28 February 2011

They Are Preaching Up The Devil's Old, Favorite Doctrine!

By J.C. Ryle

There is such a place as Hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What people do not like--they try hard not to believe. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment! All who are found unrepentant and unbelieving; all who have clung to sin; all who have set their affections on worldly things; all who are without Christ......all such shall come to a dreadful end! "Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life--was thrown into the Lake of Fire!" Revelation 20:15

1) I know that some people do not believe that there is any Hell at all. They think it impossible, that there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say that it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up the devil's old, favorite doctrine, "You shall not surely die!" Genesis 3:4

2) I know furthermore, that some do not believe that Hell is eternal! They tell us it is incredible, that a compassionate God will punish people forever. They imagine that He will surely open the prison doors of Hell at last. This also is a mighty help to the devil's cause.

3) I know also that some believe that there is a Hell--but never allow that anybody is going there! They imagine that . . . all people are good, all are sincere, all mean well, and all, they hope, will go to Heaven when they die! Alas! what a common delusion is this! If I never spoke of Hell--I would think I had kept back something that was profitable, and would look on myself as an accomplice of the devil. Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection--beware of false views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of new and strange doctrines about Hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a god of your own: a god who is all mercy but not just; a god who is all love but not holy; a god who has a Heaven for everybody but a Hell for none; a god who will make no distinction between godly and the ungodly in eternity. Such a god is an idol of your own imagination! It is as truly an idol--as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple! The hands of your own imagination and sentimentality have made it! It is not the God of the Bible--and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all. 

21 February 2011

True Joy is Found in Spiritual Maturity

PHIL 2:12-18

What happens to a person when they grow? Everything changes doesn’t it? Think about it for a moment! From the time you are conceived to the time you’re born........and to the last day you pass into eternity! You are changing every day from what you were! Everything changes from what you wear to what you eat! Everything from what you know to what you speak about! Every day we are learning something new! If you don’t believe me then you are exactly what Paul talked about in the previous verses! Paul comes to a part in his letter which should cause all of us to examine our lives very carefully (Look at v12-13) Now we must not misunderstand what this verse of scripture is saying! It doesn’t mean a self help or a salvation by works.............God has a highest of standards, and He knows will never attain it in our sanctification! But this verse says “Work out your salvation” NOT!Work for your salvation, work towards your salvation, work at your salvation. Why? Eph 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." We must always remember..........NO ONE can work his or her salvation out, unless God has already worked it in! Again going back to (1 v6) Paul says “Work out your own salvation" which means gives us the encouraging words to go on, walking by the same rule minding the same things, till your salvation is completed. When is our salvation completed? When we get to Heaven. So until that day comes we must progressively be growing, maturing in these areas of life, maturing in our walk with Him, filled with a deep love for God and a love for the body of Christ! Walk in righteousness and not destroying your testimony to those around you. Bearing fruit unto holiness as you strive to grow more and more into the image of the Son. Not indulging ourselves in habitual sin! Luke 13:24 says "Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Paul says you must; work our salvation with fear and trembling.

Fear in this text (means) to be put in fear; alarm or fright:, be afraid, exceedingly be afraid, fear, terror.

Trembling (means) a “trembling”, that is, quaking with fear: - + tremble (-ing)...... It's the idea the Psalmist had when he wrote “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling......” Ps 2:11.

Another prime example of this is found when Peter, James, and John witnessing the Transfiguration! "He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified." Matt 17:5-6. Fear and trembling is the attitude which every Christians is to pursue their sanctification. It involves a healthy fear of offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him and a hatred towards our personal sin! John Bunyan says "Christian; let God's distinguishing love to you be a motive to you to fear Him greatly. He has put His fear in your heart, and may not have given that blessing to your neighbour, perhaps not to your husband, your wife, your child, or your parent. Oh, what an obligation should this thought lay upon your heart to greatly fear the Lord! Remember also that this fear of the Lord is His treasure, a choice jewel, given only to favourites, and to those who are greatly beloved." The Lord takes great pleasure in your salvation! (v13). The Lord takes such great pleasure in our salvation........God loved us when we were sinners, when we had no righteousness and we didn’t and couldn’t love Him back. Do you realize you’re closer to salvation today, than you were yesterday? He hasn’t finished rescuing you yet! He has secured you in His sovereign election, but He hasn’t completely delivered us yet into glory! Remember that blessed promise that Paul said in the early part of his letter! But until that day comes....until He calls us home we are to practice something as we grow in His grace. We are required to do something in the meantime.........He says! “Do all things without complaining which means without grumbling, muttering sounds people make when they are disgruntled. It has a negative response to something unpleasant, inconvenient or disappointing, arises from self centered person. Again this comes from the fact we are naturally selfish people! "I want what I want and I don’t like it when I don’t get my way!" Who else grumbled because they didn’t like the situation they were in? The nation of Israel! “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, But complained in their tents, And did not heed the voice of the LORD. Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them, To overthrow them in the wilderness, To overthrow their descendants among the nations, And to scatter them in the lands.” Ps 106:24-27. There is another group of people who aloso grumbled because they didn’t like the situation they were in? The local church!

• I don’t like the music; it’s too new and modern for my liking.
• This building is either too hot or too cold.
• The sermon is too long and I have a roast in the oven.
• I wish the preacher would speak more on my needs being met and less on sin.
• I hate the colour of the pews and the lighting of the sanctuary.
• I can’t hear when the preacher speaks (but I always seat at the back of the church)

See by nature we are all natural born complainer just like our father and mother back in the garden. And this behaviour hasn’t diminished throughout history! This pattern still lives on! Paul also says do all things without disputing which means doubting, questioning something, or disputing the truth of a matter, it’s the idea of questioning or criticizing something or someone. Why does Paul emphasize these areas of the Christian life? Because they are most destructive enmities to the body of Christ!

• This behaviour or practise of life can close church doors and splits.
• This form of behaviour produces unforgiving hearts.
• A life of deception to the reality of your present sin.
• A decline in spiritual growth and fellowship with a holy God.
• A hindered Christian life that is ashamed as you stand before Christ! Remember what John said “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28.

The reason Paul wrote about this wrong behaviour because he knew what this could do to the body (the church). There is a good reason for stopping this behaviour! (Look at v15)  “that you may become” this is a process that we are striving for, growing towards something that we don’t possess yet........Believers should have the attitude in pursuing godliness so that we may become what? Blameless describes a life that cannot be criticized because of sin or evil; no charge can be sustained against you. Harmless can be translated innocent, describes a life that is pure, unmixed, and unadulterated with sin...to be sincere in all your actions of life because it’s Christ who lives in me! 1Thess 5:23-24 says "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it." Without fault (means) above reproach, spotless without blemish! 2 Peter 3:14 says "Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace." Why all this? This world we live in as Christians is a crooked and perverse nation, a perverse world of rampant sin! Crooked means what is bent, curved, or twisted. Perverse means to distort, that is, (figuratively) misinterpret, or (morally) corrupt, turn away. We must be examples of Christ on this earth that is full of wickedness and filth!! "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matt 10:16. Jonh Gill gives a great example for the Christian in a perverse culture“All the saints are like lilies in the valleys, liable to be trampled upon by the foot of every wild beast; like roses among thorns, to be scratched and torn; and like Lots in the midst of Sodom, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: the whole world lies in sin, and the saints are enclosed on every side with wicked men.” Our character and our actions should line up according to God word says, not according to the flesh (not according to selfish me)!! What believers are to be is BLAMELESS and INNOCENT children of God, who are above REPROACH. This means we live out our lives in such a way that the world or our community has no room to speak ill of your present behaviour. Why? Because we are children of the living God who is sanctifying us daily by His good pleasure! (v13). We are to be a light, an influence to a godless generation, by fulfilling the Great Commission, a life that is pursuing obedience and godliness. We are to be lights to a fallen and broken society!! What does that look like? When you look up to the Heavens at night, what do you see on a clear night? Billions of bright stars that light up the night time sky. The same goes for us here! When God looks down from Heaven, He should be able to see those same bright lights (you and me) in a dark and broken world. That’s the joy that God wanted the church to have each and every day! So how do we do have an effective light (ministry) or Christian life that are pleasing to God?  By what Paul writes in the following verse (v16)“Holding fast the word of life” which means holding out offering something for others to take. According to that definition.....what are we to offer? The gospel of truth, which when believed, produces spiritual and eternal life for those who listen. Paul said to the church at Corinth “Now then, we are ambassadors (representative) for Christ, as though God were pleading through us...” 2 Cor 5:20. The Gospel is called the word of life, because of the effects in which it produces. Paul wrote in Eph 2:1 "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" We have been quickened by His grace and the power of His word. We were once dead in our sins, but we have been made alive in Christ Jesus our LORD. May your light never go out in a world that is dying in darkness, who desperately need the Light of His precious Words. Remember what Jesus said in to the disciples in Matt 9:36-38 “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

• We are the Harvest
• We are the light
• We have the truth
• We are the Labourers in a perverse and crooked community....country....world!

As the late great Jim Elliot said "God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus." Why must we pursue this passion of spiritual maturity? (v16-v18) “.... So that I may rejoice in the day of Christ... that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." Paul is saying that he desires that for us so that his efforts were not wasted or worthless. When he could look back and rejoice in the faithfulness of his brethren. The people whom he served would be a source of his eternal JOY. When Paul is face to face with our Lord he will find out that he did not labor in vain......We are to be blameless and pure both before others and before God our testimony must stand the test of time. We are all (every single one of us) are to hold fast the word of life to others by living and proclaim the wonderful grace of our Lord who brought salvation to you and me.

• Our every breath is to proclaim Christ
• Our every day actions are to proclaim Christ
• Our sanctification works are to proclaim Christ
• Our testimony is to proclaim Christ
• Our complete lives are to proclaim Christ

Christ is to be supreme and worthy of all my attention and adoration! True joy is found in a continuing life that is maturing into the image of the Son as a light to a crooked and perverse generation!! SO LET ME ASK YOU THE SUNDAY QUESTION! Is your life reflecting the joy of spiritual maturity?

14 February 2011

True Joy is Found in a Life of Humility

Phil 2:1-11

What does humility look like? I can tell you what it isn't. It’s not looking for the limelight, it’s not making oneself known among a group of people, it’s not seeking the praises and acknowledgement when they do something, it doesn’t want to be the center of attention for everything, it’s not being as Brian Regan the comedian says “a me monster...it’s all about me”. See! Humility is a freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; Jesus Christ brings humility into your life? I like how Gary Inrig explains humility “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and realize the assumness of who he is, and I accept God's estimate of myself, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility.” Andrew Murray the great puritan preacher said “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.” Paul comes to a pivotal part of his letter because he is about to tell us how:

• We can walk in unity
• We work as a team
• We can stand fast in a broken world
• We walk worthy of the Gospel
• We can magnify Christ in our lives
• We can realize that whether by death or life Christ is my ultimate joy each and every day!

It begins here in the opening verses of chapter 2 (READ THE TEXT v1-v5) See the world at large views humility a sign of weakness! The world considers Humility something to be laughed at or something to be ashamed of. The world doesn’t consider Humility worthy to teach our children. ( instead we should stand up for yourself and fight back). The world considers Humility something to mock or make fun of. But that’s not true by what we read here in this letter! How does a child of the living God walk in humility? Paul starts by saying in (v3) “let nothing be done through selfishness” Selfishness means......regarding one's own interest chiefly or solely; influenced in actions by a view to private advantage. It expresses a negative command; selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. Why is selfishness a problem! becuase we are naturally selfish by nature (our sin nature) Paul told Timothy and the church leaders in 2Tim 3:1-2 “..... that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” What we want is usually a major stumbling block, or problem to walking in humility. Selfishness doesn't care about anyone else other then themselves! Paul also goes on to express another problem that usually follows a selfish person! He says "empty conceit" which means......empty glorying, that is, self-importance, vainglory, and self regard, empty or arrogant pride. Paul was warning them not to have pride and vain glory attitudes.....that me first everyone else second......For example! The house is burning down “every man, woman and child defend for themselves.” The reason Paul mentions this, because this behaviour easily injures or destroys the comfort and harmony of the saints..........which in the end leads to an unhealthy Church! It’s you seeking the glory over God and stepping on anyone who gets in your way. The Lord spoke of a church that lived this way.......and they are not comforming words by any stretch of the imagination. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Rev 3:15-17. Paul say when we are behaving in this manner we are in danger of falling onto dangerous ground! One thing I do like is how Paul structures his letter by the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit! He starts off with the nasty....distasteful remarks first and then he comes in with something that edifies the saints. It’s like asking someone.....”Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Answer is usually the bad news first then the good! Now! Paul turns to the characteristics of what humility truly looks like which is the complete opposite of what Paul wrote in the previous verse. Humility of Mind which the very opposite of selfish ambition and empty conceit. It means “a lowliness of mind, gentleness”. Humility was also a dominant virtue or passion in the Old testament saints! A passion that the Lord desired for everyone who followed his commands.

A. Moses was a humble man (Num 12:3) “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”
B. David also wrote about being humble (Ps 37:11) “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
C. Solomon, David’s son wrote about the importance of Humility (Prov 11:2) “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
D. James the Half Brother of the Lord Jesus Christ wrote “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6

Paul then goes on to say by building up his last statement!.......Esteem others “Don’t merely look out for your own personal interests but look out for the interest of others” which means “to observe, to give close attention and special consideration”. See we must always be careful! Because personal interest can be very destructive to a church: It causes disharmony and dysfunction, it causes disunity and mistrust, it causes heart breaking results among fellow believers. We are not to do that!! Plain and simple. We are to look at what Paul writes here! "The interest of others" which means “to take notice of others; to acknowledge them which is the way to submit to one another in the fear of God, and to promote truth, friendship, and love among the church body.” See Paul knew this all to well! He wrote to the church of Corinth “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor 12:26. If one member of this church is suffering or hurting, we all suffer and hurt with him or her. Remember that....there is no I in team! Paul says all this, so that we are without excuse or the ‘but’ rebuttal statement.....there is no room for our excuses when it comes to the matter of humility especially in the Christian life or the local church for that matters. Paul makes a statement which really humble us instantly as we read his letter to this church (v5-v8). This is a profound and very important portion of biblical truth.......which is the glue to everything when it comes to the matter of humility. (v5-v11). Jesus Christ the God man came to this earth to display the love of the Godhead to their creation as a humble servant! Form refers to “the outward manifestation (exhibit, display) of an inner reality.” The idea is that before the Incarnation, from eternity past, Jesus pre-existed in the Divine Form of God..........Jesus Christ is, always has been, equal with God the Father in every way. How did He do this? By coming in the likeness of man to die for our wickedness as a man of no reputation! God in all His Glory came to this earth to display to humanity............His sovereign love for His creation. Jesus came in the likeness of man................Jesus came here as a man of no reputation! This word reputation  is clearly translated “emptied Himself” Christ Jesus who created and owned everything “forsook everything for the sake of the cross”

1. Emptied Himself of His divine Glory......“When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You,” John 17:1

2. Emptied Himself of independent divine authority......."I can do nothing on My own. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30

3. Emptied Himself of the voluntary exercise of some of His attributes.........(Matt 24:35-36) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

4. Emptied Himself of His eternal riches.......“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:28

5. Emptied Himself temporarily of His intimate and face to face relationship with His Heavenly Father.......“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matt 27:46

We as Christians cannot empty ourselves like our Lord did, but Believers are obligated (bound, indebted) to Him! To follow the Lord’s example of true humility, emptying ourselves of anything that would steal our joy found in Him. Anything that would hinder our obedience and service to Him with humility of joy. Jesus Christ! God in human flesh............Humbled Himself even to Death (v8) Christ our Lord suffered the worst punishment that anyone could ever endure! NO! CREATED PERSON, COULD WITHSTAND WHAT OUR LORD WENT THROUGH AND NOT SIN IN THERE HEART “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Heb 4:15. But we read on in the following verses we see the ultimate end to Jesus’ great act of humility. Though we will never receive that honor but our citizenship is with the very one who humbled himself on our behalf. All He asks of us is to seek the interest of others first... a genuine care or concern about people....take the gospel to the world with humility and love for one another. (v9) says something that has great truth about who jesus is! Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, Lord which means “the title of majesty, authority, honor, and sovereignty.” The Hebrew word for Lord is “Adonia”.......this Hebrew name “Adonia” does not just mean Lord or God; it speaks of a deeper and more personal response. What it‘s literally means is “my Lord” or “my God”. Mary used these words of Jesus in the garden on Easter morning (John 20:14-17). Thomas said “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28).....Even the demons understood His authority as Lord (Luke 4:34) “Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!" That name Lord carries some serious weight and consequences for all of us (v10-v11)Everyone will bow down and call Him Lord.....Whether Living or in Heaven or in Hell. Every person shall acknowledge Him as God and admit His right to Universal Authority! Every single person on this earth will see Him as Thomas saw Him, as Mary, and even as the demons saw Him. But you will bow down before His Throne! I remember listening to preacher say “I have good news and bad news. The good news is God is here! The bad news is God is here!" Do you find that sobering this morning? Does this portion of scripture humble you this morning? If not.....then I fear for you!! Because the ultimate question we need to ask yourself! Will it be in love and adoration as you fall gratefully before the One who loved you and died for you? Or will it be by compulsion as you are forced to your knees by the angel moments before you are removed from His presence forever to spend eternity in Hell? If you are a Christian! We must humble ourselves like our Lord did on our behalf! We must display this same kind of humility to the whole world... True joy is found a life that seeks the interest of others! Why? Because this is the mind of God in you..........SDG

11 February 2011

The Flaming Sword of Justice

The flaming sword of justice quenched in the holy, loving bosom of Jesus! "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree!" 1 Peter 2:24...........The most significant and appalling demonstration of God's holiness that the universe ever beheld, infinitely distancing and transcending every other--is the sufferings and death of His only and beloved Son! The cross of Calvary exhibits God's hatred and punishment of sin in a way and to an extent which the annihilation of millions of worlds, swept from the face of the universe by the broom of His wrath, could never have done! Behold the most solemn display of God's hatred of sin! Finding the sins of the Church upon Christ as its Surety, Substitute, and Savior--the wrath of God was poured out upon Him without measure! Finding the sins of His people laid upon His Son--God emptied all the vials of His wrath due to their transgressions, upon His holy soul! Go, my soul, to Calvary, and learn how holy God is, and what a monstrous thing sin is, and how imperiously, solemnly, and holily bound, Jehovah is to punish it, either in the person of the sinner, or in the person of a Surety. Never was the Son of God dearer to the Father--than at the very moment that the sword of divine justice, flaming and flashing, pierced His holy heart to its hilt! But it was the wrath of God, not against His beloved Son--but against the sins which met on Him when presenting Himself on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice and offering for His Church. He gave Himself for us! What a new conception must angels have formed of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, when they beheld the flaming sword of justice quenched in the holy, loving bosom of Jesus! And in what a dazzling light does this fact place the marvelous love of God to sinners! Man's sin--and God's love; the indescribable enormity of the one--and the immeasurable greatness of the other; are exhibited in the cross of Christ as nowhere else. Oh, to learn experimentally these two great facts: sin's infinite hatefulness--and a loving God's infinite holiness! The love of God in giving His Son to die; the love of Christ in dying--and the essential turpitude and unmitigated enormity of sin, which demanded a Sacrifice so Divine, so holy, and so precious! By Octavius Winslow

08 February 2011

True Joy is Found in the God of the Gospel

Phil 1:27-30

• God is all powerful
• God is all knowing and unchangeable
• God is timeless
• God is completely sovereign
• God is everywhere present
• God is full of mercy
• God is full of grace and truth
• God is full of glory
• God is beautiful and majestic
• God is our stronghold and protector

God is God and I am man “For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. O LORD God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” Ps 89:6-8. He is so awesome and worthy of our praise and adoration! John wrote in his last letter “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." Rev 4:8-11. Let me ask you some questions as we jump into this portion of Paul's letter!Do people see that God is the joy of your life? Do they see a passion for the Gospel and the power it has over a sinner? Do they see the love relationship that you have in Him? When they see you on the street, in the store, at church! Do they see something they wish they had.....that something they’ve been missing their whole life? When we walk worthy people should react to us as having something that’s been a void in their own life! A godly lifestyle should be your desire and daily conduct especially in this present fallen world! Conduct (means) “to lead," a trained discipline," a way or course of life, your manner of life." As we come to this portion in Paul's letter.....we see that our conduct that Paul is speaking about is a conduct that:

• Believing God
• Fearing God
• Loving God
• Following God
• Obeying God
• Rejoicing in God
• Believing in Christ
• Loving Christ
• Following the example of Christ
• Obeying Christ

You may be saying to yourself  "that sounds like a lot of work don't you think"....but that’s what is required from every single person who claims the name of Jesus Christ!! All these conducts should be evident in our Christian life. Walking worthy of the gospel is not an easy life. The early believers in Philippi were under a great pressure which came from the Roman Empire........Hence the fact Paul writing this from a Roman’s prison cell! To serve Christ in a way that seemed unimaginable was hard to do, for the simple fact to be loyal to someone else other then Caesar was punishable by death. This wasn’t uncommon as we have the Old Testament saints as our examples! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego or Daniel when he would not bow down in his heart. See since the tragic death of Stephen before the Sanhedrin and John’s brother James, Christianity has been under great oppression ever since! If you disagree! Go back and re-read the letters to the churches and you will begin to see an underlining concern for all our dear brothers and sisters...............................persecution wasn’t going away anytime soon! The greatest of example of this is  found in James letter.........Who is his audience? Scattered Jewish Christian’s because of heavy persecution. He wrote “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” James 1:1-2. Despite the troubles and the threats and the possible impending death, what does Paul do? He pens these simple words! “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v27). Which literally means: “only let your manner of life as citizens be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”Though they were citizens of a Roman colony in Macedonia.....just as you are citizens of Canada! Paul is telling them and us, that this isn’t our home!! I may be born in Canada, but I’m a citizen of the living Lord who saved my wretched soul! First and foremost......The Philippians church family were to live out their citizenship onto Jesus Christ!  Which literally means “Live out your blood bought Heavenly citizenship” This is what it means to walk worthy of the Gospel. The Gospel is to be adorned by each and every one of us. Why? The Gospel is a bloody Gospel; it’s a sacrificial Gospel that cost Jesus his very life on our behalf! This was done so that our citizenship could be secured through His shedding blood for those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith. The Philippians commitment to Jesus was an offence, a threat against the government’s power. A threat to the very fabric of society because the Gospel is not a compromising life. The Empire felt threatened by the church because they would join hands with Caesar. Remember! To have allegiance to another other then Caesar, bordered on treason! By definition treason is the offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign, a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state, the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery. Roman’s pressure was always a pressure to the church to conform to their way of society! This is happening still today!! I have close friends who have had their first amendment right to freedom of speech removed. We are told to keep religion or the bible out of our schools, governments, and work places. We are told to be tolerant of all other walks of life as equal. We are told to accept homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. We are told to accept abortion. We are told to keep our religion to ourselves. For an example closer to home for me and for those who chose to home school their children.........If you want to educate your children at home, you are labelled a trouble maker, because you don’t want to conform! But my citizenship....my walk is to be worthy of Christ first! Not Canada............obeying God first in all things and then those whom the Lord has put to rule over us!!! So to walk worthy for the church of Philippi was hard work! “spiritual sweat” as Kent Hughes puts it. Heavenly citizenship worthy of the Gospel was costly and very demanding. The same goes for me and you!! This is something that was always apart of Paul’s life and this was Paul’s passion!! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." Rom 1:16-17. The Gospel is God's plan of salvation in Christ. ................Christ only! John Wycliffe said "The gospel alone is sufficient to rule the lives of Christians everywhere...any additional rules made to govern men's conduct added nothing to the perfection already found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ." So Paul encourages these believers with some comforting advice through the direction of the Holy Spirit......


Steadfast means: to be stationary, that is, (figuratively) to persevere....We are to be unmovable because of the convictions found only in the Gospel. In order for this to work we need one man ingredient! The Holy Spirit. This can only be done through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5. This is where I believe many Christian’s stumble!! Not willing to stand fast in the face of opposition! Willing to go upstream when everyone else is going down, willing to go against the flow of what society deems best for us or our families. There are many ways that cause us to fall or easily moved from standing fast!

• It’s either because they have little confidence in the Spirit that lives within them.
• It’s a lack of true bible study and prayer devotion to the Sovereign Lord.
• It’s that the person who doesn’t want to offend for the sake of keeping friendships
• It’s that person who doesn’t have personal conviction or a stand on anything! When they try to defend themselves it’s like pinning jello to the wall it has no soild foundation.

That’s why we have to dive deep into this book....not once a week.....or say "I will read my daily bread and think I understand theology or a correct interpretation of the text!" Paul is talking about a passion a conviction that says “NO TO THE WORLD!” My allegiance lies with Christ first and foremost!!! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:58. I’m standing firm by the power that lives within me! As I stand against the attacks of the Gospel.


“striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” Because we desperately need one another!! Until you realize that!! You are playing on your own.....................and for that I feel sorry for you. The natural man thinks I can do this on my own and I’m afraid that way of thinking has permeated the church. I’m ok! I got my Jesus...................But do you have His fellowship with His children that He called out of the well of death and destruction? Our walking worthy depends to some degree on teamwork.......Keeping each other accountable! Caring for one another and just being there for a shoulder to cry on!

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO ENCOURAGE THE WEAK. “strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees” Isa 35:3.

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO BE EDIFIED BY THE WORD “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ” Eph 4:15.

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER “that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.” Rom 1:12 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO GROW IN A CHRISTIAN WALK “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Prov 27:17

TEAMWORK MOST OF ALL GLORIFIES LORD WHEN WE STAND BEFORE HIM “so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:27

Standing together as a team unmovable by the work of the Holy Spirit! Don’t panic, alarmed or terrified, for the simple reason, our citizenship is in Heaven! Remember God is in control so don’t be intimidated by those who would cause you harm or opposition.....“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom 8:3!.I like what D.A Carson said “your change in character, your united stand in the defence of the gospel, your ability to withstand with meekness and without fear the opposition that you must endure, constitutes a sign. That sign speaks volumes, both to the outside world and the Christian community. It is a sign of judgement against the world that is mounting the opposition; it is a sign of assurance that these believers really are the people of God and will be saved on the last day.” As children of the gospel.....we are determined to persevere as a team which requires a firm stand....teamwork and fearlessness to what or who stands against us!!Our fear shouldn’t be in the people around us......or those who oppose Christianity! Opposition of the gospel is (or was a) sign that we are His and a reality to the impending dome for those who oppose the Gospel message. A sign is................ proof or giving evidence that something is true. What is Paul saying to them and us? Christ is the light of the world and the one who is our salvation? Correct! If you believe in Christ, and have committed your life to Him, then that light and life should be manifested in you! The world will see that light and where it shines forth, there will be persecution. Jesus said “Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12. The more your light shines, the more oppostion you will face! John MacArthur wrote “As the church struggles to fulfill its divine mission, it must never be intimidated, either by unbelieving opponents in the world or by critics from within its own ranks.” Why? The Hebrew writer penned these words ".....I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?" Heb 13:6 Remember what Jesus said to His disciples “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28.

Why do we need to walk worthy?.........................................Why do we have to do all this standing firm stuff.................teamwork..................fearlessness?!! He gives the answer in the verses that follow! I love how Paul finishes off this part of his letter with these comforting words!! (V29- v30) “It’s been granted to you to suffer for His name sake!!” The word “granted” can be literally rendered “graced”..........This means to give freely o by gracious favour! A prime example of this gracious favour is found in our salvation John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13. The suffering that comes to a Christian is not a sign of God’s neglect or lack of care for His children, but rather a proof that His grace is at work in our lives. We are to stand together....strive together........walk side by side together.......live fearless together all for the blessed gospel! Why? Because our citizenship.....our allegiance is with the God of the gospel. We are recipients of His grace through salvation and were given strength and mercy though our suffering. This is what it means to walk worthy of the gospel!! Wherever we are or wherever we go................ God is there!! So let me ask you one question! Are you walking worthy of the gospel according to what Paul wrote here in his letter? Because true joy is found in the God of the gospel!!

03 February 2011

True Joy is Magnified Through Life or Death

Phil 1:18-23

What does it mean to magnify something? Take a butterfly for example!! At first glance they are beautiful with colour and patterns.....But as soon as you put them under the microscope. You see the detail....the texture.....the pigment of different colours that are almost impossible to reproduce!! We have camera that can zoom in from hundreds of yards away to make an object or a person seem closer. We have gun company’s make scopes that can bring the animal in closer to make it easier to shot. We have microscopes that can help us see things that we could never see with the naked eye. We have eye glasses to help some people to read that really small print in books or labels. By definition according Wikipedia........."Magnification is the process of enlarging something only in appearance, not in physical size. This enlargement is quantified by a calculated number also called "magnification". When this number is less than one it refers to a reduction in size, sometimes called "minification" or "de-magnification". Typically magnification is related to scaling up visuals or images to be able to see more detail, increasing resolution, using optics, printing techniques, or digital processing. In all cases, the magnification of the image does not change the perspective of the image." All those things help us to magnify what we are seeing.......Why? So that we can see the object or person we are observing with greater detail. As I mentioned earlier about the butterfly! So let me ask that same question again, but I want to add something to it! What does it mean to magnify the Christian life? How do I Mike Andrews, magnifying Christ in my life? because Paul said in 2Cor 4:8-11 “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” In Rom 14:7-8  he said “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.” The Psalmist said in 70:4 “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!" ..............Be magnified.......make much of Him for it’s Him who wills and works through us” Paul says the same thing here! He says something that really makes you stop and think! Especially as he is penning this in a Roman’s prison cell! (Look at v20) Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” What is Paul saying? Even through my bodily suffering Christ shall appear more glorious, even if I die! Apart from Christ as the desire and central part of my being ........I’m nothing without Him. See Paul’s philosophy of ministry wasn’t to make money, fame or pleasure........his life was to be completely devoted to love, worship and serve Christ......That’s what it means to magnify Christ in my body! Paul’s goal in life was to magnify Christ to a broken and fallen world. How can a person find true joy in amities of suffering.....brokenness......or a fallen generation? Through Christ and His blessed Gospel! To magnify Christ in our lives as if a person was looking at you through the most powerful telescope in the world. To magnify Christ in your present situation of life ......This is how God looks at each and every one of us on a daily basis....Through His telescope, which is way stronger than any telescope invented my man.......which to date is the Hubble, launched into orbit in 1990. This is how we are to live our lives...consciously under the microscope of Jesus Christ and His finishing work in our lives. Paul didn’t want to be ashamed of his testimony.....He wanted to live a life of integrity, this should be our heart desire as well!! Whether by life or death Christ will ultimately get the glory in and through my life.....He gets glory in my life by serving Him and others with the Gospel.......He gets glory in my death to the proclamation of the Gospel at my funeral!! I don’t know about you! But the last thing I want to see happen to my life and my family and yours is to be ashamed when I stand before Him, as John said “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28.....because I truly believe that I'm going to be ashamed before Him!! But I know I'm able to stand because of His grace and mercy which is only found in Jesus Christ! This verse is very sobering and every single Christian should be greatly concerned about this part of their lives. This is what Paul is referring to when it comes to magnifying Him through our bodies! It’s that worker (Christian) who needed not be ashamed as we stand before the presence of Christ one day. William MacDonald says in his commentary “to magnify doesn’t mean to make Christ greater. He is already great, and nothing we can do will make Him greater. But to magnify means to cause Christ to be esteemed or praised by others.” Guy King said “.......magnified by lips that bear happy testimony to Him; magnified by hands employed in His happy service; magnified by feet only too happy to go on His errands; magnified by knees happily bent in prayer for His kingdom; magnified by shoulders happy to bear one another’s burdens” You look into the person of the believer and see Christ is the most important person to you whether by life or death. Paul explain what magnifying Christ means to him in the following verses (v21-v26). It’s interesting to note that the verb “is” (is italicized) ........which means it’s not in the original, but has been put in to make the meaning clearer........(v21) actually or literally says “for me to live Christ and to die gain”. The local church always talks about duty....service....but never really wants to talk about how much Christ truly means to them or how important that communion or fellowship with Him means to you! Again true joy begins and ends with our relationship we have with Christ.....Are people around you rejoicing because they see your passion and love for Christ? Or do they see a Sunday Christian who only magnifies Christ on that day? Because if that’s true in your life ......I’m afraid that you will stand before Him ashamed at His coming as John talked about in that verse. The Christian life is not a game or a laughing matter!! He sees’s everything; He knows your heart and its motives. He knows what is being magnified in your life and I’m sure if we went around the room we would find He is not pleased with our behaviour and devotion to Him. Remember our witness and our character is to make much of Christ while we are here on this earth (period).......The true fellowship we have with Him supersedes everything else! Have I reached that level yet in mt Christian walk? The answer is absolutely NO! But this is something I desperately am striving towards, because I know He is everything to me and if He is everything to me I must make much of Him. How? “By magnifying Him in and through my life minute by minute....hour by hour” We need to make much of Him in every situation and at any cost because He is worthy of our praise and adoration.

This world desperately needs to see Christ in:

• My Love for Him
• My Love for His word
• My Marriage
• My children
• My life
• My church
• My community

When I’m or a person is filled with this kind of joy, it’s impossible to stop when it hits the heart of those around you. The joy found in Christ transforms lives because it’s the Gospel that gives hope and most of all joy that only can be found in Christ. But it starts here! A deeper passion to make much of Christ.....An attitude that says “to be with Christ is far better than to be here”.........it’s better than family (and I really love my family).......it’s better than money...sex....entertainment....video games....stuff......praises from men..... Or what else this world has to offer!! Because in reality this world offers nothing! Other than to promote our self worth!....and all that does is “magnify me”..........“To man be the glory for great things we have done!” But Paul says “no thank you!!” “My desire is to depart to be with Christ which is far better” (v23) But as long as I have breath I will magnify Him in and through my life! This is more fruit for my labour because my fruit belongs to the Lord. (v24) Which means? I get the opportunity to magnify Christ in my body! Despite what life throws at me....whether it’s a fast ball or a curve ball, I will always make much of Him in and through my life. But the sad reality! James Boice said “how unfortunate it is that many Christians go through life with somber faces! They know the facts of Christian faith and they trust Christ for their salvation, but there is no joy. There is nothing that gives evidence of God’s presence in the midst of life or in tribulations. This should not be so. The presence of our Lord brings joy. And if there is no joy (or peace, or longsuffering, or patience, or any other Christian virtue for that matter), the cause may well be a lack of fellowship with Jesus.” The Lord knows we are always in need of more help in this area of life! That’s why we read the life stories of Abraham.......the barren wives........Job.........the nation of Israel......the prophets pleading for the nation to repent.......the doubt of the apostles.......the scattering of the saints......the life of the earlier church to today.......Why are they written in the Scripture? So that we too can find confidence and joy in every situation of life! I find great encouragement when I look into the face of people in our church that are:

• Dying with cancer despite the unbearable pain
• Those who find joy with having MS despite the pain and suffering
• Those who are survivors of breast cancer despite change in appearance
• Loss of limbs despite the ability to run or jump
• The testimony and passion for Christ because He saves to the uttermost
• A love for the gospel and His word and for a lost community

Our situations in life are not by accident or coincidence......this is how God uses each and everyone of us to magnify that He is worthy no matter what happens! That we can find joy in middle of suffering.....in the middle of persecution as our dear brothers and sisters around the globe!! (v25-v26). If we are today! It is because we are here to fill each other with the joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ. So that we can share that joy with the broken community of Moosehorn Manitoba......Whether by life or by death Christ will be and always magnified by my life......Because He is worth it!! Ask yourself these questions and answer them truthfully from your heart this morning! If I am to magnify Christ in my body (whole body)!!!

• Am I magnifying Him with my entire mind?
• Am I magnifying Him with my eyes?
• Am I magnifying Him with my hands and feet?
• Am I magnifying Him with my tongue?
• Am I magnifying Him with a completely surrendered life?

Remember the world is not supposed to see you or me!! They are supposed to see Christ. As a one saint said “my body will be the theatre in which Christ’s glory is displayed.”

“True joy comes from a life that magnifies Him as extremely valuable, because we know our salvation was purchased at such a high cost!”

True Joy is Found in Our Circumstances of Life

Phil 1:12-16

We are all faced with different situations and circumstances in this life. We all have a different story to tell about how God is working in our lives, and how He is using or lives today. We can also look back and see how God has used that situation in our lives to bring Him glory......One of the most certain measures of Christian’s spiritual maturity is what it takes to rob him or her of a Spirit Directed JOY! Paul’s maturity is evident as he makes it clear in his life as he goes through!
• Difficult
• Unpleasant
• Painful
• Even life threatening situations

All these things did not rob him of joy, but rather it caused his joy to increase. No other New Testament writer understood that truth better than Paul did. Paul was a prime example of a man of God whose joy never stumbled. Paul resisted anything that threatened to come between him and his intimate fellowship with the LORD. Paul was a man who once was an angry Pharisee seeking to stop Christianity, but was transformed with a ministry of joy because Christ is where he found his greatest joy..........Samuel Chadwick said "Spirit filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God." THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MINUTE! Has your life ever had that effect on other Christian’s or lost people? Do you take every situation that the Lord gives you to display His sovereign work in your life? Do people see the hope or the joy that is in you as we continue in a world of despair? Did Joseph abandon his love for God in a Egyptian prison cell? Did suffering drive Job further away from God? Did David hate God after losing his first son? Did Hosea lose heart after being told to marry a prostitute? Did life circumstances cause Paul to throw in the towel when times got tough? Has suffering or circumstances of life ever brought you closer to God? The answer is Yes! Our present circumstance or suffering always seems to draw us closer to Him, with a deeper love for His Son Jesus Christ. True joy is only found in the Son of God who gave Himself on our behalf!But we need to understand that God has different purposes in permitting suffering to come into our lives......
1. ITS PART OF GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU AND ME. 1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

2. SOME SUFFERING IS CORRECTIVE WHICH IS INTENDED TO GET US ON THE RIGHT PATH WHEN WE HAVE GONE ASTRAY. Solomon refers to this kind of suffering “My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom He loves, as a Father the son in whom He delights.” Prov 3:11-12

3. SUFFERING SHOULD BE EXPECTED IN THE BELIEVERS LIFE 2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

4. SOME SUFFERING IS INTENDED TO AWAKEN US TO THE NEEDS AND FEELINGS OF OTHER PEOPLE. James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

5. SOME IS INSTRUCTIVE, INTENDED TO MOLD US INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS CHRIST, BECAUSE WE LEARN THROUGH THE THINGS THAT WE SUFFER. 1Peter 1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

See Paul’s suffering was neither corrective nor instructive, it was simply a suffering permitted by God. Why? So that the wonderful Gospel might be spread throughout the palace guard. (Look verse 12-13) I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. As Ravi Zacharias said "The single most important thread in working through your disappointments is that your heart and mind ponder and grasp what the cross of Jesus Christ is all about. There is no pattern without the cross. There is no Good News without it. That is what the gospel is all about." Paul could find joy even in a time that seems impossible to get through or hopeless.....


What do I mean by that? The message of the Gospel was reaching a group that was almost impossible at times to reach. For the first time there was no escaping the message Paul was proclaiming. God took a situation that to us seems wrong and cruel...which it is, but God used Paul’s circumstance for the furtherance of the Gospel that saves to the uttermost. While Paul was preaching at Rome bound with chains to an imperial guard. It served to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The Gospel was advancing throughout the imperial guard (men who were body guards to the Emperor, High ranking military officer’s. Men who were in charge of every prisoner). That’s why we can find joy even in our times of suffering! See we have to realize that God can use you and me in every situation
• Whether it be through a dying loved one
• Loss of a child
• Lose of a leg
• Cancer
• Broken families

Your story and situation in life is very important!! He is using your life to display and share the wonderful joy found only in Christ!! The question you need to ask yourself is.........Am I using this time, this situation in my life to display that Christ is everything to me despite what the world thinks about that same situation that they are in? This is why Paul could say with confidence that the reason I’m imprisoned is for the? Answer “furtherance of the Gospel (v12). Furtherance means: a progress, to advance.....for example it’s like a explorer who hacks a path through dense trees and underbrush. It’s moving ahead with considerable effort to make a way for others..... Prime example is found in John the Baptist! It’s not that Paul was advancing, but the Gospel was going forth. It reminds of what Paul said in 1 Cor 16:9 “for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” There are many stumbling blocks and opposition but the door is wide open for me to bring His message. Not to say that we are never going to be faced with opposition, but with joy we embrace it! Because the Lord is the one who opens doors. John wrote “'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Rev 3:8. This is the same door that the Lord opens for you and me when we are faced with our present circumstances of life. How can a person find joy in a fallen and broken world? By displaying Christ as extremely valuable, even in our present sufferings and circumstances of life.


Joy in Christ births boldness like no other......a boldness to proclaim the most controversial message throughout all generations.........the Gospel (v14) A boldness that permeates courage....a passion for Christ...that radical Christian life that I spoke about last year as we looked at Acts chapter 4. A boldness that gives you a sense of protection to proclaim His message. “without fear” See Paul’s strength became their strength! Again look back to (v5). Paul's imprisonment gave the Christians around him (those who were not imprisoned) a greater confidence and boldness. They saw that Paul had joy in the midst of such a trial. They saw that God would take care of Paul in such circumstances. They saw that God could still use Paul even when he was imprisoned. This was a growing boldness for the gospel....because they knew where there joy begins and ends...............Jesus Christ. As Luke said at the beginning of His Gospel “that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,” Luke 1:74


Nothing brings the Heaven joy then to see people saved by His marvellous grace. But nothing pleases Him more than to see and hear the Gospel proclaimed throughout the generations. Like Jesus! Paul had his fair share of detractors, hecklers....which most of them being Jewish and pagan religionists. Paul’s joy was found only Christ and His message............the Gospel.....Paul lived and breathed the Gospel.....Paul bleed the Gospel.....Paul would die for the Gospel! But some were doing it for other reasons! (Look at v15-v17) Some were preaching out of Strife and Envy! We need to understand first is that:

• They were not heretics like the Judaizers
• They preached and taught the true Gospel of Jesus Christ
• They were not heralding “a Different Gospel”
• They were not false apostles
• They were not deceitful workers disguising themselves as apostles of Christ

See the Problem wasn’t there theology, but their MOTIVES. It wasn’t what they were preaching, but why they preached it! Out of envy and strife! Envy (means) A deprive others of what is rightfully theirs. To wish that they did not have it or had it to a lesser degree....someone who is jealous. Like what Peter said “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:2-4. These men Paul is speaking about in his letter where men who envied?

• Paul’s giftedness
• Paul’s intellect
• Paul’s effectiveness in ministry
• Paul being highly respected and beloved in the church

They wanted that!! They wanted what Paul had......... It would be like me wanting to be John MacArthur.....John Piper.......Charles Spurgeon......Richard Baxter!! God created each and every one of us as an original copy.......be you, so that He can get the glory in your life. Remember what Paul said to the Corinthian church? 1Cor 1:12-17 “What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? He answers the question in (v17) “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Some were also preaching with contention or strife.......Strife (means) contention dispute, quarrelsome, controversy, a spirit of hostility associated with envy and jealousy. They didn’t preach with a sincere love of the gospel, but with a spirit to divide. While preaching, they sought to undermine Paul's influence......This was the result! These men were preaching out of dissension and conflict trying to discredit Paul. (v17) Plain and simply they were jealous of Paul and his boldness and joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but that’s not what God has called us too! “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” 2 Cor 4:5. But all things aside! Whether by winning people to Christ for personal or to exalt themselves or a love for Paul and his boldness......nothing brought more joy to Paul then what he says in (v18) The Gospel was being proclaimed....declared...and people were being transformed by unmeriting grace of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. True joy can be found in our circumstances and sufferings when Christ is exalted through it!! John Piper says "The climax of God's happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His people." Paul’s joy in his chains is far greater and more satisfying than any earthy happiness. Can you say the same? This pure joy comes not because of circumstances, but in spite of them and through them........listen to D.L. Moody when he said "If He laid down His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for Him?" Are you still wearing Paul’s shoes?____________!!