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More Than a Whisper of Treason

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2024 12:00 am

More Than a Whisper of Treason

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 1, 2024 12:00 am

What if the path to joy isn't found in what you achieve, but in who you follow? In this engaging episode, Stephen Davey delves into the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians, a church founded amid unexpected circumstances. Discover surprising lessons on finding contentment in trials and how the transformative power of faith can reshape your outlook on life. Gain insights that will help you weather life's storms with steadfast joy and purpose.

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He effectively says, Philippi might be your mailing address, but Jesus Christ is your permanent residence. A Muslim does not speak of being in Muhammad. A Christian scientist doesn't refer to themselves as being in Mary Baker Eddy.

Nor does a Mormon talk about being in Joseph Smith. I mean, they follow the teachings, but they are not so tightly bound that they reside in them. But Paul says you are already seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. The early Christians understood a radical truth.

The ultimate meaning of life was found in serving their true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But for believers in the Roman colony of Philippi, this devotion bordered on treason. When Paul writes his letter to these Christ followers, he doesn't just offer encouragement. He whispers a revolution. Paul will challenge their patriotism, refine their leadership structure, and reframe their entire understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

Here's Stephen Davey with this message called, More Than a Whisper of Treason. You pull into the city limits of Philippi back in this day, and one out of ten people you'd meet would be, or would belong to, a family of Roman soldiers who were decorated for their courage and valor. If they had license plates on their chariots, many of them would have the insignia of a purple heart. The problem in Philippi, and around the empire, especially here, is that this sense of patriotism went beyond national pride. In fact, within a hundred years, the citizens of Rome will turn patriotism into idolatry.

They will literally worship their emperors as sons of God, or sons of the deities. In fact, by the time Paul writes this letter to the church in Philippi, one hundred years after it had become the pet city of the emperor, they will have adopted as citizens, in fact, it's going to create great persecution around the empire within a few decades, and it is already rumbling and beginning, but they will have adopted the practice of declaring their ultimate devotion to their emperor by calling him, curios, or curios soter, our lord and savior. You remember what threw Paul and Silas into jail?

We looked at it in Acts 16, ten years earlier, when he wrote this letter. The charge against them was, and I paraphrase, these men are Jews, and they are teaching us customs that we don't do as Romans, for we are Romans. Who are they to tell us what to do? We follow Rome. We don't follow some Jew. Don't mess with Rome. If you open your letter, if you're not there already, to Paul's letter to the Philippians, you'll notice, and I hope you're beginning to catch the flavor, that this letter is more than a happy, hallmark card to get Christians to smile. In fact, now that we know a little more of the context of first century Philippi, we can appreciate the fact that Paul opens this letter with nothing less than a whisper of treasonous words. He will designate to Jesus, this crucified Jew, the title of Caesar. Notice at the end of verse two, he will call Lord, not Caesar, he will call Jesus Christ, Lord. He'll take that special designation and say, it belongs to my God and Savior.

See, this letter is rumbling with treason. Now in the next few words, Paul is going to effectively change their worldview. He's going to address their foundation for living, their worship, their mission. In fact, if all we had were the opening lines of this letter with what we've already learned now about the city of Philippi, we would know that this letter is intended by Paul to revolutionize the believer's way of thinking and living in at least three ways.

Let me point them out. First of all, here in the latter part of verse one, Paul will redirect their sense of loyalty. Number one, he will redirect their sense of loyalty. He writes, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi.

I love the way, by the way, he orders his words. He effectively says, Philippi might be your mailing address, but Jesus Christ is your permanent residence. A Muslim does not speak of being in Muhammad. A Christian scientist doesn't refer to themselves as being in Mary Baker Eddy, nor does a Mormon talk about being in Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. I mean, they follow the teachings of these men, but they are not viewed as so tightly bound that they reside in them. The Christian alone claims to reside in their leader. In fact, we are so tightly bound to him that we cannot even conceive of it or imagine it.

We don't even think much about it. But Paul says, you are already seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. We've already been taken there. Ephesians chapter two. And by the way, who are we? Even now, while we're waiting to be taken to him.

What's our new sphere of loyalty? Paul answered that. He addresses his letter to them and us. Notice verse one, the middle part again, to all the saints, to all the saints. How do you become a saint? By dying and getting canonized, right?

Paul would strongly disagree. Notice he's writing here to people who aren't dead. They're reading the letter and he's calling them saints. Well, he refers to elders, overseers, pastors here, and deacons. So he must be referring to the pastors and deacons because everybody knows they're saints. One amen would have been really nice right about then. Now you know the truth.

So do I. No, Paul actually refers to church leaders distinctly as among the saints. Look at the phrase, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi with the overseers and deacons. They're all called saints.

And none of them are dead as far as we can tell. You need to understand that the word Paul uses here for saint is used throughout the New Testament as a noun for the believer, the Christian. It is the word hagioi, and it simply means belonging to God. Belonging to God, set apart unto God, set apart for the purposes of God. Every believer is a saint. In fact, the adjectival form of that same word is translated holy.

Every one of you are holy saints. What does that mean? It means we belong uniquely to God.

It doesn't have anything to do with how well you kept the rules this past week. In fact, one author said it this way. He said saints means that a Christian has been claimed and requisitioned for God's special purposes. When Moses, you remember, stood in front of that burning bush in Exodus chapter 3, and the Greek translation of the Old Testament tells us that God told him to take off his sandals because he was standing on, here's the word, what?

Holy ground. Does that mean that the soil was somehow mystically purified and all the worms and bugs were exterminated away? No.

No, no, no. It meant that that parcel of land at that moment was set apart for some special purpose of God. You, Christian. You, holy saints. Members of a holy nation, 1 Peter 2.9. Not because you're sinless.

You know, you've had all the bugs exterminated out of your life. No, but you've been redeemed for a special purpose unto and as a representative for God. Now the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church for centuries have limited the use of this term for people who've lived amazing lives of dedication and consecration and then died, typically by martyrdom.

And sometime after their death, if some kind of evidence could be found that they were in some way connected to something miraculous happening, they could be in the running to be named a saint. Listen, beloved, according to the Scriptures, every believer is a saint and they are the miracle. You are the miracle of God's redeeming grace. You are evidence of his miraculous power.

You are now. No matter how you feel, you're a saint. Jonathan Lehman's wonderful little book published in 2012 entitled, Church Membership, puts it this way. The local church is an embassy. He goes on to say, what is an embassy? It is an institution that represents one nation, although it is located in another nation, a host nation.

And every embassy represents its home nation's interests to its host nation. Paul not only wants to redirect their sense of loyalty, secondly, he wants to redefine their structure of authority. He refers to the primary spiritual authority in the New Testament church, the overseer, the elder, pastor. All three terms, by the way, are used interchangeably for this one office occupied by men who meet the qualifications. Now, Paul doesn't list those qualifications here like he does in his letters to Timothy and to Titus. You may have been with us when we explored that letter and all of those qualifications.

And so since he doesn't explore or restate those qualifications, we won't do that as well. But what we will do is simply focus on the word he uses for this office, and I'll mention briefly the other two terms. The word he uses here translated in my text, overseers, is the word episkopos, episkopos. It can be translated overseer or superintendent or bishop.

If you transliterate episkopos, you create an English word, and what is it? Episcopal. And the denomination is?

Episcopalian. Of course, that particular Protestant denomination named itself after this Greek term of leadership, and they refer to their leaders, by the way, as bishops. Another term for this office or man in the local church is presbuteros, which is most often translated elder. And the transliteration of that word gives us the denomination? Presbyterian.

They simply transliterated presbuteros to reflect the highest office of authority known as presbyters or elders. These are all perfectly biblical terms. And maybe you're new to the faith, or maybe you're new to this church, and you're wondering then if the Baptists have been left out.

They have, but we're fine with that. Besides, our forefathers actually had the audacity to be named as a denomination, so to speak, after an ordinance, baptism. And most distinctively, because we follow the literal translation of that verb, baptizo, baptism, Baptist, which means to immerse. So the Baptist church is known for its practice of immersing disciples as a statement of being bound spiritually to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And in the New Testament do you read of infants being baptized, only disciples, followers of Jesus Christ. Now most often in the Baptist church, leaders aren't called elders or bishops, although those are perfectly biblical terms. They're called most often pastors.

And that's the third term, I'll mention it briefly. The term pastor comes from the word poimane. It appears often in the New Testament. It's nearly always translated shepherd. In fact, only one time in your English Bible will you see that word translator or will you ever read the word pastor?

That really bothers the Baptists, especially. It's translated pastor in Ephesians 4-11 as a categorical term for those gifted men given by Christ to the church. Every other time the word appears, it's translated shepherd.

You could translate it even more woodenly, a feeder. One who pastors the flock literally, and there's another derivative, pastures the flock. That is, they lead the flock to the green pasture of God's word so they can eat, which is an outstanding reminder then and I think a lovely reason to use that term because it's a reminder that even those who occupy the highest office of authority in the church have as their outstanding responsibility the feeding and the shepherding and the pasturing of the flock. In the last decades especially, the Baptist church has become more willing to use these biblical terms for the office and to use them interchangeably as we do here in this church because every pastor, bishop is an elder. Every bishop as a pastor is an elder. For the sake of avoiding confusion, we often refer to elders as those laymen who serve as volunteers and we refer to pastors as those men who are vocational shepherds. They are all equally pastors, bishops, elders. What a blessing by the way it is here at this particular assembly to have nearly 20 pastors, bishops, elders who love Christ and who love his word, who love you more than you would know, who pray for you more than you will ever know, who are dedicated to wearing the mantle of the shepherd to see that the flock is wisely guided and wisely guarded and shepherded as you journey toward the celestial city.

I've done this both hours. If you're an elder pastor, bishop at Colonial and you're here in the 11 o'clock hour, why don't you just stand? Anybody in the 11 o'clock hour? Any elders? If you're listening online, just raise your hand.

All the way in the back, over here, just look around. People tell me I don't even know who they are. They didn't know I was going to do this or they would have dressed better.

I thought that was funny too. Okay, let's give these men a round of applause. See, the apostle Paul is recognizing in his opening comments the spiritual leadership of the church.

And here's where it's going to become troubling. In other words, what he's doing is he's telling them the ultimate human authority for these Roman citizens is not Caesar. While the believers would be informed and encouraged that they should respect the offices of the law, civil leaders, governmental leaders, giving honor and custom and taxes for those that didn't live in Philippi to those to whom it was due. While they were to pray for their political leaders and legal authorities and desire their well-being, maybe even serve among them and with them. The church fully understood that their spiritual direction and leadership would be found in the assembly among and from those directed by God to serve as shepherds who in turn represented the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ.

See, even this idea would smack of treason. That a body of believers would submit to spiritual leadership and possibly give their council greater priority than the Council of Rome was and will become, by the way, in Philippi, threatening to the Roman Empire. We're living more and more in an era in our own culture where you're having to go against those in leadership in the way you think and act, what your teachers teach you. The political and governmental leaders and judicial leaders counsel and urge and legalize and approve and require in attitude and action these messages that run directly counter to the message of your spiritual shepherds who deliver and feed you and lead you according to the truth of God's word, which means that those who are in leadership will be viewed more and more as a threat and an obstacle to the good of society and those in the church who follow their spiritual overseers will also be marginalized and perhaps suffer, like the church in China today and of course in the Sudan, North Korea, Turkey. In fact, around the world, all over the world, the church is considered a threat to the authority of the politically correct powers and shepherds often just disappear. So you probably already know this, that in many parts of the world, the gospel is tantamount to treason. You're either gonna call Caesar Lord or Jesus Christ Lord.

You can't do both. Finally, as verse one concludes, by now you realize we're only going to get this far. Paul not only wants to redirect their sense of loyalty and redefine their structure of authority, he also wants to rekindle the significance of humility. He wants to rekindle the significance of humility. Notice the last part of verse one.

In fact, I'm just gonna paraphrase it so we can capture some of these nuances. To all the diplomats of heaven who are assigned to the embassy of Christ Jesus, they're at Philippi, you are there with your shepherds and, notice, deacons. Paul has referred in these opening comments to the saints, to the shepherds, and now to the servants. Now the term for the second office in the church is simply a transliteration of the Greek term diakonos, which transliterated gives us deacon. We still don't know what it means. It means servant. Paul will use this term, interestingly enough, for himself in 1 Corinthians chapter three and verse five where he writes, what then is Apollos? What is Paul? Are we not diakonoi? Are we not servants as the Lord assigned us?

Great text. It's interesting to me that the apostle Paul would use the same word of Jesus Christ, and he would say in Romans 15, 8, that Christ became a diakonos, a deacon, that is a servant. Didn't he ever? By the way, this is not the same term Paul uses of himself in the opening statement of the letter to the Philippians where he calls himself a doulos, a slave, although they would be similar, and there would be similarities in the lowliness of their duties. You go into the New Testament, dig a little bit. I did much more than I could ever bring to you in this period of time, but the New Testament connected the diakonos to lowly servants. In fact, it's used in reference to serving tables. Mark chapter one, verse 31.

Luke chapter 10 and verse 40 and John chapter two and verse five. It was somebody who held the lowly position of table serving, someone who literally stood as a waiter, made sure you had what you needed. You ever been to a nice restaurant? I mean a really nice restaurant. You need to go beyond Cracker Barrel, which to me is the epitome of a nice restaurant, but you go beyond that to a really, really, really expensive one, maybe once a year, once a decade, and over by the wall there will be a waiter standing, and as soon as you take a sip, they're gonna come and refill. In fact, it's kind of irritating because your coffee never gets sweet enough.

You take a sip and they, stop, and they fill it back up. It's a deacon, a table waiter. This term is used for men in Acts chapter six who settled a dispute. In fact, it was over food. The church was prejudiced. The Grecian widows were being overlooked. They didn't have anything to eat. Hebrew widows, because the church was primarily Jewish, they were getting the special treatment, and so they assigned perhaps that official, that first official body of the diakonot. Go settle this dispute.

Resolve the problem. Make sure these widows have something to eat. Now, don't misunderstand. Just because these men don't hold the office of spiritual oversight doesn't mean they aren't spiritual. Just go back sometime and read Acts chapter six and the qualifications that they met as men of faith and wisdom. Go into First Timothy three and read their qualifications. They are nearly identical, the elders, the primary distinction is the elders are responsible for feeding, teaching, doctrine, and the deacons tangible social help.

You get a different idea here of a deacon. There's little doubt that this particular office, in fact, requires an extra spoonful of humility because they are godly men. They are biblically minded men. They are wise men. They just so happen to be men that God assigned to meet the physical needs of the flock to wait on tables, so to speak, to serve them in ways unnoticed behind the scenes.

Rarely, if ever, public. And with that, of course, perhaps they are unappreciated. I mean, how do you treat waiters? How would you treat one today if you go out to eat? How do you treat people who are paid to serve you bus drivers and store cashiers?

How do you respond to people if you are one of those? These men will model humility as servants of the flock. And we are blessed here to have nearly 65 men who serve. We know that ultimately it will lead, however, to everlasting triumph, and we look forward to the day, that great award ceremony day, where our true and living Lord will award every single one of his saints with their own unique purple heart award. Because every believer will arrive having been wounded in combat in some way.

One sort or another. Wounded in one unique way or another. But all wounded, all awarded, and all of us safely home. In the meantime, let's stay the course in this embassy outpost. As servants of the King of Kings, we're tasked with representing our king in whatever outpost he's placed us. In the end, we arrive at the place where our heart longs to be, in the presence of God, forever. What a great truth. You've tuned in to a new episode of The King of Kings.

The King of Kings is here. We have four more lessons to go in this series through the opening verses of Philippians, and we'll bring you those lessons in the days ahead. However, you might want to dive much deeper into your study of this important book, and we have a resource to help you. Stephen has a book based on the book of Philippians. It's called the book of Philippians. It's a practical, pastoral look at Paul's letter to this church. It's an easy-to-read resource that'll help you dive deep and explore the meaning and implications of Paul's teaching. During this series, we have this resource available at a deeply discounted rate. In fact, it's over 60% off from the book of Philippians.

In fact, it's over 60% off during this series. You'll find Stephen's book through Philippians on our website, which is wisdomonline.org. We can also give you information if you call us today at 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. Call today. Join us next time to discover more wisdom for the heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-01 01:17:53 / 2024-05-01 01:27:43 / 10

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