Emmaus Christian Fellowship

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1.

The Purpose of The Church


Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church:-

  “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

  According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be:-

           1.         teaching biblical doctrine,     

           2.         providing a place of fellowship for believers,

           3.         observing the Lord’s supper,

           4.         praying.


The church is to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith.

 

Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

  The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can:-

  •    be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10),
  •     instruct one another (Romans 15:14),
  •   be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32),
  •    encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11),

 and most importantly ……

  •     love one another (1 John 3:11).



The church is to be a place where believers can observe the “Breaking of Bread”, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

  The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together.

This is another example of the church promoting fellowship.

 

The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer.

The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer.

  Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Another commission given to the church is proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The church is called to be faithful in sharing the gospel through word and deed.

The church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community, pointing people toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The church is to both promote the gospel and prepare its members to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter 3:15).


Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27:

 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

The church is to be about the business of ministering to those in need.

This includes not only sharing the gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as necessary and appropriate.

The church is also to equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.

So, what is the purpose of the church ?

Paul gave an excellent illustration to the believers in Corinth.

The church is God’s hands, mouth, and feet in this world—the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth.

The church is to be “Christian,” “Christ-like,” and “Christ-following.”


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2.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  The world has had enough of religion. Religion is man trying to reach God. Man has been trying ever since the Fall to do that.

Christianity is not just another religion.  Christianity is Christ Himself........it is God reconciling the world to Himself through His One and Only Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus. Christ died for us. He fought our  battle.   He won the victory for us.   

 He was our substitute.He did for us  -  what we could not do for ourselves.

  1.   Man's Condition Before God

  The Bible tells us that Mankind is “lost in sin and shapen in iniquity.”     

It goes on to say that  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”      

And that “there is none righteous, no not one.”

“The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked.”

“Our sin has separated us  from God.”

  2.  God's Love For Mankind

Calvary demonstrates the extent  of God's love for us.

“For God  so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...........”

 "But God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Christ died in my place.

3. Christ’s  Substitutary Death

  On the Cross, Christ became my substitute.

  He bore our sin in His body on the tree.

  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  “He was wounded for our transgressions.............”

4.  Christ's Resurrection is  My Guarantee

  Christianity is more than a religion  -   it is Christ Himself.

  Every other religion has been founded by someone who is now dead and gone.

Budda is dead …..   Confucius is dead …..  Mohammad is dead….

  BUT  Jesus Christ is Alive.......today !   

  In other religions the death of the founder doesn't matter, his teachings, way of life, ritual is passed on from one generation to another.

  BUT  WITH JESUS CHRIST IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that He  is still alive.

  IF JESUS CHRIST IS NOT ALIVE THEN CHRISTIANITY IS A  SHAM.

  Because Christianity is  ……….      “Christ in Me the hope of glory.”

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to this.

  Everything depends upon the resurrection.

  What did people say about the resurrection at the  time?

  The  Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body while the guards slept. 

  BUT - They had done their best to ensure that this could not happen.

All they needed to do was to produce the body and dispel the rumours.

  5.  The Reality of the  Resurrection

Today, there are those who claim that Jesus never actually died but simply swooned on the cross and recovered in the  cool of the  tomb.

However someone  who had suffered such a flogging as He, and  who had been subjected to the torture of the cross could have recovered enough to escape from the grave-clothes let alone convince His followers of a triumphant resurrection is beyond comprehension.

In fact, initially His disciples did not believe that He had come back to life.

The whole of the account of the events which took place on that Easter Morn testify to the fact that the disciples did not believe initially that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Until.....they saw for themselves.Then, they witnessed something, which, completely transformed them from being timid, frightened, creatures into fearless witnesses to the resurrection. 

What was it?  What had happened to them?   They had met with the Risen Lord.

Have you met with the Risen Lord?   

When you meet Jesus in all His Risen Power then your life will be  transformed.

6.  The Relevance of the Resurrection

  If there had been no resurrection then we would have no grounds for salvation.  Paul wrote ....  “If Christ be not risen then ye are yet in your sin.”   

If there is no resurrection then ....... there is no hope of eternal life.

  His resurrection is the guarantee of our own.

  7.  The Evidence For the Resurrection

Paul writing to Corinth......1 Cor 15 deals with this very theme. There, Paul states that :-

            1.   Christ appeared to Peter

            and then to:-

            2.    The rest of the  apostles.

He then :-

             3.     Appeared to more than 500 believers at  the same time of whom many were still alive at  the time  Paul wrote that letter.

Then Paul describes what, to him,  was the most amazing thing of all  -  a post ascension appearance of Christ to Paul himself  on road to Damascus.

In 1 Cor 15 Paul  deals at great length with the subject of the resurrection of Christ and its relevance and importance to us.

 

8.  Christ’s Resurrection is the Basis for our Salvation

  Our faith, our eternal security depends upon this fact.

  If it is not true, then we are of all men most to be pitied.

  If it is not true, Christianity is founded on a lie  -  founded by a bunch of liers.

 Is this view the one which is in keeping with His  character or is it alien to the One who was willing to die in my stead that a soul, though unworthy might live.

  Yes, the path to the cross He was willing to tread all the sins of my life to forgive.

  He went to the  cross and lay down His life for me.

And God  gave His seal of approval by raising Him from the dead.

                         Up from the grave He arose.

                        With a mighty triumph o'er His foes .

                        He arose a victor fom the dark domain,

                        And He lives  for ever with His saints to reign.

                        He arose, He arose......

                        Hallelujah!  Christ Arose  !

 
 
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3.                                            The Ministry & Work of the Holy Spirit



 
The Holy Spirit …………
 
 

1.  Testifies of Jesus

 

26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
 
                                                                                                                    John 15:26 KJV
 
2.  Convicts of Sin

 

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 
 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

    
                                                                                                                 John 16:8-11  KJV
 
3.  Brings about the New Birth

 

 
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
     
                                                                                                                 John 3:5-6 KJV
 
4.  Baptizes Believers into the Body of Christ

 

 

 
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
    
                                                                                                                  1 Cor 12:13 KJV
 
5.  In-dwells individual believers
 

 

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
 
                                                                                                                      1 Cor 6:19-20  KJV
 
6   Restrains Sin

 

 
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is
 and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
 
                                                                                                                    2 Thess 2:5-8  NKJV
 
 
7.  Equips and Empowers  Believers  for Service

 

 
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 

                                                                                                                    Acts 1:8  NKJV

 

 
8.  Guides

 

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself;
but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
   
                                                                                                                     John 16:13 KJV
 
9.  Gives Peace

 

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

     
                                                                                                                      Rom 8:6  KJV
 
10.  Imparts Life

 

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,
he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
 
                                                                                                                   Rom 8:9-11  KJV
 
11.  Intercedes for us

 

 
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:
but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
 
                                                                                                                    Rom 8:26-27  KJV
 
12.   Bestowes the Gifts of The Spirit

 

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;
to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

                                                                                                                      1 Cor 12:4-11KJV

 

 
13.  Produces the Fruit of The Spirit in the Believer

 

 
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
 
                                                                                                                     Gal 5:22-23  KJV
 
14.  He Glorifies Jesus
 
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
                                                                                                                      John 16:14
 
 
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 4.

The General Epistle of Jude

Introduction:-  

                            Over the last three  months or so we have been considering the epistle to Hebrews. 

During the course of that study, we have seen that “Faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb 11

Last week we considered “Faith in Practise” Heb 13.

 

The General epistle of Jude, also highlights the importance of faith – the theme of Jude’s general letter to believers in the early church is that of “Contending for the Faith”   literally “Contending earnestly for the faith”

 

 

Theme:-                Contending For The Faith

 

 

Jude 3      Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.                                                                                

 

Writer;-  Jude, the brother of James.

 

Which James?     Most likely James  “the Lord’s brother” cf  Matt 13

55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas?

This is particularly relevant today cf. the Lord Jesus said:-

 “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (the) Faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

 

 Contending earnestly for the faith

 

In this brief letter Jude predicts the apostasy which would come and how it would come about and how it should be dealt with.

 

Paul also predicted the coming apostasy in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
 

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

And Peter 2 Pet 3:3,4

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

 

Contending for the Faith amongst believers and non-believers.

 

This letter is has five divisions:-

 

1.     Greeting      (vv 1,2)

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

3.     Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

4.     Characteristics of Apostate teachers  (vv 8-19)

5.     Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

 

 

1.      Greeting    vv 1, 2

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified[a] by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

NB  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we are told that his “brethren” did not believe on Him.

Now, Jude (Judas) describes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ!

 

Note how he describes the believes to whom he writes this letter  -  Called  Sanctified  Preserved

 

Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.

 

2.     Purpose   (vv 3,4)

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
 

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[b] and our Lord Jesus Christ.

NB.

“which was once for all delivered to the saints”.

Cf. Hebrews ch. 1     God’s Supreme Revelation

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

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1.    Coming Apostasy     (vv 5-7)

In the NT Apostasy is turning away from the truth revealed in the scriptures.

Eg. Dis-owning the name of Christafter having believed.

Perverting  apostolic doctrine.

Deliberately rejection the truth as revealed in scripture.

Apostasy is different from error which may result through ignorance

Or heresy which may result from the deception of Satan.

 Ie.   Apostasy is the act of a professing Christian who knowingly and deliberately revealed truth concerning the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice.

In the day and age in which we live there has been a falling away among professing Christians. 

Many of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are no longer accepted.

Wrong is deemed to be right and right to be wrong.

The beliefs of the world have been brought into the “church” and many have become disillusioned.

 

This is quite apart from the onslaught of militant atheism against the church of Jesus Christ.

Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

 

We are often urged to come together as the “Faith Sector” of society and all “faiths” are given equal credulance.

 

 

However, we have to stand firm and earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered.

 

This Faith does not “Change with the Times” is is steadfast and unchanging.

 

NB. Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ the Same, yesterday, and today and forever.”

 

Heresy, error and apostasy hve always existed.  They existed in the O.T.

 

Jude cites the examples of Cain, and of Korah as well as that of Balaam and of Sodom & Gomorrah.

 

 

1.     The Characteristics of Apostate Teachers

 

 

Even these can be traced back to O.T. times.

 

Cain(Gen 4:1)    The type of the religious person who, believes in God, and religion BUT after his own ideas, will. Cain rejected God’s Way of redemption  - by blood.

Similarly apostate teacher seek to explain away the atonement.

 

Balaam (Num 22 et al)  Balaam used human reasoning and sought to obtain material gain from his prophetic gift.

 

Korah (Num 16) Refused to accept God’s authority through the ministry of Moses and Aaron.

 

Even some of the angels succombed to this sin v 6

 

Jude says here that certain people, ungodly people,  had crept in unawares, turning the Grace of God into lasciviousness.

 
  

Jude 16:16-19 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

 

ie. Grumblers; Complainers; Loud-mouths; Flatters; Mockers; Sensual.

 

5.  Reassurance and Comfort       ( vv 20-25)

17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

 

Notice the contrast in verse 17 - 20

 

20 But  you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Judes Magnificent Doxology   ( vv 24-25)

 

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,  and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power,  both now and ever.

Amen.

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5.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Philippians 1:1-30)

Background

The church at Philippi was the first church to be founded in Europe. It came into being after Paul and his companions crossed over from Troas after having been given the "Macedonian Call." Philippi, capital city of Macedonia, was named after Philip of Macedonia the father of Alexander the Great.

The actual date of the epistle is uncertain but is generally accepted to have been written from Rome around 64 A.D. during Paul's imprisonment there and, as such, it is classed as one of the "Prison Letters."

The Subject of The Letter

The subject of the letter is that of "Christian Experience."

Paul uses the occasion to express his love for the saints at Philippi and his delight in their progress, for there appears to be nothing in their church order which required to be put right as soundness of doctrine is assumed.

Philippi is a "normal" New Testament assembly of "saints in Christ Jesus, with bishops (elders) and deacons."


The Occasion for The Letter

The particular purpose of the letter was to thank the church at Philippi for the gift they had sent to him, and Paul's desire to commend Epaphroditus to them.


As to the apostle himself, his circumstances are in striking contrast with his Christian experience.

Although Paul was Nero's prisoner but in spirit he was free and rejoicing in Christ.

From this it is clear that Christian experience is not something which is going on around us but rather that which is happening within us.

The key verse of Philippians is Phil 1:21 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

True Christian experience is the outworking of the life, nature and mind of Christ living in us, no matter what our personal circumstances might be.

The letter divides quite neatly into the four chapters in which Paul describes Christ as the believer’s:-

                                                 1. Life 2. Pattern, 3. Object 4. Strength

The Theme

The Theme throughout is that of Rejoicing

1. Rejoicing in Suffering.

2. Rejoicing in Service.

3. Rejoicing despite Imperfections.

4. Rejoicing over Anxiety.


1. Christ, The Believer's Life - Rejoicing in Suffering.

Paul's intention is to confirm the church in the faith, and to encourage them to live as becoming of the church of Christ. This is the only one of Paul's letters in which no censure of the local church is expressed or implied.

(a) Paul's Thankfulness for Fellowship (Phil 1:1-7)

In verses 1-7 Paul offers up thanksgiving and prayer for the work of grace evident in the Philippians.

The highest honour that we can have is to be servants of Christ. Paul addresses this letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.

The Church is made up of saints, those who are not saints on earth will never be saints in heaven.

Outside of Christ, the best saints are sinners, unable to stand before God.

A local church is an assembly of believers professing faith in Christ who live, for the most part, in one locality and who assemble themselves together in His Name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the Word, discipline and the furtherance of the Gospel.

Every such local church has Christ in the midst, and is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Inner peace comes from possessing a sense of Divine favour and there is no peace without grace. Grace and peace come from God who is the fountain of all blessings.

Memories of Philippi filled Paul with joy even though he experienced ill-treatment from the authorities while he was there. cf. Acts 16.

Paul sought to encourage the believers with the thought that the One who had commenced a good work in them would continue and would keep them until they were perfected in Him. Of this we can be in no doubt, the work of grace in each one of us will be perfected in the Day of His appearance. As Paul thought of the saints at Philippi he identified with them in suffering as being partakers of his grace.


(b) Paul's Love and Concern (Phil 1:8-11)

In verses 8-11 Paul expresses affection and prays for them.

How he longed for the fellowship of the saints.

How he prayed for them that their love for each other might overflow and that they might grow in spiritual knowledge and insight.

It is those things which are most honouring to God which will benefit us the most.

Believers should not easily take offence but, on the other hand, should be careful not to cause offence to the Lord or to fellow believers.

Our lives should be filled with the fruits of righteousness, these are by Jesus Christ and are unto the praise and glory of God.  

We, as believers, should find our joy in serving the Lord.


(c) Paul's Desire to Encourage them in their Suffering (Phil 1:12-20)

In verses 12-20 he seeks to strengthen them against being cast down because of his sufferings.

Paul was a prisoner at Rome, something which itself had turned out to be for the furtherance of the gospel because everyone there, including the soldiers in the barracks, were aware of the reason why he was a prisoner ie. the fact that he was a Christian.

These things had made him known where he would never have otherwise been known. Also, because of his imprisonment, others had lost their fear of imprisonment and had become bolder in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There were of course those who sought to make trouble for Paul and some who preached Christ with ulterior motives. However, no matter what the motives, the gospel of Christ was being preached and for that Paul rejoiced greatly.

What an attitude!

Even in prison Paul could see that all things were working for his good.

As for Paul, his desire was that he would never do anything that would be dishonouring to the Lord whether by living or by dying.

(d) Paul's Attitude towards Life and Death (Phil 1:21-26)

He goes on in verses 21-26 to explain his attitude towards life and death.

Death is a great loss to the carnal, the non -christian, because he loses all his earthly comforts and hopes; but to the believer it is gain, because it is the end of weakness and misery.

Verse 21 is perhaps one of Paul's most famous sayings. In effect he says "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Which means that for him , living meant more opportunities to present Christ, and dying - well, that would be even better.

He says "If living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don't know which is better, to live or to die!" However, Paul acknowledged that it was better for the church that he remained alive even though he himself might prefer to go to be with the Lord. Paul's choice was between two good options, one of living for Christ and the other of being with Christ.

Those of us who have the most reason to desire to be "with Christ" should be willing to remain in this world as long as the Lord has work for us to do. Paul's earnest desire was that Christ should be glorified whether it were by his living or by his dying.

(e) Paul's Exhortation for Steadfastness (Phil 1:27-30)

Verses 27-30 are exhortations for zeal and steadfastness in proclaiming the gospel. Those who profess the Name of Christ, should live in a manner becoming those who believe in Christ.

Paul urges them to be fearless in their proclamation of the gospel no matter what their enemies might do to them.

This would be a clear sign that God was with them and that they were assured of eternal life.

Paul points out that as Christians they had been given the privilege not only of trusting Him but also of suffering for Him.

He concludes by reminding them that they were all in it together with him.

Christ then is the believer's life, there is no life outside of Him. Christ's joy was perfected through suffering cf. Heb 12:2 reads:- "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

If Christ suffered then we His followers can expect no less.

May we be counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake.

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6.

The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians

(Phil 2:1- 30 )

Introduction

This short  letter was written by Paul to Philippi from Rome around A.D. 63/64.

 Paul was especially close to the church in this, the leading city in Macedonia for it was there that he established the 1st Christian assembly in Europe. It was in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten and thrown into gaol. This letter, was not written to combat doctrinal error or personal conduct but is simply an expression of friendship and of  joy shared in a common faith.

Three Prominent Themes

Three things seem particularly special about this short letter.

1.   Its key word is "joy."   - the words  "Joy" and "rejoice" occur again and again.

2.   Philippians contains one of the most powerful New Testament affirmations of the divinity of Christ and His Lordship. Jesus who was God from eternity emptied Himself to become a man and, after suffering death, was raised again to His original glory and given a Name above every name.

3.  Paul shared his own personal goal in life - his yearning for a present experience of the transformation which will be his at the resurrection. 


Christ – the Source of our Joy

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that it is our relationship with Jesus that is a vital source of our joy.

Jesus Himself spoke of two ways that we might find joy in Him.

 Jesus said:-

"If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11). 

And, "Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).

 This “Joy” is produced in us by the Holy Spirit, and is a fruit of His presence (see Luke 10:21; Gal 5:22; 1 Thess 1:6).

It is not linked with material possessions but flows out of our salvation (Acts 8:8; 16:34).

Even persecution could not dampen the joy that glowed in early Christians, because their joy was not dependent on external circumstances (see Acts 13:52; 2 Cor 7:4; James 1:2). 

Peter even said:-

 "in this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Believers experience a heightened joy; a joy that is rooted in the bond that exists between us and the Lord, and the bond that exists with other believers whom we have come to love.

 (see Rom 16:19; Phil 1:4,25-26; 2:2,29; 4:1; Heb 13:17; 1 John 1:4).

The deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits us, and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.

Who is Jesus ?     [ Phil 2:1-13 ]

To understand why Jesus is the key to joy, we must grasp who Jesus is.

Paul made Christ's true identity perfectly clear in this great affirmation of faith recorded in Phil 2:1-13. 

Jesus is God      (Phil 2:6-11).

This statement  is the foundational truth in Christianity.

In this  the early church affirmed:-

·       The pre-existence of Jesus as God

·       His incarnation as a true human being

·       His death on the cross

·       His resurrection from  the dead  

·       His coming again in glory

We should note that the phrase stating Jesus was "found in appearance as a man" does not imply that Christ only seemed to be a human being.

The Greek word here is schema  (schema), which lays stress on what was visible to the beholder. The Son of God was seen by men to be a man, and He truly was what He appeared to be: one of us. 

What a passage for us to dwell upon as we remember our Lord, and focus our thoughts on who He is - and how much He has done for us.

This is the One ……….

“Who  being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [ Phil 2: 6-11 ]

Note the:-

Similarity Between John 1:1-14 and Phil 2:6-11 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.   

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

                                                                                        [ John 1:1-14  NKJV ]

Jesus is the Source of our Salvation (Phil 2:12-13).

Paul concluded with an exhortation to the Philippians to continue obeying his instructions, as they had been doing.

In this way they were to carry out Paul’s directive to:- 

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."

This call to "work out your ['own,' as some versions have it] salvation" has troubled some.

They have seen it as a demand to perform / carry out doing good works, or perhaps their salvation would be lost.

However,  this is not what Paul is suggesting here.

The word commonly translated "salvation" does look at personal salvation, in the Christian sense of salvation from sin.

Salvation has several aspects:-

 There is:-

·       the initial forgiveness obtained through faith in Jesus 

·       present deliverance from the dominating power of sin in our lives 

·       ultimate salvation; deliverance from even the presence of sin when resurrection day arrives.

Here the word "therefore" ( v 12 ) links Paul's words with what had been said before.

Paul had been speaking to the Philippians about the unity which is to be found by adopting the attitude of Jesus - a unity which 4:2-3 tells us was at least strained in the local body.

What Paul was saying, then, is that the church is to work out (to express) in their lives together the deliverance which Jesus has won for them, and is to do this with a proper sense of awe, realizing that God Himself was at work within them, present to will and act according to His good purpose.

As the Christians at Philippi modelled on Christ, and adopted His attitude, they would find deliverance from the things that divided them and would in fact give visible expression, together, to the salvation that was theirs in Jesus Christ.

Yes, the Jesus we worship truly is God.

Christ – The Supreme Example 

And, as the God-Man, Jesus set us an example, showing us the attitude which is the key to the unity of His Body (church)  and is also the key to expressing in our fellowships the salvation which is ours in Him.

·       Jesus’ Life defines Holiness

·       Jesus’ Compassion explains love

·       Jesus’ Patience reveals God’s attitude towards us

What Christ Did For Us 

·       He Humbled Himself

·       Made Himself of no Reputation

·       Became Obedient even unto Death

What God has done for Christ

Because Christ humbly gave himself for our sins God has:-

Exalted Him

·       "raised him up to the heights of heaven" (2:9; see Isa 52:13; John 17:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 2:9).          

·       He has been given a name (a position and place of authority) above all other names (2:9; see Eph 1:20; Heb 1:4). 

·       Someday (2:10-11) he will be acknowledged as Lord by everyone: 

                                "in heaven"   (angels)

                                 "on earth"    (human saints and sinners)

             and

                                  "under the earth"     (demons)

What Isaiah Wrote about The  "Sin – Bearing Servant"

This is what Isaiah says about the “Sin-Bearing Servant”  in Isaiah 52:13-15

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;

He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

14 Just as many were astonished at you,

So His visage was marred more than any man,

And His form more than the sons of men;

15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.

Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;

For what had not been told them they shall see,

And what they had not heard they shall consider.    NKJV

The Apostolic Example   (Phil  2:17-30)

The chapter concludes with the testimonies of three men who sought to follow that example, namely Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.

1. Paul

Although Paul expressed the desire to visit the church at Philippi again, he was content to submit himself to the will of God.  Paul was willing to live for them or to  die for them whatever the Lord willed. Paul never counted his life dear unto himself. Paul regarded the believers at Philippi as a cause for rejoicing. They were proof that his labour had not been in vain. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good.

2. Timothy

It was Paul's expressed desire that, if he personally could not visit them, then Timothy should visit them on Paul's behalf. Paul had experienced many setbacks and disappointments as a result of being let down by men. As he says here, "all men seek their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's."   All that is except Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy had served Paul as a son to a father. He had certainly made full proof of his ministry. It speaks much for Paul that he was willing to surrender the companionship of Timothy in order to minister to the needs of the church at Philippi. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease and safety, before truth, holiness and duty; not so Timothy.

3. Epaphroditus 

Epaphroditus was himself from Philippi and had been sent by the church  to help Paul in his need. He had himself been sick, in fact he had almost died but the Lord had spared him. Notice how Paul describes God's goodness "lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Epaphroditus had done for Paul what the church at Philippi would have done had they been nearer. Now Epaphroditus was willing to return to Philippi that he might comfort those who had sorrowed for him when he was sick. Paul urged the people there to love him all the more on that account.

What a saintly trio  these three make, father, son in the faith, and faithful servant.

What an example to us.

How we need to see the dedication shown by these three great men in the faith, evidenced in the lives of believers  today.

However, good and virtuous though they may be, the real example is that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as described in verses 5 to 11.

Phil 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. NKJV

O that we might be  like-minded  and  lowly-minded  in the service of Him who's Name is higher than any other name.

Is it any wonder that:-

9  God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

AMEN !

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