Partners in the Gospel (Phil. 1:11)

Publié le 11 avril 2021 dans Traductions

Sermon by Pastor Vincent Bourrel

I have been thrilled in recent weeks in front of the 6 nations tournament and the performance of the XV of France. They are a really great team. What makes the strength of this team in addition to the technical qualities is its spirit of commitment to each other in the fight, in the conquest. They share the victory and are united in the defeat, they all participate in the efforts, they all push in the same direction. They enjoy playing together and we enjoy watching it.

By faith in Jesus Christ, God enlists us in his team, we no longer live for ourselves but for the one who died and rose for us. The Gospel gives us forgiveness, abundant and eternal life which is the perfect answer to the need of the human heart, which is why it must be announced to everyone. But the Gospel is also a struggle because it calls us to follow a master who conquered our hearts by stooping down, by dying on a cross. The gospel is contrary to our natural way of thinking. He calls us to “look at others as being above ourselves… instead of considering our own interests, also considering those of others”. This is why the gospel also has enemies (3:18).

In this period where we are having 2 meetings on Sunday morning to welcome more people, where the health situation constrains us, where we are asking for the involvement of all in the various ministries of the church. It is good to remind us of our partnership in the gospel. It is this supreme cause that we serve. We are all fundamentally servants of Jesus Christ.

Paul himself planted this church with Silas his fellow worker and Timothy his protégé during his second missionary journey in the years 49-50. Paul writes this letter 10-12 years later since his house arrest (prison) in Rome where he awaits his appearance before Caesar and a possible execution. He wrote to them in particular to thank them for the part (especially financial) they took in the Gospel alongside Paul v. 5 « from the first day until now ». In other words, this partnership is solid.

How do we as a church nurture our partnership for the gospel?

It is interesting to note (v. 1) that Timothy is a co-signer of the letter although Paul speaks in the first person from v. 3 and throughout the letter. In 2.19 he speaks of Timothy in the 3rd person. So why associate Timothy? 

In 2.20-21 Timothy is with him (his secretary?)he « shares Paul’s feelings to take to heart the situation of the Philippians, he seeks the interests of Jesus-Christ ». And he gives him the same title as his « slaves of Christ Jesus. » This is the meaning of partnership.

Let us nurture our partnership in the Gospel:

By saying our gratitude to God for our brothers 1-5

  • – v.3 The memory he has of the Philippians (everything we have ever experienced together).   Acts 16 records the beginnings of the Church of Philippi. The remarkable conversion of this merchant Lydia, the first meetings in her house and then the deliverance of a woman possessed by a spirit of divination and the confusion that followed throughout the city because those who exploited this poor woman were coming to lose a significant source of incomes.The opposition they then encountered and the persecutions they suffered. The beatings, the prison.Then in the middle of the night the miraculous earthquake which leads to the conversion and the baptism of the guardian of the prison and of all his house. Finally Paul and Silas are released, the city authorities will come to apologize to them for having them beaten in public and imprisoned them without trial,them Roman citizens. They return to Lydia where the first meetings of this young church were held before leaving for Thessaloniki. Paul will receive regular and other support from the Philippians. They lived crazy things together!
  • When I look at this assembly I see the partners with whom we have experienced crazy things: conversions, trials crossed together, falls and recovering, fights, victories, illnesses, healing, mourning, consolations , works, moments of discovery of God, answered prayers… missionary journeys, sharing of the gospel… and I contemplate the goodness, the fidelity of God, the effectiveness of his help… It is a treasure of memory.We need to remember and give thanks to God who works these things.
  • – v. 4-5 Paul is rejoiced because of their part in the gospel. They believed in the gospel and they share it and live it in this city, the Church has grown and organized. They are partners with Paul in the gospel financially. Paul recalls at the end of the letter that at that time they were the only ones who took his situation to heart (4: 5-18). It was a sacrificial love in imitation of Jesus Christ that prompted them to give (the churches in Macedonia were poor but generous).
  • When we get home it is not uncommon for someone in the family to say, “What a crazy church! Thank you Lord ! « amazed that we are by the joy, the love, the zeal, the creativity, the compassion, the dedication… that you show. I am not saying that sometimes there is not a little bit of criticism. But today I want to say my gratitude to the Lord for what he is producing in your hearts. It is true I am really happy to see the church as a beehive, alive, in movement that bears fruit: the different groups of children, youth group, study, assistance to people, prayer, welcome service, cells, work teams, visits, mission… it is not just the agitation that amazes me but even more the spirit in which all this is done! By and for the gospel! The gospel involves sacrificial love.

Their loyalty from day 1 until now.My family and I came to this church almost 23 years ago. Several died, others left the church and the city but some are still alive! For 23 years I have seen these people every Sunday often during the week. They support this work in good and bad days. It is God who manifests his faithfulness in their life that gives them perseverance. Thank you Lord !

Which brings Paul v. 6 to look confidently to the future:

By expressing our assurance and affection towards our brothers 6-8

  • v.6 And Paul is convinced that God who started this good work in them will make it perfect for the day of Jesus Christ. The day of Christ designates the time when believers will be glorified, when they will see God face to face and will be perfect. The work of transformation in the likeness of Christ will be completed. There is no possibility of failure or partial accomplishment. Men experiment, but God accomplishes his purpose. If the work begun is God’s work, he will complete it. God’s plan is to make us like Jesus. God chose us, drew us to himself, he opened our hearts so that we could grasp the Gospel, our sinful state, our condemnation and he convinced us that Christ died for us according to the Scriptures that he is risen from the dead who sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
  • This promise is almost always applied to personal sanctification and is certainly right to do so, but in the immediate context it is also about the partnership of the Philippians in the work of the gospel. In church, they believed, received the gospel, they supported the work of the gospel (with Paul cf. 2:25), they also incarnated the gospel by giving themselves to the example of Epaphrodite. God will bring this work to perfection (Eph 5:27). The work of the Gospel, the missionary work will be completed, all the elect will be reunited, and all the saints by vocation will truly be! What a hope for our church!

• – v.7 “So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you ».Why ? “For you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God.»And v.8 because “I long for you all with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus”.

And these are Paul’s arguments! Why am I convinced that he who started this good work in you will make it perfect for the day of Jesus Christ? Because I love you with the love of Christ. It sounded like the argument was a little too sentimental to be on Paul’s lips. But no, he said: I see the grace of God in you (cf. 1.29), I see the authentic faith in you (you do not give up when the Gospel costs prison). Also God has placed in my heart the affection that Jesus Christ has for you, so I am convinced that the one who started this good work in you will make it perfect for the day of Christ.

How to persevere in this partnership with one another despite certain weaknesses, shortcomings, sins among us? Partnership in the gospel is joyful, sacrificial, humble, loving, turned towards others (cf. 2.2-4). By remembering the work of Christ, and the promise that God will complete His work in you and those around you. Grace will end what grace begins. It is a promise.

Have you ever been to the site of a house under renovation? There are a few partitions that have fallen, there is dust everywhere, electric wires hanging down, bundles of tiles piled up in a corner, a test of painting on a wall … And the owner who is doing the work asks you excited : « so how do you think about it? »And there you do not really know what to say… he sees that you do not see the same thing as him (you see all that remains to be done). He is happy, he sees the thing as it will be and not as it is. He is all excited, because he enjoys the final realization (he has the plans in mind, he sees everything that has already been done, how it contributes to the realization of the plan). This is how we love Christians.

We love from the love of Christ who expects the transformation of brothers and sisters into Christ’s image.

Finally

By saying what we ask God for our brothers 9-11

Here we find a model of prayer for each other.

  • « May your love increase more and more in knowledge and in full intelligence ». What makes our love grow is a greater knowledge of God and of his work. It is not a knowledge about God but of God. It is knowledge of the heart, insightful and wise. The more my heart knows God the more I love like God. « To discern the best things ». It is the love of God that allows me to discern what is important.
  • In a period like the one we are experiencing, we do not all have the same perception of the seriousness of the health crisis, we do not all have the same freedom in the application of government instructions, we do not have not all the same history with the virus, the same resistance or the same access to the vaccine. But love will allow us to take each other into account, the love of Christ will not scandalize hurting his neighbor, but seeks his edification, his conformity to Christ, love will protect the unity of the church . These are the best things, these are our priorities.

• v.10 « that you may live  pure and blameless until the day of Christ’s return » Pure = genuine, sincere, and blameless = upright, which is not an occasion of stumbling. « For the day of Jesus Christ » the work progress continues to this day.

• v.11 “filled with the fruit of righteousness which is through Jesus Christ”. This is what we can ask God for one another. It is Jesus who makes this fruit possible through his death and resurrection « to the glory and praise of God » so that God may be glorified, he who has redeemed and transformed us through the gospel. = The beauty of God, his greatness and his excellence are revealed in this partnership so that all celebrate God who accomplishes this through the gospel. Believers and outsiders who discover his glory by watching the Church live together celebrate God and praise his Name.

This is what we can pray for one another.

Conclusion

How do we maintain our partnership for the gospel?

Thank God for your brothers and sisters by remembering the grace of God in them.

Love your brothers and sisters in the assurance of the completion of God’s work in them.

Pray for your brothers and sisters so that God will increase their love, that they will discern the best things, that they will be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.

We want to « Live the Gospel Together » means proclaiming the gospel, remembering the gospel, and living the gospel so that God may be glorified!