Philippians didn’t just enjoy the good part (proclamation of the Gospel) – but then when trouble showed up, the ran – NO WAY – they understood grace even as Paul was in prison for declaring the truth

Point:  No wonder Paul loved them so much – they were real, genuine, loyal, and faithful to the cause . . . no matter what happened!

- That’s grace!

- This is exactly what Jesus was referred to when He said:

  • Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • John 15:20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

Input: What attributes of God should a person focus on who is facing persecution?

[various answers – God’s grace, mercy, justice, love, etc.]

- I want to end our time by focusing on the specific things for which Paul prayed for this church and we should be praying for in our church

[Teachers – it may be good to take time at the end of class and pray for each one of these for FBC!]

III.  The Request for Growth in the Body

- before we look at these – let’s think about what Paul didn’t pray for:

> he didn’t pray for their physical needs or church growth

- instead, he focused on the spiritual welfare of others

- If you really want to know how you’re doing spiritually – evaluate your prayer life! [humbling for most of us!]

“The measure of a person’s spiritual maturity is not how well he or she conforms externally to the command to pray. The issue is how internally constrained that person is to pray by a strong love for God and others.  The truest longings of the heart will come out in prayer.  A selfish and superficial heart, focused primarily on persona problems, struggles, and interests, will produce selfish and superficial prayers.  A heart focused on the glory of the Lord and His people will produce prayers focused on God’s glory and other’s needs.” MacArthur, p. 39

A.  Growth in Love – v. 9

- this is agapa love – the self-sacrificial love of God

Input: What has God done to demonstrate His love to mankind?

[examples –this should be our motive for loving Him and loving others]

- Remember:

  • 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

- Growth in love at Home Fellowship Nights, Church Family Nights, using Ministry Option Nights as a time for outreach and not just ‘taking a night off’

B.  Growth in Discernment – v. 10

- the phrase ‘so that’ indicates that the what he said first is the foundation to what he is about to say – love, which incorporated knowledge of God’s truth and spiritual discernment, progresses toward excellence (i.e. thinking and living biblically)

  • Approve = to examine, prove, and even discern (accessing of metals to determine purity)

- Paul’s praying for these believers to study, investigate, and determine the best ways possible to obey and please the Lord, and then to live that way!

>  when a believer truly loves God and wants to be controlled and dominated by that love, there will be a corresponding desire to live according to His will!

“Obedience motivated by love for God not only becomes believers’ supreme objective but also their supreme pleasure and satisfaction.” MacArthur, p. 47

* God is most glorified when we are satisfied with Him!” – Piper

C.  Growth in Integrity – v. 10b

  • Sincere = 1)  testing by sunlight 2) the idea of cohesiveness, oneness and unity

- there is real genuineness in a sincere life – it all fits together and works together

Ill: Laurie making bread – she had to mix all the ingredients together, then bake it!

“Nothing in it is unrelated to the foundation of saving faith and holy living. The practical, everyday aspects of life are in complete harmony with such obviously spiritual disciplines as Bible reading, prayer, worship, theology, morality, and dong good works.”MacArthur, p. 51

- Blameless – expresses the extent and goal of integrity

  • Blameless= without stumbling or offense has both the idea of not falling into sinful conduct and not causing others to fall into sin either

- A person doesn’t just ‘fall’ into sin – it’s a progression

Input: What are the ‘stages’[5]or ‘levels’ that a person usually goes through on their way to practicing sin?

  1. Tolerate– failing to take a stand against it, knows it wrong
  2. Accommodate– little by little, becoming less concerned about its sinfulness
  3. Legitimize– i.e. to make excuses, rationalize it, explain it
  4. Participate – engages in the act, desires to do it again, becomes a part of one’s life – both in thinking/action

D.  Growth in Good Works

Cf. John 15:4-5 READ – the fruit on the vine – evidence of being one with the Vine (Jesus)

Input: What does that look like in and around the church @ Lafayette, FBC? [examples]

E.  Growth in Glorifying God!

Cf, John 15:8 READ

Cf. 1 Cor. 10:31 – do all to the glory of God

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

[2]MacArthur, J. J. (2001)). Philippians; Moody Press, Chicago, IL. p. 25

[3]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible Exposition Commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Php 1:3). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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

[5]MacArthur, J. J. (2001)). Philippians; Moody Press, Chicago, IL. p. 52, stages 1-4 only