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September 23, 2022 12:01 am
Divisions in the church were one of the primary pastoral concerns that motivated the Apostle Paul to write his letter to the Philippians. Today, Steven Lawson shows why unity in the body of Christ is such a vital emphasis for Christians.
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In the book of Philippians, Paul has a goal for the church that the unity within the Trinity within the Godhead would be better picture of the unity that must be in the church to be one doctrine to be one and love to be one in purpose to be one in mission to be one mindset into your mind. Have you ever experienced the church would differences could not be resolved. Christians called it quits. The church at Philippi was forming some relational correction.
Paul took up his pen to urge them to resolve their differences and restore the unity of their church family. Today, Dr. Steven Lawson chose this one unity is still a vital emphasis for believers today.
Please take your Bible and turn with me to Philippians chapter 2 and I want us to look at these opening verses in this session and it's all about unity through humility if possible. Paul writes, therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ. If there is any consolation of love. If there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion make my joy complete by being of the same mind maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Whenever we read a passage of Scripture, especially in the epistles we have to ask ourselves, so why did the apostle right this.
There's something that was taking place in the church that needed to be addressed and that is implied as Paul writes this well what was taking place is there were some relational divides in the church at Philippi and really at the root there were two women who could not get along with one another there mentioned in chapter 4 and verse 2E Odeon and sent to key they could get along. We don't know what the issue wasn't Paul graciously does not mention what the issue was. But how would you like to have your name recorded in every Bible. From now an eternity because there was a spat going on between you and another woman is able. How could that disrupt the whole church. Well everyone you don't know women got understand two women mean to husbands and to parents mean to set the children, which means two sets of in-laws which means two sets of cousins which means two sets of friends was like tossing a pebble into upon the ripple effect it just keeps moving and moving and moving until if it affects the whole pond in this way was the church at Philippi and this spark caused by the friction between these two women really ignited the whole church and now they were at a place no doubt where there is distancing between some people, lack of talking to one another, lack of sitting together lack of eye contact and so Paul has to address that in chapter 4 he'll actually call them out by name like Juergen have to deal with this in here are the two root problems.
These two women well at this point Paul is addressing this in a very general way, and no doubt there are other divisions in the church as well not to be too hard on those two ladies just all we had. Work with with what Paul put into this letter but no doubt with false teachers in the church making inroads into the church.
There is a divisiveness with false teaching and people being pulled naïvely into a certain direction and even exposing tares among the wheat, so that the problem is here in the church at Philippi, though there is much good about this church. There is also much that needs to be addressed is not a perfect church assess him as well said to be refined a perfect church and do not join it because you'll ruin it. He'll no longer be perfect. So let's look at what Paul is saying to the church at Philippi and what he said to them, he says to you and me and he says to every church in every place and the heart of this is unity that the church be one that the church not be fractured and that this church do all that they can to preserve the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Well, he begins in verse one with the motivation for unity and it's a fourfold incentive that that Paul establishes and it is a deliberate understatement. What he is saying is if these four things are true, then you need to live a certain way.
Well, each of these four items in verse one are true and because they are true. It is a foundation of concrete that, upon which they must build their Christian lives and live as verse two through four will tell them so he he he says therefore and whenever you see a therefore you need to see what is therefore and therefore points back to what he just said, and specifically in verse 27 he said that they are to be living in a manner worthy of the gospel and that requires verse 27 that they be standing firm. Note this in one spirit, with one mind striving together for one faith of the gospel. So the word therefore in chapter 2 verse one really points back to verse 27. This unity needs pulling it forward now to these fourfold incentives and he says if there is any encouragement in Christ. Once again the word if should be translated since or because of, let me assure you, there is encouragement in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are oceans of encouragement in Christ there galaxies of encouragement in Christ. Paul is not casting doubt it's a it's a really a rhetorical device to provoke the thinking of the of the Philippians.
Of course they know that there are mountains and mountains of of encouragement in the Lord Jesus Christ to the comfort and to strengthen into to fortify into and to build up far more encouragement then whatever your discouragement is it just a drop in the pond compared to the oceans of encouragement that are found in the Lord Jesus Christ effect. You'll not find encouragement. Anyplace else all in true encouragement says in Christ. In Christ is all found in him outside of crisis, discouragement inside of Christ is encouragement and then he says if there is any consolation of love and it it should be understood or implied that this is Christ's love for us. He is there any comfort that we find in Christ love for us and once again it's it's a deliberate understatement. There is so much consolation in Christ love for us week. We could barely even began to skim the surface words would fail us to tell us of the comfort we have received from the love of Christ and then he says if there is any fellowship of the Spirit. Any fellowship that the spirit gives to us bonding us with other believers strengthening our ties in our relationships with with believers in which we are welded by the Holy Spirit and in that the spirit of God himself provides fellowship with our own hearts and he says if any affection and compassion and I think what is implied here any affection from Christ in any compassion from Christ applied by the Holy Spirit that Paul is writing this as it were, almost in a shorthand style and of course the word affection here. It's a word that means intestines bowels we we would say I love you with all my heart metaphorically in the first century. It seems funny to us, but they would go even deeper. Not just for your physical heart is it's in the depth of your being is not in your intestines if you will, in fact we say today I have a pit in my stomach. I just don't feel good about something, will hear it's the positive it. It's a down in the in the very epicenter of my soul. There is much affection from Christ that I have received and then compassion is just the mercy of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit. So with each of these four no one can deny that we have received these things. If you have not received these things are not a believer. If you cannot receive these things are outside the kingdom your stranger and aliens in kingdom, but everyone inside the kingdom has received each of these four, we could have spent an entire session on just these four and encouraged our own hearts and reminding us in what we have daily from Christ.
Every moment of every day.
This is available to us. Well, that that is the motivation for unity now. The mandate for unity verse two on the basis of verse one. If verse one is true then verse two show it, live it out.
But your doctrine into practice.
So he says make my joy complete. In other words, nothing would thrill my heart more than to see this being lived out in your lives there in the church. It Philippi has nothing to do with the size of the church and has everything to do with the substance of the church, make my joy complete. How by being of the same mind maintaining the same love, united in one spirit, intent on one purpose, all for those deal with unity. The word same mind same love, united in spirit.
One purpose. All of that are one mind, it all speaks of unity. I know as a father. When my children are harmonious brings great joy to me and when there is discord nothing breaks my heart more than for them to not be getting along and by way of analogy, so it is with Paul in the church at Philippi, so my my joy is not complete.
Right now because I'm receiving reports about these factions from the friction that's in the church. Now you really need to restore my joy in what you're going to restore my joy is being of the same mind that you need this you need to be like-minded. You need to think the same way and specifically for God to be exalted, and for Christ to be magnified and for you to be pursuing holiness and freedom is showing love Paul is saying that'll fill my heart overflowing with joy and then he says, maintaining the same love of the word, maintaining means to hold something fast and not to let it go.
You've got to take the initiative you you gotta go the 2nd mile the 3rd mile in the 4th mile. You gotta forgive 70×7. You've got to go to the youth degree to maintain the same love that you not pick and choose who you love that you love those who are difficult to love as much as you love those that are easy to love that you do your love and not be like the wave of the of the sea, but that you would maintain the same love toward one another regardless of how they are interfacing with you. You maintain the same love towards them if they are not kind to you. You maintain the same love to them if they are rude to you and hurt your feelings without going out of their level. You maintain the same love to them. That's what Paul is saying here to the whole church and then united in spirit literally out of the Greek. It just means one sold to be of one heart. Once all we understand what that what that means we be bonded together and then intent on one purpose. The ESV has of one mind, and it means literally to the one thing minding so to be one is what Jesus prayed for in John 17. In verse 22, that they may be one, just as we are one that the unity within the Trinity within the Godhead would be better picture of the unity that must be in the church to be one in doctrine to be one and love to be one in purpose to be one in mission to be one mindset will come to the book of facts. That's what we see we see that they were of one mind in one place. One spirit being taught one truth together in one fellowship coming to one Lord's table, sharing their possessions, one with another, that that was part of the power of the early church is how one minded and one hearted. They were in. Paul writes about this in first Corinthians to leases that we are many members but one body and everyone has an important place to deploy in this one body. In fact, he says it's the parts of the body that are not saying are actually many times more important than the parts of the human body that are seen on indecently see things more important to your life, your heart or fingernail. Well, the answer is obvious and and so it is in the in the church in the body of Christ.
And so it's important that every member of the body. The in harmony together in pulling together in Ephesians 4 and in verses three through six. Paul, in the same Roman imprisonment writing to another church in Ephesus says that we must preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In other words, you will create unity. God has already created the unity you preserve the unity that God has created.
God is made us one body preserve what God has made God has made us one if you're not one, it would be because you have allowed carnality to disrupt that unity and then he goes on to say, there is one body and one spirit and one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all this is the unity of the body of Christ and and quite frankly it it it is a unity that must be seen in every local church and it is a unity. I think that should even rise above local churches that there is only one universal body of Christ, no matter where you worship.
If you're a true believer. This leads now third to the means to unity.
What is the pathway to unity.
What is the road to unity had Pat, how do we practically speaking, preserve this unity and the answer is in verses three and four. The answer is humility for everyone to lay down their guns on the table for everyone to humble themselves one to another, so he says in verse three do nothing from selfishness.
ESV has it rivalry.
The word literally means selfish ambition to put yourself forward to promote yourself before others is don't do anything that elevates yourself above other people you need to the opposite, you need to be lowering yourself before people, he says, or empty conceit is really just one word in the original Greek in the idea is to have a highly exaggerated view of yourself. The compound word is empty glory EEE you don't have any glory or acting like you do but you just empty of glory. You need to have a better self-awareness of who you are and not be filled with empty conceit in the word empty means it's just all in your mind is not does have any basis in reality.
And then he adds the after those first two negatives.
Now comes the positive, but with humility of mind and that is again one or humility is one word, humility of mine – he is one word in the original and it's so hard to translate because the Romans and the Greeks put no virtue on humility. They saw humility as weakness.
All the Roman Empire understood was strength and dominance and only losers are weak and lowly, and is believed that possibly the apostle Paul himself coined this word because they're waiting that wasn't even a word in the Greek language for humility. Who wants that and it literally means it's it's it's a compound word is something like 13 letters in the original language and letting them stumble through it, but it means lowliness of mind to see yourself for what you really are lowliness of mind. You and I have every reason to be humble. We have no reason to be proud nerd you have asked that you received from God.
We have zero reason to fail to be humble. We have every reason to be humble.
Our theology dictates that choices but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
He says in Romans 1210 give preference to one another in honor Ephesians 521 be subject to one another in the fear of the Lord.
Verse four goes back to the negative positive again. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests.
Literally things but also for the interests of of others and again here.
The idea is that your eyes offer yourself but your eyes on others in the needs around you see how you can encourage see how you can support see how you can pray for see how you can serve others, and consider their interests is more important than your own. You know this is a challenge for us and it necessitates that we be walking according the spirit and necessitates that we be filled with the spirit of our sinful flesh loves ourselves and is preoccupied with self and has a high regard of self, even if it's disguised as a poor self-image you think about yourself too much even have a self pity party. Did your eyes offer yourself.
That's your problem, and focus on others in the more you consider the interests of others. The more your joy. We may complete the more the joy of others will be made complete in the more God, we usually is.
You will reflect true Christ likeness who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for men considering others interest is more important than her own is a challenge to our selfish pleasures and I'm grateful for the apostle Paul's clear instruction of the church in Philippi because we need to hear these things ourselves. Glad you joined us today for Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb in the this week we are featuring the latest teaching series by Dr. Steven Lawson it's rejoice in the Lord. Paul's letter to the Philippians Dr. Lawson Texas verse by verse through the book in 42 messages in the process we learn how Paul describes the Christian life is an invitation to experience the joy of the Lord were making this six DVD set available to you for the first time this week. Just contact us with a donation of any amount and once your gift is process, we will send you the DVDs possible at the teaching series to your learning library then you can stream the series at any time in right away will also at the digital study guide. There is, well, you can give your gift and make your request email@example.com or you can call us at 800-435-4343, before we go. I like to remind you that woodcutters 2023 national conference is moving to a larger location.
The Orange County convention Center in Orlando is located only 15 minutes from our previous venue.
The Orange County convention Center provides the room for many more people to come together for biblical teaching and fellowship in and what we like to call her family reunion. You can find more information and register for the firstname.lastname@example.org/2023. I hope you have a great weekend and please make plans to join us again Monday for Renewing Your Mind