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A Letter of Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2022 12:01 am

A Letter of Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 18, 2022 12:01 am

It was from prison that the Apostle Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always." Today, Steven Lawson begins his in-depth study of Paul's letter to the Philippians, revealing what it takes to have joy amid even the darkest circumstances.

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Working to be moping and whining. Please don't tell anyone your Christian because that will be a bad advertisement for the kingdom that there needs to be a sense in which were not living under our circumstances, we are living above our circumstances because we are seated with Christ in heavenly places living above her circumstances is a matter of putting on a brave face were most renewable of strength. So how do we do it, how do we follow the apostle Paul's exhortation to rejoice in the Lord always welcome to Renewing Your Mind going really well.

Paul wrote those words in his letter to the Philippians, and it's important to keep in mind his circumstances at the time were going to look at Philippians this week. It's Paul's letter of joy and to lead our study from his latest teaching series is Dr. Stephen Moss will this first session we began our study the book of opinions and I want to ask you question what comes to your mind when you think of the book of Philippians.

Will I be willing to say it's the word joy. This book just permeates with joy the key verse in this book is Philippians 4 verse four in which Paul says rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice in this book is all about the supernatural joy that comes with those who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Now there is a distinction we need to make between happiness and joy happiness is something that is dependent upon your happenings are your happenstance. You can hear the word happening in happiness there almost virtually the same as so when your circumstances are good you have happiness your football team wins, but when your circumstances go down, then your happiness evaporates and goes away. So happiness is something that the world can give you is something that your outward circumstances can give you an happiness is conditional. Happiness is temporal. It's very elusive and it's uncertain it can virtually change. By the moment, but joy is entirely different. Joy is spiritual and it comes from a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ is a deep abiding confidence and contentment in the Lord himself. He is not built upon our circumstances. It is rooted and grounded in our unchangeable relationship with Jesus Christ. So joy is supernatural. It is the gift of God.

It comes down from the throne of grace. It is an out of this world experience that we have in our heart. Joy is known only by believers because joy is in the Lord Jesus Christ enjoys lasting joy endures even when our circumstances are changing and when they're challenging. Joy is transcendent, it rises above the difficulties and the adversities that we face no matter how difficult or disappointing. Our situation may be joy remains because it is not dependent upon what's going on around us is dependent upon what's happening inside of us, or the Lord Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning enjoys a major theme in the New Testament. A distinguishing mark really of Christianity because believers are those who have joy in the book of Philippians rejoice is found nine times in the word joy is found five times a total of 14 times in just four chapters, Paul makes mention of joy or rejoicing. Now, because joy is in the Lord. Joy is something the world cannot give us.

Therefore, the world cannot take it away from us.

It is found totally in the Lord and perhaps just a picture of what joy looks like it is by no coincidence that the first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine and the excitement and the the gladness and the exuberance that surrounds a wedding I think is a picture of what's inside of our heart because the guilt of sin has been removed, and because the Lord is in charge of what is taking place in our lives and that we rest in him. The first miracle was not performed at a funeral. It was performed at a wedding and it was an end of an indication of what we experience when the Lord changes our heart from from what it was in sin to what it is now in Christ so Philippians is really the most unlikely book that we would expect to be talking about joy and for two reasons.

In the first is it is written this book by the most unlikely offer.

Paul is the author and his last person you would expect would be writing about joy at this time in his life. In the year 61 A.D. and Paul is not in a palace he is in a prison. He's under house arrest and he is in chains held as a prisoner of the Roman government. He is chained to praetorian guards day and night. Not exactly the most favorable circumstances he is held there for two long years, which is an eternity for a dynamic active man like the apostle Paul to behold up in one room for two years on top of that he is awaiting his trial with Caesar and as he will stand trial before Caesar, there is the possibility of the death sentence that will be brought upon his head so he does not know whether he will be spared or whether he will be sent to be executed. He's cut off from all travel. He is his always wanted to come to Rome and Paul is in Rome right now imprisoned. He's always wanted to come to Rome but not under the circumstances that he thought he would be preaching in the marketplace he thought he be preaching in one of the, the, the large arenas are the Coliseum know Paul. Just the opposite. Paul is. It is like a lion that's caged and he is confined under house arrest hardly what we would think would be conducive for joy. On top of that, as Paul is confined in this house imprisoned chained to the Roman guards the other preachers in town are are slandering Paul and they are demeaning him. In fact there so I will no wonder he's in prison it's obviously God's punishment.

It's obviously God's chastening of Paul or he wouldn't be there and so he is now the object of as much verbal attack so again the circumstances would indicate that Paul will be the last person the world to be writing about joy. And on top of that he has just received news from the church in Philippi, he was the founding pastor on his second missionary journey.

You can read about it next chapter 16 verses 12 through 40 and he just received a report that has come from the church at Philippi, manning the pampered goddesses brought him the report and he has heard now that there are divisions and there are factions in the church at Philippi this this church. He was really the closest to the church at Philippi and to learn now that this church is threatened to be torn asunder is devastating and heartbreaking to the apostle Paul and so from a human perspective.

Paul has every reason not to be joyful is the last person in the world that we would expect would be writing a book that would be so full of joy but not only is he the most unlikely offer of Philippians are the most unlikely recipients. Paul is telling these people to rejoice and he is writing to this church in Philippi, that is, as I just said suffering divisions and disunity that there is discord and there is this harmony at the church in Philippi to prominent women in the church you Odie and sent to key just cannot get along and they are actually called out by name in chapter 4 verse two as being in this harmony with one another.

Well you know what that means. If two women are getting along. And these two husbands are getting along, but more than that to families are not getting along, and more than that, uncles and aunts and nephews and and nieces that there is a split right down the middle in this church and they are suffering for it. In fact, Paul has to say in chapter 2 verse 14 stop grumbling and disputing among you all of that is just stirring the pot here and in Philippi and as Paul writes to this church. There are also false teachers who have come into this church their Judaizers to try to put the church back under the Mosaic law and saying that you have to keep the Mosaic law in order to be saved, yet, to keep the Mosaic law Lisa ceremonial law in order to be sanctified in vector say you had to be circumcised and then had to be circumcised as adults. In order to gain a right standing before God and this is in the church that is a part of tearing the church apart. And on top of that there are those who are libertarians who have license morally as they they think it doesn't matter if you obey God, or not obey God. How you are justified by grace you get a free pass that matter how you live your life. I mean, this church is facing some very serious issues on top of that they are being persecuted for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ were not surprised to hear that Arley Paul will send Timothy all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in the church in Philippi, which by the way, was the first church that Paul founded in Europe, so that there is a clash with the culture here in Philippi. It was known as little Rome because it was so connected to the Roman empire and because of that as people are now being saved is predominantly Gentile and not Jewish, as had been earlier the case with the church is that Paul has founded there now is as much opposition. The believers are facing there. There's much resistance that is very real. So as we look at this church in Philippi most unlikely recipients of a book about joy.

The fact of the matter is they're the ones who needed the most. And so we come to the last main heading, which is the most abundant supply. Despite the difficulties that Paul was facing as he's imprisoned in Rome and despite the adversities that the church in Philippi was experiencing. They nevertheless could know the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The key verses. I've already said is Philippians 4 verse four rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice. Notice he says rejoice in the Lord, all rejoicing is in the Lord and when he talks about the Lord. He's referring the second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ all joy really comes from God the father is mediated to us through and in the Lord Jesus Christ and it is applied by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Galatians 522 but the point is that all joy is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is not one drop of joy outside of Jesus Christ. There are oceans and oceans and galaxies of joy that Jesus himself has that he mediates to us joy is found in knowing Jesus Christ is found in loving Jesus Christ is found in adoring Jesus Christ. It is found in living for Jesus Christ. It is found in serving Jesus Christ. It is found in obeying Jesus Christ.

It is found in witnessing for Jesus Christ is found in testifying for Jesus Christ. Paul will say in Philippians 1 verse 21 for me to live is what is Christ, his whole life is Christ and to die is gain. Why would it be gain because you go be with Christ in his immediate presence and so no wonder Paul is experiencing such abundant joy, though he is confined in prison, and though he is he is trapped there.

He's not moping he's not whining he's not complaining. He is rejoicing and it is triumphant. It is a magnificent witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and averted a big moping and whining. Please don't tell anyone your Christian because that will be bad advertisement for the kingdom.

There needs to be a sense in which were not living under our circumstances, we are living above our circumstances because we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Ephesians 2, and so Paul will say in Philippians 1 verse four always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you. They were trying to encourage Paul.

How strange.

It's the prisoner who is encouraging them by this letter in Philippians 1 verse 18 Paul says I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice in you you you. Since the determination within the heart of Paul to rejoice in the Lord in Philippians 4 verse one Paul says my beloved brethren, whom I long to see my joy and crown that they are his joy because he sees Christ in them. He saw them come to faith in Christ.

When Paul first went there in acts chapter 16 the Lord open Lydia's heart and she believed and then her household believed he remember the Philippian jailer came to faith in Christ that night and then his whole household believed in the next thing you know there's a church plant right here in Philippi at the devil's doorstep. And so, as Paul reflects upon these believers in Philippi, he just refers to them as my joy your your my joy, and it wasn't so much them. It was what God had done in the mid is what Christ had done to make them trophies of his grace and Paul when he saw other believers. They were a joy to him because he knew it was Christ who lived within them and in Philippians 4 and verse 10, Paul said, I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me. There is no shortage of joy in Paul's heart as he is imprisoned in Rome and chained to Roman soldiers. He is rejoicing in the Lord reminds me of Philippi of Psalm 16 in verse 11 in which David writes in your presence is fullness of joy. Would you like to have fullness of joy. Would you like to have joy like a river filling and flooding your heart will is found in the presence of the Lord and one day when we enter his immediate presence.

The joy of heaven cannot even be explained it will be joy unspeakable and full of glory. Peter writes that even now in this life we live our life, current day of it in the face of God in the presence of God and there is joy as we walk with the Lord. And as we share a relationship with him. So what were saying is this joy the Paul writes about in the book of Philippians transcends our most difficult circumstances. This joy comes down from above, from the throne of grace. It is supernaturally deep.

It is abundantly supplied, and it is freely given to believers at this joy is the very joy that Jesus Christ himself, experienced, and on the night before he was crucified, knowing full well what tomorrow meant for him. Father, the hours come. Glorify the son that the son may glorify you, knowing that he will be nailed to a cross. The next day, Jesus still had joy in his heart and in the upper room as he met with the disciples in John 15 verse 11 Jesus said these words. I've spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.

The very joy that Jesus had not joy like his with the very joy that was bubbling up in the heart of Christ under the most difficult of circumstances. Jesus promised to his disciples, and you will have it in fullest measure. In fact will read the book of Hebrews. In chapter 1 we learn that Jesus has been crowned with joy above all his fellows and companions that he is the most joyful person in the universe as he is seated at the right hand of God the father. So this joy is found in the Lord. This joy is found in the Holy Spirit. Romans 1417 talks about joy in the Holy Spirit. So this joy is God's grace gift to every believer who puts their faith and trust in him so let me ask you this question. Have you suffered somewhat. We all have either your suffering now are you just come out of a time of suffering here about to go into a time suffered the loss of a spouse.

The loss of a parent, loss of health, loss of a job loss of income, loss of an investment.

These losses are real and they bring real heartache, but it's in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death. It is in the midst of our most difficult times that we can still know the joy of the Lord. If you need to recover your joy than Philippians is your book. Your name is written all over this book. This is your book to bring to you the joy of the Lord. And so as we begin the study of this important book, I invite you to open your mind and to open your heart to what the Lord will teach you, so that he can enlarge your joy and with that be a dynamic witness for Jesus Christ. May the Lord give us this joy in fullest measure as we enjoy our relationship only been through trial and loss and pain. We are called to rejoice in the Lord. This is a challenging directive from the pages of Scripture. Dr. Steven Lawson put it in perspective for us. We find her joy in our vibrant relationship with Christ. Our focus this week on Renewing Your Mind is Dr. Lawson's latest teaching series rejoice in the Lord.

Paul's letter to the Philippians in 24 messages this verse by verse journey reveals how the joy of the Lord allows us to live faithfully would like to send you this six DVD set.

Just contact us today with the donation of the amount you can call us at 800-435-4343 or if you prefer to make a request online or web address is Renewing Your Mind.Ward. You know, our joy is Christian shines the brightest when we persevere through difficulties. Our allegiance to Jesus Christ will cost us in this world because the gospel turns the values of the world upside down. I say that because I want to call your attention to a conference were hosting in Birmingham Alabama this coming August and the theme is fools for Christ will consider God's perfect wisdom in the gospel so that we can be better prepared to withstand opposition with courageous faith.

I hope you make plans to join us to find out more and to register. Just go to and click on the events tab at the top of the page you know it's easy sometimes to skip over the opening salutation so Paul's letters, but there is great significance in the fact that he addresses this letter to the saints in Philippi. That means to all the believers who have burned their bridges behind them and there is no longer an attachment to the world system and now living as citizens of the kingdom of God will learn more about that tomorrow as we continue our study of Philippians with Dr. Steven Lawson. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind

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