How in the world are we to have joy in the midst of difficulty? The well-known Bible scholar, Matthew Henry was once attacked by thieves and robbed of his money. He wrote these words in his diary: "Let me be thankful. First, I was never robbed before. Second, although they took my purse, they didn't take my life. Third, although they took my all, it was not much. Fourth, let me be thankful because it was I who was robbed and not I who did the robbing." As I said last week in my introduction of Philippians............true joy is found in Jesus Christ. Everlasting and true joy is only found in the Son of God who died and conquered the grave on our behalf. Heb 12:2 “.................who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” For the true joy that we find is found in the Gospel!! “As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians—and I am one of them.” This is where our joy begins and ends! That’s why Paul had so much joy in sufferings in his trials of life.....Paul put his faith and trusts in a sovereign God..........he put his faith in the power of the Gospel. So as we begin looking at this wonderful letter! Have you worn out your shoes yet or have you taken them off already? Because James said “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2. Paul was a man of many trials of various kinds!! But he held on to something that got him through it!! A joy that is found in Christ!
1. TRUE JOY OF THE GOSPEL ALWAYS ACCOMPANIES TRUE FELLOWSHIP (V1-V5)
Look at the opening remarks or verses to his letter!.............. This is signature Paul! (v1-v5) He says “I thank my God” personal relationship that he has with the Lord. Paul touches on 2 things that are vital in the church.........Prayer and progressive sanctification! Prayer is suppose to be a joyful time whether it’s in private or in the fellowship of one another. That’s why Paul could say what he said here........He’s in jail; he is watched 24 hours a day by men who at any given word could put his to death! This is an ongoing process where we are growing more than we did yesterday! I don’t care if you are 10......30......50.........or 95 years old.....the true sign of a Christian is your growth! So ask yourself! Do I desire more of Christ today than I did yesterday...or last week? If you can’t answer that question, then you need to seek His face and ask why? But remember if you genuinely come before His throne to ask Him this question! You better make sure you ask yourself first!..........”do I really want to hear His answer?” I say that because sanctification is a process in which the Christian grows day by day! Which is the fruit baring witness to your conversion. The believer’s in the church were eagerly assisting Paul in spreading of the Gospel. Paul said “fellowship of the Gospel” (v5)……. which can be translated “participation or partnership”. When God sets you apart from this world there is a stirring that begins to happen in your heart......You can’t explain it or deny it! That’s what God is doing in our sanctification….transforming this wretched body of mine to be more like Christ. I like how Wayne Grudem explains it! He says “sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that make us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” For example! You may still have a salty vocabulary…..an addiction that needs addressing…an old habit that is hard to kick over the years……This is what the Lord is going to change in our lives. Though we have been radically changed on the inward and spiritual level! Our actual life are still the same as God day by day removes our passions and desires to implant His…….This is what was happening with this church….the passion for the Gospel was something that brought them joy and Paul! Why? Because the Gospel was changing their actual lives as Wayne Grudem puts it! They knew there was power in the Gospel......They knew there was joy in the Gospel
2. TRUE JOY OF THE GOSPEL BRINGS CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST’S FINISHING WORK (V6- V8)
Our confidence as Christian’s lies in the blessed Gospel of Christ and His finishing work. Paul’s confidence was much more than human hope, a fade or band wagon to get on. “Confidence” the kind of boldness, or calm assurance, which arises from evidence of holiness, and of preparation for heaven. It was the absolute confidence that comes from: Knowing the true gospel that saves to the uttermost. Believing God’s promises found in His written word. Trusting in His sovereignty that He will conclude all things according to His perfect and complete will. (v6 ) “And I am sure of this, that He (meaning God) who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Which “He has began”, “He will complete it” points to eternal security for the Christian. It's the Lord who began and He will finish it, we need to remember salvation is solely God’s work, not men. He will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Think about this verse for a minute. What is Paul trying to say? God never start’s anything that He does not finish. Has God begun something in your life?
Have you been born by the Spirit of God? Because your confidence should not be in yourself! Neither in your faith nor in your spiritual successes, but solely in God. It is He who calls us as Christians, It is Him who leads us on in the Christian life, It is Him who will most certainly lead you and me Home. Johann Ferus said "Let us never put confidence in man, or in any sanctity of position, office, or dress. If apostleship did not make Judas a saint, neither will position, office, nor dress make thee a saint." All things work together for good. To us, who are under God's providence, all things, even our sorrows, trials and persecutions, work together for blessing? Remember Paul is in Prison and he is fully satisfied in the Lord. To them that love God; the called according to His purpose. These are those who enjoy the blessed assurance. Paul had confidence in the Lord and all He said He would finish! “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul throughout this letter to the Philippians believers reminds them “the day ...” This day is coming for which Christians should be prepared by living sincerely and blameless and holding fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? 1Cor 4:5 says “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, Who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” “Disclose” means to enlighten, illuminate, (bring to, give) light, make to see. This verse refers to the inner motives....thought process....and the attitudes which only God can know!
3. TRUE JOY OF THE GOSPEL BRINGS LOYALTY AND COMMITMENT (V9-V11)
The primary aim in our Christina lives is to love God and to love one another. The Love Paul is talking about here is not based on feeling,s but rather it is a conscious choice because you desire to be obediant to our Lord. See we need to understand and always remember “Love is not blind, but perceptive” The heart carefully scrutinizes to distinguish between right and wrong. These people were showing their love for Paul, each other and the Gospel. This is why Paul had such great Joy for them.......you can find true joy in the midst of suffering or trials. But this takes commitment and loyalty to one another! And that’s only possible because the Gospel has been poured out into your life......True joy is found in the Gospel! A joy for one another.....”......for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Rom 13:8. A joy for knowledge.....”But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18. A joy for discernment.....”But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Heb 5:14......Again going back to (v7) “....... You all are partakers with me of grace”. We are partakers of the good news....the Gospel. We are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus......saved by His mercies and grace. We are part of the family of God.....which He will complete until the day of glorification. There is true joy found in the Gospel!! The fellowship of Gospel should always be a fellowship of JOY! We are partners in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Despite the unavoidable sorrows, disappointments, and pain of life. Remember Paul is in prison! Believers can always be JOYFUL........Why? Because we are partakers of His wonderful grace found in the blessed Gospel. The ultimate end or goal to our joy is found at the end of Paul’s prayer (v11) “God be glorified”. True biblical JOY is not based on circumstances........ It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit that comes through the Gospel that saves to the uttermost!! “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, “Gal 5:22. Our God who begins is the God who completes. This is our assurance, our confidence. During His incarnation, the Lord gave this Absolute and precise assurance. Which is the source of JOY to all those who will ever trust in Him. “For the joy that was set before him.”................ The joy of saving lost men from themselves! This is where our Joy begins and ends and this is how Paul starts his letter!! What a wonderful introduction Paul does at the beginning of his letter. The Gospel definitely glorifies God as extremely valuable….which ultimately makes Christ all glorious and worthy of all our joy! So keep those shoes on and seek the Lord for joy...because it's here!! And it’s for you.