Partakers of Grace through Biblical Peacemaking

Steve Viars October 18, 2015 Philippians 4:1-9

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Job 5:7 - For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.

Genesis 4:23 - Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me…

Acts 5:3-5 - But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.

Acts 5:8-9 - And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.”

Acts 15:36-40 - After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.

3 John 9-10 - I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

Revelation 2:20 - But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

3 steps to living at peace with one another

I. Work at Solving Problems Quickly – 4:1-3

A. Remembering two important bookends

Philippians 2:12–13 - So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 4:9 - The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

B. In a context of genuine affection

v.1 – my beloved brethren

v. 1 – whom I long to see

v. 1 – my joy and my crown

v. 1 – my beloved

v. 2 – these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel

v. 2 – my fellow workers

v. 2 – whose names are in the book of life

C. In submission to biblical authority in the church

1. With a sense of urgency

I urge -- parakalew – para – alongside, kalew – to call

“The twice repeated phrase I urge…I urge shows Paul to be in a pleading, begging, encouraging mode as he addressed the issue of divisive women. The apostle’s mention of such a seemingly mundane matter after the lofty doctrinal material of chapter 2 and the warnings against dangerous false teachers in chapter 3 may seem surprising. But Paul understood that discord and divisiveness pose an equally crippling threat to the church. Even if its doctrine is sound, disunity robs a church of its power and destroys its testimony. And a church facing hostile external enemies cannot afford to have its members fighting among themselves. Such infighting frequently gives the enemies of the Cross an avenue of attach. The resulting discord, disunity, and conflict could have devastated the integrity of the Philippian church’s testimony.” (John MacArthur, Commentary of Philippians, p. 270)

Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

2. Accessing all the resources in the church necessary to communicate and solve problems

a) Sometimes as individuals

cf. Matthew 5, 18

Romans 12:18 - If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

b) Sometimes a concerned brother or sister

Romans 15:14 - And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Galatians 6:1 -        Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

c) Sometimes with the leaders of the church

Proverbs 10:8 - The wise of heart will receive commands, but a babbling fool will be ruined.

Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 - Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

1 Peter 5:2 - …shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness…

James 3:1 - Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

II. Believe that Peace is Available In and Through Christ – 4:4-7

A. Instead of majoring on the minors

B. Senseless bickering generally reveals a lack of finding one’s joy and satisfaction in Christ

v. 1 – stand firm in the Lord

v. 2 – live in harmony in the Lord

v. 4 – rejoice in the Lord

v. 5 – the Lord is near

C. As an antidote to anxiety

1. with prayer and supplication

2. with generous helpings of thanksgiving

D. Enjoying, celebrating, and modeling the peace of God

III. Be Willing to Work at Practicing What You Say You Believe – 4:8-9

A. Ask the Lord to allow you to attach a truth filter to your mind

B. Be committed to the diligent work of practicing your faith

Philippians 4:9 - The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 

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One of the reasons many of us love the Bible is because it doesn't sugar coat the challenges of daily living. Isn't that true? For example, in Job 5:7, and one of his so called counselors affirms that, "Man is born for trouble as sparks fly upward." There you go, a great image for this time of year when we're used to going to parties with bonfires of some kind. How likely is it that the sparks are going to fly upward? Pretty much, huh? About as likely as two of more people being brought together and before long there's going to be trouble.

We open the very first pages of the Bible and God creates a man and a wife and places them in a perfect environment. Imagine the beauty and the peace and the tranquility. Even God himself evaluated that situation and said it was very good. They had shalom, they had peace, they had wholeness, wellness, no trouble. But as soon as sin is introduced to the equation what happens to the family? The husband is trying to blame his failures on his wife and then let the sparks fly upward, huh? No question about that. Shortly thereafter one of their sons murders the other.

By the end of Genesis, chapter 4, we already have polygamy and one of Cain's descendants names Lamech, gathers his two wives and delivers what may be the very first song in the Bible. We know for sure it was recorded as Hebrew poetry. Lamech said to his wives, "Listen to my voice you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech for I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for striking me." Man is born for trouble as sure as sparks fly upward. We keep reading in the book of Genesis and pretty soon husbands are telling their wives to lie and pretend they're brother and sister or family members are committing vile acts against one another sexually. Men are selling their own brother into slavery and we're not even out of the book of Genesis yet.

The possible problems and challenges that can exist in the family are laid out in vivid technicolor throughout that book. The same can be true of nations. The Bible describes constant wars and alliances and treachery between countries, sparks are flying. When you fast forward to today and hear of a brewing alliance between Russia and Iran and Syria and China. If you're any kind of futurist at all that thought takes your breath away regarding what could be brewing in the Middle East. Man is born for trouble.

Now you might be tempted to say, "Well, at least we have the church." As surely the entity for which Jesus shed his own blood would be problem free, wouldn't it? Not if we let the scripture be our guide. If you know your Bible, you know that the church was born in what chapter? In Acts chapter 2, which is a marvelous story of men and women admitting their sin and placing their faith and trust in the risen Jesus Christ. Then spontaneously, because of the famine in Jerusalem people are voluntarily sharing their goods with one another. Right at the very beginning of the church and not in some sort of government mandated redistribution of wealth, but simply the compassionate response of those who had genuinely come to Christ and now voluntarily wanted to share what they had with others in need.

It was great, until Acts chapter 5, when a man and his wife sells a piece of property, which they certainly weren't obligated to do. Then they told the church they were giving the entire purchase price to the church which they weren't obligated to do. The truth was they were lying. Undoubtedly to gain a special standing in the church. The next verses are chilling as they describe what occurred. This would be sparks flying. Peter said, "And Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You've not lied to men but to God." As he heard these words Ananias fell down and breathed his last." Do you understand what that means? "And great fear came over all who heard it." Man for as, was born for trouble even in the church.

Three hours later the exact same thing occurred when his wife Saphira, Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price." She said, "Yes, that was the price." Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together? You and your hubby concocted this and why is it that you have agreed together to put the spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door and they will carry you out as well." You're left with the shocking reality that even in the church of Jesus Christ, which you understand is barely at its infancy stage at this point. We're at chapter 5, men and women will actually try to gain influence by saying that certain things are true or acting like certain things are true. In this case something that done or will do financially when that's anything but what actually occurred.

It's not just a matter of well small potential problems in the church, but major the feet of those who just buried your husband are at the door and will carry you out as well kind of problems. In the next chapter in the Book of Acts one ethnic group is grumbling against the elders because of perceived slights in the distribution of food. Thankfully a solution was worked out, namely the institution of the office of deacon in the church. You just shake your head. Were we really going to fight here in the church over who gets the last piece of fried chicken? Now you might say, "Well, okay, okay, that's just because Peter was involved. He's kind of hot headed."

Well it doesn't get much better as you keep reading because you learn the church selects their first two missionaries. Two giants of the faith, you know who they were right? Paul and Barnabas and on their first missionary journey one of their traveling companions quit in the middle of the trip, takes his ball and goes home. What was his name? His name was John Mark. Then when Paul and Barnabas decide to take a second missionary journey to go visit the newly established churches they get into a fight about what? Yes, about whether they ought to let John Mark go again. Here's what the Bible tells us about that, After some days, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaim the word of the Lord." That sounds like a great idea. That could unify a couple of guys, huh? No trouble there, no sparks.

Barnabas wanted to take John called Mark along with them also but Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia, had not gone with them to the work. There occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cypress. Paul chose Silas and left being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. Now you got the two first missionaries of the church fastened with one another.

By the way, the Bible's actually silent about who was right and who was wrong. Which has given an occasion for more people in the church today to fuss because some people say that well obviously Paul was right. Their argument would be, because you never hear Barnabas's name uttered again in the New Testament, so obviously Paul was right. Other say no, Barnabas was right because later in the New Testament we read Paul said, "Send John Mark to me because he's useful to be in the ministry." Then some people say, no, those two groups are wrong because what actually happened was Paul didn't change his mind, John Mark matured and on and on and on.

Examples like that throughout the New Testament. It's amazing, it's just amazing how many issues can come up even among the people of God. Now you might say okay, that was Peter and that was Paul, they were all feisty, but at least we have sweet John. We have the apostle of love. Oops, what about this central passage in the book of Third John. "I wrote something to the church," John said, "But Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them does not accept what we say." For this reason if I come I'll call attention to his deeds which he does. Do you understand what that means? I'm going to call him out. It's John, the apostle of love. I'll call attention to his deeds, which he does. Unjustly accusing us with wicked words and not satisfied with this he himself does not receive the brethren either and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.

If that's not strong enough all we have to do is read the early chapters of the Book of Revelation. Where we have John quoting Jesus and saying things to the church of Thyatira like this, "But I have this against you that you tolerate the woman Jezebel." She ain't a good one. "That you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and she teaches and leads my bond servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols." And if you, by the way take time this afternoon to read on in that text of what's about to happen to this woman and her family because of what she was doing in and to the church it's shocking. It's shocking that things can get this far off track even amongst the so called people of God.

Man's born for trouble, you know what I mean? As sparks what? Just as sure as sparks fly upward. Over against that, what were we just singing about? What were we reading about? Over against that is the possibility of a Christian and a family and even a church experiencing what scripture describes as the, what? The peace of God. Which surpasses all comprehension and guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know how to receive a healthy dose of that?

With that in mind, open your Bible now to Philippians, chapter 4 please. Philippians, chapter 4, page 156 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you if you need that this morning. Philippians, chapter 4, or page 156 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you. We're talking this morning about partakers of grace through Biblical peacemaking. Sure, God does not airbrush problems out of the Bible, but nor does he leave us without a better way to live. Just chew on this piece of theological hard candy for a minute. It's possible to have the peace of God. If you know Christ you are personally related to the Prince of Peace. It's possible to have the peace of God.

Well, let's see how we can attain that. Philippians 4:1, "Therefore my beloved brethren." There's part of it, do you hear the context of love and affirmation here? "My beloved brethren, whom I long to see, my joy and my crown." In this way Paul says stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. "I urge Euodia", that's a woman in the church, "And I urge Syntyche", that's another woman in the church. "To live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed true companion." A third person in this story, perhaps a literal man named Suzugos. "Indeed true companion I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the Gospel together with Clement, also and the rest of my fellow workers whose names who are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always." I think we make a mistake if we consider that verse apart from the context we just read. "Rejoice in the Lord always Euodia." "Rejoice in the Lord always Syntyche." "Rejoice in the Lord always Suzugos."

But you have to do verses one to three in order to get to verse four. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice, let your gentle spirit be known to all men, the Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing Euodia." Again connect this contextually. "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication." Hey Syntyche, when's the last time you prayed for Euodia? But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God and then, not in an isolated way. Don't jump to verse seven and think we can get it without verses one to six and then the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren whatever is true, whatever is honorable, say what does verse eight have to do with it because many times when we're fussing, we're telling ourselves and our posse lies.

Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right and pure and lovely and of good repute, if there's any excellence, if anything worthy of praise dwell on these things, the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do what? You got to work at it. Practice these things and then the God of peace will be with you.

Talking this morning about partakers of grace through Biblical peacemaking. Don't you love this passage? Don't you love the word of God and let's now break it down and look for three steps to living at peace with one another. The three steps to living at peace with one another. Now on its face the story is pretty straight forward, right? Paul's been leading up to something. You notice that, as we've been going through this book verse by verse. I mean Paul has been ... Something's going on, that's what you keep telling yourself. Because Paul has said things like, "Now look, be of the same love," he said. A couple different times he said, "Be of the same mind," earlier in this book or even, "Make my joy while I'm in jail. Make my joy complete by being of the same mind." You read through this and you say, "What's up? What's he alluding to?"

Now at least part of what he has been alluding to is clear. Two ladies in the church, Euodia and Syntyche were fussing at one another and there's a third person in this story, a man that everybody knew in the church identified in verse three as Paul's true companion. Which is the Greek word Suzugos which was actually a name in Biblical times, it was probably a man's literal name and that man also very well have been one of the pastors of the church who did not yet do what needed to be done in that situation. Apparently there's a division in the church between these two ladies. It's widely known and so Paul calls them out publicly. Can you picture what this would have been like if you came to the church house knowing that the church has received a letter from your beloved missionary, the apostle Paul who's in jail and there you are sitting in church and you get called out by name?

But all the while, don't stop there in your mind. All the while holding out the marvelous possibility of everybody finding peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding not just as individuals but as a church family. Well in this world where man is born for trouble as sure as sparks fly upward, how is that achieved in any relationship? I would suggest to you that the principles that are articulated in this passage of scripture, they're solid gold, solid gold if we'll follow them. Here is one of them. Work at solving problems quickly.

I. Work at Solving Problems Quickly – 4:1-3

I would suggest this story is best applied by remembering these two important book ends. Remember from back in chapter two when Paul said, "So then my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now more in my absence work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it's God who is at work in you, both the will and to work for his good pleasure." In other words, if Euodia and Syntyche and Suzugos and the entire church family are going to do what's articulated in this text they're going to have to work at it. And they're going to have to trust God to work in and through them.

Then the other book end is what we read at the very end of this, the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen but you have to practice them. There can't be a gap between what you say you know and what you're willing to do. Practice these things and then the God of peace will be with you. What we're talking about today is going to require effort. It is, it's going to require dedication, it's going to require Biblical convictions to do the right thing even when it's hard. I want to love you, you feeling loved right now? Because I'm feeling rather loving, but I have to tell you that fussing and feuding and being divisive and taking your ball and going home is the lazy person's approach to Christianity. It's a lot easier in the short-term than obeying God's word in these matters.

Now please notice that Paul's instructions are given in the context of genuine affection, that's emphasized several places in this text. He refers to them as my beloved brethren, including these three persons that he's speaking to, whom I long to see. That's true of all of them. He refers to them as my joy and my crown. Again he says in verse one, my beloved. Then in verse two he says that these women who are fussing they've had some good things too. They shared my struggle in the cause of the Gospel. They are my fellow workers as well, their names are in the book of life. I want to be sure that we all recognize that Paul loved this church and he loved these ladies too much to let this problem persist unaddressed.

One of the hallmarks in this church for at least the last 40 years has been this. Problems are for solving. That is a part of our local church's DNA, on purpose. Problems are for solving. I can't tell you how many meetings I sat in, especially in the early days of my ministry with our senior pastor at the time, Pastor Goode who believed we're not going to let problems go. You've heard me say it many times but he said this and taught us problems are like guppies, you can deal with the two that you have today or the 1,000 you're going to have next week. Because they multiply that rapidly, so when he became aware of a problem he was a Godly pastor. He was a Biblical pastor which meant we're going to get that worked out right away using Biblical principles of communication.

What I saw him do, he would many times write out what he was going to say as he was working through a problem and often times the first several lines were just things that he would affirm in that person's life. All the reasons he would explain things about them that he loved. All the things about them that he ... And it's not like he was buttering them up. He wanted to be sure that they understood that particular problem did not define the relationship and he recognized that there were many good things about this individual that needed to be stated and needed to be affirmed. That's exactly what Paul was doing in this text. Also this was being done in submission to Biblical authority in the church. There's a sense of urgency about all this. Wouldn't be hard to see the urgency because Paul twice uses the word I urge. Interesting the Greek word para, means coming alongside. That's what Paul was doing here. I'm coming along side. Frankly, and I'm going to mention this in a few minutes, some others should have but they didn't, so Paul says I am.

Para and kalew means to call. We're not just coming alongside and doing nothing, we're coming alongside and we're speaking about these issues. By the way, that's the same root word that is used to describe the Holy Spirit, did you know that? The Holy Spirit is called the parklete, same exact word. The one who comes alongside to help. What I'm trying to point out here is this obviously is not a mild suggestion that they or their respective posse's could either take or leave. Paul was urging them and he was urging them publicly. I also like the fairness of all of this, don't you? I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche. It could have said I urge Euodia and Syntyche. Just to be absolutely sure he was not taking sides in this matter per se. He said you both got some things you need to work on. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche.

You might wonder this, why the apostolic urgency in a public setting? The book had been going along so swimmingly. Here's what John MacArthur and his commentary on Philippians says about that. The twice repeated phrase I urge, I urge shows Paul to be a pleading, begging, encouraging mode as he addressed the issue of divisive women. The apostles mention of such a seemingly mundane matter after the lofty doctrinal material of chapter two and the warnings against dangerous false teaching in chapter three may seem surprising. Paul understood, hear this, that discord and divisiveness pose an equally crippling threat to the church. Or to the family by the way, or to the work place or whatever entity you want to put at the end of that sentence. Even if it's doctrine is sound, disunity robs a church of its power and destroys it's testimony. Do you believe that? A church facing hostile external enemies do we, cannot afford to have its members fighting among themselves. Such infighting frequently gives the enemies of the cross an avenue of attack. The resulting discord, disunity and conflict could have devastated the integrity of the Philippian church's testimony.

By the way if you've visiting with us don't say, "Well boy, there must be something going on." I'm preaching on this today because last November, December we laid out the preaching schedule to go verse by verse through the book of Philippians, so I'm talking about this today because it's the next thing in the text. So if you say, "Man, my spouse and I we had a huge row this week. Did they call you?" Nope, nope, apparently the Holy Spirit knew that you might need to hear this passage of scripture. Or for whatever reason if this happens to be getting you right between the eyes don't thank me. Although maybe you should thank me a little bit, but you need to look a whole lot higher up the totem pole than me. I need to say this morning, I urge, I urge. One of the reasons some people will not solve problems Biblically is because they have no place for Biblical authority in their life. They ain't going to be urged by anybody in any way, any shape, any form.

The right of Hebrews made it clear, "Obey your leaders and submit to them for they keep watch over your souls." Did you hear that? "As those who will give an account, let them do this with joy and not with greed for this would be unprofitable for you." That's exactly what Paul was doing in this passage. He's watching over their souls and he's trying to prevent them from living in a way that produces unprofitable consequences including the lack of peace that passes all understanding. Now also accessing all the resources in the church, I mean Paul's bringing it. He's bringing the resources necessary to get this solved. Because God values his children having peace that passes all understanding. Do you believe that? That's what he wants for you. That's what he wants for me, so he's provided all sorts of ways to get issues handled. Sometimes as individuals.

Jesus explained in Matthew 5, that if you're offering a gift at the alter and you remember that you sinned against somebody leave your gift and go ask that other person's forgiveness. He explained in Matthew 18, that if somebody has sinned against you, you should go and speak with that person about his fault between the two of you alone. Now you might say, "Wait, wait, wait a minute. The scripture calls upon me to go in either case?" Yes, that's exactly what your Lord said. Remember the authority thing? That's exactly what your Lord said, and ideally you would meet the other person along the way because they were doing what they were supposed to do. But regardless you're still committed to do your part in the matter.

See Euodia and Syntyche should not have let this situation get this far where they had to be called out in the church house publicly. They should have gone to one another. There it is, they should have gone to one another and got this handled right away. Ephesians 4:26 and 27, "Be angry." Nothing wrong with being angry, that's a God given emotion. That creates energy intended to help us solve problems Biblically and help us solve problems today. "Be angry and sin not," Paul said. "Don't let them" what? "Don't be letting the sun go down on your wrath or give the devil an opportunity."

And there will be people in our services today, they're at peace with their spouses. Do you realize that? They woke up this morning, looked over, bad breath and all, gave each other a smooch. That's the way it is, they're at peace with one another. They're at peace with their children. They're at peace with their friends. They're at peace with their fellow church members because they're committed to keeping problems solved, keeping their accounts short. But there are others who are in an unreconciled state with somebody else right now or maybe a whole lot of someone else's right now and they've not done what God commands. That's just all there is to it.

Now here's an important caveat to all of this. If possible so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men. It's not always possible to live at peace with those who don't know Christ. In the text it's very clear, it's very, very helpful, you're only responsible for your side. Here's the question, you are allowing the Holy Spirit to ask you some questions right now, aren't you? I hope you're not saying well I'm not sure I like Pastor Viars sermon. Right now we're not evaluating me, you're evaluating you. All God's people understand their place in this process, so you're letting the word of God drill down into your heart and life. I would just ask you can you honestly say this morning that you're working at solving problems quickly?

Now another resource in the church is sometimes a concerned brother. You say, "What if Euodia and what if Syntyche just dig in their heels?" Great question, great question. Here's what God would say about that concerning you my brethren speaking to lay person's in the church. I myself, also am convinced that you yourselves are three things. You're full of goodness, you're filled with knowledge and you're thirdly able to what? Don't say well that's why we hired a pastor to clean up the town. No, no, no, you're able to admonish one another or Galatians 6:1, brethren even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual. You say I'm not spiritual enough, listen that's talking about having the Holy Spirit of God because you've trusted Christ to save your Lord. If you don't qualify for that you need to become a Christian today.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one, restore. It's a beautiful word, the bone is broke, the net is torn and you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness each one looking to yourself, so you too will not be tempted. Want to talk about getting in one another's business inappropriately or unnecessarily but there's no such thing as Biblical shalom without righteousness so sin has to be addressed and sin has to be solved. What should of happened as men and women in the church learned of Euodia and Syntyche having this fuss, they should have gone to them. Not gossiped about them or not avoided them, they should have fulfilled their Biblical responsibility as a brother or sister in Christ and sat them down and got this handled before it got any worse.

Well sometimes with leaders of the church, we already saw what scripture says about role of the pastors. Pastors are to keep watch over the souls of the members of the church. We also alluded to Acts, chapter 6 which explains the entire office of deacon was instituted in order to put down murmuring and keep problems solved in the church. Here's what that means by the way, if you're ever in a conversation with one of your pastors or one of your deacons and he encourages you to sit down with another individual and get that problem solved. That person is doing his job. Can we just have a little deal? If your pastor or one of your deacons ever does that would you not spit venom on him for simply doing his job? From the way you respond is going to say a lot about your level of spiritual maturity at that very moment.

Here's what scripture says about that. The wise of heart will received commands but a babbling fool will be ruined. My guess is Euodia had been doing a lot of yacking with her posse. Syntyche undoubtedly been wagging them lips like a babbling fool. That's what the passage ... That's from the word of God friends. "The wise of heart will receive commands but a babbling fool will be ruined." Or this, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel." Now I understand this is so counter cultural. I get that, here's what the world says. Don't ever communicate with the person that you're having a problem with directly. If you feel you've been wronged, even by somebody in the church just lawyer up, right? Just lawyer up. Can you believe that was actually happening in the Corinthian Church, the poster child for spiritual immaturity in the New Testament. Instead of doing what this passage of scripture is modeling and calling us to they were actually suing one another in the church.

Here's what Paul said about that. "Does any one of you when he has a case against his neighbor dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world and if the world is judged by you, are you not competent in the church to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we'll judge angels how much more matters of this life, so if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to what? I say this to your shame. Is it not so that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother and that before unbelievers?" Paul's incredulous that so called Christians would not allow their faith to impact the way problems in the church are solved.

By the way in providence of God you probably know that that's one of the issues clarified in our church constitution and in our articles of faith and our membership covenant. We're actually voting on that today. Came up at the very same time that this text says what it says. But you understand that's nothing new about how we would handle lawsuits in this church. Just like our statement on the sanctity of human life that you're voting on today and the Biblical definition of marriage. Those are truths this church has believed and practiced for 51 years now. If I could just open my heart as a pastor for a moment. I almost want to shake your head. We really have to spell things like this out? It's clearly articulated in the word of God, it could not be any more obvious. Here's what, how about we just obey the word of God in our relationships with one another? Would that be okay? Would that be good? Why would there ever be even a pinch of controversy on a matter such as that?

By the way, that could actually lead to the guy who may have been most at fault in this particular situation. It was this man identified as Suzugos or the true companion. Either way he was well known. The way this is addressed in the text everybody in the church knew who he was. As I mentioned many Bible students believe he could have been one of the pastors of the church. It's highly likely that he knew about this fuss between Euodia and Syntyche but up to this point he was afraid to do his job.

Peter instructed pastors shepherd the flock of God among you exercising oversight. I'm sorry I got a little behind myself, let me go backward. Guys can you go backward one? Maybe, there we go, thank you. "Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion but voluntarily according to the will of God and not for sordid gain but with eagerness." Why in the world would a pastor have to be told to exercise authority? To exercise oversight? Why would he have to be compelled? Here's why, because the process of doing that is not always pleasant. Sometimes when people need to be shepherded the most, they're willing to accept it the least. That's the reason which is why James said, "Let not many of you become teachers my brethren knowing at as such we will incur a stricter judgement." I would just ask all of us, are you nervous right now? Listen, I slept so well last night, like a baby, like a baby. I'm not upset, I don't have anything to be upset about. Are you upset?

Because I would encourage you that the word of God will never hurt you, unless you choose to disobey it. I would ask all of us to say are you working at solving problems quickly? Or is it possible that that's why you lack peace that surpasses understanding? Now you might say, "Hey, wait a minute. What were Euodia and Syntyche actually arguing about?" Text doesn't say, does it? Which I think brings us to our next emphasis. Believe that peace is available in and through Christ instead of majoring on the minors.

II. Believe that Peace is Available In and Through Christ – 4:4-7

I think we would have to infer that this wasn't some sort of doctrinal issue or Paul would have articulated the problem and pronounced a judgement about who was right and who was wrong.

Listen, almost always regardless of how much someone wants to argue otherwise the issue is not Biblical in nature, it's opinion or preference. Here's what that means. If you get your backup every time something doesn't go your way and you're home or at your job or in your extended family or at your church you'll be at odds with people all your days. There will be no shalom. The sparks will continue to fly upward. Another way of saying that from this text is senseless bickering generally reveals a lack of finding one's joy and satisfaction in Christ. See did you notice the emphasis on our union with Christ throughout this entire passage? Stand firm but in the Lord. Live in harmony but in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord, the Lord is near. The more you find your joy and satisfaction there, the less you care about getting your way on every preference issue that comes down the pike. Otherwise you're going to be threatening to take your ball and go home all the time.

Or as Paul said to the Galatians, you're going to be biding and devouring one another ... You're going to be the church's version of Hannibal Lector. Biding and devouring one another. Let me just give you some random examples. We're coming into the holidays, aren't we? While different people have different views of Christmas trees, you know that? Some pretty wound up about that issue, so some people say well it has some sort of a Pagan origin so we're not going to have a Christmas tree in our house. Well fine, if that's what you believe God bless you. I feel a little sad for you but God bless you. If you've decided you don't think you ought to have a Christmas tree in your house fine. But you realize there's some people who if the church set up a Christmas tree as part of a decoration that I'm out of there. Really, because of a Christmas tree?

At our East Side Campus we changed from pews to chairs. Our auditorium was designed to be a square. Eventually it started out as a six-sided auditorium but as the church grew, and that's a good thing, huh? Church grew, remember, some of you remember the night we took down the walls, we tore out the carpet, took out the pews. We replaced them with chairs simply because it was more cost effective. It was going to cost us more to buy a few pews to fill in those sections then to completely replace the auditorium with chairs and then have a space that was much more flexible throughout the week, so that's what we decided to do. We had a family leave this church because we took the pews out of the auditorium. That's what we're talking about Euodia. That's what we're talking about Syntyche.

People have ... Let's get this, how about Halloween, is it okay to celebrate Halloween or not? There's all sorts of views about Halloween and all ... Do whatever you want in your house with your family. You do what you believe God wants you to do. Listen if the church decides to have a trunk or treat party as a community outreach is that really something worth getting wound up about? Is that really something worth taking your ball and going home? Here's the thing, here's thing, what many people end up doing is they try to inscripturate their preferences. You can have all your opinions and all of your applications of scripture but please don't make that a test of everybody else's spirituality. Because you know what that's become? That's become self-righteousness. When you let that infiltrate the church, I mean you can't keep ... That's why so many churches are so small. Because people have to have their entire ... Everybody has to be just like me.

I love you, I want you to ... Do you feel I love you. But apparently God thought one of you was just about enough. Right, God doesn't want everybody just like you and that may not have come out just right. I got a twin, well God bless you there's two. Wow, that's still only two. I understand I'm out of time, but I ain't out of service so let's finish this up. Think about how the rest of this passage it's much better known, fits into the context. All of this is an anecdote to anxiety. Do this with prayer and supplication, Euodia and Syntyche should fuss less and pray more with generous helpings of thanksgiving.

I learned this from Pastor Goode as well, who was incredibly thankful for this church. He spent a lot of time talking with me about the various people that he was thankful for, about the various reasons he had to be thankful for, the ministry here, that's why he didn't sit around and bicker about mindless stuff. That's why he didn't just look for the next silly argument but one of the ... I hope you'll hear me on this. One of the reasons for that was his deep appreciation for his savior and his deep appreciation for his church family. You see what the text says? "Be anxious for nothing but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving." The more you're thankful for the people in your life and all the good that they do the less you'll fall into the senseless mindless bickering and I'm taking my ball and going home all the time approach to relationships.

In fact after Pastor Goode had his open heart surgery. He and Mildred were coming back from the hospital after he got out. Back in those days you stayed in the hospital a few days. After he got back, when he got to the intersection of 550 and State Road 26 he broke down and wept at the sight of this church. He realized that this church 80% of our history we've only had two senior pastors, Pastor Goode and myself. That's an amazing statistic in the day and age which pastors are flitting around all the time. Many times unthankful for their church families and many times in bitter about something that they didn't get their way in. I'm simply saying an anecdote to all of that is a heart, whether it's in your family, in your job, in your church that is thankful for all of the good things and that means when you don't get your way on the Christmas tree, you don't get your way on the chairs or pews you just let all of that kind of stuff go by the wayside.

Therefore enjoying and celebrating and modeling the peace of God. Ultimately this passage isn't about two warring women or maybe even a pastor or a church family that needed to get busy doing their respective jobs. It's about the Prince of Peace. About the Lord Jesus Christ who stands ready to help people solve their problems and move past their problems and enjoy peace that passes all understanding guarding their hearts and their minds in Christ Jesus. I would just ask you this morning do you know Christ personally? Is it possible that one of the reasons you're constantly at odds with others is because you've never trusted Christ? I would encourage you even in a message like this that if you don't know that you know that you know you're on your way to heaven. What that means is you're not just at war with other people, you're at war with God. Because we cannot come before a sinful God in our ... I'm sorry a holy God in our own sin.

We first have to be forgiven of our sin and we have to possess the imputed righteousness of Christ. I would just encourage you if you've never trusted him to do that and to do that today. Well ultimately be willing to work at practicing what you say you believe.

III. Be Willing to Work at Practicing What You Say You Believe – 4:8-9

It's highly likely Euodia and Syntyche each had a carefully honed narrative that they repeated over and over to anybody who would listen and even to themselves. While there have probably been some nuggets of truth in their narrative, it was probably also sprinkled with self-justifying falsehoods. Ask the Lord to allow you to attach a truth filtered to your mind. Only the things that are true and honorable. I wonder how many people would need to say that. Issue I'm all wound up a bit. What I said about it and I thought about it as I argued my case isn't entirely true and I need to face that.

Be committed to the diligent work of practicing your faith. The things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things. There's our assignment, practice these things. Yes man's born for trouble, huh? As sure as sparks fly upward. But we're sin and bounded grace did much more abound and it’s possible to have peace that surpasses understanding. Let me just close with this. It's very interesting to me to have watched over the years the number of young people who believe that God was calling them into full-time Christian service and I'm not putting them on some sort of special pedestal, that's not the point. It's even interesting of our current cohort of seminary students, they are chomping at the bit. They're chomping at the bit to get into the ministry in one of Christ's churches. You know why humanly speaking? Because of the way they've seen this church family operate in a way that is consistent with this text.

It encourages young people to want to live for God. It encourages young people to want to serve God as they see the adults around them keep their problems solved so that they can enjoy the great peace that only comes from the Prince of Peace.

Let's stand together for prayer shall we.

Father in heaven thank you for the opportunity to study this great passage and thank you for putting this in your book. Lord I pray that you would help each one of us to carefully evaluate why you wanted us to hear this and what practicing these things would look like in the days ahead. That we pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video